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Adrià Goula on Architecture and Photography

Interview Date: 22-02-2012
(More interviews from this person)

VIEW the entire interview on VIDEO!

Most of architects worldwide share the passion of photography for various reasons. What is your relationship with photography? Do architecture photographers do better this kind of work?

Well, I think that this question should have been the other way around. As an architect the things in my case come on the other way. I’m an architect and I turn to photography as another way to see architecture. I’ve been working as an architect for many years, at several studios and I have my own office. So, I had this relationship with photography for a long time and then I started working professionally in this field. When I’m doing photography I’m really thinking as an architect. I still feel as an architect, I’m still working as an architect but doing something that’s related to the final image of the building. I don’t really see myself as a photographer even if I find a work such as this one. I’m talking all day long to architects, my colleagues are architects, my clients are architects and I just feel myself as a last piece of the line that starts with thinking the building and finishes with publishing a building.  I’m really strongly related to architecture.

We can say that most of architecture photos of buildings do not include any people. What are your thoughts about including people in your photos? Is it important to photograph a building in use, or by itself?

If you take a look at my pictures I often include people but these people are washed, I do long expositions so the people don’t get really fixed, they leave a kind of trace on the photo.  I really like this relation between the building and the people because it makes the building look like something stable through time and the people pass it but they’re like something that passes through and doesn’t stay there fixed. So, I like to think architecture as a place where people pass but it lasts. In fact a teacher of mine said that architecture is this caption in the space and continuity on time. So, I see this kind of people washed in the pictures to make architecture look more stable through time. 

What have been your most exciting and challenging architecture photography projects?

I’m finishing now a project with Josep-Luis Mateo, who you may know and we’re going to publish a book with him “In Actar” which is going to be with five of his last buildings. One of them is here in Barcelona, la Filmoteca, the other one is in Paris, there’s another in Utrecht, an office building, after that there’s the headquarters of a bank and a small house in the Pyrenees. All these pictures are going to be together in a book. That for me is one of the main projects I’ve been doing lately. It’s been interesting to take these pictures of this good architecture and keeping in mind to have this homogenic work that would enable us to do this book with all these pictures. 

Many architecture theorists and a lot of people think that contemporary architecture is designed in order to be well photographed. Doing this work, do you have this feeling of buildings that are not designed to serve specific needs but are rather iconic and self-promoting?

Yes, you can find these things, it’s true that. When a building is not well done it’s difficult to make architecture. But sometimes, when you find a building prepared to do pictures you can do pictures but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a good building. And sometimes you find good architecture that is not possible to represent good architecture photographically. So, the relationship with photography is not always the same way. Sometimes you find buildings of good architecture that you can take really good photographs, but sometimes the experience that you have there is not possible to be transmitted through photography. And at other times you know that a building is not good architecture but even if this is not good architecture you can take good pictures because it is prepared to do that. It’s one of the things that we talked about on the first question, the importance of traveling. When you are in front of one of these buildings you can feel it. They are like big models, made 1:1. They are not real architecture, they are like a model. And if we do our work right, then you can feel that not in the picture, but in the reality.

What is the difference between seeing a picture of a building or a place and visiting the building or place yourself? How does architectural photography explore the relationship between the perception of space and the experience of space?

That is actually related to what I was saying before. I think sometimes that when you have a good building in front of you, you can transmit some of the things of the architecture through the picture, trying to pass geometries from the building to the picture. And that is included in the text that I’m writing on the book with Mateo. Sometimes, when the building is well thought you can feel on it some surfaces, some lines that organize the building. If you put yourself in those lines you can organize the picture as the building is organized. So, something of the building is transmitted to the picture. It doesn’t mean that you have the same experience, but you are transmitting more than just an image. You are transmitting some symmetry, some geometries, some relation between spaces and I think that sometimes it goes further than just an image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.