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Architects Journal
Will Alsop

Stories by contributor



  • 'a great use of material, very characterful - these buildings are talking to the public'


    Adam Richards Architects' competition entry for student accommodation at the Atlantic College in Wales takes the form of four three-storey, barn-like structures linked by a woodland path. Prefabricated bedrooms and bathrooms are plugged into in-situ concrete boxes, which are stacked inside the barns. A top-lit study bedroom runs the length of each building under the eaves.
  • 'celebratory engagement with the public realm'


    Phil Coffey's theoretical project for Glasgow combines an urban design proposal with a design for a new extension for the existing Tron Theatre. The public realm of the new theatre building is conceived as an extension of a promenade created by a new linear park. Outdoor rehearsal spaces allow members of the public to watch the actors at work. The project aims to link the much-neglected area of the Gorbals with Glasgow's vibrant cultural centre, the Merchant City.
  • 'grown-uparchitecture'


    Nestled in a back garden, this newly completed London studio by Sanei Hopkins Architects has raking glass beams supporting the glass roof and fold-away glass doors. It also has a sauna and steam room, one enclosed by a white-rendered, blob-like enclosure, the other concealed in a mirrored box.
  • 'it's a delight to see an approach that is quite playful applied to a gritty urban context'


    The Hub is a competition-winning design by Andy Puncher and Andrew Hamilton at Hawkins\Brown for a civic and cultural centre in the former steel town of Corby. The project uses the language of a department store, presenting its services in 'shop windows' to an internal street.
  • 'lives, writes and breathes his architecture'


    Rob Gregory acted as client, contractor and architect on the refurbishment of Becket Hall in Bristol. The project is part of an ongoing crusade to revive historic buildings by campaigning and writing, as well as by direct action. The hall is set in a medieval courtyard among a group of old buildings, including a church and 15th-century merchants' houses. Long-term development plans are still in negotiation with the owners of the medieval houses and the Churches Conservation Trust, but ...
  • 'poetic radicalism'


    Hakes Associates' competition-winning design for a £1.6 million chapel for the London School of Theology comprises a 350-seat chapel, entrance building and link block. Daylight passes through long triangular openings in the facade in order to create a soft, diffused, reflective light within the chapel.
  • A Very Merry Christmas


    After three years as an AJ columnist, Will Alsop signs off with a Christmas card to all our readers
  • Three years of talent, fear and sadness: time to bid farewell


    It was three years ago that my editor asked me if I would like to take over this weekly column from my old chum Paul Hyett.
  • Bring on the gap decade and learn at the university of life


    I was a student at the AA in London. I started in September 1968. I well remember the head of school, John Lloyd, addressing us.
  • Schools must embrace the space for something special


    There is often an assumption in the brief that 'good architecture'can help to improve education by providing a more stimulating environment. Environment is undoubtedly important but it is not the only way that architects can help.
  • Can the architect's art afford to be about beauty and style?


    Picasso said to Jean Cocteau: 'Technique is that which one cannot have.'
  • Britain's 'good practice' string threatens to tie us all in knots


    I did not know I would be going to a beach party - I was driven to a beach to swim.A typical Mykonos beach: a sandy bay, the most vibrant azure water, so bright it looked as if there were blue strip-lights on the sea bed.
  • Time is the ultimate architect of change and understanding


    A calm sea prevents all perception of distance.Points of reference are denied and our humble guess is worthless.A calm sea holds all the space that can be imagined until a sea mist returns us to a measured view.
  • The myth of the tablecloth sees us all out to lunch


    The tablecloth - given its simplicity - is surprising in its many meanings, its ability to transform the ambience of a space, and the way it modifies behaviour.
  • Inbred insecurity is the epitaph of the individual


    We have evolved into a society, by default or design, that is very fearful. The ideals of socialism seem to have disappeared to the point where the word itself has been devalued.
  • The dream's disappointment at the picture perfect


    I have on two previous summer occasions attempted to describe a view. I am not sure about the success of the previous two attempts but, undeterred, I will try again.
  • How do the retail kings fare as supporters of good design?


