Close
#construmat

Back to Blog

Where does Stepienybarno come from? You live in a little village in Navarre, don’t you?

Yes indeed, in 2003 we set up our architectural practice in Estella, with the sole intention of working on architectural projects. So for five years, supported by our family and in a very peaceful setting, we were able to work on some very nice family housing projects, win the odd competition and generally enjoy everything that’s involved in being an architect.

That’s how Agnieszka Stepien and Lorenzo Barnó started working together, and we’re still at the coalface today!

We were lucky enough to be able to build things and that’s something we’re hugely grateful for! The truth is that it gave us a great foundation to understand the profession more fully, which would almost certainly have been impossible if we’d set up the practice in the middle of the crisis.

So back then you could hardly have imagined where you would end up…

True! Back then, until the crisis started, we thought we would be doing architectural projects our whole lives. The truth is, our only concern was producing the best possible architecture; we weren’t too interested in anything else. We were real old-style architects (laughter)! That’s why when we used to come across architects who said the internet wasn’t for them, we didn’t believe them! If we could manage to learn how to do it, then anyone could. The rest is just excuses.

It’s also true that because we didn’t have too many references we mainly learned through our mistakes! That’s why we now want to make life easier for other people who want to go digital, and share what we’ve learnt. In fact, to help other professionals get started in the digital world we’ve now got an online Digital Identity course.

But then came the crisis, and your day-to-day work took a radical about-turn!

Yes indeed, when work started drying up, we realised that in this new scenario we weren’t very competitive so we started planning other things.

Up to that point, we used to like getting really involved in the architecture itself and spending a lot of time on the client; but when everyone started competing on price that seemed difficult to achieve.

In truth, we didn’t know which way to turn, so we tried a few different tacks. Sometimes it’s great to have a clear objective and fight for it, but on other occasions it can also be good to let life take you by surprise and take advantage of whatever opportunities turn up.

Back then did you already have your Sustainable Synergy association?

It was in 2008 when it occurred to us that we could do the odd architectural workshop with children and together with some other colleagues we set up the association to do the workshops, organise conferences (two editions of Equiciudad) and give the occasional talk on sustainable architecture.

Today, we’re still fully involved along with our friends Uxua Domblás and Amaya González. The truth is that these children’s architecture and sustainability workshops are something we feel passionate about and we enjoy them almost as much as the kids who come along to them!

We also know that you’re currently in the throes of research work; how are your dissertations coming along?

Pretty well, though a lot slower than we’d like!

On the one hand, we’re doing research on issues of identity and memory in our cities and what the role of the architect is (or could be) to achieve healthier cities with greater social cohesion. We’re much more interested in the processes than the projects, and the role that professionals can have when they become facilitators.

On the other hand, we’re also researching everything to do with architecture, architects and this new digital era we’re living in.

And I’m guessing that all this research is being transferred to your Stepienybarno blog, right?

Exactly; the blog records everything we’re learning and integrating; well, not just the blog but also the course we mentioned earlier.

This sharing approach is the hallmark of the Stepienybarno blog and the key to why we’ve been at the forefront so many years. As Gandhi said, “what is not given is lost”.

Since you first appeared on the scene back in 2009, a hell of a lot has happened!

Almost eight years in the digital world is half a lifetime!! Having said that, it’s worth remembering that the blog actually came about from doing interviews with the architects who most interested us and writing articles on the situation of the profession. That was what interested us back then, and based on that passion, we started publishing. One of the most important things for a blog to work, in our view, is enthusiasm; if you’re not passionate about the subject matter, then change it as soon as possible!

At that time, we knew nothing at all about marketing or digital identity. We acted on our feelings and let ourselves be guided by intuition.

Whatever the case, you must have got something right because almost from the outset yours was one of the most visited blogs.

When you share interesting content that’s not already on the web and you do it disinterestedly, you’re already laying the foundations of what later will be your digital home. On the web, you need to be generous first if you want to reap the rewards one day.

However, a lot of people, especially in our world of architecture and construction, just plonk themselves on the web without any thought and then say that social networks are worthless.

And are they worth it?

It’s true that a lot of social networks are worth nothing or very little, but others are extremely valuable! We’re right into Facebook and Twitter and it’s brilliant to be able to reach a lot of people that we’d never get to through the blog. Also, the social media gives you a sense of closeness that other tools don’t have; you can interact in real time and really get a handle on the people who are following you.

However, logically you need to invest time in chatting with those who are interested in you and show the same amount of interest in others. As Martin Buber said, it’s important to “reify” other people, and however much in a hurry you are, to treat people with as much humanity as possible.

This doesn’t happen with companies who get on the internet to show themselves off; this comes from people who, quite modestly, want to share what they know, and only then can you start thinking about future profits. We need to change the concept of dissemination for communication.

So might we say that the social media is a fundamental cornerstone of your everyday work?

It is a cornerstone, yes, but not the most important one. The structure of Stepienybarno is not based on our social networking activities. They’re big today, but you never know what might happen tomorrow; we can’t depend on the whims of Facebook for our visibility. In some cases, for example, it’s much more beneficial to have a good email marketing strategy than throwing everything at the social networks.

