Blanca Espigares Rooney · MasQueTours

And now that approaches the season of good time and leisure we travel to Granada to know MasQueTours and to interview Blanca Espigares Rooney, the doctor arquitecta that has started this project.

MasQueTours transforms the concept of visit guided to turn her into an experience of local knowledge, realized in spiral, across different scales: from the territory and his geography up to the detail of the tiling one or of the carved one in stone or wood. Accompanied besides a from Granada arquitecta, daughter, granddaughter, bisnieta and great-great-grand-daughter of alhambreños (persons who have born and lived the Alhambra from s. The XIXth managing to shape one more neighborhood of Granada), that knows every shade of his history.”

Blanca, from student already one was raising the problems of communication that had the architecture and the absolute distancing for with the non-architects. From always multidisciplinary, he thinks that the only way of “narrating” the cities for a suitable comprehension is to count his architecture from the bigger scale than minor and always combining with different fields of the knowledge as the history, the anthropology, the art or the literature, to realize a global and complete approximation. And this way of counting the cities, his contexts and his architectures, is after many years of reflection, the germ of his new project MasQueTours.

For it that better realize these tours of the architects’ hand what us guarantees a deep knowledge of the architecture and the local construction.

Ado we leave you with the interview that granted us a few weeks ago.

Blanca Espigares Rooney | MasQueTours
Blanca Espigares Rooney | MasQueTours

How, when and why is “MasQueTours” born?

I did not know it but I was taking with me the whole life. Without realizing I go counting Granada and the Alhambra from small. Probably because the more he was reading, the more it wanted to tell him to all my discoveries. Then during the career I never understood well why one was communicating so badly the architecture, why in addition the architects we were pledging in making his comprehension so difficult and everything always was ending explaining with the crushed one

«it is that on not having been architects, they cannot understand it».

Since I wanted that the whole world understood what to it me me was fascinating and was enchanted. I liked to translate the “seemingly incomprehensible” of the architecture into my friends, to my parents, who could enjoy that one that I saw but that they did not see because anybody was facilitating the steps to them to see. Then I was specializing myself in heritage and realized that neither were counted well the caps of the historical city and that because of it many people were saying the typical thing of

«it does not stick there»

when they were finding a contemporary building next to one baroquly, or the Renaissance one next to the Mudejar one.

The years being employed at the School of Architecture of Granada two fundamental competitions contributed me: to learn to investigate with rigor and seriousness, and to prove ways of communication that were facilitating the comprehension of the architecture. This effort cost me on the part of some students the motto of

«the translator»,

because he was sharing classroom with another teacher, and after correcting, many were looking for me furtively in order that he «they was translating» what he had said to them on the project of each one. After continuing for years with the hard academic career, with contracts of a sorrow, working gratis for the excellence of the University, publishing articles and going to congresses full of my pocket to continue doing curriculum for if an opportunity was going out, to have in the cv every year with the stuffed cabins of minimums. Until I got tired: I got up one day, February 2, 2017, and decided to throw everything to the garbage (this was literal, threw tons of articles to way to correct, writings, papers of squares, ANECA, etc), to clean office, to forget the academic career and to do something that was allowing me to live, to pay the rent, to enjoy and not to be a slave of anybody. And there I began to be employed at Masquetours.

How many members you form “MasQueTours?

Alone I. Masquetours is a personal project of spreading of the heritage and the history of the historical Andalusian cities, principally of Granada, in that he is not an anonymous guide that you know the day of the tour the manager of your experience, but from the beginning you know the one who is the guide, his CV, his speciality, his academic degree and can ask him to personalize your visit. If in a future it was working very well and needed persons of support, do not be if it would extend it.

It is a too personal project, actually the product it are I itself, an arquitecta with a doctorate in studies of city, architecture and heritage, tied to Granada and to the Alhambra from his birth and overturned for years in the communication of the architecture and his spreading. It would have to see in another person my way of focusing both the city and the approximation on the visit. For example, in the Alhambra she is a daughter of alhambreño the one that teaches her to you. My great-great-grand-father established himself in the citadel and from there all the generations they have born and have grown up in the Alhambra. Mine is the first born generation already out. I do not have memory of the first time that I was in the enclosure, for me it is a part of my life since I was born. And it has marked my way of counting the visit because it is almost like to teach a home that I adore and love.

Because of it the project is so personal and because of it do not be if it might extend it without spoiling the final aim. It yes, a secretary me would come from luxury XD I am becoming mad doing everything.

Blanca Espigares Rooney · MasQueTours o2

Had you some previous experience in this field?

From small the curiosity concerning the historical city and his architecture has led multiple times to doing me of guide for friends and relatives, and more when they all knew that she was a daughter of alhambreño. Later when I was employed at projects at the Alhambra, I began to do it more for groups of students or professionals. The years of the University it increased this activity. And then, already I considered to extract the examinations of languages to have the official title and to practise if it wanted. I me extracted it and months later I decided that it was what it wanted to do and succeeded: it was going years without being so happy and satisfied, and it that I am exhausted because as all the beginnings, it is very hard.