    I have often talked about the threat of risk in our society and how it militates against architectural innovation and new thinking; and the rise of the project manager and the QS whose prime responsibility is to stem the notion of pushing at the edges. They do this by overpricing elements that, as yet, have not been properly exposed to analysis - evidence that Thatcher's, and now Blair's, children are ultra-conservative and see only profit as the prime objective. I am therefore interested ...
  • Wakefield is crying out for creativity: enter the Orangery


    Wakefield - a city that everyone knows of but few have visited - feels good.This city, that was once of great importance as the centre of local government for West Riding, was painted by Turner as he sat on the banks of the River Calder looking towards a skyline which largely still exists, with some additions.
  • Living for pleasure, laughing all the way to the gallows


    In the spring of 399 BC, Socrates was condemned to death by the people of Athens.
  • Memo No.1 10th August 2003 Cedric Price died today; he will not be forgotten


    He will continue to sit on my shoulder, shouting in my ear when I am anything less than honest with myself
  • Jencks' diagram seems to have stood the test of the timeline


    It seems like a long while ago, and yet also likeyesterday, that Charles Jencks produced a diagram for the magazine Architectural Design which showed a timeline of architectural evolution from 1920 up to 2005 or thereabouts.
  • Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it can be misleading


    Distance creates a diffusion of clarity that lets vision be distorted to conform to your desires.
  • Summertime, and the living can get a whole lot easier


    At this time of year, the mind becomes more expansive and we look for challenges and opportunities that will feed us for the long winter months of work. This is the season of the summer-school workshop, usually associated with students. But as I get older, I feel it is more important that these events are directed at those who have been qualified for a while. As we see from the development of climbing, new inventions come out of new forms of play: for example, 'free climbing', without ...
  • Can Venice take the leap to a new relevance for artists?


    I am on my way to the Venice Art Biennale to take part in a discussion about both the future and the form of the Biennale. I suspect that, whatever I say, nothing will change, as this event is old and - like the Chelsea Flower Show and Wimbledon - is part of the social calendar that endures.
  • Seeing through new eyes is the first step towards vision


    Russia is very empty and Europe is rather full.
  • Why the universal curse of cladding must be overcome


    The SARS mask means that you do not know what the wearer is thinking. It gives new meaning to Chinese inscrutability. I expect some people look better with it on. I am between Hong Kong and Shanghai, where thoughts about cladding come easily - there is a lot of it about, covering a multitude of sins.
  • Sitting on the dock of the bay - dreaming of regeneration


    A sense of expectation as you rise and observe that the window contains a view of morning sun on a calm, almost transparent, sea. This day has the promise of all those holidays of my youth that started with an eastern nautical view. A day of fantasy in sand and, later, model boats.A day in prospect on the Italian sea-fields.
  • Welcome to my city, come and enjoy the beautiful views


    I live in a beautiful urban sprawl, in a dissected city with no streets, avenues, boulevards, closes or ramblas. In my city, which is 80 miles long and 15 miles wide, I enjoy points where I can be alone in an urban wilderness. I drive a car/van that is specially designed to suit these dimensions.
  • Ignore the push for relevance and celebrate just being there


    The first-year students at Kingston School of Architecture have been asked to end their year by considering the site of a disused boathouse on the River Medway, opposite the new development of housing by Countryside Properties and the historic naval dockyard. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and currently not accessible, except at low tide along the foreshore. I suspect this place is beautiful, although my own experience is limited to a distant view across the Medway ...
  • A lesson in how to build the visionary school of the future


    There is a plethora of initiatives dealing with the issues of schools and education.Those of a more architectural nature tend to assume that a well-designed, cost-effective edifice will result in a better environment, which will inevitably lead to a happier school community - in turn reflected in academic achievement. I would not disagree with any of that, but when it comes to titles such as the 'School of the Future', the architect must extend the opportunity to fundamentally explore ...
  • Sanitisation robs cities of the lifeblood of evolutionary mess


