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