From breathtaking architecture to product design, in the Spanish architect Ramón Esteve‘s projects the relationship with the outdoor is always strong and emphasized: “In architecture, the exterior is essential. It is the project’s raw material, the material and cultural starting point. When I start a new project, first I visit the place to observe what has been done there before and apprehend their customs and way of life. Then I let my intuition work and take all the elements that may add value to the result. When I work in a privileged environment, I turn architecture into a lookout to enhance the user’s perception of the landscape. When these landscape elements do not exist, I make them by creating some kind of microcosm on the plot. In both cases, my aim is to find a balance, so that architecture and landscape would be completely fused together”.
He his based in Valencia, and his Spanish roots influence his architectural and design approach: “I am based on the Mediterranean culture, a millenary culture that has conditioned the world through many artistic events throughout history to the present day. This background has always had a great influence on my architecture, in which I try to interpret our values and synthesize those that I consider most important. Even so, I have been lucky enough to build in other latitudes and, with the utmost respect and admiration for their values, I have delved into their culture and proposed a project through my own contemporary vision of what in my opinion corresponds to that place”.
Sardinera House, Xàbia, Spain – Photo © Mariela Apollonio
His cottage in Valencia is a good example of a landscape intervention and the relationship between architecture and environment that he stands for: “The cottage is located between two areas, on one side we have wild forest and on the other side fields cultivated and geometrized by the hand of man. You can experience this duality from inside the house because the architecture captures views from both landscapes in the different rooms. On the other hand, the materials we chose for the construction are inspired by vernacular architecture, using white colour, wood, and steel and zinc details.
To recreate an atmosphere that extends the sensations of nature inside the house, we sought an optimal balance between light and shadow that would work at any time of the day. My intention, there and in any house located in the middle of nature, is to experience the landscape with the maximum intensity. If we go back to the origin, landscape began to be valued during the Romantic period, when its beauty was contemplated through the artist’s eyes who replicated it in his paintings. In the same way, architects have the possibility to highlight the landscape”.
All his projects emphasize the relationship with the outside world: “If the landscape has a quality, I look for a way to enhance it, regardless of whether it is natural or urban. In fact, I have had the opportunity to work on projects located in wonderful environments, but there are also others where I have had to create it using all the landscape resources at my disposal.
For example, as I mentioned in the previous question, the Cottage in the Vineyard reflects very well this concept of duality in the Mediterranean landscape. Furthermore, in the Paz y Comedias House the building emerges from the ground, built with the stone extracted in the excavation, while the Sardinera House is characterized by its strong connection with the immediate landscape and with the horizon of the Mediterranean Sea. However, in other projects such as the House in La Cañada or the Madrigal House the surroundings have been created from scratch”.
Rodes Industrial Park, Alcoy, Spain
The architect and his studio are designing several public facilities with intervention in heritage: “On the one hand, we are working on the Rodes Industrial Park, based on the restoration of some old foundry facilities in Alcoy – Alicante – to turn them into a technological and socio-cultural center. We are also immersed in the Master Plan and rehabilitation of Las Cigarreras, a former tobacco factory in Alicante that will also host and promote economic, cultural, and social activities.
At the same time, we continue working in the Viladecans Hospital, which is already under construction, as well as in a medical specialties center for Sanitas in Valencia and other facilities, such as educational centers and a university center, which we will make public throughout 2021.
Viladecans Hospital, Spain
On the other hand, we have several urban development projects in our hands, such as the Mara Views housing estate by AEDAS Homes in one of the most privileged areas of Alicante. At the same time, we continue designing single-family houses, three of which are already in the final phase of building so we might see the result this spring. Furthermore, I can tell you for the first time that we are designing a very special project in Italy: the rehabilitation of a house in Contignano, a beautiful town in Tuscany”.
Ramón Esteve also works with the best outdoor furniture brands: “Outdoor furniture is conditioned by harsh weather, so many times its solutions are related to the materials we use in architecture when we need resistance. When I started with the Na Xemena collection (Gandiablasco, 1996, ed), this type of furniture did not exist, and we realized that the interior of the house needed to be extended to the outside so we can enjoy it too. Right now, technology has advanced thanks to the research of firms like Vondom, who is using the latest generation of plastics and materials, thus allowing us to use practically the same shapes, finishes and textures as in interior pieces, generating also outdoor living spaces”.
Vineyard by Vondom, Design Ramón Esteve
Regarding the product design line, “in 2020 we presented collections for internationally prestigious firms such as MDF Italia and Talenti in Italy or the American companies Restoration Hardware and Danao. At a national level, we continue working with brands such as Vondom, Porcelanosa, Vibia or LZF Lamps. During this year, we hope to present some new collaborations that emerged last year that we cannot reveal yet”.
Everytime he faces a new project, he does it with enthusiasm: “In my studio we cannot take all the commands that we would like and, when we choose one, we do it by affinity and because it meets all the requirements that we consider essential to face it with motivation. However, in architecture I would very much like to design an Experience Hotel and get involved in all its design phases. To have the possibility of generating an entire environment that generates a specific experience to its user seems to me an exciting challenge. With respect to product design I am interested in exploring new fields, such as the design of a line of household appliances or an electric bicycle”.