Each project begins with a clear concept, a specific story to tell. We develop the narrative by understanding and orchestrating these skills with creativity, which carries the process to another level by providing freshness and newness, motivating us and challenging us. We believe this method takes us to coherent and timeless quality in our design work. The office has participated in well-known European iconic cultural works in France, Italy and Greece.
HDA works often in Asia, on major airports and public buildings but most frequently with innovative developers, notably Swire Properties in Hong Kong. We develop specific iconic building components in collaboration with the primary architect and their local technical teams or design institutes.
Consistent themes of geometry, structure, light, and materials as well as the rigor refinement and detail are clearly evident and fundamental in what we do, no matter where it is and with whom we have worked…. This moment is a fitting turning point for a new departure. With a heavy focus on digital design, I attempt to use technology such as simulation tools and parametric modeling to address challenges at varying scales. Aerospace engineer and architect experienced in complex structural modeling, environmental simulations and computer programming. By working with team partners from very different fields, I learn new things every day on geometry optimization, structural design or architecture detailing.
I began my professional career in Paris since My passion for architecture design encourages me always to move forward and never be satisfied with my work. In the evolution of any design firm based around a single design leader, this tension will frequently recur, for at least two reasons. In many ways, this branding has long been present in the corporate style of the practice, which has a standardized publication output in terms of colour grey , and font Rotis. Here the building means more than a homogenized house style, but also the cost and creative regime used in the design and construction process.
Other clients may be buying into a cost— benefit formula, which takes into account a complex matrix of building performance, process, site analysis, sectoral expertise and aesthetics calculated against fees. In this sense, pressure is put on the firm to supply a cost-efficient and unified brand, an identifiable style, whether in use of materials, organization of space, or expressive features.
Conclusion This article has examined the emergence of Norman Foster as an architect of great significance to the study of globalization and the urban. By extension, it can be argued that Foster is representative of a small number of highly individualized architects — Koolhaas, Hadid, Libeskind, for example — whose names are attached to many projects being simultaneously constructed, debated, or commissioned at various points of the globe. However, the increasing scope offered by information technology challenges the uniqueness of the Foster model — that the key design decisions are taken from one office — and poses numerous challenges to the firm.
As Powell writes: The phenomenal success of Foster and Partners is guaranteed to engender envy and sheer malice, particularly in Britain — where quantity and quality are seen as irreconcilable. Such is the potency of the Foster legend, however, that the deficiencies of such schemes are often blamed on an inadequate input from the great man himself. Nonetheless, the design individuality and excellence achieved in a small number of projects has to be reconciled with the demands placed by growing economies of scale. Donald McNeill donald. References Abel, C.
Jenkins ed. Foster on, Prestel, Munich. Booth, R. Blackler Waiting for Akao, K. Jenkins the sun. Building Design 3 December ed. Foster on, Prestel, www. February Amin, A. Building Design 3 December Molotch The February Friedland Chance, J. Schmiedeknecht and D. Boden eds.
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Schmiedeknecht eds. Architectural Design, The Observer twentieth-century America. University of 11 April, 15— California Press, Berkeley. Cuff, D. In art and science. Theory, Culture and Society S. Kostof ed. Architectural Design Interview with Iain Godwin. Cadserver Moore, R. Prospect ww. Interview with David Fairs, M. Building 17 January www.
Guardian 22 accessed 7 February January www. Foster and Partners Foster catalogue Powell, K. In Foster and Partners, London; Prestel, D. Foster on, Munich. Prestel, Munich. Frow, J. Quantrill, M. Spon, popular entertainment. Blackwell, Malden, London. Rose, S. Glancey, J. The Guardian education.
Foster on. Saint, A. Random House, New York.
The Norman Foster studio : consistency through diversity
Sato, C. Davies and I. Lambot critical view. Princeton Architectural Press, eds. Berkeley ed , Architecture: a place Illoniemi, L. Jencks, C. Building 5 www. Chance and T. Fame and Architecture. Architectural Sudjic, D. Flamingo, Design Jenkins, D. Foster —— Actually, that was my on. The Observer 1 February —— Norman Foster: works. Kirwan-Taylor, H. Dave and P.
