CLOSE TO HOME: text for EUPHORIC magazine

“I will not easily forget when and where I first read these words, from the English translation of Joseph Roth’s What I Saw: Reports from Berlin, 1920-1933. It was in the sunny environs of a garden in Brandenburg, Germany in May 2016, midway through the campaign period leading up to the UK’s referendum on continued membership of the European Union. Three years later, as I read them again in May 2019, all that has followed within the context of British contexts along with the ongoing resurgence of the far right across the continent and beyond, the words seem to have acquired even sharper edges.”

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“The practice of interpreting and decoding visual signals in real-time is one that inhabitants of urban environments undertake everyday – from the kaleidoscopic tapestry of advertising that is draped across the contemporary city to the municipal vernacular of street signage, along with more overt measures designed to control and demarcate urban space. Punctuating all of these are more ephemeral offerings, such as the layers and layers of marks left by graffiti artists and flyposterers or the accidental glimpses of what lies ‘behind the curtain’ afforded by partially pulled back building hoardings.”

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INTERIORS: THE GREATEST ROOMS OF THE CENTURY: Texts for publication by Phaidon Press

“But, in true Ando style, ornamentation comes in the form of the constantly changing light: narrow slit skylights at the edges of the room’s ceiling cast shafts of sunlight and shadow that move across the blank concrete throughout the day. A series of picture windows, placed deliberately low, frame views of the surrounding nature, fulfilling the client’s request that the space engender an awareness of changing seasons – and mirroring Ando’s own philosophy that the boundary between architecture and nature should remain porous.”

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WAY TOO CONCRETE IV: “No other German ever had as many monuments as Ernst Litfaß”

“Despite your dislike of messiness and your attempt to curtail this aspect of Berlin’s character that so offended you, it is it through disorder and random intervention that the columns have manifested a sort of resistance in the face of impending doom – even if, for some of them, the battle is ultimately unwinnable. Since I took that first image in January, I have gathered many more. The sight of completely unblemished coloured columns has become rarer with each passing week.”

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“But he does concede that in 2019 there are some limits that cannot be ignored – not by architects or anyone else: ‘The issues that we’re going to have to deal with more and more, like climate change, mean that we are going to have to accept more regulation.’ This attitude runs counter to the image-driven PR machine that drives high-level contemporary architecture and is ever hungry for the kinds of gravity-defying works that can be organised into listicles and awarded end of year rosettes.”

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“In public space, the precise arrangement of bodies within the solar system of gossip—inner orbit: the talkers and listeners; secondary orbit: the onlookers and eavesdroppers—is largely determined by the backdrop. The physical architecture of a space molds the social architecture of gossip. Take, for example, the salon, the nail salon, and the office watercooler. Subconsciously or not, we use these spaces for chatter, and we preserve their gossip-facilitating designs when we build them anew.”

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MONO.KULTUR #46: Francis Kéré – Of Clay and Community

“This whirlwind of a welcome – the zeal, the readiness to adapt, the emphasis on the social – might also describe Kéré’s particularly grounded approach to architecture and life in general. The trajectory that led him from Gando, a village in his native Burkina Faso, to Germany is an extraordinary one; and yet, while not denying its importance and singularity, the architect prefers to view it as the result of luck, hard graft, and his own stubbornly-held brand of optimism.”

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HIERONYMUS JOURNAL: Issue no. 1 Mindspaces

“The Hieronymus Journal is published by the Swiss firm Hieronymus Stationers AG, a brand dedicated to the high culture of paper and writing that sees itself in comfortable symbiosis with digital media. Taking time, to communicate by hand is about giving yourself time for a different kind of communication, it is not about falling out of time but giving the mind time for thought, for ourselves, and for others.”

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