“It’s quite evident that you’re prepared to abandon traditional ways of sitting,” Bernard Keeffe exclaims as he collapses into a bright yellow beanbag in Norman Foster’s home. “For years,” he continues, “people have thought that if they sat down they would have to sit on a chair, but now you have demonstrated that this is not necessary!” In this lengthy 1971 interview with Lord Foster, drawn from the archives of Thames TV, Keeffe questions the practice’s early hi-tech approach to architecture in the context of a landscape in which buildings were becoming “ever more complicated.”
Visiting the Fred Olsen Boat terminal (1969) at Millwall Docks, London—often considered to be the breakout project of Foster + Partners—Keeffe questions the architect on the complexities of designing contemporary spaces for people that deal with an increasingly mechanised urban landscape: “There seems a danger that the human element, the people using it, come to be regarded as elements in the whole machinery.” Lord Foster’s response (08:05):
We’re aware of change, and we are aware of the way [the architect’s] role is changing. […] A building is about people, about upgrading a situation. […] Value for money is negated if, at the end of the day, you create a slum or something which is dull.