We think about new buildings in amongst old ones a lot in our studio. This is one of the most contentious issues in architecture- especially in really historic settings. Should they fit in? Should they be strikingly modern?… Everyone has an opinion- including UNESCO, English Heritage, and local heritage “watchdogs”. I’m less interested in the black and white of it. I’d say it’s the shades of grey where the fun begins.

I love this family photo, although I’ve no idea who took it, or where its from (I romanticise it’s in the Mid west somewhere…). For me it says a lot about architecture, which is to say, I like buildings that have a family resemblance. In this picture, it is very clear who is the oldest or the youngest, by the creases of a wrinkled face, or the fresh lines of youth. They are a family. In buildings, an old facade’s weathered lines might contrast with those of a younger addition, but the shared genes come through. Gunnar Asplund’s Law Court extension reminds me of this. They are a very much parent and child combination, but the similarities (and differences) are clear. The tower houses of San Giminano are another fun example, spanning centuries.

For me, the critical idea is that the old and new are legible. Not just as separate, but as the same as well. I wonder about this approach a lot. I like how it acts as both a respectful, cultural recognition of our past, and as an informed architecture for our future.


Any thoughts?

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