This exlusive interview with the architect Francis Terry was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in Dedham, Essex during March 2011
Interview with Francis Terry
Considering that your father is a legendary architect, what was your main deciding point to enter architecture yourself?
Agreeing with your parents does force you to swallow your pride. My father does have many rather crazy ideas which I do not share, but his ideas on architecture are spot on and ironically ahead of their time in some ways.
As a child I always drew obsessively and so I naturally wanted to become an artist. Having spent a lot of time in my 20s painting I found it a lonely and self indulgent experience. It was only then that I appreciated architecture as a profession; it is artistic yet essential to society as well.
Please explain to our readers why hand drawing is so vitally important today.
Some people argue that hand drawing is a waste of time with the advent of computer aided design. But it is a bit like saying playing the violin is no longer necessary with the advent of synthesizes. I feel that the original instruments have something important to contribute.
How do you translate the work of the classical masters of architecture into new work so effectively?
In many respects human beings have not changed very much for hundreds and thousands of years. We are all roughly between 5-6ft when fully grown; we have two arms, two legs and a head. We breathe oxygen, eat food etc, and so the requirements of a modern client will not be too different from those of our cave man ancestors.
Why in your view is classical traditional architecture coming back in vogue so strong?
I think there has always been a taste for classical architecture although it may have been somewhat repressed in periods of the 20thC. There was a feeling in aesthetics that architectural style had a moral content. The modernists would say that traditional architects are evil and traditional architects would say modernists are evil. I personally don’t subscribe to such a laughably absurd type of morality. We live in a very pluralistic society in the west and so people can choose whatever architectural style they like. Some people enjoy modernism, other gothic and some classical. It is just down to personal taste.
If you could tackle one architecture project, any at all of anytime, what would it be and why?
A project I would have loved to have done is the Opera House in Paris. It’s combination of small scale ornament with it’s monumental civic presence in the city makes it a unique building. Also the complexity of the brief with different entrances for actors, audience and Napoleon III gives the design a richness and complexity which is resolved with unparalleled beauty. I would like to do a project like this in an important city. I am not sure anyone could equal Garnier but I would like to have a try.
The above interview with Francis Terry 2011 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.