Wednesday, September 13, 2006


An old friend called me tonight from some internal space - Richard Scott, up and coming British Architect and founder of Surface. Rich and I met at a vital time in both our lives - 1995 - in London. He was in between his Part II and Part III's (British-trained architects will get the reference) and searching for a theoretical framework for his spatial impulses, being increasingly disatisfied with the formalist Peter Eisenman school of his student days.

Meanwhile, I was increasingly realising that the central enquiry of my PhD was that of space and embodiment. Meeting a challenging and earnest young designer thirsty for deep theory was a fabulous experience. Together with Kristen Whittle, who went on to work at trendy stalwarts Caruso St. John (famous for Walsall Art Gallery) and then onto uber-kool Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron (a lot of Kristen's creative sweat went into Tate Modern) we spent days and nights dreaming up spaces and forms of intervention onto the London design scene..

As Softspace and then Surface, we formed an intense intellectual threesome, and scooped the prestigious Shinkenchiku award in Japan in '96 (beating over 400 other entrants from 40 countries), closely followed by winning a competition at the RIBA. We designed a watery-solid space of stretched fabric and continuous aquamarine digital video footage called Aquaphilia. I wrote a prose-poem for the space, with Bibi's voice post-produced into all sorts of sonic weirdness (I was falling in love). Those were good times. We taught in a theory-practice duo at The Bartlett, The AA and the Royal Academy and were surrounded by eager twenty-somethings destined to become film-makers, artists and sometimes architects. But then we had to focus on separate paths - me on finishing my thesis, Richard on reaching for commercial success.

Rich has soldiered on and built a tight creative unit based in Old Street, together with the highly talented Andy McPhee (project architect at Peckham Library). In time, Surface Architects promise to take over the Will Alsop mantle, combining ideas and experientially-motivated design to create striking architecture. Surface played a key role in the recent upgrade of the Brunswick Centre, near the British Museum..


bellanaija 6:33 pm  

very impressive.
Perhaps, they will work on another post modern edifice in Nigeria sometime in the future...

Onya Baquebeich 6:45 pm  

Dude, if thats your cv, then i'm in awe. I'm where rich was where u met him (i have my interview in december) and I'm stressing seriously. I cant imagine why anyone would be in love with Eisenman in the first place. His best buddy (Graves) went on to design "the 7 dwarf building" for Disney didnt he? the beauty of post-modernism.
I cant say i like architecture - so i go out of my way to make it a tad more entertaining. i'm currently about to be enforced for using the wrong roof-tiles on a crappy building in a Birmingham Ghetto and i just got fired for chasing a client too hard for our fees on a 1.5million pound job. in my log-book, i've blagged that i convinced the planner the error of his ways with regards to the roof tiles and i've issued the certificate of practical completion for the job which i've been fired from. I really hope they dont research these log-books. talk about interventions eh?

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