LAGADO Architects
Towards an ethical stability
Rotterdam, NL

LAGADO architects define themselves as a serious studio for playful architecture. Founded by architects Maria Vasiloglou and Victor Verhagen in Rotterdam in 2011, the studio applies their fascination with user-centered design to a diverse range of projects that share a common playfulness combined with clear geometry and latent multifunctionality. Depending on the project, they operate as initiators, researchers and architects.

 

Getting projects through community engagement

Together with a group of skaters we self-initiated our first project while still studying: the first concrete skatepool in the Netherlands, nicely integrated in a neighbourhood park. This process took a few years of talking, and by the time we finally got the assignment to make the technical drawings for the realisation of the pool, we also got the commission to design a house in Greece. We grabbed this change with both hands, came up with our office name and started a website on which we blogged about the process of these two projects. Through our media exposure and the immersion in our local community, we soon got more assignments, such as one of our favourites till this day, the design of a fun and inviting temporary public toilet next to our skatepool.

 

Building metaphors

“There was a most ingenious architect, who had contrived a new method for building houses, by beginning at the roof, and working downward to the foundation...”

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, 1726

Our name LAGADO architects is based on a story and refers to an uninhibited attitude towards our profession. We share this quality with the architect of the Grand Academy of Lagado in the story of Gullivers’ Travels, who studied how to be able to build a house starting from the top and working downward to the foundations. This metaphor sums up our ambitions of being open minded and playful while at the same time focussed on getting our projects built and serious. 

 

An ethical routine

Since our mission for our projects is to improve the quality of life of the users and encourage social interaction, we live by our own rules and fiercely defend our own personal time and family time. This means we both spend at least one full day during the workweek with our kids and do not work on weekends. It has forced us to be efficient and sometimes resist the urge to keep on designing. We’ve seen our fair share of the notorious working conditions in our profession and see it as a part of being an architect in the 21st century to not follow the old regime of all work no play. No interns are harmed during the design of our projects. 

 

Working in an office 

We work from a nice studio space in an characteristic old building which used to be the office of a printing press. We share our studio with our friends Nomadic Resorts and JDA, two offices with quite a different field of work. The nice thing is we can easily share thoughts, ideas and ways of working and help each other with business related issues. Together with JDA, we also work on projects. The space itself feels classic, a bit like a gentlemens’ club with its dark wooden panelling, the high ceiling and two big arched windows on the street. It’s cool to have an office on the street.

 

Taking up larger projects

From the start, our main two goals of running our own practice were to be able to work on things that are close to our own hearts and to be involved deeply in our projects, from design to implementation and to be in direct contact with our clients. Nowadays we are getting into bigger commissions, such as the design of a housing complex, as well as an expanding range of shops and restaurant interiors. Besides these commissions, we keep looking into developing our own projects and apply to calls that fit our own fascination. A recent example is the design for a skatepark with an integrated landscape in Brussels together with Openfabric for which we got selected as finalists. 

 

Working towards a greater stability

We finished a striking interior for a home and would love to design an outspoken house – both inside and outside as a realistic next step. But our main challenge for the next few years is to acquire more typical and bigger architectural commissions, such as more housing projects or a school. This would ground our portfolio more, plus we simply would love to design a school. It would be our dream project, since we can have an impact on the living world of children. We are actively looking into collaborations with bigger offices in order to do bigger projects and have more long term projects that provide more stability to our office. A recent selection for a gymnastics hall provides a nice confirmation we are on track.



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Photography Haris Vasiloglou

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Photography Courtesy of LAGADO

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Photography Rubén Dario Kleimeer






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