The Staatsgalerie Downhill

staatsgalerie 2 1984

Views of Stirling’s Staatsgalerie tend to show the front of the building with its extraordinary denial of the conventional facade in favour of an array of architectural motifs grounded in a stylised ruin – the approach from Konrad-Adenauer-Strasse invites the visitor to immediately enter or to climb the building.


A visit in 1984 soon after the opening of the building was quite different. The hostel was on a hill side and we made our way down to the city centre by foot, encountering the Weissenhof-style administration building first and using the path via the building’s rotunda as a route between the hillside and the city below. This powerfully linked the promenade through the building with the surrounding landscape and we experienced Stirling’s architecture as an easygoing down-hill short-cut – a series of experiences in which the building never fully presented itself. View the Staatsgalerie Slideshow 1984-1990.

staats 1984

James Stirling 22 April 1926 – 25 June 1992

Encounters with Big Jim: What not to say…

Picture the scene – the garden of an East Anglian manor house in early October in the late 1970s. A group of gauche first year architecture students are enjoying the hospitality of their tutor (the widow of an eminent professor of architecture at a Fenland university) and the company of the great and the good. Alison and Peter are prominent in batik, but many another brutalist hogs the bar. A circle of students are joined by a large man in a blue shirt, slightly perspiring as the evening draws in. A faux- suave nineteen year old decides to break the ice. He clears his throat, restrains his natural air of condescension, and asks the stranger “So, are you an architect?”. Silence follows as James Stirling turns and walks away…


James Stirling 22 April 1926 – 25 June 1992

Stirling Archive

In 1999 the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal purchased the archive of James Stirling and Michael Wilford’s office, including much material from Stirling’s previous architectural firms. In the linked edition of MOQDOC (a Canadian newsletter for art libraries and archives) the cataloguer Eva-Marie Neumann outlines the archive’s contents and some of its unexpected material which will shortly become available to researchers.



Drawing of the Olivetti Training School, Haslemere 1969
From James Stirling, Buildings & Projects 1950-1974: “the classroom wings were cranked in plan to avoid colliding with groups of very large specimen trees and the wings have been sited along level ground to permit linear expansion. Prefabricated wall/roof units are of glass reinforced polyester (GRP) which are clipped together, a process similar to industrial design products and to Olivetti’s own production of machines and equipment…Seventeen colours for the external GRP were rejected by the local Planning Committee on aesthetic grounds and the original colour scheme [lime green and violet] could be used only inside the building.”

James Stirling 22 April 1926 – 25 June 1992

The Show


The External Examiners are in so these are just snatched photos of this year’s CiA Bachelor of Architecture show. The exhibition (in colour!) opens at 6pm tomorrow (Friday 15 June 2007) on the fifth floor of the Chatham Building. See you there.

LINK to details of the Faculty of Art & Design Exhibitions including maps and times of opening.


“not enough Jim.”

Doris Lockhart Saatchi has written about the artist Ben Johnson and his encounter with James Stirling.

Johnson became attracted to the artistic issues raised by architecture in 1973, when he first saw James Stirling’s Leicester University Department of Engineering building. He contacted the architect and said he would like to make a painting based on the building, and Stirling expressed interest in commissioning it. Johnson declined the commission but offered the architect first viewing and option to buy. Some time later, he duly presented the finished painting. After a few moments of silence, Stirling walked up to the canvas, tapped it with his fingers, turned to Johnson and said, ‘Too much Ben, not enough Jim.’

Perhaps Johnson’s 1986 painting of the galleries of the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart rebalanced the equation?


James Stirling 22 April 1926 – 25 June 1992

Frankenstein in Leicester


Leicester University Engineering Building
Architect: Stirling and Gowan 1959

In the engineering building at the University of Leicester by Stirling and Gowan, the profession was presented with its Frankenstein, amidst a concert of maidenish squeaks that have not yet died down.*

Steve Cadman has produced an excellent photo set of Leicester buildings. View the Leicester architecture slide-show at fast speed and see Stirling’s Leicester Engineering Building in the context of the vigorous and eclectic architecture of the city.


Steve Cadman’s Leicester architecture set

* Ian Brown in Architectural Forum April 1972, quoted in James Stirling, Buildings and Projects 1950-1974 Introduction by John Jacobus, Layout by Leon Krier and James Stirling.

Photographs © Steve Cadman

James Stirling 22 April 1926 – 25 June 1992

Messages from Portugal

Our recent post about Evora has led to some interesting correspondence with Portuguese architects and students. rui-mello sends us some images of the work of Joaquim Massena. The project is a theatre in Oporto. The work of Massena, which appears to be a mixture of new buildings and renovation projects can be found at



You may also like to look at ultimasmag which is an internet periodical produced by Fernando Guerra and contains exceptional photographs of contemporary architecture in Portugal. The latest issue includes pictures of Alvaro Siza’s new winery. From

After recent intermittent or even timid architectural interventions in wineries in the Douro region, this completely new project in the Alentejo brings a practice to national wine production that is beginning to be common in the wineries of countries like Spain, France, Italy and the United States, in which wine production and commercialization start with the buildings themselves, contributing added value, giving them their own identity, beyond creating a more efficient system of production. The return on investment also translates in the marketing of the wine production itself, providing it with an image that coincides with the cult of wine.