    However dysfunctional an existing town or city is, I believe it is important to leave the existing structure, buildings and businesses as they are. Very often the apparent detritus is the lifeblood of the place. In the process of regeneration we often find an obsession with clearance in order to make sites for new constructions. This process is not only disruptive and deeply worrying to the incumbent inhabitants, but it very often leads to the replacement of one sin with another.
  • Island paradise betrays the secrets of societal evolution


    There are a lot of shops in Capri. There are probably more bars. There are, with the exception of some municipal buildings, no offices. There are, of course, hotels, health farms and houses. Gracie Fields lived here after all, and the Villa Malaparte was built.
  • Dictionaries of taste change on the whim of a lounge lizard


    Lounge lizards are the modern-day equivalent of the pub crawler. These people who know the tasteful, over-zealous, even downright pretentious stylistic traits of the hip hotel owners, absorb all the variations that make up the dictionary of interior design.
  • Science fiction and crystal balls: crucial tools of the trade


    Looking into the future is an important and necessary activity for architects. If part of our job is to anticipate, we must indulge in speculation about times to come.Looking into the crystal ball divides into two categories.The first is looking at a way forward based on current evidence of bad practice and proposing new courses of action, which can become policy.
  • Institutionalised free time has left us all feeling bored


    Imagine a supermarket with one aisle. The idea of shopping and its typology is immediately challenged. Is it a route or destination? Is it a street?
  • The right sort of shopping trip could save the nation's soul


    On 8 July 1999, Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, announced the government's decision to privatise the Post Office. Tony Blair gave no assurances that he would not sell off the shares. This decision has subsequently removed the Post Office from many locations in our country and cities.
  • Forget galleries: work ought to be explored in a laboratory


    Friedrich Kiesler, born 1890 (died1965), is one of those figures that can be claimed by architects and artists alike as a major influence on their practices. His work ranged between architecture, theatre design, installation and theory, in a way that is difficult to achieve today in our world of compartmentalisation and management. I have always thought of him as one of my heroes and his work has definitely influenced mine, although it would be difficult to be specific as to how. One ...
  • The privilege of solitude is lacking from urban spaces


    'All true wisdom is to be found far from the dwellings of man in the great solitudes and it can only be attained through suffering.
  • Maps colour our perception of the world and ourselves


    My old friend and colleague, the sculptor Gareth Jones, came to stay for a few days last week, on a rare return to the UK from his home in Providence, Rhode Island.Although there are often up to 18-month gaps between our meetings, the conversation, aided by interim transatlantic phone calls, always picks up as though we frequently shared drinks and food.
  • A beautiful place in the east needs dreams and imagination


    I enjoyed reading Martin Pawley's piece on our attitudes towards the development of the countryside (AJ 13.2.03).
  • What's in a name? Not much if you happen to live in Penge


    As I write I am flying over Rangoon (or whatever it is called these days).To the north up the Irrawaddy lies Mandalay on that famous road.A little to the east is Chittagong & Cox's Bazaar.These names contain within them all the romantic adventure that it is possible to stir up in the imagination of a 10year-old.
  • American schools lead the way in embracing diversity


    Last night I had dinner with Robert Stern and Cesar Pelli. Stern is the current dean of architecture at Yale and Pelli was his predecessor. I am sitting with two charming people who belong to an American clan that would appear to make decisions regarding the circle of architects that is destined to prevail.
  • Halifax can yet be made to rise above the detritus of its past


    Toothpaste tubes are very interesting. This apparently innocuous convenience carries with it many properties, including a variety of taboos. When the tube was made of soft, leadlike metal it became frowned upon to squeeze it from anywhere else except the bottom. It was considered both rude and uncouth to squeeze it in the middle because this behaviour resulted in some of the paste being forced to the bottom of the tube, thereby making it more inconvenient for the next user. In fact, ...
  • Society needs to confront the overcrowded nest syndrome


