New York | BEIJING | Seoul
OBRA Architects was founded by Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee in the year 2000 in New York City. The projects undertaken by OBRA span a wide range of programs and sizes, from furniture and interior landscapes to single-family residences, housing, and larger-scale masterplanning projects, yet consistently seek to evoke invention and interest through explorations of material, structure, site and experience. Their practice and their work seek to challenge and expand the range of metaphors in which architecture finds its meaning. OBRA considers each and every project to be intimately bound to its surroundings, extending afield into site and landscape the conceptual understanding of the architectural work. As a result many proposals and built works include outdoor components and integration into the natural or urban landscape.
The work of OBRA Architects proposes the design of buildings as a way of developing a clearer awareness between ourselves and the world we create and inhabit. In an effort to bring this world into sharper focus in all its mysterious complexity and variety, "OBRA" deliberately avoids the development of a "personal architectural language" as a tool of analysis and synthesis of a design problem, reasoning that such formal consistency on the part of the designing subject, is an imposition and a violation of his/her object of study and creation: the world. OBRA's work involves a continuous process of deliberately unleashed interruptions in the design process, with the aim of shortcircuiting the linearities of our acquired design habits, a process they hope creates a space for a project to come to be, as if by itself. Their aim is to finish with form, not to start with it.
The firm’s process tries to take advantage of a "partially obstructed view" of architecture, to create an architecture as if generated from within itself, not the creation of an object distinct from ourselves, observable and defined from without with the perfect clinical precision of the technician resolving a problem. Architecture considered this way might be more part of the problem than part of the solution. A problem is a good thing and can never really be fully solved, only postponed. An architecture aware of its reality attempts not the resolution of problems, but their articulation into our lives as a factor of enrichment, as an opportunity to transcend our situation.
The poetic load of a particular architectural proposal resides in an apparent contradiction. Architecture as an eminently pragmatic art with a vocation to make the world a better place for human habitation has, at the same time, the power to represent, to become the embodiment of our situation in the world, as individuals within society. As a language then, architecture is the eminent creator of homes for the body and the vehicle of the expression of the essential homelessness of the soul. Today's architecture derives its beauty from the misfortune of this missed gap, desencuentro, the space between body and soul.