In Rotterdam last week I was thrilled to find an exhibition of the work of American architect Louis Kahn at the Nederlands Architectuur Instituut. Kahn has been a hero of mine since studying his buildings as part of my Churchill Fellowship travels in 2005 considering the Conservation of Modern Architecture. His buildings are among the best architecture I have ever experienced.
Appropriately titled ‘The Power of Architecture’ the exhibition is a wonderfully diverse collection of Kahn’s drawings, models, films and paintings gathered from a number of private collections.
My favourite part of the exhibition was probably the architectural models which ranged from working studies of individual design concepts through to highly detailed presentation models of his world famous buildings such as the Phillips Library, Bangladesh Parliament and the Kimbell Art Gallery.
The exhibition also provides a clear insight into Kahn’s inspirations including his clear admiration for historic architecture and structures. Kahn was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 1950-1 where he studied the ruins of the imperial Roman empire in detail. To him the buildings represented structure in its most unadulterated form and this viewpoint, coupled with his aim to achieve a timeless, sacred architecture is reflected in the austerity and elemental materiality of many of Kahn’s buildings.
The exhibition runs until 6th January 2013 and is well worth a visit.