Architectural Personality: Architecture Soul

Architecture Personality, Architectural Article, Design Dialogue

Architectural Personality : Architectural Dialogue

Architecture Discussion by Nigel Henbury

5 Feb 2013

Architectural Soul


A group of projects this week each face up the meticulous with the abstract.

There are occasions where the process of accommodating human interaction with the senses through stages of creativity, experimentation, practise, production and perfection tend to dominate the order of spaces and articulation of massing in the final architectural solution.

To arrive at the specific solution – albeit in an age where there is an option to use software packages enabling a virtual image of the building prior to breaking ground – will be a personal milestone for the design team and client.

Add the difficulty of a site that leaves the building(s) expose on all sides, then the designer(s) really do have to earn their fee.

Edifice alone walks a fine line between acceptance and anonymity, particularly when the language of choice evokes abstractions of simple typologies as is the case with the Nimes Music Hall (‘music hangar’) and House at Odemira (‘outhouse’).

Paloma Music Venue, Nimes, France – architecture news
Paloma Nimes Music Venue - Architectural Personality
photo : Stéphane Chalmeau

House in Odemira, Alentejo, South of Portugal
Design: Vitor Vilhena Architects
Casa House in Odemira, Alentejo - Architectural Personality
photograph © Joao Morgado

At first glance, it is difficult to understand the rationale behind its massing. The soul behind the articulation of outline and detail are only understood by the architects who composed the arrangement of faces and spaces. Therefore we have to accept that the building is there to be criticised by the public, just as is a new piece of music! Perfect!

It’s a young building with a cartoon element, looking like a large isolated piece of ore – ideal venue for a ‘rock concert ‘.

The process of creating the Music Hall implies a public spirited project, concerning the client and the procurement of the design. The functions it is intended to foster are creative, linked to human interaction with sight and sound. The building needs to provide the technology and materials to describe spaces that can take a performer from first ideas to final production. Solutions are therefore necessarily detailed and technically demanding.

The house at Odemira, like the music hall has curious lines. Externally, at this stage of its life the building communicates a limited aspiration to physically connect with its near surroundings. The agrarian form of the house is appropriate but surely the design in its completed form will build the site to facilitate the filtering of the wider landscape forms and character into the spaces and idyll of the house.

For now, the soul of the building stays secret.

SU House, Stuttgart, south west Germany
Design: Alexander Brenner Architekten
SU House Stuttgart
photo : Zooey Braun, Stuttgart

By contrast the soul of the of the SU House in Stuttgart is laid bare to the world!. Classically uninhibited by sole occupation of the building plot, the house is apparently extravagant on all sides in a composition expressed by the clean lines of stacks and balconies hovering over slick sliding glazing panels. This opens the internal volumes on the principle living level to an expansive covered terrace all finished to an apparently high level of workmanship and material specification and personal rigour in the decorative finish. Parti is the life and soul!

We see how Architecture shelters and fosters that which we may create for the future, enjoy in the present and cherish in the memory; music, tranquility, art and ….fine wine

Castle Winery Palencia, near Valladolid, north west Spain
Design: Moral Arquitectura
Castle Winery Palencia
photograph : Jorge López Conde

In Spain, The Castle Winery Palencia is conceived in the spirit of endeavour and patience to use simple ingredients from the earth with relatively minimal refinement, blended using manual methods to create an end product unique to a particular place of which the locality can be proud. Respect will only be garnered by the enjoyment of the experience by customers, their recommendation to others and objective comparison with peers.

Nigel Henbury

Nigel Henbury
Nigel Henbury

Nigel Henbury is educated to Diploma Level in architecture and has worked in practices in the disciplines of architecture and internationally in golf course architecture. Currently he works in the public and private sector supporting services to landscape architects and design build of recreation areas.

Comments on this Architectural Personality: Architecture Soul article by architect Nigel Henbury are welcome.

Architecture articles by Nigel Henbury

Material World – 6 Nov 2012

Organic Architecture – 18 Sep 2012

Architectural Growth – 22 May 2012

Skyscraper Building Design – 24 Jan 2012

Cultural and Contextual Identity – 30 Aug 2011

Architecture Articles – Selection

Architectural Aura

Architectural Beauty

Architectural Communication

Architecture Discussion

Architectural Identity

Architectural Legibility and Didacticism

Architectural Narrative

Lightbox, MediaCityUK, Salford, north West England, UK
Design: AHR
Lightbox Tower Mediacityuk Manchester
image courtesy of architects
Lightbox Tower MediaCityUK

Comments / photos for the Material WorldArchitecture Article page welcome