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AUG/SEP 2011

J Mayer H Landmark in Seville

F O L LOW Christian de Portzamparc Concert Hall in Rio de Janeiro

ME X-TU Architects Jeongok Prehistory Museum

OU T SelgasCano Skate Park in Mérida

S I DE Europe € 19.95 UK £ 14 Japan ¥ 3.990 Korea 40.000 WON Canada $ 29.50 USA $ 19.95

PLAN Mark #33 - August/September 11

OFL, Rabatanalab, SAQ, Patkau, MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller, BIG, Hugo Kaici, Felix de Montesquiou, Zaha Hadid, Orange, Acme, Edit!, UGO, Erik Giudice, SUS&HI Office, Calcagno Littardi, OFF, MVRDV, Mauro Turin, Dellekamp, HIP, Sid Lee, Régis Côté & Associés, TN PLUS, Beckmann N’Thépé, L.E.FT, Vladimir Djurovic, Oppenheim, Design LLP, ctrl+n, Pivot, O-S, Office of Landscape Morphology, Arhimetrics, Enota, MA2, OMA, MetamorphOse, Hans van Heeswijk, 24° Studio, Reza Aliabadi

Cross Section O3O

View point O7O 003

Notice Board O1 4 BCHO Architects Seoul 032 Alphaville Osaka 034 Emmanuelle Moureaux Shimura 036 BE-FUN Design Tokyo 038 King Roselli Architetti Milan 040 Obermoser Gaislachkogel 042 Chan-joong Kim + Taek Hong Seoul 044 Sarah Greenwood 047 Suppose Design Shizuoka 048 BNKR Arquitectura Acapulco 050 Theo Deutinger 052 MIAS Architects Barcelona 054 Mejiro Studio Tokyo 056 Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier Sapporo 058 Muir Mendes Melbourne 060 Malik Architecture Mumbai 062 Hofman Dujardin Geldrop 064 X-Ten Architecture Los Angeles 066 Subarquitectura Elda 069

Stéphane Maupin Paris 072 Stéphane Maupin incorporates robots, science fiction and Japanese comic-book heroes into his work. Kazunori Fujimoto Fukuyama 086 Kazunori Fujimoto exploits the restrained aesthetics of concrete.



X-TU Architects Jeongok 100 The Jeongok Prehistory Museum transports visitors back to the Stone Age. SelgasCano Mérida 114 SelgasCano created a luminous outlet for youthful exuberance in Spanish Mérida. J. Mayer H. Seville 122 Jürgen Mayer H realized an immense wooden canopy in the heart of the Spanish city of Seville.

Long Section O98

Larry Gainen New York 134 Lawyer Larry Gainen recalls some ‘architectural’ horror stories from his legal practice. Takeshi Hosaka Architects Tokyo 138 Takeshi Hosaka designed a house for two people, two cats, the sun, the rain and the wind. Ikimono Architects Takasaki 148 The new office of architect Takashi Fujino is an interior landscape under a glass roof. Yukiko Nadamoto Yoichi 158 Yukiko Nadamoto used urban models in the design of her most recently completed house in Hokkaido. Letter from Sheffield 166 Steve Parnell reports from the UK’s greenest city. Christian de Portzamparc Rio de Janeiro 174 Christian de Portzamparc admits his concert hall in Rio looks very Brazilian, but it wasn’t on purpose. Niccolò Baldassini Paris 184 Structural engineer Niccolò Baldassini of RFR offers a glimpse behind the scenes of buildings designed by Frank Gehry, Tom Mayne and Renzo Piano.

Ser vice Area 192 005


Momoyo Kaijima Tokyo 194 Rupert Soar Nottingham 200 Studio Dror New York 206 Exit 224


Erik Giudice Architects Shops, offices and exhibition spaces 018

Zaha Hadid Architects Shops and offices 017



Orange Architects Housing 017

No t i ce Boa r d 015

Nuovo Palazzo Della Provincia di Bolzano Bolanzo/Italy Administration building OFL Architecture and Rabatanalab Design competition entry Rendering by Franceso Lipari

Goldring Centre Toronto/Canada Sports complex for the University of Toronto Patkau Architects and MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects Expected completion 2015 Bikini Berlin Berlin/Germany Master plan with retail, hotel and office space SAQ Architects Expected completion 2012 A Mosque for All Tirana/Albania Mosque, Islamic cultural centre and museum of religious harmony BIG Design proposal



NEMO Calais/France Building for the fictional Northern Europe Migrants Organisation Hugo Kaici and Felix de Montesquiou Graduation project

'The volumes coalesce to create a world of continuous mutual adaptions'

Galaxy Soho Beijing/China Commercial complex with office and retail space Zaha Hadid Architects Design proposal Expected completion 2012

The Cube Beirut/Lebanon Apartment tower Orange Architects Design proposal Expected completion 2014


Energy Plant Leeds/UK District energy plant Acme Expected completion 2014

Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Terminal Shenzhen/China Terminal building with border-control facility Edit! Design competition entry

Barcelona Rock Barcelona/Spain Tower and hostel complex UGO Architecture Design competition entry

Beton Hala Waterfront Belgrade/Serbia Cultural and commercial waterfront development Erik Giudice Architects Design competition entry


Monument for Lukiskes Plaza Vilnius/Lithuania Monument dedicated to Lithuanian freedom fighters SUS&HI Office and Calcagno Littardi A.A. Expected completion undisclosed


Parco Solar South Calabria/Italy Viaduct with housing, commercial and social facilities OFF Architecture Design proposal

CCAM Hangzhou/China China Comic and Animation Museum MVRDV Design competition entry

House 4x Saint-Sulpice/Switzerland Private residence Mauro Turin Architectes Design competition entry, second prize

CafĂŠ and Lookout Point Guadalajara/Mexico CafĂŠ with viewing platform in the Parque Mirador Independencia Dellekamp Arquitectos Expected completion 2011


Tripode Trois-Rivières/Canada Open-air amphitheatre Sid Lee Architecture and Régis Côté & Associés Design competition entry, finalist

North Central Community Recreation Centre Edmonton/Canada Recreation centre and field house MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects and HIP Architects Design proposal Expected completion 2012 Rendering by CICADA Design Inc.

