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The symbiosis between architecture, sustainability and Feng Shui

#talkingwith Teresa Mascarenhas / Momoon Design

In the contemporary world of architecture, the confluence of tradition and innovation shapes spaces that are not only pleasing to the eye, but also resonate with our inner well-being and respect for the environment. Teresa Mascarenhas, through her Momoon design studio, combines architecture with the ancient principles of Feng shui and the needs of sustainability. With a professional career that includes stints at Aires Mateus and CHP Arquitectos, which enriched her vision and skill, the architect has built a legacy that reflects her passion for detail, symmetry and, above all, for fulfilling the dreams of those who inhabit the spaces she designs. In this #àconversacom, we discover her perspective on the current architecture scene, the growing focus on sustainability and the influence of Feng Shui on the design of spaces.


The focus of your work is housing. What soft skills are necessary for the success of any project these days?

Yes, the interventions are mostly focused on rehabilitation and some housing. I really enjoy designing housing and being able to project the dreams of those who are going to live in it. In my opinion, in order to successfully meet expectations, it’s very important to know how to listen to clients. At a time when we are constantly bombarded with information, especially through platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, it is crucial to listen carefully to the client’s aspirations and desires so that we can truly understand what they are looking for in their space, be it a home, an office or any other environment. Obviously flexibility is important, but it’s also essential to set limits, as constant changes can complicate the development of the project. Ultimately, empathy, effective communication and the ability to manage expectations are crucial soft skills for the success of housing projects today.

How important is architecture in any project or work?

For me, architecture is more than simply designing spaces. It has the power to transform and add value to them. Not just from an aesthetic point of view, but also functionally and emotionally. It plays a fundamental role in any project or work, with a significant impact on the final spatiality. It’s important that we take a broad view, analyzing from the general to the particular and vice versa, considering aspects that someone who doesn’t specialize could easily overlook. As a teacher I had at university, João Pedro Falcão de Campos, used to say, “The architect is the master of almost everything”, which means that in the development of each project there are always new topics that we will have to study or delve into in order to respond in the best way to the challenge at hand.

It’s a mistake to think that being an architect only adds extra costs. In reality, architects often find more economical solutions that meet or exceed their clients’ expectations. Especially in small projects or apartment renovations, an architect’s contribution can add significant value to the work, highlighting spatial potential that is often “hidden”.

What are the biggest current constraints on your profession?

In Portugal, the profession faces challenges in terms of appreciation. Unfortunately, I feel that we Portuguese do not adequately defend architecture in our country, but this is something that is unfortunately not only reflected in architecture. Often, the architect’s contribution is not fully recognized, unlike in other countries, where the architect’s role is indisputable. It is essential that we work to consolidate this recognition here.

In general, how would you describe the relationship between architect and contractor?

The relationship between the architect and the contractor is complex and often fraught with tension. Responsibility often falls on the architect, who wants to meet the client’s expectations. On the other hand, the contractor is usually focused on practical issues such as deadlines and costs, prioritizing functionality and sometimes not giving as much importance to the architect’s creative vision. This divergence of priorities can sometimes lead to friction. It is essential that there is a good dialog between the two, because the truth is that they both share the goal of satisfying the client. The architect conceives and the contractor executes; by working together and respecting the value of each job, they form a cohesive team, which translates into the final quality of each job.

You are not only a partner but also a Beelt client, with a comprehensive view of our work. How did Joaquim António Aguiar’s work go from the client’s point of view? Were you satisfied with the work?

I was extremely satisfied with the work on the J. A. Aguiar project. It went very well, and I felt that there was constant communication and respect for my work as an architect. Carlos Gonçalves, who accompanied the work on site, showed remarkable sensitivity, always concerned to ensure that every detail was in line with what had been designed. At various times, I noticed his care and dedication to ensuring that everything was carried out with the utmost quality and professionalism. Open and constant dialog was essential, as I was informed and consulted on every doubt or decision. The result was a spectacular house which, I believe, added a lot of value to the initial investment. As a client, I can say that the experience with Beelt was very positive and the professionalism shown made all the difference to the result.

What characteristics of Beelt do you think are important to our success?

Beelt stands out above all for its professionalism and quality. Their quotes are detailed and fair. The quality/price ratio they offer is very competitive, which is essential in today’s market.

In addition, Beelt has a dynamic and modern approach to the sector. It is clear that this is a company that is committed to communication and transparency. I really appreciate the fact that you are so active digitally, keeping a website that is always up to date, which makes it easier to follow your projects and initiatives. This commitment to branding and marketing undoubtedly complements the company’s strategy in the digital age in which we live.

The combination of these elements – a commitment to quality, dynamism and effective communication – are crucial characteristics that are driving Beelt’s success.

Why Feng shui? And how do you integrate it into your architectural approach?

My interest in Feng shui arose a few years ago when I realized that some clients were asking questions related to this topic. I decided to explore it further to understand how I could integrate these principles into my projects and thus benefit my clients. Feng shui, which has been around for hundreds of years in China, is basically an art that seeks to make the most of a space according to the people who inhabit it, taking into account the energy that flows in a given environment.

Classic Feng Shui, which I am specializing in, is much more than simply choosing colors or furniture arrangements. It is based on mathematical calculations and uses tools such as the Chinese “Luopan” compass to determine the so-called map of each built element. The aim is always to energetically enhance each space according to its inhabitants, whether it’s an apartment, a house or a business. I’ve been incorporating it into some of my projects for some time now, in an effort to benefit the lives of their inhabitants. The direction of the stove or the oven are apparently simple elements, but they have a huge impact on the lives of those who live there.

What do you think will be the most important themes in architecture in the coming years?

Sustainability will undoubtedly be at the heart of future architecture. We need to rethink the use of certain materials, promote energy efficiency and create harmony between the inhabitant, the building and the environment.

Sustainability in general will be “the theme” of the coming decades, no longer from the point of view of thinking about it, but of acting accordingly, of putting it into practice. In my opinion, sustainability in architecture is very much about the need for it to be reflective, adapting to the surrounding climate and using local resources whenever possible. I think we’re going to see a kind of “return to our origins”. Sometimes it’s important to take two steps back in order to move forward. And, in fact, traditional architecture has a lot to teach us about sustainability, namely through natural ventilation systems, the size of openings according to the region and sun exposure, materials with low environmental impact, in short, buildings designed and thought out for each particular place.

In terms of urban planning, greater importance will also be given to green spaces, with a view to improving the lives of its inhabitants, not only in the sense of making their city a more aesthetically pleasing space, but also in the sense of creating more spaces that allow people to meet, contrary to today’s trends.


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