John Pawson's World of Colour: Green

In his new book Spectrum the architect shows sensitivity towards both built and natural environment
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Holland Park, London, September 2015. All photographs by John Pawson and reproduced in Spectrum
Holland Park, London, September 2015. All photographs by John Pawson and reproduced in Spectrum

Greenery can sometimes be viewed as the best way to hide architectural mishaps. As Frank Lloyd Wright once put it, "the physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines."

 

Bloomsbury, London, June 2012
Bloomsbury, London, June 2012

Green, or at least green's ecological connotations can also be something of a bind for today's architectural profession, since new buildings often have to meet stringent environmental standards.

 

Higashiyama, Kyoto, Japan, November 2015
Higashiyama, Kyoto, Japan, November 2015

However, John Pawson may not view the colour green in the same light as many within his profession. His minimal, carefully considered buildings rarely need correcting with artful placement of a few climbing plants; and, since he often renovates and repurposes old buildings, rather than building anew, he remains an ecologically sound architect.

 

Miniloc Island, Philippines, March 2016
Miniloc Island, Philippines, March 2016

We may associate his buildings and interiors with whites and off-white shades, yet his new book, Spectrum, demonstrates his love of greenery, or at least green scenes, nonetheless. Spectrum, is a multi-coloured photo essay, featuring 320 of John’s shots arranged in colour order. The pictures are often simple and minimal – in keeping with Pawson's architectural practice – while remaining worldly and inspired.

 

Over Kenya, March 2013
Over Kenya, March 2013

There are shots of astroturf and copper roofing, alongside more natural scenes of churning rivers, mossy rocks and lichen-heavy wood. Some pictures clearly possess some architectural information – even if dry-stone walls and weathered clapboards aren't the kind of features that reappear in Pawson's work. Others are beautiful landscape images, such as his aerial shot of Kenya, taken in 2013.

Viewed together, they suggest their creator has a remarkably sensitive appreciation of both the natural and the built environment; great qualities for a photographer, though equally important in an architect, if you're keen to avoid those unwanted vines.

 

Spectrum by John Pawson

You can take a look at some of John’s blue shots here; and his yellow photos here; and, if you like what you see, you can order a copy of Spectrum here. Check back for another colour from the book soon.


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