Gumuchdjian Architects’ work is principally about people and the influence that buildings, cities and landscape have on our lives and our emotions.
Their buildings appear deceptively simple because they are developed around strong concepts that are crafted with the utmost care and fused into their context.
Their proposals are non-formulaic and generally far exceed clients’ initial expectations. A case in point is their response to the Marylebone School’s brief for a Performing Arts Centre in central London.
Their proposal was to locate the majority of the facility beneath the playground of a tight and complex historic site. The resultant award-winning and low energy building is filled with daylight and is surprisingly entirely naturally ventilated.
The studio was founded in 1998 and the team works collaboratively under the direction of Philip Gumuchdjian.
They work on large and small projects and have received many awards including RIBA Awards, the Stephen Lawrence Prize, a Sorrell Foundation Commendation, and were finalist for the 2008 Prime Minister’s Better Public building Award.
Their open-minded approach lends itself to collaborations. A ten-year association with Shigeru Ban Architects culminated in winning the international competition for the prestigious Pompidou Centre in Metz.
The Centre Pompidou-Metz was opened by President Sarkozy in May 2010 and has since received over 1 million visitors. It houses permanent and temporary exhibitions from the Musee National d’Art Moderne.
Exploring each brief from first principles and each site as broadly as possible, they generate radical but practical solutions that often depart from the immediate brief but are rooted in their social and physical context.
A landmark public Arts project in Dublin was sunk into its site to expand a public meeting space at ground level and to be deliberately deferential to the small urban scale of literary Dun Laoghaire. The Reading Room relies on its iconic roof-light to create a landmark that can be seen from far out to sea.
The studio enjoys craftsmanship and embraces technical innovation, winning several construction industry awards for their detailing of steel, concrete and timber.
Commissioned to design ‘Shared Ground’, one of the twelve Zones within the Millennium Dome, they created The Giant Recycled Paper Building from paper donated by the children of Britain through a BBC Blue Peter Appeal.
The practice has used this open-minded approach to their work on historic buildings. They established the Hauser & Wirth contemporary art Gallery in the Piccadilly Bank designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens by mimicking his style and leaving little or no trace of their hand.
The approach is developed on a case by case basis being quite different when extending a rare Wells-Coates penthouse or converting Sir Joshua Reynolds’ house originally designed Sir William Chambers.
Gumuchdjian has collaborated with contemporary artists most notably with Anish Kapoor on the 10 storey archi-sculpture.
In 2002, with artist Dante Leonelli, they won planning approval for the Eco Halo project, within an improved streetscape for Notting Hill Gate.
Prior to founding the practice, Gumuchdjian worked for 18 years in the Richard Rogers Partnership where, as Associate Director, he worked on large scale architectural and masterplanning projects.
Gumuchdjian designed the memorably beautiful ‘London as it could be’ installation at the Royal Academy in 1986.
Gumuchdjian co-wrote Richard Rogers’ Reith Lectures in 1995 which was published as "Cities for a small planet" (Faber & Faber) and translated into seven languages. The book has sold over 50,000 copies worldwide and its thesis underpins the practice’s approach to sustainability.
Gumuchdjian was a Rapporteur at the UN Habitat Conference in Istanbul, a member of the German Government’s Urban 21 panel in 2000 and currently teaches M.Arch in Urban Design at the Bartlett, University College London.
The Studio’s completed work demonstrates an ability to find original yet appropriate solutions to the most sensitive sites.
A constant interest lies in considering issues beyond the immediate brief and creating an overall improvement that locks the new building into its site.
The Studio enjoy exploring the cultural or conceptual foundation of their buildings. This allows them to vary their architectural responses for example sometimes immersing the viewer in the context or unexpectedly unfolding grand surprises.
A decade since its founding, Gumuchdjian Architects has earned a reputation for a strong conceptual approach and for creating contemporary buildings that successfully harmonize with their contexts.
“Ultimately buildings are theatres for other people’s lives and if those lives are inspired by the spaces we create for them, we consider our task fulfilled.”