Top3Tuesday: Arthur Barker

Arthur Barker

Arthur Barker is an architect and academic at the University of Pretoria. He is passionate about architecture that is part of, and improves it’s existing context. For him, the domestic buildings of the ’50s and ’60s in South Africa and Los Angeles hold a great fascination through their simplicity, understanding of new ways of living and responses to climate. Barker is also very committed to architectural education having taught at a number of institutions for over 20 years. He also examines at universities all over South Africa and sits on the South African Council for the Architectural Profession’s validation committee which assesses the curricula of all architectural schools. Barker tries to educate the general public about architecture, having contributed to the St. Gobain platform FutureSpaces in 2015.

This Top3Tuesday features a handful of Arthur’s inspirations.

3. The Music of Fauve

Fauve. Blizzard (2013)
Fauve. Blizzard (2013)

I have always been drawn to angry protest music. The early politically driven songs of U2, the anti-establishment rhetoric of the Sex Pistols, Johannes Kerkorrel’s lamentations during the height of Apartheid and lately, the critical soundscapes of the French band Fauve. I particularly like the live performance of their song Blizzard. Their guttural utterances, great bass and guitar riffs, integrated video and architectural backdrops move the musical soul. I also appreciate their  artistic collaborations – merging music, photography and video to create a spatial experience.

2. The Creations of Hannelie Coetzee

Eland and Benko. © Hannelie Coetzee
Eland and Benko. © Hannelie Coetzee

I have only recently come across the creations of this South African (Gauteng) based, photographer and artist. I am really enamoured with her work because of her contextual bias and collaboration with other professional disciplines. She understands the value of processes and the layering of time. The exquisite 2015 ‘Eland and Benko’ landscape intervention responds to annual veld burning rituals and leaves an imprint of associated fauna. Her urban markings place ghostly images of family members on buildings whose owners are willing. Her use of stone mining rods form the basis for sectional images while left over timber pieces are similarly combined to respond to their natural settings.

1. The Architecture of Morphosis

Cooper Union. Morphosis
Cooper Union. Morphosis

In July 2014, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the fabulous city of New York for the first time. There I was able to experience a building designed by one of my favourite architects and finally cement my love affair with their work that began when I was a student. 41 Cooper Square is very sexy in its form and represents one of the qualities that I think that all architecture should strive for – namely familiarity and strangeness. The school of the arts is strongly linked to its context, sits comfortably in the old city fabric but contrasts through the stainless steel screens and angled concrete columns. There is a continuous sense of movement from outside to inside as the building lifts it skirts to draw you in. The journey then continues up through the centre of the building ending in a large cleft in the façade which connects you back to the city.