Voice 19 - Colin Glover - Reading

/ Colin Glover / Creative Workspace

Colin Glover was next in our 40 Voices, the series where each member of the office presents a manifesto or thought to the office over a period of about forty minutes. These have been elucidating insofar as drawing out into the open our colleagues’ individual interests – what makes us unique – as well as demonstrating a similarity of attitude towards the application of architecture and its attendant effects.

A life in architecture inevitably involves choice, and the choice of particular paths over others at those inevitable moments where you encounter forks in the road. Colin Glover in our office chose to present his choices in the form of 34 books on architecture which have had a particularly strong or significant impact on his attitude towards architecture, the books which have defined his architectural journey.

The story begins at the Glasgow School of Art, studying for an Undergraduate degree in architecture, where most architects take their first foray into the world of architectural reading. At architecture school the classics are laid out in front of you, an intimidating journey to begin working your way through these hefty tomes which are biblical in importance, whose authors become shorthand – Sir Bannister Fletcher, Kenneth Frampton, Junichiro Tanizaki - and the grounding of your architectural agency in the lessons of the past.

Alongside the classics is the canon, a similarly intimidating endeavour when you begin to work your way through. There are the styles that forms frames within the canon, with books on De Stijl, the International Style, the Bauhaus. And then there are books on the individual practitioners, from Schindler, Le Corbusier, Kahn, Rossi, Meier and Eisenman. These are of course constantly changing, architects falling out of popularity and others rising in significance, the canon always shifting and increasing.

Particular interests receive greater attention than others - paths chosen at forks in the road - in this case a chosen interest in Minimalism, an appreciation in the work of John Pawson and Donald Judd, during Colin’s phase as a self-confessed ‘Supertanker of Minimalism’. Some choices are by definition left-field, others are more natural – such as an interest that segways from Minimalism to Japan, with Ando, Kurokawa and more recently Atelier Bow-Wow and their lived-in sectional perspectival drawings which say so much about the imagined occupation of their buildings.

Like many stories, this one circles round back to the beginning, back to Glasgow, with Miller, Salmon, Mackintosh and Thompson and the legacy of commercial buildings that give back to the city. This is something that Colin knows about, as the lead architect of the new Scottish Power building in Glasgow city centre. This building gives back to the city, most noticeably in the inclusion of a covered loggia on St Vincent Street, a reprieve within the vehicle-dominated fringe where the city meets the motorway. A building which takes from these past studies in style, canon, history, interest and makes application of these in a new form in the city, itself a new part of the canon to be studied and written about in time.

The Philosophy of Symbiosis