Ensamble Studio is a cross-functional team founded in 2000 and led by architects Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa. Balancing imagination and reality, art and science, their work innovates typologies, technologies and methodologies to address issues as diverse as the construction of the landscape or the prefabrication of the house. From their early works –SGAE Headquarters, Hemeroscopium House or The Truffle in Spain– to their most recent –Ensamble Fabrica in Madrid and Ca’n Terra in Menorca, Spain–, every project makes space for experimentation aiming to advance their field.
Their contributions to the theory and practice of architecture have received numerous international recognitions, the latest ones being: the 2022 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, the 2021 Marcus Prize, and the 2019 RIBA Charles Jencks Award. Currently, through their startup WoHo, they are developing ways to increase quality and affordability in architecture through the integration of offsite technologies. Their new research and fabrication facility in Madrid, Ensamble Fabrica, has been built to support this endeavor. Antón and Débora are committed to sharing ideas and cultivating synergies between professional and academic worlds through teaching, lecturing and researching: she is Design Critic in Architecture at Harvard GSD and he is a Professor at MIT, where they co-founded the POPlab–Prototypes of Prefabrication Laboratory–in 2012.
Ca N’ Terra @Ensamble Studio
Let’s find out more about Ensamble Studio.
When did you know you wanted to be architects?
Growing up, we did not know what practicing architecture looked like. We had no close
reference. We chose Architecture because it seemed to bring together Art, Science and
Humanities in a balanced way, and we were interested in all of these fields.
How do you balance your differences? Which are the things that connect your
design visions the most?
We share the big picture of our practice: the who, the where, the what and the how. So
far we have never disagreed on which projects we want to pursue and how we want to
approach them. We both like to walk unknown paths and assume the risks implied. And
this has led us to develop a practice that is very cross-disciplinary and experimental.
We sometimes fight over small things, and here, whoever is more determined wins. We
respect and trust each other, and this is key when facing differences.
How would you describe your design approach in few words?
We design Architecture at the intersection between Art and Science, in order to best
respond to the social aspirations of people, the ecological needs of the planet, and the
cultural spirit of our time.
We design in action, putting our heads and hands at work, trusting our intuition and
experience to produce outcomes that cannot be fully predicted.
Outside of design, what are you currently interested in and how is it influencing
your design work?
We are very interested in learning from other industries, how they optimize the design
and fabrication processes of their products. With the construction industry being one of
the most inefficient and polluting, we have the responsibility to imagine Architectures
that are more ecologic and affordable.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges for architects working today?
Gaining agency in the process of making Architecture and the discussion about
Architecture and Climate Change.
Débora Mesa & Antón García-Abril @Ensamble Studio