Film series 'Practice' explores the 'how' instead of 'what' in architectural processes

The first episode in the documentary series Practice by Laura Mark and Jim Stephenson features UK-based architect Piers Taylor and his Invisible Studio.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Sep 10, 2020

The architecture documented through print, film, or other mediums over time has majorly been talking about the final product where the discussions stay limited to the genesis and the story behind its building. What is rather not talked about is how the architects as the creators may have their own revelations before bringing the structure to life.

Practice - a new series of architecture documentaries by critic and curator Laura Mark and photographer and filmmaker Jim Stephenson – focuses on the process of architecture, rather than the projects architects build. The series of short films aims to uncover the breadth of differing ways to practice, to create and to teach architecture. Rather than focusing on what the architects have already done, the films attempt to investigate how they have done it. 

Piers Taylor at his Invisible Studio in the UK, which he believes is his ‘studio in the woods’ | Practice – Invisible Studio | Jim Stephenson and Laura Mark| STIRworld
Piers Taylor at his Invisible Studio in the UK, which he believes is his ‘studio in the woods’ Image: Courtesy of Jim Stephenson, Laura Mark

The first episode of the Practice focuses on the UK-based architect Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio, who is also popular as the co-host of the BBC series World’s Most Amazing Homes. Describing the first episode, Laura Mark says, “Piers himself is already a public figure but we wanted to challenge this and look at what really drives him and his work. We follow Piers as he builds a small cabin in his woodland, we speak to his friends, his family and those that have worked with him over the years, and we hear from him as he moves between his house, his studio and the woods”.

21 mins watch Piers Taylor shares the journey of the setting up of his Invisible Studio | Practice – Invisible Studio | Jim Stephenson and Laura Mark| STIRworld
Piers Taylor shares the journey of the setting up of his Invisible Studio Video: Courtesy of Jim Stephenson, Laura Mark

In the film, Taylor talks about his journey on leaving school with no qualifications. He says his move to Australia and the one-hour lecture by Glenn Murcutt at the University of Sydney, where he was enrolled, shaped his career in architecture. Taylor also mentions that his unique pursuit of a different way of working results in homemade buildings. He further elaborates on the imagination he had for setting up his practice and his plan to move to the UK to set up the Invisible Studio, which he calls the ‘studio in the woods’. Taylor hopes to bring people together and create architecture that is close to nature and he says that it all started with building a cabin. “It’s a fine line between what a farmer might have built and what an architect might have done,” adds Taylor.

Piers Taylor returned to the UK from Australia to set up his practice that results in homemade buildings | Practice – Invisible Studio | Jim Stephenson and Laura Mark| STIRworld
Piers Taylor returned to the UK from Australia to set up his practice that results in homemade buildings Image: Courtesy of Jim Stephenson, Laura Mark

The 21-minute episode is a visual treat as Mark and Stephenson’s camera follow the construction of a small cabin in the woods surrounding Taylor’s home. Long-time collaborators and friends Kate Darby and Charley Brentnall also join in to share their experiences.

Speaking about the forthcoming films that are part of the series Practice, Stephenson shares, “Practice is something that we develop slowly, with a real engagement with the architect. We spend time in their practice, on site and in their homes. The idea is to create something reflective, that has a slow and meditative feel”.

In the first episode the makers speak to Taylor’s friends, his family and those who have worked with him over the years| Practice – Invisible Studio | Jim Stephenson and Laura Mark| STIRworld
In the first episode the makers speak to Taylor’s friends, his family and those who have worked with him over the years Image: Courtesy of Jim Stephenson, Laura Mark

The upcoming episodes planned in the series will feature architects such as Sam Jacob, Mary Duggan, Feilden Fowles and O’Donnel Tuomey. Mark and Stephenson have been working together for more than five years and their most significant project is a documentary on the work of Zaha Hadid and others which include documenting the work of many renowned architects including Herzog & de Meuron, Francis Kéré, Kengo Kuma, Eva Jiřičná, AHMM, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Caruso St John and many others.

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