Did you meet many difficulties? Which were the most problematic?

The principal difficulty is the opaque of the sector: it was difficult to find out how the things work in the area of the tourist guide. You ask but almost nobody tells you, or they confuse you. But finally you start knowing people who explains to you and start moving. Even this way, lacking me much for learning. I know count things, report, but of the complexity of the tourist world it do not belong still anything. I have the ideas of how I want that they are the visits and what I want to offer, it forms a of approximation to the city and his heritage from the dip, from a very nearby experience, but it hits sometimes with the functioning of the agencies, institutions, etc. Little by little. At least I have clear what I want to offer and in what I differ.

Trabajando para el proyecto de puesta en valor de los restos arqueológicos encontrados en La Madraza de Granada que realizaba el arquitecto Pedro Salmerón.
I was being employed for the project of putting at value of the archaeological remains found in La Madraza de Granada that there realized the architect Pedro Salmerón.

What situations are you in the habit of being?

A lot of disinformation, a lot of. The current trend of taking offers of trip and visiting a place without knowing either where it is, what you are going to see, or nothing at all brings persons who do not know not where they come not what is every thing. In the bottom there is all the same to them what they see, only they want to add one more destination to his map of trips to have more international photos that the neighbor. Kilometres Collectors. They say to you that in the half hour they want to be out of the Alhambra. You make clear to them then that the Alhambra is a city of 100.000 square meters with a rural palace next to 36.000 more and that approximately 6 kilometres are done in the tour and one is late approximately 3 hours, and they remain madmen. They did not know what they were coming to see. This also is a mistake on the part of the own Patronage of the Alhambra and the Generalife and the agencies because they should put in neons

“city of the Alhambra, 6 kilometres of visit, 3 hours”

and we all would save ourselves situations of this type that only manage to allow without entry to people probably to be more interested. They want to be able many, and know very much, and you realize that they do not want tours to the use, but to be able to ask and learn during these hours. I have made defensive architectures personalized for example for archaeology, geometry of the palaces nazaríes, painters of the 19th century in the Alhambra, in a mountainous territory as Granada, the from Granada Fleming and the creation of the phenomenon of the gypsy festivities … the demands are very varied.

But what an interested visitor wants is to see that his guide knows, that he has studied, that worries for be making understand, for thrilling them, for accompanying them in a distance and to make it to him only. And if you obtain it, the people are very very grateful and intimate.

Are you satisfied with the reached aims?

I was not expecting to have satisfactory results so prompt. I have surprised it and I am mad of release with the opportunities that are giving me to develop everything what I want. I opened the web on March 1, still I have not extracted the blog, it has not time me when the SEO works, but moving, things start going out little by little. Also it is great of people know and of that know you. But the above mentioned thing: a lot of work is absent for doing, so without stress, but non-stop.

What expectations and projects of future have you for “MasQueTours”?

I would delight that Masquetours was a reference in the world of “slow tourism” in order that everything that one that looks for an experience of dip in the place and that has really curiosity and it wants to know more, could satisfy these anxious minds with desire of knowing.

On the other hand one would like to be able to continue developing the communication of the architecture in means as the radio (nowadays in I her COPE with the space «Granada en la retina») and the television (nowadays in Ondaluz Granada with a space supported by Masquetours that calls itself «Granada de cerca») to try to make to see that it is possible to count without need of complexities and that it is possible to transmit the citizens without problem, only having desire of explaining it with clarity.

A small dream is that it was increasing the sensibility towards the historical heritage and his value on the part of all. Other one is that the architects we began to involve ourselves more in the communication of the architecture, in his spreading (Gallicism that means “to vulgarize” the language for comprehension of all), and we were opening the speech which live every day through the city, the citizens.

Are this type of initiatives profitable? Do you feel good “remunerated” by the labor that you realize?

It was going years without feeling the satisfaction of being remunerated well by my work. Between the trend to ningunear and to pay badly to the architect and the system of esclavismo hidden from the Spanish university, there was so ill-treated that to be able pay now the rent and buy me a few slippers without being counting the money or earring with which my parents should help me, is probably the first great satisfaction that brought the change of roadmap. Suddenly I returned to feel dignity and recognition of the made well work. When you see the faces of the captivated visitors contemplating spaces that you love with madness, and then they say to you that it is the best holding a permit visit that they have never done, it is wonderful.

Como guía de la exposición de la exposición “Álvaro Siza. Visiones de la Alhambra”.
As guide of the exhibition “Álvaro Siza. Visiones de la Alhambra”.

Do you arrange or complement this activity with other labors or in other fields?

I continue being arquitecta, clearly, so I continue doing collaborations in projects, investigating in architecture, good for books that I have in mind, good for new routes, but already without pressures of qualit indexes not even to be not even thinking about curriculum. Simply because I am charmed with, because I enjoy, because what more I like is to investigate, to learn, to find information, to do a history and in addition I want to count, to narrate of other forms it. Though I play the role of a guide, I am arquitecta and the projects that go out, I will continue doing them and even now better and calmer, as a discipline through that I adore and live with all my soul, but without depending on her to eat.

