“Architecture is one part science, one part craft and two parts art.”
– David Rutten
Juxtaposed against the industrial landscape of the sprawling Welches area are the clean and contemporary lines, and solid black aluminium and red, white and steel trimmings of the Rubis headquarters. Statuesque and edgy, the modernist structure has an iconic presence in the rapidly developing area.
“One of the things I love about the Rubis building is that there is no front or back— the building simply has two fronts,” describes architect Pierre Tatem of the visually striking, asymmetrical and structurally daring exterior of the building that he designed.
“Architecture should capture the imagination,” remarks Tatem, smiling intently from behind the desk of his glass-encased office, located at Blue Print Management in Hastings. “A building is a living time capsule and should thus take risks, stimulate the eye and tell a story about a brand.”
This innovative and visual approach is both unique and refreshing but in the local context, the disciplines of art and commercial architecture do not often coexist. Form often gives way to function and pragmatism outweighs modernism. “But,” asks Tatem, “why can’t there be a marriage of the two?”
“Some of the greatest architects in history, such as Michelangelo and Giotto, were artists first. Architecture is the only field I can think of in which art and science can operate in such perfect symbiosis to tell a story about a brand,” declares Tatem, making reference to the contemporary design of the lime green offices of TD Bank in Limegrove. “One of my favourite elements was a desk that I custom designed as a derivative of the TD Bank logo— it is extremely subtle yet profound.”
This approach is also reflected in the sleek and artsy vibe of restaurant, Buzo Osteria Italiana.
“We’ve tried to build Buzo to reflect our passions and values: a love of honest cooking, an appreciation for the arts,” says Cristian Grini, Owner of Buzo.
“Cristian had a very strong vision of what he wanted,” says Tatem of Tatem Architects, whose design of the contemporary space, with its earthy colors, edgy materials and sophisticated finishes is an apt representation of this perspective, which was effortlessly shared by them both.
“The space is also a reflection of cultural changes in the way that we eat,” explains Tatem. “No longer is meal preparation an activity that is to be hidden away. Being able to watch your food being cooked is to witness art in motion.”
Artistic elements such as line, shape, form, colour, space and texture are the aesthetic building blocks of architectural design, providing a strategic and psychological impact to the internal and external environment.
In the context of his commercial projects, Tatem takes great care to ensure that all architectural elements are consistent with and embody the client’s branding and message.
Boldly and intentionally commanding the site of the Newton Industrial Park on Tom Adams Highway, the modern, layered design of Gildan provides a fitting expression of the company’s identity. Metallic grey walls, extensive glass and a juxtaposition of curved shapes against traditional box-like structures are set against the sea of rich blue of the company’s brand. The campus-like configuration evokes sentiments of strength, innovation and looking boldly into the future. Simple colours and geometrical shapes collaborate in telling a story.
You can have beauty in a perfectly done square,” declares Tatem, “but it is how you manipulate that square that makes it art or just a square.”
For Gildan the majority of Tatem’s design focused on the interiors. He applied the same approach to the interiors as with the TD reception desk. “Everything was a customized design including the company conference table,” says Tatem. “The idea was to have fun with design to express artistic expression.”
Architecture, sculpture and art are intertwined disciplines, merging function and rationality with the visual elements of branding and psychology— these can provide a structure with profound meaning, influencing public perceptions, attitudes and emotions.