In the heat and light of the day
Momentum of LightAA in Habitation, 12 March — 11 June 2022. Exhibition design by Kéré Architecture, Graphic Design by AA Communications Studio.
A woman walks up to a building’s flat rooftop in Bobo-Dioulasso (above), the second-largest city in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The image is by Iwan Baan, one of the world’s leading architectural photographers, a restless traveller who has worked with Herzog & de Meuron, Toyo Ito, OMA and Zaha Hadid.
The picture is from Momentum of Light (Lars Müller, €75), a remarkable record of a trip Baan made with Burkinabe architect Francis Kéré, winner of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize. In his photos, Baan endeavoured to capture the way the sun’s natural light cycle shapes vernacular architecture in this landlocked country.
Traditional buildings in Burkina Faso have few openings, to protect those within from sunlight. Baan’s photographs demonstrate the contrast between the blazing outside and the dark interiors – these are homes with little artificial light. The book’s design, by Haller Brun, combines Baan’s humane images with architectural sketches and a poetic memoir by Kéré.
As Baan told Architectural Review in 2014, ‘I try to create a story of the building and … its context. It’s not just about that perfect composition.’ Nevertheless, Momentum of Light has an uncanny perfection in its cool documentation of the way people live their lives within built spaces.
Henry Miles, writer, editor, London
First published in Eye no. 103 vol. 26, 2022
Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.