Trieste is…

Fur rippling in the wind,

Across hunched shoulders.

Hundreds of zebra-crossings

(Some with lights, some without,

All equally ignored.)

Hills and steps,

Straight but not.

As if I’ve been spun in a circle and put down randomly,

All memorable spaces shuffled then scattered.



I wrote the above in Trieste, on a miserable, confusing day, and I have typed it here to make a point: perceptions of, and reactions to, cities are wholly subjective- different for each person, and affected by many tiny variables. Architecture is the same.

For this reason I see spaces as narratives, with characters and human detail. Buildings are stages for ever-changing events- as back-drops they can be simple and adaptable, with the ability to create or change to any desired atmosphere. As a reaction to a chain of events, a design can form, grow, split, merge, disintegrate: never static, as life plays out in and around it. Buildings become part of our stories, maybe the focus but more often on the peripheries, as reference points and anchors.

Do we react to buildings or do they react to us?

Maybe both; like tangible echoes, reactions to every tiny thing bounce back and forth from one to the other, eroding and shaping and changing.

What if a place is made through the act of ‘informal invasion’, where the users are temporary, and the use constantly changing? If, as Pallasmaa asserts, ‘architectural space is lived space rather than physical space’, what is the architecture of this ever-evolving space? Maybe it is defined by inhabitation- the simplest way of claiming a space as your own, and of adapting it to suit your needs.

So this place is a true narrative, without any clear beginning, middle or end, documenting life and all its players as scars and tattoos.

When is any building ‘finished’? The design stops, yes, but nothing else does.