Images courtesy Robert Hutchinson
What began as a personal exercise for Seattle-based architect Robert Hutchison, has become much more. A series of unbuilt structures, designed by Hutchison and eventually with his studio team, will be on view in Gallery4Culture through the month of May, as a part of 4Culture’s 2017-2018 exhibition season. By designing plans and in some cases, models, for eight structures in an exploration of different building typologies, Hutchison has created something sublime and enigmatic with Memory Houses: Nine Allegorical Works of Architecture. The exhibit explores the themes of memory and loss through the lens of architecture made up of models, drawings, and written narrative from Hutchison.
For Hutchison, the exhibit is deeply personal. In 2015 when his father began to experience rapid memory loss, Hutchison turned to a latent project that he and his father had started designing twenty years prior on the Eastern shore of Maryland, where Hutchison spent time in his youth, that never became realized. Starting with an existing building on the site, a house and milk house that were both built around 1700, Hutchison began to construct a story about the significance of memory that eventually yielded eight works of “allegorical” architecture. First, a winery that he designed in architecture school two decades prior, gave way to the next buildings, a chapel, and columbarium. These architectural explorations in 2015, Hutchison says, were “an attempt to continue a conversation of sorts with my father that I could no longer have otherwise.” In 2016 when his father passed away, Hutchison continued to explore his project deeper, this time bringing his studio into the fold as collaborators.
We delved deeper into the project with Hutchison to uncover more about what the process brought to him and his practice, and through that, discovered how a project affected by death turned out to really be about life.