Zoo Saint Petersburg/Russia New zoo for the Primorskiy district TN PLUS Landscape Designers and Beckmann N’Thépé Architects Expected completion 2014 Rendering by Artefactorylab

Exhibition Centre Beirut/Lebanon Exhibition centre and series of landscaped gardens L.E.FT and Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture Expected completion 2011



Wadi Rum Resort Wadi Rum, Jordan / Resort hotel / Oppenheim Architecture and Design LLP / Expected completion 2014 / www.oppenoffice. com / Renderings by Luxigon

Notodden Book & Blues House Notodden/Norway Cultural complex for the Notodden Blues Festival ctrl+n arkitektur and Pivot design Design competition entry

'The modest height of the building is sensitive to its context'

Cultural Centre Saint-Germain-lèsArpajon/France Cultural centre with multimedia library and conservatory for music and dance O-S Architects and Office of Landscape Morphology Expected completion 2013


Wadi Rum Resort Wadi Rum/Jordan Resort hotel Oppenheim Architecture and Design LLP Expected completion 2014 Rendering by Luxigon

Herman’s Square Celje/Slovenia Residential and office building Arhimetrics and Enota Design competition entry, first prize Expected completion 2013

Valiant Forces Seoul/South Korea Urban sports and entertainment stadium MA2 Design proposal

'The dynamic curving exterior body is intended to have poly-operational purposes' Chu Hai College Campus Hong Kong/China Chu Hai college campus OMA Design competition entry, first prize Expected completion 2013

Floating Stage Miami/USA Marine stadium and floating stage MA2 Design proposal



Synapse Brussels/Belgium Courthouse MetamorphOse Design competition entry

Meandering Tower House Amsterdam/Netherlands Residence Hans van Heeswijk Architects Design competition entry

Fog Cinema Moscow/Russia Façade for the Pushkinsky Cinema 24° Studio Design competition entry

Primitive Future Nunavut/Canada A vertical cave as residential retreat and refuge Reza Aliabadi (rzlbd) Design competition entry


Mark x West

Lever Handle no. 146 features the conical form of a morizuna.



Timeless serenity

The morizuna signifies a landmark for the descent of a god, while white sand signifies the purification of a place.

When visiting ancient shrines in Japan, you will sometimes notice white sand symbolically formed into a conical shape. This is known as a morizuna and signifies a landmark for the descent of a god, while the white sand signifies the purification of a place. In other words, a morizuna is a symbol that expresses the spirit of hospitality when welcoming an important person. For about 20 years now, WEST has considered it necessary to create an architectural hardware range possessing authentic values, to which people will become strongly attached and desire to continue using in the long term: ‘Hardware comprising a spirit of hospitality that always welcomes you warmly, gently, and modestly.’ Embodying this concept of the WEST brand, the first Agaho series was created in 1992. Agaho includes one of WEST’s bestselling models, Lever Handle no. 146, which features the conical form of a morizuna and has won the iF Gold Award in 2008. Moreover, the Agaho series and the following Agaho S-line series are not limited to lever handles. One of their attractions is that lever handles may be selected together with cabinet knobs, 025

towel rails and so on – all based on a common design concept. A medium-size manufacturer based in Osaka, Japan, WEST is a family-owned company that was founded by Asajiro Nishi in 1933. The company name is derived from the name of the founding family, Nishi, which literally translates into English as ‘west’. The letters ‘inx’ (which are part of the company’s official name: WEST inx) allude to two words starting with ‘in’ – ‘innovative’ and ‘inspiring’ – which express WEST’s ideals; the final letter, ‘x’, shows that these the two previous words are synergistically joined. WEST’s ideals originate in the desire to continue creating innovative products and, in so doing, to manifest a presence that may inspire architects and interior designers to create opulent living spaces. Furthermore, WEST’s current trademark – a modified letter W that imitates the tip of a bit key – shows that the company’s roots lie in the manufacture of locks and cylinders. This trademark implies that these products contain a ‘key’ to achieving opulent living spaces. Without a doubt, the most important requirement for manufacturing locks and cylinders is

reliability. The trademark W may be taken as a guarantee of trust; in fact, most major house builders and door manufacturers in Japan use WEST hardware as standard equipment. In 2010, WEST launched a promotional campaign aimed at the European market. The products involved have already reached some areas, and the company has plans to expand to others in the near future. Soon you may be encountering the WEST trademark more than ever. Give WEST a try – and feel the difference!


Mark x Ebony and Co

Choosing logs at the logging yard.

Checking stock numbers at the lumber mill.

After spending many years involved in mass-market wood flooring, Liam Hennessy set out to create a niche business that would offer a truly unique product and service. ‘No matter where in the world I was sourcing product from, I had never come across anything that really caught my attention, something that could become a product of quality and luxury. This was something the wood flooring market was missing in my opinion. ‘Whilst wide-plank flooring was nothing new, and dated back centuries, readily available flooring above 6” (15.2 cm) was very difficult to find. I recall one large company boasting of their wideboard flooring being 5” (12.7 cm) wide and 6’ (182.8 cm) long. But the designers I 026

spoke with kept asking whether there was anything else out there.’ On a trip to New York in 1999, Liam came across a small mill selling wide-plank flooring. Boards were up to 20” (50.8 cm) in width, with long lengths and remarkable stability. ‘At first I could not believe this was possible; I had never seen anything quite like it. They even stated that their flooring could be installed over underfloor heating!’ Impressed by what he saw, Liam took on the idea to enhance the product and market it in a different fashion. ‘I remember a photo I saw at the time, depicting an old woman in a rocking chair, set on a floor of 20”-wide pine boards. I knew we could do something a little more special.’ Later that year, Liam and his business partners purchased the mill and


began to build what is now a worldwide brand doing just that. Liam remembers that, at the time, the wood-flooring industry was infamous for both low standards of product and poor quality of service and installation. Ebony and Co was established with just such inadequacies in mind. ‘I wanted to create something that was far away from this perception of the wood-flooring business. As a result we work to the motto “Under promise and over deliver”. Although what we can do is not always easy to portray in the showroom at point of sale, I have become immensely proud of the reputation that we have built up over the years.’ Liam laughs as he says, ‘My business partners often have to remind me that we are in business to make a profit, as

Raising the wide-plank floor to a new level

American white ash, limed natural oil.

oftentimes the happiness of the client is more important to me. I love what we create for our clients and get great pleasure from seeing their delight at the results we achieve for them. Many have become good friends – and all the people we’ve served are our greatest referrals’. Ebony and Co is now a decade old. In the words of Liam Hennessey: ‘It never ceases to amaze me when I see the standard of projects we have had the opportunity to work on around the world. We may not have invented the wide-plank floor, but I like to think that we raised it to a new level of quality and luxury. Most importantly, our clients seem to appreciate our contributions.’ Liam Hennessy of Ebony and Co. 027


Mark x Abet Laminati Vijver- en Tuincentrum Pelckmans, Turnhout, Belgium, by AIM - Architects in Motion/Arch. Bart Janssens.

A school in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, by Ector Hoogstad Architects.

The BIC Building in Brescia, Italy, by Arch. Luciano Grugni.



Customization with MEG The Triennale in Incheon, Korea, by Atelier Mendini.

