Defining boundaries
Barcelona, ES

Once a nomadic office, MH.AP Studio, currently based in Barcelona was founded by Marina Huguet and Andrés Peñuela two graduates from ETSAV. Having worked in Sweden, France, Colombia, USA, Malaysia and Indonesia, they now develop a practice defined by the context, working on the relationships between detail, material, space and scale.

Returning to Barcelona as seasoned architects

We first met at ETSAV, in Barcelona, Spain. As students, we had the opportunity to work in different countries such as Sweden, France and Colombia. In 2012, after completing our degree and having finished some small projects in Catalunya, we moved to Southeast Asia to work as collaborators at several architectural firms between Malaysia and Indonesia. It was only in 2015 that we returned as nomadic-freelance architects and established our studio in Barcelona.


Cultivating patience in the search for projects

Beginnings are always hard. We had the chance to build our first project in Reus, Spain in 2015 with a client that truly believed in us (and, of course, with extremely low fees). So on one side, there is passion for architecture but on the other side: clients. Without projects, it is really difficult to survive (thriving is another thing). Patience is the main key: we have survived times without projects by collaborating as a support team for other offices (for instance Barozzi Veiga) in competitions and submissions, just like we did in Southeast Asia, but knowing that MH.AP Studio would eventually thrive. And when there were no projects, we invented some (like or Rinjani). We have not yet won any architecture competitions, we will soon, and we have mainly built interior projects.


Defining boundaries

We are not just professional partners but partners in life. We have two kids and we work from home. This has been extremely difficult to balance since we used to have a nomadic lifestyle just a few years ago. But there is no other way at the moment: in order to survive, our Studio structure has to be extremely light and adaptable. One consideration to keep in mind in conciliating private and professional life is to clearly define boundaries, both in time and space. We work from 9h to 18h and we are really strict about that, but on the other hand (at the time being) our office space is really small: it is uncomfortable for collaborators to work in a domestic environment -even though our studio is a separated room from home. And we are slowly growing! So we are considering moving out from home.


Making the studio space as light as possible

Spatially our office is really small, just two tables. Half of the space is dedicated to books; we consult them frequently. Samples take a lot of space, so we try to keep them under control. A small drawer serves for printed documents, and there is some room for models material. Other than that, we have our information in the cloud with Drive & Dropbox but also an external hard drive. Still all of this is about costs: having a light structure office is essential to our survival. For example we don't own a plotter, we just have a small A3 printer. Such a small space has pushed us to rely on collaborations and work remotely: it works! In times of COVID-19 our office keeps doing the same as before (with less human contact): we have adapted ultra-fast to the current situation. 


Becoming teachers

We are truly grateful for the support our family has given us to be able to become architects (without them it would have been impossible). But new clients are extremely difficult to access. We have an education in Urbanism and our school (ETSAV) is very technical, we are capable of working on large-scale projects. Up-until-today we have only built interiors (as MH.AP Studio). But it has also given us the opportunity to better understand space-rather than objects (or built form). As individuals, we both believe in education and we have always searched for ways to share our knowledge via Academia. The current situation makes it really hard both in terms of time and economics to become teachers. Again, this is something that we constantly pursue and will eventually become a reality.


Towards new forms of working together

It's really difficult to see 10 years in the future: we can only plan for 3 years in advance, which makes our goals more realistic. In three years time our small office will still be small, we will continue to have a light and adaptable structure (Are we millennials? if so, we work with constant uncertainty, and the next three years feel really really foggy). But we will have won a competition, maybe more than one, hopefully, a public housing one. MH.AP Studio will have few employees. We believe more and more in collaboration-based platforms rather than an office; an organisation based on trust, where projects share rights and the teams involved know they're working on their and not someone else's project.

MHAP architects foto luis diaz diaz MH.AP Studio

MHAP FM LuisDD08 MH.AP Studio

MHAP Joieria Prats foto luis diaz diaz 15 MH.AP Studio

Photography Luis Díaz Díaz

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