Sunday, October 07, 2007

Peter Cook

I attended a lecture by Peter Cook, one of the few celebrity architects associated with the Bartlett (UCL). The lecture was called “Gossip and everything in the past 2 years” where he spoke about his practice spanning right from the good old days of the Archigram to the recent Graz museum. He was an absolute performer, great timing and a nasty laugh. He looked like Charles Correa, but a lot more shorter, animated and comfortable (besides being dressed in black top to bottom). And on that particular evening I think, ‘Sir’ Peter Cook was on a roll! He spoke about anyone and everyone and amazingly even bitched (I don’t even know why am I so surprised in spite of being aware that it is something that is inherently embedded within our practice), before an audience of some 300 odd people, as he slotted every other architect and architecture around the world in good, bad and the ugly, he was simply hilarious!
He narrated this incidence wherein he was called for a building opening which was a tower shaped like a twisted torso, designed by Calatrava and explained that how they were not even allowed inside the building but instead invited inside a white tent next to it, which had photographs of the building. He then spoke about how bored he was of MVRDV and had fell asleep during one of their data-scape-analysis presentation. At the end of it I had realized the lecture was superbly true to its title…and I totally enjoyed it.
But filtering all the bitching out, he made some points that were quite interesting…about the notion of iconographic building, where he was damn funny! He said these days everyone who has the money to finance, wants something iconic…even if they are getting a coffee shop done or installing a small bench along the sidewalk they want it to be ‘iconic’. Then he spoke about the practice of architecture and the trend of redevelopment of old city areas (where he appealed to save Canary Warf from such redevelopment monstrosities) as he showed slides of images with huge HSBC bank and other banks that have taken over the area…it was a nice lecture, nothing new…but nice.

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