Elizabeth Hatz
Elizabeth Hatz is a practicing architect (AA Diploma/SAR/MSA), guest professor, senior lecturer and art curator, sharing time between practice, research, art production and academic positions in Sweden, Ireland, UK and Belgium. She designed Kodak Head Quarters, Gothenburg, ground buildings of Stockholm Globe Arena, and industrial buildings for Nobel Industries in Nacka (Stockholm), with Berg Architects. Her own practice shows private and public commissions, including exhibition design for Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki.

In 2021 Hatz was awarded the Architecture Prize of The Royal Scottish Academy in the RSA Annual Exhibition 2021.

She exhibited Line, Light, Locus at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, shown also in Toledo (2019). Other exhibitions include Alternative Histories Dublin (2020-21); Visions at ArkDes (April-June 2019) and at Seoul Biennale; Permanence at Färgfabriken; Recycling Space at Lund Art Hall and Describing Architecture (Dublin 2010, 2012, 2014).
In 2010 she was curator for ev+a Matters, Ireland's pre-eminent art event, with 59 artists from 14 countries in 11 venues.

Hatz evaluates PHD Practice Based Research at AHO Oslo School of Architecture and KU Leuven Ghent.

Elizabeth Hatz is on the board of Färgfabriken, that she started as Chairman of the Swedish Chapter of Architects, SAR, in 1995. She is a member of KSLA The Royal Academy of Agriculture and Forestry as well as of KRO and VAI, Ireland.

Her Jury work includes Kalmar Stortorg, Kasper Sahlin Prize as well as Nobel Centre Competition, Stockholm. External examiner positions include UCD, Oslo, Aberdeen, Sheffield, Queens, Ulster, Kingston and Ghent.
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When you were a child what did you want to be when you were older?
As a child I drew every day and would do it for hours; time disappeared and I got into a state of absolute oblivion of myself, at one with the world. My father was a painter, so it was quite a natural thing. After school I went into his studio to see what had happened on the easel. When I was a teenager, he would ask my advice, and there would be total trust in those moments, no distance. Saturdays we went to the Modern Museum in Stockholm which had some of the best modern art in Europe at that time, led by Pontus Hultén (who later went to Beaubourg) and later by Ulf Linde who was one of Sweden’s most prolific cultural characters (he reconstructed The Great Glass by Duchamps together with him for the museum). Ulf Linde was also a frequent guest at our home on Strandvägen 9. Once at around the ages of 8 and 9, my sister and I, knowing Ulf would come for dinner and that he was a famous art critic, put up a huge exhibition of our drawings and invited him for a preview after dinner. There were over 100 drawings on a very long corridor wall, and he scrutinized them attentively, then said, “This is damned good – I’ll buy the lot”. After which he became our favourite and we named a teddy bear after him!

