Author(s): Irenee Scalbert
In Never Modern, Irenee Scalbert explores the role of narrative, history, and appropriation in the works of the London-based firm 6a Architects, whose recent projects include the South London Gallery, Raven Row, and the new fashion galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Scalbert examines the unique approach of the members of 6a, wherein they avoid style and signature in favor of what Scalbert calls a premodern sense of metis, or "flair, wisdom, forethought, subtlety of mind, deception, resourcefulness, vigilance, opportunism, varied skills, and experience." Scalbert's analysis is accompanied by a striking visual essay of archival photographs, artworks, film stills, and recent projects by the firm. In the end, Scalbert argues that like contemporary society in general, the architecture of 6a Architects is fundamentally a work of bricolage, creating art composed of various objects on hand, drawing from history and the everyday to create something new and vital.
6a architects were founded in London in 2001. The practice has developed a reputation for award winning contemporary art galleries, educational and residential projects in sensitive historic environments. Recent projects include the critically acclaimed extension to the South London Gallery (New London Architecture Award 2011 and Civic Trust Award Commendation 2012), Raven Row, contemporary art gallery in Spitalfields, east London (RIBA Award 2010) and the new Fashion Galleries at the V&A opened in May 2012 (nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2013). 6a architects won the Schelling Medal for architecture 2012.