Carlos Lamela in ‘Cinco Días’: “Canalejas Center Madrid is a successful and extraordinary project”
Carlos Lamela, the president of Estudio Lamela, reflects, through an extensive interview with the economic newspaper Cinco Días, some of the essential aspects that affect the studio in particular and architecture in general as a profession.
At the bedrock of the conversation is the inauguration of Canalejas Center Madrid, undoubtedly one of the most fundamental and most important projects undertaken in Europe in the last decade: The union of seven historic buildings in the center of Madrid to design a Four Seasons luxury hotel, a shopping gallery, 22 luxury apartments, and 400 parking spaces. “It has been an extraordinary project in everything, with great social and urban responsibility, and it will be a successful project,” shares Carlos Lamela. He also adds: “Projects like this in Madrid are done once in a century.”
The conversation also addresses other issues. One is the relationship between architecture and society. “In other countries, people know the architect who has designed the building, be it classic or contemporary. Here, in general, there is no architectural culture,” says Lamela. “And the architect,” says the head of Estudio Lamela, “doesn’t seek profitability but seeks to do things well.” And in that duty, his voice hasn’t been heard too often. For example, the PAU (Urban Action Plans), whose main proponents in Madrid are in Sanchinarro and Las Tablas, have erred in their mission. “Everything comes from an unfit design; they’re too expansive, not dense enough, and with little aesthetic regulation. They are areas where it’s unpleasant to live although there are happy people who adapt,” he observes.
Changes are necessary to overcome this kind of problem within an excessively individualistic society. It is fundamental, for instance, that Urbanism becomes its own academic discipline. To this very day, it has been in the architectural industry as a specialty. “This means that the urban planning in Spain has been done by us, architects, and that shouldn’t have been so,” Lamela argues. Changes are necessary and Estudio Lamela wishes to lead that transformation.