MEG is a self-supporting high pressure laminate (HPL) with excellent technical properties. Durable material, fade resistant and water-proof, MEG from ABET LAMINATI offers users an ideal alternative to traditional external cladding systems. MEG (Material Exterior Grade) is particularly well suited for the creation of ventilated façades, but it can also be used for the production of street furniture and can be customized to satisfy the most varied aesthetic requirements. For special installations, personalized designs can be achieved both with silk-screen printing of the decorative layer of the MEG panel and 029

with digital printing technology, which enables the rendering of very fine textures and special shading – even when the desired result is an extremely complex pattern. ABET LAMINATI began to produce MEG panels in 1985 and today MEG is a very important product for ABET LAMINATI. Many examples of projects featuring MEG can be found all over the world; among ABET LAMINATI’s more recent major projects is the Triennale in Incheon, Korea, a building designed by Atelier Mendini of Milan and realized using ABET laminates – just one of the remarkably representative expressions of MEG technology.

This year, the wide range of MEG decors has been enriched to celebrate the launch of the new 2011>2014 ABET LAMINATI Collection. The Standard version is now available in Black also, and four new Wood options are in catalogue. A brand-new MEG Basic in a special Base finish completes a proposal which includes Concrete and Metal versions as well.


Alphaville House 034

BNKR Arquitectura Chapel 050



Suppose Design House 046

Cr os s Sec t i on Mias Architects Office 054 031

Byoung Soo Cho crafts a tower layer by layer

The design concept was a tree trunk.




Text Jinyoung Lim Photos Yong-kwan Kim Against the traditional background of the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, an office building known as ‘Twin Tree Towers’ rises at an intersection that unites the trendy lanes of Insadong with the urban streets adjacent to Gwangwhamun Square. ‘I wanted the building to reflect the strong lines that mark the site – the contours of the topography, the urban structure, the flow of vehicles and people. My aim was an organic form,’ says architect Byoung Soo Cho, who envisioned a tall building with a sense of volume and a distinct connection to its physical context. He pursued the notion of the weathered trunk of a birch tree, with a ‘rougher’ texture than most modern office buildings: 033

skyscrapers flashing the sleek glass curtain walls so popular among today’s architects. To get the kind of textural relief he was after, Cho experimented with models. ‘For this model,’ he says of the design he ultimately selected, ‘I cut out pieces of acrylic resin to articulate the unusual shape. As I worked, I separated each floor into six horizontal sections, which I linked together with a glass curtain wall that splits the sections and follows the curve of the structure.’ The fluid form appears to alter the orientation and position of the glass as it curves; as you walk around the building, light and reflections playing on the façade change your perception of the surface from every angle. Most interesting is the way the six two-dimensional sections that make up

each storey combine to create the threedimensional curves of the building. The low-tech method used to execute the complex organic shape complied with the brief in two ways, responding to both the need for a rental property where efficiency and profit ratios are top priorities and the desire for an iconic building suitable for the location. Thanks to the architect’s involvement in the construction process, the team was able to confront and resolve each design-related problem as it arose. Cho’s contribution to the Seoul skyline demonstrates his approach to largescale architectural design: contemporary craftsmanship supported by extensive experimentation.



Exploded isometric.




Alphaville rests a roof on a hill

Text Masaaki Takahashi Photos Kai Nakamura What is interesting about this house is the structure of the roof, with its two long, glazed, diagonal slits. The house was designed by Kyoto-based Alphaville, an architecture practice consisting of Kentarou Takeguchi and Asako Yamamoto. ‘When we saw the site for the first time,’ says Takeguchi, ‘we were greatly impressed by the gentle slope and, in the distance, the city of Osaka blanketed in haze. We decided to design a simple building that would do nothing to spoil that view. What we envisioned was a roof on the hillside.’ The base of the house, which features a series of stepped plateaus, supports a steel frame on a 3-x-3-m grid. The grid dictates the position of the walls that enclose the bedrooms and the bathroom. Dining room, living room and tatami room form a single open space. The sloping roof is made up of triangular, corrugated-steel panels, terraced like a row of mountain peaks. Incorporated into the panels are two elongated skylights that extend along the diagonals of the grid and draw daylight into the house. The sense of spaciousness and calm that permeates the living area is generated by the presence of steel beams, sloping triangular roof panels and bands of natural light; the result can be compared to sheltering beneath the branches of a tree – in this case, an artificial tree. Because the immediate surroundings are visually distracting, the architects kept windows on all but one side of the house to a minimum, while providing exterior walls with small openings for ventilation.

Sectional perspective.





Emmanuelle Moureaux injects a bit of colour into banking

Text Cathelijne Nuijsink Photos Nacasa & Partners ‘Most banks don't think about the comfort of their clients,’ says Tokyobased French architect Emmanuelle Moureaux. Sugamo Shinkin Bank has a different attitude, however, and Moureaux responded to the company slogan – ‘we take pleasure in serving happy customers’ – by realizing a building that doesn't look at all like a financial institution. ‘This branch invites people living in the neighbourhood to use the building as a relaxing place to meet, like a public park,’ explains Moureaux. Choosing the close relationship between nature and colour as a theme, she provided the bank with a joyful new 036

image. Exterior tiers in 12 colours, stacked and jutting at various distances from the façade, welcome visitors. By applying colour only to the underside of each tier, the architect created an effect – most evident to people looking up – of hues blending together while contrasting with the white of the walls. ‘I imagined the façade as a colourful millefeuille – a “cake with a thousand leaves” – piled up to the sky,’ says Moureaux. ‘The top layers are gradations of blue, the highest layer being the palest. It looks as if the building gently disappears into the sky.’ Three elliptical skylights inside the building also direct the visitor’s gaze upwards and, at the same time, bathe the interior in a soft light. ‘Those openings allow the building to breathe and make


the interiors feel open and airy. Colours add emotion to the space.’


Be-Fun Design takes the great outdoors indoors



First floor.

Ground floor.



Long Section.

Text Masaaki Takahashi Photos Hirai Hiroyuki In Japanese cities we find what are known locally as Hatazao-shikichi or ‘flagpole sites’: plots set back from the road yet connected to it via narrow paths. These came about as a result of the complicated land ownership laws in Japan. Although the price of such land is lower than that of land used for more conventional housing, the flagpole site – away from the street and often deprived of sunlight – has less appeal. Architect Tsuyoshi Shindo of BE-FUN Design, however, recommended one such location to his clients, a couple in their forties. The site came with conditions of the type that often apply to awkward Tokyo plots. Limited to the design of a timber construction, Shindo opted for a traditional wood frame and, to create the unusual form of the house, used steel sparingly. He managed to satisfy the legal requirements involved in building on this particular site, including setback regulations on the north side, while fulfilling the wishes of his clients. ‘The couple like outdoor sports and wanted an open atmosphere in the house, with a strong connection to the outdoors,’ says Shindo. ‘They even put up a tent inside to enjoy a sense of freedom.’ At the centre of the house, a mountain-like swell is defined by a hollow column that rises through the roof and accommodates a rock-climbing practice wall. Light permeates the lower levels through a series of skylights and a strip of glass in the living-room floor. Even if the house were to be completely enclosed by other buildings in the future, this box-ina-box construction ensures that its sense of openness and naturally lit spaces will not be lost. 039



