MARTIN FLETT

John Kinross Scholar in 2011


Martin Flett, Leeds Playhouse,PagePark-Architects

How did the experience affect you as an individual?
The experience broadened my horizons, spending a brilliant summer with three friends – Beth Dynowski, Susannah Stark and John Kellock – doing the John Kinross Scholarship together – in Florence and travelling around Tuscany. I learnt a lot from Beth, Susannah and John about a variety of things – music, food, politics – and including their art practice, which as an architecture student was a new and exciting thing to talk, hear and learn from. We also chatted about architectural practice, making this a two-way exchange of ideas and practice amongst all the fun we had travelling around and taking advantageous of Florence’s many generous apertivo bars.

What was the impact on your practice?
Seeing first-hand the buildings and town planning of the area had a significant impact on me. In Florence, seeing the buildings of Giovanni Michelucci opened my eyes to Italian modernism, and its capacity for expression, as at his ‘Chiesa dell’Autostrada’ with its parabolic curved concrete soffits and walls. I later had the opportunity to put some of this into practice in my contribution to the Hawkhead Centre in Paisley. In Siena, spending time in the terracotta bowl of the Piazza del Campo, and seeing the Palio di Siena helped my understanding of the capacity for shared spaces to become stages for theatricality in public life. This sense of the theatre of public spaces later influenced my contribution to the refurbishment and extension of the Leeds Playhouse.

What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and your work?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing in particular, not least because I find influences in my work are often subconscious, but the buildings – both historic and modern – and the town planning, looser and more informal than at home, broadened my mind and architectural vocabulary as to what is possible, particularly when the two are acting in concert – such as at the Piazza della Signora, where the buildings such as the Loggia dei Lanzi and Galleria degli Uffizi form stages and promenades in the city, in additional to their other practical functions as buildings. The time spent exchanging ideas about art and architectural practice informed and deepened my understanding of the dependence and inseparability of one on the other and continues to influence my work.