When they talk to each other, they do so in English. They say it’s a legacy from meeting in the United States. Belene Munio and Jeff Brooke have signed architectural projects together for nearly 30 years, the first stone of which is dialogue. “I think we always tried to start together,” says Munio. “Talking about the basic ideas, because agreeing on the basics is so important,” continues Brooke. “Then, if one has more importance in developing paradigms, let’s say, the other is always sharing, criticism, or reinforcement.”
They met in New York in 1988, when they were juniors with a master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University. She is from Madrid, from Harvard University and from New York from Princeton. One design was enough for them to notice each other’s work. Then came physics, a topic they had both studied before. “Then we jumped in to do skeletal classes with the most advanced promotions, and that’s how we got to know each other a little bit more,” recalls the architect. Five years later they found Moneo Brock. In 2002 he was transferred to Madrid, although they maintain an office in the American city and another in Monterrey, Mexico.
Architecture is another language they use to tell their story. They back up memories with buildings, concepts, and teacher names. There is no shortage of Raphael Moneo, a Pritzker Prize winner and her father. They moved from his hand to Stockholm to lead the development of the Museum of Modern Art and Architecture. “Well, act as communicators and helpers, because we were learning too,” she explains.
Even after three decades side by side at the design table, competitions and business, there is still room for the unprecedented. Knowing that the second thing that impressed Brooke the most about that Scandinavian experience was the “resilience of Bethlehem” it seemed to surprise Moneo, who responded with an intervention and a smile that could be felt under the mask. The first is the decisive ability and security of a father-in-law in the face of unexpected events.
At first they worked with four hands, but as the orders got bigger and bigger they divided the tasks. “And we liked it too, because sometimes it wasn’t easy either. They were practically architects at the same time as a couple.” In that regard, having children helped us a lot, because we decided that when we got home we were no longer talking about work. We were dedicated to our family. “
Each of his works is an exercise in creation without templates. I think the easy answer is that there is no method. There are ideas, and there are connections that I think are repetitive. Among the common atypical factors found in his designs is the importance of natural light, plasticity and space, as the statue will transform into void, color and sustainability.
“We do not like to close in on the way we build or make architecture,” she asserts. As witnesses, Columbia University’s Northwest Corner Building in New York; The parish of Señor de la Misericordia and Casa Tec 205, in Monterrey, or Termas de Tiberio, in Huesca, among others. They look at each other, and think about it, but no, they can’t pick any of it. “As Jeff says, we like to search in every project for new solutions, new materials and new explorations. The ability to explore is a luck and an advantage. This makes it difficult for us to choose because in every project we see different things we like.”