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Will Alsop on Architecture and Photography

Interview Date: 22-04-2015
(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?

If you have a building you want to photograph, you have to go to a professional photographer. One actually takes buildings because they know what they are doing. On the other hand sometimes photographs tend to be a bit static and some buildings are very difficult to photograph. For example, I once, a long time ago, did a big building in Massey and I sent a whole range of different professional photographers down there and the photographs were nice but they were not really good. But the best photography of all, of that building, was taken by my mother who just did that and she is not a photographer and just caught the right one.

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?

I think I prefer both as well to be absolutely honest. It is a contradiction to show a building, particularly a public building, with no people in it, why would you do that, I prefer to have both. The once that I really use tend to be the once with people in long enough, cause otherwise it just looks artificial, like I would set this up just for the photo. But this also happens of course.

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?

I‘ve never thought about the photograph when I ‘m designing a building, never. It might be an interesting thing to do, to design a building only to be photographed, that would be interesting. But no, I never think about that, because when it‘s finished and you are walking around, you‘ll be able to think which are the good shots and the best angles but it doesn’t come from that.

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?

They are two completely different things and I myself would be misled by looking something that looks very interesting in the photograph and then you visit it and it is very disappointing. On the other hand it can also happen the other way around. For a long time, I ‘d been rather indifferent to Sydney Opera House until I went and I thought “ It ‘s a fantastic building” so no photographs on Sydney Opera House had really made it looks as good as it is, and of course that ‘s much more interesting experience for you to go and say “ Ah, it ‘s better”.



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Will Alsop

Will Alsop

Architect
Country: United Kingdom
Visit website

Bio

Will Alsop has been practicing as architect and designer for over 30 years. Alsop put himself on the map advising Hamburg local authority on the master planning of their docks in the 1980s. He re-invented Cardiff Bay with his barrage design, built the striking award-winning HQ for the French government in Marseilles and the Stirling Prize-winning library at Peckham amongst other projects in the 1990s.

Today, Alsop is International Principal of global architectural firm RMJM, sits on the Thames Gateway Design Committee and the Kensington and Chelsea Architectural Advisory Board. He has also recently sat on the Yorkshire Forward Urban Renaissance Panel and was chairman of the Architecture Foundation.

For Alsop painting is an integral part of designing, helping to discover and explore the ideas which become forms. Function and construction may not exactly be afterthoughts, but their relationship to form is mediated through two processes which were not part of modernist practice. Recent advances in digital technology have helped to make it possible to build shapes which could not have been constructed with traditional means, a capability which has allowed architecture to transcend its traditional relationship with construction.

Digital technology has also helped to redefine the relationship between form and function through sophisticated and realistic ways of representing buildings before they are constructed. Especially in a series of design studies for regenerating cities in England’s industrial north, Alsop has used new imaging and film-making techniques to engage the local population in dialogue, allowing their aspirations and ideas to become part of the creative process. Technology becomes the vehicle for both representing and achieving these visions.

Alsop stands in a dynamically critical position against architectural tradition. Acknowleding the social commitment, technological possibilities and new artistic visions of the modernists, he reconfigures them around unleashed individual creativity.

He has recently built award-winning buildings in London, Manchester, Toronto, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore. He is currently working on projects in Spain, Abu Dhabi, London, Paris, Greece, Hong Kong and Bratislava.

Will Alsop at RMJM has also recently opened Testbed1- an art space in Battersea which has recently seen artist Bruce Mclean give his first performance in many years
and plans to host theatre, music and arts events over the summer and beyond.

:: Profile at ArchiTravel >
http://www.architravel.com/architravel/architects/341

:: Photo information and credits:

1 >Blizard Building, Queen Mary University
Credit: By Will Alsop for Alsop Architects, part of the Archial Group
Photographer:
© Morley Von Stornberg

2 > Chips, Manchester
Credit: by Will Alsop for Alsop Architects, part of the Archial Group
Photographer: © Christian Richters

3 > Clarke Quay, Singapore
Credit: By Will Alsop for Alsop Architects, part of the Archial Group
Photographer:
© Jeremy San

4 > Edessa Museum, Greece
No credits

5 > En Route exhibition, Royal Academy
Photographer:
© Kate Goodwin

6 > Gaoyang, Shanghai International Cruise Terminal
Credit: by Will Alsop for Alsop Architects, part of the Archial Group

7 > La Fosca, Spain
No credits

8 > Palestra, London
Credit: by Will Alsop for Alsop Architects, part of the Archial Group
Photographer:
© Christian Richters

09 > Zhuhai Museum, China
No credit

10 -11 > La Doneira, Spain
Credit: by Will Alsop for Alsop Architects, part of the Archial Group
Photographer:
© Rod Coyne

12 > Xiamen Hotel, China
Credit: by Will Alsop for Alsop Archietcts, part of the Archial Group

> Profile Photo ©Antonio Olmos