public art, facades, curation, murals

RESEARCH // EXHIBIT 

The glass murals are a series of large scale drawings produced at Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape design practice Studio Egret West. The studio takes up the whole base of a city block building in Clerkenwell, London -  enclosed entirely in glass it creates a fishbowl condition. The public can look in at every angle – voyeuristically examining the work being undertaken to change the city they live in. Rightly so. These drawings embody three main ideas;

  1. The activation and humanising of architecture through the act of mark-making and the physical movement of the body within space while doing so.

    2. The exploration and communication of ideas within the public realm.

    3. The construction of ideas and narratives into spatial drawings.

Set on the most active edge of the building, the drawings explore narratives that the studio are investigating at the time and relate these to the public. Ideas are turned into architectural constructions that are free from gravity and the weight of constraints. The shear face of the glass that encloses the studio is merely a barrier from the elements. It keeps bad things out and allows light and the gaze of the public in. With these drawings, the studio is making itself known, it is stating its presence and adding the human touch to the cold mechanical curtain walling that makes up its outward face. The playfulness of the studio, the outward looking and open nature of its relationship to the city is on full display.

By drawing on architecture, especially architecture that is faceless and disconnected from the creative lives taking place within, one starts to add life, a connection between body and space. A building, the company inhabiting it and the drawing can all at once make a passer-by smile. We need to find as much joy in our city as possible, and this is just one manifestation of it.

When unchecked, the public realm can become repetitious, mechanical and and cold - it increasingly becomes devoid of humour and the idiosyncrasies of life. As our cities change, it’s important to keep elements of the human touch on display. 

Often within these drawings, the human form and the environment it inhabits are inseparable entities – a surrealist endeavour. Characters explaining ideas become architecture that can morph and bend between different subjects and scales.  Architecture as a practice deals with the enveloping of the body in space – It should take the form of the lives taking place within. The body creates architecture and as such they are one and the same. We anthropomorphise concrete and stone, seeing faces in facades and describe spaces as friendly and welcoming. It is not such a weird thing after all to draw buildings as characters themselves. With these narrative constructions, different ideas and their symbols are layered atop one another and interwoven. One thought can trigger another and the connection between them becomes spatial.

The practice of drawing allows the designer to unpick ideas that may be elusive or ever shifting in their head – making the intangible concrete. With each iteration, one can see something new that allows for the discovery and progression of ideas. To take this exploration and enlarge the process over the whole side of a building adds another dimension. One can see new things that are not seen when drawn small. It is a very involving and physical act that requires the movement of the body – beyond the miniature confines of the sketchbook, it is one step closer to the actual creation of architecture itself. The placing and movement of the body in space.