Por Lara Arnau · 18 Junio, 2015
After years projecting buildings, outstanding for combining tradition and innovation, the Catalan architect Xavier Vilalta launches into new lands and surprises designing a totally ecological curtain, the Ecortina.
I am heading to the Vilalta studio, following the advice of a good friend excited about the vision of this architect after attending one of his lectures. Since now the ecological and the bio are more fashionable than ever, and in B-Side we share this philosophy, we do not hesitate to arrange an interview with him. Just open the door, I am served by a young man who is little over thirty and who happens to be Xavier himself, who very kindly invites me to pass.
The first thing that comes to mind is a beautiful curtain full of flowers decorating the wall, lighting the room with different backlit colors, and a young team doing plans and tests with different materials that increase curiosity and questions for the interview.
Observing the huge photographs of his projects surrounding the room in which we began to chat, it is already perceived that he is not an architect to use, as he says: “I differ in the way of understanding architecture and design”. And it is true, his proposals seek the best relationship between nature and people through architecture. He realized this when he received the order to design a nursery, where he imagined a space that was trying to capture the childhood he spent surrounded by fruit trees in the farmhouse of his grandfather in Lleida, abstracting and making permanent the memory of the site, uniting tradition with innovation in a place full of colors and shapes.
That was the first step, along with the need to explore other territories, which led him towards an ecological architecture, “I had to reinvent myself in the way of doing architecture, look for things from the place to shape something new, use what nature offers you. ” Now Villalta is claimed by many countries that need this type of creations, that go beyond, that seek solutions with an ecological social vision, making a balance between culture and tradition. Integrated buildings, that seem to have always been in a certain place.
One of its most important projects is a shopping center located in Ethiopia that made it look like a big market, based on small shops, with the intention of getting closer to the culture and way of life of the inhabitants, without forgetting a beautiful modern design with a facade created by extracting patterns from Ethiopian women’s dresses.
“We are going to be ecological, but ecological with sense”
Another of his outstanding creations was a luxury hotel in Brazil, where the priority was not to damage the environment; zero footprint, in the words of Vilalta. A hotel inspired by the nature form, based on fractals, for which a study was made of the materials of the area, the climate and traditional architecture, uniting science and feeling as well as, like the Indians themselves, intuition.
Throughout the talk we are surrounded by a beautiful light, stained glass, which is born of white curtains of an undefined material; the question becomes essential. Vilalta wanted to explore and investigate other options, unite beauty, ecology and sustainability but without forgetting the design. One day he planned to take this vision to the world of furniture and decoration, with an added element: integrate life in the form of plants. That’s where Ecortina came from. “In the end, it’s the same thing that I do every day but embodied in a product. Ecology has become a necessity and the great solution to a problem. ”
I wanted to unite beauty and ecology. Sometimes we think that the ecological can not be beautiful, but it can become a true work of art.
A curtain made with a mixture of paper and recycled plastic. It is not a pot, what makes the difference is that it integrates nature into the decoration. It covers many needs in a single element, you can recycle it again – since it is cut-out and use it as a small garden in the kitchen, as a shoe rack, stained glass, wine rack, space separator, sculpture. It is also waterproof. “What interests me is seeing how people are going to ‘reinterpret’ it, that happens when you have made a good product.” For this they have created an Instagram account, trying to get that reciprocity and get to know the ideas of the users, since the beauty of the product was also a priority for the architect.
Vilalta does not forget the echo part of this new project and already has relations with different schools to implement Ecortina for education, an initiative for children to learn to plant and approach nature, their small garden to which they can put their names, customize and which can be occupied within the classrooms. Get so modernized what we have all done once in our childhood, plant beans in a boat with cotton, in a modern, clean, organized and aware.
In the future, the idea of Vilalta is to make custom curtains with different colors and hydrogel to replace the earth, so that planting is an experience as well as a decorative element. Soon the official presentation will take place in an art gallery in Barcelona where invited artists will paint on them, in addition to announcing their next project, a lamp with natural flowers.