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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!