The Czech architect Jan Kaplicky has died.
He’s best known for his major buildings, many of them in Britain where his practice, Future Systems, is based. Exciting curvy buildings, using the latest materials, they include the media centre at Lords, and the Birmingham Selfridges.
Rich & I went up to Birmingham last year, for a weekend of family and shopping; it was quite extraordinary to come into the carefully-preserved Edwardian charm of Moor Street station, and then see through its arches, the spotty curves of Selfridges, looking like a cartoon creature briefly at rest. The excitement carries on right up to the entrance where we couldn’t resist touching the exterior. Normally its shop windows that catch the eye, the goods inside that are the most exciting thing: not here.
Here in Islington we have the glasshouse in Canonbury, designed by Kaplicky in 1992. It’s the kind of building that in theory might have divided the community, like some glass and metal cuckoo in a conservation area nest. In fact, it fits perfectly between the older buildings, and everyone loves it.
Kaplicky once said, “Where is it written that buildings have to be boxes? People aren’t boxes.” Amen to that.