King Roselli Architetti wraps up a hotel

Text Monica Zerboni Photos Santi Caleca Rome-based architects Jeremy King and Riccardo Roselli (K&R) designed the new Sheraton Hotel at Milan’s Malpensa Airport. Despite the enormity of the structure – the hotel is 420 m long, 64 m wide and 21 m high – the architects say it ‘was conceived as a “design object”: partly because Milan is the Italian capital of design and partly because we were interested in investigating the technical and architectural properties of a skin that forms both façade and roof’. The skin – a seamless shell that smoothly wraps the entire building – is the result of research into materials as diverse as titanium-zinc sheet and 040

Corian. Rejecting those two options, as well as a list of others, K&R opted for pultruded fibreglass, which can be used to make panels up to 25 m in length. Apart from its capacity to span great lengths, pultruded fibreglass is lightweight, elastic, stable in extreme temperatures, fireproof and waterproof. According to the architects: ‘Reduced costs and construction times coupled with the qualities and aesthetics of the material were important in achieving the desired result.’ The 436-room hotel comprises seven ‘units’ that are separated by bays and courtyards. Public areas face the airport, while bedrooms look out on courtyards that provide occupants with the desired level of privacy. The west



façade features an irregular sequence of solids and voids that give the building the appearance of a bar code. Articulating the solids are thick, sculptural, PVC blackout curtains, which lend both depth and movement to this side of the building. Various factors – airport activity, tension between solid and void, a play of curve and linearity, the shifting of light and shadow – combine to provide contrasting vistas and sightlines, while adding a spirited dynamic to the architecture of a hotel of mammoth proportions.




Photo Markus Bstieler

Photo Markus Bstieler

Photo Albin Niederstrasser




Obermoser merges with the mountain

Text Peter Dykes On the Gaislachkogel, a 3056-m-high mountain in the Austrian Alps, Obermoser Architects have built three cable-car stations, each at a different altitude. Their smooth, reflective, monolithic shapes recall glaciers or ice floes. ‘Traditional cable-car stations are disconnected from the outside,’ says Johann Obermoser. ‘We wanted the structures to emerge as load-bearing skeletons clad with translucent plastic skin. This transparency allows the built volumes to merge with their environment.’ Building in such a remote and harsh environment required careful 043

consideration. The stations were designed and constructed using the lightest materials possible, to minimize the environmental impact of transporting them to the top of the mountain. The need for light materials was particularly pronounced in the construction of the highest station, which perches on the very top of the Gaislachkogel. ‘Comprehensive technical arrangements had to be made to counteract the extreme conditions of the site in the long term,’ says Obermoser. ‘The structure is supported by 23 individual hydraulically adjustable foundations that are continuously ventilated to preserve the existing permafrost and to maintain architectural stability for decades to come.’

As the architects had hoped, all three stations seem to fit into their respective environments. There is a sense of progression from the crowded functionality, concrete and melting snow of the base camp to the serene curvilinear enclosure anchored to the pristine summit.



Chan-joong Kim and Taek Hong house Paul Smith




Text Jinyoung Lim Photos Yong-kwan Kim Critical to the design of the first Paul Smith flagship store in Asia was the creation of a strong identity for the brand. The setting for the store – a location marked by narrow alleys and a jumble of telephone poles and power lines – is Seoul’s trendy Dosan Park, a formerly residential neighbourhood in the district of Gangnam-gu. Korean architects Chang-joong Kim (Kyung Hee University) and Taek Hong (System Lab) focused on one facet of the famous fashion designer’s appeal, which they call ‘diversity of interpretation’. Inspired by the concept, they came up with a 045

large white volume with a bulging façade and rakish roof. ‘When the identity of a building is determined by one colour,’ says Kim, ‘some of the building’s other qualities become less significant. Unlike colours already associated with the brand, white makes this building open to interpretation.’ The ambiguity of the shape and the frame emerged from a practical need to maximize the store’s dimensions. The architects countered the shop’s limited floor space by designing a curved concrete shell that expands the shop interior as much as possible. Instead of using the curves to make a large groundfloor entrance area, however, they gave the first floor a protruding wall that

provides the upper half of the store with extra space. A staircase winds its way to the very top of the tapering form, where the building more obviously begins to resemble a house. Offices and executive spaces lie just under the apex of the roof. The architects realized the full potential of the sleek concrete form by testing its curved surfaces with a CNCcut mould made of Styrofoam. Their experimentation helped to keep costs low and to speed up construction. The building’s stylish design and brilliant white exterior are a good match for the Paul Smith brand. Resembling an inflated marshmallow, the new shop is charmingly simple, while creating a pleasant contrast to its rather chaotic surroundings.



Suppose Design plants a house in a mound of earth Text Cathelijne Nuijsink Photos Toshiyuki Yano Those blue columns make the house look like a spider. Can you explain the design? Makoto Tanijiri (Suppose Design): Because the lower floor is inside a mound of earth, we used a reinforced-concrete frame for that part of the house. The upper section has a steel frame. The space between the lower floor and the roof is intended to have a multifunctional sense of flexibility. We didn’t design a living room, as we wanted the experience of ‘living’ to emerge naturally from and within this versatile space. Why is part of the house inside a small hill? We wanted to create an experientially rich environment. The upper part of the house has the open feel of the outdoors. In contrast, the lower floor is cosy and relaxing. Excavating the site allowed us to create a mound with the soil we dug up. Usually, building a house means transporting materials, which takes quite a bit of energy. In this case, we reduced our energy consumption by using the soil we had excavated. I believe it’s important to bring out the best qualities of the site in question and to consider the environment early in the design process.


Lower floor.


Upper floor.




diversity is the new paradigm in workplace design. climate a Schiavello initiative

Sarah Greenwood shapes the psychological

Text Tino Schaedler and Oliver Zeller Photo Focus Features In Hanna, Saorise Ronan reteams with Atonement (2007) director Joe Wright to play the titular character: a teen trained by her rogue CIA father, actor Eric Bana, as an assassin in the freezing Finlandian wilderness. They seek retribution on Marissa, his former CIA handler, a ruthless figure played by fellow Australian star, Cate Blanchett. Shot primarily on location in Germany, Finland and Morocco, this isn’t merely an exercise in globetrotting espionage. The locales and sets are rife with symbolism, emblematic of the characters’ journeys and their psychological states. Id and ego become metaphorically translated into architecture that captures the underlying cyclical themes of revenge, life and existentialism. Production designer Sarah Greenwood visually manifests this at an early stage with the design of a circular CIA bunker and its holding cell, eliciting 049

a constant reminder of being watched that amplifies emptiness and loneliness. Here Hanna lies trapped, surveiled intently through an inset dado line of fisheye lenses. Behind those cameras, Marissa watches in horror as the young Hanna, once her genetic experiment, assassinates a Marissa doppelganger and flees through a structure of juxtaposing cylindrical forms. Dropping through a hatch into the bunker’s cavernous lower levels, the set transitions to a real-world locale: Berlin’s Windkanal, part of an aerodynamic park built in 1932. The pursuing soldiers cast sinister, broken shadows across the wind tunnel’s massive vertical louvers, producing a scene that appears like a perversion of Tadao Ando’s architecture, where Hanna breaks free from the circular constraints and into the bright Moroccan desert. Beyond the monumental aesthetic and archetypal geometric shapes, there’s an existential quality infused with symbolism, reminiscent not only of Tadao Ando, but more so Louis I. Kahn’s work.

