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

  • Mika Rottenberg

    What is the Connection

    The exceptional video artist Mika Rottenberg here presents her intriguing video installation ‘Cosmic Generator.’ Set on the U.S.-Mexico border and in a huge Chinese market, the work explores the collapse – or reinforcement – of distance.

  • Svetlana Alexievich

    A Human is a Scary Creature

    Nobel Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich is known for her monumental non-fiction narratives exploring war and its aftermath in the former Soviet Union. In this video she discusses the role of the writer in a corrupted society permeated by money.

  • Eileen Myles

    A Poem Says 'I Want'

    “I think a poem really is a statement of desire.” Meet the legendary American poet, writer – and homosexual icon – Eileen Myles. In this video, she discusses the innate power of poetry and how to address the absence of the female genitalia.

  • Sambuichi

    One with the Earth's Cycle

    “Architecture should thrive like a plant.” Gain insight into the philosophy of a frontrunner in sustainable architecture, Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi, and hear how he created some of his unique, site-specific buildings.

  • Naja Marie Aidt

    What You Don't Want to Hear

    “Life’s fragility is ever-present.” Deeply moving video with Danish writer Naja Marie Aidt, who opens up about the tragic death of her 25-year-old son, and how she dealt with her overshadowing loss and grief through literature, gradually returning to writing.

  • George Condo

    The Way I Think

    George Condo was part of the 1980s wild art scene in New York. In this video, recorded in his New York-studio, the iconic artist shares his life-long love of drawing and thoughts on his artistic expression, which he describes as “artificial realism.”

  • Joyce Pensato

    A Life with Cartoon Characters

    Meet the unique artist Joyce Pensato, who paints funny yet sinister large-scale versions of cartoon figures and comic book heroes. We visited the Brooklynite in her studio where she showed us around and shared her love for the iconic characters.

  • Paul Auster

    What Could Have Been

    “I don’t think there’s a human being alive who doesn’t reflect on what could have been.” Watch the great American novelist Paul Auster on the impact of the choices we make, the obsessive nature of writing and having reached the age of 70.

  • Bunny Rogers

    Mourning Youth

    Watch the praised artist Bunny Rogers (b. 1990) talk about creating autobiographical work that draws from memory and deals with her childhood by archiving her feelings from that time: “You can’t make objective art, it’s going to be subjective.”

  • 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.