    Buddha, whose name was Siddhartha, was born into a privileged position. His father was the king of a powerful nation and he was the prince who would inherit it all. His mother, Maya, died shortly after his birth.A hermit called Asita, who lived in the mountains not far away, noticed a radiance about the castle. Interpreting it as a good omen, he came down to the palace and was shown the child.He predicted: 'This prince, if he remains in the palace, will grow up to become a great king ...
  • Short-termism set to destroy great chance for regeneration


    No sport, no culture, no joy. Any Iraqi war is affordable; a festival of physical competition is not. I think the banks are very generous to take the blame for the government's lukewarm attitude towards the staging of the Olympics.
  • London is under threat from an agency locked in a time warp


    London is not served well by its regional development agency (RDA). It would appear to be completely uninterested in the advice and vision of architects, artists and urbanists.
  • The people that threaten the very fabric of our society


    Not that long ago there were people that lived in an area of 25 square miles all their lives. Their world was longer than ours because everything over the horizon was unknown and only existed in the stories that visitors told.Like the universe is to us, their world is infinite. When we talk about the world 'growing smaller', we are not only talking about time shrinkage but also in terms of reduced mystery.
  • Intervention is vital to prevent the loss of our town centres


    I first visited Muncie, Indiana in 1977, 25 years ago. It was my first visit to the US and, in spite of two days in New York City on route, it proved to be a trip that truly represented America. Muncie sits in the Bible belt, full square on flat land that seems to go on forever. Hoosier County is full of people that are not sure where London is, or indeed whether Europe is a country or a state. This is not their fault, as they have no newspaper and the TV stations only talk about Indiana, ...
  • Years of neglect mean we now have a country fit for nothing


    I am sitting on a train just north of Doncaster going nowhere. The new power unit has managed to collect debris from an overhead gantry as well as some overhead power cables. No one knows how long we will be sitting here. All this as the Strategic Rail Authority is saying that there will be less money available to repair our train network and that operating companies will receive less subsidy, which will result in reduced services and increased cost to the passengers.
  • Conservative attitudes that halt the acceptance of change


    Train tracks are indiscriminate in the places that they link. The connections are often surprising. Although a short distance, the track between Liverpool and Euston has some unlikely bedfellows and some extraordinary likeliness. The overpriced day return ticket permits views of places old and new, famous and inconsequential, ugly and beautiful.
  • Second-home movement must be used as an agent of change


    I had never been to Istria in Croatia until now.
  • Art of masterplanning must be allowed unfettered growth


    What is a masterplan? At its simplest it remains an abstract pattern of movement, land use and a list of limitations. This is usually not understood by anyone. The world is full of such plans, some implemented, some forgotten and most simply bastardised so as to make the initial exercise pointless.
  • A place where architecture can be itself without feeling guilty


    The Venice Biennale is healthy.There is a definite air of excitement, anticipation and temporary reconciliation as you move through an excess of parties, galleries and openings.
  • Society's inability to draw is destroying the art of looking


    Drawing is a delight, and yet, in spite of this fact, the vast majority of the population would maintain that they cannot do it. What is really worrying about this is that they feel no shame at this admission. If we asked if they could read, or were capable of performing relatively simple mathematical operations, everyone would be embarrassed to answer no, as a negative would be evidence of a lack of education and culture. And yet an inability to express oneself through a two-dimensional ...
  • It's society that does not allow itself to indulge in fantasy


    I am sitting with a gin and tonic on the roof terrace of the Hotel Danieli in Venice. I view extremely expensive boats ambling down the Giuduecca with their owners sipping champagne, taking in the early evening view of the city from the water.From my static vantage point I can see across to the Lido and, as I turn my head to the right, the Salute church, the Grand Canal and the flush wall of the Doge's Palace.
  • The experience of a view is etched into your mind and soul


    I have written two previous columns on the subject of a single view and I make no apology for visiting this theme a third time.
  • The wisdom of age is ignored in favour of the cult of youth


    Goya, at the age of 70, embarked for the first time in his life on painting to please himself.
  • Why is the UK hell-bent on pushing out students so fast?


