Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.


Expand Messages
  • thrakcat
    Selfridges ... Architects of style. If you ve been anywhere near England s second city recently, you can t fail to have noticed their work. Future Systems are
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2004
      "Architects of style.
      If you've been anywhere near England's second city recently, you
      can't fail to have noticed their work. Future Systems are the
      architects behind Birmingham's extraordinary new Selfridges store, as
      well as numerous iconic works around the world. Liz Brown spoke to
      Future Systems co-founder Amanda Levete about the building that's so
      distinctive it needs no street signs (so there aren't any!).
      The silver and Yves Klein Blue pleasuredome, all 250,000 square feet
      of it, was designed by the Notting Hill-based architects whose
      extraordinary creation stands 37 metres high from floor to fourth-
      floor ceiling. The curvaceous exterior extends outwards from the
      ground, then inwards to its 'waist' and then outwards again before
      closing in around the glazed atrium roof - so shoppers using
      the 'cat's cradle' of escalators underneath have a view of the sky
      above their heads.
      Future Systems was set up by Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete in 1979.
      The office's other major works to date include shop designs for Comme
      des Garçons in New York, Paris and Tokyo, and the Media Centre at
      Lord's Cricket Ground, which won the 1999 RIBA Stirling Prize, one of
      the highest honours in UK architecture.
      The inspiration and aim for such structures extends beyond four walls
      and a roof: "For me the prime motivation is to design something that
      is beautiful and uplifting," Amanda Levete explains. "Not just for
      the people who live nearby and work inside, but for people passing by
      and people who see it from a distance. It's about presenting
      something that makes them think twice about what buildings are -
      about being in a space that they couldn't have imagined before, that
      makes them smile and that makes them feel happy."

      Something old, something new...
      The inspiration for the design, which was commissioned in November
      1999, came from a number of sources, both contemporary and not so
      modern. "We went to a number of department stores throughout Europe
      and looked at what was good and particularly at what was bad," Levete
      continues. "We also looked at historical examples like Baroque
      churches and other massive buildings, and how you begin to break down
      that scale. In classical buildings the idea was to find a small motif
      on a human scale and then repeat it and that's what we tried to do
      with the disks." The 15,000 60cm-wide aluminium disks cover the
      entire structure and reflect the sunlight, giving the building
      shimmering movement.
      There are few professions that enable those within it to literally
      make their mark on the world, and architecture is one of them.
      Winston Churchill once observed that "We shape our buildings, and
      afterwards they shape us." Amanda agrees: "It's a great privilege to
      be an architect. You have the opportunity to touch a lot of people -
      a building lasts for a long time."
      Inner-city redevelopments and examples of inspiring modern
      architecture like this are happily becoming a more familiar sight in
      the UK, which is good news for the profession and anyone wanting to
      join it."
      from (with pics):

      "Top of the blobs.
      The astonishing new £40m Selfridges building in Birmingham is the
      shape of things to come, says Jonathan Glancey. Monday September 1,
      2003. The Guardian.

      Brent Cross shopping centre in north London - all 1m sq ft of it -
      opened in March 1976. It was, as a number of commentators noted at
      the time, a new type of cathedral for a retail renaissance, an age in
      which shopping would be king, while parish churches that had served
      local communities faithfully for 1,000 years would pass into the care
      of the Redundant Churches Fund, formed that same year. Brent Cross
      was shopping's Canterbury or Chartres. Its massive floor plan
      featured what appeared to be a nave and aisles and, where the altar
      might be, a wine bar.
      Birmingham's 26-acre Bull Ring opens this week. It is, says its
      developer, the Birmingham Alliance, "Europe's largest retail-led
      regeneration project, representing an investment of over £1bn,
      providing 110,000 sq m of new retail accommodation over three trading
      levels". The Bull Ring is home to 146 shops, 57 of them new to the
      city. These are, in retail-speak, "anchored" by two titanic new
      branches of Selfridges and Debenhams, just as Brent Cross was
      anchored to its mooring alongside London Underground's Northern Line
      by two other great vessels of British retailing, John Lewis and
      Fenwicks, a quarter of a century ago.
      The new Selfridges store in Birmingham, although firmly anchored to
      the new-look Birmingham Bull Ring, proves to be not so much
      architecture-as-ocean-liner berthed alongside Moor Street station,
      but a vast cliff of a building, a computer-age geological outcrop, as
      distinctive and eye-catching as the white cliffs of Dover. Its high,
      billowing form might have been moulded by some smooth yet insistent
      sea over the four years it has taken to build. Yet the only sea here
      is one of constant traffic, dominated by deregulated buses painted
      colours brighter and more lurid than anything found beside or beneath
      the ocean. Seagulls, on the day of my visit last week, wheeled
      noisily above the store, adding to the coastal feel of this
      remarkable building.

      Four storeys high, and wrapped in a sinuous, seamless outer skin
      decorated with 15,000 spun aluminium discs painted blue, like some
      XXXL dress by Paco Rabanne, Selfridges is a truly audacious
      achievement. Designed by Future Systems, architects of the Space Age-
      style press pavilion at Lord's cricket ground in St John's Wood, it
      has about it, from the outside at least, not just something of a Pop
      era frock, but something of the sea and even the ocean depths -
      something, too, of outer space exploration. All this, believe it or
      not, is to its credit. Seen from almost any nook and corner viewpoint
      in central Birmingham, this unexpected building - unclassifiable in
      neat, art-historical terms - is all but guaranteed to raise a smile.
      An ersatz urban cliff, a giant sea anenome, a friendly, blob-like
      alien, the mother of all magic mushrooms, this is the department
      store as unalloyed architectural entertainment. Some people will find
      it over the top. Others will see it as part of the trend for
      architects to design ever more outlandishly wobbly buildings as they
      rush to get away from the strictures of the T-square, the straight
      line and the grid. Shoppers might well look upon it as Catholics do
      Gaudí's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, a design that adds fantasia to
      the architectural experience of their religion.

