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A Navarrese architect in David Chipperfield's London studio, award Pritzker 2023

María Gorostiaga, thanks to her efforts and the support of those close to her, ventured to develop her professional degree program in London, where she has been living since 2019.

FotoCedida/MaríaGorostiaga, an architect who graduated from the University of Navarra, has been living and working in London since 2019 (pictured here at Somerset House).

31 | 03 | 2023

"While I was at degree program, I would never have believed I would be where I am now". Navarre architect María Gorostiaga responds sincerely when asked about her career path. She studied the Degree in Architecture at the University of Navarra, where her dream came true, and now, four years after finishing the Master's Degree habilitante at the same academic center, she has been working in London for more than two years in the studio of David Chipperfield, recently awarded the award Pritzker.

"It was a great surprise when David sent us an e-mail with the news. This award is not only a recognition staff, but, as he told us that same day, it also values his entire career and the work of the people behind it. I feel very happy and proud to be part of the team and to be able to live this moment from the inside. Now I'm just waiting for a more official celebration", says María.

What took him from Pamplona to London? It all started in 2019 when, while studying Master's Degree, he had the option of a 6-month internship in the English capital. He accepted the challenge and trained in the architecture studio of Andrew Phillips. "This experience helped me grow at the staff and professional level. I am extremely grateful to them. After the internship, I was offered a position as an architect. The status in Spain for recent graduates was not ideal, so I threw myself back into the London adventure, this time without a return date," she recalls.

Maria in London's Hyde Park, the city where she has been living since 2019 PHOTO: Ceded

After developing residential and interiors projects with Andrew Phillips for a year and a half, he realized he needed a change. "London is the design hub of Europe. It was time to work on a different scale and to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams. My professors Javier Antón and Aitor Acilu helped me to focus the portfolio to go for a more internationally recognized studio. Finally, I was hired by David Chipperfield Architects. When I was a student, he had always been one of my references and I would never have imagined that I would end up being part of his team," explains the architect.

He has been working in the studio of the current award Pritzker for more than two years and considers his team a big family. "From the outside, this subject office gives a lot of respect for its international recognition and its magnitude, but on a day-to-day basis it is a pleasure to work with such talented people. There are a lot of young people and the atmosphere is great. Many of my colleagues are now very good friends. We learn from each other and, although there are moments of great pressure, it's worth it," says María.

Undoubtedly, this experience is boosting his degree program. Among other projects, he has collaborated on the interior package for the Rolex Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, as the studio won the competition for the building's design . Now he is leading a seven-person team to develop a full-scale project in the Middle East. "It's a very different context than the project in New York and it's very interesting, as it requires achieving high standards of sustainability, something the studio is very committed to, in a very extreme climate. It's certainly a challenge," he says.

From the work of David Chipperfield's studio he highlights that "they always look for honesty. From the first ideas, they avoid any formalism subject and focus on the process rather than on preconceived ideas of how architecture should be". "Also, I really appreciate that the social or environmental aspect is always put first. On an aesthetic level, I admire the work with the existing buildings, the delicacy with which the historical context is treated and how care is taken down to the smallest detail in each project", he adds.

Maria is a restless person, but for the time being she has no plans to return to Spain. "I miss my family and friends and I know they would like to have me closer, but I want to take advantage of the opportunities the city offers me. I will never stop missing the sunshine of Spain and, although in the future I see myself coming back, for now my place is here. I love London, it is a very dynamic city, the cultural options are endless and it is pure inspiration. But who knows what the next few months will bring or what other doors will open...", says the architect. Maria mentions that architects can also contribute a lot in other fields such as interior design, retail, design services and fashion, areas in which she is also interested professionally. 

The architect is clear about what she has learned from this experience abroad: "Everything is the result of a lot of work and knowing how to take advantage of opportunities. You have to jump on the train without thinking twice because you never know if it will happen again. It is very important to give the best of yourself, be a good person and make friends wherever you go. Everyone appreciates having 'vitamin people' by their side, but you also have to be persistent and brave. It is not always easy to live away from home and there are hard times, but the experience is so worth it. I know that in a while I will look back on these years with a big smile."