Human Experience and Place - Sustaining Identity -AD
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More About This Title Human Experience and Place - Sustaining Identity -AD


Exceptional architecture stands in the face of the negative aspects of commercial globalisation by celebrating the spirit of individual place; and by being rooted in its culture, its geography and in the experience and value systems of the people that have created it. By drawing from work across the world, this issue of AD will demonstrate that it is possible for architects, designers and engineers to design outstanding buildings that sustain a sense of local identity, both in terms of cultural heritage and the conservation of the environment. In the last few years, a groundswell of critical resistance to the homogenised imposition of a form-driven universal architecture, which defies local context, has continued to grow unabated, as has developing interest in an alternative pathway to the design of buildings.

Human Experienceand Place will be launched at the third ‘Sustaining Identity’ symposium at the V&A in London in November 2012, curated by Paul Brislin and Juhani Pallasmaa and co-partnered by Arup Associates, the V&A and Architectural Design; and featuring contributors to the issue. ‘Sustaining Identity’ gathers likeminded exemplary practitioners of an architecture of resistance together on a biannual basis: an alternative avant-garde whose work sustains human identity through its focus on specific culture and place.

  • Contributors include: Peter Buchanan, Ricky Burdett, Farrokh Derakshani, Murray Fraser, Jayne Merkel and Juhani Pallasmaa.
  • Features include: Arup Associates, Sean Godsell, Bijoy Jain (Studio Mumbai), Rick Joy, Diébédo Francis Kéré, Jonathan Kirschenfeld, Christopher Lee (Serie Architects), Li Xiaodong Atelier, Josep Lluis Mateo, Pezo von Ellrichshausen Arquitectos, Wang Shu, Woha and Kongjian Yu (Turenscape).


Paul Brislin is a practicing architect and Director of the multi-disciplinary architectural practice, Arup Associates. Paul has curated a number of international symposia at the V&A in London with Juhani Pallasmaa dedicated to the topic of an architecture that sustains human identity through its focus on specific culture, place and human experience. Paul is the editor of the work Arup Associates: Unified Design, and is an editorial board member of Architectural Design (AD).


EditorIal 5
Helen Castle

About the Guest-Editor 6
Paul Brislin

Identity, Place and Human Experience
Paul Brislin

Newness, Tradition and Identity: Existential Content and Meaning in Architecture 14
Juhani Pallasmaa

In Conversation 22
Peter Zumthor and Juhani Pallasma


Appropriating, Reclaiming and Inventing Identity Through Architecture 28
Farrokh Derakhshani

A Reflexive Conversation: Bridge School and Liyuan Library 34
Li Xiaodong

Identity Through the Grounding of Experience in Place 40
Rick Joy

Earthworks 46
Josep Lluís Mateo

Outlines 52
Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen


The Future is Unwritten: Global Culture, Identity and Economy 60
Murray Fraser

School in Gando, Burkina Faso 66
Diébédo Francis Kéré

The Big Feet Aesthetic and the Art of Survival 72
Kongjian Yu

Reading the Wind and Weather: The Meteorological Architecture of Studio Mumbai 78
Kazi Ashraf

Peripatetic Infrastructure 84
Jonathan Kirschenfeld


Mapping Scales of Urban Identity 92
Ricky Burdett

Essence, Scale and Natural Events 98
Paul Brislin

Common Artefacts 104
Christopher CM Lee

The Breathing Tropical High-Rise 112
Wong Mun Summ, Richard Hassell and Alina Yeo

The Problem of Scale 116
Sean Godsell

The Reluctant Architect: An Interview with Wang Shu of Amateur Architects Studio 122
Edward Denison and Guang Yu Ren


Developing a Sensitivity to Locale and ‘Human Experience’
Jayne Merkel


A Pivotal Point: On the Edge of History 136
Peter Buchanan

Contributors 140