Urko Sanchez Architects

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Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Urko Sanchez began his architectural studies in 1988. It took him 10 years to complete his coursework because of a huge passion for travel. “From the time I was very young, I have always loved traveling,” says Urko. “I’ve been in more than 40 countries.” From Canada to Argentina, from India to Africa, Urko has seen a great deal of the world. Consequently, travel has informed much of his life and his work – all of the colors and art and people and cultures he’s been exposed to adding to a sense of what Urko wanted to build for himself and others.

As part of his studies, Urko began participating in different architectural endeavors with NGOs in Spain and Nicaragua. “I had already started working before finishing university in 1998”, he explains, “collaborating on several projects as a volunteer. One of my first assignments was on the border of Somalia and Kenya. There was a lot of adrenaline in those early years.” Urko continued to offer his expertise in different conflict zones, including Bosnia, El Salvador and Angola where he spent two years. His participation always revolved around the field of architecture, building camps and schools and clinics.

Then Urko went to an island off the coast of East Africa and fell in love. “Lamu was a completely peaceful break from all of the high-conflict countries I’d been working in. I decided to set up a base there with the idea that I’d live on this island and then go off to different places to work. But I really didn’t want to go anywhere else, so how could I make my living in Lamu?

“I came up with the idea of Lamu House Hotel in 2001, and then got a group of friends together to buy the plot. We started working on the architectural planning and just when we were ready to begin building, September 11th happened. Everything stopped. So I went back to Spain for a year to work for a construction company. We did very special, up market projects like renovating the Real Madrid Stadium, interventions in the Cathedral of Salamanca and private houses.”

But as the world grew more stable in the aftermath of 9/11, Lamu called Urko back home in 2003 to start building the hotel. It took two to three years to complete the first phase of Lamu House when the architect, who wanted to keep buildings things, started doing projects for other clients. And that’s how Urko began to expand his specialty, expanding more and more into Swahili architecture with a modern twist.

Visit the website: http://www.urkosanchez.com/