Josep Bohigas (Barcelona, 1967) writes, thinks and makes architecture: buildings, urban spaces, temporary structures, interiors, he doesn't mind. For this architect, the scale of the assignment is not a factor that changes its status or treatment. The development period, from the first idea to the finished object, is the same for every creative process and therefore, for everything that can be designed, from the front door to the organization of an area of the neighbourhood. This all-encompassing approach explains his way of understanding the city and the way its components relate to each other, from micro to macro and vice versa.
Bohigas feels committed to the city. He is critical of Barcelona design and the idea of Barcelona as a design city, which he considers a completely passé model, and he is in favour of a more practical hybridism that allows aesthetic ideals to be redefined in harmony with the evolution of its human landscape. He doesn’t support either the present trend of importing decontextualized architecture designed by big names, so much as an item, even if it is what the city wants: ‘Talent should be directed to real needs.’
Bohigas commits himself to regain urban surroundings, to take it away from cars so that citizens can cultivate a more intimate, working relation with public areas. The extra metres squared that inhabitants desire are on the other side of the door. However an evolution of this magnitude is only possible with simultaneous intervention of housing construction and public space, taking into account the context and social diversity of the city. With regard to households, Bohigas heralds the new revolution: shared services between neighbouring communities. The system requires a new concept of cohabitation inspired by the way hotels operate. In the middle of the crisis, who would say ‘no’ to living in a hotel?
The architecture that Bohigas has in mind therefore is inseparable from its social function. By organizing experimental projects, such as the multidisciplinary Barraca Barcelona (2003), with discussions about feasible alternatives to the ‘invisible shanty-townism’ to the eyes of the authorities, and the exhibition APTM (Construmat 2005), with six prototypes of small, low cost, sustainable, quality apartments, he shows up the architecture of trendy magazines and colour supplements in order to cause public debate about the subject. Once again, another revolution: accommodation’s quality does not depend on its floor surface area. As easy and as difficult as that.
Bohigas believes that the future of these innovative approaches to the city lie in participation. An involvement that is also essential in its own work process. In BOPBAA, the studio that he opened in 1991 along with Iñaki Bakero and Francesc Pla, projects are carried out by means of multilateral dialogue between partners – the fact that there are three of them helps –, clients and collaborators. He is certain that a project can only be successful if the client is involved.
In a medium that is increasingly more dependant on technology and digital supports, Bohigas affirms that he fights for the trade’s traditional techniques that seem unavoidably destined to extinction. Once he referred to BOPBAA as the last renaissance studio, in the way that without renouncing innovation, they still use drawing tables and make conventional models, which are carried out in the workshop. Architecture on paper and manual work are closely connected to the enthusiasm for the creative process and the pleasure of experimenting for the cofounder of this last renaissance studio in Barcelona, 08005, technological district 22@.
Santa Mònica Art Center
Hangar is a Barcelona-basedarts production centre placed in the area of Poblenou.