PHOTOGRAPHY: TIM VAN DE VELDE WRITER: ELLIE STATHAKI
OUT OF OFFICE | TATIANA BILBAO
BB: How do you take your coffee?
TB: I don’t. Too much caffeine can
drive me crazy!
Where does your name come from?
My grandfather’s grandfather was an
orphan in Bilbao and, when you have
no name, they give you the name of
the city you were born in. He became
a prominent contractor and his son
became an architect. He was also
important in the Bilbao government,
but later moved to Mexico. My
mother was German, so I have an
interesting heritage, being a refugee
on both sides. I feel it is a privilege.
Where does your creative spirit
The first influence for me when I was
growing up was architect Lina Bo
Bardi and it was not because she was
a woman. Also, my parents were both
teachers, of maths and physics, and
teacher-parents are very good at
encouraging their kids to progress
in their strengths and interests.
Tell me a little about your current
I was asked to design an aquarium
for the coastal city of Mazatlán
[The Aquarium of the Sea of Cortes].
The brief called for an aquarium that
looked like an aquarium, but I didn’t
know what an aquarium should
look like. Ethically I questioned it,
but I felt it would become an
important research centre. Sea levels
will eventually rise and this has been
factored into the brutalist structure.
The most important part is how this
building will give back to the local
area – it’s not a zoo for fish!
An exhibition of your work will
open at Copenhagen’s Louisiana
Museum of Modern Art in October.
What is the show about?
Louisiana is the most beautiful
museum. The show explores our
definition of landscapes and is laid
out in three parts. The first covers our
models and projects. The second part
is a cabinet of curiosities that brings
together things that represent the
landscapes – objects, paintings, maps.
The third is a physical interpretation
of those landscapes in one room. I’m
trying to transmit the context of our
work and how we respond to it!
CREATIVE SMALL TALK
the Mexican architect
with a magnanimous vision
The affluent Belgian seaside resort of
Knokke-Heist, in West Flanders, has a
bright new landmark. A collaboration
between Ghent-based architecture
studio Compagnie-O and Dutch artist
John Körmeling, the project was
conceived as a structure to encompass
several functions relating to health and
safety on the beach, and was required
to house a first aid room, a lifeguard
station with lifeboats, a police station,
and public toilets. They responded with
a design in bright yellow, referencing
Beach users at a Belgian seaside resort can have their moment
in the sun, thanks to a bright new lifeguard station
‘plastic beach toys and buoys’ and
the sun, while at the same time
using a colour that is internationally
associated with lifeguards. ‘Despite the
romantic metaphor, we’re looking at
a straightforward lifeguard and police
station, fully equipped to manage pain,
save lives and guard overall security,’
say the architects. The cylindrical
‘object’ also features an observation
tower for the lifeguards of Knokke-Heist,
the first of its kind on that stretch of
beach. compagnie-o.be; johnkormeling.nl