Voice 9 - Paul Sutton - Intangible

/ Paul Sutton / Arts & Culture

For Paul, architecture has always involved a search for meanings; hooks on which to hang each articulation of space. Early experiments in form finding revealed that the route is often indirect; allowing the subconscious to initiate form making can provide clues to meanings. In these experiments a series of abstract doodles emerged as expressionist art, the fragmentation of space and the echo of deeply-rooted cultural tendencies. From here an intimate, personal connection to history, discovered inadvertently, galvanised the relationship between the individual and the collective.

A creative process that is concerned with discovering authentic meaning must be sustained by persistent interrogation; a dialogue between the heart and the mind in pursuit of a deeper understanding of ‘why’ one possible reality is preferable to another. These decisions influence the intangibles: atmosphere and character. Difficult to define but critical to the relationship between people’s lives and the spaces they inhabit

If the question ‘why’ sets us on the threshold of the discovery, then asking ‘why not’ opens the door. But there is more than one way in. Each project – each question – finds us on a different path, leading to a different door. Each new investigation informs those still to come. It is an evolution of small parts that to contribute to a greater whole.

An emotional response to an aspiration of verticality, resolving the mundane into the quietly magnificent; the careful positioning of a statue of Mercury that makes sense of the space around it, becoming as much a part of the building as any steel beam or brick; or the exploration of a language, buried deep within old stone walls, finding life beyond the hand of its originator. Colour, light, weight, texture; the improbable application of a pragmatic solution to inform the intangible.

Architecture is a problem-solving discipline, rooted in the practical but striving for the poetic. Asking ‘why not’ is to be open to creative opportunities, adding the question ‘why’ becomes a search for authenticity. Meanings are fickle, changing with context and culture, but we must concern ourselves with them because they are integral to everyone’s experience of architecture.

Fettes College