Our world has been altered in such a short amount of time. As I work from home I try to stay optimistic by thinking of when we can begin to rebuild when architects will have the honor of being part of the healing process by creating and imagining spaces for people that can help shape their day-to-day experience. Catching a glimpse of light in a hall way or stepping through an opening into an unexpectedly intimate or conversely grand space that was intentionally planned never gets old for me.
And I know I’m not alone. I recently decided to reach out to architects and design aficionados worldwide and ask “What continues to surprise you about architecture?” I hope that the design community can gain new found inspiration and insight into our profession during this extraordinary time—and remember how our work can matter to those around us.
What surprises me is how architecture can rise to a level that transforms function into an art form. If we look at the issues that have plagued us universally we see hope in structures such as Otto Wagner’s Kirche am Steinhof in Vienna Austria designed for the mentally challenged; Josef Hoffman’s Sanatorium Purkersdorf for rehabilitation in Austria; Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium in Finland for tuberculosis; and Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute in San Diego Calif for the polio vaccine Architecture is transformative.
What surprises me most about architecture is that we can accomplish almost everything in terms of creating in which we can live and stage our characters just like in a play.
What surprises me about architecture is how it represents the solutions to all the problems—not only architectural but also with regulations clients money financing and construction—that were resolved in order for it to be standing there proudly representing its own time. Sometimes we don’t see that—we just walk by. Fortunately sometimes we do see it smile and continue walking.
One of my inspirations is the entrance sequence to the Guggenheim in New York by Frank Lloyd Wright. You move from a small low space into the large volume the contrast and shape of the gallery invoke awe and delight. I have used this sequence in houses. I aim to surprise too!
What surprises me most is the diversity of architecture around the world or even within a city like London. I’m also surprised by the context of buildings—how they work with the surroundings or not—and because I am currently photographing many interiors how some buildings look from the exterior as compared to the interior. The impact of architecture on me is also incredible the feeling of being small and overwhelmed by this machine.
Because it is so broad architecture is something that one needs to look at from their own perspective and realize its adaptability. Comparing architecture over time reveals how its development is changing with technology and how the information surrounding architecture is becoming this fast-paced increasingly accessible thing. Being connected to architecture in such a diverse context I find that my perspective on it changes daily.
Architects like musicians and painters are playing with certain elements but can produce a new piece of art each time. Everyone leaves a fingerprint on their work. Architecture is the art of engineering and the engineering of arts.