ALFA POLARIS is an award-winning bridge and infrastructure design practice established in 1992 by Xavier Font.
Since its foundation, in ALFA POLARIS we have taken and artisan course of action characterized by the love of craft and detail, and the hands-on approach to our work. Our attitudes to design are craftsman-like, —quoting Fiona MacCarthy in her review of the Richard Sennet's book The Craftsman— driven by curiosity, investigating slowly and retaining an ability to "learn from ambiguity".
Craftsmanship is more than just know-how; it is also more than the end product. There is the satisfaction from the process itself; the pleasure of doing things right; the joy of the making, the deep inner satisfaction that comes from work perfected for its own sweet sake.
Despite the value that exists in making, some disciplines have lost contact with it; sometimes it is the case of architecture or engineering. Working on infrastructure design, we acknowledge that we cannot turn our ideas into reality with our own hands; the scale of our work is far beyond our making capacities. Nevertheless, we always try to be involved in the construction of our designs, usually through the assuming of its site supervision. It is our way of being involved in its making, which not only helps us to learn from our mistakes, but also to evolve our thinking. We do believe our designs are useless if they only remain on paper or digital, and don't become real.
We are aware that in our post-industrial era, where time and money are supposed to be so important, our artisan approach may be a big challenge. To find the right balance between time, resources and quality sometimes is not an easy task. Because the desire to do things well strongly resides in our practice, we do believe that doing a job properly takes the time it takes. But we also acknowledge the demands of our clients, and for this reason we are always ready to find the necessary resources to achieve the right quality to the agreed deadlines.
Our designs are characterized by a search for a balance between functional, social, cultural, technological, political and economic conditions in which a project is set. But, overall, our main goal when we design is to create locus, to make apparent the Genius Loci —the spirit— of the place. We do share Andreu Ulied's opinion that there can be nothing more uncultured, less civilized, than a landscape with no places.
We see craft work as a way to keep ourselves rooted in material reality; we feel ourselves artisans of the build environment.