Carlos Lamela: “I believe in the new generations and in a new way of thinking” lifestyle
Estudio Lamela is sixty-five years old. Antonio Lamela created it and since his death in 2017, it has been given continuity by his son, Carlos Lamela.
Antonio Lamela (1926-2017) is considered as being an eminent architect by his colleagues, with an unavoidable commercial side and, at the same time, always being bold and willing to find different solutions to problems. Antonio Lamela created a school and his most successful pupil was undoubtedly his son.
From his student stage, Carlos Lamela accompanied his father on his trips around the world in pursuit of innovations and new opportunities. They were looking for new materials, new shapes and advanced technological solutions. Firstly, he implemented them in his own studio in O’Donnell Street, his operations laboratory in Madrid, which became an example of experimentation.
We see Carlos Lamela in the cutting-edge new Estudio Lamela, situated in the Arroyo del Santo Avenue. He is a leisurely, elegant and neat man, very affable and cheerful. At first glance, tidiness and the ubiquitous white colour in all the office spaces are amazing. This is where the legacy of the architectural work left by his father continues.
First of all, he excitingly shows us an old photo of the first studio in O’Donnell Street, where all the architect staff are wearing a white coat, a futuristic sign that his father imposed and which he likes to highlight in the conversation that we have had about the studio history; its evolution during the crisis, his personal vision and his forecast for the future of this sector and mankind.
Q: After the emblematic work of Madrid airport, finished in 2016, how do you define the evolution of the projects that have been developed since that time and the crisis that the architecture sector went through?
A: I always speak in terms of teams, since good staff is the central unit of our studio. Before the crisis, there were about one hundred and thirty architects, however, we kept only thirty on and now there are almost one hundred people. A crisis does not have to be negative, it has a rearrangement component, perhaps cleaning. Efficiency is achieved when this team is well oiled and acts together, and it is important to have balance, too.
The crisis hit very hard in Spain, but it helped to bring about changes in systems that were cystic; the model changed, and we all had to develop. Many colleagues emigrated and found refuge in education, changing their careers or leaving their jobs.
Q: Your vital lifeline was internationalisation, so which values led you to enhancing your work in other countries?
A: We opted to leave for foreign shores. I learned from my father. He was capable of putting projects together in several countries in the 70s with a poor English level, and without today’s communications.
In our case, we have been bold. We became flexible, agile and adaptable to the circumstances, and we opened studios and then closed them in the Middle East, Equatorial Guinea and Shanghai. Each case was different, and we faced each adversity with both positivity and creativity. When the opportunities diminished, we withdrew. We are realistic, and we do not weigh ourselves down under any circumstances. We currently have offices in Mexico, Rotterdam, Poland and Madrid.
Q: Is innovation an engine itself when designing a project?
A: Resource management is very important for us. We can be very creative, but we must meet some objectives and be profitable. We are essentially realistic, although we also give free rein to certain experiments. Somehow, we steer away from rigidity and get carried away by a polyhedral vision of architecture. For this, the innovation from companies like Porcelanosa Grupo helps a lot; these companies must be supported because they investigate and provide the highest quality results.
My father was an innovative man; for example, he was fascinated by Japan because of its neatness, tidiness and its way of structuring ideas and work alike. He introduced many of these ideas in Spain at a very difficult time indeed. At this time, our team is intrigued and looks for innovation and, at the same time, we are also a very rational studio, with our feet firmly on
Q: What do you think the future of architecture will be like?
A: As I have said, always from operational optimism. I believe in human beings. We have always known how to get out of difficulties, even if it has taken years to do so. I don’t believe in the line of thought that closes in the exaltation that any past formula was better.
In Spain, we still have a lot to learn and assimilate; we want to do everything with few means, we need to have a clear awareness of investment in both the medium and long term. There is some scarring and a lack of culture and sensitivity, and the big hit has done a lot of damage, as well as major or minor corruption. What is achieved easily and effortlessly that does not use up any resources is impossible and negligible.
Anyway, the future will be very good, since I am enthusiastic about my job and my collective. I believe in new generations and in a new way of thinking, being and communicating which, will make us live with both authenticity and commitment.
Photography portraits: Alex del Río