“I do not conceive a design without making sure that the buildings engage in a dialogue with the surroundings”
You define yourself, from a professional point of view, as “a craftsman of emotions”… How do you understand architecture?
Any architectural project gives a response to a series of questions: we have a specific place where to intervene, a client who has their needs and desires, a budget and a programme to complete, and our job is to be able to answer all the questions that arise from them.
What I propose with my work is experiences that will provoke an accumulation of sensations. It is a type of architecture that is designed by and for the human being who inhabits it, which manages to improve their daily life so that they can achieve something even more sublime: happiness.
Who is ARK Architects made up of and how is the studio organized?
Our partnership includes two technical architects, Diego Suárez Jurado and Santiago Ruiz Moriche, who are in charge of the management and construction phases, and myself, Manuel R. Moriche, who is in charge of the creative phase.
Behind us is a great team, which includes professionals from a wide range of sectors and areas of expertise: from architecture to design and interior design, including engineering and landscaping, and even neuroscience. For us, architecture is the built idea, and that is why we cover all the phases of the project.
We are builders of ideas, which are materialized precisely and efficiently. Finally, we offer a global solution, allowing the client to only hire a company that can give them more than 10 years of global guarantee.
Among the particularities that distinguish your work is the sensitivity when handling light, the surroundings or materials. What is your creative philosophy in that sense?
We always start with an essential question: what are we going to give back to nature to prevent our work from having an invasive impact? And, therefore, the first thing is to do a thorough analysis of the location where we are going to carry out our work, the place that already carries the germ of the project.
We consider, we pay attention to the geography, topography, climatology, biology, constructive culture of the area... and we scrupulously respect the place, the natural light, the surroundings of the location, and the native natural materials that we will use.
Respect is the key for us, and that also includes sustainability… In the studio, we began to take sustainability into account a long time ago, and today it is one of our banners.
The geographical position of the enclaves in which you have worked, such as Zagaleta or Sotogrande, greatly determines the way of understanding design. To what extent is that aspect important?
We understand architecture from a point of view in which the location is a determining factor. The surroundings and, therefore, nature, are the starting point, the thing that generates everything else, where the germ of any project is.
I do not conceive a design without making sure that the buildings engage in a dialogue with the surroundings, that they interact with nature. In this sense, Zagaleta, Marbella, Madrid, Sotogrande or other areas such as Miami, have a special light, which, we can say, is the central element of architecture.
In each space, there is a specific light with different characteristics that we must learn to handle and manage so that the project can have coherence and so that we can reach the levels of sensitivity that we seek.
What aspects are the most decisive when creating a unique work like the ones that have made your studio famous? What is the search for excellence like?
The key is being in constant search for improvement and having a feeling of always being able to progress. Our designs that were made five years ago are different from those of today, although they maintain their essence and philosophy; but people, lifestyle and environment also evolve. At ARK we have the advantage that our projects are comprehensive, so we control the entire phase of the process.
Everything is born from an analysis of the place, the lifestyle and, of course, a design. Design is the germ from which a successful architectural project will develop, and I’m not just talking about the exterior design, but also about each room, bathroom, kitchen, garage, stairs… Absolutely everything must be aligned and coherent to fulfil its function.
And how do you combine that with the requirement to achieve the highest standards of luxury?
Modern luxury has undergone a revolution and has abandoned the high standards of ostentation. The architecture focused on the high-level single-family homes has specific evolved parameters that are more related to space, functionality, sustainability, the balance among materials, craftsmanship, and the ability to tailor each space to suit the customer’s needs, choosing everything down to the last detail so that it will not be something standard or industrialized.
We should stop thinking of architecture as something select or elitist: it is a cultural heritage that belongs to everyone, it is part of us, of our city, and it is good that we should reflect more on that.
About ARK Architects in Marbella
Known for its luxury villas in privileged natural settings, the ARK Architects studio works in the most exclusive locations of our country such as Marbella, Zagaleta, Villa Padierna, Sotogrande and Madrid, in addition to carrying out international projects in Miami, Milan, New York and Dubai.
Its work philosophy is based on controlling all stages of the process to guarantee not only the highest quality and safety standards but also respect for a new type of architecture that is humane. We spoke with one of its founding partners, architect Manuel R. Moriche, to better understand his career and vision.