'Site Plan II', Willis Faber Building Tapestry

Willis Faber Dumas Building, Ipswich, England


Cut-pile tapestry for Norman Foster's 1975 Willis Faber Building. Regarded as a seminal work of High Tech architecture, the building, designated by English Heritage as Grade I in 1992, was designed as the country headquarters for insurance company Willis Faber & Dumas (later Willis Corroon). In 1997, Clarke and Foster had collaborated on a proposal for a structure, in the form of an illuminated tower comprised of glass rods, for the site, loosely taking its shape from the building's plan or 'footprint'. Though unexpected, this textile wall-hanging developed out of the idea of a work specific to site, and was sketched out in a series of drawings and independent paintings before it's woven resolution.

"Sir Norman Foster's magnificent Willis Faber Building in Ipswich, built 1973-1974, is recognised as an architectural landmark and a major contribution to contemporary debate on modern design in the urban landscape. The tapestry, sited at the head of the large entrance vestibule, is a recent addition to the interior and is a testament to the continuing involvement I have with this site and one of my greatest friends. Willis Faber is one of my favourite buildings in the world. In the late 70s I based a painting on it and have visited it countless times over twenty years. Being asked to make a tapestry for this central circulation space was like being invited home. I see this as a small victory in my work." - Brian, in Projects, 1998.