Ylab Architects: "We like complex projects and with a dose of ambiguity"

YLAB Arquitectos is a studio formed by Yolanda Yuste and Tobías Laarmann, professionals trained in Germany who lived in Berlin the boom of architecture. His studio in Barcelona has an interesting portfolio of international clients who value his way of proposing a project based more on concept than on styles.

Explain briefly the history of the Ylab study.

We are both trained in Germany, first in a technical university and then in an art school, where we study in a very interdisciplinary way together with designers from other fields and collaborating with foreign universities such as AA or UCLA. We were lucky to live in Berlin, during the boom of architecture and dot-com companies after the reunification of Germany, in an environment full of energy and possibilities. As students, he gave us the opportunity to accumulate a lot of experience in small and large offices, such as Nouvel, Piano or Foster. When we moved to Barcelona, ​​we were ready to set up our own studio and collaborate with offices in Spain and abroad. Having worked with such different studies was a good way to learn to develop a flexible approach, more linked to the concept than style.

How is the study prepared to provide an effective integral service to its clients?

First of all with a clear business approach, developing the services and capabilities according to the type of orders we receive, with a very personal well prepared, with the necessary external collaborations, optimizing the size of the equipment to be able to offer a quality according to our expectations. This implies being selective with the orders and concentrating on those that fit our infrastructure, in which we can offer a better service, which requires customized and customized solutions. We try to follow the German or Anglo-Saxon project organization and service delivery system, which we believe is more effective and which our clients demand.

Headquarters of Inaugure de Ylab Arquitectos

How does the relationship with a new client arise?

Each new client means a completely different approach. First we strive to extract the essence of the information that our clients give us, analyze the variables and needs, put order and mediate between the different interests until finding the space in which they are. There is a first conceptual phase in which we work very intensively with them. Based on the analysis of the project, we developed a clear and strong concept, and we proposed different options, which we always contrasted with that of the client. The presentation of the contents is always graphic, we communicate through diagrams, sketches, drawings, renders … it is a phase very rich in content and it is vital that the client sees and understands the same as us. At the end of this phase we get a thoughtful proposal that usually does not change later.

How many professionals make up your study and how do you divide your work?

During the conceptual phase we like to work on a rotating basis, so that all We can make proposals and work on those of others. This allows creating a wide range of possibilities and involving the whole team. We discuss the solutions among all and select the best proposals. After this phase there is a linear and well-defined development of the project according to specific fields and phases. We need our internal team and external collaborators to have a multidisciplinary profile, we work with people with experience in the world of engineering, corporate design, brand creation, workplace consultancy, marketing … When we work on projects outside of Spain we prefer to work with companies from country where the commission comes from, which are the ones that understand the market the best and can advise us.

Housing in Diagonal Mar Barcelona, ​​project of Ylab

What is the difference between a residential project and a contract?

They are very similar and different at the same time. The methodology we use is practically the same: in both, everything revolves around the client's approach, its values, the identity it wants to project, its use of space … When we work in contract architecture we have to understand how the business works, how architecture can adapt and even improve that aspect, we talk about functionalities, to create an attractive image for employees, … In the residential field the ambition is basically the same, although the terms are different. In the contract we are specialized in the creation of new architectural brand concepts, this makes our contract and residential projects need a similar creative input, and the way to deal with them is analogous.

What is your usual work methodology?

Develop the project to give it definition and detail, in a way that is coherent with the concept initially proposed, reinforcing it to make it recognizable and strong through its different scales and to the last details. We are passionate about working out the details, proposing specific solutions, looking for special materials, designing customized joinery, integrating lighting … everything is basic, everything counts within the final set.

What technical advances do you most value in your profession?

We studied in a multidisciplinary school in Berlin that immediately understood the need to be at the forefront of computer programs, at a time when in many of the offices where we collaborated we still drew by hand. We get used to working with very diverse programs as a work tool, for the development of ideas: 3d design, graphic design, layout, animation or programming, in addition to traditional CAD programs. I would highlight 3D modeling, which allows us to check ideas inside space, from the perspective of the human eye, in movement. This is our way of projecting and making sketches. The tools designed to communicate and present ideas to customers seem equally important to us. We give a lot of value to a good presentation and to communicate the concepts with the client, because this allows us to take safe steps forward and work effectively.

Atryum Center in Dakar, Senegal, Ylab project

Offer custom furniture What happens with the offer in the market?

When it comes to developing an individual project and optimizing the space, custom furniture offers infinite possibilities. We enjoy developing furniture with intelligent solutions, functionalities adapted to the specific needs of the client, with finishes that fit with the rest of the design. Even so, we value a lot and closely follow the good furniture design that exists in the market, and we always complete the projects with furniture, lighting and commercial decoration. If the dimension of the project allows it, we like to work with companies that allow their products to be individualized.
What challenges does interior design pose for everything related to sustainability?

We believe that sustainability is fundamental, but it must be understood as a service tool: it is like a good installation, whose virtue is not to be seen and disappear within the design.

Can you mention a space that has moved you?

The visual saturation produced by the media makes it difficult to feel great emotions nowadays. Travel to new cultures and countries and find places that tell about their history, their environment, beyond their own architecture, can convey very intense sensations: the brutalist architecture of some countries in Eastern Europe, the gaps left by the war in a city …

Dental clinic Angels in Barcelona

Can you tell us something about the projects that are underway?

We are currently starting a business center in Giza, Egypt, a flagship building for a new generation arising from the transformations that the country is experiencing, which must formalize and reflect that change. We are also developing an exhibition and office pavilion for a new city in Senegal, a "smart city" called Diamniadia, which is one of the great projects of the new Africa. In Abidjan we are finalizing a headquarters for the Bridge Bank Group, a newly created bank aimed at small and medium enterprises. Within Spain we are also working on various residential and corporate projects.

YLAB Arquitectos, Yolanda Yuste, Tobías Laarmann. Pallars 85-91, 4-6. 08018 Barcelona. T. +34 934 864 807.
Interview: Marcel Benedito
Excerpt courtesy of Project Contract.