Oeuvre Complète, Volume 1: Architecture, Artwork 1950-1997 By Bryan Cyril Thurston.Editions BTC. 144 pp.CHF 69 (£30) Architectural Fragments By Bryan Cyril Thurston.Editions BTC. 72 pp.
CHF 60 (£26) What has a Suffolk-born Englishman been doing in Switzerland for the last half-century? Bryan Cyril Thurston left these shores after an apprenticeship with YRM in the early 1950s, set up in practice in Switzerland, and has proved himself a singular, stimulating presence there ever since. His built output is modest - some Brutalist villas and public buildings - but he has unleashed an Alpine torrent of ideas, investigations and sketched possibilities that deserve a wider audience.
Our hero's devotion to the man with the round glasses shines through the pages:
Modulor proportions, primary colours, exposed brick, off-theshutter concrete and vaulted roof forms are the most obvious symptoms, but there is also homage at the largest scale in his designs for the regeneration of Ahmedabad and a scheme to complete Corb's (then) un-finished church at Firminy.
Thurston's oeuvre is far from complète. Self-generated publications appear at regular intervals - volumes not for the faint-hearted. Those who favour fine lines and soft-spoken words will be challenged by the vigourous draughtsmanship and stocky rhetoric that fills these pages to bursting. The sketches are cats-cradles of good oldfashioned pencil play, exhortations, dimensions and afterthoughts. Not parlourpretty, but a splendid antidote to drawings that seamlessly roll off the blotter.
You can feel the energy and commitment in every attempt to get his ideas down, fresh-minted and as insistent as any ancient mariner approaching a wedding guest. They are all presented in a bracing graphic style, reminiscent of an earlier age of innocence, with Corbsanctioned stencils much in evidence and reversed-out black-to-white texts.
Thurston's frequently be-hatted figure surfaces in snapshots of happenings, performances, installations, and other such events under the BTC banner, with venues ranging from galleries in Switzerland to Stromness, Orkney. Costumes, decors and texts tumble out from the same prolific brain. He is no slouch either with oils, aquatints and etchings, notably some Orkneyinspired works with such telling titles as The Northern Lights Hit the Ground.
David-like, he takes on all comers, with competition entries for the extension to the parliament building in Berne and - in a joyously quirky combination of Corbusian fragments, rusty steel and brilliant blues and reds - for the Royal Opera House in London.
There is no way - or need - to categorise the work(s) of Thurston. They burst out of the box with a demonic energy which commands attention, raising a smile for a cheeky chappy with a passion for 'allowing architecture to be what it is - an enjoyable art.'
Architect, artist, poet, provocateur and much else, Thurston well repays the study.
Neil Parkyn is a London-based architect and writer on design. Visit www. bryan-thurston. ch to order these and other books