Interview with Irene Luque Martin

1)   Briefly introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your practice. What do you work on? What are the issues you aim to address in your profession?


I am a young academic and professional in the field of urbanism and architecture. I work on every theme and challenge related to understanding the future of urbanism. From a more academic point of view; I have done my PhD thesis and research about methodologies and technologies (digital and non-digital) for collaborative planning & design. From my professional experience, I have worked largely on master planning, strategic design, urban design, architecture design. I aim to bring sustainability and resilience narratives within each theme (water, mobility, food, housing, so on) to intersect them with social vulnerability challenges in our living environments. If I can summarize my aim, it is to contribute to do this world a healthier and more just space for everyone.


2) What are your thoughts over the issues raised by the Amsterdam Cycling Bridge competition? What aspects are central when we talk about designing such a connection over the Ij?


From my personal perspective, the debate of the IJ bridge should not be totally overlooked, but definitely we should go beyond the constraints. Back-casting will be key to provide imaginative and attractive solutions. Saying this, this competition opens the opportunity to look a more visionary approach towards a bridge. Beyond its own definition, to think from transit to stay space, from engineering piece to a social space and environmental space. Amsterdam struggles on finding space to allocate such a massive demand, but at the same time is a city which -beyond the south and far west- generally keeps in a middle-low density urban growth. This system is collapsing and the north comes in as a potential opportunity to allocate the housing deficit. This has many positive inputs, but also a key challenge: the lack of a link. To me -and as always do in my practice- these spaces belong to a system, so the bridge does to a larger scale mobility system. It cannot be ignored the fact that this bridge could belong to another attempt to reinforce a monocentric approach to the city of Amsterdam. Therefore rather than focusing on the existing debate…let’s imagine some what if:


What if we think the north could be the first self-sufficient and independent space within Amsterdam? What if the people don’t need to commute every day? How covid has impacted on the flow with ferries? Which is the role of a bridge then?


I would be quite interesting to see beyond pragmatism and existing situations….I would love to see visionary approach…


3) Are there any reference projects you could suggest to inspire our community for this design challenge? Why did you choose this specific example? 


I would first suggest to look into the latest project from The Why Factory about Amsterdam (1000 ideas for Amsterdam) coordinated by Winy Maas (Founding Parner of MVRDV) it is an extremely brave and imaginative provocation about what Amsterdam could be. Then I would advise to think beyond a simple function of a bridge. Examples in the brief, or interesting project such as Seoullo 7017 Skygarden, The weaves, and others from my current office inspire to go beyond functional bridges.


4) In your experience, what does it take to win an architecture competition?


This is the million dollar question. It takes luck. That simple and that important, if you align with jury, you have your luck, if you don’t, then it does not mean yours was worse, it just meant you did not bet well. My advice: go always brave and dare the briefs, then you will always be a winner for yourself. Thinking out of the box and being able to communicate it is much more powerful in these type of competitions!



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