ARCHITECTING ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES
James & John Balmond
Winston Churchill aptly said “we shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us,”. Long before buildings, the elements of our natural habitats shaped our living. According to Darwinian theory, all animals are attracted to settings they excel in. For us humans, this means spaces providing the right balance of information and refuge. From that point of view, architecture thus becomes a fundamental composite in our daily lives. Taking into account vernacular improvisation and creative brilliance, it is a definition that is applied across creative industries. Classic designs often stand as works of art, presenting dynamic discourses and alternative perspectives. The Balmond Studio is known for its revolutionary approach to architecture. The Studio’s work represents new attitudes towards the relationship between artistry and our surroundings. Cecil Balmond, Founder of Balmond Studio, raised his sons John and James in the spirit of independent thought. The two brothers, both professional designers, grew up in the environment of having a father deep in the pursuit of architecture, engineering and mathematics. “We were encouraged to not be afraid to think differently and push the boundaries of our thinking”, John states, a well-experienced and inimitable architect in his own right. Balmond Studio is an award-winning design firm that manages productions in Colombo, London and Singapore. The degree of operations ranges from that of the monumental, as industrial construction, to that of the fingertip, as jewelry. “Good architecture is about good design and the enjoyment of people. At the end of the day, it’s about engaging with people. You will feel inspired by it”. The brothers maintain this approach, an understanding elicited by their father over the years. The studio’s work recognizes the value in the enrichment of sensory experiences.
Domestic and public spheres are reliant on sharing spaces. Architecture emboldens creativity in everyday life, defining elements such as privacy and survival. John remarks on the importance of innovating safe environments. “Originality and difference make for the enjoyment of space. We’ve blown contemporary patterns up to the size of a wall, and placing it upon a 150-year-old apartment against antique furniture from Jaffna”. The diversity of the island makes for an interesting combination of contrasts, contradictions and traditions. They often scream out at each other through histories of development. Architecture has a unique relationship to the everyday. It would be difficult to understand culture without it.
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