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Interview with George Christie


QUESTION: Your work is impressive and one wonders how these ideas are born in the first place and what are the parameters that influence your creative course?

G.C.: Art is the product of interacting factors within the soul of the artist. Some of them are nature, the social environment (tradition, tendencies, fashion, economic currents, etc) and his personal traits, (talent, spiritual development, priority of values etc).

Architecture as a science is also influenced by the current technology, which, especially in our times, changes drastically the methods of construction and its potentials. The harmonious cooperation of these factors has always posed a great challenge for architects in producing their compositions. The goal is to attain a proper balance which on one hand directs the artist’s inspiration to new levels of creativity, while incorporating simultaneously Art’s timeless values. The artist is called upon to assimilate and serve the historically acknowledged achievements, to master the contemporary techniques and then allow his charisma to pioneer and present its cultural propositions. This course is always uphill and not often accompanied by applauses, or by well-intentioned criticism.

QUESTION: What qualities and “metaphorically” artistic antibodies should an architect develop in order to ensure with his work a healthy and lasting contribution?

G.C.: Often it is the economic profit and not the societal welfare that determines what happens. In an effort to achieve the greatest and most immediate market value for the products, art is often squeezed to fit within the current short-termed and shortsighted preferences of mediocrity and conventionality. That which is marketable has often left art mute and barren and has permitted profit to violate the gates of its temple depreciating its standards and corrupting the artists themselves.

Civilization has always been served by artists, who have projected serious resistance toward reconciling their creative vision and inspiration with the commands of immediate profit, fashion and the trite. They were relentlessly renewing their sources of inspiration, while exerting self-criticism and humility in attending to constructive criticism.

Civilization has always been served by artists, who have projected serious resistance toward reconciling their creative vision and inspiration with the commands of immediate profit, fashion and the trite. They were relentlessly renewing the sources of their inspiration, while exerting self-criticism and humility in attending to constructive criticism.

QUESTION: Occasionally though negative criticisms present themselves. Sometimes certain architectural creations are hailed as advanced masterpieces by one segment of specialists, while they did not receive similar recognition by others. How do you explain this?

G.C.: Many societies are characterized by a high level of education and tradition in the field of the Fine Arts. It is a privilege for an artist to direct himself to a refined Public. The ensuing dialogue promotes both, artist and Public. The mature architect never feels insecure in facing any comment about his work. Quite the opposite, he evaluates criticism and allows it to become part of his education.

In the final analysis, however, art springs from the multi-vocal stimuli and the personal inner workings of the artist, who in turn broadcasts the energy of his work to the societal receiver. The resulting reaction between transmitter and receiver depends upon the quality of both and what each one of them is after. Often the artistic Word transmits out of range for many receivers. This is to be expected. It is not possible for Public and critics to possess the same synthetic ability or even the same soul passion from which the work of art is born. Between the inner generators of inspiration and the external critical viewing of the artistic work, there will always remain a huge chasm. Education by itself, without personal gift, will not allow anyone to enter into the Holiest in Art’s temple. There, the electricity that energizes the soul materializes into an erotic immediacy with the inspiration and a passion for cultural contribution. The Public, user of the end product, is called upon to approach with reverence because occasionally the voltage is high. 

QUESTION: The new multi-story hotel you designed received distinction and fine reviews. Tell us about its facilities and its design philosophy.

G.C.:The object of the building is to provide its tenants with high quality in the standards of living, recreation and the large variety of activities that it incorporates. For the attainment of this goal I enlisted the latest technology in design\construction methods and materials and also tried to achieve a high level standard in the running and maintenance of the hotel. The presence of these tall buildings in the immediate is multi-dynamic. Their architectural-structural form, and the choice and shaping of the materials, transmits its own immediate Voice of Art. Its internal and social operation is the next dynamic intervention. Concurrently, these structures generally pose as symbols of art and technology, but especially are an attraction for the city that houses them. I hope that this new building will ‘stand tall’ within the historical critique and that the new synthetic and artistic approaches I have opted for, will increase the cultural the repertoire.

QUESTION: The stadium has a more classical functional layout. The structural frame, nonetheless, especially the roof and the pedestrian bridge are very impressive and innovative. How were these forms arrived at?

