RDR architectes: VALUES AND INSIGHTS FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW
TEXT: CORNELIA BRELOWSKI
When it comes to meeting the specific needs of contemporary international architecture, RDR architectes build on a meaningful relationship with their clients, skillfully adding that special something which makes a project unique.
Based on intelligent discussions with their clients regarding their ambitions and means to develop the most appropriate forms, spaces and use of materials, RDR strive to meaningfully respond to the respective ‘brief’ – but also to subtly make it special. Each project searches for this identity in its own way: the Swisstech Convention Centre, for example, needed a far stronger formal identity than urban housing which aspires to contribute as much to the well-being of its inhabitants as to the quality of the urban context in which it is inserted.
A carefully managed process
RDR architectes believe in architecture as a service to society at large. They feel a strong responsibility, not only in providing the spaces and places that their clients hope and pay for, but also towards the rest of society. Architect Kenneth Ross explains: “We do not work around a specific formal style; each project is the result of a quest to solve the specifics of its unique needs.” In the end, each successful proposal is of value because the constraints have been transcended and something meaningful has become apparent. The architect offers: “We place great value in the process as it is fundamental to the resulting building – one cannot attain meaningful results without a carefully managed process.”
Based in Lausanne, Buenos Aires and Madrid, RDR have built a strong collaborative architectural practice over the years. Their wide range of projects for both private and public clients, of various sizes, programmes and complexities, have been acquired by winning numerous competitions and direct commissions.
A multinational company, RDR comprises more than 15 nationalities that perpetuate the multicultural character contributing to the identity of the group. As Kenneth Ross points out: “This openness to the world underpins the international vocation of RDR architectes.”
Founded in 1993 by Jacques Richter and Ignacio Dahl Rocha, RDR is now led by a new generation of architects who share the founders’ philosophy and are able to draw on a strong base of common experience that has contributed to RDR’s reputation. The group and the Lausanne team are led by Kenneth Ross, Antoine Barc, Frédéric Comby and Hilario Dahl Rocha, while Facundo Morando manages the team in Buenos Aires. More recently, a new team led by José Maria Gastaldo, Marc López and Alberto Garmendia contribute from the RDR office in Madrid.
Ignacio Dahl Rocha continues to guide and federate architectural thinking, both through his involvement in projects and his academic activities. As for the former partners, Jacques Richter is still very active in the associative and professional circles, while Christian Leibbrandt continues to support the management with advice and experience.
Lasting client relationships
RDR architectes are proud of developing close client relationships built on trust and understanding but also on a shared ambition to aim for better outcomes every time. This approach makes many of their clients come back to them for their next project.
Over the past few years, the office has worked on multiple projects for Nestlé in Switzerland and Europe, developed the Innovation Park and the SwissTech Convention Centre on the Campus of the EPFL, and were responsible for the latest three buildings and a Singapore outpost for the renowned IMD business school in Lausanne.
In the housing development sector, most of RDR’s projects are follow-up commissions from clients they initially won through competitions. RDR architectes have also worked with a series of outstanding individuals with whom they have conspired to design and build some truly special places, such as private homes or smaller developments, or even an ambitious farmstead at the very southern edge of Argentine Patagonia.
Sustainability – the need to transcend
For the near future, RDR have a diverse number of projects lined up in Switzerland, Argentina and Spain. They feel particularly excited about working on several new housing developments where the challenges of building sustainably require exploring the use of new or alternative materials, technologies or building methods and provide the potential to develop new ways of expressing these strategies in the buildings’ expression.
Sustainable strategies are a basic obligation in today’s building requirements. As Kenneth Ross says: “We clearly need to ensure that our buildings have the most positive environmental impact, but must also continue to strive for beauty in the final result.”
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