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50 50 CHRIS WILKINSON Architect

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These interviews by Sutherland Lyall will form the basis of the 50/50 exhibition at Interbuild 2002.

What is the best building of the past 50 years?

The Barcelona pavilion is a decade too old, so for similar and yet slightly different reasons, it's the Farnsworth House because of the way its interior connects with the outside. It's a powerful intervention in a wonderful natural setting.And also because of the clarity of its layout. It's just a truly modern space. I visited it the same afternoon that I went to see a Bruce Goff house, circular steel frame, rope and a coal wall with coloured glass windows cast into it.

What is the most significant innovation of the past 50 years?

Double curvature cladding.

Computer design and manufacture has given us the freedom to produce more interesting building shapes. We are getting close to it but there's still far too much craftsmanship involved. It's still closer to, say, boat building.Although we can do it, it's still too expensive. So, more precisely, it's affordable double curvature cladding.

What is the best building product of the past 50 years?

I've had difficulty with this but I'd say glass. It has gone through a number of developments over the years although it's not there yet.What I'm interested in is intelligent glass and the possibility of such things as zero U-value glass. And then you think of photovoltaic cells which are bound up with the idea of glazing and then the way buildings could be powered.

What innovation do you hope to see in the next 50 years?

I would like to see buildings which respond not only to our physical needs but our moods. Physically responsive buildings are almost within our grasp but there's still a way to go to achieving any qualities of uplift or calming down - all available in the one building.

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