It sounds like a lie, but 10 years have passed. It seems incredible, but the study has survived with everything against all this time.
OOIIO celebrates a decade of work.
Every birthday deserves a celebration, but when it comes to a round number like 10 it seems like we have to get more solemn.
How was OOIIO founded?
Well on the go, without too much idea of how to do it, like a big improvisation. As soon as I finished my degree I was very lucky to get my first job at Norman Foster’s London office. There I was learning 2 and a half years, and then I moved to Rotterdam, to OMA, to continue learning now from Rem Koolhaas. A fascinating stage of training that undoubtedly marked me forever as a person and as an architect, but somehow I needed something more. I was not entirely worth being in some of the most important and influential offices in contemporary world architecture, because something inside me said that I had to try to mount something, to make my own architecture. It did not matter never to design those wonderful buildings in world premium locations ever again. And so it was like a good day between 2009 and 2010, some friends asked me if I made them a house. I was delighted to leave the “star system” of architecture and returned to my town in La Mancha to design that first home.
That commission was followed by another, and then another. Luckily there has always been something to do. This despite the fact that 2010 and Spain was far from being the best place in the world or the best time to found anything, much less an architecture studio.
The first 7 years of the studio’s life, we have basically focused on surviving and trying to settle down. The completely adverse economic context for the construction and architecture sector in Spain has undoubtedly profoundly marked the reality and the way of working of the studio.
It has been very difficult to keep the team afloat with some pyrrhic resources and everything against it, but over time I am realizing that this context in our early years has actually made us know how to get a lot out of very little, to exploit and squeeze the maximum the resources we have. That has remained in our DNA, in our way of projecting and seeking simple and realistic solutions to our orders.
Our buildings seem much more expensive than they really are, we use common, cheap, local materials that the workers have used a thousand times before in other works, and we reinterpret them in such a way that we seek to transmit emotions with them.
10 years and more than 235 projects of all kinds later, it turns out that everything is different and the same. As a team the studio has evolved enormously, the know-how and experience accumulated in a decade of hard work is enormous. How much all this knowledge would have helped in the beginning! Although the context seems to be too similar, a new crisis of unknown dimensions threatens to give us another reality bath. The world turned upside down again, now with the problem of the Covid-19. How profound will the changes come with this crisis? How touched will the market be again? Will we make the right decisions in the face of the challenges that await us?
For there is no other option but to continue paddling into the unknown, against all odds. We will have to keep pushing this great little madness with a strange name, OOIIO, based on a lot of effort, intuition, improvisation and trying to achieve a lot with very little.
Joaquín Millán Villamuelas
OOIIO Architecture´s Founder and Director