Monday, 27 September 2010
Panter Hudspith are a practice whose buildings I often admire and this remarkable new block of flats in Bear Lane, south of Southwark Street, is a good example.
It is interesting in a number of ways. The building responds to its irregular and varied site; thinking about this in relation to the practice's other buildings, it caused me to reflect on how some architects are much better at dealing with irregularity and some much better at regularity. Panter Hudspith seem to have a highly pragmatic temperament and (in my view) are at their best responding to varied conditions - as found also in their buildings of recent years in Lincoln (museum) and Cambridge (residential over shops). Other have interests and aptitudes that incline more to regularity.
Clients when choosing their architects might like think about the shape of their site and take this into account. Mies or Michael Hopkins might not be at their best struggling with funny shapes; Giancarlo de Carlo or Panter Hudspith might not excel given a square city block.
This may be genetic. Watching small children with building blocks (when left to their own devices) one can observe that some are predisposed to arrange them asymmetrically, other symmetrically. It's not obvious which confers the evolutionary advantage, but perhaps a survey of Stirling Prize winners would provide an answer.