8 questions for… Touza Arquitectos
Founded in 1975, Touza Arquitectos has developed its professional work, dealing with all fields of architecture in general, as well as interior design and urban planning. Founded by architect and urban planner Julio Touza Rodríguez, over its 40 years of operation Touza Arquitectos has undertaken more than 1,500 projects, which have included residential, office and corporate headquarter buildings, as well as commercial buildings, sports complexes and hotel projects, not to mention other unique types of Project such as temples, museums, technological buildings, tourist complexes, etc. on different scales.
Recently, those in charge of the studio have used Noken products for the bathroom fittings of some of its latest projects, such as the renovation of the emblematic Casino Gran Vía in Madrid, in collaboration with the interior design and furniture of Steelman&Partners.
Answering our questionnaire, Julio Touza Rodríguez and Julio Touza Sacristán explain to us their particular vision of architecture and bathroom design.
1.- What is Architecture today?
Even though technology, materials and “styles” have changed, the Vitruvian triad is still valid: “Firmness, Commodity and Delight”; that is to say, sturdiness, usefulness and beauty, all being essential if we wish to speak about true Architecture. It is about planning habitable spaces for people, and within this objective come all the practical and physical necessities, such as emotional and intellectual necessities.
Obviously, in an advanced and industrialised society, Architecture is not just limited to the field of art, appearance and design, but also to professional services. This is how we understand our profession, as a service to society, with the ultimate goal of providing people with wellbeing, and contributing to the balance of their environment, without giving up that “something more” that our discipline must obtain while satisfying these technical and functional needs: beauty.
2.- What role does an architect play in our current society?
There are different roles; each architect or each studio can play the role in which they create most. Today the role of the architect comes from visualising “spectacular architecture”, where the ego and the appearance are the same end; from “pure business”, where the only thing of interest is economic gain; or as I believe, as is fortunately the case for a large number of the great architects in Spain, from serious and respectable vocation, acting honestly, offering “a hare for a cat”, as the master Alejandro de la Sota said.
In an ever more informed society, more interested by design, with a greater need to differentiate itself and identify itself with the space it inhabits, the architect’s mission is, more than ever, to listen to their client, to the rest of society (as there are many works which have a large urban impact), and provide buildings which respond to their needs and the needs of cities and their time, without having to give up their own architectural voice.
3.- How important is innovation in architecture?
It is of the utmost importance, as without new materials there is no new architecture. The modern movement was possible not only thanks to an aesthetic (neoplasticism, cubism, avant-garde) and intellectual (functionalism, hygiene, social justice) revolution, but also above all to materials and techniques which allowed these changes to be made a reality. Thus, reinforced concrete, laminated profiles, the elevator and large glass surfaces revolutionised architecture at the start of the 20th century. Since then, the evolution of architecture has always been connected to the emergence of new materials and technologies, and above all very recently, not so much in construction techniques as in those modelled on appearance and space, which have allowed the development of complex forms and spaces which would not have been possible any other way.
4.- Can traditional materials be reinterpreted and given new applications, or do you advocate the search for and research into new materials?
We advocate both options, and even the combination of both. Traditional materials can have new appearances thanks to cutting techniques or chemical treatments which were unimaginable before, allowing new uses or a different use of stone, wood or ceramic, etc. In addition to the evolution of the treatment of traditional materials, without doubt the constant search for new materials is essential for the improvement of architecture in different fields.
5.- Touza Arquitectos works on all types of projects, from whole buildings to interior design. How do you manage the difficult issue of the difference in scales and proportions?
Working on the three scales of architecture is part of Touza Arquitectos’ identity. Not just interior design, but also construction and urban planning have a specialised department within our studio. Obviously this requires a large team with great professionals who we are lucky enough to work with. Evidently architecture is an increasingly “choral” profession, and even more so when working on a larger scale. We believe that for an urban planning project, professionals such as sociologists, landscapists, environmentalists, lawyers and civil engineers, etc. come into play.
6.- What is your bathroom like?
The truth is that the bathroom is a place for constant experimentation in interior design, and at our studio we have applied different solutions to each one of our bathrooms. The latest is a bathroom with a library, which really surprises all of our clients when they visit the studio.
7.- How do you see the bathroom of the future?
As an increasingly large and significant space. In our lives, hygiene, personal appearance and health are becoming increasingly important, as are the management of energy and water. All of these things in domestic architecture are related with bathrooms. We believe that, if we discount the time we spend asleep, the bathroom is one of the spaces where we spend the most time. In fact, in hotels it is statistically the space where most time is spent.
Therefore, we believe that the bathroom of the future will be larger, with more space, where mechanisms will be organised for purifying and re-using waste water, where showers will incorporate water therapy systems (temperature, hydro-massage, etc.). Things that today we see as “extras” for luxury homes and which in the future will be habitually integrated in our homes.
8.- What is a Noken product you would highlight? Why?
Like all products in the Porcelanosa family, Noken products perfectly combine material quality and durability with excellent design. Therefore, we include them in our projects, for example as we did in the recently completed Iván Malagón Clinic, a cutting edge dental clinic created completely with bathroom fittings by Noken and other products by Porcelanosa. In the Casino de Gran Vía, all bathrooms also incorporate toilets and taps by Noken.