Wednesday30 July 2014

Christina Norton ‘Each loss results in a lesson’

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The director of Fluid on Alvar Aalto, Athens and the AA

Christina Norton

Christina Norton

What got you started?
When I was growing up we travelled across Europe on family holidays planned by my architect father — magical adventures of landscape, engineering feats and cities.

Who was your most inspiring tutor?
Nigel Coates at the AA changed the direction of my career, challenging my assumptions and making architecture a living thing about people foremost.

Which architect have you learnt the most from?
Baroque architecture, Gaudi and Alvar Aalto. Their work hits me in the gut. What I have learnt is nothing to do with style, but about empathy.

Which living architect do you most admire?
I’m not so fond of architects these days, but I admire Rem Koolhaas because he dares to tread outside orthodox thinking.

What is your best project?
My practice Fluid and sister company Soundings. Some think our best project is our smallest — the Gimme Shelter structures near Clerkenwell. I’m hoping it will be the homes we are designing in Hampshire.

What project do you most regret losing?
You have to move on and not look back. Each loss results in a lesson and an opportunity.

What is your favourite city?
I have to support Athens.

For many it is a polluted, ugly, poorly planned mess, but I love the chaotic, cluttered city teeming with life and I hope it will restore itself before long.

What building would you most like to see demolished?
The Inmarsat building on Old Street. I pass it everyday and hate it more each time.

You can work in whichever city you want at any point in history - where and when?
Here and now in London.

What would be your dream commission?
A chance to implement some of the more radical thinking of NATO — at an urban scale.

What is your favourite architectural book?
Eccentric Spaces by Robert Harbison.

Complete the sentence: At heart I am a frustrated…
Sorry, but I am not frustrated

What does your family think of your work?
Our sons respect the work, but think the lifestyle is “pants”.


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