Architectural Inspiration

“I don’t think you can teach Architecture. You can only inspire people” – a quote by the great Zaha Hadid. People often ask architects from where or whom they get their passion, drive and inspiration. Anyone with a creative bone in their body cannot fail to be inspired by something or someone.

At Gaunt Francis some of our architects decided to share who has inspired them. Here is what our Part III Architectural Assistant, Max, had to say:

“Carlo Scarpa is someone who has inspired me for many years. He was an Italian architect, and is probably one of the most enigmatic and underappreciated architects of the 20th Century. One design in particular that has truly inspired me is La Tomba Brion (Brion Cemetery), which lies in the San Vito d’Altivole near Treviso, Italy. I always had a fascination with Scarpa – especially his exquisite detailing and use of concrete. During my visit to Italy I went to visit La Tomba Brion, as well as his other design, Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona and it more than confirmed my initial thoughts.


La Tomba Brion


La Tomba Brion

“Jean Renaudie and his wife, Renée Gailhoustet, are French Architects who probably are best known for their social housing project in Ivry-sur-Seine, situated in the outskirts of Paris. It is an 8-building complex and is a 60,000 inhabitant municipality which was built between 1969 and 1975.

“I chose to study this building as part of a Modern Architectural History Module during my Masters at the University of Sydney. I was so interested that when visiting Paris, I decided to head to the ‘banlieues’ of Paris to see the buildings in the flesh.

Ivry-sur-Seine - 02


I was drawn to not only the intricacy and complexity of the architecture, but also the drawings and sketches the architects used in developing the scheme. Each apartment in the complex is individual, has at least one (but often two) private terraces and is often arranged over more than one storey. It appears to be truly ahead of its time, and many contemporary apartment schemes seem to be attempting to achieve the aims of this development.”


renaudie sketch

Renaudie’s Sketch of the Ivry-sur-Seine

GFA Architect, Kim, has always had a passion for Brutalist architecture, so it was no surprise that she takes her inspiration from British Architects Alison and Peter Smithson. Kim expressed: “Pioneers of the ‘New Brutalism’ an Architecture concerned as much with Ethic and Aesthetic, husband and wife duo Alison and Peter Smithson looked to respond to changing society, changing cities and chaotic or transitional spaces. The couples first significant building was Hunstanton Secondary Modern School in 1950 inspired by the ideas of Mies van der Rohe and adapting to post-war cost saving using materials and fittings ‘as found’- undressed and undecorated.


Hunstanton Secondary Modern School, designed by husband and wife duo, Alison and Peter Smithson

“The principle of objects ‘as found’ (shared by the independent group) became the basis for much of their work, they were inspired by existing street life, dirt, noise and change. The ‘as found’ captured on camera by Nigel Henderson’s photographs of Bethnal Green in the 1950’s.

“The almost anthropological notion that Architecture should grow from, and respond to an existing character is something that I reflect on frequently. The Smithson’s treated each site as object of high value, its meaning already contained and ready to be extracted from its fabric.

Peter and Alison Smithson

Alison and Peter Smithson

“Although very few of their works were realised as buildings, they contributed heavily in terms of published theory.”

Part I Architectural Assistant, Ollie, get his inspiration from the incredible Renzo Piano and Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. he said: “Renzo’s work in particular impacted me from a young age. My first book on architecture was “Piano” by Philip Jodidio, which compiles Piano’s work as case studies. This book revealed to me how the form of a building is not restricted by its functionality, but can in fact be perpetuated by it. Piano also gave me inspiration for internal spaces and how the circulation of a building can be just as important as its key spaces, influencing how I went about designing my undergraduate final project. Renzo Piano was a key motivator for me undertaking architecture, and I can now appreciate the detail of Piano’s designs and how efficiently he uses materials.


Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center by Renzo Piano

“I also admire the minimalist movement and how such impressive spaces could be created with such simple design. Although it was more of an exhibition piece, as the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition, the way in which the Barcelona Pavilion by Van Der Rohe and Lilly Reich stirs emotion when you move through it affected how I looked at architecture and caused me to think “how does one create such spaces?”.

barcelone pavilion

Barcelona Pavilion by Van Der Rohe and Lilly Reich

“All architecture influences my perceptions of spaces and the functionality of buildings, constantly shaping how I think about architecture; whether it is quality or not, it imparts wisdom of what works or not. As an architectural student, I have barely began to scrape the surface of what makes architecture great, but the journey ahead and discovering how to create “architecture” excites me, especially when studying architects such as these.”

Finally, Architect Manuel explained: “What inspired me to study and practice architecture has always been the built environment. I was fascinated with tall buildings as a child. I remember travelling to other cities and places, which were interesting in an unfamiliar way, and I would sit in the back of the car counting the number of storeys of every building. I’d feel this excitement every time I spotted an even taller building than the last.

“I grew up drawing buildings – or rather just blobs and big structures – fascinated by, not only my uncle’s posters of the Twin Towers, Manhattan and the Eiffel Tower, but also by the illustrations in natural science books that compared the Earth with other huge objects.

casa en sierra de arrabida

Casa en Sierra de Arrábida by Souto de Moura

“At University in Spain, I discovered that an awful lot of hard work was involved in just about any project, so I started to prefer more simple architecture that I could understand. The early residential works of Souto de Moura and Vázquez Consuegra quickly comes to mind. The requirement to address many technical aspects alongside the social and composition studies very early in the process also resulted in smaller projects. I credit architects like Enrique Abascal, Carmen Llatas and José Pérez de Lama for this approach.

social housing

Social Housing in Seville by Enrique Abascal

“My fascination for conflicting scales and complexity continued with masterpieces like Blade Runner, to more personal yet powerful films such as Mon Oncle and Red Desert.  Writers such as Neruda, Berger, Guattari and Pallasmaa have also broadly influenced me over the years.”

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