My mother was an archaeologist and took us to all the different museums, something we really loved; her enthusiasm was contagious, it was not to “educate” us, she simply shared her passions with us. I loved art, it was part of my life from the start. However, I recall my father saying that he was not so keen that I choose that profession, as he thought it too hard. I remember it surprised and disappointed me, I couldn’t understand this – drawing was fun and easy. I was keen on theatre as well, often imitating Edit Piaf and putting on plays with my 3 older siblings in our large dining room, conveniently separated from the living room with sliding doors. In my youth I learned mime, and performed a couple of times in London during my time at the AA. My mother thought I would become a writer, as I liked writing a lot as a child, both poetry and stories. The father of a classmate was an architect, and I saw blueprints once: complex and fascinating, almost a bit frightening. Later the same friend and I played in a castle, the maintenance of which her father was responsible for. We came across a room where all the furniture was stacked into one corner and covered with cloth. I said, ‘This cannot be like this’! -I was used to living in castles and manor houses that were homes, furnished and lived in. So we stripped off the cloth and arranged all the furniture properly, as for a room to be used and lived in, in harmony with the space. I can’t remember how the grownups reacted, maybe I have repressed it!
What was your favourite subject at school?
The best subject was drawing, then Swedish/literature and gymnastics/sports, and I also liked history, nature (naturlära) and religion. The teacher read from the bible and let us draw what we wanted while she read; these were important moments. But I was a kind of tomboy, always climbing trees or anything climbable,once crossing through the structure under a bridge on the way from school with the boys -dangerous! At that time, children played a lot more outdoors than is common today. My brother was 5 years older and he let me help him build toy airplanes out of balsa wood and tissue paper, I was very keen on that too. In the French catholic high school I went to (with lay teachers and very bright French nuns), I liked literature most: Explication de Texte and Dissertation. We played theatre with the teachers, I made all the stage sets and decorations. I was exempt from art classes – my father testified he taught us himself. Meaning he gave us pens, watercolours and paper, and left us alone. He didn’t want us destroyed by school.
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Sketches Sitterwerk (Ph.© Elizabeth Hatz)
When did you realise you wanted to study architecture and become an architect?
I have told this before, so forgive the repetition. But this is how it started: I was 14 and in the city of Lund with my father, who then also worked for the Swedish Arts Council, buying art to place in public buildings. We visited both artists and architects in Lund. He wanted them to collaborate right from the start on a project. We had lunch in a medieval cellar with the architect Bernt Nyberg, who began to explain to me how the beautiful brick vaults were built. I stopped eating, completely fascinated. Bernt had an incredible charisma and passion for architecture that he easily transmitted. After the brick vaults, he took us to that striped corridor at Tetra Pak, a very long and strong room which, striped in off-white and midnight blue, had a stroboscopic, abstacted effect, in contrast to the fleshy brick cellar room. I was mesmerised, totally silenced and taken. At that time Nyberg worked with Lewerentz. At 16 I went to live in my father’s studio, going home only for dinner, and then when I was 17 I left for Copenhagen where my eldest sister lived, and started as a guest student at the Academy of Arts studying architecture.
What was your educational path?
At the Academy in Copenhagen it was hard to work and study at the same time, and I could not get a grant as a guest student, so I moved to Montpellier in the south of France. The course was no good, a smorgasbord of subjects but no project teaching. A Dutch sculptor, Tjerd Alkema, who taught at the school said that I wasted my talent there and that I ought to go to the AA in London. So, after checking out other schools, I went to the AA. But I had to work in a hospital in Stockholm for the rest of the year to earn enough to go – the AA was expensive and even more so living in London. After graduating from the AA I left for Paris to work - very hard times as it was in the middle of a recession. I did also work as an intern with Richard Meier, and in the evenings, with Peter Eisenman in NY. Eisenman’s lecture at the AA, on Schinkel and his geometries, had made a deep impression.

Over a decade later I did a postgraduate at The Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm for Professor Ove Hidemark, in building restoration. The idea was not to work in that field necessarily, but to learn about existing buildings and long tested techniques and use this in new projects. It is one of the more rewarding things I have done, ever.
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Three-window axis relation, Permanence Artefact, 2002–2004, Graphite on card, 341 × 213 × 37 mm (Ph.© Gunnar Smoliansky)
How do you remember yourself as an architecture student?
I was curious, sometimes quite lost - and fiercely defensive in reviews, as I remember it. But no surprise, as the reviews were incredibly tough. Long afterwards I have realised how sexist that education really was and how hard it was to be taken seriously as a very young and at the time not too bad looking female.. Arriving in London I was only 18, immature and quite childish, but fearless and determined, very interested in the lectures and loyal to my best teachers. London itself too, far less flashy than today and still remembering the 2nd world war it seemed, was a good learning laboratory. My portfolio was reviewed at the examination by Richard Rogers; the teachers presented the work while the students had to wait around, most of the time in the bar! I have never had as much whiskey in my life, and still I did not get drunk, nervousness must have consumed it all. I passed and felt euphoric. Rogers had said there was strength in the drawings and thoughts, but also pretension. It affected me at the time, and I was a bit resentful towards the system that insisted so much on the visual effects and did not give much guidance to construction. But that criticism gave me strength and desire to build. I enjoyed when James Sterling gave a lecture, bringing us back down to earth. And I loved Peter Smithson. But also, Sir John Summerson and his lectures on Soane and Joseph Rykwert’s unforgettable lectures on cities. The social life was also intense, and I organised fancy dress parties and got engaged in the AA Council to help keep Alvin Boyarsky in office.

