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08 May 2024

Juan Trias de Bes (TdB-Architects): "Automation should take on greater importance in building security"

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4 min.
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In the interview below, Juan Trias de Bes, architect and founding partner of TdB-Architects, explains what the main trends are in architecture and building; and highlights the importance of accessibility and the advantages of automatic doors and automations. He also argues that they should take on a greater presence and relevance in fire safety and fire prevention in buildings.

What are the main trends in architecture and building today?

Today the task of architects goes much beyond design. Buildings must justify their social contribution. This involves a wide range of issues, from environmental friendliness to social inclusion. In this sense, buildings must provide solutions to matters such as the emission and retention of CO2 during the construction process and their later maintenance, the elimination of the use of fossil fuels, the capture of energy through renewable systems, the maximisation of natural resources for environmental control, and the minimisation of mechanical air conditioning systems.

From a social inclusion point of view, health-related aspects are becoming more relevant and interesting. It is a complex issue because of the difficulty of quantifying its impact. However, there are already criteria incorporated in the environmental label qualifications. Universal accessibility is one of them.

How does your studio collaborate to promote all these elements?

At TdB -Architects we are redeveloping some work methodologies. For example, the incorporation of digital tools to verify ESG (environmental and social) aspects from the beginning of the project and throughout its successive stages, including the commissioning of the building. Moreover, since 2020, our firm has promoted the creation of the Catalan Society of Architecture and Health (SCAS) within the Academy of Medical and Health Sciences of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

How important is sustainability in construction and how do you promote it?

When talking about sustainability in construction, two fields of application must be distinguished. The first refers to the construction of the building itself (embodied) and second the life of the building (operational). These are very different, but directly related, issues.

In the construction process, the tendering of companies involved in the construction process should be integrated into the executive project process. This maximises the efficiency of construction processes and their quality control. In parallel, CO2 emissions due to transport and on-site execution are minimised. This is called industrialisation. In terms of maintenance, what is relevant is to provide users with tools for information and control of the building's performance.

To this end, TdB-Architects created the "hARQware-SIMON" chair within the framework of the LITEIS laboratory at the International University of Catalonia. It consists of the development of digital platforms that play a role starting from the project design stage. On these platforms, construction-related companies are involved in both the construction of the building and its maintenance. For example, the frequency of a refrigerator or fancoil outlet warns of the need to clean its filters. The aim is not to increase building automation, but to provide better information on their behaviour.

What is your opinion on the importance of accessibility and the advantages of automatic doors and automations?

As mentioned, accessibility is a relevant and unquestionable aspect. It covers a multitude of levels depending on the building type. In our opinion, there are two issues to bear in mind. First of all, each of us is potentially a user with reduced mobility. Therefore, accessibility should not be seen as an incidental or exceptional aspect. It is part of our lives.

And secondly, automation should take on a greater presence and relevance in the safety of buildings in terms of fire safety and prevention. Sectorisation is an aspect that determines the protection of users because it allows for safer evacuations. This field should be further developed with the involvement of fire services, who certify their suitability and adequacy.