The ‘playful city’ theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture has provoked something of a carnivalesque atmosphere across the capital, from the Hatwalk to the Urban Picnic Contests, but not all projects have taken such a lighthearted approach.
A talk being held this Wednesday aims to bring to light the multifaceted relationship between architecture and photography. The discussion panel – which brings together Simon Allford of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Jack Pringle of Pringle Brandon Architects, architectural photographers Luke Hayes and Grant Smith and Building Design Editorial Director Amanda Baillieu – will analyse the different approaches of the architect and the architectural photographer, and the way in which the contrast between the architect’s familiarity with the work and the detached perspective of the photographer might inspire new ideas.
The prestigious group will also discuss the nature of dialogue between architect and photographer in order to achieve a desired image, the interest of the photographer in imaging architecture and architects’ views on this element of control in the photographers’ hands. The panel will also consider architectural photography as a publicity tool, discussing what the media expects and requires from a photograph when featuring a project.
Held in the Roca London Gallery – the most recent London project of Zaha Hadid Architects – the backdrop to the discussion will be an exhibition of 19 winning photographs from the Architects’ Eye Competition 2011. The competition, which has been running since 2007, is organised by ‘corporate art advisors’ International Art Consultants, who ‘developed the idea from observing architects’ enthusiasm when photographing buildings’ and is judged by leading figures from the architecture and photography communities.
The work on display is split into two categories: Architecture and Place, and Architecture and People, highlighting the importance of context – in terms of aesthetics in the former and interaction in the latter – in both instances.
It seems a topic of particular current interest, as the Royal Institute of British Architects recently launched its first architecture photography competition for its members, with the open brief of capturing interpretations of ‘architecture in 2012’ in any form.
An architectural photograph can describe the way in which people interact with a given environment, but it can also emphasise or even dictate the mood or quality of a space, and it is in this power of portrayal that the difference lies between photographs of architecture – which affect our interpretation of a space – and architecture itself.
In an age in which photography is growing increasingly prolific and images are encountered more often than the ‘real thing,’ it seems a relevant time to be highlighting the fact that, while the subject matter of architecture and its photography remains the same, its meanings differ greatly.
The exhibition runs from 23 June to 8 July 2012.