Benedetta ok
15 Jun 2012 0 comments Lídia Penelo

Benedetta Tagliabue: “I’m in love with the landscapes of Catalonia”

The work of architect Benedetta Tagliabue (Milan, 1963) can be seen in many parts of the world. Partner of the late architect Enric Miralles (1955-2000), who was also her husband, she currently runs the Miralles-Tagliabue studio, located in Passatge de la Pau, in Barcelona. She is the mind behind such diverse creations as the Gas Natural building in Barcelona, the Zhang da Qian Museum in China, the Scottish Parliament’s seat, or a primary school in Kathmandu in Nepal. All are spectacular buildings in its own way with one common element: the mountain of Montserrat. That’s where all her ideas take shape.

What interests you the most about the Catalan architectural heritage?

That it reflects a very old and interesting history, and also defines a unique character. For example, older buildings and homes in Barcelona have very modest facades, but inside they conceal impressive interiors.

What places in Catalonia have you visited the most?

I don’t have much time to go sightseeing, but I’m in love with Catalan landscapes in general. Especially when small towns and villages, merge with nature. I often go to Montserrat, the Montseny and the Empordà, places you find less than an hour away from Barcelona and they seem from another world.

Have these landscapes influenced the way you understand architecture?

I would say Montserrat, particularly has had an enormous weight because of Enric. For him this unique mountain was almost like a secret myth. When he was drawing curves in the office, he always said: “We are making Montserrat”. I have been also influenced by the work of Gaudi and Josep Maria Jujol. The latter built little by little. He was very humble, and permitted time to act upon his work.

What do you take into consideration when combining new materials with old buildings?

When we worked with Enric on the Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona, rather than thinking in concrete materials, we thought about time. It took us about two years, but we knew we had to and take into account the history of the place. We knew our creation would only be one of many interventions endured by that building. While digging the foundations, we uncovered traces of a Gothic church and a few Roman-era remains. Another issue we had in mind when thinking about the new market of Santa Caterina, was the diversity of functions that the space had to have. We found it was a very positive feature.

Is Barcelona ready for a sustainable architecture?

Yes, it is a very balanced city and the relationship between its buildings is beautiful. A few years ago, the city lacked green spaces, but this has changed. Barcelona has gained in open public spaces and has become a reference for the rest of the world.

Can we say is it now a good time for Catalan architecture?

The quality is very high. It is a pity though that the current economic situation does not allow much. As architects we have to go where the work is and now, our client is the world. Here you can only work from a theoretical point of view.

What projects are you working on?

We have a very nice project. It is a school of economics, right at the center of Shanghai.

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