Voice 7 - Suzy O'Leary - Plans

/ Suzy O'Leary / Arts & Culture

There is a method to running well.

Suzy’s is to run the same route every time. In each run some improvement is sought, little adjustments made, small gains towards a little time knocked off a personal best. In Suzy’s mind it is the process which determines results.

So as with running, so it is with the process of making good architecture. The commitment to making good buildings is the marriage of the discipline of the long distance runner and an ingrained and consistent methodology.

At the heart of the process is the plan and associated with that, the rigour of reading plans, not as a superficial eye-over, but a deep immersion in the study of the organisation of space. A real plan can tell a lot - space, movement light on one hand, approach, promenade, sequence on another. There is nothing more satisfying than unpicking a good plan because in taking it apart, clues emerge as to how to put one together.

A snap shot of plan favourites would include two houses, one by an admired architect, the knot plan of the Casa Ugalde by ….. with its twisting promenade through approach, entry and internal passage. Another a product of personal collaboration, the Balscadden House, rotated internal volumes within a cube frame, notched at each of the turns to capture the view.

At the bigger scale two Indian examples, both experienced as part of a personal pilgrimage. The first Le Corbusier’s Mill Owners building, rooms free standing within a rigorous concrete framed armature seemingly floating above the agricultural wider fields, the second, Louis Khan’s Indian Institute of Management, an astonishing square masterplan ‘tile’ layout but with the tiles not quite touching to generate diagonal routes between the offset volumes.

These excellent examples apart, in her personal praxis, Suzy practices by seeking out little adjustments, small gains towards an even more effective plan, not to bask in the result of a career defining resulting building but rather vindication and confirmation of the adopted process which leads to it.

There is a method to building well.