The Creative Space: Chris Godfrey, Principal at HBA Residential

Another creative space is here and this time we hear from Chris Godfrey, Principal for HBA Residential.

Chris is an award-winning RIBA Chartered Architect with over 22 years experience creating highly-considered spaces. A recent trip to Russia inspired him greatly and we asked him about it…chris godfrey

So Chris, what space has inspired you recently and why? 

I was in Moscow a couple of weeks ago for business and I took a moment from my schedule to visit The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Gorky Park, Moscow. I originally intended to see Takashi Murakami’s ‘Under the Radiation Falls’ exhibition, but the visit evoked a series of repeating and interrelated creative ‘tensions’ that would ultimately inspire and provoke me. 01 Garage - Photo Vasily Babourov - Copyright OMA web

Photograph by Vasily Babourov, Courtesy of OMA

Firstly, Rem Koolhas’s Netherlands-based OMA studio has designed a polycarbonate-clad contemporary gallery in Moscow’s famous park gardens. The 1928 park followed the plan of Soviet avant-garde and constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov. Remnants of a Stalin-era building mosaics, green glazed tiles and brickwork elements are retained and juxtaposed with the otherwise sleek industrial aesthetic of glass, steel, concrete and plastic; bringing colour, contrast and texture a tangible connection to the past. 

The two current exhibitions very differently explored similar themes of the historical and the contemporary, the past and the present and of complexity and contradiction so often evident in art, architecture and design.02 Garage - Photo Vasily Babourov - Copyright OMA web

Photograph by Vasily Babourov, Courtesy of OMA

Firstly, the Murakami exhibition catalogues his career-long examination and reimagining of the elements of traditional Japanese culture and painting techniques. Mixing different media and high and low culture; interlayering historical documentation, traditional techniques and motifs with Manga and hyper-cuteness to create incredibly rich, complex and truly exquisite works when appreciated first-hand. The originality and quality of the executed work was really inspiring.

However, the much smaller but, for me for resonant, exhibition ‘The Bidding for Glasnost: Sotheby’s 1988 Auction in Moscow’; particularly as I was previously unaware of the event documented: ‘ the most controversial art event of the Soviet era’.

In 1988 Sotheby’s, initiated by Simon de Pury (who’s book ‘The Auctioneer’ I had just coincidentally started to read) , staged an auction wherein about 100 lots of avant-garde and ‘unofficial’ contemporary works were offered to international collectors who had been flown in especially for the event; all watched with incredulousness by the artists themselves – many of whom had no wish to contribute their works- and the local establishment and intelligentsia whom were not permitted to participate under legislation of the time. 06 Garage - Photo Vasily Babourov - Copyright OMA web

Photograph by Vasily Babourov, Courtesy of OMA

Through the use of video footage of the entire sale, one was transported to the original venue to witness the event. The sense of the occasion and, particularly, of the contradictory agendas and ambitions was really palpable.

This was heightened within the context of the building, the notions of changed times and of the continued international nature of patronage for Art and Architecture were really striking.

Overall, I was struck by the number of recurring inter-relationships at play throughout the visit in terms of the intentional and unintentional creative themes and their relationship with my own interests and considerations.


Feature image photograph by Iwan Baan, Courtesy of OMA

About Kate Nannery

Kate is a freelance writer for Design Insider. She thinks that the beauty of design comes from great craftsmanship and has a masters degree in tea-consumption. If you would like to appear in Design Insider, please email
View all posts by Kate Nannery →