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Unpacking the power of Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute

The next talk in the Australian Architecture Association’s series will look at the magnetic pull of Louis Kahn’s seminal 20th century icon – the Salk Institute.

Photo by Jim Harper

What makes an icon? The intrigue and inspiration that comes with an architectural pilgrimage is alluring. Louis Kahn is one such architect whose work has not just stood the test of time but continues to be revered with fervour, including avid tours and visits.

But what does it mean to appreciate the legacy of his work? What is it that enthrals people, converting them into such die-hard devotees? In this second talk in a series of three by the Australian Architecture Association (AAA), the AAA President Tone Wheeler will unpack the enduring importance of Kahn’s 1965 masterpiece – Salk Institute.

Photo by Liao Yushing.

For those not indoctrinated, Kahn’s work can feel austere – hulking behemoths of concrete, spliced with tight, formulaic geometry. From an image, they appear to lack a human-centred approach. This talk aims to get behind the façade and the two-dimensional image by sharing the narrative, the ideas and the extraordinary humanity embedded into the fabric of the Salk Institute.

Photo by Michael Dant.

From the warm “pozzolanic” concrete, to the teak timber panels and the central water feature designed in collaboration with Luis Barragan – the subtle yet overpowering combination of materiality, form and site orientation coalesce in a building that continues to inspire and delight.

The goal for this talk is to showcase that through a highly attentive study it’s possible to convey the true power that this building holds. Think of it as an armchair architectural pilgrimage.

Event details

Thursday 8 August

Hosted by Brickworks Studio: 2 Barrack Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

6pm (6.30pm start) – 8.15pm

Cost: $55 Earlybird (public) / $60 (public) / $50 (AAA Members)

Book here


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