There are few cities in the world where architecture, both historical and contemporary, plays such a prominent role as in Barcelona, Spain. For most cities it is the intrinsic, functional and historical value of architecture that determines the importance assigned to an area, a building or a landmark. In Barcelona, architecture is also widely celebrated as an art form by visitors from all over the world.
The development of architectural projects that not only co-exist but that are admired and appreciated alongside some of the world’s most famous buildings is both an extremely demanding and stimulating challenge. b720 Arquitectos, an international practice established by two Catalan architects and one from Madrid at the end of the 1990s, has thrived on this challenge, providing architecture, masterplanning and design services to private and public sector customers.
Building a reputation worldwide
One of b720 Arquitectos’ early projects, the iconic AGBAR tower, is a testament to their capabilities to complete complex projects from concept through to construction. The firm also won the competition to develop one of the largest projects ever undertaken in Spain, the Barcelona City of Justice, a complex spreading across 285,000m² and nine buildings. Going from success to success, b720 Arquitectos have also completed their first airport in Lleida and won a competition to design their first hospital.
Their latest project, the redevelopment of an area that comprises an historical flea market in Barcelona, is particularly exciting due to its historical and social significance. Set up as a temporary market some 80 years ago, the site covers 20,000m² within an area undergoing major urban regeneration and comprises state-of-the-art office space exploiting a previously abandoned industrial area. b720 Arquitectos presented an inspirational proposal that turned the selling area into a covered outdoor space preserving the street market feel while avoiding the shopping centre experience. The project will transform the market into a landmark and envisages a canopy hovering over the market that covers 8,000m².
Outstanding setup to achieve excellence
“Any project we undertake is an important challenge and we always want to be prepared,” says Ana Bassat, co-founding partner of b720 Arquitectos. “We have an outstanding team of young and experienced architects, a professional organisation and the best quality equipment. We like to have control over all the processes.”
She adds: “The design and build process is changing all the time. More and more information is exchanged. We adopt the building information model (BIM) and all the information is stored in a dynamic, real-time database. Customers and consultants can view the 3-D information. Today everyone works concurrently rather than waiting for one process to finish before the next process starts.”
Delivering results when they count
Bassat explains how the firm’s HP Designjet T1200 printer supports the creative process. “The HP Designjet T1200 is very reliable and offers us high-quality colour printing of both drawings and renders, giving us greater confidence to bid for more jobs than before and successfully complete projects on schedule,” she says. b720 Arquitectos use genuine HP supplies. Bassat praises the HP Vivera black inks in particular as providing a true black, rather than the bluish black that she sometimes observed on previous output.
The architect believes that the combination of HP printing technology including the HP Vivera inks, combined with the HP media used by the firm, ensures consistently reliable, high quality drawings and renders. HP Universal Bond paper and HP Bright White Inkjet paper with ColorPRO technology offer a unique combination of print quality and rapid ink absorption. “We no longer need to print tests or check the output for defects,” says Bassat. “Image quality, the colours and the details are exactly what we expect and need.”
Bassat points out that the versatility and powerful performance of the HP Designjet T1200 printer are particularly convenient at customer reviews. “Clients are involved throughout the process and we have regular meetings to review projects,” she says. “We may make notes on plans and need to see the updates agreed on with the client. If there are five or six people using the printer preparing a project for a competition they can continue working. With the two-roll option the printer is always ready to print on two different types or sizes of media at any time. We can print the changes without interrupting other work.”
Time-saving, cost-effective execution
The preparation of a competition is a typical scenario at b720 Arquitectos’ offices. Competition designs generally consist of A1/D-size presentation panels of mixed drawings, descriptive text and photo-quality renders. The panels contain a lot of information, which requires lines and details to be very sharp and clear, and small text to be legible.
“The HP Designjet T1200 gives us photo-quality renders plus sharp line drawings and high detail,” says Bassat. “Deadlines are always tight. Last minute changes are frequent and if the deadline is a Monday we will be printing on a Sunday. It takes three members of staff a month and a half to present a project for a competition. We have maybe ten projects being developed at any one time, so interruptions and delays really put pressure on schedules and deadlines.”
In situations like this, Bassat explains, the two-roll option of the HP Designjet T1200 printer has transformed the firm’s processes. “In our old printing workflow we used to make an office announcement to stop printing when we changed media,” she says. “Teams printing drawings and plans would stop their work until the presentation panels were printed. Now we can load HP’s glossy paper for presentation panels on one roll and bond paper on the other roll. There are no disruptions to any one team’s workflow so a lot of time is saved. The versatility of the HP Designjet T1200 printer gives us greater confidence and freedom to push for more business.”
A key asset that builds confidence
Fermín Vázquez, partner and chief architect at b720 Arquitectos, highlights the responsibilities the firm has on many jobs. “Confidence in contractual performance is extremely important,” he says. “We are not only responsible to the employer because we believe in making customers happy, but as architects in Spain, we are liable for any contractual deformities. Mistakes and delays in project construction cost money. So the accuracy and clarity of executive drawings we print on the HP Designjet T1200 printer are a really important asset in eliminating errors in the interpretation of drawings.”
Vázquez underlines how the current economic crisis has reinforced the firm’s strategy to expand into emerging markets. “The current crisis means that we are taking part in more competitions, and we are more urgently seeking to expand in overseas, in emerging markets such as South America and Africa,” he says. “We recently submitted an urban planning proposal for the 2km waterfront in Porto Alegre in Brazil. We developed our proposal, printed the A1/D-size presentation panels on the HP Designjet T1200 printer and shipped them to the adjudicating panel. Our design was the winner.”