In fact, we’re looking into this more and more and recently we’ve been placing a lot of importance on our newsletter (if you want to sign up, send an email to: blog@stepienybarno.es)

So yes, we believe the social media is important but it’s not our only outlet. In our view, the most important thing is having a good website and a blog that has the right visibility; we might say that these two are the base camp; our online home. And after that come the social networks. As Yoriento quite rightly said: “without a blog you’re like a homeless digital person, spending all day knocking on the door of the social networks.”

So basically you’re going for a comprehensive online presence…

Apart from exceptional cases, it doesn’t make any sense to just have a website, or to have a huge LinkedIn profile while ignoring all the other digital tools. Also, in our world, generally speaking, websites have not been too successful. At Stepienybarno we don’t think it’s difficult to have a good website, but you need to know a few things that people usually overlook if your website is to be really effective.

Whatever the case, the most important thing is having an overall vision of play and, above all, to know a little about communication matters. These days, attitude is much more important than aptitude. You might say that disposition is just as important as talent.

We know you talk about all this and much more in your Digital Identity course.

Indeed, for four or five years now we’ve been holding workshops and courses on online communications, digital marketing and Digital Identity. We’ve been lucky enough to have covered most of Spain telling people what we know and for the last three years we’ve also had our online Digital Identity course available on our own online community (click here for more information on the course).

How many online courses have you done to date?

We’re now on the sixth edition of the course. It’s been great right from the outset in terms of both the number of students and their satisfaction levels. The great thing about the course is that it’s not for learning how to use Facebook or Twitter, but it’s a course designed by architects for architects (or people in the world of architecture, sustainability or construction) with a much broader focus which helps you to learn how to have the optimum presence on the internet. We are convinced that the more visibility you have, the more job options become available.

In December we’re back with a new course. Our online courses have the same spirit as our offline ones but they are more comprehensive. By the end of it, we’ve been working with the students for 10 days and we give our absolute all. The students are usually delighted and we really enjoy doing something where we can see we’re really making a difference for our collective and for society too.

What with the blog and your networks, don’t you miss getting involved in more purely architectural projects?

A lot of people ask us that, and we always say yes; but there are loads of architects who can do them just as well or better than us. However, what we’re doing now is not so easy for other architects to do; so we think we’re in the right place at the right time.

We’ve been on the web for a long time and we’ve got a lot of testimonials (click here) which endorse our work and give us the peace of mind that we’re on the right track.

Almost certainly in the future we’ll move back to spending more time on architectural projects, but for the moment we prefer to concentrate on Digital Identity and online communications.

So… we’ve got Stepienybarno for some time to come!!

We really hope so! The truth is that we’re very happy with the courses, our blog and also being able to help other colleagues improve their visibility on the internet. At the end of the day, the more visible you are, the more possibilities of all kinds emerge. People often say: “but just by having a website I’m not necessary going to find a client”. And the answer to that is maybe not (although many do), but if you have a good website and an interesting blog and you’re on the social networks in a professional way, you will increase your digital reputation along with your opportunities to collaborate with other colleagues. Also, at some point, opportunities for chats or workshops will crop up – in short, a whole world opens up before you!

All of this is something that we should be taking advantage of in these challenging time.

Other companies also contract you to take charge of their social networks and blogs, don’t they?

Yes, we’re collaborating with various important organizations such as the Roca Gallery and Arquitasa. Also, for the last two years we have been the directors of the Arquia Foundation blog, as well as helping them with the online promotion of their events.

At the same time, we’re also working on several websites. We’ve created all kinds of websites and blogs, but right now we’re on the point of delivering two really attractive and very large websites for two Architects’ Associations.

So you haven’t exactly got the chance to be bored!

It’s true that we have a lot of different fronts open at once, but as you can see they’re all pointing in the same direction.

As you can see, it’s just non-stop, but it’s also true that for some time now it hasn’t been just us, and we have a great team who help to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

We also still live in Estella, thirteen years later, and we don’t want to lose this tranquillity with which we started on our professional trajectories.

So all in all, if anyone is interested in working with us (blog@stepienybarno.es) they know that they can count on an excellent service with the backing of many years of experience on the internet, helping to improve the visibility of our fellow professionals and hence their employment opportunities.

And that’s all for now. It’s been a real pleasure to learn a little more about you. If you have any final comments you’d like to make…

We’d just like to thank you for your interest in Stepienybarno and wish you the best of luck for your trade show. We’ve been visiting it since our first year as students, and it’s a real benchmark for many professionals in the sector.

We’re also aware that you’re giving the show a fresh approach and this is very positive. It’s a pleasure to see young people like you at the head of such a venerable event.

We’re sure it will all go brilliantly and we wish you the best of luck!

And the same to you, and the best of luck with this new upcoming edition of your online Digital Identity course.

Many thanks. We hope it will go well and, as with previous editions, that a lot of people sign up (click here for more information).

See you at the trade fair!

Curso online de Stepienybarno sobre Identidad Digital (Próxima edición en Diciembre del 2016)

Blog de Stepienybarno

Web de Stepienybarno

STEPIENYBARNO EN TWITTER

STEPIENYBARNO EN LINKEDIN

STEPIENYBARNO EN FACEBOOK

Contacto vía correo:

blog@stepienybarno.es

stepienybarno@gmail.com