Yesterday Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of Grafton Architects, received the 2020 Pritzker Prize. The first women to be jointly recognized for the award also received the Royal Gold Medal 2020 from RIBA earlier this year.
On this last occasion, they gave a lecture about some of their projects and the way they think about the architectural field, crossing other disciplines such as music, psychology, and poetry, which lead to the design thinking of their practice. Here, we highlight some important inspirational quotes from this talk which help us to reflect on the role of architects and urban planners in contemporary society.
"(...) We want to describe imagination as the central strength of architecture. The responsibility is the ethical anchor of this amazing profession. Social responsibility, the impact of what we do, how we participate, how we collude, how we make the questions, really arise of what extra ingredient can we imagine that functions, that enrich the lives of others, that helps the earth retain its beauty". (41:01)
"At this time of climate change, a time to care deeply about our world, that we repair the broken, that we reuse where possible, that we become hyperconscious, conscious of our use of materials that everything we build matters". (43:03)
Architecture as Geography
"Our conviction that architecture is now the new geography developed through a body of work and reflection and what is happening in the world around us as more and more of the natural world disappears, what we do as architects actually makes the world we live in at a scale where it's possible to consider it as geography, not as individual objects. Whether beautiful or not but by the sheer amount of building architecture now is at the scale of the Earth's geography. It is a modified earth". (58:32)
Time in Architecture
"One of the components in our own search for ways of making work is a discussion about fragments in the sense that architecture is the framework for life and in order for us to make new frameworks, we have to find ways of translating the sensory experience of life into architecture and that series of sensory experiences are built through fragments over time. But we're also interested in it as an idea about history because it's something that we talk about a lot in our work that history is not linear, it's not time, and certainly not in architecture. And the older we get the more we reach back into time and there's something very important about that and it's also that we don't see the difference between the past and the future. Jung has a beautiful term where he talks about the unconscious psyche and that it's not only immensely old that it's capable of growing into an equally remote future. So that's one of the kind of wonderful phenomena of architecture: this thing of time, past, present and future". (1:15:53)
Architecture and Rhythm
"Edith Sitwell says a wonderful thing about poetry - she says that 'risen is one of the principal translators between dream and reality in poetry' - and these kinds of comments really inform and encourage and inspire us in the making of Architecture, that other disciplines have these same words and structures and, I suppose, struggles in terms of whether it's poetry or music that architects have. And we were manipulating let's call it the notes or the order the rhythm to make each wall different - not for his own sake but simply that we could take a language of repetition but not make sameness".(1:26:08)