The Architecture of Memory



The London Festival of Architecture is a highlight of our year. It’s a time to connect with other architects and to share ideas. For the last few years we’ve taken part in the LFA London Open Studios – it’s a chance to give people a behind-the-scenes look at our thought processes and show something of the way we work.

In 2017 we were invited to exhibit at the Shoreditch showroom of Atrium. The LFA’s theme was ‘memory’, which fitted perfectly with our longest-running collaboration – our work at Stahlwerk Augustfehn, a rural steel factory in north Germany. They had come to us back in 2006 with a still unformed idea about modernising and reorganising their nineteenth-century factory. That tentative approach kicked off what was to become a ten-year relationship resulting in three newly restored buildings and the re-housing of several unearthed artefacts of a bygone era – a painstakingly restored former factory clock, a nineteenth-century steam engine (the only one of its kind still in operation), and several original steel hammers.

We’d been lucky enough to work with David Vintiner, a photographer who appreciated the history of the place as much as we did. His reportage, along with our intricate models, sketches and detailed plans, brought the past and the present of this small German factory to life here in London. There was so much to convey in the exhibition – the restoration of buildings and artefacts, the changing industrial landscape, the people and community, the sense of place, light and materiality, and of course the importance of memory.