Gonzalez Hinz Zabala
The architecture office Gonzalez Hinz Zabala works as a collective in which individualists come together. They understand architecture as spatial design for the social and cultural developments of our age. Simplicity is thereby a clear principle.
The office’s themes are urban design, architecture and design.
Interview November 2016
A conversation with the Spanish architecture studio GONZALEZ HINZ ZABALA (Barcelona), winners of the 2015 international competition to build the Bauhaus Museum Dessau, which since then has been working between Barcelona, Berlin and Dessau on the project and its further planning.
The architecture studio’s five partners, Anne Hinz, Cecilia Rodríguez, Arnau Sastre, José Zabala and Roberto González, were interviewed by Helga Huskamp.
- You have won an international competition. How is your studio working on this project? How do you work within the team and especially between the countries involved?
Our studio generally implements a horizontal structure. All five partners have similar levels of professional experience and, if necessary, we all work across all the project areas and tasks. Nonetheless, an organisational structure has evolved naturally between the partners:
Roberto González is the project leader. He coordinates the German planners and represents the studio in Germany. Anne Hinz is responsible for coordination and technical checks. Arnau Sastre is responsible for project design and checking variants. Cecilia Rodriguez is likewise responsible for project design and visual checks and José Zabala is in charge of publicity, technical solutions and the coordination of the local planners. We also work closely in Barcelona with landscape architects Roser Vives and Patricia Perez.
- The planning application has been submitted. In hindsight, how do you see the process of pre- and design planning? Given your experience of the first year of planning, what has been the greatest challenge for you as an emergent architectural practice?
The greatest challenge without a doubt was to gain the trust of the building contractor and the planners. We have neither a C.V. with similar realised projects, nor have we been active in Germany before now.
Another challenge is that the entire planning process and communication is in German, even though this was an international competition. German is a new language for us, which we do not speak, certainly not at such a professional business and specialist level. Only Anne Hinz speaks German as a first language; Roberto González speaks German at an intermediate level.
In addition, the time frame for the planning and realisation of the project is very tight, as are the budget constraints.
All these points together make the project a very intense adventure.
Since it is an international project, before we signed the contract we joined forces with our local partner in Berlin, BAL, which in this case – the planning of the Bauhaus Museum Dessau – is represented by Stefano Magistretti. From the start of the planning process we have stayed in close contact with BAL, with almost daily communication and weekly planning meetings during the further phases of the planning period.
We have also held project discussions with the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the planners once a week or every two weeks, depending on the project phase.
Apart from that, digital media now enable us to communicate in a way that reduces to a minimum the distance between our studio in Barcelona and the planning team in Germany.
- In your view, has the concept of the museum changed over the one-year planning process?
No. The concept of the museum has remained constant throughout the entire planning process.
A design that proceeds from a competition is only rarely realised as it was presented in the competition. The subsequent planning process is in our opinion a further interpretation and evolution of the design, not only by the architects, but also in the team effort with the building contractors, planners and all other contributing parties.
We have achieved our objective in that our idea for the museum, in its simplicity and boldness, has been shared by the entire planning team and the concept has been refined and optimised, free of any disruptive elements.
- What in your view is the defining feature of the building?
The clarity and rigour of the parts of the building and the contrast between the hovering, closed bridge structure which, like a strongroom, contains the exhibition of the collection and thus represents the Bauhaus in the twentieth century, and the open, flexible, flowing space on the ground floor, which represents the Bauhaus in the twenty-first century. We believe in the open-plan ground floor’s potential as a catalyst for activities and in the museum’s capacity to attract not only visitors from outside Dessau, but also above all the people of Dessau, to events beyond special occasions such as the inauguration or the opening of new exhibitions. We also believe that with the museum, we will give the Bauhaus institution and Dessau a centre for interaction and communication, for creativity and production, a museum for the city and its visitors.
The studio GONZALEZ HINZ ZABALA (Addenda Architects) sees itself as a collaborative practice in which five partners with shared values and design approaches work together. Their objective is to design buildings in a ‘straightforward’ manner, in order to create space for contemporary social and cultural needs. The studio understands architecture as a contribution to the improvement of the built environment of a specific location.