Delineating Architecture through a Hasselbad Camera Lense
Pedro Duarte Bento
Who influences you graphically?
I have an array of graphic influences, from classic architectural representation to painting or contemporary illustration. As an example of the diversity, the drawings of Etiénne Boullée, the Belgian graphic-novels of Schuiten & Peeters and the collages of Superstudio all interest me due both their impressive utopian character and their technique. In painting, the works of de Chirico, Hopper and Hammershoi, for instance, with their mix of surrealism, solitude and banality, are also interesting atmospheric references. Additional to this, I can be equally inspired while randomly browsing the internet and find an appealing image that was unknown to me, independently of being a photograph, a drawing, collage or illustration. Contemporary or historical, famous or unknown.
What is the reason behind your defined format, which is not only applied, to every image but to every project?
Prior to my practice as an architect, I developed a body of work (mostly) as a landscape photographer, largely influenced by the Dusseldorf School. For some years I was shooting exclusively with Hasselblad cameras using 6×6 cm film frame, and later with large-format using 4×5 inches film plates. These two formats — the square and the almost-golden-rectangle — became so familiar that I naturally started to use them in all of my architecture representations.
You sometimes present an image as without life and other times it is fully inhabited by people, what is the purpose of this and how does it dictate the way the space you define is being used?
I don’t follow a strict rule there, it’s intuitive, case to case, as I feel the scale, proportion and the spatial identity. Sometimes I’m only interested in give a sense of scale using the human presence; some other times I’m focused in emphasize a specific feature or atmosphere of the space. Populating it or not will provoke different perceptions and I play with that to better convey the mood I’m interested.
To what extent does featuring vegetation help in making the proposal seem more human friendly? And if not what is the purpose of this?
In some occasions I like to use vegetation as an element of organic matter that assumes to be more architectural than purely natural or even ornamental. In the case of Khora, a summer pavilion for Governor’s Island, vegetation is in fact architecture — is its walls. On other hand, in Kofun, the memorial for the MH17 victims in Amsterdam, vegetation hides architecture, as in a ruin, taking over the construction, being a protagonist itself. In some other cases I ostensibly remove any vegetation to emphasize the harshness of the desired context and of the architecture, like in the proposal for the Guggenheim Helsinki. The decision of using vegetation or not starts in project. However, how to use it and how it will look is developed along the graphic process.
In the image (STOA | PROPOSAL FOR CENTENARY SQUARE, BIRMINGHAM, UK RIBA INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION, 2014) a field of grass leads to the monumental structure inhabited, what is the effecr of this?
The competition program requested to redesign the entire Birmingham’s Centenary Square. I created a continuous canopy around the square to accommodate several public functions. The lawn that crowns the plaza and the inhabited Hall of Memory was an intention to create a quiet area, more contemplative and somehow uncanny — almost as in an Italian capriccio by Canaletto — within the urban context, all framed by the stoa.
Pedro Duarte Bento is a Portuguese architect graduated at FAUTL Lisbon in 2005 and based in New York City