By Virginia Fernández.
Their names say it all and they need no introduction. Even so, how can we talk about Carlos Lamela and Luis Bustamante without giving you at least a brief introduction to their pasts. Not because they need one, but because they deserve one.
Carlos Lamela directs the internationally renowned Lamela Studio, founded by his father, the maestro himself and highly distinguished Spanish architect Antonio Lamela. Known worldwide for projects such as Terminal 4 at the Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas Airport, the Lamela Studio holds iconic buildings such as the Colón Towers and the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium to its name. The studio is currently immersed in carrying out two of Madrid’s most important urban development projects: namely the Canalejas Madrid Centre and the Four Seasons Private Residences Madrid (FSPRM).
Luis Bustamante, winner of the Interior Design 2017 AD Award, is not just a leading light in interior design, but his work as a painter and sculptor has gifted him with a special sense of sensitivity, which he then projects into each and every one of his endeavours. Revered at both nationally and internationally, clients request Luis Bustamante’s magic touch from New York to Gstaad. At FSPRM, Luis carefully and individually designed all 22 of the future homes, meaning that each one is truly unique, both in terms of layout and interior design.
This is not a run-of-the-mill interview. Detailed below is a conversation between two masterminds, in which together they reveal to Spanish View their impression of Madrid, of a project such as FSPRM and of the finer details of their work.
Luis Bustamante. Carlos, why do you think Madrid was selected for a project of this magnitude?
Carlos Lamela. For me it’s simple. Madrid is one of the world’s great capital cities, a city with enormous draw in terms of tourism and culture, that forms a natural bridging point between Europe and Latin America and that has thrived economically-speaking for the last few decades.
L.B. Very true. Madrid is one of Europe’s richest and most dynamic cities in terms of culture and leisure options. But so much of what it has to offer is yet to be discovered.
C.L. You may be surprised to learn that throughout history, Madrid has had one of the lowest number of high-end luxury hotels of any of the major capital cities in Europe. For years, major international chains had their sights set on Madrid, but none of them ever managed to break into the market. Achieving a first-rate location with a block comprising seven buildings was key here and provided a setting of sufficient stature to be able to house a Four Seasons hotel.
I think we can safely say that this is the largest urban development project in Madrid, not just for its niche content within the seven buildings that comprise the development, but also because its key location is capable of transforming the centre of Madrid.
L.B. Absolutely. This colossal investment will of course also encourage others to invest and in turn lift the value of properties in this emblematic neighbourhood of Madrid. There are other neighbourhoods in Madrid that offer a wide variety of gastro-options and spectacular boutiques and stores, but maybe no others that are able to offer the beauty and history that the narrow streets in this neighbourhood do. This project will transform and breathe a new lease of life into the city centre, placing it on a par with the world’s most exclusive and celebrated capital cities.
C.L. This project will serve as a springboard and bring great value from a sociological point of view, helping to create a more pleasant, more welcoming and friendlier city. The regeneration of the urban surroundings will also be further complemented by the decision to introduce major new infrastructure, such as the new underground bus station, which will benefit the city aesthetically speaking, help to reduce pollution, etc.
L.B. Let’s talk a bit more about the architecture. How would you describe the project?
C.L. The most complex aspect of this project was how to design a product that met the client’s needs, especially from a functional point of view and, of course, that managed to successfully combine the four main uses – hotel, residential, retail and parking – with all the vertical communication cores and spaces for installations that go with them, not to mention the structural elements that must cut through the building from top to bottom with painstaking precision.
Inside, our scope of work as architects even included the layout of the various interior spaces. From there you were the ones that continued on the design, remaining true to the philosophies dictated by the uses of each space and their respective end-users.
L.B. That’s right. Our design concept was closely linked to Madrid, to what the clients see when they look out the windows, the unrivalled views of the city centre. The panels, doors, fireplaces, etc., everything is based around the traditions of Madrid, classical living seamlessly coupled with a modern day look and feel.
Although our actual client is the developer, it is paramount to not lose sight of the fact that we are designing spaces for end-clients of many different cultures that we don’t even know. We are working on a slightly neutral concept so that it will appeal to many people, yet one that has enough personality to allow people to identify with it. Our aim is to achieve a warm, quality and elegant space.
C.L. What particular aspect or concept are you most proud of in this project?
L.B. For us, it is the well-planned layout that makes all the homes so interesting and different from each other. There are 22 homes ranging from 169 built sqm to 653 built sqm. The design of the panels, flooring, joinery and bathrooms are all based on the same principles, but the spaces are all unique.
And you? What would you particularly highlight in this project?
C.L. Maybe the most striking thing in this project is the fact that they have preserved, saved and restored various invaluable period features in order to reincorporate them into the new building. Patrimonio (the government’s heritage department) and the City Council selected the period features that had to be preserved and restored, but a detailed cataloguing process and analysis was undertaken and we have suggested preserving a greater number of features.