Lourdes Carretero, Manuel Leira and Ivan Carbajosa founded Nexo Arquitectura in 2004 in Madrid. Since then, the work developed by the office has been a challenge to obtain the best approach in each project, trying to re-invent and explore new territories and reach unexpected solutions.
International competitions, indeed, have been the vehicle to test their architecture in all kinds of scenarios and scales, developing their personal research and architectural language with freedom.
The common denominator of Nexo’s projects is to re-think the project´s strategy with a new approach towards the programs proposed and the site concerns. From the first prize to build 1,300 social housing for the IVIMA in Los Berrocales, Madrid, to a one million inhabitants Sustainable City in China, with Eduardo Leira, Nexo has been focused on challenging and questioning programs, environmental aspects and formal research, having always the target to achieve a unique/unexpected human experience.
After winning the competition for the Integral Center of Transport in Madrid in 2016, the works are nearing completion, representing one of the most powerful developments in the north of the capital. The experience gained in the field of sustainability has allowed the development of very ambitious projects focused on environmental efficiency. As an example, the new Metro de Madrid headquarters is an almost zero-energy building with cutting-edge technology.
In 2020 Nexo and OMA were shortlisted for the Renazca competition (Madrid) and have started collaboration between the two firms to develop projects in Spain.
There’s a huge gap right now between older and younger architects. Those that are older, are challenged to keep up with tech + apps. Those that are younger, are ahead of the game but lacking in experience. Where is the balance?
We think that architecture´s practice is always a challenge no matter if you are 30 or 80 years old. The firms need to improve with every project, the technology is important but experience is a more sharpen weapon to success.
A decade ago, the global financial crisis left deep scars in terms of destroyed opportunities for young architects. Now COVID-19 threatens to do the same thing? Are we on the brink of another lost generation?
We crossed through 2008 crisis reinventing our selves, learning international protocols in architecture and helping other firms with our collaborations. We have never abandoned the competitions as our prime link to work but we try to open new professional paths every day to overcome the next crisis.
The digital world we live in, the Internet and the new intelligent technologies that are now affordably available allow us to imagine and experiment with totally new value creation architectures. How do you imagine design in the future?
We imagine future design with incredible powerful apps to develop our work but the key of each project will be supported by the local analysis. It is important to avoid global solutions with no interaction with local’s clues.
Would you consider your firm as an emerging architecture practice worth exploring? Why?
We have 20 years of experience on building and designing risky projects, we have learned to collaborate with all type of consultants, we are finishing one of the key buildings in Spain and starting some other hotel projects.
We are offering our clients a clear and sharpen view to architecture with no pre-standardized solutions.
Metro of Madrid Headquarters is nearing completion. What can this mean for your immediate future?
We expect the building to become a reference as a guide to build new sustainable offices. It is a NZEB building (near zero energy building) and the energy from the breaks of the Metro line 9 has been used to improve the energy consumption. All these new environmental techniques are materialized in an elegant design that endows Madrid with a story to develop new public spaces and buildings.
Do have any experience in Africa?
We have worked on some urban development projects in Angola: a waterfront master plan and a multi-functional tower in Benguela, and a project in Maputo (Mozambique). All Africa’s experience has been a collaboration with Eduardo Leira.
Are you expanding overseas? How do you choose the right markets? Would it also expose you to different methods of doing business? How?
We are collaborating with OMA as we mentioned, and we are also working in Middle East collaborating with some big firms. We offer our experience collaborating on many roles, as facade consultants, lead architects, project developers, landspace consultants …etc.
We are experts on participating in competitions and helping other firms to achieve winning entries.
We all want to see new architects highlighting within the wide community – what must be done to achieve this goal?
We need to improve our practice with environmental skills, architects should not leave the sustainable matters to the engineering and lead this global change. We have learned how to do it without losing design quality.
By Gerardo Mingo