The Architect … and A Little Lateral Thinking

Piers Taylor Lateral Working Credit: Clare Jones / Tegan Rush

In the BBC Radio 4 broadcast, ‘A Little Lateral Thinking’, Newsnight journalist Stephen Smith talked with a host of well-known figures from the diverse worlds of advertising, the arts, politics and science.

Stephen posed the question: Does Dr Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking have any practical value out in the real world?

To find the answer he met with Piers Taylor. Piers is one of television’s favourite architects, who is exploring what he calls ‘Lateral Working’.

Lateral Working

Piers split from the architecture firm he co-founded. He wanted to create a new way of working, away from the standard notions of contemporary practice. Instead, he founded Invisible Studio, which operates through collaboration, experimentation, research and education. Invisible Studio is set among wild garlic and woodpeckers. It’s a place which aims to realise extraordinary things in a different, more lateral way.

“The building is a story of a process that was set up to discover a way of making buildings in a different way. Drawing has become a straight-jacket, because its command, a set of instructions to control something to the point where nothing can be changed …

But in a building like this, for better or worse, what I see is a more complex story, of a process that I set up, which was to ask a group of people who had never built a building before, to come and build a building”.

Piers went on to explain the value of imperfection in this way of lateral working.

“It’s full of bodges and mistakes and all of those sorts of things which aren’t rubbed out. They’re part of the narrative. And some of the mistakes are delightful, some are actually a bit annoying. For example, there’s a beam in here that was cut to the wrong length and a bodged bit of six-by-two stuck on the end of it.

A bit of me wrestled with ‘do I live with the carpenter’s journey of understanding how to cut the end of a beam so it fits well?’

Obviously, he did. And it’s worked out rather well.

Also in this series

The Neuroscientist … and A Little Lateral Thinking

Peter Lewis, the Ad Firm … and A Little Lateral Thinking

The BBC Radio 4 broadcast of ‘A Little Lateral Thinking’ with Stephen Smith is available on the BBC Radio iPlayer. 

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