Scriver gherkin. Evening Standard Magazine 26 Routine production or symbolic analysis? November, 27— The Journal of Architecture 8, 63— Williams, S. Urry, J. Jonathan Cape, London. Sociology Zalewski, D. Furthermore, the Bureau was able to open for him a number of doors to those opportunities. One of the openings offered to Norman was employment in the architectural practice of John Beardshaw and Partners, whose office was in one of a row of Georgian houses close to the university. To his great surprise, Norman found that his experience at the Town Hall was smiled upon, and he got the job.
It was inhabited by half a dozen architects, who betrayed their calling by their uniform white, canvas smocks. This apparel seemed to confirm them as some sort of high priests, and young Norman was in awe of them. He was very shy in asking them questions, because their answers were inclined to be unhelpfully monosyllabic. Norman, however, took every bit of advice he could lay hands on, however flimsy or cryptic. He began to borrow drawings from the office, taking them home overnight to The emergence of an architect — 11 copy them.
He also tried to capture the atmosphere of the industrial North, painting scenes in the style of Lowry,8 freshly daubed in poster-colours. The scene framed by his bedroom window attracted his particular attention, because it included one of the few trees in the neighbourhood. Norman soon came to the conclusion that he had enough drawings to persuade a school of architecture of his seriousness, but he first wanted to pay his boss the courtesy of telling him about his intentions, so he asked to see Mr Beardshaw.
When Norman revealed that he intended to study architecture, the principal was quite incredulous. All this was not, however, just to encourage him, but to allow Norman to tackle the problem of designing a house for an important client. This automatically dictated that the new house must have the same window sizes as the old one. Eventually, Norman was given an interview at Manchester University, and a chance to present his portfolio of drawings to the professor of architecture, R.
Cordingly very much liked the Lowry-style paintings, and told Norman that he thought the view from his bedroom window, with the tree, would make a good Christmas card. Norman was subsequently offered a place on the Diploma Course of the School of Architecture at Manchester. In the s, diploma courses at British universities were still in every way equivalent to degree courses in terms of professional recognition and qualification.
The principal difference between the two courses was in terms of entry requirements: no A-level subjects were required for the Diploma, and the foreign language requirement was also normally waived, as at Manchester. Two further obstacles remained, however, before Norman could accept the university place offered him by Manchester. The first came in the form of his boss and supporter, John Beardshaw, who tried to persuade Norman to stay on in the office, stressing that many distinguished practitioners had built successful professional careers without the aid of formal qualification, with some of them even becoming Royal Designers for Industry RDI.
The second was a more substantial barrier, because without those precious Alevels Norman could not qualify for a local authority grant to support his higher education. Not to be fobbed off by what he saw as a mere technicality, the rapidly maturing and more experienced Norman asked for an interview with the chief education officer of Manchester. He quickly pointed out that all Norman had to do was enrol in a course at a local authority institution—in this case the Manchester College of Art—and he would automatically qualify for a grant that included both academic fees and maintenance.
Having earned himself a university place, however, Norman was not about to settle for second best. He had no interest in compromising on the quality of education he had his heart set on. He had what he considered to be reliable information that the university course was in every The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 12 way superior to that offered by the College of Art. Already, by the age of 21, Norman had developed a resoluteness that has become a hallmark of his life and work.
His various jobs ranged from being a freelance perspective artist, to acting as a bouncer on Sunday evenings at a local cinema that was known for its rowdiness. He had expected her to be waiting to hear all about it, anxious to know how things had gone. It was only some years later that he came to understand her underlying fear that, in spite of all his ambition, effort and determination, Norman would not actually arrive at the destination he had set for himself in life.
One of the young men in the neighbourhood would often take Norman to one side, displaying his rough hands proudly and stressing that those were the hands of a working man. There is a legend among the working classes that what educated people have mostly learned is how to avoid hard, physical work.
Far from discouraging him, these pointed asides about his ambition to acquire an education and social mobility only urged Norman on. As evidence of his determination, in each of his first four years at Manchester University, he managed to win enough scholarships and prizes to underwrite his extensive European travels as well as further studies. He also admired Arne Jacobsen and such traditionalists as Kay Fisker. He did not, however, neglect his own English heritage, making several expeditions to measure barns and windmills in the English countryside. Henry Fellowships offer a reciprocal arrangement whereby American students are given places at Oxford and Cambridge while British students have access to Harvard and Yale.
