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Iván AcevedoArchitect, returning what has been learned.

There are professions that cannot live without being in contact with society – without emotions. In fact, there are professions that transform society which can resolve fundamental issues in our lives and positively alter our own perception about ourselves. Iván Acevedo is a young but well-experienced architect of Colombian origin who today is putting value and returning to his country what he has learned during his years in Barcelona.

We were very interested in chatting with you because we think that people like you are here for us and local agents that are worth listening to. They have a special sensitivity towards multidisciplinary and for the international management they carry out from here, in Barcelona. In our case, it is something that we have been working on for five or six years, first approaching Russia and beginning to highlight the growing importance of China, something that is now an unavoidable evidence and with which we already have traced bridges.

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You have been here for twenty years now. You will have realized this change in the perception of the international:

It is a total change. For me, it has been twenty years of absolute change. The first impact is when you decide that you must change the territory where you live. You come to another continent, it’s not just another country. Although the language is almost the same, the customs and habits are different, and the learning is so great that it seems that you are born again. You have never lived outside, and the change is important. There is a period of establishment that is difficult, you do not have friends, family … until little by little you are working in different offices and having a great inner joy, especially when knowing the different profiles of a profession like this.

The architects have multiple facets, interests, and infinite possibilities of development. The first one I started working with was the Architecture Studio of Rodrigo Prats where I got to know the works of Enric Miralles and Carme Pinós, where little by little I was gaining confidence.

After that, I joined the architects’ bag of the Colegio de Catalunya. They called me for an interview in Pich-Aguilera, where I started as a senior collaborator and ended as a project manager. I started my experience in public competitions, schools, day care centers, municipal sports complexes, and housing. I also began to understand the field of management as an architect. I began to see that multidisciplinary facet. It was a time of hard work, 16 hours a day working and still feeling guilty for not going to work on Sundays.

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You have a very high degree of responsibility:

When you have ‘twenties’ you can hold everything. From there I went to 2011, following an invitation to participate in a contest in Colombia where we won by working with a friend. My return to the country began. The BucBa Arquitectos and IAA Studio was founded, and we combined the two works. From that moment, we were winning competitions and designed the recreational pool of the Hotel Caribe, which is an icon, along with more achievements.

It has been my responsibility to return to my country and give what I have learned from my teachers. My dream was to be able to contribute everything I have learned and my knowledge so that someone can take it and make it their own.

It is difficult for someone to do that from the incitement of others because to pass that knowledge, does not stop being a manipulation. It must be a stimulus for there to be new development.

Exactly. Now, there is a masterplan to work in Cabo Barranquilla, the development of more than 17,000 homes for people with average incomes. There is also the recreational center that we want to do in Santander (Colombia), a center for working families. It is an interesting project that arises from Colombia and is destined to the so-called compensation box and the recreational areas that are built with those funds. You can enter from the person who does the cleaning of a company to the CEO of it.

It is socialized in spaces that are not strictly labor – very interesting. When did this obsession come to you towards the ecological and energetic efficiency?

The learning with Pich-Aguilera was very important. They are specialized in eco-efficiency and are the first to incorporate thermal, photovoltaic solutions and this is my influence.

As a result of that, I make changes as well as want to know the traditional. I need the traditional architecture which is the rehabilitation and renovation of buildings. I did a graduate in Sert School on rehabilitation of buildings.

Then comes the advice from a non-traditional politician in the city of Bucaramanga (Colombia), civil engineer and mayor, Rodolfo Hernandez. The first thing he did when he arrived as the mayor was to make an economic report. The Public Architecture Workshop of Bucaramanga was created which, together with engineers and social workers, began to work.

We do projects where the community contributes to the program. Normally the community has needs that can be carried out thanks to dialogue. That is why we need social workers, who allow us to accompany the project before, during, and after. We generate co-creation and co-design.

We discovered neighborhood leaders who are normally hidden or do not participate due to the influence of politics or mafias. We can reach real people and know their opinion and encourage their participation.

With transparency policy, we are giving back to the people what they give in taxes.

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In the urban theme, there are different actors participating in the project:

Our aim was to do a little more than 150 interventions in two and a half years. Many of them are small, but of great impact. For the large actors, we have looked for strategic allies. Everything that was public was abandoned for 30 or 40 years.

It has made the importance of the city grow:

People already identify who cheats them. They face whoever cheats them. That’s what architecture, urbanism, and integrated social work do. We will have to work about housing. It’s about returning trust to people.

From Barcelona the project continues to grow:

What I’m trying to do is a change for all Latin America. It’s a specialty that I like, that I’m passionate about. All the knowledge I have taken from here and there, from my travels, from my life, can be applied in a very direct way.

What upcoming countries do you have in mind?

Well, in Argentina there is a project through the Inter-American Development Bank. They awarded us the Latin American Prize for Reviving the City. We have also done work in the Dominican Republic with the presidency, as project director, in something that had to do with community work. In Peru, I plan to do a collaboration on a hospital. We are still discussing. However, the most important project is still the area of Colombia.

We applied to the Architecture Biennial in Colombia and won in the category of Urban Design and Landscaping. First, they recognized us in Argentina and later in Colombia.

Yours has been working outside and returning social commitment. With little more than forty years is to be very proud. We value that very much, that you do it from here. We suppose that it should also bring you things:

Thanks to that possibility of working here, it allows me to be inspired so that you can inspire others.

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On that line we always like to reflect on the lack of leadership. From Romero, we think that the entrance of people like you can help the emergence of these new leaders and serve as a reference.


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