Gordon Cullen; Visions of Urban Design



Last week I started to read a book about Gordon Cullen’s activities in urban design and illustrating instructive visions from the city as our built environment. This fantastic book, written and collected by David Gosling, stimulated me, even more than before, to go inside the city and watch every facet of social life through urban spaces and places and capture them in my visual memory by “sketching” them! In this path of architecture there were a few people who influenced me, and recently Gordon Cullen was added to my heroes list. Here I present the foreword of this book by Sir Norman Foster, I hope this would be a source of inspiration also for you!

“When I think back to the influences which led me to study architecture I still recall Gordon Cullen as one of my heroes. His drawings and writings were an inseparable part of the numerous copies of The Architectural Review which I consumed eagerly at the time, from cover to cover.

Nearly forty years later, I am still entranced by the magic of those sketches. They influenced the way in which architects expressed themselves graphically and the way in which they thought, especially their sense of social values. In fact, the messages that Gordon Cullen promoted in these works about the importance of the urban landscape are more relevant now than ever before.

It was Cullen, with his untiring jabs at bureaucracy, who made us realize that nothing happens of its own accord-that the environment is more than a collection of individual buildings, and that the urban landscape is man-made and therefore the subject of design. His critical analysis of the visual squalor that we are always in danger of taking for granted, was the conscience behind his pencil.

Gordon Cullen was like a wizard as with a few deft strokes he would make a social commentary and also capture a mood, you could almost hear the breeze that swept his trees and grass. In an age of computer simulation, it is ironic that such skills become even more precious. Gordon Cullen inspired generation of architects, designers and illustrators and there were many who tried to copy him. However, there was only one Gordon Cullen.

London, October 1995″


3 Responses to “Gordon Cullen; Visions of Urban Design”

  1. I have and read this book too. He was the premier urban designer of the architectural world when I was in University. I fell in love first with his simple iconic sketching style and then fascinated by his walk-through sketches which made me very aware of how the townscape of a community or neighbourhood influenced one’s lifestyles.

    • I totally agree with you Prof.Hugh. It is also fascinating for our generation of students and I learn many precious things from Cullen’s works. Thanks for your comment and consideration, I always follow your impressive works and learn myriad lessons.

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