The Representation Of Opposites
Peter Ahrends (Ahrends, Burton & Koralek)


Peter Ahrends, 1985

©Monica Pidgeon

In thinking about ideas for this talk I found myself being drawn to a theme which deals with the significance of the representation of opposites in our work at Ahrends Burton & Koralek. I suppose we could think about elements in opposition such as components in architecture that are simple or plain in re— lation to those that are more complex; elements in tension, for instance, as distinct from compression; density, mass or weight as opposed to lightness, fragility; and so on. I want to explore specific examples of our work which embody concepts of, and elements of movement and rest, elements that are dynamic and others that are static and which together represent and I think establish a fundamental relation to underlying cycles and rhythms of life: day and night, summer and winter, growth and decay, and I suppose ultimately birth and death. within this frame— work, I felt I would like to trace a few threads and try to make some connections between designs that are as diverse in their expressive content as are the build- ing types within the wide variety of contextual situations. This diversity reflects, on our part, a ceaseless and almost restless search which recognises and, I hope to some extent, reconciles contradictions and imperfections. Con- crete expressions of the cycles of irresolution are dynamic and I think are relevant in a world that is characterised, above all,by a sense of movement and change.


Bell Tower, Canberra

©Monica Pidgeon

The first slide is of a model of a bell tower for a carillon of bells which was to be constructed on an island in Canberra, Australia. It was a limited competi— tion and the notion was one of making some monumental gesture — and our design was never selected. The issue I want to draw attention to in the relatively light and fragile character of these hyperbolic paraboloid shells is, in a sense, the opposition of their forms. These two curved forms and the curved theme will I think recur in later slides as we'll see, in some way are expressive of the relationships between, if you like, Britain and the Empire, and Australia as a component of that Empire. And we can think about the passage of, not only space and time, ‘ but also the flow of the water in the lake between these two curves.

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