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Cecil Balmond

Paul Philippe Cret Practice Professor of Architecture
Architecture

Biography

BSC, University of Southampton
MSc, Imperial College of Science, London

Cecil Balmond is an internationally renowned designer, structural engineer, author and Deputy Chairman of the international, multi-disciplinary engineering firm Arup. One of his most recent projects is the 2006 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed with Rem Koolhaas.

He has held several distinguished visiting professorships at leading universities in the United States and Britain: Saarinen Professor at Yale University, Kenzo Tange Visiting Critic at Harvard's School of Design, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, and most recently the Graham Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He received the Gengo Matsui Prize in 2002, which is the highest recognition for structural engineering given in Japan, and the Charles Jencks Award for Theory in Practice of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2003. This spring he gave the Felix Candela lectures at the Museum of Modern Art and had an exhibition of his work at the arc en rêve centre d'architecture in Bordeaux, France. He is the author of Informal (Prestel, 2002), Number Nine (Prestel, 1998) and co-authored Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2002 with Toyo Ito (Telescoweb.com, Japan), and Unfolding with Daniel Liebeskind (NAI, 1997).

Through his provocative designs in collaboration with leading architects and artists and eloquent writings, including Informal (2002) and Number Nine: The Search for the Sigma Code (1998) Balmond has put forward a dynamic and organizational approach to structure that is informed by the sciences of complexity, non-linear organization and emergence. Recognizing that the universe is a constantly changing array of patterns (both random and regular), he also draws on ancient wisdom and non-western mathematical archetypes. Taking structure to be as much a verb as a noun—as structuring, organizing and patterning—Balmond redefines the relationship between structural engineering and architecture beyond the ethos of rationalism, efficiency and optimization, which has characterized not only high-tech design but modern architecture in general. His experimental, constructive and algorithmic methods open a rich territory for design at different scales and in different media and regimes of matter, extending the horizons of both reason and beauty. To test their capabilities he is currently designing an urban master plan for a redevelopment site in London, while at the same time experimenting with rhythmic lighting effects and the generation of music.

2006 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, Rem Koolhaas/Cecil Balmond with Arup

2006 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, Rem Koolhaas/Cecil Balmond with Arup

2002 Serpentine Gallery Pavillion, Toyo Ito/Cecil Balmond with Arup

Centre Pompidou, Metz, Architects: Jean de Gastines with Shigeru Ban and Philip Gumuchdjian; Engineers: Arup