MINUTES with Honorata Pienkowksa

Hey all! Blog22 is back with another interview!


Photo by: Sabrina Shen

This time, Blog22 has interviewed a Studio professor. And in addition, due to a friendly suggestion, we decided to embark on a spin-off series of Blog22’s traditional 22QUESTIONS called 22MINUTES. The video interview will include a written dialogue of additional questions the interviewee has answered at the end of the article for those who want to read more.

Honorata Pienkowska: How long should my answers be, actually? Just yes / no?

Anna Leung: No, no. It can be very descriptive, yeah.

HP: Okay, so you can also edit me eventually. Just make me fit into, you know, 1o minutes or 5 minutes.

AL: Well, most of the time the interview takes about 30 to 45 minutes. So it can go for a very long time.

22MINUTES began after filming 22 questions and the video went for 1 hour and 40 minutes long!! The long journey of editing the video length commenced. Therefore, it was a clear plan to give rise to 22MINUTES for video interviews.

Before you press play, please get ready and welcome Honorata Pienkowska! Professor Pienkowska has been a Studio professor and mentor to many students ranging from second years to fourth years. Not only just a Studio professor, but Professor Pienkowska also leads her own architecture firm.

Photo by: Sabrina Shen

Photo by: Sabrina Shen


Thanks for viewing the 22MINUTES for Honorata Pienkowska! Here are some additional questions, that were not in the video, but played a big part of Prof. Pienkowska’s interview:


Photo by: Sabrina Shen

AL: Who is your favourite architect?

HP: Not one favourite. No, actually there could be architects that I don’t like but they have nice projects, and there can architects that I always thought that I like very much. Originally, I thought for a long time ago that Renzo Piano was great, but now there is something that displeases me. Or new architects, they come in like Zumthor that sometimes throw me completely off. Or there are very young architects who are not famous — and maybe they’ll never be, unfortunately, or fortunately, depends on the past — that can come up with fantastic ideas or super projects. So it’s a completely open field. Anything from anywhere that is of quality —

AL: You never have a pinpoint.

HP: No there’s no architect. For example, I like very much the approach that Finnish architects take to building because of how they treat nature. At one point, I thought that Juhani Pallasmaa was sort of a mentor for me. I value his opinions. But I don’t know whether, for example, the projects that he delivers himself are my favourite, as much as the theory behind it. Sometimes what you say is not what you do. It’s very difficult to do what you say.

AL: What is an interesting event that happened in your lifetime?

HP: Interesting event. Ah, the man flew to the moon! Haha!! Which it did happen. Interesting event in my life. I mean on the scale of the universe to the world of architecture, or personal event —

AL: I think we would be interested in the personal.

HP: Well. Well, I don’t think much about my life like that. But what is interesting…I don’t know. Maybe nothing much interesting happened in my life. Well, which is not true. I thought that the fact I lived in different countries and worked in different countries was good for me, and hopefully for anybody who was affected by my presence. And I think I need to recapture it again, because I’ve been in Ottawa for a little too long. There are reasons why, and it’s fine, but now I need to start being the itinerant architect again. So living in Poland was great, living in Finland, traveling through France, living in Switzerland, and working there as well. I think that gives you a more daring approach to anything you do because you see the people can do all kinds of things and have great results. So it’s not only that one way is the right way. So it was a series of events in my life that were exciting, not one big one.

AL: Are you most productive during the day or the night?

HP: Well, during the morning, the mind is clear and I can see that I am faster with absorbing information, and I have speed with my actions and reactions. But I think I’m the most creative in the evening or at night. So a little bit of a night owl like most architects, for whether of your choice or by force of circumstances or deadlines or deliveries. I think that, yes, I’m most productive in the morning but most creative in the evening.

AL: Something about your childhood that is interesting that you want us to know about?

HP: Something interesting about childhood. Well maybe, okay, it will be again didactic. I think in general, I had a really good childhood; I had really good parents; I had a really neat family, and I only appreciated later when I learned that not everybody was so lucky. And also the fact that maybe this is for a female partly, that being a woman, a girl, I never felt — and I had an older brother, so I never felt that there was difference between us — the way my parents treated us. With one exception, he was allowed to go and have holidays with his friends at an early age, and I was not allowed. But other than that, as far as we could do in life, or our capacities, as far as our development, it was all the same. So I felt I didn’t have even have to think that there was a limit. That being a woman, I shouldn’t life something or I should not even think of becoming an architect, for example — which at the time seemed like a male profession. So that was very empowering and also really looking back I fully appreciate it because then I though it was normal.

And when you look in school, there are more girls, more women than men. But you have to remember that if you do study, then take the studies further. Don’t just treat it as a general education.

AL: What kind of music do you listen to when you have to stay up late for work?

HP: Now there are usually two types; it depends on what I’m doing. When I’m painting it is jazz. Absolutely and it could be anything of old and new. And there are days when I wan to concentrate because, you know, jazz makes you feel a little different. You almost feel like you have to have a glass of wine.

During the day, it’s classical. I love it dearly and I like listening to it. Occasionally opera. I do like it, but it’s only occasionally, yet it’s mainly Italians like Puccini. Orchestral works as well, so yes.

And solos are too intimate, I think. And they would distract me, as I will start listening too keenly to every note. So a larger picture of all kinds of instruments creating a landscape behind me or around me is what I like. So yes lots of Brahms and Mozart and Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

AL: Comedy or horror entertainment?

HP: Comedy.

AL: Comedy?

HP: Yes, I find it far more difficult to have a good comedy. I find it is difficult genre to have not silly stuff, but witty and clever and really funny. And it’s usually underrated because it’s not taken seriously. Think that it’s dramatic — where people are shouting, there’s lightning or it’s gloomy then it must be good because it’s serious. No. Actually, to do a good comedy, I think it’s very difficult. So I appreciate it when comedy amuses me and it doesn’t happen all the time.

AL: Fashion advice for future architects?

HP: Make it structural so it doesn’t fall off. Attach it well.

HP + AL: Hahaha!!



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