A friendship developed with him and his wife Elizabeth. He would send people over to Stockholm and I would put them up in my apartment: Rodriguez Perez de Arche, Helene Binet and others. In return Alvin kept sending me the nice AA publications. The AA made you tolerant and open: we would have lively arguments – and still be good friends. Zaha Hadid who was a bit older but in the same year and totally the opposite to me, still remained a friend for 44 years, despite our disagreements. That was a unique thing that formed many of us at that time. We were living in a London that was a lot more run down than today and with students from all social classes, very different to the exclusive AA of today.
Who were the most influential people in your architectural education and why?
Bernt Nyberg was influential from the start, and his complex understanding of building developed through his relationship with Lewerentz. He had an equilibristic attitude to building and structure, similar to that of Lewerentz, but slightly more complicated. He shared, I guess, the complexity of the older Lewerentz and embraced both his shy authority and sparse language. Like Lewerentz, Bernt conveyed the importance of being on site and knowing the crafts. I was very young, just 17, but hired by one of the architects in Bernt’s office as a bricklayer to build a chimney at a farm in Scania. It was a great experience of acquiring tacit knowledge, through hand and eye. At the AA the most important teachers for me were definitely Robin Evans and Fred Scott. Their impact was fundamental. I still grieve Robin’s premature death as a terrible loss for architecture. Architecture as a culture of continuity, with a deep link to human occasion, was something that resonated with my own relation to the subject already when I was young. Robin Evan’s way of teaching was unique: he would analyse a 15th century house with the same inquisitive mind and eye as he would a modernist icon.

Both his architectural intellect and sensuous imagination were extremely inspiring. I think the most important thing was that he made me see. His language was vivid and clear. The collection of his essays that came out after his death, Translation from Drawing to Building and other essays, has been with me in my own teaching all these years. The plan as an instrument for imagining and allowing different lives and encounters, spatial politics, architecture born in drawing and drawing born in observation. His other book, The Projective Cast is a masterpiece and goes deep into the bones of architectural skill and thinking, through the scope of geometry and its interaction with imagination, intuition and drawing. Yes, Bob is gone but still very present – and I have stayed in touch with Fred who has been over to Ireland and my students there several times. He remains a very good friend and important influence. His book On Altering Architecture has been on our reading list every year for the past 7 years or so, in my courses in Ireland and also in Sweden. It is a wonderful book – in fact two books in one with all the notes, packed with side views and additional knowledge that constantly widens the scope.…and since I am interested in the continuing alteration and re-reading of the existing, as a creative field, it is an important source of references.

