Juan Granell Codina studied Architecture at CEU in Valencia. He graduated when the construction industry was suffering the harshest period of the recent recession. But this son and grandson of builders knew from an early age what he wanted to do and he has striven to find a niche for himself in the Architecture industry. He wanted to design “unique, exciting and efficient villas”. And he has done so in the Dominican Republic. And now the challenge for this young entrepreneur is to do the same thing here in Spain.
When did you first dream of becoming an architect?
My links to architecture go back to my childhood. My father and my grandfather were builders, so it’s something that runs in the family.
When you graduated, the outlook for the construction industry in Spain was not looking too healthy…
Well, it really wasn’t. I remember the first development I worked on, up on the mountain outside Cullera, and that was very challenging, a really tough experience which we were able to bring to a successful conclusion. But it also helped me to see that I had to find a place where I could develop my own ideas, like so many other young Spanish people at that time, and where I could design “unique and exciting” houses. And then I went to the Dominican Republic…
Was that the right move?
I think so. That’s where I built my first luxury villa, and now, after two years of work, I’ve received a lot of commissions. Now, for example, I’m building three villas in the best residential areas in the country: Punta Cana, Casa de Campo and Cap Cana.
Would you like to work in Spain?
Yes. In the near future I would like to come back to design houses of this type and be nearer to my family. That would make me really happy.
Luckily, things are slowly getting better. In fact, I’ve started work on a collaborative project in Ibiza, working with SAOTA, a prestigious architectural studio.
Hopefully that dream will come true too. Tell us what you remember about your time at CEU.
Above all, I remember a pleasant, workmanlike atmosphere, where the lecturers were more like colleagues, and my classmates were friends. José Traver Sanchis is one of those and together we’ve shared our dreams, successes and tough times. Right now, we’re working together. Rosana Belmonte Zamora, another former CEU student is also a member of our team, which fourteen other people also form part of. They have been two priceless companions on this journey, on which they have given everything and worked so hard to move things forward in a challenging country which is foreign to us.
Let’s talk about architecture. How does each development begin?
From the inside out, thinking about the inside and then moving onto the outside. The first thing is to design the space in which the residents will live and come together. I think about the best ways in which to live, because the important thing is to be able to provide a comfortable and practical environment at the same time.
Yes. I think that the fashion for spectacular architecture is an uncomfortable one. The important thing is for the architecture to blend in with people’s lives, to enable them to lead a happy life within it.
That’s why I think it’s so important to maintain a dialogue with my clients, to listen to their desires, to understand their needs and then discuss all this with my colleagues in order to improve our ideas.
That sounds great. Do you have any advice for would-be architects?
They shouldn’t be afraid, they shouldn’t hesitate to take on any adventure that comes up in any country in the world, and it’s absolutely essential to maintain a positive attitude when the tough times come around.