A Passion for Collecting: Francisco Vasconcelos on his collection of issues of Detail

Do you have a favourite issue of Detail? Portuguese architect and photographer Francisco Vasconcelos particularly values the first issue from 1961. The favourite text in his Detail collection is an interview with Peter Zumthor that was published 20 years ago.

When did you first come across Detail magazine?
The first time I saw Detail magazine was in the second year of my architecture studies. My construction teacher Jorge Barros recommended abandoning images of architecture and discovering how architecture works as a building entity. Detail magazine was the reference he gave us to start our own library. I remember, as a student, looking at beautiful examples of architecture accompanied by the Up to Scale construction details.
When did you start your own collection?
I immediately followed my teacher’s advice and took out a yearly subscription in 1999. However, around 2001 I started to realize the importance of master craftsmanship in architecture, especially in the 60ties and 70ties, through the Detail 50th anniversary edition. Every successive page showed me the past history of Detail magazine, right back to the 60s. As I consider the 60s one of the most intense periods in which there was still extensive craftsmanship in architectural practice, my thought was that if this publication had come from the 60s, there must be invaluable architectural construction details by many masters in every issue, so I started acquiring them. From 2001 until 2009, I managed to find many old copies for sale using online auction platforms. Sometimes I found single issues, other times complete years, until I had managed to acquire nearly every issue of Detail from Nº1 1961 to all of the 1960ties, 70ties, 80ties and 90ties, and then the 2000ties with my subscription.
Do you have a favourite issue?
Yes, I do. Although the obvious Detail Nº1 is the jewel of my collection, my favourite issue is the one that changed my path in architecture and defined the starting principles of my master’s thesis. It is Detail 1.2001, page 25: “I Build on My Experience of the World…” – an Interview with Peter Zumthor. This piece introduced me to phenomenology in architecture. It was always by my side as I wrote my master’s thesis on “Architecture and Phenomenology”.
Overall, I can definitely argue that Detail had a profound influence on the definition of the architect, and architecture as well, that I really wanted to grow into.

Francisco c.p. Vasconcelos (*1978 in Porto) is an architect and photographer. He studied architecture and phenomenology and currently works at csxlab.org as well as BIM manager at the office NN - Arquitectura e Planeamento in Porto, Portugal. He has won several photography awards and has international exhibitions in his portfolio. He continuously works on research devoted to issues in architecture and phenomenology. Following his photographic project Multiverse, Francisco has lived, worked, researched and experienced cultural forms of “reality” in Greece, the Netherlands, Germany and Japan.

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