Before Fred and Bob I had studied with Dalibor Vesely, who also had a strong influence on my reading and for forming a stand in architecture, introducing us to the complex culture of the city, pushing us to try formulate or at least imagine, a new stand and matrix, through a self-education of reading. I invited him to give a lecture in Stockholm already in the 1980’s, and we stayed in touch over the years. I have developed architectural friendships with other former students of his, like Patrick Lynch and Eric Parry. It is about an architectural culture in continuing formation.
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Plan of table-bench for display and resting, with plan and section of shed/sanctuary and superimposed, a permanent table with bench in plan and section, 1:20 (Ph.© Elizabeth Hatz)
Which architects have influenced you the most?
I am influenced by Egyptian and early Sumerian constructions and artefacts. Doubtless, I was also influenced by the architecture I experienced growing up: old buildings with layers of history, both manor houses and simple rural sheds. I was influenced by the art we had at home: 13th - 14th century Italian art in reproductions, like Giotto, Duccio, Lorenzetti, and art works in prints and paintings like Picasso, Miro, Henri Hayden, Leger, Roualt, Munch, Pierre Olofsson, Torsten Rehnqvist and so on; and off course my own father’s abstract expressionism paintings. There was art everywhere. And my mother’s sculpted marble fragments from diggings in Greece and Italy. Medieval and Romanesque churches and Neolithic sites and constructions have moved me deeply, they give unequalled spatial experiences with the sites. But if we speak about named architects, then among the dead, it is Nyberg, Lewerentz, Klas Anshelm and Kahn. And for those alive, Peter Märkli and Francisco Alonso de Santos. Here I talk not only of works, but of architectural standing and culture, so the influence is maybe more in attitude to architecture, than in my actual works. For this the ancient buildings, temples as well as sheds, have always been the main influence.
How do other creative fields influence your architectural work?
I would say a great deal. Archaeology, my mother’s field, has for sure had a strong influence on my work and my formation as an architect. I seek most of my intake from archaeological sites and artefacts. I don’t know if you call it a creative field, but there is a wide range of archaeologists and some definitely are creative in their thinking. For instance Gabriel Cooney who has a deep knowledge of Neolithic Ireland and uses his creative imagination as well as his intuitive empathy when he analyses the fragments of artefacts, constructions and landscapes, in order to widen his understanding of times and lives long lost. Architecture for me is something with an outstanding longevity and it is linked to the way we understand the world, with all other living things, and the dead. I go backwards, further and further, to try to get a different perspective of our now. Art – often ancient, but also of our own time - plays a central part. In the distant cultures that I am attracted to, there isn’t the sharp distinction between art, craft and architecture. Brunelleschi was a jeweller when he entered the competition for the bronze doors of the cathedral - he lost it, went to Rome to study ancient constructions, came back and constructed the incredible dome, against all odds.

I arrived at architecture through art. Still, I find 99% of all art to be totally uninteresting. The same with most of what is built – and unfortunately also most of what is published in magazines. Then there are occasional times when I cannot resist buying an artwork that really means something to me. I bought a Michael Warren sculpture called Tempo Rubato - stolen time. He had made it out of the seat frame of an Italian chair from the 1960’s that he altered and re-shaped so it balances slightly when you touch it, rocking slowly until it regains its momentary stillness. He cast it in bronze – and I carried it on my head all the way home from the gallery in Dublin. It is magnificent. He also made a huge Tempo Rubato in wood, about 3.125 x 3.125 meters.

As Chairman of the Swedish Chapter of Architects, SAR, I was co-founder of Färgfabriken (the Paint Factory) in Stockholm, a scene for art and architecture and I am still on the board. We connect art, architecture and society around projects that otherwise would not be possible under the same roof or organisation. In 2010 I was invited to curate Ireland’s largest art show in Limerick, the ev+a Matters 2010. Hans Josephsohn was in that show (his first in Ireland), as was Michael Kane, Eva Hild, Shin Egashira, Janna Syvännoia, Peter Märkli, John Pickering, Staffan Nihlén, Stephen Rothschild and John Gerard…59 artists (and architects) from 14 countries in 11 different venues. It was one of the craziest things I have ever done, due to the exceedingly short time frame I had - and the most wonderful, thanks to the artists. Michael Kane presented 100 small paintings - Life Story - especially for this exhibition, on pages from Irish Times supplement that later went on show in Dublin and became a book, plus three large canvases of extraordinary power and beauty. When I had finished at the AA and worked in Paris for 2 years, I went to NY to work, then back to Sweden. At that stage I was a bit taken aback by work at architect’s offices, especially in Paris, that I often found strangely remote from the building act and the site, from questions of proportion and gestalt. I thought I would turn back instead (as I saw it) to what I had always felt was truly me: drawing and making things - I was even about to take over my father’s old studio space in Lund at one stage. But I still loved architecture and wanted to build. It was a very strong pull, I was really dying to build after the education at the AA, which never taught much of technology, materials or construction. I wanted to make rooms. Now, I am in a situation where the hard border between the disciplines is gradually erased, or quite irrelevant. I am a member of VAI (Visual Arts Ireland) and of KRO (The Swedish Artist’s Association). I think the practice-based research was the work that finally broke down the border.