    What a joy to wake up to a man on the radio talking about the importance of creative uncertainty, doubt and mystery. He was discussing these qualities in relationship to education, but to me, as I lay in my bed, I was more fascinated by the reference of the words to life in general and architecture in particular.
  • Being there: collaboration is gateway to creative success


    Places in which to make and be seen could be the essence of a more stimulated populace.
  • Danger! Workshops must put ideas before mere function


    A workshop, particularly when it is held in the summer, should be dangerous. Not dangerous in the form of risk to life and limb, but in the sense that there should be no guarantee of success.
  • Time to fight back against the pressures of public opinion


    The concept of freedom changes from time to time. The Aristotle school of thought believed that freedom came from a sense of reason and that if a group of beings that may resemble humans had no reason, their destiny was slavery.
  • Architecture centres: perfect for display of magician's art


    What is an architecture centre? And, if this question can be answered, what is their future?
  • Irreverent friends' legacies inform art and architecture


    Since I started writing this column 18 months ago, three of my close friends have died, of which Malcolm Pollard, the artist, was the last (19 June). This is a sad and depressing fact, as they were all special people who, quite apart from their charm and beauty, lived dogged lives of principle, which often cast them outside the mainstream of their professions.
  • Mapping out the future brings out the explorer in all of us


    The wise traveller will prepare for a visit to a strange land. Off to the bookshop for guide books, maps and gazetteers describing things to do, things to see, and things to distract.
  • A useful consultation process - but little time for reflection


    I am sitting in a hall in Barnsley with 200 people. It is Saturday afternoon and the townsfolk, with a liberal dose of consultants, are reporting back to each other about their workshops, which explored the future of the town. The weekend was kicked off with the world premier of the Alsop movie, by Squint Opera, concerning the future and the 'possibilities of clearer definition, town living, increased density and mixed use'.
  • Time and timing issues leave architects in a quandary


    I've just walked around City Hall, Toronto, for 10 minutes. While doing so, three different coach-loads of people parked, unloaded, photographed it and left. These were not the infamous herds of Japanese or American tourists - they were Canadian.
  • Change in RIBA rules on funds could be Hyett's breathalyser


    I am sitting high above the North Atlantic looking down on clouds of distinction hovering over a watery desert, wondering if Paul Hyett is the youngest RIBA president ever. I cannot check this here, but I suspect he is one of the youngest.
  • Market-led society creates a nation of greedy conformists


    The extent of the market-led society can be imagined as an endless wall-to-wall floral carpet from Swindon to Newcastle, with Laura Ashley drapery and flat-pack loft conversion bits ordered from the Sunday Times .
  • Architecture and urbanism are soft targets for any politician


    I am not usually paranoid, but I am beginning to think that whenever I spend time in other places, the politics swing to the right. My first brush with groups that make Mrs Thatcher look like the sister of Karl Marx was in Marseilles.
  • To get us out of our cars you must first improve our homes


    'The car is so much more than a means of transportation: it is a focus of intense emotional activity. Within its confines lives are lived.
  • We need a Royal Society of Art with a real sense of purpose


    The Royal Society of Arts will celebrate 250 years of existence in 2004. For a quarter of a Millennium it has promoted a search for answers to questions related to the furtherance of arts, commerce and manufacturing.
  • Be audacious - taking a risk is the essence of life itself


    'Nothing is lost, 'says Mel Gooding, the writer and critic. By this he means that everything you do seems to have value at the time of doing it. I subscribe to the view that most people have developed their main ideas and concepts by the age of 25, and that thereafter they spend their time trying to understand them.
  • Learning by working is the only way to educate our students


