Blurring the lines
Lisbon, PT; Genève, CH

BUREAU is the project of Galliane Zamarbide, Carine Pimenta and Daniel Zamarbide. The practice hides under its generic name a variety of research activities. BUREAU makes things as an urge to react to the surrounding physical, cultural and social environment with a critical standpoint and with an immersive attitude.


An amalgam of disciplines

My (Daniel’s) personal professional life resembles a long degrowth process. I started my architect’s life with the typical “a-bunch-of-friends-starting-with-an-open-structure” storyline. 12 years later, when I left, we were around 60 people in Geneva and another 30 or so between Hanoi and Singapore. Opening up BUREAU allowed me to go back to my school days’ profound interests, where I was sharing my time between architecture and art. Attracted by strong winds, I now spend my life between Lisbon, Lausanne (where I teach at the EPFL) and Geneva, sharing the office through multiple and diverse, design-research activities with Carine Pimenta and Galliane Zamarbide, my partners. The way we met and started together bears no spectacular mythology. We were just close friends and a couple, sharing common social and political values and a very wide idea of what architecture could contribute to. Galliane comes from the field of photography and design, having studied at the ECAL in Lausanne and Carine is our more Portuguese-rooted asset, although she has also studied in the EPFL for a year. 


A chance project

Our work is filled with stories. This is very rooted in what we do: stories, short and long, relating to what’s around us such as things and living beings, as well as to history, or to a “thick present” as Donna Haraways puts it. This thickness is what we engage into, looking forward and backwards within a very real world. For instance, we once presented a theater performance for the 5th Istanbul Biennial, based on what is known as “The Kitchen Debate” in 1959 between Richard Nixon and Nikita Krushchev. The pandemic hit. Discussion with head curator Mariana Pestana led us to review the project and do a film for their Cooking Show series. We talked with chef Walter El Nagar about this, mentioning how we wanted to play with the fermentation of mushrooms after Anna Tsing’s famous book. A precise set of circumstances allowed us to create a space to perform the set that we needed for the film in the MAAT Museum in Lisbon. It ended up becoming a public performance, with the main soundtrack by Filipe Felizardo. While preparing the performance, Aric Chen calls the Lisbon MAAT director, Beatrice Leanza, with some names of “local” research-oriented practices, among them ours. Beatrice says, “Wait, they are right here, let me ask if they are interested.” We ended up doing the exhibition design for X is not a SMALL COUNTRY, a very exciting show on the state of post-globalism. 


Blurring the lines

We don’t defend workaholism at all, and we consider our work a perfectly normal rhythm of work, although we have a feeling that we are constantly working. No heroic stuff though, no extraordinary achievements, but just modest contributions to better situations, contexts around us. And we also hope to acquire a more refined conscience about our surroundings with our work. Listening is as much a practice as doing, and it takes a lot of learning as well. We absorb as much as we can, paying attention to what happens around us. 

It is true that we give the greatest importance to our everyday life, to the richness of daily experiences. There are no set routines at BUREAU, its days being very different from one to the other. And we want to keep on doing what we do until we can, the longest possible, we love it despite some harsh moments. Private and professional life are part of the same milieu, in our case. We happen to share our private and professional lives as a couple in the case of Galliane and Daniel, and spend a lot of family time all together. I guess that there are not many borders between work and family life. And we enjoy that. 


Working round the globe

The studio is space. The BUREAU is a space where we spend time, working but discussing a lot. The studio is where we meet. This seems obvious, but it is not so much in our case, as we spend a lot of time moving around. The bureau is thus the basecamp.  

Office work is normal, people in front of computers, meetings, sketches, breakfasts and coffees, discussions, naps, watering the plants, receiving El Croquis and commenting on our colleagues’ work, the usual stuff. Lisbon is our living room and garden. In Geneva, we share the atelier with two photographers that we love, Dylan Perrenoud and Yann Haeberlin. We meet there for parties and barbecues. We work pretty much everywhere. 


A strong work ethic

There are many realities, and we participate somehow in their construction and inhabitation. Expectations then sort of go with the flow, growing, and changing with the years of experience and as one encounters different situations and people. We strive for a good quality of professional life, which means working with interesting and engaged people, being able to continue a research-oriented practice and the most difficult one, gaining enough money to keep on going. No need for benefits, just salaries. We are constantly struggling with that question, but we can be proud of all our activities and projects without exception. 


Practicing the profession

This whole idea of dreaming about what one would like to accomplish is quite far away from us. We like to do things and be the closest we can to our daily aspirations. In the future we would love to keep on doing what we do right now, working on very interesting projects and contexts, meeting new people and no growing necessary, just a variety of formats where the BUREAU can learn and contribute as a spatial practice to raise questions through design and architecture in the largest sense possible. 

BUREAU Portrait AurelienBergot 1

Photography Aurelien Bergot

BUREAU Bureaus Office 1500px Dylan Perrenoud 01

Photography Dylan Perrenoud

BUREAU Floating Realities 1500px DylanPerrenoud 01

Photography Dylan Perrenoud

BUREAU Maria 1500px FranciscoNogueira 01

Photography Francisco Nogueira

BUREAU Mr Barretts Garden 1500px DylanPerrenoud 01

Photography Dylan Perrenoud

a project powered by Itinerant Office

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