Leprosy and Modernism

25 November, 2017

"Neurological activity of the brain cannot be divorced from the physical environment in which it takes place.  The architect who ignores this fact, I argue in very alarming terms, places the future of the human race in peril."

Harry F Mallgrave, architect and author

In the Middle ages, disease and leprosy was rife.  So much so, that islands in Venice were specifically segregated for lepers only.  In the Bible, people with terrible illnesses were treated with a white rock - chalk.  The geology of the area was used to purify and cleanse lepers from their illness.  Hospital walls were smothered in chalk to stop the spread of this cursed illness.  The properties of white have always had a purificational message in the West, I believe it originates from these times.  Modernism of course followed suit, the clean white box originates from medievals man's need to treat leprosy.  The colour white is still used by architects in this context.  But what if chalk was green?  Or yellow?  What Modernism have adopted this colour of choice instead?  Interesting isn't it?

For the Workshop, architecture, art, sculpture, music and all great art is perceived as a whole with your entire body and it's neurological system.  We don't chose the colour of a wall based upon past precedence, but upon the individual needs of our clients and their ambitions.  So, when architects make superficial architecture and explain this through imagery only, it is destined for the architectural crap heap.  But where architects connect with peoples visceral embodied way of experiencing the world, this will have meaning.  We try to make architecture in a simple way, a natural architecture.  It should transpire in the same way the earth makes it for Spring when it wants to come.  Everyone wants Spring to come, but sometimes you need patience, warm clothes and optimism, then it simply will.