The bioclimatic architecture allows to take advantage of the environmental conditions

With offices in Madrid and Kuwait and a multidisciplinary approach, AGi Architects offers a professional service that focuses on quality, creativity and the exclusive design of environments that provide a differential and timeless value. His work is based on four criteria: innovation, an existential component, ecological vocation and research. The studio is dedicated to architecture, urban planning and interior design, and has received four WAF awards, seven awards in the Middle East Architect Awards, two mentions in the 2012 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards, and several awards granted during the last editions of the Cityscape Awards and the International Property Awards.

Interview: Marcel Benedito.
Photographs: Nelson Garrido, Juan Roldán, MIguel de Guzmán.
Courtesy of Proyecto Contract magazine

We speak with Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea, whom we ask to explain briefly the history of his study.

Nasser and I met in the USA doing the Master of Architecture at Harvard University in the year 2000 and then we connected. Upon completion of the Master's Degree in 2002, I returned to the Netherlands, managed Cruz and Ortiz's office in Amsterdam, and Nasser began his doctorate at Harvard. Between 2002 and 2005 I had the opportunity to work on the extension and remodeling of the Rijksmuseum, Cruz and Ortiz. It was in 2004 when Nasser and I started collaborating "remotely". Nasser called me because he had been commissioned for a detached house and wanted us to work together on the project. So during the summer of 2004 I traveled to Kuwait for the first time, taking advantage of the holidays. We studied the site, we met with the client and in September we started designing the project of what would finally be Star House, our first work and origin of AGi Architects. For all this, AGi Architects is a company linked to technology, since from the beginning it was essential to communicate by constant e-mail, travel and calls between Kuwait and Amsterdam, and the organization of our online work. It was in 2006 when we founded the firm as such, with the simultaneous opening of offices in Madrid and Kuwait. From that moment we started working on other projects such as Ribbon House, Gulf Business Center or Alghanim Industries Parking.


Offices of the Credit One Kuwait Holding Company , project of Agi Architects

In your study projects of a very diverse nature are carried out. Do you believe in specialization or do you think it is an obstacle?

At AGi Architects we believe in architecture based on innovation and the constant search for contemporary positions, in line with the new Realities We propose buildings as an endless space system, as an inexhaustible sequence of flows and paths that transform the limits and content, to build architecturally self-sufficient spaces. We propose architecture from an existential -libible component- that is sensed from the outside but, above all, that is discovered from the inside by the conditions where our practice is developed.
We have an ecological and social vocation, which manifests itself the use of production and maintenance systems that provide energy reduction and optimize natural resources, such as light and sun. We believe in research as a differential value of our study, so we bet on each of our projects, whatever their type. And, finally, we have a multidisciplinary and multicultural team that allows us to address a wide variety of projects. It is true that having experience and work built in certain typologies places you in a preferential position with respect to other firms, but that does not mean that it is an obstacle to access others.

The magazine Middle East Architect has selected your studio as the seventh most influential in the Middle East. What is this recognition?

For us it is a pride and an acknowledgment to our trajectory, started ten years ago. This distinction drives us to continue improving and innovating in each and every one of our projects. The Middle East is a key market for AGi Architects, a market that still has many professional opportunities for "boutique" firms like ours, in which we take care of detail and quality to the extreme. To feel recognized like that is an honor.

Church of the Ascension of the Lord of Seville

How are the fields of architecture and interior design?

Architecture and interior design They have good prospects, perhaps not the same in all countries, but we believe they have a promising future ahead of them. In Spain the situation is very different from the one we live in the Middle East. They are two completely different markets, both culturally and architecturally. Kuwait and the Middle East are still very active. It is a more open market that offers great opportunities and where we already have high recognition. Spain, on the other hand, supposes a more difficult and competitive environment that, at this moment, shows signs of improvement and where there are also great opportunities for an architecture like ours based on innovation, quality, creativity and differentiation to create spaces with a value sustained over time

How is your studio organized and with how many professionals?

AGi Architects has two offices since its creation , one in Madrid and one in Kuwait. The one of Madrid supposes the creative brain of the study, nourished fundamentally of architects, whereas the one of Kuwait is composed mainly of the necessary nerve of engineers and draughtsmen to execute the works. At present, we have a team made up of more than fifty professionals. I spend ten days a month in Kuwait and Nasser comes to Madrid frequently. We also try to ensure physical interaction between our teams in Madrid and Kuwait, organizing visits that help to better understand the market and the different work environments.



