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As part of his Design Tactics class, Ricardo Camacho has his students conduct an in-depth analysis of one of the architectural firms being studied during the course.

These analyses are part of the final project in which students must consider the influences on the practice from both inside and beyond the profession. They must include a study of a work by the practice as well as at least one tactic developed the practice. The final product is a written analysis augmented with visuals that may include photos, sketches, models or analytical diagrams.

Wei Chen (M.ARCH 2018), a native of China who completed her undergraduate degree in England, selected the well-known architect Ricardo Bak Gordon for her analysis. He is the principal of Bak Gordon Arquitectos, based in Lisbon, Portugal. As luck would have it Bak Gordon is currently a visiting design critic at Harvard University and Chen was able to meet with him.

She sought to explore Bak Gordon’s poetic-logical approach to constrains and contingencies on design, either site-specific, material or technological.

During the interview, Bak Gordon discussed his firm’s project for the Residence of the Portuguese Embassy in Brasilia. He explained how the planning and development of the city itself was determinant for the strategy and a set of tactics that evolved into his proposal for the Portuguese embassy building in this capital, which won the first prize in an International Competition.