We’ve asked artists, architects and designers plus architectural students from LAU, to share with us their thoughts and ideas as they relate to their favorite cities, Utopian urban design and various life experiences. Here are their answers, along with original works that best reflect their passion, creativity and emotions.
Tell us about the work you submitted and the medium you’ve selected.
I decided on a collage primarily because that seemed like the best way to capture the messy vitality of my ideal city.
How does it represent you?
Louis Khan said, “The street is a room by agreement.” I have always loved this quote, and I can think of no better example of this agreement, than the space outside a London pub. So my city is anchored by this most social of institutions on every corner. There is no better way to experience a city than on a bicycle, so the streets are free of cars and full of bikes. The Eiffel Tower is a nod to undeniably beautiful Parisian planning. I love the verticality of cities like Manhattan and Hong Kong, so I’ve decorated the edges with some of my favourite towers from around the world. Cities are always about the people who inhabit them, and the many tribes of Tokyo street life are unbeatable when it comes to picturesque exotic beauty. And the last component for my ideal city would be abundant sky and quality of light you only find in LA.
Which is your current city and how would you describe it?
I’m currently splitting time between London and LA, two cities that probably couldn’t be more different, but they’re both full of creative energy. There are pockets of creativity spread all over Los Angeles, I’m continually surprised to discover some incredibly creative group in a nondescript building hidden in the sprawl. Commonly, both cities lack affordable housing, which seems to be the price of being a globally desirable city. What I’ve found most remarkable is some of the discussions about building at height and vertical residential are nearly identical to the conversations taking place in London. Despite the radically different contexts, concerns about overlooking, traffic and fears of gentrification are strikingly similar. I think the cycling culture in Los Angeles is remarkable given the primacy of the automobile.
Tell us a brief story that had marked you in your current city. How would it have been different in your created city?
I got hit by a white van while cycling in Regents Park. That left a mark! My dream city would have more car-free roads. I think when it comes to tall buildings, the planning process often stifles creativity and innovation; my dream city would encourage braver design. The most sustainable city is a denser city, and tall buildings done well can be a positive addition to the urban context.
Where do you position yourself in a world where culture is becoming global? And how does that affect your work?
I’ve always prided myself on being a modernist. I firmly believe that expressive forms and honest use of materials are as appropriate as being a slave to traditional forms or the local vernacular. Having said that, I’m not immune to the charms of the old town. My favourite cities are the ones that celebrate the differences between old and new. My job is to design the new cities of the future, cities that are interconnected, multicultural and increasingly transnational. I often hear the complaint that all cities are beginning to look the same, my response is to suggest a closer look. Over the past 10 years, London has seen the addition of a significant number of tall buildings, one might argue that from a distance it’s starting to look more like Manhattan or Frankfurt. However, even a cursory visit to the streets of those cities will reveal fundamentally different urban conditions and still unique cultures. Being lucky enough to work on projects all over the world carries a responsibility, to respect the local context and create places that resonate with the local population. Most of our clients come to us because we have international experience and an awareness of what is happening in a variety of markets. So our responsibility is to distil those global lessons learned into universal ideas that can be adapted as appropriate to each subsequent project. Evolution – and that’s always a good thing.