G.C: The electronic designing and the robotic manufacturing of the steel frames drive the architectural imagination to aesthetics heights unknown in the past. The quality materials and the impeccable finishing elevate the bare structure to a decorative element and present the beauty of its form. The curved bridge, with its novel suspension issuing from underneath, adds some drama to the whole composition. We complicate certain things simply because we can. Showing of high tech? Is it allowable?

QUESTION: In these compositions the curve holds the primary role instead of the straight line. What led you to this choice?

G.C: The philosophy behind the synthesis and construction of these works is the diaphanous dynamic dialogue between aesthetic and structural form, ergonomic function and skeletal frame. Added decoration is reduced and the artistic Logos is determined mainly by the dynamic juxtaposition of structural mass and used space.

The curvatures issue from the consideration of the dynamic behavior of the buildings to natural forces (gravitational, seismic, wind etc) and try to enhance their eugenic beauty.

In the animal world the perfect harmony of skeleton and muscular systems is obvious and forms the basic aesthetic reference. The curved form is the only one that provides the solutions in shaping the required body physique that is practical for these organisms. Nature is, in every science and art, the ultimate inspirer for what is beautiful, advanced and beneficial. The architect, studying the truthfulleness of the way nature shapes creatures, renews his sources of inspiration, breaks away from the stagnation of repetition and creates a new launching platform of creativity.

QUESTION: In Classical Architecture why the straight line forms were preferred instead of the curved ones?

G.C: In studding any of the classical ancient Greek masterpieces, like the Parthenon of Athens, we notice that completely the opposite is true.

Although the structural, axial concept of the structure was linear, eventually, the relentless seek of perfection in the form, the proportions and structure, all the lines were curved. Volumes of writings are needed to analyze the philosophy of all these curves, which due to their complexity and incredible accuracy would make their replication extremely difficult and costly even today. In Parthenon the refined use of curved lines reached new levels of cultural excellence and influenced the world culture.

When the arch was discovered, with its unique aesthetic and dynamic truth, as well as its incomparable superiority in bridging large openings, there is an explosion in the usage of the curve form in conjunction with the linear. Gothic architecture is an excellent example.

The increased use of the curved lines in my buildings serve similar goals. In the past the curved form was avoided for it was difficult and expensive to construct. Nowadays technology makes its use economically accessible.

QUESTION: Does the average person possess the aesthetic instincts that permit him to understand and enjoy these advanced forms?

G.C: Our instincts are sub-consciously influenced by natural laws. Even the non-specialist senses the structural sufficiency of the forms. The average person prefers the aesthetic of the aerodynamic curves in a modern car, plane or boat. He appreciates the curved lines that define the ergonomics of a car’s interior, and would instantly reject a square or cubic form.

Of source colossal research was required till technology could manufacture the curved surfaces that these forms of transportation require. In fact, as we progress, their form becomes even more curved. The public eye observed and supported this evolution. It is certain that as our knowledge and refinement deepens so will increase our insight and appreciation for these more dynamic lines. Simultaneously our preferences for more composite art forms will develop as well.

Today high technology can be employed with reasonable cost in the construction also of buildings. The morphological possibilities that high technology is offering are far greater, with obvious benefits for all, scientists, artists and users. We architects are asked to write music for these new instruments. The classical repertoire stands as a colossal point of reference and comparison. The spirit that permeates the core of classical architecture and not the letter of its mimicry, can again attach classical values to the new architectural expressions. But the knowledge from the past does not suffice. The formulation of new materials and the use of modern technology require the marriage of architectural and structural sensitivities in one and the some composing mind. The challenge is great. We are treading on holy ground. Shall we finally create Architecture, or shall we simply augment the Litter space?

The answer to this question depends on two factors:

The first is the government which is called upon to form the conditions and the opportunities for the talented individuals. To offer proper education and subsequently to create a social atmosphere that recognizes excellence and rewards  it.

The second is the architects themselves, who are asked to be bearers of composite and demanding qualities and scientific knowhow. A Humbling advice from the classical antiquity is reminding all of us who are active in this field:

“None ignorant of geometry, should enter”

(This phrase was inscribed above the entrance of Plato’s Academy in ancient Athens. The main subject taught in this Academy was philosophy and yet people who did not possess a firm grasp of mathematics, especially geometry, were not allowed to enroll). Ancient Greeks used to say:

“To geometrize means to philosophize”