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Richard Rogers, advocate of sustainable urban living

Richard Rogers, advocate of sustainable urban living | IE School of Architecture & Design

Architect Richard Rogers will always be associated with the Pompidou Center, that jubilant building with a visible structure and mechanical systems positioned on the exterior.

However, just as revolutionary as the design of this winning competition entry, undertaken with architect Renzo Piano, was his understanding of the city and the creation of lively space for people in front of the Center. The escalator located on the façade to the plaza was clearly an invitation to all to visit the museum and to gaze at the city beyond.

We have thus lost another one of the great defenders of our cities (along with architect Oriol Bohigas who passed away at the end of November 2021). Upon selecting Rogers as the winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the jury said, “In his writings, through his role as advisor to policy-making groups, as well as his large-scale planning work, Rogers is a champion of urban life and believes in the potential of the city to be a catalyst for social change.”

His book, Cities for a Small Planet, published in 1997, promotes compact, mixed-used nodes that reduce the need for private cars and create more lively, sustainable neighborhoods. While this conversation seems normal today in pandemic times, more than 20 years ago it was truly innovative. He championed the circular economy as an alternative that the current model of a linear metabolism city that consumes and pollutes at a high rate.

In A Place for All People, a 2017 book by Rogers that is a manifesto of sorts, he explains that through his ideas and works “Architecture is inseparable from the social and economic values of the individuals who practice it and the society which sustains it.” We need cities that are compact, adaptable, sustainable, and humane and places and streets designed for people, for democracy, and for openness. He proclaimed.

“A street belongs to the people and the buildings that enrich it. It is a place. A people’s place.”

He and his firm (today Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP (RSHP)) have designed important buildings in many places throughout the world. Some of the most well-known are Lloyd’s of London in the City of London (1978-1986), a landmark of late twentieth century, Terminal 4 at Adolfo Suarez- Barajas Airport in Madrid (1997-2005) or 122 Leadenhall Street, London (2000-2014), fondly known as the “cheese grater” due to its shape and façade that respects the surroundings and views. All these works reflect ideas of understanding of place, architectural clarity, and the integration of public and private spaces.

In an interview I realized with Richard Rodgers a few years ago, he talked about the genesis of the buildings that he designs. The first step, he stated was to collect information. You can’t start with an idea a priori. The sense of place is very powerful. He also talked about communication with the clients, the community, and the people who will inhabit a building. The birth of an idea is done piece by piece and the project is built up piece by piece.

Read the full article here.

Author: Martha Thorne / Publication: Expansión