Another field that has always been present is literature. Words can be magic in the sense that they expand your intuitive imagination. Poetry certainly can. Between the words are forms, rooms, places for me. An immaterial world that transcends the material one, connects to other structures within it. Music is important. Already as a teenager I was very taken by Gustav Mahler and also by Cream who performed in Stockholm at that time. As a student I used to cycle down to the South Bank for returned concert tickets after the AA. It was mainly classical music then, but I later developed an attraction to experimental vocal music like Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk and Laurie Andersson and also modern instrumental music like Jan Johansson who turned Swedish and Russian folk music into jazz. When I work, I often listen to Russian choirs, Gregorian songs or to classical music and I am fond of countertenors. Sardinian folk music sung by shepherds and Yoik from Lapland are also on the repertoire. Music has a role that is hard to define, but it is fuel for your thinking; and maybe even more important -a vehicle for drawing, without thinking.
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Permanent Door, Graphite on German tracing vellum (Ph. © Elizabeth Hatz)
How do you remember your first built project?
Kodak Headquarters and Laboratories outside of Gothenburg was my first large built work in Sweden, at 10500 sqm. I was 26 and a project architect working with a senior architect and a swiss engineer, plus an intern at Berg Architects. It was amazing to deal with a huge program and a site with strong landscape features. I remember every moment, every drawing, every doubt – how difficult it was to really judge scale, how I wanted large brick surfaces in the facades for the shadows to play on and to reflect light. I even re-drew the environmental engineer’s drawing for the ventilation room, to get the openings where I wanted them. Because the site was so precious, I wanted it to be hard to add to and extend the building, so I discarded an early sketch by my predecessor, with a comb structure, challenged the building rules and made it 18,5m high when the height restriction said 12. This because it needed be tall and slender (only 10,5m deep) in order to play with the dramatic site – and allow contact with the two lights: the cool northern light and the warm light in the south – and also contact with the landscape, to be able to orientate yourself when moving through the building. Doing Kodak HQ gave me massive experience in one single project, as I had to make the vital decisions myself, as designing architect. At that period, it was also possible to develop a project properly. All was hand drawn, of course, as in all my projects. I have never designed anything on a computer in my entire career.
You have been Professor/associate master at KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden) since 1999, and Associate Professor at the University of Limerick since 2006, what does teaching architecture represent to you?
This is a huge question, and a very good question, but I am not sure I can give a full answer or even a partial answer. Even so, it is of course worth a try:

I started teaching as an assistant as early as 1982.. At Berg Architects during tea time I seemed to break the pattern of conversation (mainly sailboats, tv programs, hobbies and country cottages), by talking about architecture or some exhibition that might be on – so the interns working in the office suggested me as guest critic at the school of architecture. That is how it began; I didn’t apply for a teaching position, I was asked by the students and then employed by the professors as a part time assistant. As I found practice often devoid of a deeper engagement in architectural questions, I thought education could act also as a critique of practice in order to result in better architecture. When I eventually got a professorship, it was not based on a PHD, but on my practice and pedagogic merits. I felt rooted in practice but wanted to develop it and teaching gave me another way of influencing architectural practice. It takes a very long time to have any effect. But that’s how it is with architecture. Over the 39 years I have been combining teaching and practice, I have only lately seen another architectural culture slowly unfold itself through younger practitioners. I hope to have contributed marginally to it, together with my colleagues. Teaching architecture means meeting intelligent, sensitive people, with less architectural experience than me but with other eyes and their own particular experiences and skills – and it is both an honour and an adventure each time to let the culture of architecture grow between us. I regard them as potential future colleagues. They have given me back immense inspiration, thoughts and insights. They are like a whole society of architecture, spreading over time and space. Teaching is a kind of mutual trust and that is precious.

