Ten Days / Ten Buildings: An Architectural Autobiography

In the spirit of the ubiquitous ‘top ten’ lists which proliferate on social media (books, films, albums etc) I decided to publish (over ten days on the facebook page which runs alongside this blog) a note on ten buildings which have had a profound impact on my life.  Some were instrumental in starting my interest in the built environment; some were important in introducing me to new ways of thinking about buildings when I was studying; and some provided essential lessons which have focussed the ideas which define the way I think about architecture.

Day 1: Saturday 22nd September.

King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, 1446-1515.

I visited this building on a Year 3 study trip, during the Evensong Service.  It was a rainy, miserable day, but the atmosphere in the building transcended that – removing us all to a different place altogether.  It’s the most poignant, affecting space I’ve ever sat in.

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King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. BW shot (c) ParisExpat. Col shot (c) Ian Burley.

Day 2: Sunday 23rd September.

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. By Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, 1971-77.

This was a bold, confidently ugly addition to the (then; 1970s) architecturally conservative Parisian urban landscape – by young architects who admitted afterwards that they barely understood what they were doing.  Now it’s an essential part of the fabric of that city.  Photos taken from the DynamicStasis photo-essay.

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Pompidou Centre / Place Georges Pompidou, Paris.
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Pompidou Centre / Rue du Renard, Paris.

Day 3: Monday 24th September.

Koshino House, Ashiya-shi, Japan. By Tadao Ando, 1981.

When I was in first or second year I picked up an Ando book (The Colours of Light) in the library, without knowing anything about his work.  I was struck by the confident harshness of the composition, and the delicate light within the building.  It broadened my architectural outlook considerably.

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Koshino House, Japan (c) archdaily.

Day 4: Tuesday 25th September.

The National Theatre, London. By Denys Lasdun, 1976.

This is an extraordinary building, drenched in moments of drama and contradiction; “A sensitive and delicate essay in place-making and landscape, painted in beautifully vicious concrete”.  Photos taken from the DynamicStasis article, (c) Rory Gardiner.

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National Theatre, London.
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National Theatre, London.

Day 5: Wednesday 26th September.

The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. By Francis Fowke, 1866 (redeveloped by Hoskins Architects, 2011).

I visited this building on a Primary School trip; I suppose I was 8 or 9 years old.  The only thing I remember about the trip is this space.  I think it’s the earliest memory I have where the building ‘is’ the memory, as opposed to anything that happened, or anyone who was there.  The architecture was imprinted on my consciousness… before I knew what architecture was!

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National Museum, Edinburgh (c) archdaily.

Day 6: Thursday 27th September.

The Oberrealta Chapel, Switzerland. By Christian Kerez, 1993.

I was fortunate to visit this building on a campervan trip with three friends between 4th and 5th year at college.  It’s just an exquisite, beautiful, tiny little thing; a humble but impressive addition to this amazing alpine landscape.

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The Oberrealta Chapel, Switzerland.

Day 7: Friday 28th September.

Surestart Community Hall, Colchester. By DSDHA, 2007.

This is a project I worked on shortly after finishing at college, with London practice DSDHA.  It was a really important experience for me – in understanding that with lots of effort and hard work; an ordinary, affordable, community building (and the experience of the people who use it) can be enhanced by the quality of its architecture.

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Surestart Community Hall, Colchester (c) DSDHA.
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Surestart Community Hall, Colchester (c) DSDHA.

Day 8: Saturday 29th September.

Skyspace(s) / various. By James Turrell.

This is another one that I discovered browsing in the college library.  The artist has created many of these installations – pure spaces where viewers look through precise apertures cut in the ceiling.  The space, and the view, is animated by constant movement in the sky.  It creates a compelling narrative; a dramatic odyssey in light and space.

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Skyspace (c) James Turrell.

Day 9: Sunday 30th September.

The Casa das Mudas, Calheta, Madeira. By Paulo David, 2004.

This is another great project I discovered in the library; and in this case I really fell in love!  I’m unashamedly evangelical in trying to introduce architects and students to the architecture of Paulo David.  His work is sensational – and this building in particular, his masterpiece, is one of the most impressive examples of contemporary architecture I’ve visited.  Photos taken from the DynamicStasis article.

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The Casa das Mudas, Calheta, Madeira.
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The Casa das Mudas, Calheta, Madeira.
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The Casa das Mudas, Calheta, Madeira.

Day 10: Monday 1st October.

Therme Vals, Switzerland. By Peter Zumthor, 1996.

It’s not particularly original or interesting to mention a building which has been so widely published and celebrated.  But this is just, very simply, brilliant.  The spaces within the building, and the various atmospheres created, are phenomenal.  It’s a gorgeous, beautiful, utterly compelling thing.  When I left Therme Vals my whole body was tingling!

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Therme Vals, Switzerland (c) dezeen.
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Therme Vals, Switzerland (c) dezeen.

 

10 thoughts on “Ten Days / Ten Buildings: An Architectural Autobiography”

  1. Architecture is such an impressive field, combining beauty with functionality. This is a nice collection of work and I especially like how you have merged images of the buildings from different times or points of view. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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