Adam Caruso

Adam Caruso

Novelty is nonsense

"The European city is one of the great human inventions!” Adam Caruso advocates building with a deep sense of history and tradition. Meet the architect behind the award-winning Tate Britain conversion and numerous Gagosian galleries.

For Adam Caruso architecture is a cultural practice, a question of making buildings that are connected to the history of architecture and “a deeper idea of place, of the history and culture of the place and how you read it today.” His style contrasts many contemporary architects whose buildings, in Caruso’s opinion, represent “a kind of abstraction that becomes more and more reduced of energy and any kind of relevance.” Caruso St John Architects’ Bremer Landesbank in Germany is one example of the architect’s approach. Placed in Bremen’s historic temple district, the building’s expressive brick facade refers to a northern European tradition and gothic character, “a tradition of brick architecture filtered through modern history,” says Caruso.

The beauty of historic buildings is their flexibility, the way they can seamlessly change form warehouse to flats, from public schools to art galleries. “The physical thing, built with a particular intention, has all of this other potential in it. It’s like magic, like alchemy,” says Caruso. Today’s buildings are built as objects with only one purpose, to stand out, with none of the “open-endedness” of historic architecture. “Architecture becomes a commodity, a fantastic expression of late capitalism,” Caruso laments. “To me that’s the opposite of architecture.”

Adam Caruso (b. 1962) is a London-based Canadian architect and founder of Caruso St John Architects, which he founded with Peter St John in 1990. He was Professor of Architecture at the University of Bath from 2002-2005 and has been Professor of Architecture and Construction at the ETH Zurich since 2011. Among many notable and award-winning projects Caruso St. John is behind the Bremer Landesbank, Bremen, Germany, the restructuring of the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood and the master plan for the Tate Britain, Millbank, both London, UK and several of the Gagosian Gallery sites.

Adam Caruso was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Bygningskulturens Hus in Copenhagen, Denmark in February 2017.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 2017.

Supported by Dreyers Fond

  • Ed Atkins

    Something is Missing

    Ed Atkins is considered one of the most unsettling contemporary artists – as well as one of the most exciting. In this video, the young British artist shares how he works from written texts, and why melancholy is at the centre of his animated digital videos.

  • Louisa Gagliardi

    Longing for Something Else

    “Art is amazing because it’s in a way unnecessary, but extremely necessary as a testimony of its time.” Let us introduce you to a rising star of painting, Louisa Gagliardi, who creates her surreal work digitally and adds layers of paint to the printed image.

  • Hannah Levy

    A Design Purgatory

    “I wonder if the reason why people want to touch it is that they’re in some way attracted to it, or if they’re repulsed by it.” Meet the young artist Hannah Levy, who primarily makes sculptures combining curving steel forms with cast silicone.

  • Dora Budor

    Acting Things

    “I want to use art as a field where I can explore parallel scenarios.” Dora Budor makes complex sculptures and interactive installations inspired by cinematic metaverse and scientific research. Join us as we visit the young Croatian artist in her studio.

  • Ian Cheng

    A Portal to Infinity

    Watch Ian Cheng, a rising star on the art scene, talk about his trilogy of animated live simulation works – ‘Emissaries’ – which works like a never-ending video game in real time: “It was a process that was on-going as life is on-going.”

  • Yona Friedman

    Advice to the Young

    What piece of advice would a renowned 94-year-old architect offer young architects? Find out in this short video, where Yona Friedman argues that architects must always adapt to the context and work for the average user.

  • Jan Gehl

    How to Build a Good City

    “We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.” Meet the 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl, who for more than fifty years has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people “re-conquer the city.”

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.