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ART SHOULD HELP US IMPROVE OUR ARCHITECTURE

LETTERS

Part of the problem of what we call 'art and architecture' - which your editorial highlights admirably (AJ 21.09.06) - is that it is often seen as a syncretism rather than the centre of a range, with conventional art at one end and conventional architecture at the other - with landscape architecture a bit closer to the middle.

This is creative placemaking; it is not simply a matter of a greater contextual sensitivity or a decorative practicality, but an understanding of the deeper nature of 'place'.

While the Element House is an exquisite example of an architectural artwork, its comparison with the Welsh Assembly is not well chosen. While the 'lipstick on the gorilla' syndrome - where a last-minute, often out-of-character addition is made to a mundane building by way of satisfying the 'percent-for-art' requirement - has been far too prevalent over the years, not all buildings can be total artworks, and I understand that the commissions in the Welsh Assembly were undertaken with the full cooperation of the architects and with a sensitivity to their vision - something which, in my opinion, is immediately apparent on visiting the building. No 'tussle' and no 'lipstick' here.

In my own experience of collaboration over a number of years with artist Pandora Vaughan, I have found the inuence entirely beneficial in questioning habitual architectural thinking and in setting a new creative course by these different horizons.

While 'art and architecture' does require its own set of skills, its essence is available to us all as better creators and makers.

Buildings are not necessarily the most important part of architecture. When we are able to understand that, then we will be on our way.

Huw Meredydd Owen, Dobson: Owen Architects, Pwllheli

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