Lenka Holcnerova was born in Czech Republic, she lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal and is the founder of Atelier HOLCNEROVA, an International Architecture studio based in Lisbon. With an eye for art, the ocean, vibrant people and novel idea, she graduated in 2013 with diploma thesis “Between ocean and land: Urban Coastline as a Source of Renewable Energy”. Her world and work lies within where architecture, sculpture and culture meet: beauty is the radiance of truth. Her education and work have taken her all the way from Czech Republic to Croatia, Russia, New York, Spain and finally Lisbon where land meets the ocean and sky and life is touched by the Atlantic breeze.
Luca Curci – What do you think about the concept of this contest? What drove you to participate in this contest?
Lenka Holcnerova – The multidisciplinary nature of this contest appealed to me the most. The themes and rules in this contest seemed very open. Simplifying helps with understanding complex issues; while looking with different perspectives is the right approach to tackle complexity and this comes with multidisciplinary studies.
The international list of galleries contributes a lot to the values artists look for. International collaboration opportunities are very rewarding in a whole new level.
L. C. – What are you currently working on?
L. H. – Renovation and reconstruction of a beautiful 18th century building in southern Spain previously used for army uniform manufacturing. This project is very close to my heart. There is this challenge of reconverting the building while keeping the spirit of its old function. We are working on a couple of projects concerning Social Sustainability- a European international competition project- and Alternative Energy – small scale urban – friendly wind power plant. The projects I work on at my atelier can fit into one of these three categories: Reconstruction, Sustainable energy projects and product design. However, a tiny element of all these three themes can be found in every project I do.
L. C. – How do you find creative inspiration?
L. H. – There is inspiration in everything: light, ocean, nature and creations of human mind – One only needs to look around and see it. Most of the time its subconscious, from our already created databases (that’s why it’s important to travel, read, see and live with open eyes)
But sometimes there is this amazing moment when you have this spark of connection and you realize that what you see right now can be a relevant inspiration. This was the case in the Baskin Pool Lisbon project. It was in a windy day and I was on the terrace of a restaurant looking over the coastal Praia Guincho – just a bit south from Cabo da Roca – the most western point of continental Europe. I was watching the elegant movements of kite surfers and the way it resembled dancing above the sea level in complete harmony with the nature. This deeply moved me and sparked this desire to design structures which would elegantly transport the natural potential into energy.
L. C. – How would you define your responsibility as an architect/artist?
L. H. – I want to answer this question with a quote by Cristiano Toraldo di Francia from Italian SUPERSTUDIO: “It is the designer who must attempt to re-evaluate his role in the nightmare he has helped to conceive.”
I strongly believe in architect’s moral duty to think about not only HOW but WHY and what we are creating. Creating order out of the unholy mess in this life seems like something that makes sense.
L. C. – Are you concerned about environmental and social sustainability in your buildings? If so, what role does green building play into your work?
L. H. – As a human and as a woman, I feel like it is natural tendency to preserve the world for future generations. I also have a tendency to keep some and add new layers to every project we are working on. Nothing can be started from the scratch as if there has been nothing before us. We are never creating the unchangeable definite state of anything as if there will be nothing after us. And this is only possible by creating this link and keeping the connection between people and nature.
L. C. – Do you usually cooperate with museums, architecture studios or other institutions? If so, for what kind of projects?
L. H. – Apart from my usual collaborations with other architects, professionals and people within my professional network, I find new cooperation opportunities by just meeting people. My Atelier in Lisbon is a very open and friendly studio. Every single day there is at least one person, stranger, or tourist who stops to look at the place. We always end up having a nice chat. There is always an interesting story they share with me or my international team of interns. And these random but pleasant encounters happen to create a lot of unexpected cooperation.
L. C. – What do you think about It’s LIQUID Platform? Did you feel comfortable cooperating with us?
L. H. – I love the team and Jury and professionally speaking, I am a big fan of most of the ITS LIQUID members. In my personal experience, the cooperation has been very easy and pleasant.