I've been absent from my blog recently. This is mostly due to the lethal combination of a horrendous cold and the usual work load now that term has started. But add in the extra-curricular activities and it's fair to say that things are fairly busy. Of course, a large part of this is due to the lecture circuit getting going again. It's hard to walk a single block of London without discovering another lecture going on.
Ceci n'est pas un cône
So, while I wait for the Bartlett to send me a jpg of the lecture series poster, I'm afraid you'll have to make do with this rather pathetic camera-phone image:
Lebbeus Woods is also expected to be speaking at some point during the term. I get the impression it's hard to tie him down.
Unfortunately, I missed the CJ Lim lecture, but have tried to make up for it by attending the Peter Cook and Bryan Cantley lectures, as well as a Wold Prix lecture in the RIBA yesterday.
As per, this was quite a wide ranging lecture allowing Peter to vocalise what is currently concerning him in the worlds of architecture and education. What I like about his lectures is that he manages to show a huge amount of images that inspire but - unlike many others - leaves no concrete sense of a particular style. It leaves you walking away inspired to produce better work, but without trapping you in a conceptual framework that you didn't ask for.
That happens so often - you go to see a really interesting lecture and walk away brain-washed. Maybe it's the lights, maybe it's the sense of spectacle, maybe so much architectural education has left me a mere husk of a man, but walking into a lecture usually sees me walking out unable to think of anything except what I have just seen. Then I get back to work and I have to shake away the reference points that have just been tacked onto my mental canvas.
Luckily I walked away from this lecture feeling revitalised and ready to jump back into work.
This was a lecture at the RIBA for the presentation of the Jencks Award, chaired by Charles Jencks. This year it was awarded to Wolf Prix. I guess Charles Jencks won it last year.
It was intended to be an overview of Wolf's work before and during Coop Himmelb(l)au: their fascination with clouds, social agenda, movement and roofs. It was interesting to see his work - I haven't delved too deeply into his work before and I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, quite a lot of time was spent on his new BMW centre which seemed to be one of his least engaging projects.
A chat between Wolf and - you guessed it - Charles Jencks followed which was quite amusing. Jencks kept cracking jokes with a familiarity that Wolf seem to recipricate. Especially when he commented that, despite Wolf's socialist ideals, he was now the poster boy for large corporate architecture. A fair point perhaps, but it seemed to sting somewhat and the discussion didn't really get off it's feet.
The mic was then passed to the floor for questions from the audience. In these situations silence speaks volumes. I usually have a few questions in mind after a lecture (whether I ask them or not), but my mind was blank. His architecture isn't really 'my thing' and I found it hard to engage with it on a critical level. Although - like most situations similar to this - questions came pouring into my head once we had left the building.
Eventually a few brave souls lifted their hands and asked questions, most of which were along the lines of "But where's the humanity?!" and were met with polite, humourous, but generally side-stepping responses. It was a bit unusual to receive nothing but criticism after a lecture intended to celebrate the reception of an award. Unusual but no doubt healthy.
Charles Jencks looking dapper as usual
Form:uLA (Bryan Cantley and Kevin O Donnell)
See full poster here
These guys are also conducting a drawing class for the M.Arch studio at the Bartlett. Having spoken to Neil Spiller my unit were also allowed to take part. They are extremely interesting and very good at what they do.
I've uploaded a full recording of the lecture here. It's .wma format, though, as that's how it comes out of my dictaphone and it's much smaller than converting it to mp3. You can play it on apples with a quick google (so I hear).
They are all about drawing. But the way in which they draw is both intriguing and a little troublesome. They talk about overlapping drawings - imposing non-native states together. Drawing on marked paper, overlaying the same drawing at different scales etc. Now, while they explain this extremely eloquently and the results are breathtaking, I found myself asking 'why'? It seemed like perhaps a little post-rationalisation was going on. I'm all for inducing unique juxtapositions and happy accidents, but to then explain it as a deliberate system seemed a little, well, disingenuous.
I don't like to say this, however, because having spoken to both guys they are really passionate about what they do while also being very down to earth. They are clearly gifted as intellectuals and artists. And, when push comes to shove, what's a little post-rationalisation when the results are this impressive?
As a side note, I would have liked to have seen some of their actual built work. They briefly mentioned that they have a couple of projects under their belts, but also noted that they were "less exciting" that the work they had shown. I'm intrigued.
I'll not get into describing my project at this early stage, beyond saying that I'm doing stuff related to this:
It's going to be an interesting year.....