Name: Raquel Fernández Gutiérrez
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
Undergraduate school/major: Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM). Polytechnic University of Madrid / Architecture.
What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?
I had done several internships at an architectural studio; and an internship at the Town Hall of Valdés in the urban department.
Why did you decide to pursue urban design as a career?
As an undergraduate, I specialized in Landscape and Urban Design in order to comprehend the broader scale of design.
What made you decide to come to the GSD?
The MAUD program follows the same direction as my interests in the urban field, providing answers to the questions that arose during my undergraduate studies.
What are your main interests in urban design?
To rethink the given traditional solutions in urban design and design more adequate environments to improve people’s lives.
What was your impression of Harvard and the GSD before you came?
An institution with a reputation on urban design.
How has your impression changed since coming to the GSD?
It has improved a lot due to the positive environment that is created by the continuous exchange among the different disciplines.
Are you writing a thesis? What is your topic and why did you choose it?
Yes, on Chabolismo, informal settlements in Madrid I have chosen this particular topic because I find the generation of formal cities from informal settlements really interesting. This organic growth provides a direct response to an urban matter and is built up from a human scale. The spatial complexity that is achieved is hard to imitate, and the urban and social structures that are established become an major issue to take into consideration.
What has been the most surprising aspect of the GSD?
The most surprising aspect is the environment that is created. How all the design disciplines coexist and intermingle in the daily academic routine and all the opportunities that are offered to go deeply into your field of interest.
What has been your favorite class or project? Why?
The project in Rio de Janeiro.
It was a great opportunity to understand the favelas from the very inside, to meet with the people living there, trace every corner, etc. It was a great challenge from every perspective and had a strong social and human component. This project, above all, taught us to get rid of the accessory and boil down to the heart of the matter.