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Sir Peter Cook in Conversation

Sir Peter Cook keynotes the ArchiFest Forum in Singapore and talks about the next architecture school he envisions writes Yvonne Xu.

Sir Peter Cook in Conversation


October 25th, 2011

“You are not quite sure what you mean by common spaces; each person has his own interpretation,” remarks Sir Peter Cook.

The comment came when the 75-year-old architect was in Singapore to keynote the ArchiFest Forum, a conference organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects as part of the city’s annual architecture festival.

This year’s theme is ’Common Spaces’.

Sir Peter Cook

Sir Peter Cook

Kunsthaus Graz, Austria

Interestingly, as the final speaker, Cook’s response is a pointed sum-up of the day’s discussion, contributed too by the preceding 8 invited speakers and architects who all had individual takes on the topic. To Cook, the most interesting understanding is the space between buildings or parts of a building – the “interstitial space”.

Sir Peter Cook

Vienna University of Economics and Business

“The next common space I design will be a wonderful, unexpected crevice within the city that reveals that all is not what is seems,” hints Cook. Does he mean the new School of Architecture at the Gold Coast’s Bond University whose sod-turning ceremony he is en route to after his brief stop in Singapore? The knighted Englishman only answers, “Possibly”.

Sir Peter Cook

Vienna University of Economics and Business

To Cook, who has undertaken this Australian project with his principal partner Gavin Robotham, the ideal campus for aspiring architects is open, airy, and free and features an internal street with large concrete ’scoops’ where sessions such as crits, presentations and constructions – as well as other informal activities – can be held. The building digs into the ground so that workshops can open out into a ’pit’ where experimental and demonstration projects are exposed to the deck and garden – “the important thing is to have escape routes,” Cook says half-jokingly.

Sir Peter Cook

Sir Peter Cook

School of Architecture at Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia

Looking back at his long career as both an academe and architect, Cook says architecture “is a pursuit which allows you to be interested in sociology and art and environment and weather and people and vegetation and sustainability and folklore and nationalism and anti-nationalism and communications theory and physics” – basically an all-inclusive profession whose wide scope you might not always get a hold on – just like the frustrating but also fascinating notion of common spaces.

Sir Peter Cook/Crab Studio

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