Kerstin Thompson Architects
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Kerstin Thompson Architects

Leon van Schaik, Stuart Geddes, Fleur Watson

For over twenty-five years, Kerstin Thompson has explored how architecture can respond to local conditions to positively shape lives and communities. By harnessing the potential for beauty and delight and a sensitivity to landscape, each project resonates with a spirit of generosity and community value.

Kerstin Thompson Architects: Encompassing People and Place takes readers on an immersive journey into the very heart of this extraordinary body of work, and documents how, over time, the practice has shifted its focus from individual housing to larger-scale public projects created by a collaborative and talented team.

With high-quality images, sketches and drawings selected from Thompson’s archive and discursive texts, this monograph provides a deep insight into not only what architects do - the buildings they make - but also why and how they design.

Review

Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) is a diverse practise whose projects range from public buildings such as police stations, to private homes, multi-residential projects, and interventions into historic buildings. Their work is presented in this beautifully considered and thoughtful volume.

Turning the pages, a series of impressions related to the buildings and projects float out to the reader: the elegance and lightness of Japanese architecture, the clean lines and shapes of the Bauhaus and early modernism, morphing to give a strongly grounded sense of Australian architectural heritage that results in buildings of distinct character. It is both a wonderful introduction to KTA, and a sense of the maturing of Australian architecture as we finally begin to assess our complicated history post-1788, and what that history – both prior to and following colonisation – can offer us.

This sense of history neatly ties into reflections by Kerstin Thompson that appear through-out. With regards to Edmond & Corrigan Architects, Thompson writes: ‘Their influence directed my interest in a deliberately parochial understanding of context in parallel with interest in what has happened elsewhere.’ Thompson also reflects on childhood influences such as a grandfather who produced bricks in Germany. KTA’s use of brick (and tile and concrete) is very well done. There is a strong sense throughout the book of Thompson’s family heritage and an engagement with Indigenous understanding of landscape. The result: buildings that adhere to their purpose and position with elegant simplicity.

An excellent essay by Leon van Schaik serves the scope of the works and adds another layer of history and context. The photography of the buildings and locations is excellent and contributes to the evocation of place and space, whether it’s a government building with a solid purpose, a home flowing along the contours of a site, or a multi-purpose project enhancing community with use.


Margaret Snowdon is the art & design book buyer at Readings Carlton.

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