      The interior of the £40m shop, grouped around two voluptuous
      escalator wells, is the stuff of Vincent Korda's 1936 film Things to
      Come brought up to date. As you peer over the vertiginous white
      escalator wells at the criss-crossing moving stairs and skewed
      geometry of the building's structure, it is not hard to imagine light
      aircraft or a small alien spaceship whizzing by. Here is a dreamy,
      sci-fi style interior for modern shoppers to wander through in a
      filmic, quasi-religious haze. Each floor has been shaped by a
      different team of designers - Cibic and Partners, Stanton Williams,
      Eldridge Smerin and Future Systems - adding a touch of near-gravity
      here, whimsy there and pure theatre elsewhere. The chic cafe and
      restaurant overlook the Bull Ring itself and its seemingly infinite
      horizon of shiny new shops. None of these can hold a candle to
      Selfridges in terms of design. In fact, the general standard of new
      architecture here is, sadly, abysmal. It looks as if someone, in a
      great hurry, has crammed details of the most banal US shopping mall
      design of the late 1980s and more recent Chinese design into a laptop
      in their student bedsit, pressed the "print" button and then,
      unbelievably, convinced someone, in an equal hurry, to build them.
      Selfridges is the only worthwhile new building here. It is so very
      distinctive that it has no street signs to tell you what it is;
      everyone in Birmingham has known its identity for the past four years.
      In financial terms, the Bull Ring is guaranteed to be a huge success.
      This is, after all, what 99% of an insatiable population wants so
      very badly: lots of thumping new, rap-filled shops. It is what city
      planners want, too: massive, profitable US/Chinese-style urban
      redevelopment, with a dash of public art for cultural credibility.
      Everyone will say the Bull Ring is a lot better than what went
      before - a 1960s development from hell - and most will like the
      positive media attention that Future Systems will surely generate for
      the city. It seems churlish to be critical when so many people, for
      whom Brent Cross must seem as ancient as Canterbury cathedral, will
      say this is the best place they have ever been. Until, that is, they
      can afford to fly to China or the US and experience the air-
      conditioned malls there.

      In the meantime, the principal gateway to Birmingham, assuming
      private operators can be bothered to run trains, is the almost
      comically grim New Street station. Perhaps this ought to have been
      rebuilt before the Bull Ring, but who cares about boring
      old "infrastructure"? Curiously, though delightfully, Moor Street
      station, a 1909 Great Western design immediately across the street
      from Selfridges, is being restored to its 1930s condition by the
      architects Simons Designs for Chiltern Railways, which runs trains
      from here to London for those who cannot face the horrors of New
      Selfridges and Moor Street are two unexpected and brave anchors of
      architectural imagination in the overwhelming new retail port of
      central Birmingham. A third is the restored church of St Martin's,
      which broods alongside the shouty new retail shrines. Trying to keep
      up with the new age, St Martin's advertises a shop and cafe of its
      own, and holds a "shoppers' service" every Saturday afternoon.
      This, though, however well intentioned, can only ever be a sideshow
      to the thronging services held early until late, seven days a week,
      in the shiny Bull Ring shrines - chief among them Selfridges, which
      at least has an architecture to match its pageantry and commercial
      from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0%2C11710%

      "The ambition of this scheme is great. Selfridges require a state of
      the art department store. They also wish to have a building that will
      provide an architectural landmark for Birmingham. It is this ambition
      that has driven our design. Enabling the building to become a genuine
      catalyst for urban regeneration. The ambition for the interior is to
      meet the expectation of the exterior, balancing the curiosity created
      by the unique façade. The fluidity of the form of the building is
      matched inside with an organically shaped atrium stretching across
      the floor plan. Like an urban canyon, the atrium creates shafts of
      natural light penetrating deep inside the space. We have re-
      interpreted the notion of a department store, not just in its form
      and appearance. We have also analysed the social function such a
      building now plays in our society. The form of the building is soft
      and curvaceous in response to the natural curve of the site, sweeping
      around the corner and wrapping over the top to form the roof. This
      building expresses what it is in a way that is aesthetically
      innovative but also clearly signifies its function as a department
      store without the need for signage."
      from official FS site (with pics): http://www.future-systems.com/

      "Blue blob in Birmingham: Birmingham continues its worship of the
      slightly outdated with its latest big building - Outrage. The
      Architectural Review. Oct, 2003.
      Birmingham's shoppers get a grotesquely high fashion addition to
      their skyline.

      Poor old Birmingham never seems to get it right. For instance, its
      plans for reorganization to cope with motor traffic were held up by
      the Second World War and so its inner ringroad was almost out of date
      before it was opened in the '60s. It was occasionally used for motor
      racing: a more bizarre conjunction of urbanity and sport can scarcely
      be imagined--but then the city was one of the great motor
      manufacturing centres of the world. Its railway station is quite the
      nastiest in England (which is saying a lot). The Bull Ring, the
      city's big central square, was pedestrianized (apparently by civil
      engineers) at a time when pedestrianization was going through a very
      bad patch and it is surrounded by some of the dullest post-war
      buildings in the country.
      Now, in an attempt to inject new life into the Bull Ring, the great
      department store Self-ridges asked Future Systems to build its
      Birmingham outpost. The result is sadly like a blue blancmange with
      chicken-pox. As a contribution to the cityscape, it is scaleless,
      uninviting and completely out of sympathy with its surroundings
      (though admittedly they are difficult to sympathize with).
      Some 16 000 aluminium discs have been attached to the exterior of the
      blue rendered insulation of the main carapace by a process not unakin
      to sticking in drawing-pins. They are entirely decorative, and from
      certain angles, give the impression of reptilian skin. Doubtless they
      will work extremely well, though their use is most daring in terms of
      construction, cleaning and maintenance. But what are they for? They
      scarcely modulate the scale of the bulging monster they cover, and in
      many ways serve to emphasize its grossness.

      At a time when the fashion for blob architecture seems to be becoming
      passe in most architectural circles, both professional and academic,
      it is typical of Birmingham's cultural history over the last hundred
      years for the city to have latched onto Blobismus, the most self-
      indulgent and un-urban fad of the last half century. While Future
      Systems have tried to some extent to give their blancmange an urban
      presence, its form negates what little dignity the urban space tries
      to have.
      It is difficult to imagine that the building will ever be loved by
      future generations. But there is possibly a chance. It could perhaps
      become liked in the same way that certain grotesque breeds of dog
      have an attraction--partly because we are sorry for them."
      some responses from AR readers about this article:

      "Urban Icon. from Domus 863 October 2003.
      Future Systems' new building for Selfridges in Birmingham puts new
      life into the department store, a 19th century institution that has
      been in decline for decades. Text by Deyan Sudjic.

