Why the award-winning new Madeleine Library is architecture to aspire to

Architectural critic Oliver Wainright wrote: ‘The new Magdalen Library is an accomplished reinterpretation of tradition and ‘installed’ was the adjective to which then university master Dr Rowan Williams returned endlessly during the design process, to describe how he wanted the library to feel, and McLaughlin ably responded with a building that has a timeless air.

Such architecture should be the benchmark to which we all aspire in creating buildings, taking care to study the context and then produce a building that seems to have been made forever. Timeless in fact.

This level of design can be applied to the most humble buildings, so that they fit comfortably into their surroundings and the challenge for the casual observer is to try and appreciate the reasoning behind their creation.

The new library at Magdalene College

When evaluating buildings, try to understand the parameters that explain why they were created. Be curious and think about the constraints. What does the building do? Is it a suitable neighbor? Does he show calm? Does that seem fair to you?

Looking at buildings questioningly will help shape our understanding of architecture and in doing so help us to make more informed decisions when it comes to buying a property, or even commissioning our own building.

Creation of your own property is, for the most part, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s disheartening to be presented with a blank canvas and the common response is to copy an already built project.

Yet if we encourage the uniqueness of each person, then we are able to create a bespoke contextual solution, a solution like Madeleine that blends seamlessly into its surroundings, in harmony with the built and natural surroundings.

When preparing plans, consideration should be given to the scale and material nature of the surrounding buildings and local environment.

We see many “trendy” buildings, which I know will look tired and dated in a few years.

In 1915 the architect CFA Voysey wrote: “And therefore we seek to show that by encouraging the individual to seek the signs of ethical ideas in material things, he will thus attain spiritual cultivation and true distinction , and the joys of life. will become richer and more fruitful. Life will be more beautiful and our influence more acceptable.

If we want to be a sustainable society, we have to appreciate it and let go of the idea that a poor quality environment is the norm and all we can expect from developers, planners and politicians.

*Ric Blenkharn is co-founder of Bramhall Blenkharn Leonard Architects, Malton, www.brable.com ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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