Norman was quite terrified by the experience, and totally surprised when, after his return to Manchester, he received a letter telling him that he had been successful. In order to have permission to work in the USA, Norman had to apply for an immigrant visa. The terms of reference governing awards made by the Fulbright Commission were quite specific, requiring Fulbright recipients to return to their own country at the end of the period of study or exchange.
Norman therefore withdrew from the Fulbright programme. Brian was also going to Yale, to study city planning. They travelled together across New York by subway, eventually arriving at New Haven by Greyhound bus. There, amidst the jovial clinking of glasses, the Master greeted him. When Norman explained how he had written three weeks earlier to confirm his acceptance and the date he would arrive, the Master denied all knowledge of such an arrangement.
The result was that Norman was initially assigned to a small and dusty attic room. As yet unaccustomed to the poor service provided by the US Post Office in the early s, Norman could not conceive that his letter would have taken so long to arrive. When it turned up a week later, however, the situation in Jonathan Edward College changed radically for Norman. His Guest Fellow status was confirmed by the Master, and he was given a small suite of rooms in place of his original, shared accommodation. Carl Abbott from Florida, for instance, has remained a good friend.
Jim Alcorn hailed from the West Coast, and he became renowned at Yale as a skilled presentation artist, who was capable of brilliant sketches. Steve Oles from Texas has become celebrated for his beautifully drawn and shaded pencil renderings, and he has made a substantial contribution to the major projects of I.
Most importantly, perhaps, was the fact that another British architect, Richard Rogers, was there with his wife, Su. Richard had just finished the diploma course at the Architectural Association in London, while Su was at Yale to study city planning. Norman and Richard had originally met in London at a reception hosted by the Fulbright Commission. Yet another British architect, Eldred Evans, also joined the Yale graduate class briefly. Evans had recently won the competition for the Civic Centre in Lincoln, and this meant that she would have to cut short her visit to the USA, returning to London to establish an office for this important project.
Norman recalls that the boundaries between the two were sometimes unclear, because Rudolph made a habit of basing studio design projects on the latest commission in his office. Others, like Jim Alcorn for example, might be in the final stage of touching up their presentation drawings. But Rudolph was no respecter of persons or the degree of finish they had achieved. What interested him was the underlying quality of an idea, and at the end of the day on those surprise crits, almost everyone had to start again from scratch.
Another Rudolph strategy was to set a hour design exercise for the entire school, which meant that the first-year students were pitted against the graduates. Also, the environment in which all these surprise events took place was totally unfamiliar to Norman. For Yale was quite typical of the majority of North American schools of architecture in its hour, opendoor policy.
Carl Abbott had a Volkswagen Beetle, and he would take the Rogers and Norman on a variety of long-range expeditions, for example in search of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. On those pilgrimages they usually managed to talk their way into private houses and institutions. During the winter, they were often so frozen and travel-worn after many long and cramped hours in the tiny VW that the owners of houses would frequently take pity on them and invite them in for refreshments.
This kinship was based not only upon common languages of form and criticism, but importantly upon their shared beliefs. While she was still a student there, Eldred Evans shared this competitiveness, as did Carl Abbott. While their antics occasionally irritated their American colleagues, however, the British graduates were The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 16 always tolerated, with gentle rebuffs and prevailing good humour. On one occasion an unforgettable event was provided by Philip Johnson, who entertained the entire class at his home in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Rogers and Foster began to work together on actual building projects at. Richard had promised to design a house in England for a landscape architect friend, Michael Branch. The large-scale pencil-and-ink drawings on yellow tracing paper are still in the Foster archives. Serge Chermayeff offered an extreme contrast to Paul Rudolph. Rudolph had assumed the characteristic buttoned-down, East Coast style. If no such evidence existed, there was no conversation, and Rudolph would simply move on to the next board.
