A key element in their approach is the concept of ‘residence’, in the sense of staying in a particular place, ‘to reside’. Living, working, recreation or travel. They aim to create design that exudes a powerful connection between the spatial environment and its purpose, for which purpose the building and its architecture take on a secondary and sustainable role.
The three words “Wow! What? Wow!” embody NL Architects’ corporate philosophy, a reference to architectural theorist Robert Somol. He splits architecture into two categories. One can be described as “Wow! What?”, the other as “What? Wow!” “The first functions via the visual effect, the second via its content. They don’t like architecture that misses its chance.
After having garnered international attention with their first project “WOS8” in 1998, NL Architects received the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) Award (Rotterdam) in 2004 for “BasketBar” at Utrecht University. The jury was impressed by the casual architecture and “inventiveness with which the architects had approached the very banal remit”. In 2005 NL Architects won the Emerging Architect award of the Mies van der Rohe Award for its unusual hybrid of coffee house and sports ground.
In 2007 NL won first prize in the competition to design the Groninger Forum by popular vote. In 2008 the quartet once again caused a stir and established its name with “Sound Shower” at the Venice Architecture Biennial.
Their works are difficult to describe in few words, be they wild, humorous, experimental or radical. The crucial factor is always what can arise beyond the required design parameters and what unexpected potential it offers. They themselves describe their architecture as a “remix of reality”.
Their project deFlat Kleiburg is a finalist for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2017.
José Juan Barba (1964) graduated from ETSA Madrid in 1991. Special Mention in the National Finishing University Education Awards 1991. PhD in Architecture ETSAM, 2004. He founded his professional practice in Madrid in 1992 (www.josejuanbarba.com), he is architecture critic and editor-in–chief of METALOCUS magazine since 1999, he was advising different NGOs until 1997. He has been a lecturer (in Design, Theory and Criticism, and Urban planning) and guest lecturer at different national and international universities (Roma TRE, Polytechnic Milan, ETSA Madrid, ETSA Barcelona, UNAM Mexico, Univ. Iberoamericana Mexico, University of Thessaly Volos, FA de Montevideo, Washington, Medellin, IE School, U.Alicante, Univ. Europea Madrid, UCJC Madrid, ESARQ-U.I.C. Barcelona,...).
Maître de Conférences IUG-UPMF Grenoble 2013-14. Full assistant Professor, since 2003 up to now at the University of Alcalá School of Architecture, Madrid, Spain. And Jury in competitions as Quaderns editorial magazine (2011), Mies van der Rohe Awards, (2010-2019), Europan13 (2015). He has been invited to participate in the Biennale di Venezia 2016 as part "Spaces of Exception / Spazi d'Eccezione".
He has published several books, the last in 2016, "#positions" and in 2015 "Inventions: New York vs. Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Tschumi, Piranesi " and collaborations on "Spaces of Exception / Spazi d'Eccezione", "La Mansana de la discordia" (2015), "Arquitectura Contemporánea de Japón: Nuevos territorios" (2015)...
- Award. RENOVATION OF SEGURA RIVER ENVIRONMENT, Murcia, Sapin, 2010.
- First Prize, RENOVATION GRAN VÍA, “Delirious Gran Vía”, Madrid, Spain, 2010.
- First Prize, “PANAYIOTI MIXELI Award”. SADAS-PEA, for the Spreading of Knowledge of Architecture Athens, 2005.
- First Prize, “SANTIAGO AMÓN Award," for the Spreading of Knowledge of Architecture. 2000.
- Award, “PIERRE VAGO Award." ICAC -International committee of Art Critics. London, 2005.
- First Prize, C.O.A.M. Madrid, 2000. Shortlisted, World Architecture Festival. Centro de Investigación e Interpretación de los Ríos. Tera, Esla y Orbigo, Barcelona, 2008.
- First Prize. FAD AWARD 07 Ephemeral Interventions. “M.C.ESCHER”. Arquin-Fad. Barcelona, Sapin 2007.