Why we build, is it in the narrative?


I had the pleasure of seeing Rowan Moore talk live about his book why we build in Manchester with someone special.

As she said herself, its a interesting way to give some insight into the world of the architect. Something I originally wanted to be a long long time ago but I choose Design instead.

Anyway as Rowan was talking about positives and negative in different architecture decisions. I started seeing a slight pattern in the positives. Originally I put it down to playfulness of buildings and spaces but then I started thinking its about the narrative. What do I mean?

As an architect, you lay the foundations of how the space is going to be used in the same way as storytellers/game creators imagine the world the narrative is formed in. They then plan routes/journeys people and things go through that space. In the same way a book lays the foundation and the person’s mind takes it on to different level.

Its a thought and maybe very wrong (specially because everyday work I assume is pretty mundane) but I think about my best examples of good architecture and think about how it leads you on a path but allows you to explore without getting in the way.

Its like being taken on a journey. In fact, the features or sticking points are also like social objects or talking points.

The Street at PQIMG_2227

Pacific Quay in Glasgow is BBC Scotland’s headquarters and I was in love with the Street idea. I seen a similar idea in 8-House’s Ørestad District, Copenhagen. The street for me is a narrative through the complexity of a building. But not only that, its a talking point (social object) and a great place to bump into people and have the conversations you get in corridors.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.