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Lebbeus Woods – A Visionary Architect

November 22, 2012 4 comments

I’m rather late with this small tribute to an architect who was little known outside of the profession, and who sadly died at the end of October at the age of 72.

When I was at University in the late 80’s & early 90’s, I became rather obsessed with the work of Lebbeus Woods, an American architect and academic who had an amazing  imagination that was luckily for us, coupled with an unbelievable talent for drawing.

I tried (like many others I guess) to copy his style and I borrowed his ideas for the basis of some of my projects, most notably this one with a series of faceted structures stuck to the side of the Post Office Tower. I soon realised however that despite my best efforts, my drawing and presentational ability were not up to the task, and so I had to be satisfied with buying his books and stroking the images that lay within…

And what wonderful images he could make.. flying, dynamic, structures rendered in layer upon layer of perfectly weighted pencil crayon lines, truly wonderful stuff…

Woods was unusual for an architect in that I don’t think he actually ever completed a building. In fact I think he only ever completed one physical project, a light sculpture that sits within a Steven Holl building in China, completed earlier this year. All his projects were almost always theoretical, often based around ideas of conflict and war and the resultant destruction and rebuilding of the cities fabric.

He was often described as a fantasist, producing work and imagery that would grace any decent sci-fi story. This was an accusation he always fought however, saying instead that his work was intended to invoke real architectural solutions albeit ones which were free of conventional limits, and experienced through a different set of rules. One fine example would be his Einstein Tomb in which a structure travels the universe along a single beam of light, forever..

I will leave you with just a small selection of some of Lebbeus’s wonderful drawings, but if you would like to know more, Oliver Wainwright’s blog at the Guardian is a good place to start, as it gathers comments from some of his many students and contemporaries, all of whom held him in very high esteem…

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