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Rogelio Salmona Fellow 2019: Gregorio Maya

Gregorio Maya © Gregorio Maya

© Gregorio Maya

Gregorio Maya
Tate Modern integration mapping © Gregorio Maya

© Gregorio Maya

Tate Modern integration mapping

We are thrilled to announce that London-based architect and design researcher Gregorio Maya has been selected as the final Rogelio Salmona Fellow following an open call for applications. W caught up with Gregorio to find out a bit more about his work and his plans for his upcoming research trip to Colombia. 

Tell us a bit about yourself; your background and areas of interest.
I grew up in Colombia with the fortune of having access to great education all the way from childhood until I qualified as an architect. I have spent time living in Switzerland, Australia, Portugal, and four years ago I arrived in London, looking to upscale my skills in spatial analytics. This was an area that I had always considered as a tacit knowledge of architects but I had a hard time explaining the impacts that the built environment could have over their inhabitants. I have always been fascinated by the behaviours and habits that are shaped through the power of architecture. Recently I have been exploring the advantages of the big data boom to inform design. Suddenly a coding world that I never thought I would be into has grabbed my attention in ways I never thought it would.

What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I work at Spacelab alongside a talented group of architects and designers, where our main focus is on workplace. My efforts, as a design researcher, are usually towards creating the best brief and strategy for our clients based on an evidence-based approach. I develop spatial layouts to promote healthy, collaborative and empowering environments based on the understanding of each one of its future inhabitants. Why offices? - you might ask. Well, we spend a great amount of our time in offices and they're great places for interaction.

Aside from specific projects, I am currently developing a tool to manage and make the most of our spatial data. I believe this is going to open up a new world of possibilities. Informed decisions are great drivers of successful designs. The more we understand the places we live in, the better we'll be at projecting how we want the places to be.

Why are you interested in the work of Rogelio Salmona and why did you apply for the Fellowship?
I grew up in Bogotá, surrounded by Salmona's works. For years, I lived opposite one his earliest works… I could see it from my window and always wondered about its internal distribution. During my years at university Salmona was an inevitable reference and part of my curiosity about the social capabilities of architecture certainly comes from him.

I applied for the Fellowship because I saw it as an opportunity to explore Salmona's works with new methodologies that I have mastered since I left Colombia. I want to explore the social aspects of his buildings with an evidence-based perspective. Hopefully, I'll be able to suggest a new approach in ways that deepen the understanding of his work and share some of my learnings both in Colombia and the UK.

What are you hoping to research and to discover or explore? Are you taking a particular approach?
My focus is about the spaces of public co-presence. I have framed my research around the current need for spaces of reconciliation. The biggest challenge will be to look at his works with a fresh pair of eyes; assuming no previous knowledge and no preconceptions over what I want to have as findings.

Ideally, the research will guide me towards the tangible elements of his buildings that promote human transaction. By looking at macro architectonic gestures as well as micro details I hope to find clues that positively impact people's behaviour towards each other.
My approach will be mainly combining on-site observations and spatial analysis of layout configurations. I will use space syntax techniques to assess public buildings that have been previously studied by many academics but not yet from this angle.

What are your expectations of the residency and what are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to spending time on site looking and experiencing Salmona’s buildings. It will be interesting to compare my current perceptions against my earlier thoughts and experiences of the spaces as an architecture student.

As part of my visit I’ll be setting up various workshops with students and volunteers. I will also meet with local experts to discuss how this new approach can provide insights for future spaces. It will be an exciting opportunity to share my learnings and encourage the use of space syntax creating momentum of this new approach.

I can’t wait to explore the archive as it’s such a unique opportunity and I feel very privileged to spend time in there.

This is the final year of the Rogelio Salmona Fellowship (2017-2019), a programme organised by the British Council and coordinated by the Colombian cultural foundation Más Arte Más Acción in partnership with Fundación Rogelio SalmonaMuseo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (MamBO) and Universidad de Caldas.

Gregorio will be travelling to Colombia later in the summer. Keep up to date with his time there on the ADF blog and by following us on Twittter and Instagram