influenced by his mediterranean upbringing and the work of sculptor andreu alfaro, architect fran silvestre has already developed a rich collection of impressive work. before forming fran silvestre arquitectos in 2005, silvestre was able to work closely with the great álvaro siza vieira whom he credits with consolidating his existing passion for the built environment. in a recent interview, designboom spoke with the spanish architect, who discussed his biggest influences, his studio’s design approach, and what the future has in store for his firm.

designboom interviews spanish architect fran silvestre
house on the cliff, alicante, spain / image © diego opazo
see more of the project on designboom here



designboom (DB): what originally made you want to study architecture and become an architect?


fran silvestre (FS): my interest for architecture comes from when I was a kid. I liked creative work a lot, but I also liked science. it was maybe this combination that made me choose architecture. a grand-grand-grandfather, an inventor named valentín silvestre fombuena, started a lineage of engineers that influenced my life. the same as being in contact with the valencian sculptor andreu alfaro. finally, the figure of álvaro siza – in which, from my perspective, both technical wit and creative inquietude converge – was determining to consolidate my calling for architecture.

fran silvestre constructs reflective aluminum house in spain
aluminum house, madrid, spain / image © diego opazo
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DB: what particular aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?


FS: the general concept of our architecture arises from a compromise between will and desire. each house, each project, is materialized depending on the identity of each client. it is because of this that our approach towards the project arises from a double compromise: the will of giving technical answers to a particular context (program, budget, law, surroundings…) and the desire to seek for beauty within the built piece. this process looks for satisfaction in it’s wider sense, meaning the satisfaction of all those that actively participate in the development. this is specially clients and users, but also collaborators, builders and designers. mediterranean roots and multiple influences coming from other disciplines, such as andreu alfaro’s sculpture.

fran silvestre arranges atrium house around external courtyard
atrium house, valencia, spain / image © fernando alda
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DB: who or what has been the biggest influence on your work to date?


FS: I owe a lot to álvaro siza. my experience at his studio was determining. among all the things I learned, I specially recall his attitude towards projects. also sculptor andreu alfaro and interior designer andrés alfaro hofmann [have been a big influence in our work].

fran silvestre delineates vegamar seleccion wine shop
vegamar seleccion wine shop, valencia, spain / image © diego opazo
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DB: overall, what would you say is your strongest asset and how have you developed that skill over time?


FS: we always say that our secret is that there is no secret. the added value of our projects lives in the attitude of a team that enjoys what it is doing, and that knows that this is a profession, not only a job.

fran silvestre embeds mountainside house in valencia
mountainside house, valencia, spain / image © fernando alda
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DB: now that computer generated visualizations are so commonplace, is there still a place for physical model making or sketching designs by hand?


FS: we like to think with our hands. all projects in our studio start with a model and several drawings. we attempt to approach each project from several starting points. we first generate a dialogue among the members of the studio and later with the owners.

fran silvestre house on mountainside overlooked by castle designboom
mountainside house, valencia, spain / image © fernando alda



DB: your work often includes beautiful, pure white surfaces. can you tell us about this approach, and would you ever consider changing this distinctive style?


FS: the materials we use have their white color in common. this choice responds mainly to two issues. the first is related with traditional mediterranean architecture. it is a pleasure to observe this white architecture with it’s lime-covered façades contrasting with the blue background of the sea and sky. on another side, it allows the changes in light within a day to become more visible. for us, this is not a matter of style.


we think that what is important in a text is not it’s calligraphy, but it’s content. the same applies for architectural projects and in some occasions we have designed projects that don’t respond to this pattern of white architecture. still, most of our projects are located in the mediterranean coast and this noticeably influences the result.

fran silvestre arquitectos extends sostre canopy in villarreal
sostre canopy, villarreal, spain / image © alfonso calza
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DB: outside of architecture, what are you currently interested in and how is it feeding into your designs?


FS: during the investigation which was conducted for the doctor thesis named ‘hand thought, serial made’ both production and industrial design have been analyzed. we are very interested in knowing if systematization in the processes may favor singularity in the results. with this attitude, we search to increase the quality of the finished piece and, at the same time, make it cheaper.

fran silvestre arquitectos renovates antiguo reino house in valencia
antiguo reino house, valencia, spain / image © diego opazo
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DB: which architects or designers working today do you most admire?


FS: personally, I would point out some aspects of several architects: material expressiveness and timeless character in the work of the swiss architect peter zumthor; the handicraft work, respect towards the place, landscape and tradition in the oeuvre of álvaro siza, with whom we have had the chance to work with. I also highlight the work of eduardo souto de moura, manuel aires mateus or carlos ferrater, with whom we have the pleasure to share some classes with or who we have meet in the (m)arch masters program in valencia.

fran silvestre arquitectos shapes balint house with elliptical forms
balint house, valencia, spain / image © diego opazo
see more of the project on designboom here



DB: can you tell us about any projects you are currently working on that you are especially excited about?


FS: currently we are working in different national and international projects: a housing project in brussels, we are finishing an intervention in a historical office building in the center of valencia, a series of homes in madrid and valencia, a wind tower, two hotels in spain and several projects in the field of industrial design.

fran silvestre arquitectos balint house valencia spain designboom
balint house, valencia, spain / image © diego opazo



DB: what is the best advice you have received, and what advice would you give to young architects and designers?


FS: architect juan domingo santos gave me a great piece of advice. he told me to concentrate in doing one single good piece, not starting many things at the same time. I think this is some great advice which is still valid.


DB: do you have a personal motto?


FS: we like to think of each project as if it were the first, as if it was the last and as if it were the last.