Creativity counts

CEO Middle East meets HCP Architecture & Engineering board member Marcello Rodriguez Pons who explains why the architectural firm sees growth amid the slowdown in the Gulf.
Creativity counts
Marcello Rodriguez Pons, board member, HCP Architecture.
By CEO Middle East
Wed 18 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

CEO Middle Eastmeets HCP Architecture & Engineering board member Marcello Rodriguez Pons who explains why the architectural firm sees growth amid the slowdown in the Gulf.

With Latin "blood" and German "order", based in Malaga, Spain for the last seven years Marcello Rodriguez Pons, born in Argentina, is an architect and urban planner who successfully designs and develops master plans for towns and new cities, and creates individual buildings as components within these.

For that to be achieved the general focus of the design has to balance the social, environmental, engineering and economic needs of each project.

He is board member of HCP Architecture & Engineering which develops architectural and urban planning projects and construction for the entire world, putting into practice a comprehensive style of working, resolving projects of different sizes and styles from the very beginning to the end. For that, professionals with vast experience are needed so as to achieve excellent results regardless of the complexities of the given situation.

HCP is an architectural and engineering studio founded in 1985, currently employing more than 100 professionals, dedicated to projects offering creative solutions and covering different themes including mainly dwellings and resorts, but also sports centres, hotel complexes, skyscrapers, master plans and infrastructure projects. The principal objective is to produce design that is sympathetic to environmental and humanitarian needs supported by the advances in technology.

Why do you think you have been successful as an architect?

Success is something difficult to define and measure for me as an architect; I leave this word for journalists and critics. I prefer to put things on another way, simply by defining the way I understand our work and role as designers in architecture, which is something people like and feel comfortable with. I imagine the space I'm designing, how light affects it during the days and the seasons, how people would use it naturally without being forced to, that all gives me a lot of elements to polish the project and draft better and better solutions. The only key for the success you are mentioning is work, work and work.

The last years have made ourselves expand worldwide a company because of international design competition awards. These are some of our last achievements:

2009 First Prize Competition for the Master Plan in Amwaj Park District - Bahrain, for office buildings, commercial areas, a hotel, and 500 residential units.

2008 First Prize in the Competition for the development of the Master Plan, Marina Design Project of Dannat Resort in Al Khobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

2007 First Prize in Town Planning Competition, Master Plan, Marina Design Project of Porto Vista Marina & Resort in Vlora, Albania. The project components are a 1,000 berth marina, hotels, commercial areas, golf course and 6,000 residential units.

2006 First Prize of the Competition for Master Plan up to detail design on phase one of Grand Natal Golf in the city of Natal, Brazil. The master plan is a seaside 17.5 millions sq m plot with five golf courses and 30,000 residential units and 3.5 million sq m of built up area.

2006 First Prize of the Competition for Master Plan and Technical Design of Marina Park in Constanza, Romania. The project components are offices, hotel, commercial and 3,500 residential units.

What does the GCC represent for you as a company, and why did you decide to establish here?

We have been working in the region for quite a long time, mainly in Bahrain where we have our branch office for the Gulf, but since last year we also started to work in KSA. We have been doing concepts and feasibility studies for various GCC companies for some time, with quite a lot of success.

Nowadays, and after learning a lot from the region, we understand the market even better and are doing a lot of projects.

Our goal for the future is to increase the size of our Bahrain office and from there assist to the rest of the GCC.

Can you describe one of your projects in the Middle East region?

Amwaj Park District is an innovative residential and office complex in the north area of Bahrain. The project has a surface area of approximately 98,000 sq m, with a flat topography.

Three other important functions of the complex will be a polyclinic, commercial and hotel use. The whole complex shape makes it look iconic, not having any focal or special point in it, but the whole idea together. The site is ideally located just at the entrance of the islands group called Amwaj Islands.

The projected complex consists of 15 buildings and an urban area adapted to the surroundings. Two complete underground floors will be reserved for parking use that will provide 5,700 on-site parking spaces. The public areas will be generously provided with green spaces, a small Marina (for taxi services), areas for coastal walks, squares, roads and all the necessary infrastructure to create an urban life that offers plenty of activities. We are very aware of environmental issues and incorporate the latest innovations within our urban and landscape designs. One of our main aims is to promote energy saving, and for that we are trying to integrate facilities within the projected bioclimatic constructions, that make the best possible use of renewable energy sources.

The idea of the project is to create a residential and business district of international character, which will be a point of reference for Bahrain, and for the whole Gulf region.

Which country in the GCC would you most like to complete a project?

I still see a lot of potential in the Middle East despite the downturn, and would really like to do a project in Abu Dhabi or Qatar. Probably because I have never designed something there and believe these cities are on a way up in getting International feedback from overseas design companies. Clear examples of this are projects done by Hadid, Ghery, Nouvel and Ando in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island in Adu Dhabi, and Pei in the Qatar Museum in Doha.

The GCC has often been described as a playground for architects; do you think this is true?

The thing that has to be understood is that cultural specificities are the key defining point you have to consider when you build in any part of the world if you want to hit the goal doing what is really needed in the area. Something easy to say, but not done by everybody, who still think that the international architecture concept of the sixties is still applicable nowadays. Numerous examples of these ‘copy paste' projects done from the poles to the equators show the non-understanding of this primary rule which leaves a very big gap between these models and the social-political realities of the new context.

I also believe that developers in this area want to get the absolute best of the architects and their designs, and keep pushing the limits. In general I believe this is a good opportunity for testing shapes, materials and feelings, and that in the end the bad tests don't come to reality and finally only stay on paper.

Designing site-specific and culture-specific buildings, environments and spaces is something with which I feel comfortable. Buildings rarely share same components; the aim is to try to solve the particular needs of each one of the challenges with accurate designs.

So if I have to define my philosophy I should say that "HCP aims to design elegant and efficient buildings to grace cities around the world".

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