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Practice ep. 1   invisible studio cover 960
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Practice Ep. 1: Invisible Studio

Jim Stephenson, Invisible Studio, Laura Mark

How to build: a visual meditation on Piers Taylor's approach to architecture.


"Practice" is a new series of architecture documentaries by critic and curator Laura Mark and photographer and filmmaker Jim Stephenson, that focus on the process of architecture, rather than on the buildings architects complete.


In the first episode of what we hope to be a long series of installments, Mark and Stephenson focuses on Piers Taylor. Featuring also in "Sunlight", Taylor is the founder of Invisible Studio and mind behind the annual workshop "Studio in the Woods" (both films are available and reviewed on The Architecture Player). Similarly to "Sunlight", in which Taylor interviewed Gianni Botsford inside his award-winning "House in a Garden" in London, also here the episode is filmed in an architecture conceived and built by Piers Taylor. This is because "Practice" is not just an interview but rather a visual essay, a meditation on Piers Taylor and Invisible Studio's journey of creating buildings that "straddle a fine line between something a farmer might have built, or something an architect might have done", as he says in the interview.

Taking place inside the house and studio in the middle of the wood he personally designed for himself, in "Practice" Piers Taylor retraces his approach and career: "I have never thought I could be an architect, because I was thrown out of school and repeatedly told I was 'unteachable'". He recalls leaving school at fifteen, creating a construction company, later the ‘80s recession, moving to Sidney, having his first son, and the life-changing experience of listening to Glenn Murcutt ("In that hour I was given a road map to the rest of my life").

Why this summary? Because his path of discovery informed the way he approaches architecture, even today, his unique pursuit of a different way of working.
As curator Laura Mark points out, "Piers himself is already a public figure but we wanted to challenge this and look at what really drives him and his work."

"Practice"'s episode on Invisible Studio follows Piers Taylor in the construction of a small cabin in the woods and, shot after shot reconstructs not just the career but also the imagery that inspires Taylor. Building, dwelling, creating things with his hands: a key part of Taylor's program is to learn and teach how things are made, in order to draw closer the figure of the architect and the one of the builder. The house he built for himself, somewhat in the middle between the natural and urban landscape, and his leading role in "Studio in the woods" perfectly capture his ideas. One may say he likes "a simpler life", but this would be quite a superficial and belittling remark: as we are explained, Taylor's approach is more about the essence and the "construens" role of architecture - straying away from the corporate attitude, as much as quitting one of his older firms.
What emerges from "Practice" is the theoretical values and strength of Taylor's ideas: how he was able to found a firm that could embrace and make them prosper, because he had a strong yet open and flexible idea of what an architect should look like.

With contributes from long time collaborators and friends Kate Darby and Charley Brentnall, this episode "Practice" can shift our usual understanding of the architect role and its depiction, thanks to the capability of Stephenson and Mark to mix poetic shots to excerpts from "Studio in the woods" and words from Taylor: they are able to convey the sense of his profession, to understand, engage with it and display it in this 20 minutes long short film.

In the words of Stephenson: "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."

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Directed by: Jim Stephenson and Laura Mark
Mentioned projects: Visible Studio, Trailer (Equivalent #2), Studio in the Woods
Projects location: various, United Kingdom
Featuring interviews with: Kate Darby and Charley Brentnall
With: Simon Schofield, Alan Matthews, Bernard Twist, Ferdinand Taylor-Philipps, Sue Philipps, Archie Taylor-Philipps, Lily Taylor-Phillips, Imogen Taylor
Edited by: Gabriel Gane, Jim Stephenson
Sound design and music: Simon James

United Kingdom 2020
Duration: 21'00"