dear santa

More letters and a suggestion for your (my) Christmas wish list.

It was my boss’s birthday last week. Here at the office we usually end up spending a considerable amount of time trying to decide what gift to get when birthdays come around. This time the solution came to me in a flash and I was left wondering why I hadn’t chosen it in years gone by.

One of the very first books I took out of the library at the school of architecture when I was a fresh-faced first year student was a book of letters between Donlyn Lyndon and Charles Moore called Chambers for a Memory Palace. I got lucky. A more inspiring start to an architectural education you’d be hard pressed to find.

chambers cover

It’s a perfect gift for him (me) – he’s (I’m) a huge (wannabe) Charles Moore fan and it’s a book that can be picked up occasionally and dipped into briefly, rather than read from start to finish. He’s (I’m) far too busy being an architect (blogging) to actually sit down and read about architecture for any long period of time.

Enough of the hints. Here’s an excerpt:

Two thousand years ago Marcus Tullius Cicero used to make two-hour speeches in the Roman Senate, without notes, by constructing in his mind a palace whose rooms and furnishings, as he imagined himself roaming through them, called up the ideas he wished to discuss: ideas were made memorable by locating them in space.

Our purpose in writing this book is to help make real places more memorable; to inscribe some suggestions for building that will make the actual world of buildings and landscapes capable of carrying ideas for those who live among them – rendering them as valuable to thought as Cicero’s imaginery palaces were to speech.

In the following pages we assemble a set of observations on the composition of places. We cast these observations as Chambers for Memory Palace, each with a title. The titles consist of elements (nouns) and actions (verbs).

For example, pages from: Borders that Control / Walls that Layer / Pockets that Offer Choice and Change and Platforms that Separate / Slopes that Join / Stairs that Climb and Pause.

chambers 1 chambers 2 chambers 3

Delicious sketches, inspiring words. Roll on Christmas.

Related entries:

1. me on Cullen’s Townscape
2. my boss on Mrs Rietveld Schroder

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