B R I E F S A H O Y !


Antoni Tàpies, 13th December 1923 – 6th February 2012

Sadly the artist Antoni Tapies died yesterday. If you don’t know his work it is well worth checking out.

‘…his essential themes: the spirituality of the material world, and the infinite value and mystery inherent in even the most humble things.’

The Sound of Cities

To follow on from Andreas’ post below, there is an interview I read a while ago but I still think about when on this subject.

Jace Clayton, AKA DJ/Ruptureblogs about music and space, particularly on the contemporary sound of migration, whether that’s in Harlem, Barcelona or Brussels. He’d been living in Barcelona, and moved to NYC relatively recently, and had an interesting perspective on the sound of both cities.’

I find it an interesting angle and not often discussed by architects to think about the way our cities sound and why. Read more here.

A link to him talking about Cyprus amonst other things.

I highly recommend his weekly podcast from WFMU in New York.

The Curate Series: Benjamin Lucraft # 5 – ‘Filmmaking’

‘Poets and painters are born phenomenologists,” as the the phenomenologist J.H. Van den Berg has remarked. In my view, so are novelists, photographers, and film directors. That is why the essence of home, its function as a mirror and support of the inhabitants psyche, is often more revealingly depicted in these art forms than in architecture. The Dutch filmmaker Jan Vrijman has made the thought provoking remark: “…why is it that architecture and architects, unlike film and filmmakers, are so little interested in people during the design process? Why are they so theoretical, so distant from life in general?’

Juhani Pallasmaa, Notes on the Phenomenology of Home (1994)

So, some cinematic depictions of architecture:

Synecdoche New York

Rear Window


Fallen Idol

Play Time

The Truman Show

Barry Lyndon

In the Mood for Love

The wire – this is the final sequence after 60 hours of television. Over that time the show cuts a section through the entire city of Baltimore exploring the issues each stratum of society faces, and the far reaching consequences of the inhabitant’s actions. If you haven’t seen this yet I implore you to do so. Its a proper bit of urban study of the post industrial American city, pushing the citizen at the centre of the debate.

The Curate Series: Benjamin Lucraft # 4 – ‘Painting’

‘Architecture is often considered the most important human deed, the art form from which other art forms derive life and strength. However, in our time architecture has lost its artistic autonomy and become sheer construction in the name of economic benefit and rationality. Although built architecture has lost the power to influence our emotions, inspiration may yet be gained by the study of the architecture of painting, poetry, and music. These art forms have not, after all, been drained to the same extent by our material and utilitarian culture.’

Juhani Pallasmaa, Time, Memory, and Place in Architectural Experience (1982)

So, some painterly depictions of architecture:

The Curate Series: Benjamin Lucraft # 3 – ‘Bookshelf’

During a crap time working in an uninspiring office for longer than I want to remember – I spent my lunch hour reading anything which kept me enthusiastic and challenged. In retrospect it was probably a good way of spending a couple of years and I have tried to continue the habit.

To follow on from yesterday’s post about image based references, today I want to post about the books which I have found to a be a great influence on my work or way of understanding things. I also thought that as we have all come from different backgrounds and schools from around the world it would be interesting to share and compare what we were encouraged to read in our undergraduate years, therefore I have divided the post into to three: Books Past, Recent, and Present.

I have added a short description for each title which hopefully sums up why they have had an impact on me. Again, I apologise for the self indulgent nature that these blogs are taking but I hope others will share their influences in the comments or in future posts. Cheers!


The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs  – Saved New York in the 1960s by pointing out what made it special : the people in the communities of the many neighbourhoods – not a road.

The Poetics of Space (La Poétique de l’Espace) by Gaston Bachelard – enlivened my imagination

Thinking Architecture, Peter Zumthor  – was a bit of a bible for a year or so.

The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa – opened a whole world of possibilities to design beyond the visual.

A pattern language, Christopher Alexander  – defined my idea of the vernacular

In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃 , In’ei Raisan) Jun’ichirō Tanizaki.  – short essays on aesthetics written at a time when Japan was indulging in the electric light bulb.

Houses,  SANAA – the elevation of other qualities in spaces was a sight for my  sore Northern European eyes.

Architecture as City: Saemangeum Island CityFlorian Beigelselecting, documenting and arranging a range of city structures and typologies to form the new South Korean city.

Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham  – Refreshing: He learnt to drive just to visit Los Angeles, and his enthusiasm for the place, embracing its ugly features as a unique situation in cites during the 1970s.

Being and Time, Martin Heidegger – despite his politics, ideas of place and being are powerful ideas

The Unilever SeriesRachel Whiteread – taught me to think in the negative

Life Between Buildings, Jan Gehl  – I think about this book most days here

The Feeling of Things: Adam Caruso – concerned with the cultural, tectonic, historical and social political.

Walid Raad by Alan Gilbert – part of the Atlas Group – a lesson in documenting a form of reality

Following four all contribute to my understanding of the use, application and connotations of materials.

GiacomettiUlf Küster

Anselm Kiefer  – Monograph

What Is ArtConversations with Joseph Beuys Joseph Beuys


The Road That is Not a Road and the Open City,RitoqueChile af Ann M.Pendleton- Jullian. – beautiful


Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas – to quote: ‘the city [Manhattan] is a catalogue of models and precedents: all the desirable elements that exist scattered through the Old World finally assembled in a single place.’ 

Fed on splendour and miseries of the metropolitan condition – hyperdensity, without losing faith in it as the basis for a desirable modern culture.’

 Sverre Fehn: The Pattern of Thoughts – incredibly graceful and composed in connecting materials and forms to a narrative.

Converstaion Series, Enzo Mari/Hans Ulrich Obrist  – see #1 post this week for more Mari. 

Models & Constructs, Norman Potter – lessons in practice and making.

Learning from China: The Tao the City, Carl Fingerhuth – applying gestalt to our cities.

Streets for People: A Primer for Americans, Bernard Rudofsky – Amazing photos and a relevant argument even forty years later.


Encounters. Architectural Essays. Juhani Pallasmaa – I keep pushing back the return date to the library – full of gems.

The Enclosed Garden by Rob Aben – arguing to reintroduce places for piece back into our cities.

Architecture as a Craft, Michiel Riedijk  – great drawings and models and interesting chat about a range of ways to ‘make’ architecture.

The Curate Series: Benjamin Lucraft # 2 – ‘References’

Yesterday’s post was about maker’s who are explicit in their influence. However there are far more which are much subtler. What follows is a small sample of a collection of images which are part of the points of reference I draw upon when I design or think about what great architecture is or could be. Although in no particular order and with no annotation, they make up part of what influences me. Of course it is a very small sample, being a visual media, but I think its interesting that everyone has their own sources of references, or personal archive, derived from their upbringing, cultural, political, geographical and chronological amongst others.