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WAF blog: Delight in architecture debated

Festival director Paul Finch opened the discussion by saying that the qualities of commodity, firmness and delight, as defined by Vitruvius, have become the DNA of architecture and deeply embedded, and are usually used to describe architecture

He then asked his panellists comprising – Will Alsop, principal of All Design, Édouard François, principal of Maison Édouard François Architects, Ted Kane of Morphosis and Wong Chiu Man, principal, of WOW Architects – whether this old model is still relevant today.

Alsop responded that the three items are useful and that space, structure and stability are delightful, but things have changed a lot because of technology. There are, he said, now no rules on how to experience delight in a building and, with the digital age, we experience it in a different way.

When Finch asked whether architects can deliberately design delight into a building, Francois replied that architecture needs extraordinary talking points and he cited the example of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, where WAF is taking place, as an excellent example of a building that elicits a reaction from everybody.

Alsop referred to a recent visit to Ronchamp. While the building is delightful in its design and light qualities, he said, the environment and location can also contribute to a building being delightful.

Finch said that an architect’s sketches and drawings are delightful and Alsop agreed with him, saying that he always draws by hand. However, when the sketches and drawings are translated into computer drawings, a lot of the essence in the design is lost.

All the panellists agree that delight is fundamental in architecture and that commodity and firmness will follow a delightful design.


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