Skip navigation

Paul Shepheard

Paul Shepheard is an architect living in London.

Titles by This Author

A Story of Machines and Architecture

According to Paul Shepheard, architecture is the rearranging of the world for human purposes. Sculpture, machines, and landscapes are all architecture-every bit as much as buildings are. In his writings, Shepheard examines old assumptions about architecture and replaces the critical theory of the academic with the active theory of the architect-citizen enamored of the world around him.

Artificial Love weaves together three stories about architecture into one. The first, about machines as architecture, leads to speculations about technology and the human condition and to the assertion that machines are the sculptures of today. The second story is about the ways that architecture reflects the tribal and personal desires of those who make it. In the West, ideas of community, multiculturalism, and globalization compete furiously, leaving architecture to exist as it always has, as the past in the present. The third story features individual people experiencing their lives in the context of architecture. Here, Shepheard borrows the rhetorical device of Shakespeare's seven ages of man to propose that each person's life imitates the accumulating history of the human species. Shepheard's version of the history of humans is a technological one, in which machines become sculpture and sculpture becomes architecture. For Shepheard, our machines do not separate us from nature. Rather, our technology is our nature, and we cannot but be in harmony with nature. The change that we have wrought in the world, he says, is a wonderful and powerful thing.

Or, What is Landscape?

Paul Shepheard's previous book, What is Architecture?, was about making real, material things in the world -- landscapes, buildings, and machines. The Cultivated Wilderness is about those landscapes, and about the strategies that govern what we've done in shaping them.In the author's words, this book is about "seeing things that are too big to see." His emphasis on strategy makes landscape fundamental -- he says that every architectural move is set in a landscape. Norman England, for example, was constructed as a network of strong points, in a strategy of occupation. The eighteenth-century grid cities of the New World reflect a strategy of reason. Our current strategy is the economic exploitation of the Earth, an intricately woven blanket of commerce that covers up a multitude of other possibilities, many other ways to treat the surface of the globe -- some of which are the landscapes revealed in this book.In a series of first-person narratives, reminiscent of his last book, the author pairs six landscapes, in order of descending scale from global to local, from the seven wonders of the ancient world to the condensed destruction of World War I's Western Front. In an engaging style, Shepheard takes the reader on an odyssey through these landscapes, meeting people and seeing places. He states that now, at the end of a century in which the appropriate landscape was sought but never found, the strategy of turning the land to profit is under review -- and offers this book as his contribution to that review.

British architect and critic Paul Shepheard is a fresh new voice in current postmodern debates about the history and meaning of architecture. In this wonderfully unorthodox quasi-novelistic essay, complete with characters and dialogue (but no plot), Shepheard draws a boundary around the subject of architecture, describing its place in art and technology, its place in history, and its place in our lives now.

At a time when it is fashionable to say that architecture is everything—from philosophy to science to art to theory— Shepheard boldly and irreverently sets limits to the subject, so that we may talk about architecture for what it is. He takes strong positions, names the causes of the problems, and tells us how bad things are and how they can get better.

Along the way he marshals some unlikely but plausible witnesses who testify about the current state of architecture. Instead of the usual claims or complaints by the usual suspects, these observations are of an altogether different order. Constructed as a series of fables, many of them politically incorrect, What is Architecture? is a refreshing meditation on the options, hopes, possibilities, and failures of shelter in society.

A BIT of Artificial Love

In his writing, the architect Paul Shepheard examines old assumptions about architecture and replaces the critical theory of the academic with the active theory of the architect-citizen enamored of the world around him. In this BIT, he takes Thanksgiving Day as an opportunity to reflect on the diaspora of his family and the evolution of human emotional bonds; and, conducting a seminar, he wonders how philosophy became part of architecture.