Places in which to make and be seen could be the essence of a more stimulated populace.
The works at Bruce McLean's farm in Malagaba, Menorca, are ways of thinking about the world. This is difficult to justify because the apparent images that emerge from such an exercise are not seen to be representative of the world.
Over 10 years, McLean and I have worked at Malagaba on what we originally thought were specific projects. For example, the paintings that led to the proposals for Potsdamer Platz in Berlin or the large images prepared for the disused grain silo (SILOPERA) in Rotterdam and others, all appeared to be a traditional form of visual brainstorming, done to stimulate the interest and also to aid a discovery of what a project might be.
As the years pass by, it has become apparent that the act of working in an open environment in a collaboration based on trust and a genuine sense of enquiring is in itself a model of a behaviour that comes from a sense of only having to be there.
The constants are only the time available and excessive midday temperatures that make working difficult. I remember a discussion between us that described our activity as being one of complete luxury.
Luxury is often seen as something negative, as well as a quality that describes the rich and idle, but in our sense it means that we have come to terms with the notion that work can be of value for its own sake and does not rely on objectives, rationale or expected outcomes. The work comes from having the space to do it, combined with the time to indulge in it.
Nothing can be measured and there is no sense of the idea of a mistake. There are no agendas and everything is possible.
Over the years the works have dealt with gardening, the ideal home, and literally painting a field. To the uninitiated, the works are often seen as difficult because they ask the question, particularly of me, the architect, what is it for? This question is not difficult to answer - it is for everything. The works have stimulated much of my other practice, sometimes knowingly and often unconsciously, which is the point. If you do nothing, there is nothing to call on apart from a received idea of what the world is.
In the case of the Malagaba works, the situation and the spirit is free of the same degree of external influence as it might be within the studio in London or Rotterdam.
What if our public spaces were all available for public activity in the same manner as Malagaba? A life of luxury would be available to all.
WA, from my table at Villa Pax, Menorca