Also, it truly is an adventure, because you do not know what you will meet, but you can be sure there is a whole world inside each student or colleague you meet. And yet, what is most important and also liberating is that what we share is outside of us – architecture and its many sister subjects. I have never been afraid of saying where I stand, that is part of the mutual trust and respect – if not, how could we meet openly?
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Elizabeth Hatz on Frank Lloyd Wright’s studies for Midway Gardens, 2020 (Ph. © Elizabeth Hatz)
You lead the Government funded “Artistic Research Within Architecture” at KTH, formerly within AKAD. Can you tell more about the “Artistic Research Within Architecture”?
This type of research is a great opportunity for architecture as I see it and it still feels like one of the most central parts of my work. I continue this process in many ways. It gives a possibility to develop and heighten the means and ways that are specific for architecture, and where it does not need to justify or measure itself through theory, technology, history or sociology. Ours is a haptic art with its own complex methods based both on intuition, skill, conventions and knowledge. There is a history of this haptic art and there are traditions. I formed two subsequent teams and the works were exposed and discussed in several exhibitions, the two main ones were at Färgfabriken and at Lund Art Hall. The first project, called Endlessness, Movement, Permanence was with Susanna Bremberg and Katarina Lundeberg exhibited at Färgfabriken and published in AKAD “Beginnings”. In “Odd models” I explored the notion of permanence through ordinary things like a chair/turned throne, a table/turned portico, a door, fixed in its opening swing etc; large drawings in graphite and artefacts cast in iron. The relation between the light axis of three windows turned into a three-dimensional impenetrable figure. In the second team “Recycling Space”, I gathered Pål Röjgård, Roger Spetz and Klas Ruin. We used the particular means characteristic for architecture; observation and speculation in drawing, model and photo, looking at sites due for change. We wanted to develop and explore methods that normally don’t exist neither in practice, nor in education, in order to try to dwell longer and look deeper, unravel more, avoid the obvious and self evident. The exhibition “Beginnings”, by AKAD at Lund Art Hall, showed some of our works on the military site of P18 in Strängnäs.
What particular aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?
It is a combination of very different things:
• contact with highly original spaces, personalities and works that prepared me for a certain indifference to trends and helped me build a level of immunity to them;
• a rural life that showed me the beauty of anonymous, real and unpretentious spaces, experiences, creatures and works, at the same time manifested the interdependence of them all;
• life in a manor house without central heating, few lamps but many candle sticks and virtually self-sufficient in food and energy that taught me the basics of life and needs, and made me sensitive to natural darkness and light and to various climates indoors as well as outdoors - fundamental for my understanding of the world and the interaction of people, plants and animals in various spaces and rooms - for me the prerequisite and foundations for architecture;
• still, in all this, realising that architecture is essentially different to us, to animals and to plants, acting as a background for all this,mute and allowing, even when sometimes monumental in its configuration;
• the experience of both ancient buildings and very modern spaces, sometimes created in existing structures, so co-existing. Old and new were never opposites in my world; • resistance of architectural form to use or cultural code, in Rossi’s sense, permanence;
• timelessness of certain qualities to do with making rooms and what I call half-rooms: these in-between spaces that are so beautifully allowing and ambiguous;
• the importance of ground, as prerequisite and as a shared floor, emanating from own experiences of rooms, cities and Italian Proto Renaissance/late medieval paintings.
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Plan and section combined, Passage at Hälleforsnäs Foundry, 2003–2004. Cast iron, 400 × 700 × 45 mm (Ph.© Gunnar Smoliansky)
Along the way, what is the best advice you have received, and is there one piece of advice in particular you would like to share with young architects and architecture students?
In a late-night conversation with Ulf Linde at Thielska Galleriet, right at the beginning of my own teaching, I asked him to come and review my students' work. It was my first cohort. I said, ‘They are good, as they are truthful to their own experience’. Ulf decided because of how I expressed this that he would do it. But I think that it was thanks to Ulf that I could say this about the students. I think the conversation with him allowed me to sense that to be truthful to your own experiences is essential and also difficult to arrive at. So, the give and take in a conversation, which is an encounter, an open ended and very attentive act, is probably also essential to developing a culture of architecture. None of this is advice, but may hint at something like it? Or instead of it?

