Archidom Studio is the creation of two young architects who started small and have built a practice with over 40 staff and many external collaborators that work on projects in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, China, Vietnam and Central America – mindful that good architecture is about quality, not quantity.

Words Michel Cruz, Photography Courtesy of Archidom Studio

Archidom Studio is the creation of two young architects who started small and have built a practice with over 40 staff and many external collaborators that work on projects in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, China, Vietnam and Central America – mindful that good architecture is about quality, not quantity.

Words Michel Cruz, Photography Courtesy of Archidom Studio

“It started with two guys and two computers in the back part of a kitchen store,” laughs Alvaro Estuñiga, one of the founders of Archidom. “If that sounds a bit like that Silicon Valley story about the two guys with a computer working from their garage, it’s because there were some similarities, even though we haven’t quite grown to the same size.” And they’re not likely to, for while Archidom stands out for its ability to connect commercial property development needs with intuitive, experience-based design, this is a team that realises its approach is “not for everyone.”

In the sense that every industry is divided into self-selecting elements, Archidom Studio occupies an appealing middle ground between commercial success and artistic spirit. The practice led by business partners Alvaro Estuñiga and Chema Sobrado has more a house philosophy than a centralised style. “We see architecture from a slightly different perspective,” says Alvaro, whose commercial and residential projects are imbued not just with a focus on external form and design, but also technical functionality, technological convenience and comfort, as well as sensory impact. “Our personal taste veers towards an interpretation of early modern Brutalism, so when everyone was building the now ubiquitous white boxes we built with concrete, as well as incorporating natural materials such as wood, mortar and stone as part of a focus upon ecological design that goes right back to our beginnings.”

Sensory Design

Having studied in Madrid and Pamplona respectively, Alvaro and Chema followed different trajectories before joining forces and founding Archidom. “Chema cut his teeth on large commercial and retail projects working for a prominent Madrid studio,” says Alvaro, who upon graduating opted for Beijing out of a shortlist of China, Dubai (UAE) and Brazil. “I went there with some friends and spent three and a half years gaining experience in the design and construction of shopping malls, airports, stadiums, and also master planning. I left the relative comfort zone of Beijing to separate myself from my friends and head for Shanghai, where I spent another year and a half before returning to Spain.”

The day before his return Alvaro made a presentation for one of the biggest furniture brands in the world in order to be able to open his own practice in China but remaining true to his convictions he turned down an offer to stay, having already committed himself to the next phase in his personal and professional life. This involved a post-graduate MBA in real estate in Madrid, where he founded his own studio before being introduced to Chema by friends. “We got on from the start, sensing that we’d make a good team, and the truth is we work very well together.”

After working together on several projects in Madrid, they were asked to create a design for the now-iconic Momento nightclub on the Golden Mile. From this followed the beach club at La Reserva de Sotogrande, Dunique Social Club, and the new Pacha resort near Estepona, adding to a growing number of projects in the region, as well as in Madrid, Ibiza, Barcelona, the Canary islands, Asia, some Central American countries, as well as in Europe in Sweden and Portugal. Asked about the source of their success, Alvaro says: “We are not overtly commercial as a studio, but we understand the requirements of the main actors in a project, including the developers and their business and financial objectives, as well as of course the end user. For this reason, we place great importance on detail – taking care of the elements that matter to the project developers as well as to creating a visual wow factor and experience-driven designs.” They also love to blend the latest technical and aesthetic trends with a local cultural and natural relevance. Usually this means marrying modern and Mediterranean touches, but when they work in other countries they immerse themselves in the local design traditions, materials, and way of life to add a vernacular connection. Or, as Alvaro puts it: “All the projects we work on must have soul.”

The sensory element is exemplified by a collection of villas that Archidom Studio is creating in both the Marbella area and across the country. “We have often worked outside of the traditional norms of architecture, thinking outside of the box to find solutions, delivering initial concept designs within as little as a week, and remaining true to certain founding philosophies. This attracts clients, including corporate ones, who wish to create a new, fresh look and identity for their brands and products. Apart from visual form and producing solutions to fit functional requirements, a modern architect must imbue the end product with meaning, personality, and life.” This has led to a novel project for modern villas that offers hitherto unseen experiences. “They include spaces of experimentation such as secret rooms, areas for drinking Mezcal, and allowing yourself to drift off and meditate, all designed to offer occupants personal growth experiences. You could call it the next evolution of the spa.”

The ability to deliver visual shape, functional form, and sensory experience in a way that makes a new venue stand out from the beginning is winning Archidom Studio key projects like Laguna village in Estepona (the largest opening in the Costa del Sol this summer), the spectacular new beach club in Ibiza (the old Bora Bora at playa de Embossa), which is also to become the largest and most impressive of its kind on the island. Other key projects include the clubhouse for the complex that Cosentino is building in Almería and the new 1,800m2 restaurant on Calle Velázquez in Madrid.

“You could say that, coming from families involved in construction and nationwide building material supplies, building is in our blood, but it is above all the more ephemeral and human side of our work that drives us the most,” says Alvaro, who like Chema finds the greatest satisfaction in creating special ambiences and a sense of enrichment through architecture. “When you design a home, you are also influencing how someone lives their life. When you do the same on a larger scale, say the commercial and master planning projects we work on, you influence a whole community and shape part of the urban fabric. This is a social responsibility we take very seriously.”


Archidom Studio
C. Dr. Esteban San Mateo, 10, San Pedro Alcántara, Marbella.
Tel: (+34) 630 07 84 08.