Technogym
Technogym
Technogym

Tribute

Will Alsop

The British architect spoke to CLADmag in Berlin several months before his death. As a tribute to a remarkable career, we revisit the interview, in which he reflected on his art, the role of public space, and taking fun seriously


British architect and artist Will Alsop died on Saturday 12 May aged 70, following a short illness. Alsop was known for his colourful and often avant-garde buildings, including Marseille’s bright blue Hôtel du Département and Peckham Library in London, for which he won the Stirling Prize in 2000.

He was also known for his imaginative, controversial and often unrealised city masterplans, such as a proposal to flood the centre of Bradford. As a respected columnist and academic, he was a strong advocate for a bolder approach to design.

Tributes poured in from around the world for Alsop following his death, from the likes of Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and his colleagues at aLL Design.

On the role of architecture
Architecture is about ideas and thoughts and examining things. Sometimes you’re lucky and find something quite new, but the climate we have at the moment goes against that. People get very afraid of failure, and that prevents them from trying new things. I don’t care about that though!

On taking fun seriously
I often get criticised because I talk about fun a lot, but fun is actually a really serious business. And it’s not easy [designing in a way that encourages a sense of fun]. You really have to work at it. It’s easy to follow a set of rules, but that’s not how it works.

When I’m designing buildings, I ask myself, ‘What would you enjoy?’ Once I’ve got somewhere, I can ask other people. But I’m a user as well as a designer, so my response is as important as anyone else’s, actually.

On creating successful leisure spaces
I think it needs to be a place where people can feel relaxed. That’s really important.

I see a lot of spaces which are over-designed, and that actually inhibits you. I’ve done a few art schools in my life and they always had to be rough and tough, internally, so you don’t inhibit students doing whatever they want to do. And you need social contact, of course.

On the role of art in his work
I’ve always painted and created art. It used to be sculpture, but it’s hard work, sculpture. Exhausting. I suppose it was 1985 when I started to paint as a way of discovering what a piece of architecture could be.

My paintings aren’t illustrations of what the architecture will look like; I paint to free up the mind. It’s a form of exploration.

I have a big board in the studio, with two big canvases, or sometimes one huge canvas, on it, and I work away on that. I just sit and quietly smoke and have a lager if I can; I look at it and think about it. As I get further advanced, I get other people on the team to come and add to the painting.

I like it, because it gets those guys off the computer. Computer screens are depressing. Everyone uses them, of course, but are they really the best thing for designing? The old fashioned way of constructing a model, playing with a few bits of balsa wood and tissue paper is nice because you’re inventing as you go along.

On Peckham Library
I go past it quite often. I haven’t actually been in it for four or five years, but people meet me who do use it, and it sounds as though it’s used very much in the same way it was originally.
Too many people use it, but I’m not going to complain about that.

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Art of Cryo
Art of Cryo is a new division of a renowned family business with 30 years’ experience in ultra-low temperature equipment. A 28-year old legacy of building the best quality solutions for whole-body cryotherapy is the foundation to offer our high performance cryo chambers - The Art of Cryo Vaultz®.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The museum’s rooftop observation deck will provide views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty
"You can see the torch displayed in the window, like a beautiful piece of jewellery"

The architects behind the new Statue of Liberty Museum

The Museum of Indigenous Knowledge in Manilla features a tropical plant-covered arch
kengo Kuma
"It’s not easy for foreign architects to work in Japan. Zaha was very frustrated with the miscommunication"

The Tokyo Olympic Stadium designer shares his philosophies

Once he had restored and improved Solomeo, Cucinelli turned his focus to improving the outskirts of the village
"It would be great if today’s men left as a legacy for the future some architectural and humanistic monuments for the next hundred, three hundred, one thousand years"

BrunelloCucinelli has madehisfortune from cashmere and has used hiswealthto restoreandrevive theItalian hamlet he callshome. Wefindout more

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
Interview: Dror Benshetrit and Di-Ann Eisnor
Dror Benshetrit and Di-Ann Eisnor will head up the team
"We will work to fuse nature, design, technology, and community in our cities in order to measurably improve the lives of citizens"

High profile design hirings for the We Company

features
"The idea of selling a better lifestyle has been rooted in everything that has happened in Miami over the past 80 to 100 years. Chad Oppenheim"

It’s always been a city with a big personality and the new projects taking shape in Miami are as bold and ambitious as ever. Alice Davis investigates

The Swartberg House was designed by Jennifer Beningfield, founder of Openstudio Architects, for her family
"It’s important for people to be rooted in place. This is a very special house, with powerful connections to nature"

Jennifier Beningfield has built her dream home in South Africa, using ancient building methods

cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
Koto Design introduces wood-fired hot tub
Koto is known for crafting modular, energy-neutral cabins and homes
Katie Barnes
A striking wood-fired hot tub has been unveiled by Koto, an architecture and design studio which has a passion for ...
Siminetti unveils iridescent decorative panelling range inspired by plants
The Clematis design
Megan Whitby
The Botanicals is Siminetti’s newest Mother of Pearl decorative panelling collection, inspired by the distinctive patterns found in botany and ...
cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
cladkit product news
Mather & Co and ITV unite to create Coronation Street Experience
Mather & Co has transformed the visitor centre into the ultimate haven for ardent Coronation Street viewers
Magali Robathan
Experience designers, Mather & Co, have orchestrated a remarkable collaboration with ITV to unveil the new Coronation Street Experience, a ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
Eco Resort Network conference to convene in Mauritius this May
The event will be hosted in the Mauritius in 2024
Megan Whitby
Hospitality industry event Eco Resort Network is set to take place at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Turtle Bay, Mauritius, from ...
Technogym
Technogym