Respecting the Genius Loci
























Respecting the Genius Loci


Josh Murphy



The project develops around a design intent for a ceramics school on the island of Lazzaretto Vecchio within the Venetian lagoon. The general concept is for a series of spaces around a courtyard that is defined by taller sculptural elements of chimneys, kilns and clay stores. Large storage walls divide spaces internally and curved light wells create pockets of break out space within a loosely arranged floor plan. The architectural language and layout is influenced by a mix of industrial process and monastic programme.




Who influences you graphically?

I am a big Aldo Rossi fan. I like the way that you can trace his ideas through his initial scribbles through an exploration of plan and form towards a final idea that is often reduced to a very simple and unique mix of orthographic drawings. His use of shadow and shapes in his drawings for the cemetery at Modena has been a huge influence over the past years.

To what extent does the cultural and historical backdrop of your proposal influence your style of representation? 

I am interested in architecture that is unique to its context both geographically and culturally, often when you see a building you can instantly tell whereabouts in the world it is. Obviously there are many layers of subtlety in succeeding at this though the same can be said of architectural drawings. I like drawings, whether plans, sections or renders, that can capture a small part of the genius loci of a place. Looking at historical references of artists that have dealt with a similar context plays a big part in this. Influence for these images came from post war Italian architects and painters such as Muratori, De Chirico, Giorgio Morandi and Andruino Cantafora who use bold shapes and exaggerated perspectives to create such intriguing images.

Why the choice of monochromatic images?

I have a very talented cousin who used to make these amazing screen printed posters for club night promos etc. I love the graphic style that comes from using a limited palette of shapes and colours in this printing process. I guess I always try to bring a bit of the imagery from that process into the picture even though I am faking it! I’d like to do some of the proper stuff when I’ve finished studying.

What role does the grey backdrop play within the images? Does it act as a blank canvas on which you paint, does it limit the perspective? 

I like the idea that it acts as the blank canvas. When you have set your boundary it’s much easier to compose the shapes and curves within the rectangle. In this way it’s not to dissimilar to the architectural language that I am working with this year where the concept is to have a formally composed façade and form with interesting and dramatic curves bringing light down into the space in unusual ways.


Your proposal is always shown with dimensions, why so? Do you find the 2dimensionality of a plan or elevation limiting?

What I was trying to do with these images was to set up a number of rules for the arrangement and character of the spaces inside the ceramics school. I found it much easier to do that in this way where you almost collage and layer up your ideas for a space within an A4 rather than stick to a rigid 2-dimensional drawing such as the plan or elevation.



Josh is now about to complete his architectural course at the Glasgow School of Art after having also studied at the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio. After this he hopes to work and travel around the world for a number of years before setting up shop somewhere closer to home. His ambition in the future is to lead a design team that creatively solves urban issues with well crafted architecture. ‘ I guess there will be a number of long nights work before now and then ‘


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