My Architectural Bucket List
30th September 2015
The five building types on my architectural bucket list. Image by Barney SheppardAs an architecture student, I think having ambition is very important. Since the course is so long, without wild and crazy dreams it’d be easy to loose focus or motivation to work as hard as possible. As a result, I have my own mental bucket list of buildings I’d love to design and then watch be constructed. Of course everyone’s list will be different, and if you’re a student making one will probably help show you what branch of architecture you want to go into. It’s a very real possibility that I’ll enjoy designing something completely different to the architecture on my list, but at this moment, as a naive and enthusiastic architecture student, my gut instinct tells me that creating the following buildings would be incredible…
Mumbai Airport, India, by SOM. Photo by Robert Polidori Mumbai Airport, India, by SOM. Photo by Robert Polidori Mumbai Airport, India, by SOM. Photo by Robert Polidori
An AirportAirports are hugely complex and therefore engaging. As an organisational operation and technical feat, they are a front to the modern day miracle that is flight. I am in awe and immensely curious about things I can’t understand, so defying gravity in a box that weighs over 300 tonnes sets my heart racing. This mixture of excitement and nervousness translates to interest in airports. Normally consisting of multiple buildings that are huge in scale, they must be meticulously planned so as to be as simple to use as possible. Foreigners who don’t speak or read the native language should be able to navigate easily, clear thresholds must be established as security heightens, and the staff must be able to quickly and efficiently move around to keep the system in full flow. A plane lands or takes off at Heathrow every 45 seconds which shows how intense the process is. As well as representing a logistical challenge, the architect of an airport is often granted quite a lot of artistic freedom. Airports are normally relatively far from any built context, effectively leaving a blank canvas from which to design. Also, as the first impression of a country will be partly based on the airport so ambitious and impressive architecture is favourable. Airports are rare, so it’s unlikely I’ll design one. However, if I do, flying out from my own airport and seeing it as I’m landing would blow my mind.
Matmut Atlantique Stadium, France, by Herzon & De Mueron. Photo by Iwan Baan Matmut Atlantique Stadium, France, by Herzon & De Mueron. Photo by Francis Vigouroux Matmut Atlantique Stadium, France, by Herzon & De Mueron. Photo by Francis Vigouroux Matmut Atlantique Stadium, France, by Herzon & De Mueron. Photo by Iwan Baan
A Stadium (preferably for my beloved Liverpool)As a child I dreamt of being a footballer. I’ve played since I was eight, and since I was about six supported Liverpool. People that don’t like football find it hard to understand the intensity with which fans support their team, so if you’re not into it please just accept that we’re very very passionate. Unfortunately I failed at becoming a professional footballer, so I’ve instead set my sights on combining my architectural skills with a sport related project. Designing a stadium for a team’s supporters, with such enthusiasm and deep rooted care for the activity contained in the architecture, would be a very fun. Obviously my preference would be to create a football stadium (depending on the team who wanted one), however I’d be happy to design any sports stadium that would hold passionate fans. If I were to end up designing a new stadium for Liverpool, it would definitely be one of the most personally important and memorable projects of my life. John W. Henry, if you’re reading this and want a new stadium, get in touch.
One World Trade Centre, America, by SOM.
A SkyscraperI often imagine walking down a city street, usually somewhere classy and elegant such as New York, and looking up at my skyscraper. At the moment the form and other specifics of the building are a blurry haze, yet hopefully during my career they will focus and become a reality. To design a skyscraper is a massive responsibility. They are seen by millions of people, used regularly by thousands and cost a lot of money. The reason for my enthusiasm and intense work ethic at uni is because I want to learn how to be the best architect I can be. The more I know, the more chance there is that I will be professionally appealing and trustworthy, resulting in clients choosing me as their architect for a particular project. As an architect, I feel I have a lot of responsibility (which is scary), but also a lot of power (which is exciting). Skyscraper’s represent people, companies, cities and nations, so if I design one I could potentially change the world.
Samuel Beckett Bridge, Ireland, by Santiago Calatrava.
A BridgeSantiago Calatrava is one of my favourite architects. His work is clean, refined, mathematical and beautifully engineered, which is what I aim for in a lot of my own work. The style of architecture he produces appeals to me more than any other, and it is especially beautiful when expressed in bridges. Every bridge essentially serves the same purpose although they vary in scale, location and user etc., getting something from A to B over a gap. Technological advances in recent decades have revealed new bridge building techniques and systems that allow the designer more creative freedom. For example, in the near future a bridge in Amsterdam will be 3D printed for the very first time. As bridges all do the same thing, it is up to the designer to make them memorable. I think the challenge of creating a unique bridge would be very enjoyable, and upon completion it would be satisfying to know it will directly help so many people.
Silver Wood House, Portugal, by Ernesto Pereira. Photo by João Morgado Silver Wood House, Portugal, by Ernesto Pereira. Photo by João Morgado Silver Wood House, Portugal, by Ernesto Pereira. Photo by João Morgado
My Own HouseIn order to pack so much into life, I strive for efficiency in all things. This includes cutting corners if possible when pavements meet at a right angle and getting as little sleep as I can (without compromising my health), because every second counts. Because of this, it annoys me when the flow of a building is poorly designed, such as atria with hidden stairs that take ages to find. If I am to design my own house when I’m older, I will be annoyingly obsessive. And why shouldn’t I be, a house is a large investment, and if anything were to be wrong it would bug me every single day. Of course I would design for more than hyper-efficiency, my house would be beautiful, charming and comfortable. As a professional working for clients with their own demands I won’t get the pleasure of designing every detail exactly as I want very often, so through designing my house I would be allowed this control and selfishly get to create something just for me.
So whilst my bucket list isn’t too long, it is quite ambitious and fairly specific. It’s unlikely I will get to design all the buildings I’ve included, but to do a few of them is definitely achievable, hence why working hard at university and beyond is so important. As a student it is fun to dream of what I could achieve over my professional life, and if you’re an architecture student I’d urge you to think about your own architectural bucket list, it may help drive you on to succeed.