It has been amazing to be part of the WAF award winning team. When you look across the range and quality of projects put forward for the WAF Awards, to be short listed and then become associated with the overall winner is a momentous achievement for Grant Associates.
Director - Grant Associates
Date posted: 22/10/08
‘I really hate columns’, said celebrated Austrian architect Wolf D. Prix, as he galloped through 40 years of practice in only a few more minutes during his keynote address at WAF.
From his beginnings, with an insect-like building perched on a rooftop in the centre of Vienna, to the recently completed and hugely successful BMW building in Munich, Prix revealed the approach of his practice Coop Himmelb(l)au to be iconoclastic and technically demanding, with an unquenchable ‘60s optimism.
‘When people asked me who my influence was, I said Keith Richards’, he declared, ´because I wanted to create architecture in the way that he played guitar with the Rolling Stones.’ But he also confessed to a superficially more unlikely hero – Le Corbusier.
Prix first fell in love with La Tourette, which he described as ‘defining liquid space’. He contrasted Corb with ‘boring Mies’, explaining that Mies was concerned with columns and pressure (‘I don’t like pressure’), whereas Corb was all about tension. Mies, he said, had boring plans in contrast with Corb’s beautiful sections, and Corb gave the roof another meaning.
As technology has advanced, so has Prix’s ability to realise his fantasies on an ever more ambitious scale, cantilevering his structures with growing extravagance, and using a double-cone form which he believes he stole from Corb’s design for a church at Firminy. His roofs often define his structures, undulating sensually across his Asian film festival building in Pusan, Korea, or jutting out aggressively on a museum in Akron, Ohio.
Peter Cook, another ‘60s veteran, introduced Prix’s talk, and described him as ‘a real trooper’ and ‘a legend’. The packed seminar room was evidence that the current generation of architects is keen to learn from his experiences.