Monthly Archives: October 2013

TALK Qatar: Keith Brewis

TALK Qatar: Keith Brewis

This is a sketchnote of Keith Brewis’ talk (or as I like to call it – archilecture…it’s a lecture about architecture!) at TALK Qatar last night. As stated in the invitation for last night’s session, Brewis’ lecture, From the Ground Up, discussed “the ecology and identity of cities and how we might contemplate social, recreational, and movement corridors”.

Brewis did a great job of communicating to a diverse audience, and while his presentation was sophisticated and detailed, I felt it was accessible and embraced an interdisciplinary perspective with widespread application (hey…that sounds suspiciously like a TED Talk).

My sketchnote reveals the main themes I took away from this 30 minute lecture, including the need for flexibility in architecture and design, and the challenge to strive for connectedness between built and natural environments in urban areas. Examples of a rail station provided the context for a discussion of how a built environment might express a certain identity; in particular, one that celebrates rail as a point of connection. As Brewis reflected, the life of the project should contribute to the life of the city (contrasted with the ubiquitous North American retail box store).

Since Brewis’ presentation contained a number of complex and compelling photos (and one great sketch), it was difficult for me as a note-taker to capture the visual imagery in real-time. It would be great to get some feedback (from some of the other attendees or from the speaker himself) on how I did in my attempt to capture the essential ideas of this talk as an interloper to the construction world.

I always feel like I’m missing something when I put my head down to draw. I’m also notoriously bad at accurately noting names; for example, I missed the towns and project names from this lecture. In fact, I did remember some of them, but I felt that if I started noting specific names, I would have to continue to do so throughout the lecture (and then space on the page also becomes an issue). With the exception of the Oman example (I thought that one was appropriate for its similarities with our desert environments here in Qatar), I opted to focus on the ideas which these exemplary projects allowed Brewis to speak to. My feeling is that this approach lends itself to a more generalist (and generalizable) view, which may make the sketchnote more accessible to a person who was not in attendance or who is not overly familiar with the content area.

After the talk, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to have a conversation with Brewis about construction in Qatar, shared workspaces, and community involvement in urban planning. I always love it when I attend a talk or watch a video on a topic I expect to know very little about and the concepts are in fact germane to things I deal with on a regular basis (at work or in life more generally).

It’s nice to get outside of our silos and mingle with people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise than us. Yes, I had to endure a few suits eyeing my jean jacket with disdain, but it was worth it for the intellectual discussions and a change from the normal routine. For my first sketchnote of a TALK archilecture, I’m happy with the product.

I hope more of these community forums begin to emerge, and that this spirit of interdisciplinarity inspires different types of forums where we can learn from one another and help to influence the future of this interesting community in a period of such significant growth. Kudos to the forum organizers for creating this opportunity for critical conversation.

Note: Keith Brewis is International Operations Managing Partner at Grimshaw Architects

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