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Architecture

Tonight I was thrilled to attend the launch of NATØ: Narrative Architecture in Postmodern London at the Architectural Association. Dr Claire Jamieson is a colleague and an inspiration, completing her PhD on time and within two years it has now been published by Routledge. Why not purchase a copy here?

Nigel Coates

Nigel Coates

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Author Dr Claire Jamieson

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One of Louis Kahn's office calendars

One of Louis Kahn’s office calendars

‘Believe in the Monumental’ is the title for the brief introduction by Design Museum Director Deyan Sudjic. Given Kahn’s limited portfolio of realised projects, it is an appropriate frame to surround the works in this exhibition. Never having seen Kahn’s buildings in situ, this exhibition does provide the viewer with a sense that the palette of materials Kahn used harked back to ancient Greece, Rome or Egypt. The triangle, circle and square are the dominant forms in Kahn’s repertoire and remain at the forefront of my mind when I exit and go upstairs to the Designs of the Year exhibition.

The exhibition has the aura of an archive. The architectural models are beautiful, intricate and varying in media from paper and wood to bronze. There are documents, such as the ‘delicious’ office calendar pictured above, letters written on a letterhead that could not be more austere. Sketches, pastel illustrations, paintings, and pencil and charcoal sketches are presented in narrative themed sections.

My favourite drawing was this sketch for the Roosevelt memorial in New York, where the lines have a ghostly quality.

Sketch for the Roosevelt memorial

Sketch for the Roosevelt memorial

It is the leap from his imagination, through drawings, missives and diagrams to projections and models where we get a sense of Kahn’s ambition. These preparatory artifacts do little to communicate a sense of scale, light, shade and relationship to the surrounding environment that belies Kahn’s signature style, for this one must visit the sites. This exhibition is successful in that it excites me in wanting to visit Yale, New York, Bangladesh, La Jolla and more besides.

 

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Today my UEL Discourse module students and I visited the Barbican for this intriguing exhibition. Discussions between us focused on the architecture of the Barbican, the sign systems by Cartlidge Levene, the idea of Ready mades and the curation of the works and what ‘conversations’ they had with each other. The no photography rule inside the gallery allows me to post this shot outside the Silk Street entrance. We then headed over to the Design Museum for Designs of the year 2013, where the students concluded that it was a less challenging exhibition but they enjoyed it for the focus it placed on design.

Today I took a trip on the Emirates Air Line, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects. A fantastic new piece of infrastructure to get you across the Thames from Royal Victoria, north of the river to North Greenwich in the south. The spiral piers that support the cable are light and elegant and the landing stations at either end have an Art Deco flavour.  I would recommend a trip on it for the stunning views of London (you can see the arch of Wembley Stadium in the north west and the transmitter at Crystal Palace to the south) and for the purity of the architecture.

The O2 Arena and the new Ravensbourne building in the foreground

Illustration of South Norwood Library by Nicholas Macey

I was asked by the editor of B. B, Esq. – ‘The thinking man’s guide to the city. A resource for gentlemen with personality, style and a sense of adventure’ – to write the inaugural Fieldnotes column. The Modernist Filter describes the architecture that has been formative in my development as a Modernist. Beautifully illustrated by a former student of the Foundation course at Colchester School of Art, Nicholas Macey, this new online guide is full of promise and will be a popular addition to my browser’s bookmarks.