Martin Jasper is the founder and director at JASPER ARCHITECTS. The studio’s work started with a strong focus on sustainable design, as well as the exploration of cutting edge technologies for smart building solutions, an area that represents the main topic of Martin’s academic practice.
DEVO: What expectations do the big developers have of an architect?
Martin Jasper: Considering projects of a larger magnitude, we are looking at processes that can take four to five or more years until their completion. So in the initial design phase, we need to make sure we create a vision that, at the moment of its completion, will be marketable and up-to-date. In addition to the hard numbers and requirements of the client, the architect needs to be prepared and have a clear understanding of current trends and the actual ongoing processes in society and how they will project into the future. These might be parameters of societal evolution, technology trends and market developments, among others, and consequently become a great challenge within the nature of our time, characterized by rapid changes.
On the other hand, the architect shares the responsibility with the developer for the impact the project is going to have within its urban environment. Since we are talking about projects of a bigger scale, this becomes more relevant. Ensuring the inclusion of the general public and having the capacity to discuss and see things through with the municipal authorities are key tasks and processes the architect has to lead. One must ensure the client’s goals are represented yet create a common ground with the local authorities for the project to thrive. In the end, a piece of urban space is being created, thus a place where urban life is going to be displayed. Every project is the chance to create an additional stage for our life in the way we want to imagine it.
The other common goal of the developer and the architect is to design a unique piece of architecture, often to be an iconic representation of a philosophy that the developer stands for, branded by the design of the architect in charge. Integrated, yet standing out at the same time. The architect must consider that a project has a long-lasting impact on the developer’s image and this has to be carefully crafted.
Another aspect is, of course, the profitability of the project. The architect takes responsibility for converting his client’s investment within the best possible balance between economy, uniqueness, and quality into a marketable product. He has to control the entire process, and, within all its complexity, guarantee to meet the client’s timeline.
I often compare the relationship between an architect and a developer of real estate projects to that of a film director and a producer creating a movie. The developer puts his trust in the architect to be the person responsible for the realization of a common vision within the given economic and time frame limitations, and at the same time adds his unique ideas and language.
DEVO: What is the status of the UP! Berlin project at the moment and what is the pace of work?
Martin Jasper: The project’s construction is ongoing and approximately at 80% of completion. The pace of the construction has fortunately been unchanged throughout the pandemic crisis. In Berlin, the restrictions regarding construction sites have been focused on implementing specific rules regarding the security of the workers on the construction sites. Given that these rules where followed appropriately, the construction processes could move forward without greater impact.
DEVO: What do you think we have learned so far from this situation created by the pandemic?
Martin Jasper: Being of global impact, a wide range of aspects within our societies have been revealed by this pandemic on many different levels.
Throughout our work in different locations such as South America and Europe, we have become aware of the evident discrepancies in the challenges triggered by the pandemic. For example, in Germany the impact has been measurably moderate, whereas in Latin America, the effects of the pandemic on deficient health systems, on the more fragile economies coupled with high population density are just now starting to show. The high risks that lie in the existence and reality of informal city structures such as the shantytowns in cities like Buenos Aires for instance, or my city of birth Guayaquil in Ecuador, have become visible and the terrible impact that the pandemic can have is becoming more evident.
This, I believe, shows the ongoing responsibility for city planners and decision makers for addressing these issues in the most urgent and all-embracing way possible. Solutions have to be found to integrate the unmistakable reality of these structures into a functional urban network.
Focusing on our work and looking back at our own experience, I believe one of the most immediate impacts was perceived in the daily workflow scenarios. Our project partners have struggled to deal with the newly imposed working conditions such as de-centralized work, home working, virtual meetings, you name it.
For our firm, like other architectural practices that are used to operating on a global level and in a field where the working tools have transitioned more and more into the digital and virtual space over the last two decades, there have hardly been changes to our daily routines.
On the other hand, what took us by surprise was the unpreparedness and inexperience of other businesses and corporate project partners, though the learning curve was exponential here.
I believe that this experience of the pandemic will actually be a chance for urban planners to think over strategies regarding urban clustering and mono structures in real estate developments.
The possibility of de-centralization of office work has now been practiced by many, whereas the necessity of huge amounts of urban areas and real estate specifically dedicated to office use has now become highly questionable. The possibility of merging office space, living space and other functions in common areas are more likely to be considered.
This could create a trend for new forms of work and housing, where entire residential buildings include areas for work meetings and where the home-office could become an central part of a future floor plan of the residential units.
One trend that has already been developing in office layouts over the past decade, is to bring private life into the office – with leisure activities, wellness and culinary experiences. Now the trend expands and the office space merges back into the home.
Maybe in the future we will develop houses and apartments quite differently, because we have to think about these aspects. In the long term, living and business will be mixed more intensely and create a new quality of city quarters.
The pandemic has, from that point of view, been a catalyst for a process that might have still taken indefinite time to take shape. At this very moment, we are already entering discussions of this nature with the stakeholders of projects that are in early development stages.
All this can hopefully channel a more sustainable and up-to-date approach towards the development of our cities and a more conscious efficiency in the use of space and other resources.
Martin Jasper will attend DEVO 2020 – International Forum of Large Developers which will take place at JW Marriott Grand Hotel in Bucharest on October 23 and will present the mixed-use project UP! Berlin.
Master Partner DEVO 2020: ARABESQUE. Professional Partners: KONE, ROCKWOOL, DANFOSS. Partners: KNAUF INSULATION, KNAUF, ALUKÖNIGSTAHL. Supporter & Exhibitor: SKYLUX. Media Partners: Zeppelin, Igloo, Spațiul Construit. Institutional partner: Romanian Order of Architects.
More details on: www.bit.ly/devo-2020-eng
Photo © JASPER ARCHITECTS