Subsequently, Chermayeff proposed that Norman should stay on at Yale as a research scholar, to work directly with his professor on further topics. Although he admits that the provisions of the Henry Fellowship were generous, he had lived so well and travelled so extensively that he came to realize that there was not sufficient income left to last him through the remainder of the year. In his new employment he was able to exploit his planning education from Manchester, as Pedersen and Tilney were engaged in the emerging field of urban renewal.
Nevertheless, he also began to appreciate that it was not just the funds that were running out. Although he was able to trade on his qualifications, he had so little experience that he was, in reality, unqualified. The time literally sped by, and after graduation he decided to continue working for Pedersen and Tilney in the urban planning field for a brief period. This work involved him in visits to the city of Chicopee in Massachusetts. Chicopee was made up of two distinct communities divided by a river. The historical basis for Chicopee was the textile industry, with its heritage of brick mills and other industrial vernacular buildings that, in their tough honesty, reminded Norman of the best examples of similar structures in the North of England.
By that time, Richard and Su Rogers had succeeded in travelling the trail well-worn by other European pilgrims, setting out from the East Coast and driving across to California to arrive in San Francisco. Eventually, Norman was to take the same path, having acquired an open two-seater MGA sports car for the journey.
But at last America had given him the means to purchase his dream car. Nevertheless, it survived the trip to the West Coast, and continued to serve Norman for the remainder of his stay in the USA. In the final analysis, he became convinced that a conventional American automobile would have been more suitable for his West Coast expedition, and he regretted not having bought one at the time. Deciding that he would stay in California for a while, Norman began the rounds of San Francisco offices to show his recently expanded portfolio of work.
This was the first time he had been forced to look for a job in this way, but he was fortunate in that he soon found one with the office of Anshen and Allen. Immediately, he was put to work on the new campus for the University of California at Los Angeles UCLA , in Santa Cruz, and he felt privileged to be involved in designing for such a beautiful site, with its giant redwood trees. This same Derek Parker was to reappear as the head of Anshen and Allen when Foster Associates collaborated with the American office in the early s.
Norman enjoyed his work on the Santa Cruz campus plan, feeling that this experience was very positive. It was in California, too, that he finally acquired an American automobile. He also paid another visit to the East Coast on a random consultancy job that was related to urban renewal. Throughout his entire sojourn in California, he maintained a steady correspondence with Richard and Su Rogers.
For their part, they constantly recalled the conversations the three had had at Yale, when the idea of forming a joint practice back in Britain had been discussed. Then one day Norman received a letter from Su reminding him of the idea of a partnership—Norman had always thought of it as one between Richard and himself. In any case, Norman booked his flight back to London. He was absolutely determined to squeeze every last mile and ounce of experience out of his return journey, so he chose a roundabout route by way of Mexico City, Merida, Jamaica and New York to Manchester.
He finally arrived in London, where he was met by the Rogers in their Mini. Theirs was the classic early model of the car, unbelievably small on the outside yet seemingly quite spacious within. It was located in Hampstead, beneath the studio home of Henri Henrion, a celebrated and successful international designer, whose corporate clients included such giants as the Dutch airline, KLM. Wendy Cheesman lived just around the corner, in the first floor flat at 16 Hampstead Hill The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 20 Gardens.
Wendy had studied architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic, from which school she was a recent graduate. Georgie was actually the only member of the partnership who was qualified as an architect. In fact, Georgie was involved in the partnership in name only. She had a very small child, and the pressures of parenthood meant that she was never really free to go to the practice.
The result was that the four partners only really came together socially. Nevertheless, although she could not actually work with the other partners, Georgie agreed to lend her name to the practice until one of the others managed to pass the Professional Practice Examination. The only alternative was to persuade another registered architect to join the partnership. During the time that Norman and Richard had been in the USA, the regulations and procedures for qualification and registration as an architect had changed.
The old requirements involved spending a certain period in an office, then sitting a written examination followed by an oral, but these simple rules had been replaced by more exacting hurdles. The satisfactory completion of each step in the process was then verified by a qualified, supervising architect, who signed the logbook as confirmation of his or her approval.
