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OSA Review: Robert Jamison’s Enlightenment on Spirituality and Architecture

The Second Guest Lecture organised by OxArch, 20th October 2022

You’ve probably seen him popping up on the BBC 2- Your Home Made Perfect as he challenges clients on the preconceived notion of Western dwelling. As an ordinary global citizen in this ever-changing landscape, Robert Jamison, like millions of people, was pushed to a threshold in terms of his career when the 2008 Financial Crisis hit and again, lots of his meticulously designed projects were crushed into smithereens when the pandemic sank in its teeth.

Remained unmaterialised- One of Robert’s impressive translations of spirituality into a basement complex that was unfortunately scrapped when pandemic hit.

Despite the bleak global outlook, Robert was extraordinarily resilient as he embarked on a six-year nomadic sabbatical in 2009 to broaden his mind and savour the world.

“The difference between building and architecture is the understanding of the universe” - Buckminster Fuller

I suppose this is the adage that justified his adventures into some of the most remote and exotic parts of the world. He highlighted a mountainous region in India that allowed him to reconnect with the sense of being that bridged the separation between the mind and body. Apparently, he found eating with his bare hands, sitting on the floor and sleeping on bare, woven bed liberating as one rediscovered the intimacy of using one’s most primitive form of technology—the body. It is believed that his immersive and liberative sabbatical shaped his world view as he questioned and attempted to transform the alienating and segregating Western way of living through his new practice.

Having said that, Robert enlightened us on his own 10 Rules of Living, which I am listing out a few that captivated me (forgive me for failing to capture all ten):

  • Children do not want playrooms/ rooms for play (no one likes separation)

  • The primary furniture element for a young family is the bath

  • The primary furniture element for a growing family is the table (multipurpose, not just dining)

  • A circular route provides a boundless experience

  • The non-orthogonal will set you free

  • Life happens on the floor (furniture is not necessary)

Robert has definitely given us a few new dimensions of looking at things through a lens of his extraordinary sabbatical, I am sure we wouldn’t forget his lovely Irish accent and friendly demeanour.

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