I still remember with great fondness my first day of architecture school, way back in 1992! It was day one of fulfilling my long held dream of becoming an architect. I was a mixture total excitement, whilst also a bundle of nerves. What would it be like? How will I do? How does this all work?
I often reflect back on my very first lecture on day one. It was an introduction of sorts to architectural design, and I will never forget it. The lecturer talked to us about a single house. One hour on just one house, by Swiss- French architect Le Corbusier. The house: Villa Savoye, designed 1925, in Poissy, France, just outside of Paris. I later discovered that Le Corbusier was not his real name, but a pseudonym he adopted of his grandfather’s name. His real name was Charles Edouard Jeanneret. To me however, I know him as my hero; one of many.
Back to lecture number one. I did not understand a single word. I sat there panicked, thinking is this what I dreamt of doing for the last eight years? What’s this guy on about? The jargon, it all seemed so arty farty, it may have well been in Portuguese, I may have understood more. I should point out I don’t speak a word of Portuguese. On reflection, this first lecture was to change my life. I remember coming home and giving my dad the lecture summary sheet we were handed by the lecturer. I asked him to read it. I was distraught, as I hadn’t understood any of it. What was another 5 years of this course going to be like? I returned to the kitchen table after putting my bag down, keen to hear what my dad made of it. I sat down and before opening my mouth to ask him, he said: “This is bullshit Darren, I can’t understand a word of it”. What a relief, I was not the only one.
Fast forward one year and we started what was to become my favourite subject at University – The history of modern architecture. Day one was the same lecture on Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye I’d heard one year earlier. This time however, I understood every word, and more so, I was in heaven. It occurred to me that it was a matter of learning the design/architectural vocabulary, and obviously without my realising I had done so over the course of my first year. I was so excited to hear next week’s lecture on another architect, and it was like that for the entire year. But usually I could not wait between lectures: many a lunch time was spent in the library sitting on the floor flicking through books on famous architects, admiring their buildings.
Soon a picture of LeCorbusier sitting in his studio was up on my wall above my desk watching over me. I liked to think he was offering me guidance.
So began my love and appreciation of the varying architectural styles. Modernism however immediately became my favourite, still is, and remains the greatest influence on my work. Modernism began in the 1920’s, and is what most architects are still practicing and further developing today.
This then is an introduction of a new blog series that I will visit from time to time. I am calling it – “My Architectural Heroes”. I want to share what I love about these architects who pushed the boundaries, and whose work influenced so many the world over.
Unlike my lectures at University however, these blogs will be in plain English. My hope is that you too will be in awe of their timeless buildings, and learn something new about architecture.
Next week: Le Corbusier.