Interview with Javier Higuera and Alejandro Pérez in El Español de Málaga: “Appearing on the WA100 list generates responsibility”

El Español de Málaga interviews Javier Higuera and Alejandro Pérez

Almost 40 years of experience make it inevitable that adapting to change is our travelling companion. This is precisely the central theme of the interview that El Español de Málaga has held with Javier Higuera and Alejandro Pérez, founding partners of HCP.

At HCP we learn from our past to boost our future, as we are aware that our professional career is the result of all the projects we have undertaken, the knowledge we have acquired and even the mistakes we have made. That is why, when asked about what it has meant for our studio to enter the World Architecture 100 list, our partners do not hesitate to answer that it has been a great source of joy, but they also talk about the responsibility of maintaining this recognition over time. “Appearing on the WA100 list has been a great joy. It’s seeing yourself on a list where Zaha Hadid or Norman Foster’s studio appear. That is always gratifying. And it generates a responsibility, because it implies entering a kind of important circle, and you have to try to maintain it over time”, summarises Alejandro Pérez.

When Javier Higuera and Alejandro Pérez founded HCP in 1986 they could not have expected it to become what it is today, although it was “dreamable”, as Javier Higuera says. Over the years, our Malaga-based architecture firm has experienced several real estate crises, restructuring and opening up to the international market, initially with clients who were also starting their own adventures outside Spain. “We started in Brazil, where we went with a brutal project that represented more or less 50% of the municipality of Torremolinos. It was never done, of course. But it was very useful for us, because we realised that we were capable, from Malaga, of generating work anywhere in the world. We opened offices in other countries and made many partnerships with architectural firms,” explains Alejandro Pérez.

At the moment our studio is embarking on a second internationalisation process, with the opening of offices in Saudi Arabia and analysing the possibility of doing so in Australia. But, as we were saying, this international background that has given us so much joy has also meant a tremendous exercise in adaptation. “People think that it was very easy, that you went to Riyadh with your studio and they commissioned a project as soon as you arrived. And the process is very slow. You have to adapt to the cultural varieties of each country”, says Javier Higuera.

Beyond our international expansion, Javier Higuera and Alejandro Pérez also wanted to give their opinion on some issues of great national and local importance, such as the challenges posed by the spectacular growth that Málaga is experiencing and the rising prices of housing. Precisely, Javier Higuera said that one problem that the sector must confront is the lengthy time required for the urban planning process: “The raw material for our work is the land. The plans that we have started from scratch and that are being worked on now are on average 20 years old. It takes 20 years for land to mature. There is no company that can withstand it or that can include it in a normal business plan. When clients ask us how long it will take to plan, we cannot give them an answer. This creates legal uncertainty”. “This causes two problems: the rise in the price of land, because the land that is available is becoming more and more expensive, and the lack of loading of new land,” explains Alejandro Pérez.

From the HCP blog we would like to take this opportunity to thank El Español de Málaga and Sebastián Sánchez for inviting us to talk about our beginnings, to share anecdotes such as when “every time we opened the newspaper we saw that we had lost a client”, as Javier Higuera explains when he tells us how HCP experienced a period as important as the Arab Spring, or what projects we believe our city needs.