What is the state of the sector?
We had a very big drop in 2008. Our volume of activity dropped by 80%, and this is important to take into account. Since then, we have been maintaining similar levels. We are still trying to recover. There is a minimal upward trend. Our activity has changed a lot. Architects no longer make a living just by making housing. We are in a complex moment of transformation of the profession. Architecture has a long way to go, a bright future ahead.
To what extent is the economic context affecting it?
I think that we architects have a knack for adjusting to the available budget. When you do a project, we have the money before we start, so we have to know how to look for the best solutions for the project.
Sustainability, Construmat’s main axis for the second year, is the main challenge in construction. How are architects facing it?
In Barcelona, there are buildings that are being built with innovation and a very strong commitment to wooden structures, natural insulation… Very good, innovative work is being done but in small amounts, probably due to a lack of investment. We have to explain very well where sustainability is headed because it is something we value in Barcelona, and we are far along in this European rehabilitation and energy efficiency process. Now what is left is to put it into practice, which has already been done, but in more regions and in larger amounts. We architects are aware of where we have to go and we are very prepared.
The important thing about Construmat is that promoters see the importance of all this. In the end, they are the ones who pay and they understand that sustainable construction is always more expensive.
In relation to sustainability, should rehabilitation be the future of architecture?
Yes, I have seen it very clearly for a long time. In Europe, we have spent two centuries ruthlessly polluting and taking from the rest of the world, and now we have to raise our hand and declare that we have become sustainable. Europeans have been the ones who have polluted the most and taking from all over the world. Now, there is a part of the population that is aware that we have to be sustainable, but there is another part that does not dare to tell others that they have to be too.
In Europe we will have to dedicate ourselves to rehabilitation from these two aspects: maintenance and aesthetics, and combine it with energy efficiency. Earth’s resources are limited, buildings consume a lot of energy, and we have only recently realized this.
In the world, there are all sorts of problems arising from migration and the consequences of climate change, which will be increasingly exacerbated and will require new cities and new construction.
What do you expect from the next edition of Construmat?
We hope to see what new materials are shown by the companies, what new innovative construction solutions are proposed and, above all, to find dialogue between architects and material sellers.
One of the most important things, in my opinion, is for architects and entrepreneurs to collaborate on solutions. We architects have a lot of relevant things to say to aid those who sell materials. Construmat is a very important win-win situation. If builders who sell materials can receive accurate information about what the architect requires, they will be able to sell more easily: some will sell more and others will complete better projects.
Construmat is a space to talk and innovate together; it represents the entire sector and is a truly transversal exposition.
Can Construmat help to accelerate the sector’s progress toward meeting its challenges?
So much. Construmat’s location in Barcelona offers a powerful and appealing geographical location. Africans, particularly Moroccans, are very comfortable in the city, making it an important bet to invite them to Barcelona and establish Construmat as a hub for European and African entrepreneurs. It is a quality that undoubtedly distinguishes Construmat as a unique Fair. It is fantastic to be the driving force behind the Barcelona-Africa relationship.