      To judge by Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete of Future Systems'
      Selfridges in Birmingham, the department store - which has been
      having something of a hard time of late, like other 19th-century
      architectural inventions such as the railway station and the stock
      exchange - may be on the edge of a revival. Paris's original Bon
      Marché, created by Aristide Boucicault after 1850 and designed by
      Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel and Louis Boileau, was where the theatrical
      form of modern consumerism celebrated in Emile Zola's Au Bonheur des
      dames was born. This was the first of the great department stores,
      where the emerging bourgeois class could learn how to furnish a home
      tastefully, find what polite society considered fashionable and, with
      written prices displayed for the first time, be liberated from the
      vulgar necessity of bargaining for goods.
      From the start, the department store was much more of a social
      experience than a place to buy the functional necessities. Selfridges
      has enjoyed a notable financial turnaround in the last five years
      under the leadership of Vittorio Radice, a gifted Italian retailer
      who revitalized Selfridges by going back to the origins of the
      department store. Selfridges has rediscovered a theatrical sense of
      spectacle in which architecture is an essential ingredient.
      Macy's was once ready to clear out an entire floor to stage an indoor
      golf tournament. But since the 1960s, Western department stores have
      been in decline, running out of the ideas and showmanship that made
      them popular in the first place. Only in Japan in the bubble years
      did the department store continue to flourish, offering van Gogh
      exhibitions and British butlers in tailcoats serving cucumber

      The hollowing out of European and American cities from the 1960s
      onward left the department store vulnerable. The retailer's move to
      the mall has undermined the basis of the architectural grandiloquence
      of Daniel Burnham's palatial 1908 store for Gordon Selfridge in
      London, Henry Hobson Richardson's reworking of the arcades of the
      Pitti Palace for Marshall Field's in Chicago or Louis Sullivan's
      design for Carson Pirie Scott. Most of the survivors have suffered
      years of neglect that has left them looking threadbare and out of
      date. At the same time, the rise of the designer label has tended to
      shift the balance of power and prestige away from the department
      store. It is now Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein or Armani
      that make the big architectural statements, while the department
      store has shrivelled into generic anonymity. Many have closed
      altogether, to be carved up as shopping malls, while some have shrunk
      into faded, threadbare shadows of the spectacular places they once
      were. And the more that department stores look like any other kind of
      shop, the more their market share has dropped and the more they have
      spiralled into decline.
      Radice set out to make Selfridges nothing like anywhere else. The
      window displays featured designs by Ron Arad. There were Japanese
      weeks and gigantic art projects that involved hundreds of volunteers
      stripping naked. It was corny, but it worked. So much so that
      Selfridges has begun to expand outside London. There's an outpost in
      Manchester, and Toyo Ito is working on the design of a new store in
      Glasgow. But it is the newly completed store in Birmingham, designed
      by Future Systems, that is the most impressive.

      Birmingham is England's second city, a shapeless product of the
      industrial revolution. Ever since the country lost interest in
      manufacturing, it has seemed to be locked in the same downward spiral
      of decline as the department store. Perhaps the worst moment came at
      the end of the 1960s, as Birmingham attempted a wholesale
      modernization, demolishing large swathes of its centre to make way
      for urban expressways and crude new buildings. It was a misguided
      policy, which the city is only now beginning to put right by pulling
      down many of the troublesome teenage buildings of the recent past, re-
      establishing the urban fabric and doing all it can to dispel the
      bleak identity of an industrial city gone to seed.
      The new Selfridges forms part of an aimless new shopping mall close
      to the city's main railway station and next to its street market.
      Next door is a florid Victorian church and an isolated Pop-style
      tower block. But in reality, there is next to no architectural
      context. What attracted Radice's interest when the developers came to
      offer space in what was still a project on the drawing board was the
      chance it offered to follow in the footsteps of the company's
      founder, Gordon Selfridge, who had brought Daniel Burnham to England
      and commissioned an architectural landmark.

      Selected after an informal competition, Future Systems' design looks
      as if it belongs to a different universe from the mall to which it is
      attached. It sits on the southern end of the site, tightly hemmed in
      by roads on the edge of high ground that rapidly falls away, leaving
      it highly visible. At the top of the hill is the conventional pastel-
      coloured neo-postmodernism of an utterly conventional shopping
      centre. Selfridges erupts from one end to create an instantly
      recognizable landmark.
      To a remarkable extent, Selfridges is the realization of a 20-year-
      old montage by Jan Kaplicky, Future Systems' founding partner.
      Kaplicky delights in exploring the possibilities of a world beyond
      the mundane restrictions of the present. Working within the
      parameters of the shopping centre, onto which the Selfridges store
      opens on two levels, Future Systems has built a giant blue bubble
      studded with hundreds of aluminium discs that make it look like one
      of Courrèges' metal dresses from the 1960s or a giant enlargement of
      a fly's eye.
      Future Systems is normally discussed in terms of turbo-charged high
      technology, but it is clear that what really characterizes them is a
      passion for making arresting shapes exploiting imagery that is
      unfamiliar in an architectural context. The store belongs to a family
      of objects that has ideas in common with the work of Claes Oldenburg
      or Anish Kapoor, the latter of whom has in fact collaborated with
      Future Systems.
      Selfridges, however, is more than a sculptural object. It skilfully
      exploits changes of level and nuances of light and shade as they fall
      on the twisting contours of its surface. Its wraparound curves
      certainly create an unforgettable impression, but the expectations
      aroused by the exterior are fulfilled by the interior, which is just
      as much of a departure from the norms of retailing. In addition to
      Future Systems, which also designed the food hall on the lower level,
      Selfridges has worked with Aldo Cibic, Stanton Williams and Eldridge
      and Smerin.

      Department stores do not, by and large, make extensive use of
      windows, which tend to get in the way of their efforts to seduce
      customers. But Selfridges' interior is planned around two big atriums
      that bring sunlight deep into the interior. Furthermore, there are
      gouges cut into the skin at street level to create windows for
      passers-by, higher up to allow access to the car park across the road
      by way of a Future Systems-designed bridge and also to create a
      terrace for the restaurant.
      Selfridges' discs have become shorthand for the store and for the new
      Birmingham, in a way that is instantly understood throughout the
      city. It is a powerful example of the way that architecture can be
      used to create a sense of identity."
      from (with pics):

      Selfridges & Co. official website:
      more pictures:
      more about Kaplicky/Levete's Selfridges:

      Future Systems
      "New purposes must give birth to new methods of construction, and by
      this reasoning also to new forms. -Otto Wagner.
      Future-Systems, a London based architecture and design practice
      headed by Amanda Levete and Jan Kaplicky, creates visionary designs
      through the blending of nature and high technology. In their hands
      these classically opposed realms are integrated into a radical
      aesthetic that is not only visually brilliant and spatially dynamic,
      but also environmentally sensitive and efficient. Founded in 1983,
      Future Systems has been recognized for a diverse array of work such
      as The Nat West Media Centre, Lord's cricket ground, London and
      Selfridges' flagship store, which is currently under construction in
      Birmingham, United Kingdom. Through their interweaving of aeronautics
      technologies and sustainable design they are able to strike a balance
      between aesthetics and ethics.
      Amanda Levete was born in Bridgend, United Kingdom in 1955, and Jan
      Kaplicky in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1937. Levete studied at the
      Architectural Association in London graduating in 1982, while
      Kaplicky graduated in 1962 from the College of Applied Arts and
      Architecture in Prague. They each pursued a similar path in their
      career. Both having experience in their own architecture practices
      and working for two of Britain's greatest modern architects, Levete
      working for Richard Rogers and Kaplicky for both Rogers and Sir
      Norman Foster. Kaplicky, after considerable experience in independent
      practice and in the offices of prodigious architecture offices
      formulate a new design initiative with Future Systems in 1983. While
      Levete having lead a successful independent practice joined Future
      Systems as partner in 1989.

