I didn’t have Enric as a teacher again until the course ‘A fragment of an enclave’, given by Alison and Peter Smithson on what a pavilion should be like in the 1980s, inspired by the reconstruction of the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona. I admit that I respected their transitive approach, which is what Enric admired about them and also what I admired in Enric. But I’ve never found their work interesting, and I still don’t today. Back then we did a chapel for a cemetery. In a cemetery everything is symbolic, Enric used to say. A cemetery is always a metaphor for other lives. I especially remember the double interpretation of his thesis, which many of us took to our hearts (I remember explaining to his mother, bewildered by everything that happened, just how much her son was worth; the mother I would not see again until the day of his funeral). I remember his selection panel to become a full member of the ETSAB (Higher Technical School of Architecture of Barcelona): an oral competition in which those being examined could have been the examiners and vice-versa, given the quality of them all, both candidates and jury. Intermittently, over a couple of years, I collaborated with drawings and models in the practice he shared with Carme Pinòs. His capacity for work was legendary. I remember that after three nights without sleep working on the Algemesi Town Hall, having come back from a lightning visit to explain the project to the local authorities and drinking a beer in Plaza Real, he brought out the specifications for another tender we had to start on the very next day.
I remember the pride you would feel on leaving the office late at night, and doing a round of the teeming bars on the Diagonal Avenue where people used to go for a drink. Working with them made you feel different. I remember how the interview they did with Peter Buchanan represented international recognition for the young architects. And I remember, of course, the tender for the Igualada cemetery in which he participated as part of the sealed bid of an architect friend because when the bids were invited he was still working at the Viaplana and Piñon practice. This is not a new story, but that was the situation and we can’t change that – although it matters very little today. Almost certainly the Viaplana and Piñon practice would not have reached the heights it did were it not for Enric’s breath of fresh air, nor would Enric have achieved what he did without the guidance and sensitivity of Albert or the critical eye and rigour of Helio. What beautiful books have been published over these last few years! And let’s not forget the rigour of Carme, with whom he later shared a brilliant period of training and professional affirmation, during which everything that would come later began to emerge. Enric was an architect of tenders as I once heard him define himself to a woman who asked him for a certificate of habitability. But do you know how to issue certificates or not? she asked incredulously at the other end of the phone. But just what kind of architect are you?