We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 3rd prize winners of our “Iceland Black Lava Fields Visitor Center” competition - Juan Sala and Douglas Harsevoort from United States.

Sala Hars from United States

Juan Sala and Douglas Harsevoort from United States

SALA HARS was founded by Douglas Harsevoort and Juan Sala while attending Harvard University and currently has projects in Brussels, Bogota, Paris and Mexico City.

Douglas attended the University of Minnesota and the ETH in Zurich, and previously worked for JohnstonMarklee in Los Angeles. He received his Master of Architecture with Distinction from Harvard University.

Juan completed his Master of Architecture with Distinction at Harvard University, and attended the Pratt Institute in New York, where he received his B.Arch with highest honors. He worked for Herzog & de Meuron in Basel and has taught design studio at Harvard University.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where company/ individuals have been involved?

SALA HARS finds value in diverse scales and contexts. We are currently working on a high-rise in the city of Paris, an intervention in the iconic residence of Luis Barragan in Mexico City, and a housing development in Brussels.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

Our understanding of architecture is deeply rooted in the belief that architecture needs to be both evolutionary and revolutionary. That buildings should have inscribed in them indisputable signs of their moment of construction but also be conceived from recursive images and forms. Or, in short, that the dialectic of abstraction and figuration can achieve synthesis through formal invention and negotiation. Form for us clearly comes from form. Form for us transcends time and place. In this way, the propositions we put forward are a reaction to our current society, posing new questions to that society. For us, if our buildings invoke a discourse amongst the inhabitants, sparking conversation and ultimately knowledge in architecture, that would be the greatest role an architect can have in their society.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

As a means to investigate our particular interest in the concept of ‘ideal’ versus ‘idea’. Ideal as perhaps the state of a project as a pure proposition, unadulterated form, and protected from the apparent, yet inescapable, mundane constrictions that come in the process of realizing a project. In that sense we see these types of competitions as space to investigate these notions of ideal.  We remain curious about how an ideal proposition like this will transform into the state of an ‘idea’ once this precious abstract state begins to integrate a whole new territory of constraints.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

Any means by which one can create a generative process to force and inspire new architecture is of value. Putting projects out in the world as a clear and ‘tangible’ testament, is what allows peers and the discipline at large to react and fuel form. The doubts or acceptances of others towards your project will lead to argument, and argument makes architecture. In this apparent negation or endurance of a project, lays the renewal of architecture.

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