Finding the Right Tune

architect Jordi Badia
interviewed by Fredy Massad


Studio BAAS was founded by Jordi Badia in 1993. Through a responsible commitment to architecture, the studio has steadily established itself over the years as one of the fundamental names of contemporary Catalan architecture. The prowess of their work has kept growing stronger as it has deepening into the research of the most essential, yet most complex, principles of architecture: simplicity, durability, continuity, utility, beauty. Badia’s gentle and articulate speech strengthens the appreciation of these qualities in BAAS’ most recent projects. The lockdown prevented this interview from being a live face-toface conversation although the unusual awareness about the present time’s state that this circumstance has arisen in all of us did probably contribute to intensify and reenlighten the relevance of each of the single ideas that were here discussed.
ORIS: BAAS’ career already spans three decades. How would you describe the studio’s philosophy and the way it has evolved and strengthened throughout this period?

JORDI BADIA: As in any creative job, it is always hard to describe what you are doing. It seems preferable to leave this task up to someone else, but I will try to point out the main topics that I am presently more interested in and how they might have evolved. I think that architecture has traditionally been defined in accordance to three parameters: attention to programme, to materialization and to place. Architects have always worked in the same way: starting out with what has always been called form and function, followed by the addition of the notion of materiality. I would argue that my approach to work is different and, particularly in my latest projects, the early sketches are primarily contextual. They pay intense, even strategic, attention to the site. My utmost concern at the moment is finding the right tune. Ensuring that architecture fits in naturally and preventing it from being too aggressive. Being aware that we are not producing an autonomous independent object, alienated from the context it belongs to, but designing a tiny piece for a particular environment, which might be the last piece to add so that this specific environment would make sense and display some features that had remained hidden up until that point. I would say some of these aspects were already introduced in the Museu Can Framis but they are clearly noticeable in the WRiTV (Silesia’s University Radio and TV Department, Katowice, Poland): to analyse a place, appreciate the profound complexity of its values and try to sew, to repair the urban tissue as to preserve its continuity and unique atmosphere. Along with the interest in context, I am also interested in the role of time. I want to build timeless architecture, meaning that it belongs to the present moment we are living in but can also live on for many years or even centuries. In that respect, there is a lot to learn from traditional architecture, I think. The building’s programme becomes irrelevant because the building should go beyond the intended use; it must be able to stand up even when the need to fulfil this use has vanished and a new one has come to replace it. Here is where traditional architecture can teach us how crucial it is to keep some compositional or formal constants which do not depend on the programme, but are strictly related to the building and the site.