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Alison Brooks on Architecture and Travel

Interview Date: 15-08-2012
(More interviews from this person)

VIEW the entire interview on VIDEO!

What is the importance of architectural events worldwide? What are the profits for a city holding such kind of major events?

Architectural events are really important to bring the global architectural community together. It’s one of the great things about the profession, is the way it’s a kind of community of like-minded people who have the best interest of cities, of people, of culture at heart and obviously economic growth and sustainability. So, the forum is great, to have the opportunity to also meet people that you don’t normally encounter, to look outside your everyday city.

What is the importance of Architectural Tourism? What is the importance of traveling especially for architects and humans in general?

Travel is essential for architects. You know, there are certain things that every architect has to go see, like Rome for example, the great cities of the world, the great works of architecture form every period. But you can also travel a bit too much. Sometimes you just need to look a little more closely at your street, where you live, or what’s around the corner. I look at London every day. Every day I get surprises and I think “Oh, I’ve been traveling down the street for twenty years and I’ve never noticed that fantastic roof detail, or that amazing brick pattern. It’s a bit like candids. You can spend your whole life traveling and what you really want is in your own backyard.

At the end, can you please provide your personal proposal for 10 buildings (constructed and visitable) which you think as the most important worldwide that someone must visit anyway?

Maybe, number one on my list would be the “Staatsbibliothek” in Berlin by Hans Scharoun, of course Ronchamp by Le Corbusier, Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli, which is in ruin but it’s the most fantastic place of architectural imagination.Probably “Fallingwater” by Frank Lloyd Wright and there are some incredible English country houses, like the Vine, which I think are really inspiring.There are a lot of places where I haven’t been, like in Africa, and I’d like to see. It’s important to also see failures as well as successes, like to go to Brasilia I think is a very interesting lesson, or Chandigarh to see where things can go wrong, where you have a sort of a monumental architecture and monumental urbanism and that adds up to make a kind of a ghost town in a way. There are a lot of mistakes actually that people can visit, that everybody should learn from. These are my top five.Also the new Students’ Library in Utrecht by Wiel Arrets, I think it’s fantastic. Everybody should go to Rotterdam and look at all of the housing done in the Docklands there and Amsterdam. OMA’s “Concert Hall” in Porto, Portugal is fantastic. I’m thinking of places that I’ve taken my office to see, and we’ve gone to Porto and Copenhagen. Copenhagen is good; it’s good to see the work of Bjarke Ingels there, the Housing. I don’t know, there are lots of places, in Japan, in Russia, in China that I haven’t been. St Petersburg is great as well, as a kind of amazing example of a city that was created sort of out of nothing, in a swamp, the great artistic talents of the 17th-18th century all brought together into one place to create a kind of amazing urban utopia in a way. Stockholm is also great.

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