Issue Number: 120
In this book extract Ian Ritchie RA reveals the deeper meaning of his life as an architect
"I recall once being warned that, as an architect, until you are 50 you will not be taken seriously enough to receive a decent commission in England. It is a country that prides itself on its creativity and innovation but rarely takes risks, preferring to insure rather than implement. In France that moment comes when you are qualified.
Ian Ritchie Architects, 'Crystal Palace Concert Platform', 1996. © Ian Ritchie Architects. A career in architecture engages with so many disciplines and aspects of life it is impossible not to enjoy it. The cyclical phenomena of nature – day following night following day, the life-regenerating cycle of the seasons – provide evidence for the Taoist paradigm. Successes and failures in architecture are part of the duality of being alive – happy and sad, good and bad, life and death. I am reminded that no amount of darkness can extinguish a candle’s flame. This is why, for me, optimism always prevails.
And architecture is as much about sharing the social adventure as it is about the end product. Living a life through architecture shows me that in every collaboration there is a chance to grow, and that gives the greatest of pleasures, both personal fulfilment and the satisfaction of watching that growth in others in the studio. Yet I am so aware that the only certainty about certainty is its uncertainty. Nothing is given, nothing sure. It is my philosophy, what underpins the art of living to begin every morning when I wake with a smile, and this is the expression I enjoy every day in the faces of the people I work with.
Video: Ian Ritchie RA on the philosophy behind his work