Building is a Long Term Experiment

architect Peter I. Wilson
interviewed by Maroje Mrduljas, Dinka Pavelić


Interviewed in Zagreb, October 3rd 2005


Peter L. Wilson, together with his wife Julia Bolles-Wilson, is the founder and partner of the Architekturburo Bolles-Wilson from Münster. Peter Wilson studied at the prestigious Architectural Association School in London, where he lectured and tutored from 1974 to 1988. The AA, which focuses on conceptual thought, experiment and inquiry in architecture in a wider cultural and social context, has produced many influential architects such as Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and William Allsop. The diversity of those authors indicates that the school has had the strength to impart an education encouraging personality and individuality while retaining an intelligent approach to architecture, which is certainly felt in the work of Bolles-Wilson partners. From the very beginning, Bolles and Wilson have been creating architecture which is rich in various lively and formal themes, showing an interest in what Peter Wilson calls the choreography of space. Their constructions in different environments, from the old city center of Magdeburg to the coastal zone of Rotterdam, correspond logically to the location, while creating their own authentic context. This mix of authenticity and complexity in their buildings is combined with a feeling for suitability and appropriateness to the task and the urban situation. 


ORIS: You are in partnership with your wife, Prof. Julia Bolles-Wilson, and you come from rather different back­grounds. You come from Melbourne, and she is German. How have such different backgrounds influenced your work? Is there a dialectic between your histories, or has time somehow merged them together, made them compact?


Wilson: It’s not only a geographic difference, it’s also an ideological difference. Her background is super German, the rationalist school of Egon Eiermann in Karlsruhe, details-grids-typologies, a truly Kantian ontology. Hans Kollhoff was one of her classmates, they did some competition entries together. I completed my studies at the AA school in London, which was then a hotbed of iconoclastic experiment – apart from that the English language itself is less rigid than German, more appropriate to an open-ended Anglo-Saxon empiricism. In terms of our differing educations both extremes, tightening the rules and a somewhat visionary widening of the horizon, were both at that time responses to the same meta-context, the collapse of functionalist orthodoxy.