Mossessian Architecture is an international studio based in London, founded by Michael Mossessian in 2005 on the principle that architecture is more than simply making a product or constructing an important building. It is the art of creating places that inspire people to work, live and play. We met Mr. Mossessian and asked him a number of questions.
Looking at your work in progress we were struck by the project that is currently underway at King’s Cross. Could you tell us a little more about these two buildings?
This was a tender that we won and it is a project located at King’s Cross, an area of London where just lately everyone wants to live. The project includes two buildings for commercial use and their spirit completely reflects the King’s Cross DNA, namely that of bringing together and linking people through different activities. The project is characterized by a mass – consisting of two black stone buildings – and a void. These two buildings are in fact connected by a sculptural void that becomes a public square in which children can run around and have fun and where adults will find a range of commercial activities. The vacuums are also the protagonists of the building’s facades: these cavities frame the windows and connect the buildings to the outside environment, highlighting the connection with the public space.
In your opinion, can we still consider London as the hub of European architecture?
Is it really? London is the hub of people. The thinking goes like this: you have a city and you use it, you keep it as it is; if you’re not using it, or if you think it might have more value, you change it. You can do that. This is London: there’s no pattern, there’s no master plan, it’s based only on the principle of how to continuously regenerate a city. It is a living organism. And where do people prefer to live? In living places. So it is not so much architecture, but a phenomenon in which the buildings are able to create and modify the landscape.
You work a lot with the Arab world: how did that come about?
At a time when Europe – especially Ireland – was experiencing a critical period in economic and financial terms, I was asked to send my portfolio to Doha for a masterplan. With a list of 50 studios, the selection process for the competition took a good three months. Once selected as being among the 10 finalists, I travelled to Doha to better understand exactly what their demands were. I went back to basics and started the Black Box process: this is a complex procedure that analyzes data, compares them and then eliminates those that do not fit in order to create a single view of what the final project will be. It was a really interesting project, I won and that is how and where it started.
How much does art influence your way of designing?
Art has nothing to do with architecture. However, sculpting a vacuum and creating links between people is something that comes very close to it. For me art means creating links, giving a meaning to a sense of involvement, it is something that people receive. Art is like questions: they confront you with an emotion which can be pretty or scary, but they are always something that provokes a feeling.