      Future Systems' began creating intelligent designs for a variety of
      commissions producing a streamlined aesthetic, which brought Levete
      and Kaplicky many accolades. In 1989 they produced a Space Station
      Wardroom table that received a NASA Certificate of Recognition.
      Followed by the award winning MOMI Tent in 1992 and the West India
      Quay Floating Bridge in 1998 that both received the British
      Construction Industry Awards for innovation in construction. Their
      extensive research into ecology and sustainability were investigated
      in competitions and then manifested into practice through economy of
      means and sustainable technologies. Future Systems work is both
      poetic and functional. The Comme des Garçons tunnel in New York is an
      artistic and minimal aluminium form where the skin is the structure.
      This technique was exploited further in the Media Centre for Lord's
      Cricket Ground. The building is the first all aluminum 'semi-
      monococque' building in the world; constructed at a shipyard
      utilizing advanced shipbuilding techniques. Pre-assembled offsite,
      the aluminum capsule was then dismantled and erected 15 meters into
      the air over the sport facility. The elliptical aerodynamic form
      surveys the grounds through a wide aperture of glass to view sporting
      events. It was awarded numerous honors including the Strling Prize
      and the Aluminum Imagination Award in 1999.
      Future Systems is currently completing the radical Selfridges
      department store in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The form of the
      building is soft and curvaceous in response to the natural curve of
      the site, and is clad by a unique skin of spun aluminium discs. Two
      spacious atriums provide shafts of natural light which penetrate deep
      inside the space. Work in progress also includes a wide range of
      projects in size and function including tableware for Alessi,
      schools, trams, car stands, shops, a bridge and an inflatable cinema
      in Paris."
      from: http://www.thesnowshow.net/participants/architects/future.php

      "Given the tempting sceneries projected by Future Systems it can be
      expected to meet here an optimistic, innovative and exploratory
      design practice. Future Systems is a London-based office headed by
      two partners, Jan Kaplicky (Prague 1937) and Amanda Levete (Bridgend
      1955), which work challenges the traditional preconceptions of space
      and technology.
      Base for this architecture which 'embraces the precision of the
      armaments industry; the lightness, structural rigidity and strength-
      through-shape of aircraft constructions' is Kaplicky's vision of a
      technological architecture. Kaplicky grew up in Czechoslovakia
      surrounded by the legendary Czech Functionalism of the twenties and
      thirties; a revolutionary architecture embedded in the radicalism of
      the 20th century Czechoslovak industrial history. Besides this,
      Kaplicky got influenced by the images of American culture and design
      that reached him through copies of Life magazine and two brief but
      significant visits to the USA in the mid-sixties. These influences
      inspired him to work on a future architecture with an impressive
      imaginative power. The Soviet invasion into Czechoslovakia (20th of
      August 1968) brought Kaplicky to London, where he later on
      established Future Systems.
      A concern for environmental issues is an important force in much of
      the work. Future Systems has been involved in two extensive research
      programmes on environmental issues, one collaboration with Ove Arup &
      Partners and the second a joint project with the Martin Centre at
      Cambridge University.
      The designs and prototypes of Future Systems (a.o. research proposals
      for NASA and many designs for a high-tech wilderness retreat) have
      often reached beyond the courage of their possible clients, but
      recently some large and complex, imaginative designs, are
      definitively to be constructed. One of these projects is The Ark, an
      enormous lightweight enclosure for the Earth Centre, to be completed
      at the end of the year 2001."
      from: http://www.smartarch.nl/smartgrid/items/051_future_sys.htm

      "Future Systems p1. by Matthew Parr & Kev Edgington.
      The architects Future Systems are Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete.
      Kaplicky first formed Future Systems in 1979 along with David Nixon.
      In 1989 he joined forces with his partner Amanda Levete. In 1996 Jan
      Kaplicky produced a book of images called 'For Inspiration Only'. The
      following quotes are also taken from the book.

      Quotes . "For Inspiration Only' is my own selection of one hundred
      images from a large collection I have assembled over more than twenty
      years. Every image here is one that told me something the moment I
      saw it. Every one touched a nerve and triggered my thoughts into
      crystallisation, a revelation of a shape or a function that will stay
      in my mind, and my slide collection, until time creates an
      opportunity to use it. With images we see exciting things happening
      everywhere... not just on the drawing board. When I see a trailer in
      America, a seashell, a perfectly fried egg, a particular image of a
      sheet of plywood, a Victorian greenhouse, a spacecraft or a
      wheelbarrow being used as a chair I see things that provide
      inspiration. Inspiration can be a butterfly, a submarine, an
      aeroplane, a castle, a plant, a fashion magazine - the choice is
      endless. Perhaps more people should notice their surroundings and try
      to relate to them. Blue sky, sand, wind, sun, shadows, beautiful
      bodies - I wish I could create buildings as wonderful as that.
      Perhaps more people should explore why images are fascinating. I envy
      first year students - they have everything in front of them. I always
      told my students, learn to look around you. Get on a double decker
      bus and look down. Notice the detailing of a van's sliding door, the
      colour on the advertising hoardings, look at all you can see and
      imagine how you can bring it to beautify architecture."

      Themes . As a practice Future Systems have a number of discernible
      themes which run through their work. There is a nostalgic and
      optimistic fascination with technology. A childlike nostalgia
      intrigued with the forms of 50's sputnik-era technology that comes
      across in the shapes and colours of the buildings. There is also an
      optimism... that science and technology can provide us with the means
      of creating a better tomorrow for us all. There is also a strong and
      interwoven awareness of nature and the world around us. This feeds
      into their work in 2 ways. Firstly there is the use of nature to
      provide inspiration in many ways - in terms of form, many of their
      buildings have organic shapes that have been directly inspired by
      nature,... in terms of function, and in terms of inspiration for
      materials. But perhaps more importantly for architects of our
      generation there are the issues of the environment and
      sustainability. Future Systems are deeply aware of green issues in
      architecture, and have pioneered low energy and zero emission designs
      with the European Commission. Future Systems mix of aesthetically
      visionary buildings, with the use of the most advanced technology, to
      provide solutions to environmental and social problems, gives us one
      model for the future of building design.

