Will Alsop is one of UK’s most prominent architects. His practice is an international operation guided by the principle that architecture is both vehicle and symbol of social change and renewal. This philosophy extends from the design of individual buildings to embracing broader principles of urbanism and city development. By abandoning the hegemony of an acceptable style, he has rendered the whole process of architecture one of increasing fluidity and transparency; as such he continues to uncover new and refreshing positions for architecture.
Led by him, Alsop Architects is a leading architectural, master planning, urban design and landscape design practice, which is part of the Archial Group, based in London and operating internationally. Over the last 20 years, the award-winning practice has established an international reputation for buildings that bring merit to their location and joy to their users. Alsop’s significant experience in regeneration projects includes the £97million Regional Government Headquarters in Marseilles; the Cardiff Bay Visitors’ Centre; the North Greenwich Tube Station; the Peckham Library (named Building of the Year as winner of the RIBA’s Stirling Prize 2000), the 18-storey Colorium Tower on the Dusseldorf waterfront and the recently completed residential development ‘Chips’ in New Islington, Manchester.
Painting has always played a crucial role in Alsop's creative process, with some of his buildings starting life as splash of colour on paper or canvas. He explains: "Some of my paintings result in buildings and some do not. I am interested in what happens when there is no intention. I make no distinction between art and architecture; to me they both begin in the same place. His avant-garde, modernist buildings are usually distinguished by their vibrant use of bright colour and unusual forms; they have won praise and criticism in equal measure.” Following parallel research paths as an artist, product designer, filmmaker and writer, Alsop's architecture develops through an inseparable dialogue with sculpture, painting and drawing. He was a tutor of sculpture at the Central St. Martins College of Art & Design, London, for several years and has held many other academic posts including his long-term post as Visiting Professor of Architecture (from 2002). Alsop actively promotes the artistic contribution to the built environment his paintings and sketches have been exhibited alongside his architectural projects.
Internationally renowned architect, artist and lecturer Will Alsop approaches all his projects and ventures with the unwavering belief that individual and creative design can change and improve lives. Schooled at London's Architectural Association, Alsop belongs to a generation of modern British architects who follow no single school of theory. His guiding principle is the notion that joy must be allowed to pervade every sector of his work. Will Alsop’s mission is “to give the world extraordinary objects of desire.” In the process, the iconoclastic architect sets new standards for sustainable design and technology, working closely with clients and community groups.
Quotes to remember:
"It's like tennis – you have to keep doing it all the time, whether you have a client or not. I believe that absolutely. You can speculate in your sketchbook – you're allowed to think about anything, with or without a client."
"There was a masterplan; there was an idea, and that's the most dangerous thing - having an idea. Because it's always wrong."
"I think what I can teach is to help students discover who they are - it's their own individuality," he says. "If they're any good as architects, if they can maintain that individuality and spirit, then that will actually be good for the world."
On his inspirations:
"It was the combination of doing practical things, then going to art school. In art, you can't design a painting, you have to paint it. You just have to start. I'm very suspicious about having an idea about a piece of architecture, but an idea will come out of working on it."
"What we try to do here is not have a particular style. I know it's idiotic to say every job is a new job, because you have a lot of cultural baggage, but we are very open to other suggestions."
Selected Architectural Competition Prizes
2005 First Prize: Peckham Square, Liverpool, UK
2003 First Prize: Fourth Grace, Liverpool, UK
First Prize: Walsall Waterfront, UK
2002 Special Mention: Duxton Plain Public Housing, Singapore
1999 Special Prize: Oslo Opera House, Oslo, Norway
1996 2nd Prize: UK Embassy, Berlin, Germany
1994 Short-listed: Tate Modern, London, UK
1993 1st Prize: Swansea Centre of Literature, Sweasea, UK
1991/92 Special Prize: Potsdamer/Leipziger Platz, Berlin, Germany
1990 1st Prize: Hotel du Department des Bouches-du-Rhone, Marseille, France
1971 2nd Prize: Centre Pompidou, Paris, France