Quote: Mercedes Miras Varelas

castille-miras images“For me, architecture is not for architects. It’s for the people. In truth, architecture is necessary as long as people need it.”  Mercedes Miras Varelas

This quote echoes many of my sentiments about disappointment with elitist architects and educators. Last week a colleague was explaining that architects seem to hate every building they did not personally design. And that is a travesty to our profession as architects.

Mercedes Miras Varelas (1969-) studied architecture at Seville School of Architecture (ETSAS) completing her diploma in 1997. She has been in private practice in Almeria, Spain since 1998. Castillo opened his own practice in 2000, and Mercedes joined a few years later. Her built work involves public buildings like a Center for Old Age People and a residence for the mentally disabled. She has developed several restoration projects like the Conversion of a XVIII century building into the Andalucía Photography Museum and the Restoration of a Tower in Huercal-Overa.  Lately she has been working for the Andalucía Regional Government as a consultant and public participation manager for a number of projects involving the refurbishment of social housing and urban spaces in socially troubled areas.

There is a new wind among younger practitioners. They explain it well on their site:

Our work aims to show that our society needs a new architecture: one that has the ability to solve problems, not create them, one that provides practical solutions that are economically feasible, but also an architecture that transcends the merely utilitarian. When we think about architecture, there are some important concepts we reflect on: recycling, reusing the obsolete and the reclaiming degraded structures, spaces and landscapes. We like to reuse the existing and take it further: to see what others do not see, reclaiming the obsolescent.

We are part of a new architectural sensibility that has these strategies as starting point, rejecting the artistification of architecture as well as its transmutation into a product for mass consumption.


Here is a link to their firm website in Spanish and English, where you can view some of their work:

Also search for them on ArchDaily and Architizer.

You can read more of these quotes in the book : ‘the ARCHIITECT says’, compiled and edited by Laura S. Dushkes, published by the Princeton Architectural Press. She is the architectural librarian at the firm NBBJ in Seattle.



About Gregory Stock, AIA, LEED BD+C

I am an experienced architect and artist, you can visit my website for information about me and my work, social media pages and more http://www.gregorystockdesign.us
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One Response to Quote: Mercedes Miras Varelas

  1. Carmelo Monti (Mel) says:

    Sorry Greg, I must take exception to the statement made by Ms. Varelas posted on your blog above. Her quote essentially deems the study of Architecture and design as a profession useless and unnecessary in a single stroke of her pen. In addition, making me feel that the last 42 years of practicing as an architect were in vein and worthless. It is my opinion that she is missing the point of the profession if she for one instant truly believes what she said.

    Let’s analyze her Quote. “For me, architecture is not for architects. It’s for the people. In truth, architecture is necessary as long as people need it.”

    I somewhat agree with the first sentence that architecture isn’t only for architects, but I do not get the follow-up. What is she saying here? People have never really needed architecture in any period of History. People throughout History have appreciated the great works that architects have done to enhance the built environment beyond the basic need for functional cover. What people needed beyond caves and temporary windbreak protections made of twigs, was shelter. One of the three essentials to survival, the others being food, and clothing. Therefore, why did she study to become an Architect if it is not needed?
    The first Master-builders honed their trade and eventually they added the elements of design and spirit to the program and voile we Borne Architecture. The colleague you met claiming, “Architects seem to hate every building they did not personally design,” is a travesty in itself, and he/she needs to get the hell out of the profession. I agree we are a hypercritical bunch, but as much as I personally disdained the business side of Architecture as a profession, because we have clients who need buildings built within a limited time frame and budget. Not a day goes by where I do not enjoy viewing, or entering a fine example of designed architecture. I even go to the point of thinking that I would have enjoyed being part of the team, which created this particular work of building art. Oh, that is right; it takes an architect to design a building to meet a client’s budget and schedule that will endure the elements of style.
    that is why we go to school to learn those elements of style and practice. Notice, I said style, and not time. Because a builder can satisfy a client’s needs, just as well to endure over time, but the eyesore will also be around for that amount of time as well. I’m not saying every architect never created an ugly building. Too many examples exist around us. Just because it’s a building designed by an architect, it doesn’t mean that the building itself is a piece of architecture.
    Also, from the example shown in the blog above, nothing stands out to me as a fine piece of Architecture requiring the discerning eye of a skilled professional designer that a good builder could not have concocted in the environmental setting for which it is shown within.
    The photo shown of her work, in my opinion, then hardly classifies as architecture per my statements above. It is hard to discern whether her work is the staircase and stacked logs in the foreground, or if her project is the pastel, colored Condo’s beyond. If it is the Condo’s, I believe that any competent local builder of the area understanding the local style and color could have produced the same as a need for housing and shelter. Then, is her work shown in the truest sense architecture?

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