      Practice . For the first ten years as a practice, Future Systems
      spent much of their time producing an extraordinary range of
      futuristic and visionary proposals, for everything from crane lowered
      pod dwellings, to blob shaped office blocks. Little of their work
      from this period was built. They also produced some particularly nice
      plasticene models, and some particularly poor quality card models
      which should give us all hope! From 1989 to 1996 they have steadily
      increased their portfolio with a number of well placed exotic (or
      should I say erotic!) competition entries and a few small scale
      from: http://www.kjz.menagerie.org.uk/future_systems/future.htm

      "The great adventure of the century is the conquest of space. And the
      audacity and technological prowess displayed by these giant leaps
      beyond the earth's magnetic pull have certainly had their effects on
      the minds of architects. The utopianism that has inspired architects
      attentive to technological progress has found in such leaps an
      unparalleled stimulus. At the start of the 1970s, a crop of
      transparent pods and soap bubbles bloomed in the pages of magazines
      and manifestos: Banham & Dallegret, Haus-Rucker-Co., Coop Himmelblau
      and others were inventing autonomous habitats that offered the last
      word in technology and communications. In a half-enclosed universe,
      freed from work and devoted to the cult of the self, man and woman
      could rediscover the pleasures of the senses and transcendental
      meditation. The cosmonaut meets Barbarella. This seam of quaintly
      hedonistic science-fiction dreams was quickly exhausted.

      Future Systems was founded at the end of this decade. Unlike their
      predecessors, Jan Kaplicky and David Nixon were deadly serious. The
      basis of their work was not the imagery of space adventure, but the
      application of space technology to construction. To the figures
      traditionally venerated by architects, such as Isambard Brunel,
      Joseph Paxton, Buckminster Fuller and Jean Prouvé, Kaplicky and Nixon
      added David O'Neill, the engineer who NASA had employed for
      feasibility studies on space colonies. Kaplicky himself became
      absorbed in developing ideas for capsular habitats. Concrete results
      were rare. Coming back down to earth, Jan Kaplicky worked for a while
      in the offices of Norman Foster, who finally had the bright idea of
      letting him go.
      Working today with Amanda Levete, Kaplicky still inveighs against the
      archaic methods of the construction industry and never lets anyone
      forget that it is now a quarter of a century since man first walked
      on the moon. But he has matured; he is now better able to measure the
      impact on himself of such images of the world as his early education
      in Eastern Europe denied him. He has kept intact his concern for
      ecology and energy-saving. And he is as much inspired by 'hi-' as
      by 'soft-tech'; in his references Stealth bombers combine with
      sardine tins, and the half-shell structures of modern aeroplanes with
      those of underwater flora. He has also become more pragmatic and has
      been exploring the potential of aluminium, that Raphael Soriano first
      applied to construction in the Sixties."
      from: http://www.archcenter.ru/eng/council/HauerKingHouse/default.asp

      "A Czech List for Future Designs. By Matt Jones. April 1997.
      1992. You're sitting in a pitch-dark lecture hall. A tall, soft-
      spoken Czech emigré is caught in the light of the projection beam.
      Falling across his face and the screen is a stunning photograph of a
      delicate, exquisitely colored jellyfish. He whispers, "Maybe all
      buildings will look like this one day." And although this speaker has
      realized very few of his architectural visions, you believe him.
      1996. The tall man - Jan Kaplicky - and his partner Amanda Levete
      have taken their visions from the lecture hall and the drawing board
      to the building site. With their award-winning Glass House in
      Islington, North London, and other projects such as a UK-based
      millennial Earth Center and the royal family's cricket grounds in the
      works, Kaplicky and Levete - as the groundbreaking architectural
      practice Future Systems - are making good on their promises.
      Their book, For Inspiration Only, succeeds in capturing on paper the
      mind-bombing that is Future Systems. The small, Day-Glo volume is a
      collection of the visual references that Kaplicky, Levete, and
      erstwhile collaborator David Nixon have collected over the last 30
      years, each accompanied by the thought-provoking sound bites of the
      The eclectic images - yachts, spacecraft, egg yolks, snail shells
      next to aircraft body-structures, slum kids of India sheltering in
      surplus sewer pipes - are used by the architects as jumping-off
      points for their designs. The powerful juxtapositions displayed in
      the book describe simply a number of very complex ideas: the
      relationship of the organic to the technological, the value of design
      at all levels of detail, the establishment of real need and real
      opportunity for projects, and other tenets of the Tao of Future
      Anyone involved in the design and making of things should carry this
      slim volume like a Maoist would carry the "little red book."
      Inspiring indeed."
      from: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.04/streetcred.html?pg=8

      "Kaplicky Brings His Vision Of The Future To Detroit.
      Some believe a futurist seeks fulfillment in the years ahead rather
      than the present. During a Mar. 16, 2000, lecture at the Detroit
      Institute of Arts, Prague born Jan Kaplicky provided ample examples
      of his visionary architecture, including structures that seemed to
      bring the pages of science fiction novels alive.

      With partner Amanda Levete in the United Kingdom, Kaplicky heads a
      London based architectural and design practice called Future Systems.
      His talk was part of a series organized by the University of Detroit-
      Mercy with sponsorship provided by the Great Lakes Fabricators &
      Erectors Association.
      Kaplicky's work has been described as "organic modernism." Indeed,
      using two images projected side by side on the lecture hall's screen,
      he displayed examples of plant and animal life on the left that
      inspired Future System designs shown on the right. His firm was
      founded in 1983 and has become recognized for such diverse facilities
      as a media center for Lord's Cricket Ground, a Millenial exhibition
      hall, an earth sheltered home on a cliff overlooking the sea, and a
      special pedestrian bridge.
      He punctuated his lecture with observations about banal adaptations
      of 18th and 19th century architectural styles in modern English
      buildings, the dire impact of pollution within the world, and the
      need for more conservation. All the while, he also displayed a number
      of textures and colors drawn from nature, to "put the beauty against
      the ugliness of the world," along with a sense of streamlining drawn
      from aeronautics.
      A modernistic home wedged between two 19th century London residences
      was displayed. Kaplicky said it was constructed on a site that went
      fairly deep but was only 20 ft. wide. With sloped faces, the homeÌs
      design makes extensive use of insulated glass and glass block, giving
      it somewhat of a modernistic greenhouse appearance. Aluminum framing
      and a prefabricated bathroom helped to speed its construction.