Offices Prointel, in Madrid, designed by Agi Architects

How important is the context in which a particular project is developed?

It is vital, hence the need to analyze and investigate thoroughly to know it in all its dimension. We can tell you about the case of Kuwait. The urban planning that was carried out in this country in the 50s with the economic development due to oil, was based on the excessive use of automobiles generating an extensive city model and alien to the Kuwaiti traditional and cultural urban model.
The city was structured around a network of highways (communication routes) that divide it into different isolated residential areas lacking a clear identity. The historic center was completely destroyed to become the political and financial district of the city, but due to different factors has not reached levels of occupation and density that allows it to have a centralized urban character. On a smaller scale, the residential areas are raised with a very low degree of density, based on a rectangular subdivision of isolated single-family homes. It is in this fragmented urban and cultural context in which AGi works to propose the recovery of urban space. A clear example of this is the approach carried out at Mop House, where it has been possible to regenerate the adjacent public space, while at the same time achieving the necessary privacy in the use of housing with a volume that, even so, is open to the public. city.
One of the main objectives of the work of AGi Architects is to combine tradition and modernity, respecting the culture of Kuwait, reinterpreting it and adapting it to the current moment and needs, from a vanguard point of view at the international level.

How do you propose the relationship with a new client?

[19659003] Always laying the foundations for a perfect mutual understanding, listening with maximum attention and respect your needs and desires to offer a project to suit you. The client always maintains close contact with the team in charge of his project and with us as managing partners of the firm. We form an inseparable tandem.

How important are the technical advances for your profession?

They are fundamental. From the software of design of buildings, BIM, and the last advances in electronic devices and 3D printers until the development of new innovative materials that allow to streamline processes, reduce deadlines, save costs, simplify maintenance …

Corthouse in Qatar [19659003]

What challenges does architecture pose to everything related to sustainability?

The efficiency of buildings will come determined by industry, materials, etc., but it has to become an everyday reality, not just an added value. In addition, it has to acquire a broader understanding, opening up to other fields. When we talk about sustainability in architecture we mean to adopt a responsible attitude with respect to the use of basic natural resources such as energy, water or soil, but not only during the construction process but also in the management of the same resources in the resulting building, so as to minimize the environmental impact of the buildings.
Thanks to our experience building in environments of arid and desert climates we have had the opportunity to put into practice this type of initiatives in numerous occasions looking for the perfect cohesion between the architectural and landscape elements to achieve a greater energy efficiency.

Each environment has certain requirements …

The bioclimatic architecture allows us to take advantage of environmental conditions, posing a careful design to provide our creations with maximum interior comfort, while minimizing energy expenditure. We incorporate elements in the architectural design process that help evaluate the available natural resources; we achieve, for example, a thermal self-regulation or enhance natural lighting.
But sustainable architecture does not respond to a standard template that can be applied equally in any environment, but each project must be addressed in an individualized way. By selecting the local materials, the correct orientations and adapting the construction and landscape, we can save energy and be more sustainable regardless of where we are.

Residencia Rockhouse by Agi Architects

Can you mention a space that has touched you?

The Berlin Philharmonic, by the architect Hans Scharoun, built in 1961 Its formal freedom and its interior spaces are overwhelming, both the main spaces and the transitional ones, show a very special delicacy.

What are the sources of inspiration foreign to the architecture and the design?

They depend a lot on each project we are working on, but we are very inspired by social aspects, the environment and the landscape … We are also very inspired by the abstract thinking of the programming, how through the analysis of the data of departure and the simplification of the laws that unite and relate them, we can obtain diverse results.

JOAQUÍN PÉREZ-GOICOECHEA AND NASSER B. ABULHASAN,
AGI ARCHITECTS.
Spain: Apolonio Morales 13, F. 28015. Madrid. Spain. T. +34 91 591 9226. Kuwait: Office 1608, Alrai Industrial Area. Block 3 Street 13, P.O. Box. 4066. Safat 13101. Kuwait. T. +965 22230109.
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