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a life in architecture : alison turnbull


Discussing the three buildings that she has chosen 'intuitively', Alison Turnbull - a past collaborator with several architects including Jestico + Whiles - sees that each reflects her concerns as a painter.

The first is the reconstruction of Mies'Barcelona Pavilion: 'There is something about its double nature - the fact that the plan and conception are Mies' but the materials are essentially contemporary - that frees you to focus on the surfaces. Glass, onyx, travertine, red velvet curtains, even the water - there is an intense exploration of surface that makes the pavilion incredibly sensual.'

On a recent trip to Japan, Turnbull discovered Shin Takamatsu's Shoji Ueda Museum at Kishimoto - 'a stark and aggressive concrete building opposite a volcano.There are lots of other spaces - foyers, walkways - but above all there are frames. It is like walking into a camera: the building keeps composing the landscape for you. There's a kind of arrogance about it - what it's ostensibly for almost gets lost. It is a series of viewfinders instead, 'she says.

Her last choice is All Saints Church in Cockthorpe near the north Norfolk coast (pictured): 'It's a very small building,14th century, unused now, which has no windows on the north side but more than usual on the south - and this gives a very particular quality to the light. It's like being inside a bubble, 'she says. 'The yellowing plaster walls, the stone floor, the Jacobean stone tomb chest - all these elements are fused into one.'

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