Journal

Current news, work, research

July 2018

Tchoban Foundation, Museum for Architectural Drawing, Berlin

Exhibition: Opening Lines: Sketchbooks of Ten Modern Architects (2018)

June 2018

Sketchbook (2018)

“Located in between, drawings mediate between architect and building. Drawing wanders about architecture.”¹ 

I am fascinated by hand drawn architects’ drawings, from initial sketch, to imaginative visionary drawing and precise architect plan. I am drawn to the thinking through and potential of these drawings, particularly when I can also wonder at the sensory experience of the buildings they propose. I even enjoy the use of translucent architectural paper as surface, to some extent influencing my use of similar papers.

For me, there is a dialogue between architect drawing and artist drawing, although they are quite different. When I am drawing in response to architecture, I am acutely aware I am drawing in the trace of the architect’s drawing, in the shadow of the architect’s hand and in some ways, there is a sense of communication.

Wingham² considers the distinction between architect and artist drawing, in particular the view that for the architect there is a distance between drawing and building, where drawing is an intervening medium to reach the intention of the building, a product that lies outside the drawing; whereas for the artist, drawing is a means to reach the final work itself, the drawing being part of the final work. Interestingly, Wingham goes onto examine the idea that architect drawing “holds down a space”, providing anticipation of and opening up possibilities for social practices, exploring the relationship between visible drawing and invisible context.

For me as an artist, drawing in response to an architectural site explores, reveals and conveys a sense of the invisible; perhaps even a sense of the social practices of the space anticipated in the architect’s drawing? I am interested in the idea that through my sensory experience of the space and sensory action of drawing, ‘touching’ the space through my senses and conveying my responses through touch (drawing)³, invisible social aspects are intuitively revealed. 

¹ Clark, J (2002) The Origin of Drawing: event, embodiment and desire in architectural drawing.  Presented at XIXth conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Brisbane.

² Wingham, I (1998) The In-Visible, the (Im)Possibility of its Representation and its Interpretation in Architectural Drawing. TRACEY

³ Pallasmaa, J (2009) ‘The Drawing Hand’ in The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture. Wiley

May 2018

Southbank (2018)

David Chipperfield is recently reported to have expressed the view that “Architecture is in a sort of crisis. We’ve lost our social purpose”¹.

For my current  project, I have been reflecting on my intuitive interest in Brutalist architecture, as I am aware there is a misalignment. As a woman who grew up during the latter years and legacy of Brutalism but whose domestic architectural history comprises predominantly modern red brick housing developments or Victorian/Edwardian houses, Brutalism feels almost alien territory; although through research, forgotten personal Brutalist ghosts are being revealed, such as Hermit’s Castle at Achmelvich (see March).

On first consideration, my interest is in felt response.  I am drawn to the rhythmic aesthetics of the geometry and the textural materiality of concrete Brutalist structures. This aligns with Banham’s summary of the principles of Brutalism as memorability as an image, clear exhibition of structure and valuation of materials as found². But it is clear from Banham’s “ethic or aesthetic” proposition, it is more than that. I am also interested in the moral concerns of housing people at a time of shortage in the 1950s and 60s that underpinned some Brutalist projects. As Grindrod observes, “It is in its everyday application that Brutalism finds both its soul and ethical dimension”³.

The debate surrounding Brutalism rumbles on, amplified by its recent resurgence. It is interesting, however, to consider this historical solution to housing in the context of our current housing crisis, when so many are struggling to fund a basic need of safe shelter and human need for home of their own. Home is sanctuary, a foundation from which to negotiate the world, it shelters, protects and enables. From here, creativity and productivity are nurtured to flourish, echoing Bachelard’s view that “The house shelters day dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace”4.

Chipperfield goes onto note, “We are building a lot, but we are building big investment projects, as if we’re doing architecture without architecture […]. We used to be involved in planning and building cities, building societies”¹. Doing architecture with architecture, as could be argued in the case of Brutalism, is an interesting idea to consider in my working.

¹ Dalley, J (2018) David Chipperfield: ‘Architecture is in a sort of crisis’. Financial Times, 4th May.

² Banham, R (2010) 1955 December: ‘The New Brutalism’ by Reyner Banham. The Architectural Review, 27th July.

³ Grindrod, J (2018) How To Love Brutalism. Batsford.

4 Bachelard, G (1994) Poetics of Space: The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places. Beacon Press.

March 2018

Studio (2018)

Alongside developing a new set of drawings responding to the design and texture of brutalist structures, I have been reading Barnabas Calder’s Raw Concrete, not just for further research on the subject but also insights on his experience of brutalist buildings.

His first chapter revealed a significant thread of discovery.  As I read the description of his experience of Hermit’s Castle at Achmelvich, a memory began to emerge that soon formed into a powerful realisation – I had also visited Hermit’s Castle, many years ago as a child on holiday, and shared memories of the shape of the structure and feel of the concrete, prompting further remembrances of its dank smell and shimmering shards of light, as well as the wonder at how such a strange building existed in such a remote place.

Calder, B (2016) Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism. William Heinemann

February 2018

Southbank (2018)

“Pleasurable objects and buildings mediate an experience of the processes by which the object or structure was made; in a way, they invite the viewer/user to touch the hand of the maker.”¹

¹ Pallasmaa, J (2009) The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture. Wiley

January 2018

Home (2018)

‘The mesmerising allure of images where light is fighting off darkness, argues Bachelard, originates in primordial memories that are only accessible through poetic imagination, day dream and reverie.’¹

Buildings breathe, they expand and contract in two ways: firstly, in response to their context, the rhythms of their inhabitants, as well as the natural rhythms of light, seasons, passages of time; and secondly, in response to what is asked of them, their purpose. Buildings hold within them the human everyday but also the in-between, the rhythm of daily life that exists between us, the inhabitants and the building (as well as echoes of past). We are drawn into conversation, invited to experience these rhythms, when we glimpse and relish unexpected moments of light and shade.

“To grasp rhythm, it is necessary to have been grasped by it; one must let oneself go, give oneself over, abandon oneself to its duration.”²

¹ Plummer, H (2012) The Architecture of Natural Light. Thames & Hudson

² Lefevre, H (2013) Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life. Bloomsbury