'Collaboration starts at the front door': Exclusive Blueprint interview with Amanda Levete

The founder and principal of AL_A talks to Blueprint about her approach to collaboration in an exclusive video interview

Each year, Blueprint magazine speaks to two leading architects on the theme of collaboration: what does it mean to them? What role has collaboration played in the evolution of their work?

In an exclusive filmed interview, which you can watch below, we sat down with British architect Amanda Levete, founder and principal of AL_A. How does her practice approach collaboration?

‘I think for us, collaboration starts at the front door and we take off our shoes,’ Levete told Blueprint deputy editor Francesca Perry. ‘There’s something about the act of taking off your shoes — it’s a great leveller, it kind of strips away a layer. When you come into our office, the first thing you see is a somewhat messy pile of shoes and I think it’s a bit emblematic of who we are, the culture in the office — because it speaks of the team, of the individuals that make up our team, but it also speaks of a sense of common endeavour and that we’re all in this together. We ask our consultants and we ask our clients to take off their shoes too. It wasn’t a conscious thing at the time but I think the subliminal message is that you’re not in for a passive ride, we’re all in it together — and that, for me, goes to the very heart of architecture.’

But taking off shoes is, quite literally, just the first step. ‘Collaboration is a very active form of engagement,’ Levete continued. ‘It’s the opposite of being passive and to be engaged and to be active means that you challenge the status quo. We will challenge a brief, we will challenge a client, we will challenge engineers, we will challenge makers. That’s kind of in our DNA: to push limits, to explore the limits of things.’

You can watch the full interview below. Blueprint also discussed all things collaboration with US architect Liz Diller, so stay tuned for that upcoming video interview. Full transcripts of both interviews can be found in issue 367 of Blueprint, on sale in November.

Our sincere thanks goes to AL_A, as well as to Arper, who kindly provided the venue for the interviews and supported the filming.

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