The ABB LEAF Awards recognise the biggest and brightest names in international architecture. In the first of three exclusive interviews with this year’s judges, we quiz Michele Pasca di Magliano of Zaha Hadid Architects.
Michele Pasca di Magliano joined world-renowned Zaha Hadid Architects in 2004. He has led award-winning projects including the d’Leedon residential complex in Singapore, recipient of the World Gold Award for Residential High-Rise at the FIABCI World Prix D’Excellence Awards 2016.
What are the value of prizes such as the ABB LEAF Awards to the architecture and design industry?
It is always a great moment of reflection of the changes in industry trends and the work of our colleagues. Also, it is also interesting to see how the jury votes as our opinions are not always aligned, creating healthy debate.
What qualities must successful architecture possess in order to be outstanding?
Successful projects deliver clear messages, with complex briefs becoming a clear architectural statement. That unifying character and strength of the design statement makes the difference between a successful project and a standard building.
It is also interesting to see the different perception between the industry opinion and that of the building’s users. Of course, the ideal outcome is when both parties recognise the value of the built project.
How has the architect’s role in society changed during your career?
There is a great consciousness about design, much more than what I expected when I was studying.
Colleagues from older generations still use functional justifications for their choices. However, I believe now design is much more recognised as a value − and good design can withstand criticism.
What do you think the architect’s role should be, ideally?
The architect should shape our building environment, proposing solutions and visions to improve and inspire the areas where life happens. A better house, office and city − all can contribute to progress in our society, increasing collaboration and communication.
What most excites you about the contemporary architecture scene?
There are several new concepts and typologies emerging as a result of challenging economic conditions. These should be exploited to create new answers to those issues. There is also a great variety of major players and peers and a large number of new buildings appearing worldwide.
Conversely, are there any trends that you find particularly troubling?
There is always a tendency to go back to traditional answers to new problems. The construction industry has gone through very little innovation in the past 2,000 years. Consequently, I find it troubling when colleagues question the need to embrace new technologies and design software platforms. We should all work with every tool at our disposal to contribute to progress and discourse.
What building constructed in your lifetime do you wish you could have designed, and why?
I am very happy with the contribution I’ve been lucky enough to give to the profession. Obviously, I could have done more or won more competitions, but that is part of the game.