It is late on a Sunday night, and I have been working quite a bit today and yesterday on drawings and images for the Communique Headquarters in Seoul. This past Wednesday was my first day working completely for myself, and because I somehow caught a cold on the trip to Saudi, I had to make up a bit of the time working this weekend. Tomorrow evening I will speak with the client and present my new ideas for the ground floor outdoor space.
Besides doing my last site walk on the KAPSARC project and having my last day at Zaha Hadid’s office, and my first day with my own office, the highlight of my week was meeting Jane Wernick on Thursday. Miya Ushida introduced me to Jane, telling me that she might be able to give me some structural advice for the Communique project and potentially push the design forward. It would not do justice to Jane to call her an engineer. I found that she was a thinker and designer who has a deep curiosity for all of the ways that the built environment can influence our lives.
I am reading Jane’s book on Building Happiness right now. She was the editor, and many of the contributors are from her group called Building Futures at the Royal Institute of British Architects. The group is dedicated to promoting discussion about the future of the built environment in twenty to fifty years’ time. So on a larger scale, these people are aiming to achieve something similar to what I do when I write you these letters. And although I talk about well-being, and Jane talks about happiness, it may be that we are aiming for similar things.
I spent an hour with Jane on Thursday, four hours with Rob Stuart-Smith and Shajay Bhooshan at the AA’s Design Research Lab reviews on Friday morning, and about twenty-six hours working on the Communique Headquarters from Wednesday until today. I do believe that dedicated time producing work and real buildings provides an important anchor to our lives and our work. At the same time, a portion of that time really must be spent exchanging ideas and building coalitions with people who share our values.
Jane encouraged me to collaborate with statisticians and academics who can help me really quantify and demonstrate the claims that I hope to make. That will mean that I have to reach out even more and create new collaborations. All of that takes time away from simply sitting down and producing drawings and models for architecture. Finding the right balance between these two conflicting demands will be one of the great tasks of the coming year.
All best wishes, your grandfather. 21 December, 2014.