Layering & Change
Peter Cook (Cook-Robotham Architectural Bureau)


Peter Cook

©Monica Pidgeon

Most of the work that I've been doing in the last two or three years has been based upon Germany. This is partly a sort of historical accident and partly the fact that the projects are getting closer and closer to being building proposals rather than purely theoretical; and in fact one of them for housing in Lützowplatz in Berlin, is just about to be built now. Nearly every project is a commentary upon the situation that one sees. I think this is something to do with being a teacher for a large part of the time. And also something to do with being somebody who really enjoys not so much theorising as drawing. So one plays out a series of preoccupations, and several of the projects are done with other people, mostly with Christine Hawley, occasionally also with Ron Herron and with recent ex-students and so on. And they are really the product of conversation, conversations about vegetation a part of architecture conversations about change and metamorphosis and replacement and gradual replacement, and things melting from one state into the other. Conversations about layering and conditions of light and conditions of translucency and transparency and, I think, a general preference for what I might call a Gothic approach rather than a Classic approach, an approach concerned with the experience of architecture, almost like theatre, like a series of scenes, a series of atmospheres layered imperceptibly one upon the other, with no hard edges between them. I think that's very important. I don't see architecture either programmatically and certainly not spatially and certainly not organisationally as having hard lines between. So that although most of the projects start from a base of a grid or a series of grids or a series of matrices, they then melt the edges of them, they then lap them one over the other.


Museum, Langen Near Frankfurt 1986, With Christine Hawley. North Facade

©Peter Cook

This is the north façade of a small stained-glass museum that Christine Hawley and I designed early in 1986. We hoped that the town of Langen, near Frankfurt, might eventually build it. It's an aluminium-faced shed very much in the tradition of the American art shed; and, after all, Langen is quite a small town with something of a history. And the building sits between two very important spaces in Langen. The space on the north side faces the old church and lines of lime trees and old decaying walls. It's a very tranquil corner. And the south space is used for car-parking, fairs and, most importantly, the annual apple-wine festival. And there's a tradition that a large tent is erected on that site. And our building also sits next door to the nineteenth century neo-classic old town hall.

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