ESENCIAL: Spiritual buildings for a practical future
By Ulrika Kuoppa-Jones | Photos: Esencial
In 2017, two young Swedish architects with Spanish and Argentinian heritage joined forces. Today, the progressive architecture firm Esencial is on a winning streak, creating everything from dream homes to futuristic city planning projects, public buildings, and a bottomless swimming pool, submerged in the sea.
2022 will be a year of fruition for Esencial’s founders Carmen Izquierdo and Mariano Tellechea. Many of their exciting architecture projects will either start or come to completion. The dynamic duo, with their trademark visionary ideas, extensive experience and sustainable knowhow, has bagged numerous awards, including the Kasper Salin Prize, the most prestigious architecture award in Sweden. Esencial has created and collaborated on a long line of projects, from cultural buildings like Domkyrkoforum in Lund and Varberg’s Komedianten culture centre to KTH’s School of Architecture building and small-scale residential dream homes.
“We think of architecture as a built reality that moves between the practical and the spiritual. In today’s era of regulations and strict frameworks, it is the spiritual, the soft experiential values of architecture that we are particularly attentive to,” the two architects explain.
“We really enjoy the variation. It’s exciting to one day build for private clients, and the next to collaborate with other offices to create comprehensive urban planning. It allows us to be really creative and experimental, but at the same time down-to-earth and pragmatic,” they add.
“At the moment, we’re hugely excited to create a partly submerged, bottomless set of public swimming pools at the old port, Frihamnen, in Gothenburg. It’s been a fun challenge to find solutions to working with the current and pumping up the freshest seawater that flows naturally underneath, into the pool.”
It’s clear to see that a great deal of sustainable thinking goes into Esencial’s projects. The architects consider the impact of extreme weather with torrential downpours, while using sustainable building materials and constructions. Creating a healthy microclimate is another objective of the firm’s environmental efforts, while making sure that cultural values that create a sense of belonging are also at the very heart of the design process.
“When we design, we reflect on the core issues of architecture: space, materials and light. Regardless of the scale of the project, we’re searching for timeless and meaningful qualities, all rooted in culture, in places and people. That’s what defines the character of our work.”
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