    What is an appropriate way to think about an architectural practice and what, if any, is a practice's responsibility towards architectural education and speculation? Kierkegaard made the following observation: 'Life is to be lived forwards and understood backwards.'
  • No certainty of outcome for the RIBA drawings collection


    The V&A's recent unveiling of its architecture gallery and the decision of RIBA Council to continue plans for the drawings collection to find a permanent home there imply certainty of outcome.
  • You'll never learn anything of value from these infernal lists


    My editor threw down the gauntlet to me in her editorial (AJ 21.3.02) as, yet again, we had to endure the AJ100 in all its full analysis. Of course, I think we all understand that the firms on the list are not ranked by quality or imagination which leads me to my question: why do it?
  • A sense of community is not all that it's cracked up to be


    will alsop people
  • Time to get out of your 'box' and speak to the public


    I have just said goodbye to my friend, the artist Gareth Jones, in Rhode Island. Gareth and I used to teach sculpture together at Central St Martins School of Art in 1973. In 1987 he moved to the US, where he has been teaching at Rhode Island School of Design ever since.
  • Amoral attitude of the money men despoils our countryside


  • We are ill-served by myopic, jaundiced powers-that-be


    I am sitting on an Air New Zealand flight bound for Los Angeles. I boarded this flight in Sydney, Australia. When I reach Los Angeles, I will immediately travel on to Toronto. This brief trip around the world is what could be called the Empire tour.
  • I do not like being dismissed as another failed Modernist


    Conventional wisdom suggests that anyone being criticised publicly via the media is best served by not responding. I usually observe this rule but on this occasion I will break it.
  • The issue of the ordinary is never far under the surface


    My son Piers has always shown a mistrust of the new. As a consequence, the computer is regarded more as a potential enemy than a friend. For 17 years, he has managed to skirt around technology without apparent loss.
  • Housing associations must allow architects freedom


    Last night I met with 10 people from St Paul's Church in Rotterdam. I am designing a new series of buildings within the city which includes the demolition and rebuilding of the church. The meeting was my first with them, and therefore laced with a little nervousness on my part and scepticism on theirs. Both these conditions were partially eased by the presence of red wine.
  • Don't let the RIBA watchdogs destroy our students' future


    What are students thinking about? Students represent a barometer which predicts, admittedly somewhat erratically, possible concerns that may become more central to practice in the future. Students in the past have concerned themselves with environmental issues as well as a community action, long before practising architects began to take these issues seriously.
  • Let's address the issue of the masterplan before it's too late


    Masterplanning, urban design, town planning, public realm - who cares? The fact remains that all of these concepts have not been taken seriously in the UK, and as a result the quality of our towns and cities is all the worse.
  • Time for our cultural melange to be viewed in a positive light


    David Blunkett is struggling with his terrorist bill, which has within it an inherent idea of what is acceptable behaviour to an assumed British sensibility.Although not intended, it is a type of definition of culture. If we wish to live in a multicultural society, we may have to accept that the texture of day-to-day life will not always seem as smooth as it always used to be remembered.
  • Looks familiar... the perils of looking at students' work


    I was struck by the Rem Koolhaas plagiarism case regarding the Rotterdam Kunsthal building.The aggrieved Gareth Pearce's claim that his diploma work had been copied by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture and reproduced in the art gallery was preposterous!
  • Grappling with thoughts of Oz and BMW's moral dilemma


    On my desk are a bottle of wine, a glass and an assortment of papers including a 'to do' list.
  • Foster's Spitalfields will ruin the area's liminal function


    I am sitting in the Barrister Bar at the Hilton Hotel in Toronto.
  • Beauty - a forgotten word in a world of social concerns


