Building a vision from piles of paper

At the beginning of this year we moved to a new office close to Oxford Circus, in the beautiful neighbourhood of Fitzrovia, London.

This was the time where we had to go through all our old documents, packages and models and decide what to keep and what to throw.

These are the moments where one the biggest frustrations of an architect is emerging with cruel evidence. It’s the amount of “paper architecture” we produce: years of design and planning chasing a vision which remains many times a chimera for various reasons.

In hospitality the percentage of these virtual projects is probably higher than any other architectural sectors. When a project is real and gets under construction, it rarely is completed within the desired time frame, which is between two and three years. It is quite normal to go well over this period.

This week, however, has been a truly remarkable one as I witnessed the exact opposite on a site visit in Bodrum, Turkey.

A future villa on the site in Turkey
A future villa on the site in Turkey

We started the design of a new Four Seasons on 3 km of unspoilt coastline just few months ago. I was informed of the great enthusiasm and will of our client to start construction soon, but nothing could have me prepared to what I found on site: an impeccable organization where 500 workers move in sync on the vast site, a buzz and energy that I rarely experienced, a vision which is so clear, determined and sharp.

Turkey could be under the magnifying lens for several aspects of its political life, but it is home of an entrepreneurial spirit which is truly admirable. It’s my first project in this country, and the complexity of layers of the society filtered through an history so intense and rich makes this experience truly remarkable.

There is nothing easy, simple or straightforward, but I welcome the challenges. This aspect has always fired me, both as an architect and as a person.

When a project of this magnitude and significance becomes a reality, I realize that all the design efforts of the past, even if remained just on paper, have been meaningful and contributed to the designer I’m today.

The old packages and models becomes more like a family photo album where you realize how much your life has evolved. The frustration of the designer recedes, and it is put in perspective.

Maybe one day it will resurface but right now there is no space for it; a new resort is born and is growing fast!

A view from the building site
A view from the building site