Wendy Cheesman considered it a backward step to participate in these new rituals, and she refused to do so as a matter of principle. After his visit to Manchester, Norman received a letter from the university that was extremely critical of his attempt to gain experience through employment in his own office, and stressed that such an arrangement was entirely outside the guidelines issued by the Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA. The writer concluded by advising Norman to find a job with a well-established firm of architects that could, by virtue of its experience, offer him proper training in the profession.
None of this helped, especially because Georgie herself was becoming increasingly apprehensive about allowing her name to be used to support a partnership in which she was not really involved. Meanwhile, Richard Rogers was having his own problems in trying to satisfy the new requirements being enforced by his old school, the Architectural Association in London. A series of dinner parties was set up.
On these occasions Su Rogers acted as hostess, and a friend, qualified as a registered architect, would be invited as guest. The guest would be liberally plied with food and wine, while the conversation was steered in the direction of the world of private practice and how everyone was faring in it.
Eventually, the guest would exhibit obvious signs of jealousy and envy. In quite rapid succession each was crossed out, to be replaced by another name. Furthermore, nobody actually signed on that dotted line. Meanwhile, pressure was building up from ARCUK about both the style and the structure of the practice. As they were wondering what to do next, Norman remembered that he did know one well-established architect, and he decided to approach John Beardshaw to ask him if he would be willing to help Team 4 out of their predicament.
Beardshaw had moved from his original London office in Bury Street to smaller accommodation just behind Eaton Square, where he employed only one assistant. John Beardshaw still occupied a spacious room, which was entered through large, double doors. To get the collaboration started, Team 4 would provide assistance on a town centre development that Beardshaw was engaged in.
- foster + partners: the art of architecture.
- Alvar Aalto: A Critical Study.
- Boys in Control (Boy/Girl Battle).
- Operating Systems!
- Integer Hong Kong Pavilion.
The letter went on in a similar vein about the necessity for Team 4 Architects to put its house in order. With this troublesome hurdle behind them, Norman and Richard were now free to sort out the problems attached to preparing for and sitting the Professional Practice Examination. Naturally, while all these irritations and hazards were being overcome, life did not stop or even really slow down, and the aspirations and desperations that accompany the building of an architectural practice also had to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis.
The Team 4 work space in Hampstead Hill Gardens left and the team with collaborators right , —5 Norman and Wendy Foster in the Covent Garden studio of Foster Associates, The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 24 By this time Norman and Wendy were actually living in the Hampstead flat-cumoffice, and its combination of functions constantly presented problems of privacy. These were temporarily overcome by boarding up the door between the rear of the flat and the front-room working area. But the original arrangement was reinstated when a genuine client—that is, one beyond the clan of family and friends—came in prospect.
This potential client was the contracting firm of Wates, which was very active and well known in the field of housing. Without hesitation, they told him that he should go to Berne in Switzerland and look at the work of Atelier 5. This made complete sense to Neil Wates, who unknown to Team 4 had already been to Berne, a visit that resulted in his commissioning Atelier 5 to design a small housing project. The divider they had built between the front working area and the rear of the flat was removed, allowing the spaced lived in by Norman and Wendy to be turned into an extension of the work area.
This involved the construction of a large wooden framework over their bed.
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This structure was in two parts to facilitate its handling and mobility. The basic idea was to conceal the bed beneath the two joined boxes. It took considerable physical effort by two people to manoeuvre these heavy components and succeed in lining them up over the bed. The secret was to align the two edges so that they met exactly halfway across the bed, then to conceal this junction by loosely scattering across it an array of magazines, including Domus, Casabella and The Architectural Review. When Ken Bland eventually arrived, things had never looked or sounded so busy. Mr Bland planted himself on the edge of this structure and proceeded to make himself comfortable.
The architectural magazines were sucked slowly into this gap until they had all disappeared onto the bed that could be seen below. Team 4 never received any commissions from Wates, although they continued to grow, until they filled all the rooms in the flat. At that point Wendy and Norman camped out with various friends, eventually finding another, entirely separate flat that was located about five minutes walk from Hampstead Hill Gardens.
By that time they were married. The emergence of an architect — Electronics factory for Reliance Controls, Swindon, 25 The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 26 A design team meeting at Foster Associates in Fitzroy Street, The turning point for the practice came with the commission to design a small electronics factory for Reliance Controls Limited on a site at Swindon.
