Sensing Place describes twenty years of architectural output by the award-winning architect Philip Gumuchdjian via a series of handmade models. On show at Messums Wiltshire’s thirteenth century barn this June, these models represent the ideas that are the DNA of Philip Gumuchdjian’s projects and are objects that – for the most part – remain hidden in plain sight.
“Buildings are condemned to speak our thoughts in hushed tones of scale, form and texture. Thoughts we seek to express flow through the senses and, initially at least, bypass the intellect. We manipulate space and form to provoke emotions and stimulate sensibilities all in the hope of sharing our own perceptions with others.”
Founded in 1998 Gumuchdjian Architects adopts an intuitive approach to design, creating buildings for the public realm that are driven by both context and local culture – buildings that create a ‘sense of place’. Their projects include Think Tank in Ireland, the Giant Recycled Paper Building in the Millennium Dome, the Marylebone Performing Arts Centre in London and the controversial Hopton Tower by the Tate Modern. The practice is rare in that all of their architectural models are hand made and are beautifully intricate and beguiling objects in their own right. Models for the projects listed, alongside others from projects around the world, will form the basis of Sensing Place and provide a springboard for a programme of architectural talks and debates with contributions from Philip Gumuchdjian, Dr Tarsha Finney, Peter Clegg, Gerard Evanden and Dr Diana Ibanez Lopez.
Architecture is a collaborative process that requires the skill and knowledge of many people to realise the ambitious buildings we inhabit – that is true today more than ever as architects are tasked with not only delivering buildings of beauty, but ones which address the problems of the twenty-first century. “A 21st Century building [ ] should be a benign presence on our planet”, says Philip Gumuchdjian and it is this that drives him to create sustainable environmental solutions for the people living on our “environmentally depleted, socially inequitable and commercially over-exploited planet.”
Born in 1958, Philip Gumuchdjian graduated from the Architectural Association and the Royal College of Art, London. He began his career in Richard Rogers’ studio in 1980 where he worked for 18 years. Together with Richard Rogers he wrote the book on sustainable development entitled Cities for a small planet (Thames & Hudson).
In 1998 he set up his own firm, Gumuchdjian Architects, and the firm has received a number of architectural industry awards including winning the Stephen Lawrence Awards in both 2003 and 2010, the RIBA International award in 2012 and National Awards. He was selected to exhibit ‘Tread Lightly’ at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and keynote speaker at the Buenos Aires Architecture Biennale 2018. ‘Gumuchdjian Architects selected works’ was published by Eight books in 2009.
Philip Gumuchdjian taught architecture and urban design at the UCL Bartlett School of architecture, chaired the RIBA Awards Group from 2016-2018, launched and was jury member for the first RIBA International Prize in 2016.
Messum’s Wiltshire is a pioneering multi-purpose gallery and arts centre celebrating the creative endeavour.