      On an isolated cliff on the coast of Wales, Future Systems designed
      an earth sheltered home with a wall of glass facing the sea. Even the
      roof of the structure is covered by a three inch layer of soil,
      topped with sod. The home, Kaplicky said, "is designed to disappear
      into the vegetation" with only the glass wall visible. A system of
      portholes mounted in the wall assist in ventilation.
      For his design of a 100,000 sq. ft. exhibition hall in Duncastle,
      Kaplicky made use of a cable supported roof. The use of solar cells
      in the roof help augment the building's electrical supply and the
      roof's skylights and interior design allow natural light to penetrate
      into the hall's three exhibit levels.
      Perhaps Kaplicky's most interesting design was the cricket ground's
      media center. Although it can hold nearly 200 reporters, announcers,
      and technicians, from a distance the rounded structure vaguely
      resembles a white, oblong alarm clock with a flat face. Aluminum was
      a major building component for the center. Much of its structure and
      skin was pre-assembled off site, dismantled, then shipped in sections
      for re-assembly at the sports facility.
      Besides electronic and print news media areas, the media center
      includes a small restaurant, a camera platform, and elevators. It
      projects over the cricket stadium's stands like a space age pod,
      painted a dazzling white.
      In addition to architecture, Kaplicky also displayed slides of a
      number of furniture items he'd designed. The most interesting was a
      rounded, lifeboat shaped couch/conversation pit nicknamed "the dingy"
      that found dual use -- as with many couches -- for sleeping.
      In describing his interest in the designs of nature, Kaplicky said
      beauty was its principle motivator, but he could not discount some of
      its more practical aspects. Nature recycles. Nature conserves. Nature
      does not pollute. And Nature is an abundant source of design ideas
      that have withstood the ravages of time.

      The problem with the practice of architecture is that no room is
      provided for experimentation, Kaplicky observed. "Testing doesn't
      exist in the building of good architecture," he stated. "That's the
      biggest thing, the biggest problem you face in architecture -- you
      have to risk."
      What has helped him to at least partially reduce the risks he takes
      in his designs have been "natural forms that are absolutely
      fantastic." According to Kaplicky, architects will find an endless
      supply of these design forms if only they can train themselves to
      properly look into Nature and capture the richness of the
      architecture contained within it.
      Perhaps if more architects were to seek such inspiration there would
      be more permanence in today's designs, he continued. He contrasted
      images of such classical architectural examples as the Great Pyramids
      of Egypt, Roman coliseums and theaters that incorporated features of
      their site's topography in their designs, and ancient domed churches
      and mosques, with such grotesque items as Hitler's plans for Nazi
      Berlin, public buildings constructed by the Soviet Union, and
      contemporary retail structures. In Kaplicky's view, buildings that
      are quickly put up then pulled down in 30 to 60 years may not be
      enduring simply because of owners who are misguided. Such uninformed
      owners encourage a pseudo-traditional approach to architectural
      design that results in buildings that are static. Boring. Too quickly
      made obsolete.

      Money can be spent wisely. At least, in theory, if not too often in
      Ironically, rather than slow development this approach has sped up
      architectural styles to a nearly frantic pace over the last sixty
      years, Kaplicky said. Architects find themselves scrambling to come
      up with something "new" to appease fickle, difficult to educate
      Trends come and go, too rapidly. Modernism used for be promoted
      within the United Kingdom, he said, but within his own lifetime he
      has seen the British flee from it. Such critics as Prince Charles
      have been promoting a more "traditional" style -- a return to
      classicism -- complaining that modernism has generated buildings that
      are too often inhumane and downright oppressive.
      The prince has a point.
      Kaplicky's approach to modernism, however, is an attempt to infuse
      natural forms that enhance life experiences while taking advantage of
      renewable resources. He works hard to develop "living" buildings
      that "breathe" rather than suffocate.
      He displayed designs of unbuilt "green" structures that not only
      incorporated solar panels but wind generator turbines as well. One
      design of a proposed 100 story office tower featured graceful curves
      that brought the pistil of a tulip to mind. He also advocated greater
      allocation of parks and green spaces within urban settings, to bring
      Nature back to the city.
      As with all architects who stretch design boundaries, Kaplicky's
      personal style -- as well as those of his associates at Future
      Systems -- will occasionally spark controversy. To the students and
      design professionals who gathered at the Detroit Institute of Arts,
      however, he provided an evening stimulating and thought provoking
      from: http://www.glfea.org/html/id-post-modernism.htm

      "Morgante's day in Future Systems. by Andrea Morgante.
      Saturday is a working day, us architect think, here at Future Systems
      office in London. I'm living within walking distance from the
      bureaus, yet I do not love waking up early, especially Saturday
      mornings. The hard part is not be working extra time, rather making
      it through the compact, solid mass flow of people, directed to
      Portobello Road, that with regularly floods Notting Hill street
      while I'm crossing it. I pick up many homely accents flying by:
      Milan, Venice, Rome, and Naples. It's deeply, naively reassuring,
      having left my home country 2 years ago to work here.
      Opening my office doors, I enjoy silence within its walls. Inside, I
      find only an American colleague and Jan Kaplicky, Future Systems'
      founder in 1979. He waves his hand briefly, then he goes back to work
      on his tools-of-the-trade covered desk. The office's ambiences appear
      enormous, when no presence animates it, yet preserving its origin as
      an industrial-size warehouse in what is used to be a Jamaican ghetto.
      I take off my shoes in a black moquette area, as per office manual,
      to walk through its imaginary Chromatic Entrance, into a red carpeted
      floor, where all functional areas lie: the production, meeting,
      models workshop, and kitchen. No walls to create isolation here;
      Everyone can cross his colleagues' sight in a global panorama. You
      really feel spoiled to have had the chance of such a rare working

      My almost-Italian black coffee's perfume reaches Jan, who joins me,
      at his time, for a quick break. He's been already in for a couple
      hours thinking, imagining, and designing. Today just like many other
      days. While I am telling him the events of my previous evening, he
      fatherly inquires if "I behaved...", then goes back to work to his
      desk. I often work alongside of him, a precious, rare, unique
      experience to me. He's one of the few surviving Masters of
      Architecture, yet he's capable of listening to his employees' daily
      stories. His presence's a structural part of the office, and his
      desk, continuously filled with ideas and sketches, every day,
      even Saturdays, a reassuring sight.
      I will work up to lunchtime, as I have to check and modify some
      drawings for a joint Ferrari-Maserati stand upcoming in Frankfurt
      Exhibition. These will be sent Monday to our Italian contractor,
      who'll run the final check-up before construction. Meantime my
      American partner Jeff makes up his mind, and puts on some Jazz music,
      quietly, creating an atmosphere. Jan raises his thumb in approval,
      and our Saturday work overtime turns even mellower. Then Soren comes
      in, a Danish colleague on the 30s: he has to update some final
      drawings for the new Selfridges Store in Birmingham. Only a few
      months away from the grand opening, he's been working more than two
      years on it. He's tired and he will not probably agree with my
      relaxed and chilled out view of the Saturdays; his time is running
      out, too many details to finalize, I could bet these months look like
      days under a countdown to him.
      The specialized Press and Public comments on Selfridges are already
      exciting and encouraging, keeping the spirits high in the team, as
      well as in our office. We even receive congratulations from people
      outside our professional environment, to share their awe for our