His architecture instilled a psychological and metaphysical significance, apparent in the Salk Institute, that transformed the common basement lab into a transcendent space capable of influencing the psyche and inspiring scientific research. In one scene, a series of stacked, open shipping containers, becomes a makeshift interrogation prison for family members that Hanna traveled with. A hired CIA hitman insidiously whistles as if channeling psychopath Hans Beckert at the storefront windows in Fritz Lang’s 1931 classic M. Gradually the settings become less subversive, subtly recalling the expressionist sets of such films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). In the film’s conclusion, Hanna finds herself in Berlin’s abandoned Spree Park amidst a field of derelict dinosaur statues and a Grimm house. Here she comes face to face with Marissa, aptly emerging from the mouth of a wolf. But who is the real wolf?






BNKR Arquitectura plays around with a boulder Text Cathelijne Nuijsink Photos Esteban Suárez ‘Acapulco’s hills are made up of huge granite rocks piled on top of each other,’ Esteban Suárez of BNKR Arquitectura explains. ‘In a purely mimetic endeavour, we worked hard to make this chapel look like “just another” colossal boulder on top of the mountain.’ ‘Our first religious commission, completed in 2008, was a wedding chapel conceived to celebrate the first day of a couple’s new life. This second religious commission has a diametrically opposite purpose: to mourn the passing of loved ones.’ The location on top of a mountain was stunning, but several trees and a Behemoth of a boulder – too beautiful to remove – obstructed the view. BNKR Arquitectura acted like comic book hero Obelix and lifted the mourning chapel 5 m into the air. By subsequently placing a chamfered foot underneath, giving the roof a similar geometry and executing the entire structure in concrete, the building took on the appearance of an enormous boulder itself. ‘The chapel emits solidity, heaviness, indestructibility and a feeling of immortality,’ Suárez says. ‘It provides a fitting space for grieving.’

First floor.




U-Value Text and graphic Theo Deutinger Buildings account for 40 per cent of total energy consumption in the European Union. The most reliable and important way to reduce energy use in buildings is insulation, which can reduce the consumption of energy by as much as 78 per cent. Although requirements for building insulation are set by individual governments, a directive passed by the European Union – specifically the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) – promotes optimal building insulation. If implemented, this energysaving directive will help the EU to comply with the Kyoto Protocol’s target reduction of greenhouse gases. The EU has asked its member states to promise that by 2020 all new buildings will be ‘nearly zero-energy buildings’. Ever-increasing insulation standards result in ever-thicker walls, roofs and floors, and it is no longer the weight of a building that defines the thickness of an exterior wall but the outdoor climate at the site. Whereas local traditions once

determined a building’s appearance, the design of today’s building is based much more on environmental conditions. In some cases, of course, tradition and environment go hand in hand. The average well-insulated exterior wall is two-thirds insulation material and one-third framework. To achieve a standard U-value of 0.20 W/m²K using wood, you would have to build a 62-cm-thick wooden wall. To save space, material and money, you would be forced to cover the outer surface of the building with various materials – layer upon layer – each selected for a specific quality or qualities. No building that is constructed with currently available materials and that complies with contemporary thermalinsulation requirements has an outer surface that demonstrates Ruskin’s 19 thcentury principle of ‘material honesty’. The debate he instigated at that time and which continued at a high pitch throughout the entire modernist period was smothered, in the end, by a thick layer of insulation.

Ireland 15/25/16cm 21/27/17cm

United Kingd. 16/31/20cm 21/27/17cm

F ra nce 11/20/15cm 21/25/17cm

Dimensions (wall/roof/floor) needed to achieve a standard U-value* of 0.20 W/m²K 10 cm








nanogel granulate






12 cm

14 cm

rock wool, glass wool, sheep wool, EPS, XPS, styrofoam

22 cm

wood fiber insulation board, mineral fiber insulation board

S pa in 6/11/6cm 17/22/9cm

P ortu gal 8/10/-cm 11/15/6cm

heat insulation brick (composite material of brick + perlit)

62 cm

spruce wood, larch wood, OSB, MDF

85 cm

oak wood


100 cm

360 cm


470 cm


990 cm



heat protection glass (Ug=0,7)

19 cm

33 cm


PUR rigid foam




S w itzerla nd 20/20/20cm 22/29/18cm

existing requirements for thermal insulation wall / roof / floor; concerning the capital of the mentioned country optimal thermal insulation - ‘peak price scenario’** wall / roof / floor; concerning the capital of the mentioned country thickness of existing requirements and optimal thermal insulation

10/13/7cm wall / roof / floor; concerning the capital of the mentioned country 22/29/17cm (thermal conductivity 0,04 W/mK = rock wool, sheep wool , EPS, etc.) F in la nd 16/25/16cm 24/31/20cm

source: ECOFYS, EURIMA 100mm 0


N orw ay 22/31/27cm 24/31/20cm

S w e den 22/31/27cm 22/29/18cm E ston ia 16/25/16cm 24/29/19cm L atvia 16/20/16cm 24/27/18cm

4500 Heating Degree Day’s ***

D enm ark 20/27/33cm 25/31/19cm N ethe rlands 11/15/13cm 22/29/17cm C zech R ep . 13/17/13cm 21/22/16cm

B e lg ium 10/13/7cm 22/29/17cm


G erm any 17/17/13cm 22/29/18cm S lo vakia 13/20/16cm 20/22/15cm

H ung ary 9/16/8cm 19/21/15cm

A ustria 11/20/11cm 21/27/17cm

L ithu ania 20/25/16cm 24/25/18cm

P oland 13/13/7cm 21/24/17cm

C roa tia 4/6/5cm 18/21/13cm

S lo ve nia 27/27/16cm 20/22/15cm


R om an ia 6/12/7cm 19/22/14cm

B osnia-H e rz . 5/5/6cm 21/24/16cm

S erbia 4/6/5cm 18/21/13cm

B ulga ria 8/13/8cm 20/22/15cm 3000

A lb an ia 8/11/7cm 15/17/10cm

Ita ly 8/9/9cm 14/19/7cm

2500 2000

M ac ed onia 4/7/5cm 18/21/13cm



* U-value describes how well a building element conducts heat (unit= W/m²K). It measures the rate of heat transfer through a building element over a given area, under standardized conditions. ** Peak price scenario: the term ‘optimal insulation’ is based on the peak price scenario, as stated in the Ecofys study, ‘Sensitivity Analysis of Cost Effective Climate Protection in the EU Building Stock’. Based on the price of oil, an average energy price of US$70/barrel for the time frame from 2006 to 2036 was used as input for cost calculations. Please note that the study reflected incremental increases in the price of oil, reaching US$117/barrel in 2032.

