Interview with a Pritzker prize winner

by TERESA CHOW on Jul 23, 2012 in Architecture
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Lord Richard Rogers (RR) might not be a household name, but his iconic works ‑ including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Millennium Dome in London ‑ not only exemplify state-of-the-art technology but also challenge the world in how architecture is perceived.


WHO Lord Richard Rogers (LRR), Chairman and Ivan Harbour (IH), senior partner of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
WHERE IFC Mall, Hong Kong
WHAT A major retrospective exhibition tour of the past 45 years of work Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Centre Pompidou


In 2007, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Centre Pompidou, he was invited to travel around the world for a major retrospective exhibition of his works. Rogers and his partner, Ivan Harbour (IH), attended the Hong Kong opening of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners: From the House to the City. They talked to Perspective about their hot-off-the presses RIBA-winning project Las Arenas in Spain, and about the importance of creating a liveable city.

Your Las Arenas project in Spain demonstrates how your practice was able to reinvent an abandoned Barcelona bullring into a modern shopping mall. Why do you feel is it important to utilise abandoned building?

RR: If you want to live in a city comfortably without lots of derelict land, you should first fill such gaps before spreading outwards. Hong Kong is a very good example. If you spread outwards, you need to have a car; and when the family grows and children grow up, you will need more cars if you are wealthy. If you are poor, then you’ll have a realistic problem, because you need to rely on public transport. Hong Kong as a city has the least private transport in the world – that is fantastic.

It doesn’t matter that Hong Kong is a dense city. It is good because you use very little CO2 while you use more public transport, which is more efficient. Also, a dense city is also a safe city. There is a famous saying that the best security is not CCTV but eyes on the street.

In fact, we have a vast amount of ex-industrial land which we don’t use very well. So we are saying, first use that land; secondly, upgrade the buildings you have got; and thirdly, make them highly efficient.

IH: I think what we are hinting at is that it offers more interesting answers when reusing existing vacant land, because then each project has a different constraint and question that requires the inventiveness of an architect to give specific answer as to the general quality of the city.

 Read the full story, ‘Making a difference’, in the August 2012 issue of Perspective magazine! 


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