Do you think that the architects in Spain we should continue opening new routes of work to go out of the “most traditional” cabin of projecting given the current situation of the construction in our country?

The architecture is one of the disciplines with better formation that I know, for the own complexity of the project, of his process and his necessarily multidisciplinary structure. For the organization of equipments of work, for the complex comprehension of situation, for the structure of very diverse knowledge in pursuit of a response since they demand nowadays the companies, to explain the cities, for the organization of a multidisciplinary investigation, for the structures of games and of the increased reality … the architect has thousand exits but of a time to this part certain sectors us have been putting in the head that the only worthy one is to do contests and to go out in magazines. And not, adding formation of many types, an architect can dominate fields of the economy, the territorial strategy, marketing, design, games, networks, tourism, of everything. Because we have a head prepared to solve complex problems with multiple factors. Other disciplines cannot. The repeated method Design Thinking that has spread between all the companies of the world is not any more than our method than project, our way of thinking carried out in other sectors. Do architects teach and spread it? Not. And I do not understand it.

What do you think of the architects who “undertake” in new fields?

I applaud them because it costs many displeasures. Your own companions say to you that already you are not an architect or say things of the type

«since she has given himself conquered with the architecture, it does other things».

More of once someone who was employed at something that they were not contests or projects for magazines has said to me, since to justify itself,

«not, but I have not stopped wanting to be an architect, eh?»,

and I have answered him

«ah, but you do not have the title or it is that they have taken it from you? ».

We are architects and it is it to be 24 hours of the day and when I have done works in social networks for projects research and development I have done it thinking like arquitecta, and when I have done a project of transfer of knowledge or a promotional cartel, I have done it like arquitecta, and am a guide being arquitecta. If we continue classifying the profession, they will continue cornering us since already they have done in only 25 years.

Would you encourage other architects to follow your steps? What steps do you consider that they should give? How to complete his studies? What other advices would you give them?

Only it would encourage them if they are persons whom he fills with enthusiasm to explain his city and environment because if it is not like that, this can be a nightmare. The most important thing is the knowledge, in the content and in the speech. The card to be extracted and to put to tell any thing does not cost. You must know the city to the dedillo, study every day, measure your way of reporting, your vocabulary, how to approach an European or an Australian, with different cultures and that need different approximations. If you are not a social person that you enjoy telling him the people, it is not for you, you will finish embittered repeating as parrot the information and I do not believe that it is good for anybody. Languages and accent that they are very good, and the content, indispensably that it is rigorous scientific and that you are in the day of everything what is published.

Durante la obra de restauración de las estructuras de mocárabes de la Sala de los Reyes del Palacio de los Leones de la Alhambra.
During the estoration work of the mocaraban structures in the Sala de los Reyes del Palacio de los Leones in Alhambra.

The architecture, it has opened many fronts of battle (LSP, Bologna, unemployment, labor precariousness, Spades, ETSAs, emigration, communication, etc), will not they be too much for the existing polarization inside the same one? 

The architecture needs a review from his foundations. The polarization like that indicates it though we should resist and the opened fronts show the current inconsistency in the discipline. It urges a forum opened in that to comment, to debate, to accuse, to cry, to do blood, to break chains, a forum in which all that takes place in order that it can only strictly between ourselves, and not that we continue giving to the company the impression, certain clearly, neither of that nor us we know what is the architecture nowadays and why. Because if we do not know it not, since imagine the citizenship.

How does it see the future of the architecture? And that of the profession?

Black, very black, we are a profession that we devour some others and more in crisis. On the architecture in general, with the trend exaggerated to seeking to be published in magazines, which was making to us only that was to be the most complete technical personnel who existed in the world inside the construction and the urbanism, it is going to disappear and then we go away to asking when we are mere interior decorators (all my respect to these discipline) or designers of renders if it was it what was looked and if – render-bonito makes us be architects.

What does think of those that they have been going to work abroad?

I know experiences of all kinds, good, regular, bad and very bad. Lately it is quite more difficult. When being so much Spanish architect searching out, already it is not so simple and the salary has reduced significantly. There are big companies that big professionals obtain this way with salaries of laugh. The good thing that I see is that the good one to do Spanish at least exports himself and it will be spreading, or I wait for it.

To finish, what would advise the current students and future professionals of architecture? 

That fight for his dreams but that these neither enslave them others do not even take advantage of the desires and force that the dreams give to enslave yourself. That mark a few guidelines of dignity and do not allow that they should place them below. I have suffered it chasing a dream and ultimately I have realized that was a cabezonería more than a dream indeed and that we can have many and different dreams and with some not to be happy but with one, probably with that less you were thinking yourself, yes and very much:)

Blanca Espigares Rooney · MasQueTours
Juny 2017.

Interview realized by Ana Barreiro Blanco and Alberto Alonso Oro. To be grateful to Blanca his time and predisposition with this small space.

Alberto Alonso Oro

Arquitecto y editor en veredes, arquitectura y divulgación. Invernalia es un buen lugar. A veces escribo en Fundacion Arquia.

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