Five Questions for: Architectural Photographer Andrew Latreille

Andrew Latreille's THEN and NOW exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

Photographs by Andrew Latreille

Andrew Latreille

ANDREW LATREILLE SPENDS HIS DAYS BEHIND A CAMERA CAPTURING NOT JUST STUNNING ARCHITECTURE, BUT ALSO THE PROCESS OF CONSTRUCTION. The Vancouver-based photographer and GRAY contributor, who spent 15 years studying and practicing architecture in Australia, hopes his photos can aide in elevating a discussion about the link between the discipline and the built environment. “We should continue to celebrate and communicate the making process. Think back to the images of ironworkers in NYC that spoke to the aspirations of being involved in making a city and teamwork,” Latreille says. “Nothing has changed, the process of making architecture gives back to our cities and our communities.”

This year, Latreille exhibited his work at the 2018 Venice Biennale, the renowned international architecture exhibition that runs through November 25. Read on for more about the collection he presented and why it’s not full of the “typical glossy imagery of finished architecture.”

What was the first thing you said when you found out you’d be exhibiting at the 2018 Venice Biennale?

I was delighted, excited, and scared all in one moment. It’s a big stage and to exhibit there amongst other peers from around the world is a big responsibility. Whilst I had a conceptual idea of what I wanted to show, I needed to fine-tune that. In the end, it came together.

Tell us about the work you’re showing there.

The curators of the 2018 Venice Biennale asked for responses to the theme of “Freespace” with a series of statements, including: “Freespace describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself.”

My collection “THEN and NOW” is part of an exhibition curated by the European Cultural Centre titled “TIME SPACE EXISTENCE,” and shares a collection of notable architectural projects in the Pacific North West. It is not the typical glossy imagery of finished architecture. The images depict transient moments found during the making of architecture, the process, the light, and the people. It explores spirit, the human endeavor of craft, and the quality of the space.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been lucky to work with an amazing and supportive collection of architects. The exhibit includes a variety of projects, including a house designed by Measured Architecture and made by Powers Construction, University buildings by KPMB Architects, Teeple Architects, Proscenium Architecture and Interiors and Public Architecture + Communications, a residential tower by Bjarke Ingles Group with Dialog Design and Westbank Corporation and a Museum in Whitehorse by kobayashi + zedda architects.

The exhibit shows the in-process photographs at twice the scale of the finished (between 1M and 1.5M). We’ve photographed these on a medium-format camera, so the detail and quality of light are extraordinary.  You get sucked into them. The discrepancy in size places emphasis on these transient moments of process…it asks people to consider how their day-to-day spaces were made, and who made them.

Complementing the photographs is a film of the Measured Architecture-designed Rough House. We collaborated on this with the Measured and Powers teams over a four-year period. Moving image gave me the freedom to explore the passage of time and movement of light in a way the still photographs don’t.

It speaks to the energy and tension of construction in comparison to the stillness and sublime moments of the completed spaces.

Andrew Latreille
THEN: May 31, 2014 / 19:49 / 49.25°N 123.15°W / Clear / 15.4 °C ROUGH HOUSE / WE ARE HARD AT WORK Measured Architecture Powers Construction
Andrew Latreille
NOW: March 31, 2016 / 13:24 / 49.25°N 123.15°W / Clear / 17 °C ROUGH HOUSE / WE ARE HARD AT WORK Measured Architecture Powers Construction

What’s the best part of your job?

Getting up in the morning and heading off to a different location, a different piece of architecture where I get to collaborate with a different group of talented architects.

For you, what is the most exciting thing happening in the design/architecture world now? This could be local or global.

A resurgence by both international and local architects in giving back and making a difference to communities, going beyond just “the client.” Firms are more vocal about helping people understand the benefits that architecture and good design can bring to everyone it touches. This seems partially in response to society’s greater interest in understanding the who/what and why of everything…this return to an interest in craft and the origin of a product.

“The smartest thing I’ve ever done was…”

Continually follow my nose…

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