London Design Festival is without doubt a daunting
feature in the calendar. Why? Because there is SO much to do and see and it encompasses a whole myriad of events and venues. When I speak to people about what they’ve been up to during the
festival an overlooked aspect seems to be the “talks”. There are literally
talks happening all over town, amazing opportunities to see and hear leading
designers, architects and thought leaders express their views. I had the great
pleasure on Wednesday evening to attend the third in a series of five INTERNI Design Aperitivo talks.
Alison Brooks with Gilda Bojardi and Michelangelo Giombini of INTERNI
Created by the renowned Italian design magazine
INTERNI, Salone del Mobile.Milano, the leading Italian furniture trade fair and
the Italian Trade Agency, the talks were headlined as British
Architects meet Italian Design. In fact each of the talks is being held in a London outpost of an
Italian design company and Wednesday’s event took place in the relaxing surrounding of the Natuzzi
showroom on Tottenham Court Road. The
guest speaker was none other than Alison Brooks from Alison Brooks Architects.
Her talk on ‘Crafting Experience: A
New Collegiate Architecture’ was a case study review of her practices Exeter College Cohen Quad in Oxford.
Alison Brooks gives her presentation
In summary, Alison walked us through the raison d’etre for the project
and explained not only the twists, turns and hoops that working on a complex
project with a heritage that extends beyond the 700 year-old institution that
is Exeter College. The project has already taken four years to reach its
current under construction stage with an estimated 96,000 man-hours including
18 public consultations and 28 planning reviews.
will create Exeter Colleges Third Quadrangle in the heart of Oxford with the S-shaped formation at the Quad’s social
heart, the very idea that won Alison Brooks Architects the competition in 2011. The Quad is a complete integration of
intellectual life and cultural life of higher education in Oxford and the design allows the form of the
building to open onto two courtyards at various levels in keeping with the
vernacular of Oxford colleges. Creating
a sense of journey, experiencing light and the city-scape and in essence
creating a landscape within the building itself with its multiple layers and movement.
The all-embracing curved roof gives the Quad a profile
visible on Oxfords skyline. Quads,
dreaming spires and collegiate living was how Alison described it. “Enabling people to immerse themselves
in an environment and in an idea.”
I was joyful at the thought process that
had given way to a very limited palette of materials in the building – just four;
Stone, Concrete, Brass and Cherry Wood. The aging of materials such as the
metal roof tiles, having been of critical importance to Alison and the Clients. “I believe architecture is both an urban project; its’ architecture, its’ built form and it’s also product design and completely about experience. “
After the talk the gathered crowd were able to take advantage of the wonderful seating collection from Natuzzi and enjoy the aperitivo.
Pasquale Natuzzi Jr. and Alison Brooks
Other speakers in the London series have included
David Chipperfield of David Chipperfield Architects, Anthony Hudson of Hudson
Architects, Lyndon Neri of Neri & Hu, and Clark Pickett of NBBJ. Find out more here.
Event Photography © Ashley Bingham
Architecture images © Alison Brooks Architects