In the next of our occasional series that aims to reveal a bit more about the personalities behind the team at Lees Associates, we talk to Romanian Architect Miruna Stroe.
What got you into architecture originally?
Short answer: a chair. However, stories are usually long and have a richer context. When I was quite young, in middle school, I visited the house of a friend of my parents, who was a designer. In her living room she had one of the famous tubular steel frame chairs by Marcel Breuer. I later found out that it was THE Wassily. At the time, I remember thinking it was the most beautiful furniture piece I had ever seen, eye-catching, light and comfortable at the same time. So, I thought I would like to train my mind in a way that could see and project the world in the same structured, logical but also beautiful way so that it would resonate with that chair.
I received a book on Marcel Breuer from the same friend and I think my decision was made then and there. Years later I found out that my maternal grandmother would have liked to become an architect, but sadly it was not easy for a woman back in the day to pursue an architectural career. So, there might be some genetics involved, along with the happy accident of me seeing that chair.
Describe your role at Lees Associates.
Since joining Lees Associates, I have been involved in several high-end residential projects and some commercial ones. The projects are quite varied, with amazing locations such as Eaton Square, Grosvenor Square, Covent Garden or St. George’s Hill. The thing that ties them all together is they are very well detailed projects and very thoroughly executed.
I am currently running the refurbishment of an exceptional penthouse in central London, collaborating with a well-known Parisian Interior Designer. It’s a lengthy process, so you’ll probably see more of it on our Instagram page.
Where do your particular passions, skills and interests lie?
I’m interested in understanding the context behind architecture. What cultural, social, political and economic factors lead to specific stylistic traits of architecture, what makes it specific to a place or an era. This is why I can spend countless hours researching, reading, piecing together narratives about an era, or a style, or a specific project. I feel this understanding enriches any architectural gesture one can do, especially with regards to the built heritage. I think architecture is one of the most underrated means of storytelling and I’d like to see myself as a storyteller.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I have recently returned to designing after spending a long time in academia, so I am still in that stage where almost everything is exciting once again. I enjoy working alongside my colleagues at Lees Associates and within the larger team of consultants to finalise these complex projects.
Which project are you most proud of?
Surprisingly, it is not a purely architectural project. I’m most proud of the book I wrote, as a result of my doctoral research. It is the result of a few intense years spent in the archives, researching the link between architecture and the political milieu (communism included) in the 1960s in my native country, Romania. I think it showcases the way contextualising architecture can lead to better understanding the build environment and how that knowledge can lead to wiser interventions.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I love curating exhibitions, especially ones relating to the built environment. The creative process behind structuring seemingly unrelated items, presenting them in a compelling way and the dazzling speed with which it all usually happens are very thrilling to me.