Way Out West: Berlin - Corner (Earlier Stage)
This work is part of the Keeper’s House display Sir Peter Cook RA: City Landscapes, on show in the Belle Shenkman Room from 19 February 2020.
|Dimensions||55.8 x 53.3cm|
|Fabric & material||Digital Print|
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“From the earliest days after graduating from the AA, I was determined to explore the edges of architecture: particularly the limits of its formal vocabulary. Drawing was the inevitable method for this.”
Peter Cook, 2020
Sir Peter Cook RA is an English architect, lecturer and writer. His drawings have captivated people with their depictions of an architecture freed from the conventions of style and construction. The prints in this display were produced recently from original hand-coloured, mixed media drawings which date from the late 1980s to the present day.
Cook began architectural studies at age 16, starting at Bournemouth College of Art and then continuing to the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (the AA). He remarks that he initially struggled with drawing as a student. However, through a determination to express his ideas and a close association with inspirational drawers, such as David Greene, Ron Herron, Christine Hawley and Gavin Robotham, he came to learn a series of graphic tricks, worked preferences and tectonic gambits which gave his ideas substance.
He compares drawing by hand to new computer- based techniques, reasoning that while software can do amazing things (including being instrumental in realising his own Kunsthaus Graz and subsequent buildings) drawing by hand allows the architect to learn, communicate and experiment in a way that is irreplaceable. Cook has remarked that ‘the accuracy of the computer is its undoing’ as a creative tool, highlighting the importance of hand-drawing in his creative process and practice.
His career has been characterised by designs which are instinctively anti-Classic, anti-Minimalist, and anti-Monochrome. As a founder member of the visionary group Archigram in the early 1960s, Cook helped to re-imagine radically new possibilities for architecture, dismantling constructs and then reassembling them. He expresses a preference for elements that deviate from the purely repetitive, such as the combination of natural vegetation with highly technological inserts or devices and surfaces that are deliberate hybrids between the organic and the super-sleek.
Whilst a professor of architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, part of University College, London, Cook helped to establish its reputation as a leading institution for creative design. In 2004 his achievements with Archigram were recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects when the group was awarded the Royal Gold Medal. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2003 and was knighted in 2007 for his services to architecture and teaching.
In Sir Peter Cook RA’s own words:
“This project was originally prepared for an exhibition in the KunstHalle Berlin, organised by Kristin Feireiss.
It plays with the overlay of thoughts about the Kurfürstendamm: A street that starts heroically at the eastern end and effectively peters-out at the western end. Simultaneously, I wanted to import the physiognomy of the American West (Arizona et al.) into a series of deliberately degage elements harking back to the seedier side of Berlin’s recent past.
At this stage, a library and a small suite of offices sit above a club and there is a large cactus outside.”
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