August 8, 2019
Ukraine-based Pragmatika Magazine included Associate Helen Taylor in its “Faces of Architecture” feature, which puts a spotlight on who is pushing the boundaries of architecture that affects the European country. In it, she discusses her favorite buildings, her love of London, and the essential qualities every architect should have.
Read the translated Q+A below.
The most significant architect of the 21st century?
Le Corbusier as one of the pioneers of Modern Architecture and the cubist form.
The building you would call the symbol of modern architecture?
This is a building that could be underrated until you have been there in person, but for me its Renzo Piano’s SNFC (Cultural Centre) in Athens. It has all the hallmarks of modern architecture perfectly executed – the use of concrete and steel as a beautiful material, clean lines, minimalism with no unnecessary adornment, the clever creation and incorporation of public spaces. Basically, this is a building that people enjoy being in and using.
Which city is in vogue today, if we are speaking about its urban design and architecture?
I might be a little biased, but I’m still in awe of London. I’ve lived here for nine years but almost every day I will see a new building or detail that I hadn’t noticed before. It’s such a dense and challenging city in urban planning terms, but I just love how a 16th century church can sit alongside a 40-storey glass skyscraper, which sits next to a 1960’s council apartment block, which sits next to an amazing landscaped park with a craft beer festival going on inside it. It shouldn’t all work together, but somehow it does.
The most essential quality every architect should have?
The ability to work through complex problems at 3am! The thought processes an all-round project architect needs to go through are so varied – from the initial fee/scope/contracts, to the creative process, vast amounts of coordination with other consultants and contractors, documentation of the project, maintaining client relationships and so on. It’s not surprising that it usually results in a few late nights. That’s probably why all architects seem to love coffee.
The most important challenge faced by architects nowadays?
As an industry, we need to make sure we keep up with the fast-paced changes in both construction and technology, so our skills stay relevant and respected.
Which of your own projects you would consider your greatest achievement?
The Londoner Hotel (Woods Bagot London Studio). It’s a £350million new build hotel in Leicester Square, London. It has 350 bedrooms, multiple bars and restaurants, a two screen 600-seat cinema, subterranean spa and pool, ballroom and conferencing facilities. What’s most unusual about the project is the 36m (65 ft) basement, so as deep underground as it is tall. As Project Lead, it’s the largest and most complex building project I have been responsible for, and after five years working on the hotel, I’m quite emotionally invested! It’s onsite now and will be completed in 2020. I can’t wait.