Javier Ampuero and Catalina Yutronic, the powerhouse duo behind architecture and design studio Ampuero Yutronic, discuss their trans-continental presence, career highlights, and what inspires them.

We’re spotlighting some of Design District’s most creative and inspiring tenants. Here, Javier Ampuero and Catalina Yutronic, the powerhouse duo behind architecture and design studio Ampuero Yutronic, discuss their trans-continental presence, career highlights, and what inspires them.

Design District (DD): Hello Javier and Catalina. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Let’s start with a bit about your background and how you came to launch Ampuero Yutronic.

Ampuero Yutronic (AY): As architecture students, we combined our studies between Chile and the United Kingdom. This led to us developing our careers across both countries, building up more than a decade of experience working for world-leading architecture firms like Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and David Chipperfield.

In 2018 we founded our architecture and design studio, Ampuero Yutronic. We’d dreamt for a long time about using our architecture practice to create a stronger relationship between Chile, our home country, and the UK, where we’ve lived for 20 years. After an important learning process working with incredible architects on global projects, we were ready to take on our first project: Casa Hualle in Pucon, Chile.

DD: What makes Ampuero Yutronic unique?

AY: We believe buildings and design are deeply rooted in the individual experience. Our work seeks to reconnect people with their senses, especially the physical experience of their environment, by using pure, tactile materials and carefully considered qualities of light and space. As a result, our designs are clear and timeless.

We believe good design should be intrinsically sustainable, and it’s imperative we keep pace with the latest developments in sustainable design. This means extending our capabilities beyond basic environmental standards like carbon footprints and energy efficiency, and factoring in the health of the occupants inside - what we refer to as ‘the wellness factor’. 

DD: Tell us about your design approach

AY: Our design approach is a thorough pursuit of the fundamental nature of form and space. An Ampuero Yutronic building should enrich daily life and meet the diverse needs of the people using it. Our buildings should embrace their context, respond to the complex territories of cultural diversities, and identify the key factors that help define place and identity.

We approach every project with a fresh outlook and are devoted to collaboration and exploration. We welcome opportunities to work with multi-disciplinary teams and cultural thinkers as this makes our practice more resilient and intellectually exciting. Our concepts become meaningful through continuous dialogue; communication is a prerequisite to achieving a carefully considered, exemplary project.

DD: What is it about architecture that you love the most?

AY: Architecture is substantial. It has the significant responsibility of designing places and buildings where people live, learn, work, and play. This is complemented by our duty to encourage ecological and aesthetic harmony with our surroundings.

DD: What projects are you most proud of and why?

AY: Casa Hualle in Chile. It’s a beautiful building in an astonishing setting; a building with a wonderful story behind its design and construction. During its initial stages we were primarily designing from London, so worked intensively to coordinate the design with local engineers and trades. By fostering a close relationship with the local building contractor, this process became much easier.

 Undoubtedly the toughest issues we encountered were during construction. We were demanding a high level of craftsmanship in an isolated southern Chile area where more traditional and rudimental construction techniques are the norm. There needed to be a clear dialogue to understand the local way of building, how to transfer technical ideas into simple solutions, and finding appropriate materials and transportation. We also needed to adapt to the isolation on the exposed hillside and the inclement weather conditions.

By forming a clear understanding and close, almost familial, relationship with everyone involved, we could confront and solve the challenges discovered during construction. Everyone fought hard to get it done within a defined and limited budget.

DD: Tell me about your career highlights

AY: Ampuero Yutronic was shortlisted for the 2018 AR Emerging Architecture award at the World Architecture Festival - in just our first year of establishing the studio. These awards recognise a promising portfolio of work and propel young talent onto the international stage early in their careers.

Our project Casa Hualle was another highlight and well-appreciated in many parts of the world, generating a substantial boost in our early career through press, publications and awards. The house was commended in Brazil for the Ibranem Amata, Award for Wooden Architecture, and won Best International Home in The Daily Telegraph, Homebuilding & Renovation Awards in 2018.

Finally, any new project is a career highlight. We’re currently working on exciting projects across London, including a new build residential project in a Mayfair conservation area, a large renovation and extension in a conservation area in Hackney, and a new build house in Epsom.

DD: What about any challenges? How have you overcome these?

AY: We believe that good design should be intrinsically sustainable. But to keep up with the latest thoughts, evolution, and technical developments in sustainable design, you need to constantly pursue information to move beyond basic environmental standards. 

At the same time, we work very closely with our clients to share and learn the design process that finally manifests into a building that meets the principles of our design. This is a period of “Architecture Design Education” which forms part of our process and it’s one of the most important challenges we encounter.

DD: Where do you get your inspiration from?

AY: Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything in life. That external source that causes a person to come up with an idea or produce something innovative is usually linked to an experience planted in our creative memory. We find inspiration from natural surroundings, textures in nature, colours and compositions from artwork, cityscapes, and historic buildings. We’re continuously capturing moments and scenes in our memory that at some point will turn into inspiration.   

DD: As an architect and creative, how important is it that you work in a space that’s inspiring and stimulating?

AY: Being in the right space can stimulate well-being, imagination, and purpose. It can help to create environments that encourage emotional connections, inspire thinking, and foster team culture. We experience this every day in our own projects. We question ourselves about how people experience buildings and how buildings affect them.

DD: Why have you chosen Design District to base yourself? 

AY: The idea of being part of a new community formed with a very dynamic set of designers from different disciplines and backgrounds - and placed in this brand-new cluster of buildings - was something that caught our attention. We love the possibilities for interaction and collaboration, and the opportunities to grow inside a design-oriented family.

Want to learn more about Ampuero Yutronic? Check out their website or follow them on Instagram.

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