The Travis Price lecture, Spirit of Place – Spirit of Design, Spirit of Consumerism and a possible language for contemporary architecture…

I was at the the Travis Price lecture in Westport on Sunday and thought I’d share the main concepts and thoughts about it:

For those uninitiated to Travis Price, he’s an American architect, author, teacher, philosopher who’s lecturing and work embodies “ecological and culturally driven modernism”. His practice website is at:

He has won several awards and worldwide recognition for the work he undertakes with his students at the School of Architecture & Planning at The Catholic University of America. The principle is straightforward; Travis and the students study an area (anywhere in the world), research and design a project in a remote landscape, as a team. Travis, a team of students and local support then build this project in nine days.

We are very lucky in Ireland to have such built projects and for more information on these and other projects visit:

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The places that are chosen tend to have a history of spirituality and a legacy of myths and legends and the projects are an exploration of this spirituality in built form.

What is interesting is the next step where the same ideas are taken into a design setting for the students where the same design concepts are explored in a contemporary take on a current project.

What the projects are doing therefore is formulating a language for a contemporary architecture based on a spirituality, connection to nature, the environment and mans history. This is why therefore the projects are described as being affliated to “anthropology, archaeology, environment, and all the arts” rather than an arbitrary style for styles sake.

Well I’ll have some of that, especially in a world driven by consumerism. Some spirituality in our architecture can only be a good thing. What’s also interesting is that the constructed projects aren’t built in what would traditionally be seen as ‘green’ materials; they use glass and steel, mixed with the traditional like stone in Belmullet – this is another reason why this approach is all the more relevant to contemporary architecture and design.

Comments as always welcome…

2 thoughts on “The Travis Price lecture, Spirit of Place – Spirit of Design, Spirit of Consumerism and a possible language for contemporary architecture…

  1. Travis Price reminds me of Christopher Alexander and there is probably a lot of overlap between the two of them.

    You should check out Christopher’s latest book, ‘The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle between Two World-Systems’ ( where he outlines how modern architecture has removed the emotion and soul from buildings in the interest of profit and efficiency. I haven’t read it yet but it’s on my list.

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