      That's more than words can explain. In between CD tracks, Jeff does
      his part: he's working on two different projects, about to be built:
      a prefabricated school in Richmond, green suburbia south of London
      town, and a new fashion store in crowded Oxford Street. The latter
      isn't a hard challenge for our teams, having "broadened their
      shoulders", experience-wise, with Marni's mall network. Richmond's
      school is rather similar to the Media Center, both structurally and
      in its building process. A shipyard contractor will build it, and new
      classrooms will be strengthened with Fiberglas monocoque structure,
      decorated on their outside surface by a giant sketch drawn by a
      schoolboy, one of its future inhabitants.
      It's almost lunchtime, pasta with bacon awaits me, and now I hurry up
      finishing my drawings, some of which are following me in Alessi Italy
      on Monday. We're almost ready to start producing a new tea and coffee
      cup set, and the final prototypes have being shown in Milano's
      Triennale. A totally exciting work, made by an endless number of
      sketches, 3D models and foam models. The sole data volume collected
      for this project is comparable to those used to design a normal
      building. Absolutely stunning.
      My computer screen blackened now. I wave again to Jan while I put my
      chair back against the desk, and I promise him not to be late at the
      airport on schedule for Monday's flight. He answers back
      ironically: "I would not be so sure if I was you!". Bacon aside, I'm
      always an Italian running late."
      from: http://www.parametro.it/giorno01-inglese.htm

      "Future Systems. Ferrara, Aula Magna faf. 13 June 2003.
      It doesn't matter much that one of the partners and principal moving
      spirit of Future Systems, Jan Kaplicky, was born and grew up in
      Praga. The architecture of this group is definitely English. Indeed
      I'd say that it couldn't even be conceived outside the Architectural
      Association climate of London, the Archigram teaching, pop culture,
      the revolution of the trends of the Sixties and of High Tech. To the
      High Tech current belongs the love for technological research, for
      ultramodern forms, for artificial materials and for the machine myth.
      Jan Kaplicky, besides, worked, with responsible positions, for Foster
      and Rogers. But don't look for in his production neither for the
      classicism often algid of the first neither for the machinist
      brutalism of the second. His architecture isn't tranquillizing and
      institutional, nor aggressive or full of technological furor. In case
      there is in the spirit of Jan Kaplicky and company a playful
      component that makes you think at Alsop. Maybe an Alsop less bratty,
      more serious, stylistically more sober. If the first, in fact,
      recalls the Rolling Stones, Future Systems can only bring in mind the
      Beatles. Besides, if the hypothesis isn't deprived of any
      historiographical purchase, I would like to think that Yellow
      Submarine was written right to illustrate Kaplicky's architectures.
      Future then as style, as a pleasant projection of a world that enjoys
      its progress, that is not afraid of the dark side of technology. That
      transforms the rhetoric of the future in a game of possibilities.
      More integrated than apocalyptic, to recall an historic definition by
      Umberto Eco, if it wasn't for a constant attention to quality that
      ignores any hypertechnological satisfaction.
      Corollary: the attention to the ecological dimension, the body
      pleasure, the research of a tactile component, the rediscover of
      amazement, and, as we were saying, of a certain nostalgia for the
      pleasant years of the beat generation, seen as a promise -though
      incompleted - of a better world.

      Event report.
      The conference of Future Systems, impersonified by its founder Jan
      Kaplicky, illustrates from the beginning a unique bond with Italy:
      Jan is for the first time in our country and he decided to present
      his own personal tribute to a crowded Aula Magna faf, showing in
      parallel two ironic symbols; a F1 Ferrari and a fashion show image of
      the stylist Marni.
      Kaplicky, after only a few seconds, is able to describe not only his
      passion for the Italian image but at the same time he illustrates the
      ontological mainpoints of his work, coherent and that didn't change
      in the last thirty years, presenting also some of his last Italian
      After this tricolour ouverture, Jan Kaplicky started to show a fast
      and ironic but also quite alarming series of contemporary european
      architectures, criticizing, accomplice the content and the approval
      of his public, the wide absence of aesthetic and cultural referrals.
      The architectural scenario that in a few minutes comes out is
      disturbing, agonizing and in an easing change of rhythm and speed
      it's Kaplicky himself that gives us the intellectual remedy. Now on
      the screen pleasant images fluctuate, belonging to a surprising
      photographical repertoire, that doesn't have nothing in common with
      built architecture. Jan, now, points to the public the beauty of a
      jellyfish that glows in the ocean's deepness, or the sensuality of a
      female body or again the indisputable beauty of a desert beach with
      the silence of sand and the blue colour sea. Jan continues to
      indicate us, with this repertoire of slides the path to take, or
      maybe he also indicates us the path that he himself took back in 1979
      in London. Also in showing the pure and winding lines of a Rutan
      airplane, Kaplicky doesn't hide his love for the reconciliation
      between tecnology and the sensuality offered by nature. It's in this
      reconciliation that Future Systems goes beyond and apart, in a
      certain way, from the high-tech robotic culture promoted by his
      previous colleagues Rogers and Foster.

      During the presentation of many projects, from the Media Center,
      through the House in Wales, the Alessi tea and coffee set, itinerant
      stands for Ferrari and also the Selfridges store-department, Jan
      continues silently to indicate how technology is only the belonging
      and the testimony to the contemporary and of how our immagination
      tries to poetically reach the future. This, as Kaplicky explains, is
      the meaning of Future Systems.
      In this fascinating and inspired series of images of built, being
      built and that are still not built projects, there is also space for
      a serious, conscious warning regarding the relation with environment.
      Otherwise it couldn't be inside the technological - naturalistic view
      described till now by the czechoslovakian architect. A warning for
      the new generations, to be more sensible to the environmental
      problematics as much to the new technologies of alternative energy
      offered nowadays. And also in this section, futuristic projects
      overlap, in a rapid succession, designed at the beginning of the
      80's, when the environmental problematic was still a minor aspect.
      Again the armonic and poetically sparkling meeting between the
      machine and nature, between man and technology, between skin and
      After an engaging and almost histrionical presentation of the work of
      Future Systems, Jan leaves his public.
      On the screen, again showed in parallel, are now projected towards
      the public two red and soft lips, as to give a kiss and he himself
      timidly closes the lecture saying: "I kiss you, goodbye"."
      from: http://www.xfaf.it/web/page_evento_e.php?id=22&pagina=1

      "A View on the Exhibition of Jan Kaplicky's Work.
      Kaplicky as a Presentation of Exclusivity. by Martin Sedlak.

