Will Alsop: 'His joyously surreal creations broke the laws of physics'

Shortly before he became ill, the famously wacky architect let us into his mind-boggling studio for a final interview. Our writer recalls that smoky, boozy, extraordinary afternoon – and assesses his legacy

An oval of blue sky hung on the wall at the end of Will Alsop’s studio, floating against a pink backdrop, the white paint from hastily daubed clouds dripping down the vast canvas into a smudgy indigo lake below. “It’s our latest project for a big new park in China,” said Alsop, opening a bottle of red wine and pouring two generous mid-afternoon glasses. “We want them to be able to have blue sky all the time, despite the smog, so we’re planning to suspend this enormous LED-screen canopy on stilts above a new lake.”

It was characteristically mad thinking for the architect, who has died aged 70 following a short illness. Alsop spent his career conjuring bold, cartoonish visions, all designed to bring a little surreal joy into the world – even if many of them proved too ambitious for the laws of physics, or his clients’ patience, to stand.

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