Fermín Vázquez and b720 have moved from Descartes to Stanislavski. Their foundational basis on the Cartesian methodic doubt, examining each commission from the objectivity of the information available, has gradually become the acting method of the Russian stage director, introducing emotion in their projects. The French philosopher wrote his Discourse on Method “pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la verité dans les sciences,” and that determination to follow reason and seek truth marks the initial impulse of a studio that could well have adopted the four rules of that method: never to accept anything for true without clearly knowing it to be such; divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution; conduct thoughts in order, from the simplest to the complex; and to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general that it might be assured that nothing was omitted. In the end, a proper rationalist and scientific design program.
These demanding foundations, which pursue a critical examination of program and circumstances, its careful fragmentation and the order of design decisions, have been relaxed to incorporate artistic inspiration and risk, though always having in mind that rules must be of iron to make them ‘hard to bend.’ Perhaps for this reason it is possible to compare their current method with that of Stanislavksi, which in effect has an easy architectural translation in its pursuit of realism, plausibility, and naturalness through the understanding of context, non-verbal communication, and working from the perspective of the other: the actor who gets intimately into a character’s role is not so different from the architect who gets under the skin of the client or user, and the interpretation of a play is not very different from the conception of a project, where the logic of the plot needs to be enlightened with flashes of intuition and dyed with bursts of color so that the narrative structure can firmly hold its ground on the theater set or the city stage.
Avoiding the duty of the heroe and the resignation of the cynic, Fermín Vázquez and b720 chorally interpret the individual and social demands to give them shape through the mastery of their trade. Collaborating with big firms like those of Nouvel or Chipperfield, and bringing that experience to an exemplary set of projects of their own, the studio has shifted from the esprit de géométrie of its first steps to the esprit de finesse of its maturity, and from the Bartleby moment of the decision to not participate in the Agbar competition for lack of information to the uninhibited explosion of Els Encants, where the torrential flow of life breaks into the rigor of the method. There is truth in Cartesian geometries, but there is even greater truth to be found in the chromatic choreographies that introduce passion in the crystalline universe of reason: the stress of the foot on the ramp, the ambiguity of the reflection in the eye, and the confusion of the rumor in the ear give organic reality to the professional skill of these method architectures.