The best advice I have received: Dare say YES. And Dare say NO. Where does this lead? Well…Trust your intuition and your experiences; don’t just follow the flow - take time instead to reflect and study by yourself. Listen to your heart. At times you may be very lonely in the way you think or see things. Hold out. Then, you can say YES. Or you can say NO.

At the end of this interview I can give you more of a direct and hands-on list of advice, facing our present predicament.
In your years of practicing and teaching architecture, which developments/ events represent the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
There have been good challenges and there have been obstacles that have been very challenging. All of these are but minor details in the scheme of things. The biggest challenge of all is how architecture can truly respond to the state the world is in with changing climate, rising levels of social injustice and the threats to the life-saving biotopes.

During my whole education and career, this has been known and for me it has been real. We knew about this already 50 years ago and even longer. Still everything just went the wrong way, not because it had to, but because we were too busy, blind, weak, cowardly, comfortable or dependent to do anything about it. Now we have no choice, as we stand in front of our last chance to act. Everything you do will have an impact in one way or another, and you need to remember that.
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Elizabeth Hatz, Line, Light, Locus, Installation at Venice Biennale "Freespace" 2018 (Ph. © Italo Rondinella)
Is there a book which is of particular importance to you as an architect?
Books act on you differently at different times I think but Robin Evans books that I talked about earlier, and Aldo Rossi’s quite enigmatic “The Architecture of the City” as well as his lovely “A Scientific Autobiography”, are still very important. “Myten om framsteget” (The Myth of Progress) by Finish philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright was in a shocking way confirming many of my own thoughts about our times and our predicament, in a very clear and revealing way. More recently “Living with The Gods” by Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, made a deep impact on me, as it revealed so many aspects of human thought and view of existence that I did not know about. It put Western traditions into a much deeper perspective – humbling and full of thought-provoking knowledge on how different cultures have handled existence and the world around them. Hannah Arendt “The Human Condition”. Peter and Alison Smithson’s “Italian Thoughts”. Texts and aphorisms by Paul Valéry have been of utmost importance to me. A text by Jean Genet about Giacometti’s atelier. And I am deeply fond of John Cage, for instance Silence and Empty Words. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is a must.
A project or building you would like to realise:
•dream 1

a building with or near water (rain, spring, stream, lake or sea), between a shed and a sanctuary, that marks a place and forms also an outside room – inside, a room of darkness, where light is delicate and where thoughts come to you without your searching for them. It is made of cast or wrought iron or recycled black concrete.

•dream 2

a large orchard and garden with a craft-based school built of rescued stone, brick and/or mud and some rescued wood and tiles. A school for practical studies and skills as well as literature, handwriting, maths & geometry, building and repairs, poetry, art, music & literature, growing and preparing food and beliefs of the different cultures throughout human history and deep studies of nature. The project is most logical as an alteration of an existing structure, like one of the numerous ruined monasteries in Ireland or elsewhere – it would be part of the curriculum to build the school, alter it and to maintain it.

