The economic collapse of 2008 forced me to abandon a growing young practice. A self enforced ‘grand tour’ followed. Unlike previous more defined journeys to seats of western civilisation I was more interested in breaking free, leaving everything behind for an unknown time. I was travelling one way to explore other places, and cultures, with no agenda but to journey and see. I had no plan to return.
What if ?
On 16th September 2009 I departed London, one-way to New Delhi. This the beginning of a journey and my thinking was thus. What if by removing yourself from familiarity and becoming a spectator on your conditioned paradigm, you soon realised much of your socio-political and cultural inheritance, education and western practices, contradicted the essence of ‘being’? A contradiction where relationships are disturbed and distorted through constructed social conditions, families are disrupted, children are schooled rather than educated, creativity is suppressed, and bio-mechanical needs abandoned and spirit repressed? And what if you cannot undo the knowledge because it is supported and confirmed through experience?
When a belief system is fundamentally shattered, a reset follows. Everything is new. A rebuilding occurs in parallel to the reframing of conditioned realities. When one finds cracks in the widely accepted narrative, science is distrusted at the foundational level, and one begins to analyse basic (pseudo) truths. It is a process of questioning and searching, and a model soon begins to evolve, a structure to support a new way of seeing the world.
Indeed, we cannot say for sure anything is ‘true’ as we only have our own experience, own enquiring minds, our physical, emotional and spiritual selves, in forming our value structure. But if the deception is true, then it is arguably brilliant, and the deceit sublime, with the aftermath and the need for self education truly liberating.
Practicing with an alternative and opposing perspective to our conditioned socio-cultural paradigm, creates a studio practice of subversion by (dis)association. Whilst liberating, it also becomes a marginal place to operate from. Difficult to engage with others who may be protective of their values and belief systems.
I often wonder how my previous practice may have evolved unchallenged had my experiences of diverse cultures, customs, and practices, not led to deep introspection and need to deconstruct, analyse, and interrogate personal accepted principles, moral fabric and ethical integrity.
Over the past decade, the more I discover, the greater the conundrum and less of this vast mystery I understand. Today I stand still and now, I have an oblique view of a widely accepted reality, and the impact on studio practice has been monumental.
In studio, my ambition is to test and experiment. To demonstrate the healing potential of architecture, and bring architecture to the people. Healing architecture is the bringing together of material to create the spatial, in a manner that understands the energy of our life-force energy, our ‘prana’. Ultimately, architecture is the manifestation of life force energy in space, it is, in my opinion, ’building with soul’.
My aspiration for studio practice is neither commercial nor conventional. Rather to reimagine, rethink, reinvent and remake, from apparatus to urban condition, the everyday object to city and street.
Merging studio practice with spiritual practices is to embody a natural practice, a lifestyle that operates in service to spirit self and others. Understanding what space and building at the fundamental energetic level can do to nourish, protect, shelter and support the spirit is the goal of my of experience, research and practice.
I am not interested in the generic or typical. I will not engage in projects I do not feel are appropriate or responsible. I will collaborate with others and bring my critical practice to unearth and offer the grounded and holistic. And I will self-generate projects, and collaborate with others aspiring to build with authenticity.
Today I see my practice as a spiritual endeavour, driven by years of striping away condition and convention, the merging of the ‘feeling’ self as creative director, guru, master, and the emergence of a new paradigm within and without. Ultimately, as creators of our own existence, and as architects the creators of the space in which others live, we need to practice with great reverence to other, to client, user, and inhabitant, and appreciate the impact on THEIR spirit self by the decisions WE take. This is a monumental responsibility, and we all must recognise our capacity and ability to impact on the lives of others.
Spring 2019 I am completing a body of work for a BBC Series ‘Your Home Made Perfect’. This programme will hopefully bring architecture closer to the people. Making it more accessible. It will hopefully express a ‘practice’ that challenges ‘estate agent’ , ‘property developer’, ‘construction industry’ and ‘profession’, whilst instilling confidence in the public to ask for better and demand more of the spaces where they dwell.
Above all, as designers and thinkers architects need to recognise the flawed, and avoid the unscrupulous, instead pioneering new ways of making, occupying and inhabiting space, that heals and nourishes us all.
‘Prana’ is best described as ‘life force’ energy. It is within and without. It is the electricity at the cellular level that supports life and living. It is infinite. It is the essence of the universe. It is the energy that supports the functioning of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings. It is the inhale bringing life. It is breath. And where the breath flows, prana flows.
In 2018 I realised the need to merge my practices, Architecture became more intrinsically interwoven with my other practices. It at once supported them and was supported by them. I began to explore social media as a platform, and decided to share my view upon the world, and open pathways to a tribe of yogic thinkers and spiritual practitioners for collaboration and experimentation.
This emergence presented the concept of ‘spatial prana’, perfectly capturing my studio practice discussion describing the flow of energy within space, and the ‘feeling’ tool to transcend all other learned mechanisms or concepts for creating the constructed environment.
These pages present select projects, practices, and aspirations. A portfolio of works past and present, and a philosophy of a current future practice.
Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth - the pancha (five)- maha (great) - bhuta (elements) - are the fundamentals of the universal fabric. The great pioneer, architect, engineer Buckminster Fuller once said, ‘the difference between architecture and building is the understanding of universe.’ To bring elemental balance to the practice of architecture, constructing environment to hold and house ‘prana’ is to seek balance in the positive vibration and experiential qualities of joy, and ease, or indeed imbalance if desired, by intent.
Either way, to understand ‘prana’ and employ this understanding as a tool to hold space within a construct is to create in reverence to our very life force.