Azucena Marquínez: "We provide sustainable solutions in every project"

At KREAN, more than 400 professionals work every day to create, from engineering and architecture, infrastructures and spaces with a positive impact on people's lives. Azucena Marquínez, Civil Engineer and Director of the City and Landscape area of KREAN, talks to us about how this exciting work is approached and the values that support it.


What is the work carried out in KREAN's City and Landscape area?

We work in a very broad field to respond to the demands of society. That is why we dedicate a lot of effort to observe what it needs, what it requires, how it is changing and where it is going. Hence, much of our work is aimed at public administration, which is primarily responsible for land management, offering solutions ranging from urban planning and climate change roadmaps, to urban planning or development, access to drinking water, sanitation, transportation, etcetera. Whether in public or public-private projects, at KREAN we work to provide sustainable, effective and lasting solutions to society.


What kind of solutions are we talking about?

Our work begins with the idea, with consulting, sketching concepts from which we go down in scale, to urban planning, to engineering, transforming these ideas into construction projects that integrate the concepts that society demands, such as sustainability, inclusivity or security, to end up generating resilient and lasting solutions. Finally, we accompany the execution. This is our legacy to society. KREAN's commitment to sustainability is reflected in the constant and sustained integration of this value in all project phases. It is a base already established in our organization and company culture, it responds to what society demands and to to the demands of society and the policies being applied at the European level. We provide sustainable solutions in everything we do.


And those solutions start with design.

That's right. We talk about eco-design. We analyse and assess the implementation of solutions and materials that are more environmentally friendly, but also the most sustainable from a social point of view. Because in sustainability, in addition to the environmental vector, we have to consider the social impact, with inclusive, safe and durable solutions. Ecodesign involves assessing this set of criteria in order to provide balanced responses that minimise negative impacts and enhance the positive ones. For designing a wall we can consider green solutions based on nature or materials from quarries. We apply eco-design criteria, comparing sustainability objectives with the technical requirements necessary to guarantee a reliable and long-lasting result.


Comprehensive service, accompanying from the idea to the final execution...

Indeed, we complete the circle: as we said above, we start with a conceptualisation and idea generation phase, and once ideas are ordered, we design a plan for their development, which includes addressing the required and necessary studies in each case and transforming them into construction projects which, in many cases, are finally executed under our direction or technical assistance.

The complexity of City and Landscape projects requires a wide variety of technical profiles, knowledge and domains. At KREAN we have civil engineers, urban architects, landscape architects, environmental architects, topographers... This collection is our main value, our team of people, convinced that the more points of view an idea has, the greater the guarantee of success it will have.


It is a creative work

We always propose a balance between the creative part and the constructive part. We create spaces and environments that involve a great economic effort for citizens, and we must necessarily respond with consistent, reliable solutions and a sense of responsibility. Our aim is that when a citizen comes to a space we have worked on, whether it is a park or a water infrastructure, he or she thinks: "hey, this is well done".


Good ideas are those that work, those that are useful, and those that last.

Resilience, a word that has become very fashionable with the pandemic, is very important. Any sustainable solution must last over time, the longer its life cycle, the better.


How does the concern about climate change affect the work done by City and Landscape?

The climate emergency is a reality. At KREAN, we are working in many different areas to mitigate its effects and to adapt to its consequences. The European Union is driving these policies forward, and we must all follow these guidelines to try to achieve the climate change goals that have been set. We cannot postpone it, and it is not a short-term job. What we do today may have consequences in 10 years' time.


Are cities taking measures to deal with the climate emergency?

Cities are adapting to the circumstances of each moment, and certainly now is the moment of the consequences of climate change and the moment of the energy transition. Personally, I believe that it is essential that we anticipate as soon as possible the likely scenarios that this reality is presenting us with. The measures we are adopting now will yield results in the long term.


What specific solutions are we talking about?

We talk about creating solutions based on nature, mitigating the "heat island effect" in cities, taking measures to adapt to flooding, such as those we have implemented in the Martutene neighbourhood in Donostia, creating more sustainable transport networks, such as the intelligent electric bus in Vitoria-Gasteiz, designing sustainability plans, such as the network of technology parks in the Basque Country, or promoting energy communities for the generation and self-consumption of sustainable energy, such as the Ekian project. We must necessarily think that in all the projects we develop, even if it does not say "climate change", there are measures that we must incorporate to tackle it. Every day we must move forward on this path.


Sustainability obliges us to transform our way of thinking as a society?

Of course it does. When we talk about water, for example, we have to think about closing the water cycle. When I left university 20 years ago, we were already suffering from droughts but there was no talk about what happens to the water that comes out of the tap. Now we are aware that water has to be recirculated. The same goes for cities and landscapes. We need to create cities with more green areas, less concrete, make spaces more permeable, and therefore generate more wealth in the soil. Trees contribute to the elimination of CO2.


In short, sustainability is a shared responsibility, and at KREAN we are committed to it both in our company values and in each and every one of the projects we undertake.




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