Architect Renzo Piano has revealed what sparked his interest in design – building sandcastles.
The Pritzker Prize–winning architect behind Paris’ Centre Pompidou London’s Shard and the new Whitney Museum building in New York City recently offered design tips on how to create the best for on the beach.
The 77-year-old Italian architect told the Guardian newspaper that his career “started” while building his first sandcastle on the shores of Genoa.
“Making things has always been a pleasure for me – happy hands, happy mind – and making sandcastles was my training in fantasy,” he said. “There is no age limit – you can enjoy making a sandcastle however old you are, although it helps to think like a child.”
Piano offered the following design tips:
Be clear about the fact that building a sandcastle is a totally useless operation. Don’t expect too much; it’s going to disappear, mainly because there’s no point making the castle too far away from the sea. A sandcastle’s relationship to water is more important than its appearance. Study the waves, then decide where to position your castle – too low on the shoreline and the sea will immediately destroy it, too high and you have no waves to flirt with. It sounds complicated but it’s simple and instinctive.
Start to dig a ditch where the waves have made the sand wet. Use your hands. Build the sand up to create the mass of the castle, which is really a little mountain with an incline of, ideally, 45°. You don’t need the ditch to be more than 30cm deep and 45cm wide, and the castle should be about 60cm tall.
Make an entrance in the ditch for the sea to enter. The magic moment is when the waves come and the ditch becomes a moat. If the castle is in a good position, you can watch the water ebbing and flowing for 10 or 15 minutes. To capture the image in your memory quickly, close your eyes when the water comes in.
Then put a little flag or anything else you can find on the sandcastle, just to make it visible to people running on the beach. Go home and don’t look back.