THE BUILDING: Part One Review

by Gabriela Garcia de Cortazar (AA PhD candidate)

14 July 2014
33 Bedford Square, Architectural Association

 

Let’s talk about buildings. Which building, would you say, has made a historically substantial contribution either in terms of design or in concept? Think about one and think of the arguments to sustain that. Then another question: is it from the last 25 years? Yes? Good. It’s difficult, yes, but it is possible to find significant buildings that are that recent. But now, on top of thinking of contributions inside the discipline, could you find one that has also been significant to fields outside of architecture? It’s tricky, I know.

 

Ok, so you do want to talk about buildings. Great! We want that too – we like talking about buildings, visiting buildings, thinking about them and, why not, designing them. So we decided to get together and gather a group of interesting people with things to say regarding the questions above. The rules are the following: ten people from there and ten from here. Each chooses a building. From those ten, five should be students and five teachers. And then we sit all together around a big table and talk about buildings. No one should talk too much (it makes for a packed day) so let’s limit presentations to 5 minute speeches, where everyone has to deliver their arguments in a sharp and concise way. Yes, you can use images. But most important is what comes next. After the short presentations, we have a conversation. We discuss. We weigh arguments. We agree and disagree. We use design arguments, we use historical ones. We look at buildings as wholes, we zoom-in to specific parts. We assume a position regarding each building, architecture, its significance to the discipline and even the value of getting together to talk about buildings.

The Building - A PhD Conversation at the AA Image credit: Alexander Furunes

The Building – A PhD Conversation at the AA
Image credit: Alexander Furunes

And so, on 2 June 2014, from 10 am in the morning, we gathered in 33 First Floor Front at the AA. Around the table, from the United States, were Penelope, John, Bryan, Aaron, Mario, Etien, José and, through Skype, Rafi. From London, Mark, Adrian, Alexandra, Thomas, Costandis, Manolis, Marina, Aldo, Francisco, Mark and Gabriela – which totalled nineteen people in attendance. Brett kicked off the event and a good audience joined. The buildings discussed were the NA house, the Dutch pavilion for the Expo 2000, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center, three of Bernard Caché’s coffee tables, a lot of suburban houses, the National Library of Israel, the Pharmacist’s House, Dubai Renaissance, the Too-High Teahouse, the Truffle, the Museum of the Acropolis, the Louvre Lens, Marco de Canavezes Church, the Galician Centre for Contemporary Arts, the Overlook Hotel and the New Luxor Theatre. The final score included: three buildings made by Japanese architects, two by Dutch, two by Italians, two by Alvaro Siza, two unbuilt and one that was eaten by a cow.

 

Mark Cousins speaking at The Building Image credit: Alexander Furunes

Mark Cousins speaking at The Building
Image credit: Alexander Furunes

The Building was organised by José Aragüez (PhD candidate at Princeton) and Gabriela Garcia de Cortazar (AA PhD candidate). It is the first of a series of events to be organised by PhD candidates from both sides of the Atlantic.

 

A roundtable discussion Image credit: Alexander Furunes

A roundtable discussion
Image credit: Alexander Furunes

For more information:

The Building

AA PhD Programme

PhD Programme on Projects Review 2014