A number of other architects and contractors were interviewed for the job, and Team 4 had been included in this shortlist because their architect-photographer friend, John Donat,14 knew the client, Peter PaulHuhne. It was the Reliance managing director, John Steward, however, who had the responsibility for awarding the commission.
Steward was an old-style manager, who was quite removed from life on the shop-floor. To the great surprise of Norman and Richard, John Steward accepted their extremely radical proposals, which did not at all correspond to traditional concepts of industrial buildings. Production and administration were separated only by a movable glass wall. And there was just one, single, common entrance for all employees.
Walker could not believe his ears at first. But he soon realized that Foster was being perfectly serious, and that he had no experience whatsoever of actual site procedures. The contractors for the Reliance job were Pope Brothers Limited. Their management strategy was extremely simple. They provided a site hut calculatedly too small to accommodate any regular site meetings. Norman remembers that it was, in fact, so small that it was impossible to get four people standing inside the hut at the same time.
There in his studio, which is set apart from the house in the far right-hand corner of the terrace, Spencer de Grey and I met with Norman to discuss the first draft of my text, together with preliminary designs for the cover and some sample pages of this book. Norman was unusually relaxed in this astonishingly beautiful hideaway, almost another person in this other world of the French Riviera, for Fonte Colombo is remote in every sense from his underprivileged beginnings, and a profund contrast to the liner-like interior of the present Foster studio at Riverside Three in Battersea.
The ubiquitous olive groves thread through the landscape, with individual trees standing like sentinels in the middle distance. In the immediate foreground the gardens of Fonte Colombo, with their serried olive groves and the pergola walk descending between The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 28 the haughty poplars, preserve the old-world ethos of this locale. The scattered pantile roofs that peep above this variegated green maze also confirm the origins of these forms of flora and cultivation. With Buckminster Fuller and colleagues to discuss the Oxford Theatre project at the Covent Garden studio, —71 Foster Associates, Great Portland Street, —90 The emergence of an architect — The Foster Studio, Riverside Three, Norman Foster, August , France 29 The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 30 Across the valley, in the middle-distance, there is a profusion of unkempt buildings, and their image is more one of an industrial suburb than a bucolic landscape.
It is hard to accept their awkward and uncomfortable shapes as neighbourly. Nevertheless, that landscape across the valley is reminiscent of images from industrial blight in Northern England as captured by Lowry, a reminder that all our dreams, all landscapes of ambition and achievement, are but fragile structures which, like architecture, are sketched in space and time.
Characteristically, he first of all gave a disarming half-smile. Then he allowed himself a chuckle, the sort of reaction I have learned to associate with imminent riposte, not to say a substantial onslaught. He wants to tell me that no obstacle, past, present or future, can impede the further rise and progress of the Foster Studio.
I can sense that quite clearly from the set of his eyes and jaw. Meanwhile, our lunch is ready now, and that cannot wait. The emergence of an architect — 31 Notes and references 1 The practice originated as Team 4, when Norman Foster was in partnership with Richard Rogers, Wendy Cheesman and her sister Georgie Wolton.
Foster Associates was then formed in All direct quotations from that documentation are given in quotation marks. With the seven passes listed by Foster, for instance, it should have been possible to satisfy the Cambridge University Examination Board. The difficulty may therefore have been with the examination board which was selected by Burnage High School, or it could have resulted from the discrepancy between a pass in a subject and a higher level of performance required for matriculation i.
In the Century Tower design, the model is appropriately that of amenities found on airliners, where illuminated signs inform waiting users of the availability of the next cubicle. The Civic Centre buildings for Cardiff in Wales are arguably his best and most elaborate. Both produced standardized, semi-modular units that offered better use of interior space, while Gordon Russell especially linked the thrust of modern furniture ideas with the established traditions of materials, form and construction.
Lowry — was a Lancashire painter renowned for his unique interpretations of northern England industrial life and landscapes. Although essentially a sophisticated artist, he rendered his material in a naive style that heightened the environmental contrasts he portrayed. The bleakness of his industrial compositions is intensified by the seemingly helpless, emaciated, stick-like portraits of the local population. Lowry avoided the risk of caricature through his sombre reality.
