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Friday18 August 2017

Who is Squint/Opera?

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An unconventional and rather successful firm of filmmakers, with big ambitions and impeccable architectural connections, that’s who.

Now 22 strong and growing, Squint/Opera was founded in 2002 by a quartet of chums, three of them alumni of the Bartlett school of architecture: Ollie Alsop (son of Will), Alice Scott and Martin Hampton, plus Edinburgh classicist and erstwhile journalist Julius Cocke.

Their early films for Alsop, combining quirky animation, computer graphics and original music, quickly won attention, and one of them, Picture a City, on the Bradford masterplan, is now showing at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Other architects, developers and designers quickly signed them up. Landscapers Grant Associates and architects Wilkinson Eyre used them for their competition-winning entry for Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay competition. Glenn Howells, Ash Sakula, John Thompson and Studio Egret West have also commissioned them.

They are now making a film in Tokyo financed by fashion magnate Paul Smith. ‘He’s given us this amazing, wonderfully open brief,’ says Squint/Opera’s Alex Scott-Whitby.

Having worked with students in Nigel Coates’ architecture unit at the RCA – and exhibited in the RCA’s Babylon:Don show at the last Venice architecture biennale – they are now creating animations for a show to be curated by Coates at London’s Design Museum, on the futuristic designer Luigi Colani, opening on 3 March.

The way they’re going, Squint/ Opera could turn into a British success like the very different Aardman, makers of Wallace and Gromit. ‘We want to explore all avenues,’ says Scott-Whitby. ‘But we want to keep our feet on the ground. We want to help architects’ dreams become reality.’

See Gardens by the Bay film at www.ribajournal.com/Gardensbythebay

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