David Chipperfield and Jamie Fobert have led the tributes to Tate St Ives architect and former AA teacher David Shalev, who has died aged 83
I was fortunate to have been taught by David Shalev at the Architecture Association in the late 1970s. He and Su Rogers ran a unit with great warmth and dedication. David was always precise and economic with his criticism; he said little and chuckled a lot. He’d frown or burst into a smile, and you eagerly waited for this simple expression of judgment. He loved to focus on your plan and section, seeing it as a sort of puzzle to be unlocked and freed in order to become something.
He taught with a pencil in his hand, like a surgeon
He taught with a pencil in his hand, like a surgeon, staring through his oversized spectacles. He wanted to understand what you were trying to do, and he would try to help you find it, not by pontificating or sitting back, but by working over your drawings with you. Many overlays of tracing paper were tried and discarded. David sought logic, order and, ultimately, beauty in the plan and section. His quiet authority was justified by the exquisite buildings that he crafted with his partner and collaborator, Eldred Evans.
Their early buildings must stand among the finest examples of Modernist architecture in the UK. Visiting Newport High School as a young student inspired me and reassured me that architecture was something I wanted to do. I remember the day of that visit and David Shalev with great affection.
Tate st ives
I only got to know David in the last few years of his life, when I had the pleasure of working together with him and Eldred on the transformation of their much-loved gallery, Tate St Ives.
In our many meetings, David generously passed on his broad knowledge of architecture and his enthusiastic attention to detail. His warmth and humour were always present.
St Ives Tate
Source: Eryka Hurst
Mark Osterfield, executive director at Tate St Ives
During my time at Tate St Ives I am proud to have known and worked with David Shalev and his partner, Eldred Evans, who designed the original gallery as well its recent refurbishment and alterations which launched last year.
In 1993 Evans and Shalev created a building which has become an icon of the South West. Positioned overlooking the Atlantic, their architecture responds to and echoes the location and townscape of St Ives, while celebrating and embodying elements of the Modernist tradition for which it is internationally known.
A journey through the spaces they created parallels a journey through the town. As they wrote in 1995: ‘St Ives is unique in that its architecture, landscape and art are so closely interwoven. The Penwith peninsula evokes a sense of history – the relationship between man and nature, us and the elements, is ever-present. It is this experience that attracts artists to Penwith. It is the same experience that we have tried to capture in the building.’
The bold and at times austere confidence of the public spaces of the gallery are complemented by a decorative level of detailing. These are united through a restrained palette and a sensitivity to light and materials. With incredible views of the town, landscape and sea, this combination creates both an intimate and dramatic experience which is loved by our visitors – who seem to respond to a sense of the human scale in the design.
In person David Shalev could be both be strident and charming. With a great sense of colour in his dress and a sparkle in his eye, I will remember him as a fine architect and an impressive man, and am grateful for the legacy he has left us in the buildings he designed.