G reece 6/8/2cm 13/17/3cm

*** Heating degree day (HDD) is a measurement designed to reflect the demand for the energy needed to heat a building.





Long section.




MIAS Architects grounds lighting devices

Text Raúl Sánchez Molina Photos Adrià Goula Sardà In Sant Cugat del Vallès (just north of Barcelona), a recently developed strip of land – flanked on both sides by busy circulation roads that lend access to a motorway – accommodates the new headquarters of lighting company iGuzzini. At some distance from the city itself, the site and its contents lack a true urban context and are viewed almost exclusively by people in cars rushing by. With this in mind, MIAS Architects erected a nearly spherical building that denies motorists frontal views, while providing them quick glimpses of a disconnected structure that seems almost lost in space. References 055

range from Russian constructivism, (the architects mention ‘weightless architectures ready to ascend, in the manner of Leonidov’s aerostat’) to lighting design (‘a lamp held by a single mast to the ground’). Appearing to float, the spherical volume hangs from a complex structuralsteel core constructed off site; at its centre is a courtyard. The outer framework features a climate-control function, having enabled accurate placement of solar-protection fabric, which clads a building whose exterior is exposed to the bright sunlight of northeast Spain. The globular volume, with its openplan interior, constitutes only about one-third of the iGuzzini building, which

comprises the company’s offices and research facilities. Storage, workshops for experimentation and a parking garage occupy the large underground volume, which supports an intermediate, ringshaped floor that is used for conducting tests on full-scale products. MIAS Architects calls the complex il cielo iGuzzini, a reference to the fact that it rises to meet the sky, practically ignoring its linear, high-speed environment.



Mejiro Studio makes waves in a quiet suburb

Text Masaaki Takahashi Photo Koichi Torimura Mejiro Studio – a firm consisting of Daisuke Furusawa, Kanenobu Baba and Yasutaka Kurokawa – has realized a nine-unit apartment building on a former car park in Fuchu, a suburb of Tokyo. The team combined straightforward construction methods and a sophisticated plan in its well-considered design for modern living. Undulating exterior walls not only reinforce the building’s compatibility with the small site but also offer passers-by a glimpse of life within each dwelling. Curved windows play with the occupants’ sense of direction, while virtually inviting surrounding greenery and neighbouring 056

buildings into the apartments. The overall atmosphere is comfortable, reminiscent of that of a small community. Despite limitations imposed by budget and time constraints, the architects designed units that are both sophisticated and practical – and which, surprisingly, have standard window frames. The strong contours of the façade determine the functions within, and, thanks to load-bearing party and external walls, the apartments have only a minimum of internal division. The result is a package of attractive features: a fashionable exterior; south-facing rooms and corner balconies; separation of bath and toilet, without a hard division; and an open-plan area that includes living room, dining room and kitchen.


It’s obvious that Mejiro Studio has mastered the language of the realty business while developing a corporate philosophy of architecture, thus exemplifying a new trend among young Japanese architects.




the Great indoors award 2011

Celebrating the Best Interiors Worldwide


All non-residential interior designs and installations realized between September 2009 and August 2011 are eligible to enter. An international jury will select the winners in the categories → Show & Sell, Relax & Consume, Serve & Facilitate and Concen Concen-trate & Collaborate. Jury (amongst others): Part Reinier de Graaf Partner, OMA, Rotterdam Jan Boelen Director, Kunstcentrum Z33, Hasselt Kozo Fujimoto Head of communication, Hermès Japon, Tokyo

Ilya Oskolkov-Tsentsiper President, Strelka,

Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. → Prize money: 20,000 eur Closing date: 9 Sept. 2011 For more information: The Great Indoors 2011 is made possible by the city of Maastricht and the Province of Limburg.


Text Cathelijne Nuijsink Photos Koji Sakai ‘Box House’ looks exactly as the name suggests. Shinichiro Akasaka: The clients, a young couple in their early 30s, asked for an inexpensive house. They also wanted to be able to use part of the house as a café in the future. In response to their requests, I designed a house that’s easy to modify. As a result, the house has a very basic design. It’s like a simple shelter. What's the advantage of a house that has no clearly defined rooms? I believe that a house whose rooms don’t fulfil an obvious function allows the occupants to experiment with the space and to discover what works best. That’s why I designed spaces of various forms and heights. In this house, rather than walls that divide the interior, it’s the shape of the floor and the ceiling heights that distinguish one area from another. This solution also contributed to a significant reduction in the cost of construction. And all the wood you’ve used – inside and out – completes the shed concept? Yes. Exterior walls in unpainted wood do suggest an ordinary shed. The colour of the timber, as it gradually changes with age, will add to the character of the house. We also used wood inside – what we had in mind was a situation in which the occupants would take up carpentry and make alterations themselves.

Ground floor.




Akasaka Shinichiro makes room for change

First floor.





First floor.

Ground floor.





Muir Mendes did it themselves

Text Peter Dykes Photos Peter Bennetts In a narrow street in Melbourne, Australia, sits a house sandwiched between two buildings that couldn’t be more different from each other. Its façade is so nondescript that you might not notice it as your eyes slide from the heavily vegetated red brick of one neighbour to the timber ornamentation of the other. The house belongs to – and was designed and constructed by – Bruno Mendes and Amy Muir, who worked on it at weekends over a period of five years. Built where a late 19th-century workman’s cottage once stood, the house applies the history of its site to the ethos of its construction and, more abstractly, to its form. 061

‘Given that the original cottage was riddled with termites, we couldn’t physically incorporate it into the design. It was more about maintaining a formal memory of its existence,’ says Amy Muir, one half of Muir Mendes. ‘The form of the ground-floor ceiling is driven by the original roof line of the existing house, which was defined by multiple leantos. The façade takes on the original cottage’s proportions – the window, the door – but is completely stripped of ornament.’ The only feature of the site that they preserved is the palm tree in the back garden. Whereas the façade distances itself from the street, the back of the house is open and responds to its context. ‘The tree, which is aligned with the front door and corridor, determined

one aspect of the initial brief – to capture a full-height view of it upon entering the house.’ The approach they took throughout the project was admirably earnest. They used what materials, building methods and skills were available, even enlisting Mendes’s father, a steelworker, to help with the cladding. ‘Building with one’s own hands formed a very important part of the brief. Details were guided and drawn based on how we could build them,’ explains Muir. ‘We lament that the “craft” of construction is seen within the Australian building industry as a commodity rather than as a serious option.’