      I read two interviews with architect Jan Kaplicky. These interviews,
      in my opinion lead by strikingly uninterested reporters, inspired me
      to supplement my knowledge of the architect. I found out that he
      mentions those architects, which I think of in association with his
      work (among others, Le Corbusieur, Wright in his organic work,
      Archigram, Prouvé and even the somewhat forgotten Niemeyer). Because
      I like all of these architects, it is no wonder that I find various
      pleasures in the Kaplicky's production. Discussions accompanying his
      projects are for me based on something that is excessively exclusive
      and I would like to express my view about his work in relation to
      this exclusivity. At the same time, it is necessary to point out that
      this characteristic cannot be attributed solely to Kaplicky. It is a
      trait common to many types of architecture, which from an external
      point of view could be seen perhaps as antagonistic. This
      characteristic is a trait of our entire era. Kaplicky does not
      mention the expression of his work in the interviews I have read.
      Maybe he feels that it is not necessary to speak of it and considers
      it to be a determined, developing technology, ecological
      understanding, etc. Let us take a look at the anthropomorphic
      elements evident in his structures, which would pose a difficult
      problem for any organic architecture. I am speaking of elements with
      sexual symbolism, which are a part of the organic character of
      Kaplicky's work.

      The use of sexual symbolism is nothing unthinkable or new in art.
      Kaplicky is convinced of the superiority of contemporary (and all?)
      British culture above other European cultures. Let us look at the
      painter Berdsley as a comparison. We can recognize in Berdsley's work
      that sexuality was never presented in and of itself, but always in
      connection with other human conditions or characteristics (for
      example, old age, pride, jealousy...). Berdsley's eros was acceptable
      not only for European culture, but I am convinced for any other
      culture as well. Known sexual manifestations from Indian temples are
      related to religious epos and are by no means a primitive symbol of
      The mentioned connection of eros so difficult for architecture (there
      are also very few known cases of anthropomorphic architecture) is
      lacking in Kaplicky's work. An insufficiency of transcendent
      intention, though also of a lightening humor or irony (in Archigram's
      work it was by far less emphasized) poses a situation in which an
      earlier shame "bravely" escapes through the window but something else
      comes in through the door. That something is not far from Puritanism,
      which represents an absolute irrevocable truth for the author - in
      our case it is that ecology or technological development - the

      We could speak similarly of space or other regions of architectural
      production - a relationship to the city or landscape, social
      questions, construction, etc. I feel that in this regard Kaplicky's
      work does not achieve sufficient complexity at all times and is
      actually a presentation of exclusivity (perhaps its organic or
      technicistic focus is not problematic in and of itself). But I would
      say we are still only looking at the tip of the iceberg. I would be
      interested in Kaplicky's view of the rise of monumental architecture.
      Maybe we would agree immediately, he as the keeper of the truly new
      and I as the keeper of the truly timeless. We would agree that two
      issues are at hand. We would not agree on what is preferential. But I
      would consider even that to be a success in today's spiteful era.
      But let us return to architecture itself. What I would find the least
      reproachful is the fact that these projects are seldom realized.
      These structure alone have a consistency and certainly exceed in
      quality what we generally see around us, in other words, the average.
      They belong to the less-preferred elite architecture, which sweetens
      the flood of relatively horrible phenomena. This architecture has
      often still not lost its romantic attraction (the author himself
      speaks of them in his project descriptions as "views from the
      underground to the sea," or "a structure in the form of a butterfly,
      from which colored light romantically shines at night").

      But the main source of its enlightenment is the trait of "social
      fantasy," developed for our generation by Archigram in the 1960's and
      already freed, as opposed to constructivistic attempts, after a
      connection with the Marxist ideology of the time and the illuminating
      Czech architectural scene, which in reaction to the historical past
      matured in the 1990's to a reduction of history and more or less to a
      hidden admiration for anything technicist.
      Though in the past there was a strong line of something, which I
      call "intimate architecture," present here (I would give it form -
      without irony - as "a discovered transcendence in monotonic elegant
      masses and furniture-less plywood spaces"), Kaplicky always shined
      brightly and I believe will continue to shine for some time. I feel
      that Czech society is moving, as opposed to its surroundings, in an
      unbelievable manner and through extreme conditions but it still has
      not arrived at a greater pluralized span and that is the case for the
      thinking of the people as well. I am strongly reminded of a political
      comparison - "with the market or without it, no other method exists."
      I was pleased by the declared relationship of Kaplicky to disciplines
      such as urban planning. Unfortunately, I do not know the practical
      implications of this relationship."
      from: http://www.casopis-

      Official Future Systems site:
      FS list of works:
      more about FS:

      Future Systems say...:
      "I started reading about architecture at art school," Levete
      says. "It was not something that I had ever thought of before, but I
      saw it as a perfect fusion between art and the external discipline
      that I was seeking. I did an art foundation course and found it very
      lacking in discipline: there were no parameters - you'd have to make
      and define your own. I'm somebody who's always worked much better
      when there's something to hit against and to challenge."
      Mapping out your path...
      Successful careers, like buildings, need a good plan right from the
      start. "Picking the right school is absolutely vital," Levete
      says. "Schools have very different emphases - some are very
      technical, some commercial, some artistic, some are experimental,
      some are theoretical, so you really need to do your research."
      Other elements can occasionally come in to play too, however. Amanda
      found her most influential teacher almost by accident: "David Greene
      was one of the Archigram architects. He is fantastic, a very lateral
      thinker, very conceptual. The AA [Architectural Association School of
      Architecture, where Levete studied] had a system where you could
      choose your tutors. David Greene was the best looking."
      Like most creative professions, architecture is a lifestyle
      choice. "If you want to be an architect it has to be a passion, not
      just a job," Levete says. "It's incredibly competitive. You need to
      be tough and you need to believe in yourself and you need to work
      very hard. And you need to love it. All those crits that you go
      through are good preparation for reality. They are really scary, but
      you learn to stand your ground and the value of being able to
      articulate conviction."

      Working methods...
      Crits - constructive criticism of students' work by their tutors -
      are a regular part of the seven-year training and education process.
      This comprises a three-year architecture degree ('RIBA Part 1'); then
      a further two years of academic work ('RIBA Part 2') is normally
      sandwiched between two years spent working in an architectural
      practice, before the final Part 3 exam. "We get an enormous amount of
      people applying to work here," Levete comments. "And it's easy to
      spot the people who have written a thousand letters and the people
      who know and admire what you've done."
      Getting to know the industry early on is essential. Architects have
      v<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.