A Degree of Discomfort

architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen
interviewed by Mira Stanić


Interviewed in New York on 10 February 2016


Consciously avoiding referentiality, exploring architecture as a form of knowledge, and autonomy of architectural objects, Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo have, in less than 15 years of working together, realized an extraordinary oeuvre recognizable through the language of universal forms and archetypal spatial relationships. Whether it comes to architectural or artistic projects, their works clearly belong to the same contemplative and work process, and are developed systematically, as iterations within a series where each subsequent draws on the knowledge from the previous one. Simple and forceful formal expression of their projects only with its unstable ambiguity suggests the complexity of the interior conceived as an inhabitable structure that embodies the relative notion of function and enables a rich and unexpected spatial experience.


ORIS — There are two ways to start this conversation. One would be from the specific – an identifiable architectural object, and the other would be from a system. Ultimately, they collide and lead in the same direction. What I am referring to is your rather specific work process. It is very systematic and produces works that certainly stand alone, but are also a part of a family and form a singular or unitary work of a higher order.
Sofía von Ellrichshausen — The systematic process is not something that we planned from the very beginning. With time, our method of work started shaping, and we began to find a comfortable way of working, but that system is really a consequence of a non-referential attitude which needs another sort of skeleton to base our decisions on, or to have some sort of guidelines, not so much authorship but inner principles. There is also the fact that there are two of us and we had to have generated a way of working that we share. A middle ground beyond Pezo’s and my own preferences which happened to be very similar.
Mauricio Pezo — In practical terms, it is something that evolves in time as a natural manner to produce architecture; a personal method which is, in our terms, more like a shortcut. Instead of going around and trying to make it difficult, a method seems to be a direct way to go to a certain place. It is similar to writing. Everyone has a calligraphy that works naturally for their body, their way of looking and communicating. The moment you find your own calligraphy, your own way of writing, it immediately seems to be the fastest, the most natural way. Because it is not a manner or a mannerist way of describing something, but something that is more internal. I wouldn’t say that it is an expression, it is closer to a reflection, an instinct. So the moment we start repeating a system to define the format of a project, to define how to open a window, how to place an object in a landscape, we tend to follow certain paths that are repetitive because they are our natural way of seeing things.