We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Honorable mention winners of our The Legendary Highway 14 Tower competition – Esteban Alvarez Ruiz and lia Alexandrovich Aladov from Netherlands!

Esteban Alvarez Ruiz and lia Alexandrovich Aladov

Please tell us about your company (when it was founded, where it is based, how many employees, etc) Alternatively, if you do not have a company, please give us some insights on your own professional/academia background.

Esteban Alvarez Ruiz: I’m an architect from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. During my years as a student, I obtained an Erasmus+ scholarship which led me to working with an international team in Armenia. Apart from that I participated in multiple interdisciplinary workshops, giving me the opportunity to engage with artists and researchers. In 2022 I moved to Rotterdam collaborating with multiple prestigious architectural firms around the world.

Ilia Aladov: I graduated with a Master of Arts degree with distinction from the “MARCH” Moscow Architecture School, in collaboration with London Metropolitan University. Additionally, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in architectural design from Technical University. My first university ensured a strong technical foundation, while my second taught me authentic ways of thinking and research techniques. Surrounded by architecture from early childhood, I attended art school and a children’s architectural school. Through my education, I actively participated in annual exhibitions and publications, various workshops, including international ones. I acted as a team leader for the competitions I engaged in, initiating and successfully guiding the team to achieve results, winning the prizes. I gained experience across a spectrum of complexity levels and forms, ranging from installations to master plans.

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 the company/ individuals have been Involved?

Esteban Alvarez Ruiz: I have worked on multiple scales, from urban planning to villas both professionally and academically. I enjoy participating in all kinds of projects and believe that different ideas can be tested in different sizes of projects and then translated to another scale, creating a strong synergetic environment.

Ilia Aladov: To find my path in architecture, I gained internship experience at different architectural offices. With 3 years of working experience in local and international offices I was involved in projects of various scales, forms, and complexity levels, from masterplans to navigation for a state museum. My most recent position at an architectural office in Rotterdam provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with various international firms.

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

Esteban Alvarez Ruiz: Architecture, to me, functions as a bridge, seamlessly connecting the surrounding environment and the community to a new and transformative experience. It operates as a condenser, intricately weaving together the diverse activities inherent in the current cultural fabric, encapsulating the thoughts, concerns, and aspirations of the people within both the local context and the broader global landscape. On a parallel note, architecture provides a unique opportunity to elevate and enrich individual experiences. It serves as a catalyst for inspiration, offering a platform for creativity to flourish and leaving an indelible mark on the human psyche. In essence, architecture transcends mere physical structures; it becomes a vessel for the embodiment of cultural narratives and a source of inspiration that resonates deeply with people.

Ilia Aladov: For me, architecture is art. The conceptual part of it is the most crucial one, in my opinion. Every architectural piece must have a strong foundation underneath it, which is the way you decided to create it. It is about our space, surrounding connections and reflection of the world around you. Remembering this, architecture is about and for people, an element they encounter every day. It becomes an integral part of our lives, something we cannot imagine living without.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Participating in architecture competitions helps you see things from a different perspective, opens up various opportunities to experiment, and allows you to try something you have not attempted before. By doing so and navigating through the process, it encourages you to find your own approach. This experience helps expand your skills and insights by providing a platform to express yourself. Additionally, it serves as excellent practice for teamwork and leadership.

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

Esteban Alvarez Ruiz: I believe participating in competitions is always a positive move. Even if winning feels like a long shot, I value the personal journey more than the outcome. It's important to choose competitions that align with my values, but I try not to overthink it. Being exposed to diverse challenges is consistently beneficial, in my opinion. In my debut competition experience, my main aim is to venture into uncharted ideas and cultivate a distinctive thought process. Simultaneously, I view this as an opportunity to enrich my portfolio with diverse projects, recognizing the inherent value they bring to both personal and professional development.

Ilia Aladov: 
 The more you participate in architecture competitions, the more experience you gain. There are no limits to what you can do. So, don’t limit yourself and try as much as possible. You always win, even if you don’t win a physical prize.

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