Malik Architecture raises street level

Text Lorna Gibson Photos Edmund Sumner A large commercial block, GMS Grande Palladium, has rejuvenated a dilapidated area in the north of Mumbai. Designed by Malik Architecture, the project was an attempt to create a ‘framework for the future’, while setting an example for a new business district developing nearby. Planning restrictions on construction at street level encouraged the architects to raise the building’s footprint 8 m above ground, thus relieving the dense urban fabric and allowing space for landscaping on the site, two benefits rarely considered in the design of new-build projects in Mumbai. Function within the building has 062

been split into two main segments made clearly visible in its exterior form. The lower four levels accommodate general commercial space and communal facilities such as cafés, a gym and a lounge; the upper two floors, which house the client’s offices, feel visually disconnected from the rest of the building yet retain a similar, complementary language. The building is further articulated by aluminium planes featuring a series of arbitrary cuts and bends. Architect Kamal Malik calls them ‘a subtle nod to the random agglomerations of the Dharavi slum [Asia's largest slum development], which is located only minutes away’. Flexible planning has been achieved via the steel superstructure’s 16-m central spans, and its triangulated


bracing transmits cantilever loads to the exposed columns at ground level. Angled aluminium articulation around the fenestration of the west façade protects public space from the harsh sun, and the glass skin of the north face provides the building with a welcoming entrance foyer that cantilevers over a garden. Malik’s efforts to design a building that projects the area’s historical value have also resulted in a bold juxtaposition to its existing structures. In the architects’ words, this statement piece ‘is a critical commentary on some of the antiquated notions that have plagued contemporary commercial design in the subcontinent’. OFFICE BUILD I N G




Exploded view.




Hofman Dujardin slices into the countryside

Text Peter Dykes Photos Matthijs van Roon At the very edge of the Dutch town of Geldrop, where residential properties meet flat open farmland, a house designed by Hofman Dujardin Architects is anchored to the landscape by means of a sweeping linear scoop into the ground. You call the house a ‘villa’. Is the design rooted in classical architecture? Michiel Hofman: I call the project a villa because it’s a rather upscale detached house surrounded by greenery. Although this may not be the exact definition of a villa, the house in Geldrop does have


several classical features. The shape of the volume above ground evokes the basic form of a house, such as a child might draw, and the floor plans can be interpreted as a modern version of the nine-square grid made famous by Italian Renaissance architects such as Palladio. What was the idea behind the excavation and the long ramp? Building regulations permitted a maximum above-ground volume of 650 m3 – not much for a detached house with a gabled roof. We had to find a way to increase the size of the villa. Our client had suggested a basement for storage, playroom, laundry and so forth. That’s what sparked the idea for including a


basement, for providing access to the rooms in this underground space and for supplying them with sufficient daylight. We also needed a solution for anchoring the villa to the large open field in which it stands. With all these requirements in mind, we created a large sloping excavation that not only lends access to the underground spaces but also floods them with daylight.


X-Ten re-imagines a chalet in the Hollywood Hills Text Michael Webb Photos Steve King Before 1970, you could build whatever you wanted in the Hollywood Hills, but since then the regulations have been tightened to protect the wilderness and the people who live there. A young couple bought a decrepit timber chalet perched on a ledge just below the ‘Hollywood’ sign and commissioned a remodel from X-Ten Architecture. The challenge was to transform a windowless box, disconnected from the context of its landscape, into a free-flowing space that opens up to spectacular views. The clients knew just what they wanted. Ryan Burns is a perfectionist who opted for a matte-black exterior; Aline Nakashima grew up in modern houses in Brazil and asked for a serene white interior. X-Ten, a partnership of Austin Kelly and Monika Hafelfinger, who alternate between Los Angeles and Basel, have given this renovation a distinctive mix of Swiss precision and cinematic drama. They had to stay within the existing envelope of the 180-m2 house, with the exception of a new deck that juts out over the canyon. Treating the old structure as a ‘found object’, they replaced wood studs with steel beams and cut out openings to frame the landscape and to create diagonal connections within the house. Glass sliders open onto terraces. Steps link the rooms and form a set of bleachers outside, which extend up to a roof deck above the elevated master bedroom. ‘We are always looking for architectural ideas that we can explore in our residential work and apply to larger projects,’ says Kelly. It is easy to imagine this multilevel house as a prototype for the large mixed-use project that X-Ten is currently developing in a village outside Basel.





Existing house

Added inserts

Repackaged house






Subarquitectura takes a detour

Text Peter Dykes Photo David Frutos Running surfaces are standardized the world over, identical dimensionally and meticulously flat. In the small Spanish city of Elda, local practice Subarquitectura has added a playful diversion to an otherwise ordinary track: a sloping detour that encloses the changing rooms and encircles a new tiered seating area. What does it feel like to run over the raised part of the track? Carlos Bañón (Subarquitectura): Running over the raised section introduces visual and vertical relief as a fun alternative to the repetition of running round and round the track. It offers the runner a 069

different perspective of the rest of the field and its activities, the surrounding landscape and the horizon. The amount of resistance changes in response to the slope, breaking the monotony of running on a flat surface and working different muscles. When you’re in the changing rooms, can you feel people running above? You perceive no vibration and no noise coming from runners using the track over the locker rooms. Sectionally, it consists of a 10-cm-thick layer of sports flooring, insulation and waterproofing on top of a 20-cm-thick concrete slab, all of which combine to dissipate stresses and vibrations. The track is acoustically isolated, although sometimes you notice the faint sound of the crowd encouraging


the runners. The slope characterizes the shape of the spaces under it. Is the facility open to everyone? It’s a ‘town track’, financed by an economic rescue plan initiated by the national government. It’s open every day to both professional and amateur runners. For us, it was a great opportunity to make the sport even more accessible to the public by including a bit more unpredictability and fun. The budget was incredibly tight, and we relied on conventional low-cost building materials like concrete, but I hope we have created a project that is unique and that adds something to the area. SUBARQUITEC T U R A

Kazunori Fujimoto Fukuyama, Japan 086



StĂŠphane Maupin Paris, France 072

V i ew Po i nt 071

Stéphane Maupin.



