Architect Richard Rogers is probably best known for designing the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Lloyds Building in London. Two designs that celebrate the critical working parts of a building by exposing them.
His functionalist design philosophy also unflatteringly known as Bowellism, places structural elements, ducts, lifts and stairs externally, this not only adds more open space internally and provides easy access to parts for maintenance, but also creates a unique aesthetic.
Having turned 80 years old earlier this week, the Royal Academy of Arts in London has mounted a retrospective exhibition called Inside Out, about Richard Rogers and his architectural thinking.
In the following interview Richard Rogers discusses some of the themes of the exhibition and his perspectives on architecture that include ethos and social responsibility, designing not only for the client but for the general public. Perspectives that interestingly tie in with his philosophy of valorizing the critical and hidden elements of design.
Perspectives that leave me wondering how many parts of a design are considered of lesser importance and under-designed, hidden and neglected? And how can they be exposed and celebrated to become the new leading design features of a product?
For example what if design features related to Environmental Compatibility and Manufacturing Skill/Technology were emphasized like the brightly coloured ducts on the Pompidou? An authentic design aesthetic derived from the function and construction of a product and not just passing trend destined to fade.
Most of all I was struck by Richard Rogers’s mention of the Ephebic Oath. An oath that was sworn over 2000 years ago by young Athenian men wishing to become citizens of Greece.
“I will not leave my country smaller, when I die, but greater and better”
Whether we like, or dislike Richard Rogers’s design philosophy and aesthetic, I think we can all agree on making the world a greater, better place and leaving a positive legacy.