Sarah Hobstetter (BA Hons Painting 2005)

Job Title:

Founder of Hobstetter Architecture


Painting & Printmaking


Hobstetter Architecture Studio
Izakaya Restaurant, Photo By Alison Christiana

Hobstetter Architecture Studio


Sarah Hobstetter

Interview originally produced for FLOW issue 22

What was your background before you came to GSA?
I am from San Francisco, where I currently live. My father is an architect and I remember him being interested in Mackintosh when I was young. I didn’t initially consider studying internationally and my university studies began at Brown in the US, where I took courses in philosophy and fine art. I came to GSA as a part of the exchange program from Brown with the hope of expanding the arts aspect of my education. The practice-based approach and studio culture at GSA suited me, so I transferred in and completed the remainder of my degree in the Painting department.

How did you find studying in Glasgow?

I’m from a city that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906 and rebuilt, mostly out of light frame construction. It is a place preoccupied with newness. This made the sense of history and weight in the buildings and streets of Glasgow very unusual to me. The substantial heft of the bearing masonry buildings and integration of arts across the city in the craft and detail of Victorian stonework has an animistic quality. Working in the Mackintosh Building was magical. I enjoyed the close and intellectually supportive friendships I developed with studio-mates, a few of whom I still speak with regularly, and who continue to influence my work. Since graduating in 2005 you relocated back to California where you studied Architecture.

How did you find the transition from fine art into architecture?
After graduation, I moved back to California to be close to my family and took a job doing administration and graphic design in an architecture practice. While the work I was paid to complete mostly included repetitive resume formatting, one of the younger architects noticed a collage I created for a background texture of a pamphlet cover. He pulled me aside to help after-hours designing textures for a building facade. I came to appreciate the creative side of architecture as a social art form, something that gave reason to openended making.

Could you give an insight into the type of projects you have worked on since setting up Hobstetter Architecture in 2013?
My work ranges from architecture to fine art. I am currently working on a cast brick prototype that integrates remain ashes into the concrete formula, to create new propositions for sites of remembrance. Almost all of my projects are unified by a relationship with creative culture, often through the project use or client. I recently completed a space for an experimental music venue called RS94109. We approached the project as a kind of architectural archaeography, peeling back the layers of construction to reveal patinas on the original riveted steel and brickwork and the patterns of the materials that once concealed them. I’m currently working on two homes: one for a photographer, and the other for filmmakers. In these projects view, spatial sequence, and framing become very important.

Would you say that in this way your fine art background has influenced your approach to architecture?
Some of the fundamental explorations in the discipline of painting – form and void, light, and spatial perception – serve as organising principles to my work, whether it be art or architecture. I’m currently working on programming exercises for a public sector health care project in San Francisco. The spaces are crowded and resources for the hospital are insufficient. In our design we made the decision to negotiate diffused natural light into the core of the plan and locate circulation with a relationship to the building views in order to help patients locate themselves in space. View and light can be subtle things that impact our impression of an environment, regardless of whether we are readily conscious of the architecture as noteworthy.

Hobstetter Architecture Studio

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