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Jim Stephenson, Gianni Botsford

A study on light: Gianni Botsford in conversation with Piers Taylor.

Set inside the recently completed "House in a Garden" in London - nominated as one of the best buildings of 2019 by The Independent - this video features a conversation between the architect Gianni Botsford and Piers Taylor, founder of Invisible Studio and architecture critic.

"Sunlight", a film by Jim Stephenson of Stephenson and Bishop, is a meditation on the Botsford’s 25 years long analytical journey of creating architecture shaped by the movement of the sun.
"As designers, we understand and solve issues through design," says Botsford at the very beginning of his conversation with Piers Taylor, implying this process is often clumsy, messy and possibly frustrating. In the 15-minutes long discussion, Botsford retraces his career and goes back to his student years, when he first started to be fascinated by the role of light in designing space.

Student of John Frazer, he wanted to look at sunlight on its own, trying to investigate it in an analytical way, trying to understand critical issues such as the movement of the earth around the sun and how this has influenced architecture throughout the history.
Botsford was interested in how people placed their most prized possession, the house, in the space, which sets of rules people were following and if they could be translated into computer models. Sunlight, we hear, is not random, instead, it’s completely predictable.

There is a great pleasure in watching "Sunlight" by Stephenson and this is not only because of the value of the words by Botsford or the analytical questions by Taylor, but because the beauty of the architect's creations is perfectly captured and celebrated by the video maker. For instance, when we visit Botsford’s studio we see it is filled with models of the light directions for his projects, such as the "Light House" one, designed between 1996 and 2005. Hearing the reasons why Botsford chose certain design solutions and observing the house through Stephenson’s eyes, help us understanding and appreciating at once why Botsford's analysis is crucial and how it influenced the design.
Same goes for "Casa Kiké", designed with his father in Costa Rica - a matter of power, as he puts it - that helped him solving physical and cultural challenges, while the question (how to deal with sunlight) stayed the same.

However, the real protagonist of this film is "House in a Garden", the very same place where the interview is filmed. We see models of the oculus, the opening on the roof that let the sunlight comes in, in a house that otherwise would be shadowed by five stories houses that encircles it. It is now that Stephenson raises his camera, letting us fully appreciate the tridimensional design of the roof and the natural light that floods the room. The camera then follows Piers Taylor and Gianni Botsford among the rooms, to discover all the solutions adopted to transport whoever comes inside this house in another world, as critic Piers Taylor defines it.

"Sunlight" is definitely an eye-candy - and as Gianni Botsford would remind us, this is not random, but entirely merit of the director of this video (and of Botsford's architecture projects).

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)


Interview by: Piers Taylor, founder of Invisible Studio
Mentioned projects: Light House (1996-2005), Casa Kiké (2005-2007), "House in a Garden" (2007-2018)
Project location: London, United Kingdom and Costa Rica
Assistance: David Christian and Tyla Bean
Music: Clinging - Hammock

United Kingdom 2019
Duration: 15'02"