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Work tables with sketch work, Sitterwerk, Switzerland (Ph. © Elizabeth Hatz)
An instance of architecture important to you:
• the cathedral of Lund when I was three and the organ was playing: stone everywhere, light grey stone licked by sunlight – and deep shadows.
• the view over the square to the railway station in Lund - and beyond to the sea, in clear weather all the way to Copenhagen; the feeling of being here and being there at the same time. An overview, from above.
• waking up at Gimmersta manor when it was minus 25 outside and dressing fast in front of the ceramic stove, then running down to the kitchen in the basement and watching the cook bake for breakfast on a large stone table. Spending half the day in the enormous cowshed where the climate was perfect, and in the greenhouses where it was too hot and very humid.
• walking through the vast spaces of the Modern Museum Stockholm in the1960’s, testing Jean Tingely’s moving sculptures and watching de Chirico’s painting The Child’s Brain.
• Bernt Nyberg’s corridor at Tetra Pak in the late1960’s, and when he showed me the medieval brick vaults.
• Klas Anshelm’s art hall in Lund 1958 – defined rooms and yet a flow of spaces where daylight constantly changes the feeling.
• Peter Märkli’s La Congiunta, changing from being a point in the valley to stretching out into a line when you approach. The clear and calm proportions of the rooms, underlined by the material presence of the rough concrete and the sculptures of Josephsohn. A light you could almost touch, sieved through the roof-lights.
• Poulavack Neolithic site in the Burren, where you felt they had walked this landscape for centuries, they knew exactly how to make it feel the centre of the world
• The Romanesque churches of Saintonge with Peter Märkli, beyond all words.
• Palladio’s Basilica in Vicenza; all come together; you are in a city, in a hall, an infrastructure, a gallery and in a building at the same time. A structure that has amalgamated existing houses and floats like an island, yet connecting directly and precisely to the surrounding city. It is magic
• Mausoleum of Theodoric outside Ravenna: the perfect singularity as figure.
• Francisco Alsonso de Santos’ community hall outside Madrid, on site for 15 years or so, being built to stand a thousand. It is an impending masterpiece.
• My son, when he was about 2,5 years old, “building” a small fragile structure beside the lake, out of very thin branches that engaged with each other, a structure that could not be inhabited or hold anything but space, and the essence of architecture itself, for a while...
A piece of art important to you:
A ceremonial libation bowl in black stone, with reliefs of goddess Hathor on the sides, from the 22nd Dynasty and the blind door of a mastaba.
Giotto’s frescoes of St Francis in Assisi – the half-rooms I fell in love with right from the beginning.
Tempo Rubato, a sculpture by Michael Warren, made out of the frame from a 1960’s Italian chair.
A relief by Hans Josephsohn – very special, precious moment of encounter, architecturally eloquent.
A personal motto / something you remind yourself:
ars longa, vita brevis


Appendix to the question: "Along the way, what is the best advice you have received, and is there one piece of advice in particular you would like to share with young architects and architecture students?"
What could we do as architects in face of the Anthropocene?

• Learn more about the very long history of human cultures
• Learn more about architecture as a cultural subject
• Learn more about the nature we are part of
• Reverse the hierarchy of imagined ”clients”:
1st. Plants, 2nd. Animals and 3rd. Humans
• Educate ourselves – read – take time look at paintings, art, architecture – find and observe rooms outdoors and indoors
• Spend more time outside and use our observational skills
• Reflect more, before and while designing
• Slow down time, take longer to do things
• Help create more darkness, which is so scarce – the world is light-polluted
• Make rooms with dignity, precious daylight and a lot of darkness
• Build for longevity; durable materials that age gracefully and that can be tended to
• Build so we take ownership and relate to the built and feel the urge to relate, maintain, care and repair
• Build so people spend more time outdoors and together
• Build for social encounters, for all ages, acknowledging cultural complexities of humans and other species
• Build robust and simple – easy to heat and to ventilate naturally: imagine no electricity at all
• Spend more time relating to what is already built – see it, value it, take care of it, alter it, learn from it
• Never use arable land to build on
• Celebrate architectural heritage, also that which is more recently built
• Always design with care for the weakest and those creatures who have no say, no voice
• Build as little as possible – meaning sometimes - not building at all

E B Hatz
umbildung carla juacaba
Permanence Portico/Table (Ph. © Elizabeth Hatz)
umbildung elizabeth hatz
Permanent Window, Graphite on German tracing vellum (Ph.© Elizabeth Hatz)
umbildung elizabeth hatz
Elements of NOTHING, Photograph, pigment prints series 1092 x 1456mm / 297 x 210mm, 2018 (Ph.© Elizabeth Hatz)
umbildung carla juacaba
Elements of NOTHING, Photograph, pigment prints series 1092 x 1456mm / 297 x 210mm, 2018 (Ph.© Elizabeth Hatz)
2020 © Umbildung