London Calling

East London © Hugo Oliveira

Jornal dos Arquitectos Portuguese version here

The happiness of London is not to be conceived but by those  who have been in it. I will venture to say, there is more learning and science within the circumference of ten miles from  where we now sit, than in all the rest of the world.1   Samuel Johnson

In today’s Europe, should we refashion the wording “All roads lead to Rome” which alternative would we pick? Maybe, we would name that which is the biggest city in the European Union.

Low-cost routes to London – since it seems that many people still feel more attracted in going there, like Samuel Johnson said in the 18th century2 – make people closer to a myriad of events being held there. It remains one of the most important microcosms of whatever happens in the world: a cultural, social and logistical epicenter.

And it seems it will withstand, making some forget that it is in fact in an island; calling to itself everyone who seeks a place where possibilities can be multiplied.

For a young architect, London is the opportunity to experiment. Interviewing other architects is part of that learning process.

To interview Jonathan Sergison and Tony Fretton – important figures of London’s architectural scene since the 1980’s and 1990’s – is to get to know a bit more about the way that, a group of architects, have tried for some time already to work in this city. It is a work that has been labeled – in a way – as a research for a kind of anonymity or minimalism.

The answers also show how the city is experienced by the architects.


1 Samuel Johnson, quoted by James Boswell. in The Life of Samuel Johnson. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1953, p. 406.

2 “You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” (ibid., p. 859)

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