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a life in architecture

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Bryan Avery

For architect Bryan Avery, whose imax cinema opens on 1 May, buildings which have special significance are the Soane Museum; the San Stefano Rotondo and Bramante's Tempietto; and, in particular, Taliesin West (below).

In the 1960s, Avery hitched a lift out into the Arizona desert to find Taliesin West nestling under a rocky outcrop. 'Its influence still reverberates to this day, though many people would not see it in my work,' says Avery. For him it sums up Wright's masterly handling of the relationships between materials, structure, the genius loci and technology.

The inspiration for Taliesin West was the desert camp at Ocatilla, Arizona, built by Wright in 1928 in the form of a traditional Indian fortress with a canvas roof. Avery points out the references: the innovative stone and concrete base, not unlike Le Corbusier's beton brut, evoking desert rock and time past, but also - with its layered striations - the classical rusticated base, while the lightweight red timber framework echoes the language of the forests and open plains. For Avery, Taliesin West is a model of environmental engineering: rock/stone for storing cool air, timber and canvas to admit light and wind. Internally, he finds the labyrinthine layout 'a tour de force', illustrating Wright's dynamic use of geometry in plan and section to give enormous richness of space.

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