Architects discuss old forms, new functions

Left to right: Daisy Froud, Vincent Lacovara, Geoff Shearcroft and Tom Coward. The four are directors of architectural firm Agents of Change, and gave a panel lecture at the Architecture School on Monday.
Left to right: Daisy Froud, Vincent Lacovara, Geoff Shearcroft and Tom Coward. The four are directors of architectural firm Agents of Change, and gave a panel lecture at the Architecture School on Monday. Photo by AOC.

Monday night, Hastings Hall in the School of Architecture’s Rudolph Hall was filled to capacity with architecture buffs eager to listen to a panel lecture from British architects known for their innovative designs that create new the frontiers for the industry.

In the lecture, titled “Sampling and Synthesizing,” Tom Coward, Daisy Froud, Vincent Lacovara and Geoff Shearcroft discussed their London-based architecture firm, Agents of Change. The architects are teaching a seminar at the Yale School of Architecture this semester, called “Re-Storing Public Possessions,” which will explore the construction of institutional repositories.

The talk began with a discussion of the vision that guides Agents of Change. According to their theory, one must draw from various styles of architecture in order to optimize space in a new way. Later they reviewed a range of examples from their portfolio of completed projects, which included a temporary pavilion for the 2008 Lift Festival in London.

“We have no predefined product, process, or creation,” Shearcroft said. “Each individual product grows organically from working with our clients and not for them.”

Agents of Change have worked on a variety of projects, from homes to schools to museums.

“Dictation denies the mutual beneficial relationship that exists between a client and designer,” Shearcroft added.

Froud, the only female architect on the panel, picked up where Shearcroft left off, mapping out the lengths that the architects went to in order to create the best possible building for a client. She referenced cultural influences and input from children at a school to show the inspiration behind certain parts of a building.

Three School of Architecture students interviewed said this theory of practice resonated with their own views on architecture.

“The participatory nature of their architecture is what we all need to be doing,” said Daniel Jacobs ARC ’14. “I think they nicely balanced what’s necessary in a building and design.”

Coward and Lacovara emphasized the need for a certain level of ambiguity in architecture to avoid pigeonholing a particular space to a particular use, so that a bank may one day be used as an apartment building, for example.

“The important thing is about setting up a frame of potential that can be evolved from, tweaked and interpreted in the future for growth,” Lacovara added.

Each of the lecturers reiterated that Agents of Change recycles and reinterprets already-existing ideas of space and architecture. Shearcroft even likened the firm to DJs, remixing and sampling from other artists.

The talk was the second installment in the School of Architecture’s lecture series for the year. The next talk will take place on Sept. 1 in Hastings Hall.

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