Archive for the ‘SpacePlace of the Week’ Category

The Ring Of Remembrance

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

After ​​two days visiting the battle fields of the Somme, a visit to The Ring Of Remembrance, International WWI Memorial Of Notre-Dame-De-Lorette, is all the more poignant. This is a powerful memorial to the sacrifice of life made in the Great War. The structure is designed by Agence D’architecture Philippe Prost (AAPP) on behalf of the Conseil Regional Nord-Pas-De-Calais and won the RIBA Award for International Excellence in 2016.

For me this was not only a personal journey of discovery, visiting the battlefield where my great grandfather gave his life 100 years ago this month, it was also an opportunity to study the architecture of remembrance. The majority of the monuments we visited where built in the years immediately after the war and all are of their era. Always monumental, and often neo-classical in design. It was therefore interesting to see how my own generation of architects has sought to contribute.

Unlike most war memorials, where one moves around the monument, the names of the dead lining the outer walls, this structure draws you in, the names enclosing, wrapping and immersing you on all sides. It is a dramatic contrast.  Everything external drops away. There is only the visitor and the 600,000+ names that enclose them.

The only relief to this is the dramatic moment when the ring cantilevers out and across a natural drop in the topography. This opens up glimpses of the battlefields beyond in the plains below. This moment leads to my only criticism. It is the entrance. It feels overly pragmatic that the entrance cuts through the sides of the ring, breaking the purity of the enclosure. It would surely have been more powerful to enter from below, from the ground, where the battle was fought. Entering under the ring one could then emerge fully enclosed and at the centre rather than at a specific point, with the inevitable hierarchy that this creates.

None of this diminishes the beauty, simplicity and power of the Ring of Remembrance. These are only the thoughts of an architect seeking to learn and, when the opportunity arises, try to achieve something greater still.



A cracking architecture tour of Chichester

Friday, February 8th, 2013

A museum, a gallery and a splendid carpark provided the ingredients for a cracking architecture tour of Chichester today. A very enjoyable afternoon was spent taking my final year M.Eng Civil Engineering and Architecture students from the University of Southampton around the recently completed Novium, the Pallant Gallery and equally inspiring multistorey carpark that wraps the edge of the medieval city. See – All are excellent examples of contextual modern architecture.

SpacePlace of the Week – Form just follows function

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Lyon Railway Station by Santiago Calatrava expresses the beauty of an honest structure  repeated. Space is created, not by unnecessarily complex form making, but the repetition of a refined and elegantly composed component. The form is a natural by product of the structural behaviour and material, revealed through light. There is no need for ornament or decoration. Form just follows function.

SpacePlace of the Week – quirky form and function in LA

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

There is something delightful about this little office pob.  It has a great sense of place. Despite its quirky character you just know there is a reason why the designer has chosen to place it on a post out the front of the house. It speaks of its context.  The house is in Venice Beach, California and is an early design by Frank Gehry. The house is set back from the beach and the garden office pokes its head forward of the building line allowing a view right down the beach.  There was a time when form followed function, even in Frank Gehry’s work.

SpacePlace of the Week – delivering more bang for your buck

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

The Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Rialto Bridge in Venice is a great example of how we see design. The bridge bit is taken for granted, that is the brief, the function, merely being ‘fit for purpose’. It delivers on that front. What is interesting to us as designers is the way it achieves something more.  The real added value is in recognising that a bridge is a place where PEOPLE will cross the canal, a place where people will congregate. Where people congregate there are new opportunities to be realised. The Rialto Bridge integrates boutique shops into the edges of the bridge transforming what would otherwise have been only a bridge into a market and meeting place. That is what we mean by elivering more bang for your buck.

SpacePlace of the Week – cafe culture

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

At this time of year its nice to dream of the warm evening sun on your back, enjoying a cup of Lavazza  with friends in a busy Italian square. This image of a square in Treviso captures the best on life in the edge somewhere between inside and outisde.

SpacePlace of the Week – The Wabi Sabi Shed

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The Wabi Sabi Shed

Last year I had the privilege of being shown round an elderly gentleman’s shed. It was one of the most interesting and evocative spaces I have ever been in. There was a life time of memories and ‘man stuff’, the light filtered gently through the treasured clutter and there was the small of peace – This was Wabi Sabi at its best. A quality we should all aspire to achieve in our place making.

SpacePlace of the week

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Each week we are going to upload an image of a space or place that captures the qualities and delight we believe make architecture great. Our launch image shows the house built by director Paul Bulkeley when he was growing up in Africa. Building our own home is something every child dreams of and a lucky few adults get to fully realise. Paul is lucky enough to have done it twice –  several degrees in architecture bringing notable improvements!

My first dream home

My first dream home

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