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Design duet

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astragal

An excellent lecture by Sandy and Clare Wright at the RIBA was a reminder that thoughtful 'slow-cook' architecture is alive and well, as opposed to what Sandy Wilson calls 'freak buildings' or 'stunt architecture'. Not that they are opposed to the idea of the iconic, just that it should be 'particular'.

Clare and Sandy (Wright) operate by a series of maxims in relation to context, coherence ('don't have people flapping around like moths looking for an entrance'); a rational relationship between interior and exterior ('don't let it all hang out'); and about the process of actually building a building, and the way that different ones come together.

A series of case studies showed a pleasing variety of buildings and solutions, not least in relation to two projects dealing with heritage from William Wilkins (Downing and Corpus Christi colleges, Cambridge), and a new theatre for the Hull Truck company. Work on the latter involved a trip to Scarborough to see Alan Ayckbourn's favoured theatre, where the green room 'is the Rialto Bridge of the diagram'.

The key to their approach was the idea of the thick wall, often providing the envelope for a building within. Check out their work on the RIBA/V&A drawings collections about to open; it looks both useful and fine.

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