“To author, to weave, to seamlessly move through spaces, to take responsibility, to democratise”

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“To author, to weave, to seamlessly move through spaces, to take responsibility, to democratise” – these thoughts by Sir David Adjaye at the annual NLA Lecture as part of London Festival of Architecture were well received by a packed audience.

Speaking to Peter Murray, Sir David Adjaye spoke about his love and affection for London; especially the way the City pulls the best of the best in from around the world and as a result becomes a smarter place that is envied around the world.

Sir Adjaye (he said he is still getting used to the Sir) accepted the knighthood so that he could put architects back into the discussion about the creation of places. He is inspired by getting under the skin of places, the history, the quirks, and pulling these together in an interesting way.

Never starting with a sketch, Sir Adjaye and his team who are from all over the world bring experiences from everywhere to get immersed in the history and the quirks, they then start to bring this together into a vision for the project.

He described the London office and New York office both having separate identities “their role is to get to know the continent that they are operating in well” and effectively be  the experts. He spoke about some creative collisions between the offices which are exciting but he did ‘seem’ to express a particular affection for London.

When asked about the current political climate and how this could affect his work, he said that London has always had the ability to give people real experiences and that’s what makes it special. He worried that any risk to stifle London would reduce its wonderful diversity which we all loved.

Sir Adjaye also talked about his frustrations; one in particular that we still have such a wide pay gap between men and women. He ensures that his offices are 50% male and 50% female and he doesn’t see why this is even a point; it should be a given. He believes in positive discrimination; using the civil rights movement in America as an example of how this works.

As a fan of Sir Adjaye, I left the lecture as a super fan. Genuinely in awe of his commitment to not just creating beautiful icons, but buildings that will be used, that will serve and will be enjoyed. His respect for people and the desire to genuinely democratise architecture is something that I value. And importantly, the idea that we can all author or weave the spaces around us…was mindblowing!

Photo credit NLA and Agnese Sanvito

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