Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Cigar

(Nautilus House, Senosiain Arquitectos)
So, we went to the World Architecture Awards, didn't win anything but spent a lot of time hanging around looking at an awful lot of architecture, or at least an awful lot of drawings of architecture.

This exposure showed up some interesting differences between what's going on in the UK and elsewhere. Amongst other things this includes the pragmatism of much UK architecture, particularly in the (semi) public sector with its PFI procurement methods and endless value engineering. It was also evident in the housing category where a scheme like BIG's winning entry has a kind of no holds barrred typological vivaciousness not seen in the UK. Whilst BIG's architecture could be accused of a slick approximation of avant gardism, not to mention an apolitical collision of radical chic and ruthlessly high density development, it also has a bracing chutzpah a million miles from much of the drab conversations about housing in the UK. Similarly, MVRD's shortlisted Parkrand housing has a surreal audaciousness, even down to the giant plant pots, that mitigates against (inevitable) accusations of hollow formalism.

My personal favourite though was in the private housing category. Nautilus House is an extraordinary piece of biomorphism designed by the Mexican Senosiain Arquitectos. Part Bruce Goff, part Barbarella and with a bit of Terry Gilliam thrown in, it was described with admirably deadpan pragmatism by its architect Javier Senosiain. For more, including a variety of animal shaped houses, check out his website here.

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