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Travel and Inspiration: Insights from 7 Architectural Minds

Posted on July 29, 2019 by Karin • Filed under: , ,

Architecture is an interesting craft in that it relies heavily on both analytical and artistic skill. The former is honed by each project we undertake, and by meticulously checking and rechecking our work. When it comes to the creative side of what we do, nothing is more informative and enlightening than traveling to other parts of the world to see how architects have designed beautiful, innovative, and enduring structures. 

How Travel Inspires the Patriquin Architects Team

Our team at Patriquin Architects has had the good fortune to travel to some amazing destinations over the years. Where have they gone and what have they seen and learned? We asked them to share some of their experiences. 


“I love the Turku Ecumenical Art Chapel in Turku Finland, which was designed by Sanaksenaho Architects. The design sensitively responds to the natural surroundings by fitting in with the forested environment. The seemingly simplistic interior space reveals native building materials and playfully uses light and shadow as design elements.”


“Throughout my travels, I have always been fascinated by how the use of a water element enhances the feel of a space, and how people are always drawn to it. This could be a natural element, man-made, a small fountain, or a large reflecting pool. From the still glass-like surface of a reflecting pool for meditation, to the overpowering sounds of a large fountain splashing its waters for an awe-inspiring feeling, to the calming babble of a small stream, water has a wonderful way of enhancing all spaces.”


“One of the things I’ve learned from my travels is to use light to your advantage when designing buildings. It can be used as a way to accentuate architectural details and can cause the brain to create a moment where we pause in admiration and an enduring memory is formed.”


“I’ve long been inspired and fascinated by the Barcelona chair, designed by Mies Van Der Rohe and Lilly Reich. It’s well known as an embodiment of minimalism, functionality, and a sort of honesty and rigor in its use of materials. I’ve also learned about how much time and effort went into the original design back in the late 1920s, but after a visit to the Knoll factory in East Greenville, Pennsylvania, where the chairs are made, I also learned about how labor-intensive the production of just one chair is, requiring many hours of work by skilled technicians. My takeaway is that the making of elegant and functional design comes to life through thoughtful, iterative work that requires the collaboration of the designer and the builder.”


“I believe traveling enriches us by opening a myriad of unknown worlds within the one we live in. All the landmarks I have visited have taught me something new, whether it was an old construction technique, the perils of time, or just their story through their renovations and layers of change, like the chip in a metal structure showing over seven different paint colors.”


“I’ve always found that traveling outside of my normal environment offers opportunities to run into fantastic and inspiring structures. Airports and train stations are prime locations for civic-scale, exuberant structures that announce “You have ARRIVED!”; older buildings often used simple structural materials to achieve ethereal spaces; people find ways to balance and build almost anything. It is an important reminder that structure – so fundamental to construction – can also be designed to delight.”


“I spent four months during architecture school in Finland, where we bicycled every day, from classes in Alvar Aalto’s university buildings to offices in Helsinki and a studio in between. We had the opportunity to live among other students and work with architects. We learned much about Finnish culture and about its architectural history. One aspect that inspired me was the importance of the forest, its wood is traditionally used for housing and the ubiquitous saunas, but it’s the continued stewardship of the forest over generations and ever-changing technologies for the use of wood in architecture and art that captured my imagination.”

Around the World or Around the Corner…

Whether it’s being wowed by amazing architecture on a trip abroad, or looking closely at a building in our own neighborhood for the first time, observations of our built environment become resources we can draw on in our own designs. They also remind us that in our field, there is always more to learn.  

How can our team’s insights benefit your next project? Let’s talk! Please contact us at your convenience.