The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 32 9 This sense of freedom and flexibility that Norman discovered in the continuum of working through the uninterrupted time span of hour building opening at Yale is operated today in the Foster Studio. Riverside Three at Battersea is open days a year, 24 hours a day.
These Design Methodists—and their ranks included Christopher Alexander—sought to rationalize the design process along abstract, frequently mathematical lines, which reduced everything to objective, material and measurable factors. Community and Privacy, while seeking an objective and measured view of the residential environment, was at the same time sensitive to human and emotional aspects, establishing human territory as a unique interactive family of activities that is as much environment as the architectural framework that contains it.
Neil Wates was renowned for a passion to provide the highest standard of domestic environment in his projects, and for this reason he was a keen student of other related work being done on the continent of Europe. John edited a number of architectural books, but he is principally known for his architectural photography. He has photographed many Foster buildings.
Its beginnings in my consciousness, however, went back to the late s when, as Director of the Architectural Association in London —69 , I came in close contact with a number of leaders in the Design Methods movement—principally Bruce Archer, Christopher Alexander, Geoffrey Broadbent and Christopher Jones. The idea behind the creation of IBIS was to facilitate the use of more RTB steel through the manufacture of prefabricated dwellings that would meet the needs of the housing market in the public sector.
As it happens, Alex Gordon, who was later to become President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, was himself caught up in a design methods approach to practice, and he is mostly remembered for his RIBA-sponsored study that was published as The Architect and His Office Through my work at the Architectural Association and on the IBIS project, therefore, I became steeped in the twin processes of architectural practice management and design methodology during the period — The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 34 Norman Foster second left with his partners l to r : Spencer de Grey, Barry Cooke made partner in , Ken Shuttleworth, David Nelson and Graham Phillips, Riverside Three, London, I returned to teaching after a four-year gap, when I was appointed as lecturer at my undergraduate school, Liverpool University —73 , and it was in that period that Graham Phillips became one of my students.
Graham recalls that we had many lengthy and passionate discussions about design in the early s. One focus of those exchanges was our sense of frustration as we realized how inadequate those management and method procedures were for the advancement of architecture as a social art and that, back in the early s, there seemed little we could do to stem the rationalizing tides that inundated architectural practice during the greater part of the s.
I did not meet Norman Foster until July , following my visit to Tokyo three months earlier, when I had seen Century Tower during the last stages of construction. My contact with Foster Associates, as they still were at that time, re-established my engagement with the processes of professional practice. By it was agreed that I should write this monograph. My first exchange was with Spencer de Grey. The body of practice 35 Spencer de Grey Malcolm Quantrill: Spencer, I have had more opportunities to discuss the Foster studio with you than with any partner, other than Norman.
You have also been with Norman longer than almost anyone else still here, going back to February —nearly a quarter century. How did you get involved in the Foster world? It was the first middle school to be built in the borough. As Foster Associates were just starting work on a school for handicapped children in Liverpool—Palmerston School—it seemed perfectly natural for me to join the practice when the middle school was complete. MQ: As you switched from a local authority office to what was already one of the preeminent private practices in Britain, what were your first impressions? I remember quite clearly the occasion when Martin Francis and other members of the Willis Faber team described the development of the detail design for the suspended glass wall that enclosed the building.
It really represented a major technical breakthrough, an extraordinary technological feat, which typified for me everything that the practice stood for: the determination to break new ground, both at a strategic architectural level, and also in terms of detailed technical design. MQ: What about your working relations within the existing structure of Foster Associates when you joined the practice—your links with the partners, and team patterns?
This was a very low-budget project, and she was determined to ensure that every avenue was explored to achieve the best possible The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 36 solution. It was a remarkable experience to work with her, because of her extraordinary perception about design. The design for the school was rooted in the mainstream thinking of the practice at the time—the perfecting of industrial building elements to create a flexible, humane and all-embracing environment for the user.
Here, a five-bay, steel portal frame enclosed a colourful play space for the children, with generous natural light from above. Every inch of the drainage runs was meticulously draughted. It was an exemplary lesson for me in how the design of the services must be carefully considered and coordinated into the building as a whole—an early training for what was to be one of the most important aspects of our work at Stansted, the new third London Airport in Essex. MQ: What happened after Palmerston School? What was your next challenge at Foster Associates? This was the first time I worked closely with Norman himself.
