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BOOK: Pattern Place Purpose: Proctor and Matthews Architects

Satwinder Samra on this book marking 20 years of Proctor and Matthews architects

Introduction by Marcus Field and Essays by Alan Powers, Peter Blundell Jones, Jeremy Till and Matthew Wells
Blackdog Publishing 2009
319 pp, £29.95

This monograph offers a thoughtful and investigative trace through the practice’s influences, agendas and outputs. The publication marks 20 years in practice for the pair, who have quietly and modestly built a fascinating body of work. We are offered 5 engaging essays, one by the architects themselves.

The format is clear and engaging

The buildings are used as catalysts to develop a number of themes. This is a canny move. The resulting format is clear and engaging as it discusses ideas such as the essence of place, the relevance of craft and tradition, social cohesion and the changing nature of our public and private environments.

The architects’ essay, which has the same title as the book, carefully tracks their observations ranging from urban readings of Uffizi, Florence to the delightful narratives of Italo Calvino. Peter Blundell Jones offers a timely insight into their ability to manipulate thresholds, be it for urban dweller or the interaction between visitors and Gorillas at London Zoo. ‘Good Plans’ by Jeremy Till is a delightful piece where he describes how their approach generates rich and meaningful dwellings that go beyond the soulless boxes that proliferate our towns and cities.

It will be of value to students and practitioners alike

The projects that follow each essay are beautifully illustrated with sharp photography, great orthographic drawings and revealing strategic diagrams. As we consider the current debate surrounding future housing this timely book offers a holistic and detailed overview. It will be of value to students and practitioners alike as it discusses an architecture concerned with human interaction, domestic subtlety and material delight.

Satwinder Samra is a co founder of Sauce Architecture and a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield University

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