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Conran: Azhar on Architecture: My favourite place


Villa Almerico-Capra “La Rotonda”, Vicenza (1565-1591)

By Andrea Palladio completed by Vincenffarzo Scamozzi. 

I started my architectural training at the Bartlett School of the Built Environment, UCL in the mid 1980s, where we were taken on our first year trip to the medieval university city of Padua. We spent a week there exploring the city and more importantly being exposed to the wonder and evolution of the renaissance period. 

For me, the most memorable part of the trip to Padua was seeing the Villa Almerico-Capra, Continue reading

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Conran: Azhar on Architecture…The influence of the man behind ‘James Bond’ design…

Azhar is back! 

Architectural Director Azhar from Conran & Partners talks today about the inspirational work of a great hero of his: Sir Ken Adam, Film Production Designer and Art Director.

Recently one of my dreams came true! I attended the BAFTA tribute and the 90th birthday celebration for Sir Ken Adam, arguably the most important and influential production designers in modern times!

 

Sir Christopher Frayling talked about Sir Ken’s immense influence, and particularly his book ‘Ken Adam, The Art of Production Design’.

The speeches were very moving, with personal accounts from, Jim Clay (Children of Men) on Dr Strangelove, Nathan Crowley (The Dark Knight) on Barry Lyndon, Martin Childs (Shakespeare in Love) on The Ipcress File, Eve Stewart (The King’s Speech) on Goldfinger; Actors and Art Curators alike spoke warmly of their encounters with the charming Sir Ken.


Sir Ken Adam was born in Berlin in 1921 and moved with his family to London in 1934 where during the war he was one of only two Germans to fly with the RAF.

Following his time in active service he trained as an architect at the Bartlett, University College London. However, it was in 1948 that Sir Ken started his foray into the film industry as a draughtsman. 

I thought I would talk about a few of his pieces that have inspired and influenced me over the years.

Dr Strangelove (1964)

The ‘War Room’ is probably one of the most amazing sets ever made and almost defines the ‘cold-war’ idea of power.

Famously, when Ronald Reagan first came to power and asked to be shown the war room, he was immensely disappointed when he was taken to a bland conference room. Rumour has it that he had his war room re-designed to provide a suitable environment for making critical decisions!


Ipcress File (1965)

The studies for the hypnoytic chamber are abstract and suggestive… intriguing, Len Desighton’s antidote to James Bond. Michael Caine’s character Harry Palmer is brilliant…


Thunderball (1965)

Fort Knox in Thunderball: Again one can imagine the real Fort Knox gold room can only be disappointing in comparison….


You Only Live Twice (1967)

The volcano set was the biggest of its time, imaginative and incredible. Less said about Sean Connery pretending to be Japanese the better!


The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

It has so many amazing sets, the most memorable of which has to be the underwater world of the villain. The whole film is rich with futuristic designs including the adaptation of the Lotus Esprit. I did read that Colin Chapman (the competitive founder of Lotus cars) parked a prototype of the Lotus Esprit outside the studio of Cubby Broccoli, the producer of the Bond films, and when Sir Ken saw it he decided it had to be incorporated into the film. I forgot to ask Sir Ken whether this was a true story…!

Sir Ken’s output is amazing; his influence on modern design and architecture is immeasurable. It is not uncommon to hear people say “that looks like a Bond influence” … in fact it should be “that looks like a Sir Ken Adam influence”. 

Thank you Sir Ken!

PHOTO: Portrait of Sir Ken Adam, by Stanley Kubrick

DOWNLOAD: The official event publication for production designer Sir Ken Adam’s BAFTA tribute. http://www.bafta.org/access-all-areas/ken-adam,1742,BA.html

BOOKS

Christopher Frayling, Ken Adam – “Ken Adam Designs the Movies: James Bond and Beyond” (2008)

Christopher Frayling – Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design (2005)

Philip French, Christopher Frayling – “Moonraker, Strangelove and Other Celluloid Dreams – The Visionary Art of Ken Adam” (1999)

Alexander Smoltczyk, “James Bond Berlin, Hollywood. Die Welten des Ken Adam”, Verlag nicolai, Berlin 2002,


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Conran: Azhar on Architecture

Here is Azhar, Director at Conran & Partners, talking about anything and everything to do with Architecture…..

Before I get onto posting my thoughts, likes, dislikes and dreams on the wonderful world of architecture, I thought I better explain to you why I think I am qualified to share my views with you….

 I have now practiced architecture internationally for 20 years, where I have worked all over the world on some fantastic projects that cover master planning, infrastructure and individual buildings. My real passion, however, is for environmentally sensitive design. And by that I don’t mean the ‘green wash’ I mean genuine sustainable design from concept to completion! In addition I have also spent time developing my knowledge in off-site manufacturing, emerging technologies and in particular adopting technologies from automotive, naval and aviation sectors for use in the architectural sphere.

 We live in a very exciting time, in an era of overwhelming information and counter-information. Here, I will explore my passion for the “built environment”. Architecture is one protagonist in the screenplay that creates cities, in fact, recent statistics state that currently more than half the world’s population live in cities, within the next quarter century, 75% of the world’s population will live in cities! This mass urbanization is so unprecedented, that we really do need intelligent, innovative solutions to create new modes of operation.

Reflecting on the past is a very useful way of understanding what has happened, but it is not necessarily a very good guide to the future. Here I will be speculating, exploring and finding clues that give us a glimpse into possible futures!

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