“I often think of that rare fulfilling joy when you are in the presence of some wonderful alignment of events. Where the light, the colour, the shapes, and the balance all interlock so perfectly that I feel truly overwhelmed by the wonder of it.”
Charlie Waite

If architecture is the act of making shapes, from a detail to an overall impression, part of the art of photography is seeing and registering the wealth of changing forms and patterns that are created by the harmony and clash of buildings with their environments. The art of the contemporary photographer allows for the fine precision of focus on unnoticed, forgotten and ignored details which exist almost as structures in their own right. A doorway, a ceiling, a corner or a façade can come to life through the recognition of a composition. There are new forms, almost new works, created by the erosion of time. Decay and neglect fashion something fresh, whilst a fragment of a former whole achieves a revelatory beauty in its own right. This gallery of experience is new for each generation. The contemporary photographer not only notices and composes, but he can assemble to make unique modern statements.

Buildings without precedent

left:Wind towers (Badgir) next to a building which acts as a refrigerator to store food and Zoroastrian Tower of Silence (Dakhmeh). Yazd, Iran 2007

right: Clean water flows into the Thames from the northern outfall of Beckton Sewage TreatmentWorks. Sewage from 3.4 million Londoners is treated on site every day. Barking Creek Tidal Barrier, which resembles a giant guillotine, was built over four years and completed in 1983. It is about 60m high, which allows shipping to reach the Town Quay in Barking further upstream. The barrier crosses the Barking Creek reach of the River Roding at its confluence with the Thames. London, UK, 2003

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left: Underside of the stage of the theatre in the inner garden, Yuyuan Garden, originally built in the 14th year of the Guangxu reign in the Qing Dynasty, 1888. The old stage underwent extensive rebuilding in 2005. Shanghai, China, 2007

right: Ashley Building, School of Humanities, University of Birmingham. Architect: Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis. Refurbished by Berman Guedes Stretton, Birmingham. UK, 2006

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Extract from my architectural photography book, Drawing Parallels, Architecture Observed

Text & Photography © Quintin Lake, 2009