    Culture and religion are the two great inventions of civilisation. Both of them employ the imagination in a divine manner to the point where we do not have to be reminded that there is a separation between reality and fantasy. The development of 20th-century thought has represented a severe questioning of the value of those things that cannot be measured - in many areas of life, but, in particular, art and architecture.
  • Creative interrogation should flourish in the AF's next decade


    Ten years ago, when the Architecture Foundation was set up, the context was rather different. The UK was ensconced in a deep economic recession, and the architecture scene was weighed down with notions of how we should behave as it tried to drag itself out of the quagmire of High-Tech. Roger Scruton and Prince Charles were still obstructing invention and Norman Foster seemed to be everywhere - he still is everywhere and we still find boring young farts trying to nail down architecture ...
  • Vibrant cities need to breathe in and don their urban girdles


    The defence of towns and cities, often achieved by walls, has unwittingly produced great rewards. The walls around Lucca in Tuscany, which were started in the 16th century, are 4.2km of uninterrupted structure.Their construction was initiated by the Medici family as it went to great lengths to expand its stately domain. A host of military architects was commissioned to execute the task, which took approximately 100 years to complete. The only adaptation to the walls - 10m high, and ...
  • Red sky at night delights but heads remain in the clouds


    Sitting on the airline from Prague to Vienna after a dull and rainy day, a man squeezed into the seat next to me and announced that he was moving to be able to see the sun's last glory as we rose above the clouds. He talked of his new seat as being an airborne leisure centre and himself as a tourist. Who knows what he was dreaming about as we passed through the cloud layer to reveal a dying red ember, a reminder of the Prague day that had remained shapeless since breakfast. Was he Czech ...
  • Using creativity to push back the boundaries of technology


    The great science fiction writers used to anticipate not only technological developments but also sociological trends.
  • A system designed to improve decisions makes things worse


    Architects are capable of producing places that all will enjoy, but society does not let them. In practice, there seems to be some conspiracy that prevents the really good project being realised. Competitions were seen as a solution. However, the British have managed to develop a competition system which often makes things worse. How did we do that? The jury is often composed of laymen, with just one or two architects in an advisory role. To be frank, the decisionmakers are not qualified ...
  • Getting off the ground depends on discarding excess baggage


    Runway - that place which allows aircraft to propel themselves to the corners of the earth and back. Landing strip - a sense of arrival tinged with relief. Why do we not refer to the departure strip? At night, we all know, but do not see, that this patch of land is lit like a Christmas tree.
  • An insult to the vernacular and a travesty of Modernism


  • Capturing an elusive feeling, a mood, a memory of childhood


    Sometimes a place will seem familiar even though it is new to you. I am not talking about deja vu - the feeling I am describing is much more specific. It may simply belong to a fleeting moment when the conditions of the light, combined with the time of the day and your own frame of mind, are all working together, resulting in a sense of correctness. This view shown here is taken from the sea, 20m from the shore. The picture frame is divided into horizontal bands. The water itself, with ...
  • We need to learn to cherish the treasures we have at home


  • Report-writing bean-counters promote bland homogeneity


    'The ignorance of the cheap developer, traffic planner and town planner, combined with a lack of manners, creates a place no one likes'
  • Hotels should be exemplars of creativity and individuality


    When hotels made a distinction between architecture and 'interior decor' they took a huge step on the road to Disneyland.
  • Standardisation and neglect are society's new vandalism


  • The East End


    Michael Owens has lived in London for more than 20 years and understands the East End better than most. Now head of Leaside Regeneration, he aims to ensure that local people benefit from the developments on their doorstep
  • Architecture is an art - but remember it is also a science


    'The sublime is a matter of subjective experience not a quality of the objects that induce it. Beauty, on the other hand, is found in the form of objects, defined in terms of their limits, and definable as such, and conducive to a feeling of the furtherance of life, and is thus compatible with charms and a playful imagination' - Burke.
  • Realise what things are worth - not what they cost


    Why is it that many of the items you would like to buy are designed by the English, but made somewhere else?
  • Spare us from drowning in life-sapping conformity


