Interviewing Urko Sanchez

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Jambo dear readers!
Brace yourselves, this one’s a wordy post.

Some of you may be aware of my thesis topic of study, ‘Phenomenon of Homelessness; Towards Evolving a Solution’, with the aim of creating awareness and discussing viable and sustainable architectural design solutions for the homeless in our society. Because we don’t have homeless shelters for adults and families in East Africa, I narrowed my scope of research to children’s shelters and orphanages.

Note: I should formulate an online questionnaire to ask the general public about their opinions on the homeless of Nairobi.

About two months ago, my colleague Dida sauntered over to my desk in studio and told me about this amazing orphanage she stumbled upon on the internet that she thought would be an interesting case study to document for my thesis.
I made plans, traveled to Djibouti, but didn’t manage to conduct my research due to strict protection of the users and just visa things (I’ve heard it’s a common problem). I was heart broken, and started looking for other case studies to document.

Alas, God closes one door and opens another. An opportunity came for me to interview the brains behind the design, and I couldn’t believe it. Urko Sanchez agreed to sit down for an interview with ME! I’d submitted some of his projects for school assignments in the past, and this is an architect whose work I deeply admired and respected.

We agreed to meet at Art Caffe, at the Junction Mall on 30th October at 11.30 am. This is how my it went:

I decided to leave school at 9.55 am, to be in town by 10.15 to pick up the camera from Sharon, be on a bus by 10.30 and at Junction by 11.15 latest.. What actually happened was..

10.30 am – I’m the only person on the bus.
10.45 am – The second person walks in (PS. Bus capacity 50 passengers).
11.00 am – Seven people on the bus, and the tout is still desperately shouting to passers-by, ‘Adams 50’.
At this point, I just decide to text Urko that I may be a little late and I’m sorry for the delay, and he responds that he understands, no worries.
The bus finally leaves town at 11.15 (best believe I was keeping track of every second) with about ten empty seats and I was just relieved to be on my way 😀
I came to the conclusion that everyone who lives those sides probably has a car, and jobless students like me have to plan for thirty more minutes than it usually takes, in order for the bus to fill up.

11.50 am – I’m running across The Junction parking lot like a mad woman with my kiondo and camera bag swaying, bouncing and hitting my sides, rehearsing how I’m going to introduce myself and going through the questions I’m to ask, praying that I haven’t made a bad impression and promising myself to always be thirty minutes early for EVERYTHING in life 😀

No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano. Getting up very early won’t make the sun rise any sooner.

The interview went really well – I asked him if the project clients had a brief, his philosophy towards the design(case studies, books, articles to which he responded that he approached the design from a fresh perspective; his own), the environmental considerations he employed in the design in regard to Djibouti’s climate and the logic behind his space articulation.

I asked if I could take a few photos during the interview and he said yes. He was very humble and polite, and it was fascinating listening to his ideas in person. I aspire to be that engaged in my work, it’s the only way to attain self fulfilment. He sketched and I took notes and to end interview, I asked what piece of advice he would give to young architects. He said ‘Travel’, because it’s the only way you’ll get to see new buildings – experience the space, smell it, feel the textures.

Truly, the more you see the more you grow.
Thank you for reading!

Author: Fatma Sultan

Hello, I'm Fatma Sultan. Architecture is my chosen career path. My love and appreciation for art is larger than I can put in a few words but it all comes down to the freedom to express oneself in so many different ways: painting, sketching, drawing, poetry, writing, photography, furniture design, cooking, pottery and even personal style. I hope to inspire my readers in any way that I can, and at least put a smile on somebody's face. Thanks for stopping by!

3 thoughts on “Interviewing Urko Sanchez”

  1. omg!! so lucky…i would love to hear what he had to say about the sos children village in djibouti….it kinda reminds me of the moroccan madinas…wonder if he was inspired by them or not. good luck on your thesis

    Liked by 1 person

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