“It was a satisfaction, not a job”

Recently retired former municipal architect Javier Arnaiz would have liked to do a lot more before retiring, but he is confident that new generations will be able to carry on a legacy of almost four decades dedicated to a profession he is passionate about. His excellent work has earned him recognition as important as the work he has done throughout his professional career. Arnaiz will receive this Friday one of the Medals of Autonomy for the Day of Ceuta 2022.

– With almost four decades as a municipal architect and recently retired, what value does this recognition have for you at this time?

-I believe that it is not only an individual value, because in the city ​​hall We don’t just do towns, we don’t just do town planning, but we also issue a lot of licenses. Architecture here is very much about architects and it has changed a lot, there are young architects, there has been a new generation and I believe that in this profession of architect the value that it can have beyond of a certain person, is more than a group. It had to be given to someone personally and for me it is a satisfaction that it corresponded to a municipal architect who is really the person who is in contact with society and especially with the citizens on a daily basis and this value has changed , it is not the value that could have a behavior in the eighties. We have adapted and there is a new generation of architects who will succeed me at the Town Hall, of which I am very proud and I also hope that they will be able to win the medal in the future.

– What do you think of this day? How are you preparing? Who will accompany you to receive the award?

– There are two groups which are the security forces of the State and the Town Hall, there is also an educational group which has suffered a lot with the covid, and then there are individuals. The groups are the security forces and they say that they give it to them (the medal) because they are a pillar of security and the city council is the one who lays the foundations of these pillars of security.

So in the work that I’ve done over the years, if there’s one thing that I haven’t finished, it’s that I haven’t been able to do the technical report of the two large installations whose the State really had an obligation to do a long time ago, that is to say the Civil Guard barracks that we suffered a lot to demolish it, but that’s it, a million euros have been spent on do it and the Civil Guard still lives in deplorable institutions, in a building from the sixties, a barracks which is in Hadoo.

“It was more difficult for me to leave the town hall because I started to draw, to do things”

Similarly, the Town Hall gave the National Police a piece of land to build the National Police house. I would have liked on these mandatory projects that the State has with a commitment to the City to remove them, to have been able to make the technical report and especially of the Town Hall to have been able to give them a license and that they were under construction. What you have to do is work, that’s why I don’t like to talk, but to do things and throughout these thirty years, that’s what I have been doing.

Contrary to what you have just said, what has been the most satisfying during all these years of your career, what has made you the most proud?

–It’s like telling a grandmother to decide which of her grandchildren is the most beautiful. It’s the daily work with citizens, how society changes, how you have to adapt to this society, not being selfish when it comes to knowing that architects are like God, that you create things. A city council is the house of the people, the house of all citizens and you must always be at their service.

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I liked working in El Príncipe, for example, where I spent five years and where we developed a special plan, an urbanization project with goals and objectives that you have through this special plan. Also subject of the catalog of buildings to be protected, the city, although it seems older, is much more modern and this eclectic architecture which exists from the 20s to the 40s, needs to be protected. So in the new plan that we have developed, great levels of protection are cataloged and granted. A great deal of work must be done on this catalog of protected elements and especially on the major elements of Assets of Cultural Interest such as the royal walls, the Marinid walls, the cathedral of Ceuta.

“There is a new generation of architects who will succeed me, of which I am very proud”

I fought a lot for the royal walls because it is the systole and the diastole of what the connection of the bourgeois city of Almina and the center with the outfield, which must be resolved, both at the circulatory level and by equipping it with things. And then I did some work like the funeral parlor, sculptures in the cemetery, I did the Port control tower, what I’m saying is not that I did, but that we did because that a work is not of a single architect, the works are not of a single person, but of a group and the citizens who benefit from it.

– With these projects that are on hold, what is the best advice you can give to the new generations, to the generations who come to help?

– At least those on duty who don’t try to impose their taste because that’s like flared pants, because at some point you put them on but they go out of fashion. One must always be very sober in one’s ways of acting.

– In the most personal part, what do you like most about being an architect, have you known all your life that you wanted to be an architect?

-It’s a metamorphosis like in animals. I come from a family of Navy soldiers, almost all of them were merchant seamen, but on my mother’s side they were architects, engineers and even soldiers too, military engineers, and at the beginning I wanted to be big-headed, I I studied here and my friend in ‘los Agustinos’ was Juan Vivas, but to study in high school my father went abroad and I chose to go as an intern in Santander in a board and there I studied all high school until I was 16 years old, then I went to Madrid to prepare myself a bit for architecture.

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But in this patronage I had a person who gave Art and it was he who made me sing a little, and it was from there with all the sorrow of my father, but it was resolved because since we are seven brothers, two or three followed the military theme and we arrived at peace.

For me it was not a job, it was more difficult for me to leave the town hall because I started to draw, to do things and in fact I went out in the afternoon to see the works although I didn’t have this official obligation for all these hours. Apart from the fact that later they gave you an advantage and that the first 15 years here you did everything, you did the Fair, you did the Corpus Christi tapestries, you were on all the aesthetic fronts, so this whole affair passed very quickly. Now I’m after my son gives me a grandson to play football. It was not a job, for me it was a complete satisfaction.

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