By Matt Gergyek

Carleton’s Fall Graduation 2020, a university-wide online celebration, launched on Saturday, Nov. 14. Watch the celebration at the Carleton Grads 2020 website now!

From a young age, Carleton University Master of Architecture graduate, Diego Juarez, knew he was interested in the intersections of art and design.

“I always wanted to build and create spaces,” Juarez remembers.

At first, that meant treehouses. But through both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Carleton, Juarez has moved on to projects of a considerably larger scale since starting as an intern with Snøhetta, one of the world’s most well-respected architecture firms based in Oslo, Norway.

Diego Juarez

Diego Juarez

Originally from Toronto, Juarez was first drawn to Carleton back in 2013 to pursue his undergraduate degree in architecture. He says this was due, in part, to the program’s “greater emphasis on conceptual designs as opposed to technical,” which Juarez credits for helping him develop his broad creative repertoire.

The bright and open studio spaces inside the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism were a major highlight for Juarez, acting as important hubs for students to collaborate and share knowledge on their diversity of approaches to design and theory.

Another focal point of Juarez’s time at Carleton were the work study trips he took to India and Japan as part of the architecture program, which helped boost his creative toolbox and spark his side gig as a brand ambassador and social media influencer for major companies like Suspicious Antwerp.

“It was not just a way of seeing architecture in different cultures and societies, but it also brought forth my passion for photography and travelling,” says Juarez.

“I thank Carleton for this because it became the foundation for many things that came in the future.”

Outside of his studies, Juarez says he loved the location and layout of the Carleton campus itself, life in residence and intramural sports.

While studying at Carleton, Juarez also completed a number of internships that he credits for helping him secure his current job at Snøhetta, including time at Powerhouse Company in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and at 3XN in Copenhagen, Denmark.

These internships also helped Juarez shape the focus of his thesis and his broader philosophy as an architect—informed by sustainability and the concept of the circular economy that is popular in parts of Europe. A circular economy looks at eliminating waste and reducing both raw resource consumption and carbon emissions.

For his thesis, Juarez applied the idea of the circular economy in architecture to a tower in New York City, examining the ways existing structures can be refurbished and repaired through recycling rather than simply demolishing and creating waste. “What if we can imagine a building as an ecosystem?” asks Juarez.

“Where we maximize our resource more efficiently and ultimately reduce the environmental impact. This looks beyond the current take-make-waste model, also known as the linear economy, that we live in.”

While Juarez admits that moving across the world in the middle of a global pandemic wasn’t necessarily ideal, he says he’s now fully settled into Oslo and loving the city. “I’m realizing Norway is a lot like Canada. Everyone loves to ski, everyone loves winter and everyone loves to just be outside,” he says.

Juarez says the job at Snøhetta has also been a perfect fit, and he’s continuing to focus on the circular economy in architecture and creating prototypes of new building materials that are more eco-friendly. “These benefits are not just for our industry, but for society as a whole,” he says.

Juarez hopes to be back on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean five or 10 years down the road, applying the skills he’s building in Europe to the world of architecture in North America. “What I just want to do at the end of the day is create better societies and better environments for as many people as I can,” he says.

Carleton Architecture Grad Focusing on Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Design at Top Norway Firm

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