Architerior interviewed South African architect and photographer Gabrielle Aquadro of @aquadro_studio and @the_idea_bank to learn more about her job and artworks.
What is your education?
I have a master’s in Architecture (MArch) from UCT in South Africa but in terms of my photography and art I have had no professional training.
Tell me a bit about your career Gabrielle?
I am currently a candidate architect, working for Daffonchio & Associate Architects. Our work ranges from bespoke pavilions and high-end residential to commercial and large scale residential complexes.
Where do you live / practice?
I am currently living and practicing my architecture in Johannesburg, South Africa; however my architectural photography allows me to do a lot of travelling so you’ll often find me in different cities chasing down my favorite buildings, art and gardens.
Describe your photographing style: angles, colours. Do you have preferences?
To, “Always look beyond the obvious,” I love capturing moments that abstract well known structures. By removing context and highlighting the unusual colours in their facades I find that these building take on a more dream-like state (A reality within a reality). My preferences change depending on what I’m shooting, but I love shooting with clear skies or completely overcast so that the textures in the sky do not compete with the forms in the foreground.
How come you started with your photographing / Instagram account?
I’ve always had a passion for photography, although my subject matter has changed over the years. I think I really took an interest in architectural photography after I developed a passion for rendering in my second year of architecture. When I design buildings I always design for spaces to become geometries which are affected my light. Spaces that can take on many forms and that can be captured in many ways depending on the viewer but yet always remain quite minimal.
I started Instagram in my final year of architecture. It started off as a documentation of my life but as I got more involved in it I realized that I looked at it more like an online gallery, a way of documenting and sharing my work, which is what I love doing.
Have you ever exhibited your photos? And can you mention a few exhibitions or moments in your career that have been important to you?
I’ve had the privilege of exhibiting my artwork many times, although the only time I’ve ever exhibited my photography was in 2013 at Architectural League Exhibition, which was held at the Centre for African Studies Gallery in Cape Town. I had my first joint art exhibition when I was 8 at the Standard Bank National Art Gallery, I exhibited there again the following year and then two years after that at the Pretoria National Art gallery; which was a real honor for me.
I think one of my turning points for my career and approach to art, architecture and design in general was when I attended the first ever Mediated Matter Lab Summit called Knotty objects held at MIT. It was an extraordinary breath of fresh air, where we could focus on the importance of re-visioning the norm in many areas with one being the importance of new material design (which is my greatest passion of all.)
What makes you want to continue to take photos?
Intrigue and passion. I love exploring cities on foot; walking up to 30kms per day (with all of my camera equipment) as there are always wonderful and unexpected moments to be found. Capturing these unexpected moments brings me the greatest joy in the world and that is why I will always continue taking photos 🙂
What are your goals regarding your photography?
I want to create an online gallery that offers a unique take on the physical world, a platform that serves as a reminder that, whilst we veer towards the universal, we need to maintain an individual take on the world. My goal is to always broaden my portfolio and share my works with those who enjoy viewing it.
Is there any photo that means extra much to you? Why?
That’s a very tough thing to decide but I think that there are about three photos which make my heart sing.
The first is this image of Versailles from 2011. It was absolutely freezing, but one of the purest moments that I have ever felt. The lighting was soft, the air crisp and the water shimmed as if it was being punctured by an undulating hexagonal lattice. I love gardens and always have but this moment struck gold for me with the beauty that is “man and it’s routine”.
The second photo was the first time that I saw Neri Oxman’s work in person. I was at the MOMA in New York last year and it was completely unexpected, there it was in the last room that I entered, as beautiful as I had imaged. It was her ‘imaginary beings’ series.
Thirdly this image taken at MIT. A hole for Steven Holl, I just found the detailed metaphor a real treat.
Can you tell me about The Idea Bank?
Of course 🙂 It’s in its beginning phase but The Idea Bank is an online open source platform harvesting ideas. The aim is to provide a platform where people can post ideas or solutions that perhaps they don’t have the means to implement. From there hopefully someone associated with the platform can get in touch with said person if their ideas are feasible they can start developing ideas further. I want to see the implementation of future thought and if there is a way of connecting puzzle pieces that is what I want to provide. If you want to submit your ideas please do so to email@example.com or #the_idea_bank or you can tag @the_idea_bank. We will of course give every submission the credit that is due.
Any other information or funny/interesting story about your photography life that you want to add?
I once spent a full day in a scuba diving kit, goggles and a snorkel in my swimming pool taking underwater shots with a friend’s go pro, I loved the results, but the people watching me try to get the right shot couldn’t stop laughing. Always be a little eccentric, it makes life fun!
Thanks so much for participating, Gabrielle!
In the following gallery you can see some of Gabrielle’s wonderful photographs. I think that her photography is amazing; so feminine and strong!