interview with architect eduardo cadaval of cadaval & solà-morales
portrait © rodrigo morgado




in 2003, after completing their studies at harvard graduate school of design, eduardo cadaval and his wife clara solà-morales moved to found their own practice — cadaval & solà-morales. in 2005, the duo moved to barcelona, while retaining a branch of their office in mexico city. the studio operates as a laboratory in which research and development are key elements of the design process. the firm state that their objective is ‘to create intelligent design solutions at many different scales, from large projects to small buildings, from objects to city fractions.’

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
sunflower house, girona, spain / photo by sandra pereznieto
see more of the project on designboom here




in a recent interview given to designboom español, cadaval spoke about his love of architecture, his role as a university professor and his view on what makes the ideal city.


designboom (DB): when did you decide to become an architect?


eduardo cadaval (EC): when I was a child. one day we were going to make my home — I was about eight years and I had seen the plans. for sure, the house I imagined was different than the architect’s design, but from there I knew I wanted to be an architect and when I grew up. when I studied I loved it and now that I am an architect I love what I do. everything met my expectations. if I had not been an architect I would have liked to be a mathematician. I actually thought about studying it as a second career, but what interested me in mathematics was the mindset, not necessarily the application.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
córdoba-reurbano housing, mexico city, mexico / photo by miguel de guzmán
see more of the project on designboom here




DB: how do you exercise your ability to surprise in architecture?


EC: I believe in the ability to surprise only through simplifying things. I’m more interested in how something can be polished, how you can remove layers and gain strength, than the alleged surprise by ‘pyrotechnics’. such architecture attracts me very little; I do not like ‘noisy’ architecture. I’m surprised with what can be done with silence.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
X house, cabrils, barcelona / photo by sara pereznieto
see more of the project on designboom here




DB: which architects do you most admire?


EC: I’ve always said I like the architecture that speaks portuguese. perhaps the two strongest representatives are alvaro siza of portugal, and paulo mendes da rocha from brazil. their architecture is extremely powerful and talks in a constructive simplicity.


architecture is huge part of the construction industry, which employs millions of people worldwide. now that the european system collapsed, the fashion is to rescue people in africa by building two houses. okay, but what you need to do is create jobs for these people. that’s where the construction industry works very well; it is stupid to think that only the social architects do humanistic work. we must raise awareness and look for the type of projects that interest you, but also the kind of situations that can generate work.


for example, I have not yet made public projects in mexico because it is a system that promotes little competition. it is a problem of democracy and access to job opportunities offered by the state. when the work is allocated in a transparent way, then we will do more work on public architecture in mexico.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
600 yellow bricks, catalan institute of architecture / photo by sandra pereznieto




DB: do you think your style of architecture includes simplification?


EC: it is a constant factor, if it’s in the works or not, I can not judge. I have the idea that the simpler gesture, the stronger it is. in five years, many new architectural projects you see now will be obsolete — so we try to do something that is a step back in fashion.


DB: what does it mean to you that you had the solo exhibition at col·legi d’arquitectes de catalunya?


EC: it was the first exhibition of a mexican architect in barcelona. the exhibition included 40 projects, 60 models and a documentary video. the idea was to try to teach the mechanisms by which we are trying to build projects. it was an honor and a privilege.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
palacio de pedralbes, barcelona / photo by adrià goula




DB: does this mean a greater responsibility for your future projects?


EC: no more than we’ve ever had. we have been very cautious with the projects we take; we prefer to go slowly and well done, than to do fifteen projects simultaneously. we feel it as a compliment with great generosity by the people of the college; perhaps it is the recognition of the work we have done for ten years.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
house at the pyrenees, aran valley, spain / photo by santiago garcés




DB: how do you think technology has changed the teaching of architecture?


EC: I do not work a lot with digital tools, most of my students draw by hand. I think it’s very difficult to work with these tools and I do not want to lose time learning them. I want to learn from urbanism and architecture, not to know how to use software. of course there are parts of the projects that are working on computers and are very interesting, but there are other parametric programs only for decorative lattices and I do not care about that. what I teach is more straightforward and what concerns me is the intellectual exercise that students can develop. if you want to do it on computer, do so… but I teach them to think.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
PIC pavillion, robert palace gardens, barcelona / photo by sandra pereznieto




DB: you teach classes on urbanism and architectural design at the universitat politécnica de catalunya, UPC. what do you most want your students to learn?


EC: barcelona has a tremendously strong school in terms of urban planning. the city has been built, in part, thanks to the school; because the education provided is very high, students utilize the power of design as an effective and creative tool. on a personal level, I teach them to give their best, to insert their passion. I do not believe in talent, I believe in hard work and learning.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
menaatl, malinalco, mexico




DB: if you had an opportunity, how you would build your ideal city?


EC: probably similar to barcelona. the ideal city is not only a physical space but is a social space which means educated, egalitarian social conditions that allow things to run better. physically it is important that a city is used as a mechanism to balance the inequalities that can improve the lives its people. one of the cities that interests me most in the world is istanbul, because of the chaos and conflict of cultures. places like zurich do not attract me so much, because it is very orderly, but as an urban context it is much less interesting than others — such as mexico city.

interview eduardo cadaval and sola-morales designboom
polanco tower, mexico city, mexico 




DB: at some point do you stop being an architect?


EC: I do not take it seriously. to be an architect is fine, but it is not as important. in this profession you have to solve problems through space, that’s what interests me. there are many architects who design buildings, but do not solve problems.


see the original interview on designboom español here.