  • The party's over for an architectural contribution


    I have just returned from a 60th birthday lunch. It is now 6pm and I am sitting at my garden table contemplating the day. The birthday party was for Mel Gooding, 60 (the new 50), the art observer, critic and friend.
  • Conformists who kill the appetite for architecture


    WILL ALSOP From Table No 6, No 10 Restaurant, Sherringham
  • Rotterdam restores the optimism of city planning


  • Competitions help mediocre at expense of most talented


    will alsop : WA, From the bar at the Chelsea Arts Club
  • Drawing on the experiences of life help create better work


    If you cannot draw you cannot make architecture. When I was 15 years old I decided that I wanted to learn to draw and learn about the history of stage design.
  • Defining a concept of beauty has us scrabbling for words


  • Why Life Long Learning is symbolic of a healthy culture


  • The countryside belongs to all of us, not just the farmers


    Foot-and-mouth not only afflicts cattle. Since the outbreak started it has stopped people using their feet and, more significantly, has given rise to some of the most obscure misinformation by mouth. I am still confused about the best use of vaccination, whether funeral pyres are really no worse than bonfire nights or indeed if the consumption of meat is either necessary or desirable.
  • Gardening - a passport to contentment and well-being


    I like people who like their gardens.Even if the result of their love and attention would send any self-respecting landscape architect into apoplexy, these people are calm, collected and seemingly content.For them, it is a retreat from all that might trouble the mind. I am not talking about the small urban and suburban offering - although the same approach can extend to the larger areas.Two men I know in Norfolk have transformed a 12-acre field into an extraordinary amalgam of gardens.The ...
  • How a humble postcard fired my resolve to pursue beauty


    One of the questions which occurred to me when I was teaching sculpture was whether the student had ever had an art experience. If a prospective artist has never been moved by someone else's art, how can they stumble across this sensation in their own work? This can, of course, be asked of architects.Some so-called professional artists and architects go to the grave with this particular ignorance.
  • Happiness is disappearing through a hole in the wall


    I am sitting in the piano bar of the La Mamounia in Marrakesh listening to a bowlegged American pianist playing to an empty room. The place, once the haunt of Winston Churchill, is not only an oasis but a retreat.
  • New conservative hypocrisy elevates style over substance


    I did not submit any information for this year's AJ100 list. When the forms for submission arrived I was going through an intense period of redefining my practice and the questions on the form looked superfluous.
  • Paternoster Square: a case of parents passing on bad habits


    In his book Life Style , Bruce Mau talks of the travels of his two-year-old daughter. By this tender age she had visited 12 or 13 countries.
  • Archigram's sweet revenge comes hurtling out of the sky


    Seven hundred expectant people filled the Munich hall, waiting to hear three British architects talk about their work. The seats were so comfortable they could send anyone off to sleep, surely one of the great dangers for any architect on the lecture circuit. But in this case there was no risk of the first speaker sending anyone to sleep, as it was that great English enthusiast and architect Peter Cook.
  • Youth and experience can keep the practice alive


    I am returning from Ontario with Isabel Brebbia from Alsop Architects. She is a bright, fresh and talented young architect, who originally came to me from the Bartlett on the recommendation of architect and teacher Colin Fournier, whose judgement is impeccable. We presented our first ideas for a new college of art and design. After two-anda-half days of intensive workshops, meetings, planning regulations and drinking I observed Isabel's enormous appetite for challenge. She has been ...
  • Lasdun: a 'proper' person who chose individualism, not dogma


    I was saddened by the news of Sir Denys Lasdun's death. My first discovery of his work was from the Northampton to London bus which cut through Regent's Park past the Royal College of Physicians en route to Victoria. To me this edifice was very new.
  • Abolish departments in the search for healthy serendipity


    I was sitting in my department of architecture thinking about the future needs of design and art education and thinking that the future should really not permit departments.
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