30th March : Jaime Oliver has had a stint at the OMA – Office of Metropolitan Architecture’s Shanghai and Beijing office before establishing OHLAB with Paloma Hernaiz. He had even collaborated with DNA and Hariri in New York. Imparting knowledge and his experience to the younger architectural students in IE School of Architecture in London and Madrid, Jaime teaches design at the Master in Design for Work, Retail and Learning Environments.
The multiple WAF award-winning Spanish architect talks to Johnny D about their award-winning project – The Puro Hotel!
A Cozy Set-up
Johnny D: Heartiest congratulations for winning the WAF Awards 2016. Please describe your feelings when you won the awards.
Jaime Oliver: It was the first time ever, we attended the WAF. It was an incredible experience for us! We still cannot believe, we were the office, which won the most awards at the World Architecture Festival 2016! We, OHLAB received awards for Best House Award for MM House; Best Hotel Interiors for Puro Hotel Project; and Best Healthcare Interior project for EmarDental Clinic Project.
Top View of Seating
JD: What are the various projects OHLAB are currently busy with, in various countries?
JO: We are currently working in two boutique hotels in the historical center of Palma de Mallorca, four different houses in Mallorca, a clothing store in Miami, coffee shops in New York and Los Angeles, and a residential building in Palma. We are also working on smaller projects, such as a box for rings, a mini-bar and mobile cart to sell beer.
JD: When the client states the brief to an architect in the first meeting, what really goes in an architect’s mind?
JO: We try to understand why the brief is important for them and spot the opportunities for the project, the location and its surroundings.
Illustration of a Room – I
JD: How does the design creation process materialize in an architect’s mind?
JO: Researching, studying, analyzing, brainstorming, testing, developing, detailing… intensely.
JD: What was the brief of the project?
JO: Puro hotel had a strong identity. We had to refurbish the hotel maintaining their soul by improving their image and efficiency.
JD: As the head, what do you demand from the team members during the master planning stage?
JO: We have a rule. Everything is a possible winner, until the opposite is proved. So, we tell the team to experiment with many options. We try to give them self-confidence and show any idea they have, however, stupid it may seem.
JD: What are the major challenges you foresee during the planning stage to execute the project on the real grounds?
JO: Dealing with budget and timing.
JD: How do you overcome them creatively?
JO: We are used to work under pressure, but having fun at the same time. We encourage the team to travel and we try to do team activities, like sailing together.
Illustration of a Room – II
JD: How would you describe the ‘Elegance of Design’ of ‘Puro Hotel Project’ from an architect’s perspective?
JO: The refurbishment project of Puro Hotel takes advantage of the existing buildings’ complexity as a potential tool to generate unexpected and unique spaces, where each room is different from each other. The project solves every room with individualized and unique layouts and solutions. The selection of natural and local materials emphasizing the Mediterranean essence has been very important.
JD: Please mention 5 major ‘Sustainability’ features you have incorporated in the project.
JO: It was a simple refurbishment so we were quite limited in terms of “sustainability” features we could incorporate. However, we tried to use a palette of natural and local materials as a constant, throughout the project: cement sinks and bathroom walls, recovered mares-stone walls – the traditional limestone used in traditional Majorcan architecture-, natural hemp ropes, stainless steel switches and fittings, aged leather, linen, cotton, fabrics designed by OHLAB and produced on ancient Majorcan looms for upholstery, cushions and plaids, raffia carpets and wicker baskets produced locally, etc.
JD: What is the total area of the project?
JO: Around 800 m2
JD: What is the estimated cost of the project?
JO: Undisclosed for confidentiality agreement with the client.
JD: How much time it took for the OHLAB Team from the first client-architect’s meeting to handing over the project?
JO: It was an extremely fast project. It took around 4 months to design, plan and estimate and only less than 3 months to build.
JD: Do you agree that Structural Engineers are breaking frontiers to give shape to Architects’ designs’ vision? However, not much credit is attributed to their conscientious efforts? As an architect, please throw some light in this aspect.
JO: We do give a lot of importance and credit to all our consultants from structural engineers to mechanical engineers, to building engineers, etc. We always try to incorporate all the consultants very early in the design process, so they can participate in the design and we can truly work as a team.
JD: Please describe the contribution of your partner Paloma Hernaiz in firm’s day-to-day activities.
JO: We work very closely together, usually in very different tasks that constantly overlap and intertwine.
JD: How would you describe Jaime Oliver as a professional and a person?
JO: I am patient, open minded and I like teamwork.
JD: Please state five recent awards you have won recently with project’s name.
JO: They are:
- Winners Win Awards 2016 with Puro Hotel (Design Museum of London)
- Winners at WAF with MM house (The World Architecture Festival) celebrated in Berlin last November
- Winners at INSIDE twice (interior awards of WAF) with PURO hotel and EmarDental clinic
- Winners at BOYS (Best of Year awards) celebrated in NY (December) with EmarDental clinic and also we received an honorable mention with PURO hotel.
- 1 Silver award (with mm house) and 2 bronze awards (with Emar Dental clinic and Puro hotel) at AAP (American Architecture Prize) last October
- Winners with MM house as the best sustainable house at NAN awards. A very recognized Spanish award about architecture and construction.
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