Signature Villa

Interview

Octavio Mestre
OMA

Tell us about OMA…

We are a studio rather than an office because we study problems rather than dispatching them. We are, by choice, small; we have never had more than 6 architects, and, in spite of that, we have built 150 works, some very large, in several countries. Our size has enabled us to withstand various recessions with dignity (it shouldn’t be forgotten that small mammals survived the ice age and dinosaurs did not), not to mention that ‘we Catalans eat little and digest well.’

Finding solutions before problems appear (which I learned by reading Wagensberg) has been fundamental; this anticipation is essential in life. Working hard and having a certain commercial astuteness (which instils confidence in your customers), without relinquishing what is really important: that we are neither the customer nor us, but the quality of what we design and build, and knowing that the best general is not the one who wins the most battles, but the one who avoids them.

Although some consider us as specialists in the world of the workspace, office buildings and corporate headquarters, luxury houses, restoration of historical buildings and shopping centres, the truth is that we have the vocation of a generalist. I set up the studio when I finished my studies at the end of the 1980s, and we have never stopped building houses and things.

What would you highlight about your professional career?

I see the discipline as a three-legged stool in which construction is one of the legs, and the others are teaching (I have taught over 4,000 students at twenty universities in a dozen countries) and research, which necessarily ends up in dissemination and publication. Apart from all of the books written (12 monographs provide an account of our work) and the more than 300 articles published, I co-edit a digital architecture magazine called t18magazine, which receives an average of 35,000 views per issue and has subscribers in more than 110 countries.

What do you value about Hormipresa?

The solvency of a large group that does things well is always a guarantee of success. Hormipresa stands out for doing things well, which means and is testament to the fact that there are many people who do not, and has great ability to tailor its work to the needs and tastes of the customer, which of course is the aim of these ‘signature villas.’

Tell us about their construction and insulation systems…

The fact that more and more construction work is being carried out in the workshop than on site is a reality… precision, not depending on the weather and having skilled labour ensures the quality standards required. But that reality which we accept in cars, furniture and clothing is not always welcomed by a society that still thinks that living in precast concrete houses gives off an air of low value, or even poverty or deprivation…

Manufacturing good quality panels that incorporate thermal insulation solves the problem of thermal bridges, and achieves greater energy savings (sustainability benefits our heating bills) and, above all, reduces execution times, thereby preventing processes from becoming excessively drawn out and things going wrong. Because on a work site anything can, and usually does, happen… as I and everyone involved in this business are acutely aware.