Alberto Vidal
Architect at VIDAL Arquitectos
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Insight

The Architect As Guide

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 11:38

While many believe the job of an architect is to design a building, Alberto Vidal, Architect at VIDAL Arquitectos, argues that the architect’s role is to act as a guide, a bridge that allows the client to achieve his or her dream project with the most appropriate inputs. “Some architects see the client as an obstacle, whereas I see clients as an integral part of the process,” he says. “I want to give people the architecture they need.”
Vidal says any project should adhere to three primary lines of investigation. First, always keep the client in mind. Second, analyze the location and surroundings. “We must look at the angle of the sunlight, the trees and we must be very considerate of neighbors and their needs,” he says. The last factor to consider is regulation, including the number of parking spaces or the number of stories required and permitted. But Vidal says that, although each project needs all these things, they should be seen as minimum requirements. The problem is that many architects see these three steps as a final design. “This is not a good design, but a compliant design,” he says. “It gives no additional value to the client or to the city. I do not want to comply; I want to transcend.”
To illustrate his point, Vidal says his favorite project is his own home, because it is reflective of his vision. “There is a certain spirituality to architecture, whereby sometimes opinions are unconscious,” he explains. He says often our best ideas come when our brains are not consciously connected – during sleep or while daydreaming, for example. “Maybe a person likes or dislikes a building but cannot explain why. That is what architects should strive for,” he says.
Essentially, Vidal believes that the definition of good architecture is providing a sense of space. He says that, although technology contributes to this comfort, the reality is that the comfort should cover all five senses. “However, although technology is not the most important aspect of a living or work space, it is an additional element that can be used to enhance the user experience.”
According to Vidal, now is a very exciting time because we have almost any materials or technology available. “3D printing has evolved over the last five years and materials now come prefabricated. Every day, these technologies are becoming more convenient.”
Newer materials also are emerging that can be more cost-effective, particularly in commercial developments. “While people may be reluctant to incorporate more cost-effective materials into their living spaces, commercial developers can greatly benefit from this,” he says. He gives the example of marble, which is expensive and porous. Replica marble may be an alternative for developers that have a lot of space to cover and also offers benefits in terms of lightness, flexibility and cleanliness.
When incorporating materials into buildings, Vidal advises developers to search for those that maintain their characteristics and age well. “A project can be compared to a person in that it will never look the same as it did on day one,” he says. “A building should age with character and dignity.” He adds that this does not mean that the material should not change at all. “Wood, for example, is a material that ages, although depending on the quality, it can age very well,” he says.
He stresses that a good design does not need to be expensive. The first building Vidal designed was a five-story family-owned property. The firm then grew rapidly and is present in most major cities, such as Hermosillo, Queretaro, Cancun and Chihuahua, where Vidal Arquitectos was one of the pioneers in vertical building. “A developer sought us out due to our work in Monterrey,” he says. “As a result of this project we were again approached by another developer and the cycle continued.”
The situation in Chihuahua was particular in that it is a location where families seek security, which vertical buildings offer. “The demands of clients changed a great deal after the first vertical buildings were constructed,” he says. Now, he believes this level of dynamism is being seen in locations like Irapuato, Saltillo and Queretaro. “The real estate environment now has a very strong identity in Mexico,” he concludes.