Architect of the North. Petr Stolín collects one award after another, how does he lead his students in Liberec?
Petr Stolín’s aura creates the atmosphere of the entire architectural studio at FAA TUL, its reputation has been registered in Liberec since the early 1990s. Together with his brother sculptor Jan Stolín, they are excellent creative personalities. The current collaboration with Alena Mičeková works as an author’s tandem, which complements it perfectly. The proof is the groundbreaking realization of experimental houses ZEN-houses, which won the main prize in the first year of the Czech Architecture Prize. The last realization of the studio is the unconventional Kindergarten Nová Ruda in Vratislavice nad Nisou. We bring the interview as part of a series of mini-interviews with the heads of the studios of the Faculty of Arts and Architecture in Liberec.
What have you been doing in your own work lately? Please provide some interesting examples of what you are currently working on or what you have recently completed.
PETR: I deal with many different things in my own work. It’s not just architecture, there are a lot of other options an architect can do. I feel like a universal soldier who can handle many disciplines. But I don’t like to talk about it until everything is done, because the finished work speaks for the architect – then its most basic mission is fulfilled.
Of all our works, I would like to mention the recently opened kindergarten in Vratislavice. It is a building where we tried to formulate and record all our previous spatial experiences. Children and teachers seem to like it. It is a different way for them to conceive of space than they have been used to. Probably the most fundamental turning point in which we entered the foreign consciousness was the “Zenhouses”, which guided our further development. Their realization was an opportunity to go further in architecture and start thinking a little differently. My brother and I created an archetype of this principle at the memorial of the freedom fighters of the country in Liberec.
Demonstration of the work of the teacher from FAA TUL in Liberec – Petr Stolín
Which studio assignment do you consider the best? Also provide some interesting examples of student work related to the assignment.
PETR: I consider the best studio assignments to be those that ignite and exhale students, that they enjoy so that they are completely committed to their work and then they are satisfied with the result. I want it to take them further and to build on that experience.
Working with mass models is essential in our studio. We don’t just make ready-made project models. We take them as a critical analog tool in architectural thinking. Instead of sketches on paper, we start with three-dimensional model sketches. Since architecture takes place in space, we try to think in space from the very beginning. It happens that students design an impressive project, nice visualizations with such pink foam. When they come to the model at the end of the semester, they wonder what came of it. We want to prevent the first sketch from being created on the model and then being further developed into a project. It is an absolutely essential tool for architectural thinking, as it reveals the true elegance of the design.
We would like students to transfer these experiences to other years, to other studios, so that they can think in this way in practice and in fact forever. However, this does not mean that we want to prevent any use of current technologies in the next stages of work. However, the idea should arise by connecting the mind, hands, material and space.
We once did a selected architectural composition in our modeling studio in a 1: 1 scale. The students had a great time and felt great about it. They checked how proportion and scale work, got an impression of what 1 m wide and 3 m high mean, and what a 1x1x5 m block looks like. It is financially demanding, but we are trying to put this methodology into the next semesters.
What do your plans for the future look like? What would you like to focus on the most in your studio? What are the advantages of studying at FAA TUL?
PETR: We would like to continue what we have started, unless there is some significant pressure to change the method. I believe it makes sense. We will try to deepen this way of working further. We want all students who pass through our studio to take away this principle of thinking and some of our principles.
It is a small school, but it is unusually open, it offers many opportunities for migration between individual studios. Students are not strictly separated, they can look at each other’s work, exchange experiences, which can move them faster. Architecture is about communication, it’s teamwork, it’s not just something to come up with and do. It’s deeper thinking and doubting your projects. It’s important to talk about it, hear the opinions of others and react to them, because then a new and interesting thing can arise.