Alternative Histories: Clancy Moore Architects on Joseph Paxton

Clancy Moore Architects, Joseph Paxton’s group of patents, 2018. Paper, glue, 250 × 250 × 250 mm.
Sir Joseph Paxton (1803–1865), patent specification for roofing improvements, 1857. Print, 265 × 185 mm (folded). Submitted by Paxton 1850, enrolled by the Patent office 22 January 1851, printed by Eyre and Spottiswoode 1857. DMC 2694.2.7.

‘Every element of its construction speaks for itself alone.’ So wrote Gottfried Semper of the Caribbean hut he had seen in the Crystal Palace, and which he used to describe the four elements of architecture.

Paxton’s patent drawings and text describe a fragment of the roof that sheltered Semper, the hut and the Great Exhibition. This is an elemental architecture, light and beautiful in profile, its language arising from a precise consideration of rainwater, light and gravity. A description of nature in action.

We continued these considerations, including in our thinking the necessary layered thickness of contemporary construction.

– Clancy Moore Architects