I remember striving with him to achieve the best possible master plan for this sizeable industrial complex—getting the right framework for a large site with a major client was crucial to the long-term success of the project. The first phase, The body of practice 37 the UKDC, embraced many different activities within a single enclosure. Internal standards were kept consistent throughout, so that office workers and warehouse personnel all enjoyed the same environment.
SdG: Well, the original project was successfully completed but IBM brought the next stages to a temporary halt in , and I then worked on a number of other projects. These included the new headquarters for Cincinnati Milacron at Milton Keynes, which allowed us to continue developing our ideas about flexibility for large industrial organizations. These involved the complete integration of office, manufacturing and storage areas to create a seamless container for the client. Did you have an opportunity in those early days at Foster Associates to grapple with the inner city, the urban fabric?
After all, there you were working in a studio right in the heart of London. SdG: That chance came in We were approached by London Transport to design a major transport inter-change and commercial centre on the roundabout site at Hammersmith Broadway in West London. We were the third firm of architects to be engaged by London Transport to study that site, which had a chequered career both with the London Borough of Hammersmith and with the Greater London Council GLC. We soon arrived at the overall design strategy, concentrating the office buildings around the perimeter to provide a major public space, the size of Trafalgar Square, in the centre of the site.
This public space was on an elevated deck above the bus garage and London Underground station. It took a long time, however, to rationalize the exact form of the perimeter ring of offices so that it was fully integrated into the surroundings. It also took time to resolve the impact of the diagonal underground railway lines that bisected the site, and the consequent complexities in the resulting structural geometry. It was on this project, also, that we first met Stuart Lipton, who was then in charge of the developers Greycoats.
He was representing an important potential tenant on the site. He also provided invaluable support and advice for the Royal Academy on the contractual intricacies of the Sackler Galleries. MQ: How did you fare with London Transport and the local authority? SdG: We had a lot of constructive discussions with the planning office at Hammersmith, leading to a successful public exhibition and meeting at which our proposals were broadly accepted by the people of Hammersmith—the first time architectural proposals had been welcomed for the site.
In fact, when the project came to a halt, there was a public outcry demanding that our scheme be retained. It was at that point, however, that London Transport elected to engage Bredero, a Dutch firm of developers, as their commercial partners.
After a fairly short honeymoon period it became clear that Bredero had a totally different approach to the site and were intent on a more conventional approach. At the same time, new ideas were being explored in the practice, which led to a more dramatic, totally enclosed central plaza. The body of practice 39 SdG: Oh yes, because on the same day that Hammersmith came to an end, we received the brief for a limited design competition for the new headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong.
This project was destined to completely change the nature and standing of the practice. It was to become, almost overnight, a major international practice. SdG: For certain, yes. One of the highlights of our first meeting with our potential clients was a dinner that the Bank staged on their own boat for all the invited competitors. It was quite fascinating to observe the very different attitudes of the seven architects in a highly competitive, yet still social, situation. Interestingly, we were the only firm who stayed on in the city after the briefing, studying the various departments of the Bank and getting to know Hong Kong and the site.
This also involved a trip to the New Territories to visit a geomancer in an attempt to understand the significance of feng shui—we still have his sketch in the studio today, showing in a quite uncanny way a close resemblance to the final design. MQ: And once again that extra effort, that attention to detail, the Foster sense of ultimate perfection—all this paid off?
SdG: Yes, with nearly the whole practice involved in the presentation, we made our submission to the Bank in September , and shortly afterwards we heard that we had won the competition. That was the major turning-point for us: it was by far the biggest building we had ever undertaken—our first high-rise—and it was km from London! MQ: Did you yourself actually live and work in Hong Kong during any stage of this project? SdG: Yes, I was there for one and a half years, setting up the Hong Kong office with my wife Lucy and Graham, and also developing the brief with the Bank.
I liaised with the The Norman Foster Studio: consistency through diversity 40 London studio, coming back to London many times during that period to work on the design. Just one and half years, then the cord was cut?