Own publication
2018
Letter To Mexicans. Octavio Mestre. Incomplete Work

Book that collects 70 buildings built and 70 lost competitions, written as a result of having closed with my conference, the ARQ Festival of 2026 in Guadalajara (Mexico), a conference in which I shared, with the more than 1,600 students who were in the Theatre Diana, many projects that had not come out because, as I told you, “we all recognize ourselves in failure.” So I told them and wrote in the prologue…

It’s important to know that our only mission is to leave things a little better than how we received them, remembering that some American Indians maintain that the land is not inherited from our parents, but on loan from our grandchildren and it is to them that we will be accountable… And there are still those who consider them, contemptuously, primitive peoples.

 

Knowing that what is fashionable will go out of style and that, in architecture, there is a time that is its own, the durée, of which the French speak, in a temporary cycle that, clearly, surpasses us and of which we hardly we are a small link…

 

Knowing that you teach to “help to be” others who are starting, to give back to others what we received one day, aware that not only “teaching we learn”, but that only by comparing one’s own ideas with those of others, these they will grow healthy (nothing worse than looking at the navel). And knowing, finally, that, although what is important cannot be taught (teaching is always insufficient, except in those cases when it is totally unnecessary), everything and everyone can always be learned…

 

Knowing how to sit at the table of the powerful and the destitute, with the students and with the workers who raise the buildings that we project and treat them in the same way, as the men they are, as to triumph and defeat, that Kipling said in that poem, that one day it would help me to be a man…

 

Knowing that our work and its results are beyond contingencies, the client’s money (sometimes having more means only makes the evil more possible) and the impositions of regulations. And that it does not belong to us… Not only to us who do it, not even to those who commission us and pay for it, but our work ends up being everyone’s and that, if it is good or bad, it will be for other reasons, not because of having more means or more freedom … because what, a priori, helps, is sometimes a hindrance, which is still a mystery. The rose is without why…

 

Knowing that, sometimes, the projects that cost us the most effort are those that allow us to do our best works. Like the muscle that, “if it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t work”, so our daily work must be in that line. Like the skier, who slides down a slope, and is always falling in order to move forward, aware that if he stops and stands up, that is when he really falls. Knowing that our career is in the background…

 

Knowing that nobody cares what you think or what you feel, but only the final work, the one that is above all. Know that you have to educate the stomach (and not so much the head or the heart). Because with the head the most absurd approaches can be defended and because, from the heart, how many people do not fall in love but with those who should not. But how seldom does our stomach turn over to the manure! Of course, “Sin three times and you will think that it is lawful”, as the Jewish proverb says … Know that we cannot renounce our conscience, because everything lies in it. “A man drowns in the sea, but man is greater than the sea. Because man knows that he is dying and the sea does not know that it kills him” (Pascal).

 

Knowing that today, in the era of information technology and global communication, much of the true wisdom is lost behind culture (what a word, pronounced by more than one whose mouth is full), as well as how much culture it is diluted, after that excess of information to which the media submits us… Because what it is about is to be wise and not to be informed (and because “getting old” comes alone, over the years)…

 

Knowing that, despite the fact that the habit makes the monk (contrary to the popular saying), you don’t have to dress as an architect to be an architect. That it is enough to feel that emotion first and build it, that everything is simpler than it seems and, if not, bad. And be aware that, precisely for this reason, everything can be done in sandals. These covers that appear in the photo summarize the essence of the Mediterranean and, perhaps, of our work in the studio. They are the ones that I always wear in summer, a fact that is the envy of more than some of my costumed clients, on the hot days of our summers. With the wish that every day be sunny…

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