Shatwell Studios, Shatwell Lane, Yarlington , Wincanton, BA9 8DL

Siza plans the placement of the columns at Shatwell

I  would like to invite you here, to Shatwell, on Saturday 7th April, to witness the installation of the three columns that Álvaro Siza designed in 2014 for the courtyard of Burlington House in Piccadilly, as a commission by the Royal Academy for their exhibition Sensing Spaces. Architecture Reimagined.

In the courtyard of Burlington House, Siza confronted the question of how an architectural intervention might transform the visitor’s appreciation of a grand and heavily trafficked urban space, where there was already an awkward surfeit of architecture. In his hands, the project addressed how lightly the architect should tread, how modest the actual physical intervention required and of what it might owe as acknowledgment to buildings that are already on site. As many of you will know, the three concrete columns were commissioned by the Royal Academy  for their exhibition Sensing Spaces, and were understood by the designer as an experiment in how architecture, treading very lightly, could nevertheless transform a grand and heavily trafficked urban space. A gauntlet not thrown down, but rather diffidently deposited, on the cobbles in Piccadilly as an example to the public and a reminder to the profession.

Siza columns Burlington House

As the exhibition was closing, the clumns were acquired by Drawing Matter, in part to mark the near simultaneous arrival in Somerset of a very significant part of Siza’s his professional archive; but also with the idea that a thoughtful re-siting here might raise similar – even some harder – questions about the role of architecture, or about the uneasy division of country and city.

We are very grateful to Álvaro for the time and care with which he worked to find the precise new site at Shatwell, working with Manuel Montenegro and Hugh Strange, to finding the new location here; it has taken rather too long to implement their thoughtful scheme.

After a last, long, session in Porto, I remember him sitting back to contemplate thehis final placement, lighting another cigarette and saying: ‘There; now we are risking doing something really interesting.’

Come on the 7th, if you possibly can, and decide for yourselves.

We look forward to seeing you. – Niall Hobhouse

The event itself will take place at 1pm, sharp. The farmyard and the archive will be open to visitors from 11 to 3; there will be light refreshments served by Rose Adams throughout.    

If you are able to join us we would be very grateful if you could email  before Wednesday 4th April.     

Drawing Matter

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