“Sometimes I enjoy just photographing the surface because I think it can be as revealing as going to the heart of the matter.”
Annie Leibovitz

Architecture has a texture. Whilst it is a commonplace that the very materials of buildings, both ancient and modern, contribute to their character, looking again at, or observing, the very fabric and substance of this aspect of the art, brings to life almost another art form in itself. For the photographer these architectural building blocks, from the smoothest marble to the roughest stone felt underfoot, from intricately glazed tiles to roughly cut timber in an ancient temple, merge into images where an alternative aesthetic is seen, beyond the functional or the decorative. The photographer can also register the elusive interplay of light with materials. It is in the bringing together of these moments, whether it is the natural vernacular of an ancient or traditional landscape with the neon radiance of a modern Chinese office block, that provides truly novel commentary.

Pixilated skin

left: Glass disks on the façade of Galleria Fashion Store treated with iridescent foil on a metal support structure. A back-lit animated colour scheme ensures that the façade appears to be always changing by day and night. Architect: UN Studio. Engineer: Arup. Seoul, South Korea, 2007

right: Façade of Birmingham’s Selfridges store at night. The skin consists of thousands of spun, anodised aluminium discs that reflect the surrounding city, set against a blue curved, sprayed concrete wall. Architect: Future Systems. Engineer: Arup. Birmingham, UK, 2007

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Responsive skin

left: Detail of aluminium sunscreens on the façade of the Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay, Singapore. The shields are set to be more open or closed depending on the angle at which the sun hits them, affording the glass façades protection from direct
sunlight without limiting the view. Many Singaporeans casually refer to the Esplanade as the Durian because of its resemblance to the tropical fruit. Architect: Michael Wilford & Partners & DP Architects Singapore. Singapore, 2003

right: Timber roof tiles of an alpine hay barn, South Tyrol, Italy, 2002

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

Text & Photography © Quintin Lake, 2009