Alberto Campo Baeza, architect of light lifestyle
Alberto Campo Baeza has just been awarded the Spanish National Architecture Prize, yet another award to add to his long list spanning a fifty-year career. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Spain, and RIBA International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 2018, he was appointed Honoris Causa Doctorate by San Pablo CEU University in Madrid, and received the Piranesi Prix di Roma for his career trajectory. In 2019, he was elected Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and received the Gold Medal for Spanish Architecture awarded by the CSCAE.
Right in the middle of the pandemic crisis we dropped by his studio at Calle Almirante in Madrid, where he welcomed us enthusiastically and had much to discuss. He is working on a major institutional project in Mexico – an oceanfront viewpoint, several constructions in Spain and continues to work tirelessly in his teaching work. Teaching is one of the fundamental pillars of his career trajectory; at present, he is particularly excited about starting his classes at New York’s NYIT school – he taught at Columbia University for a number of years, as well ETSAM in Madrid and Milan Polytechnic. “The connection I have with my students is a connection with the minds that will forge the future,” he says.
His charisma and passion for the profession and “the simple things in life” as he himself points out, runs through every explanation, every story he tells. Over the course of our conversation, he quotes whole passages from Quixote, alludes to Chillida, to evolution and its connection to his work – he shows us one of his dedicated pieces – and talks about the influence of Goya’s Black Paintings, drawings and the painter’s explanatory notes.
His constructions are boxes of light reflected on every glass wall. He is a truly independent author and virtually impossible to classify. His uniqueness can be seen in his pure lines, and whilst he rejects minimalism, he manages to make every unnecessary architectural element disappear, allowing us to see and notice the essence, the authenticity: “the void, the apparent nothingness fills our spirit”, he explains to Lifestyle.
In the interview, he drifts from one subject to another with a lot of humour and ease. We talk about poetry, paintings, classical music and some of his own teachers, such as Alejandro de la Sota. He is excited about publisher Rizzoli New York republishing a book of his complete works, and has finished a revision and update of his major publications: “La idea construida”, “Pensar con las Manos”, “Poética arquitectónica” and “Principia Architectonica”.
His works include Houses Turégano and De Blas, both in Madrid; Gaspar House, Asencio House and Guerrero House in Cádiz, the Caja de Granada bank and MA Museum, both in Granada. Also the Entre Catedrales (Between Cathedrals) space in Cádiz, Moliner House in Zaragoza and Rufo House in Toledo, Casa Olnick Spanu in New York and the Benetton Nursery in Venice. In 2012, he completed an office building in Zamora, in 2014 the Casa del Infinito (House of the Infinite) in Cádiz, in 2015 Cala House and in 2021, Rotunda House, both in Madrid. In 2015, he won First Prize Ex Aequo for the Louvre Museum’s Conservation Centre in Lievin, France. In 2017 work was completed on the University of Francisco de Vitoria’s Sports Centre. And since 2020 he has been working on a tender he won for extending Madrid’s Lycée Français.
All of which have become reference points in twentieth and twenty-first century Spanish architecture. “The important thing is for me to keep learning. This search for boxes and cubes I build in an attempt to capture the levity of light and time, of emotion” concludes Alberto Campo Baeza for Porcelanosa Lifestyle.