For the eighteenth episode of our ‘Building the Future’ series, Peter Eisenman, founder and principal of Eisenman Architects, recalls first encountering Norman Foster, and shares his thoughts on current and future challenges facing architecture, and how these can be overcome successfully.
A teaching position at Cambridge, UK, in the early 1960s gave Eisenman the opportunity to make weekend visits to the Architectural Association in London. It was there he first became aware of Norman Foster, then a partner of Team 4 with Wendy Foster and Richard and Su Rogers.
On the challenges facing architecture Eisenman notes the move towards a greater emphasis on environmental issues, such as sustainability and non-carbon forms. As humanity is a contributing factor to the instability of the environment, architects have to be more aware of the intrinsically-related disciplines, such as the biological and environmental sciences.
Coupled with this need to become environmentalists, Eisenman argues for a greater awareness of precedent, especially at the point of design. This acknowledgement of history, as a larger part of the architectural discipline, can be used to combat the environmental problems we currently face; “both go hand in hand together”.
Eisenman observes that by listening to leading experts across disciplines “we will be able to solve problems today”, and preemptively counter future difficulties. As the de facto client is society itself, architects cannot be ignorant of social, political and cultural issues. The education of a new generation of architects, with new institutions and approaches to learning, is a vital component in addressing the broader picture.