fala
a functional disorder
Porto, PT

fala is a naïve architecture practice based in Porto, led by Filipe Magalhães, Ana Luisa Soares and Ahmed Belkhodja. Established in 2013, the atelier works with methodic optimism in a workspace that boasts a charming chaos with no apparent hierarchies. To date, they have applied their playful methodology on a wide range of projects, from territories to birdhouses.

Getting acquainted over a love for architecture

We (Filipe and Ana Luisa) studied at FAUP (Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto), and met Ahmed doing their internship in Switzerland at Harry Gugger’s Studio. Followed up by many geeky yet extremely enthusiastic conversations about architecture, ambitions to do competitions together, and, finally, to start an office in Porto, where we joined forces and assembled the dream team of superheroes.

 

A fascination for Japanese architecture

The office, of course, started long before choosing a name for it and creating a proper website. But the official inauguration had happened in Japan, in a very small capsule of the Nakagin Tower built by Kisho Kurokawa, where Filipe and Ana lived for a few months. Considering our perpetual fascination for awkward Japanese architecture, it was a beautiful and symbolic moment to begin!

 

Independent work rhythms and occasional exceptions

Everyone at the office has slightly different schedules and routines. Some show up at 07:50 in the morning, others might think on Friday that it is Saturday already. But we are trying to be reasonable and organised with our working hours, so that there is some space in life for other things to happen (and it doesn't make our love affair with architecture any less prominent). And, as always, we can plan it as much as we want, but exceptions always occur: more drawings need to be done, or we might just come into the office on a Sunday.

 

Maintaining a healthy chaos

Our office space was a project designed by us: a big room with three types of columns facing a succulent garden. There are two large tables, way too many books, tea cups and no hierarchy. We have serious discussions around one of the computer screens, silly jokes, loud phone calls, walls covered in all kinds of drawings, posters, competition panels and receipts; the very best kind of disorder.

 

Methodic optimism confronting architecture

We are still making mistakes (accidentally and on purpose) and never stopping learning. The reality can at times be frustrating and boring - the clients are usually a bit torturous, project briefs are repetitive, municipalities are simply morbid - we always manage to find joy and lightness in between, and we always get excited about every new project. Designing a cabinet is as challenging and compelling as designing a house.

 

Continuing to delve deeper

We want to keep having a lot of projects, and it would be ideal to have a healthy mixture of scales and typologies. We also want to keep on reflecting on our own work, expanding the long list of references while finding more time to do proper research on things that excite us. We want to continue to constantly evolve, not repeating ourselves, but rather opening up new themes, tropes and possibilities.

01Photography © Olmo Peeters

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05Photography courtesy of Fala






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