Shigeru Ban, Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre (2017), Shizuoka, Japan. Photo by Hiroyuki Hirai.

Frieze Academy, a growing part of the multi-faceted publishing+artfairs operation that lends its name to London’s busiest art week, staged its third annual architecture conference on Tuesday.

Exploring the relationship between architecture and art, an eager audience heard leading practitioners who have created significant art spaces, all cleverly emceed by design specialist Alice Rawsthorn. Each grappled with the big questions: the evolving function of museums, the nature of cultural buildings as public spaces, architecture’s power to affect the public realm and the cultural health of communities, its responsibilities and its limitations.

Richard Rogers, co-creator of Paris’s Pompidou Centre, reminded us how that iconic building, now 40 years old, was already alive to all the issues that concern us now. Except, perhaps, that of sustainability, which is at the heart of Shigeru Ban’s practice: neatly bookending the day, the Japanese designer of the Pompidou Centre Metz (which opened in 2010) explained why he often builds with tubes of rolled paper and other recycled and biodegradable materials.

Jamie Fobert (architect of Tate St Ives’ new extension), Ellen van Loon of OMA, artist Andrea Zittel (interrogating how we live) and architect Kulapat Yantrasast also shared their visions. In contrast to big-ego building, the latter says, “acupuncture architecture”, quasi-invisible interventions in existing structures, is ever more relevant to the west’s muddled and venerable cultural buildings. Plus his theory that world architecture is changing from Japanese cooking to Thai cooking: strictly prescriptive to more loosely inspired.

Plenty of food for thought, anyway.

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