Cristina Monteiro: ‘I learnt the importance of generosity’
The DK-CM director on her practice’s Folk in a Box project, Robert Mull and the Red House in Bexleyheath
What got you started?
As a teenager I was a member of the Cooperative Nascente theatre group in Espinho, Portugal. I enjoyed the collective act of putting on a play, especially rearranging the auditorium’s configuration to suit each production.
Who was your most inspiring tutor?
Antonio Paiva (Cooperative Nascente) and Robert Mull. Both taught me the importance of generosity in making things.
Which living architect do you most admire?
It has to be Assemble, a young practice whose work suggests an entrepreneurial and truly collective form of practice, and one that really takes on production and making.
What is your best project?
Folk in a Box, which we’ve been exhibiting at the Venice Biennale. It was described in BD as more like cabinetry than architecture.
What project do you regret losing?
A competition for 3.5km of Porto’s riverfront.
What part of the design process do you most enjoy?
Working with fabricators and contractors. Architects in the UK are too divorced from production and I hope DK-CM will challenge that.
Which house would you most like to live in?
The Red House in Bexleyheath.
What is your favourite city?
Porto, but I wish it had more trees and fewer derelict buildings.
You can work in any city at any point in history — where and when would you choose?
Here and now. Despite the economic downturn, there has never been a better time or place to be a female architect.
What one piece of legislation would you introduce?
A new Part O of the Building Regulations concerning beauty.
What is your favourite architectural book?
Arquitectura Popular em Portugal, a beautiful survey of vernacular architecture. It was produced by a group of Portuguese architects in the 1960s, and it gave them the tools to make new architecture under the noses of the dictatorship.
What is your favourite novel?
The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono. An optimistic and compelling book about how a man changed a landscape.
Cristina Monteiro is director of DK-CM