T-square - or just T - is one of the most basic instruments that one should hold in his hands in order to become an architect. Elena Siti, Fenia Douka and Christina Alexopoulou, with studies at the Royal College of Art in London and at the Department of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, created a modern professional space, in which they are inspired by, as well as, study, design and create.
By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
The main philosophy of T-square is the creation of a new way of behaving in space with the aim of cultivating a new experience. They are not limited to architectural design, but extend their study to the stimulation and satisfaction of all the senses involved in everyday experiences in a space. Architecture is combined with art and graphic design, to give shape and form to a new concept depending on the customer.
Architecture is a science that encompasses many different "paths" within it such as art, engineering, mathematics, and even philosophy, in my opinion. Which side excites you the most?
Architecture is indeed a multidimensional science which in order to approach it you must study and possess in depth all the above fields. It is for us the dominant means of expression and creation. Mathematics, philosophy, sculpture and art are tools that, depending on the time, space and emotions, are used to convey the vision of the architect. Another very important field that plays a dominant role in architectural creation is psychology. As an architect, you must understand very well the needs and desires of each client individually, that is, to be able to psyche out each different character. Decode their desires first on paper, then into a drawing and then into space in real dimensions. At the same time, you must be able to communicate, through the design and the image, the unique idea-concept each time, both to your client and to all the partners involved, who help in the implementation of the project.
How do you start designing a project? using aesthetics according to your own criteria, the environmental awareness, the requirements of the people who invite you?
Starting a project that includes architectural composition is one of the most important stages of design. In this phase we are called to understand the needs of our customers and to filter them through our experiences, aesthetics, experiences and values, so that the result at the end meets the expectations of our customers. Also, respect for the environment is a core value from the beginning of our professional career.
Three women in a lasting partnership; Is it easy and how do you handle disagreements? Is there a division of roles?
Our collaboration has been built on a solid foundation since our student years, a time when our visions and expectations found common ground. In the development of this relationship, the realistic goals we set, helped us to better understand the problems we encountered and to learn from them. Regarding the roles, we seek to have a distinct role at the administrative level of the company, while at the level of projects we maintain an agile approach.
How is the professional presence of three – in fact particularly charming - women in today's male-dominated world?
The field of engineering is no different from most professional fields, where we meet highly successful women. Professionalism and respect are inviolable elements in our collaborations.
How can we improve the aesthetics of big Greek cities that are dominated by cement - especially Athens? Do you see any potential or are we talking about an elusive dream?
We are at a critical crossroad; energy and environment. Cities, as you rightly say, are dominated by cement and the interventions required are complex and radical. It is now clear that we are facing problems that we have to face as a society. The location of public buildings, the greenery, the way we move and many other interventions are considered necessary for the overall improvement of the aesthetics of the big Greek cities.
Which cities do you love and why?
We love Thessaloniki, the city where we live and work, for the memories and the experiences we have. Also a special place for all of us is London, where the three of us met during our student years; a magical and multicultural place that gave us a lot of stimuli around architecture and the arts.
What are your favourite artists from every field you love? - music, cinema, painting, sculpture, literature…
Starting with literature, we single out Margaret Atwood, an awarded modern woman with a great speech. In the arts, such as sculpture, we find the works of Varotsos very special due to their relationship with the natural environment and natural light. In painting, we are particularly influenced by Dali's work, because he is a versatile artist, who in addition to painting was involved in architecture, furniture design and more. From contemporary Greek painters, we single out the work of Filippos Theodoridis, which we have many times incorporated in our own spaces. In cinema and music we have many favourite artists and it is difficult for us to single out some.
What do you think are your most important strengths and what advice would you give to young people preparing for the future?
Architecture is a demanding profession but at the same time very creative. Hard work, persistence to achieve the goals, cooperation and constant search for knowledge are basic elements that we would suggest today's young people have by their side during their development.
All three of you studied in England. Why didn't you stay there to work?
Our initial vision was to create an architectural office in the city where the three of us grew up. London has always been the means of fulfilling our vision, but at the same time it has won and still holds a place in our hearts.
Which are the most beautiful buildings in the world?
In recent decades, many buildings with impressive forms have been implemented, many of which have become global landmarks. The Heyolar Aliyev Cultural Center in Azerbaijan is a great example designed by the inimitable Zaha Hadid with its stunning sculptural form. The Tate Modern of the complex Herzog & de Meuron is also a favourite, with its large imposing volume, where the change of use of an industrial building and its transformation into a center of art and culture, always causes an unparalleled awe, both in terms of architecture and in terms of art.