I have a huge respect for Frank Gehry. He is one of the most creative architects around. Primarily he is an artist; secondly he is an architect. His buildings are a pure work at art.
One of his early projects – the Winston guest house – I have always admired. Firstly, I think it works beautifully with the landscape in the way it sits on the well-manicured lawns. It is a sculpture in a park. Secondly, it has a fantastic sculptural form made up of a number of different monolithic shapes colliding together. Each of these shapes are clad is a singular material helping to create their individual identity. The other great thing about this building is its honesty; each of these forms is also expressed in the interiors. Thus when the roof is curved so is the ceiling. I think this houses works brilliantly as a weekender or a guest house.
Another great building of Ghery’s that I love is the Vitra Design Museum in Switzerland. I had the pleasure of visiting this building (along with the other great buildings on the Vitra site) when I was living in London and I was visiting a friend in the neighbouring Baden-Baden. This building of Ghery’s is fantastic. I love its sculptural qualities; again emphasised like a sculpture placed in the landscape. Again the exterior shapes are also expressed in the interior – it creates honesty in the architecture. I also love the purity of this building with the use of a white wall – both externally and internally.
The other amazing thing about Ghery is that his architecture transformed a city. In 1991, the Basque government approached the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation about funding a Guggenheim museum in Bibao in the Spanish region of Basque; with the foundation agreeing. After its opening the museum became a popular tourist attraction, attracting visitors from around the world. The museum generated economic activity within the city and the regional council estimate that the taxes collected have more than covered their outlay for funding the project. The so-called ‘Guggenheim effect’ refers to how this museum transformed Bibao. What a great success story on all fronts.
I visited the Guggenheim museum a few years ago. I enjoyed the different vistas of the building. I spent a lot of time appreciating the building from different locations; whether it was from a nearby bridge or a laneway. Its context was different to the other two buildings of Ghery’s I have mentioned. The building draws on the local context through it form. This may seem like a crazy statement at first; however, the more you study this building the more you appreciate this.