Architype Dialogue presents
Paolino Di Vece Roux
What was the most difficult issue about working on a building that focuses on religion, or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?
According to Pythagoras “this world is false and illusive, a turbid medium in which the rays of heavenly light are broken and obscured in mist and darkness” (1). On the other hand, Mother Teresa tells us that through constant prayer we can become an instrument of the divine light that illuminates the world. “The filaments of the light bulbs are useless if they are not energized. You, me, are filaments. The energy is God. We have the possibility of letting this energy pass through ourselves and let it utilize us in order to produce light for the world” (2). The most difficult issue about working on a building that focuses on religion was developing a metaphor into an architectural language that can give its user the insight to find a glimpse of the heavenly light that Pythagoras and mother Teresa where searching for. Historically, religious buildings have inspired architects to make the best architecture in search of spirituality; finding the way to stretch the possibilities of contrast between light and shadow, mass and void, color and texture, man- made and nature, to the point of surrealism.
1. Bertrand Russel, A History of Western Philosophy, Simon&Schuster, U.S.A. 2007 pp.32
2. José Luis Gonzalez-Balado, Madre Teresa ORAR, pensamiento espiritual, Planeta. España 2011 pp.25
Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?
I am sure that this project has expanded my role as an architect because it has given me the opportunity to develop a new language for one of the oldest typologies of buildings. With this building I have struggled to find a way to make people view spirituality as a form of interior light that can only be sustained through the commitment to illuminate other fellow men. This building tries to communicate a philosophical idea through form and materiality, which makes of the architect a communicator of ideas.
How is your design aesthetic possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?
I think that the most challenging aspect of the project was putting the structural properties of materials perform to their limits. One of the most challenging aspects of the project was making the structural design perform properly in accordance with the architectonic concept. When we proposed to the structural engineers that 4” diameter steel columns had to support a 350 square meter roof, 150 tons in weight, they thought it was an extremely difficult task to achieve. Furthermore and most important, was designing a roofing system that was slender and light weight enough in order to perform according to the architectural expectations. In summary, the possibilities of today´s technologies and structural advancements made possible to construct a building intended for eternity to look ethereal and almost ephemeral.
In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
Being a professor of Design studio for more than 15 years now, has helped me to maintain constant exposure with the experimental character of academic curricula of today´s schools of architecture. Maintaining tight contact with students, peer professors and visiting critics, has always been an insight for retrospective analysis and feedback. Being a studio professor has also given me the opportunity to participate in the formulation of advancements in the curricula that have to do with the improvement of the architect´s awareness of sustainable environments in our cities. I have been able to participate in the making of curricula that makes the student aware of the role of the architect as a form giver to the city through the making of mixed use interventions, sustainable architecture, integrated public spaces and urban sequences as part of the recycled fabrics of our cities.