Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Renzo Piano on Architecture

The FT Weekend carried a great article about the Renzo Piano Central St. Giles development in London. This features a number of highly interesting quotes about architecture generally. Usually I find these international starchitects and artists pretentious in the extreme, but I think Piano makes a whole lot of sense here. Some excerpts:

When you work in a historical city centre, instead of worrying about the lack of freedom you should be grateful for the restrictions. Creativity doesn’t need freedom, it needs rules, then you can enjoy occasionally breaking those rules. I find myself in trouble building in an open space.

In New York, after September 11, there was a temptation to make everything like a fortress, solid and closed. But in fact we found that transparency is safer than opacity, everyone can see what is happening.

The building doesn’t touch the ground. A building in an intense city should not entirely occupy the ground, it’s like defying gravity. Urbanity is in that little bit of magic. An urban space is a ritual space for the city in which people are able to get rid of difference, in the best case even fear itself disappears …

This idea of flying above the site, it’s not decoration, it’s about accelerating the ritual. We are in the centre of the city and people can walk through the site, cross it, now that the building has been lifted, it has become permeable. This is not just a psychological transparency, a shop window, it is physical.

Ok, that last piece is a bit pretentious, but I still like it. Read the rest for yourself.

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