Mister Manga is back in Paris Stéphane Maupin incorporates robots, science fiction and Japanese comicbook heroes into his work. Text Jos Bosman Photos Cecile Septet




I visit Stéphane Maupin just as his building for the Paris public-transport system (RATP) is opening for use. A week and a half earlier, the first images of the still vacant concrete colossus – its paint barely dry – had raced across the internet like wildfire, under the heading ‘Helicopter Building’. That name clearly refers to the enormous installation on the roof, where three blades mounted atop a tall chimney feature solar panels and lighting. Inside this hub, which is adjacent to various RATP workshops, maintenance teams change in and out of work clothes and eat lunch. My introduction to the physical building confirms the impression left by the online photographs: the grotesque and arrogant appearance of Maupin’s latest work is overwhelming. It’s a result of the emotional and associative modus operandi that also marks the work of Philippe Starck. The similarity is no coincidence, as Maupin worked for Starck for three years before setting up shop for himself. Online reviews of the RATP project had led me to conclude that, in terms of typology, the building is not that easy to pigeonhole. Much of the commentary – some of which came straight from the architect himself – provides the design with academic references. The balcony that wraps the structure, for example, allegedly traces its roots to Georges-Eugène Haussmann, since it complies with 19th-century regulations issued by the famous city architect for residential buildings lining the boulevards of Paris. The rounded corners of Maupin’s rather cumbersome creation supposedly cite the Flatiron Building in New York City. I don’t believe, however, that these renowned references can explain the level of fascination generated by this building. The reason is far more likely to be the obstinate character of a building composed of parts that many other architects would have neither the courage nor the desire to combine. A click on ‘inspiration’ on Stéphane Maupin’s website reveals what may be the origins of the building’s pertinacious character: the 46-year-old architect likes robots, science fiction, manga and Las Vegas. His sources of inspiration bear a strong resemblance to those of Starck, but Maupin’s work is much less circumspect, balanced and cool than the designs created by his former employer. Nonetheless, when Maupin suggests I stay at the Mama Shelter Hotel while I’m in Paris – lodgings designed by his ex-boss – the recommendation does, I feel, show his respect for Starck. After Maupin picks me up from Mama in the morning, I spend much of the day on the back of his Vespa as he winds in and out of traffic as assertively as his buildings stake their claim on the city. Our first stop is the RATP Building, a stone’s throw from Boulevard Périphérique. From there we drive to the nearly completed M Building, a social-housing complex that borders the Batignolles Cemetery, the last resting place of, among others, writers André Breton, Blaise Cendrars and Paul Verlaine. The M Building is part of an urban strip – other buildings there include work by Atelier Bow Wow – that the Institut d’Architecture Français has tagged as a successful example of experimental housing comparable to Hautes-Formes, designed by Christian de Portzamparc and Giorgio Benamo (Paris, 1975-1979), and Nemausus, a work by Jean Nouvel and Jean-Marc Ibos (Nîmes, 1985-1987). We then visit the foundations of the Chinese Box, a complex directly across from Le Corbusier’s 1933 Salvation Army Refuge; Maupin’s design comprises upscale retail in the base, an open storey for sports activities above the shops, and student housing in the large upper volume. On the same street, Maupin – with me in tow – attends a meeting 074


on his proposal for using various pop-arty designs on the exteriors of two new-build silos in the heart of the city; the decision-making committee is struggling to make a choice. Finally, we take a look at a cleared building site on Boulevard Pereire, where Maupin will realize his winning competition design for a 150-unit apartment complex: his largest commission to date. At the moment, all your work that’s under construction is in Paris. How many hours a week do you spend driving around the city? Stéphane Maupin: I spend three mornings a week visiting our projects – you might say that I’m touring Paris at least 12 hours a week. For over ten years you’ve maintained an office by submitting designs to competitions; using workshops to discuss your concepts; expressing ideas through installations, such as the French contribution to the Architecture Biennale in Venice; realizing exhibition designs at, for example, the Musée du Quai Branly and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and creating a café for the Palais de Tokyo. You’ve finally started to build. Does making

‘Nicolas Hugon reads Frieze; I prefer the Virgin Galactic in-flight magazine’

buildings require a different sort of creativity than that needed for architectural concepts? If so, has this change of pace influenced your practice? I’m sure you know the answer to that question. When you enter the world of building, something changes in both your vision and your practice. The more you go into building, the more you are forced to become more efficient instead of simply visionary. It’s a matter of switching to a different means of communication. However, the office is still based on my initial principles: to go beyond casual building and to play with the rules. We try to keep a sense of delirium in all our projects – but now we’re translating it into reality. The RATP Building comes across as convincing because of how it’s made. Is it important to insist on careful execution in the case of such a brutalist design? The RATP Building is not based on careful execution but on the beauty of raw design. We wanted to surprise people, to give a bizarre twist to 075



the references they use when they interpret the building. By providing no standard, we prompt unexpected associations. It’s fun to amaze people, especially those living in a world they think they already know. We’re like Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception; we insert our dreams into other people's brains. When I visited your website, I clicked on ‘inspiration’ and discovered Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, a well-known manga series from the mid20th century about a robot. Is manga a souvenir from your year in Japan, or does Astro Boy represent a general interest in pop culture? There are four aspects to my interest in Astro Boy. First of all, my generation grew up during the time that this comic was made. I liked marvellous stuff like manga more than boring books like Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir. And I still make architecture drawings by hand, comicstyle. My father, in fact, has never stopped thinking I make comics. He doesn’t see me as an architect. Second, I don’t understand why in France everybody loves looking ahead to the future but, at same time, keeps building in the constrained way that characterizes the past. French engineers built the Concorde and the Ariane rocket, Ubisoft develops computer games, and we still build houses with pitched roofs. Astro Boy shows what might be possible if we used our imaginations a bit more. Third, my time in Japan was indeed astonishing. Contrary to popular belief, Japanese people have no inhibitions in many areas of life. Can you believe they have vending machines that allow you to buy used, even dirty, women’s underwear? They have no problem switching between present and future, even in construction. In their view, the past is not a pretext for opposing contemporary architecture. And last, Astro is forever young in an automated world. It's important to keep a fresh mind in such circumstances. The Astro Boy figure that I have on my mantle says 'fuck off' to everyone. I love that. Your most manga-inspired design is the competition entry for the Montéra Nursery. You’ve referred to it as the most important your office has made. What makes this design so significant? Does it meet the four criteria of Astro Boy? Yes, it does, actually. We had two choices. One was to come up with a prescribed solution based on commonly accepted rules for urban design. No personal input. No invention. No spirit. No contemporary link. No game. Just a programme to fit the existing template – and a very boring option. The alternative was to play with the programme, and that’s what we did. We designed a building that links two opposing blind walls with a single curving gesture, closing off the courtyard at the rear. Because we needed light in the courtyard, we made a large opening in the building volume, resembling a mouth, and two smaller openings above it, representing eyes. The building is used by very young children, and we designed it with them in mind. The building seems to be smiling. A smile when you arrive at work – or at nursery school – can brighten your day. Having met two of your three young daughters, I see that you used the passion and energy of fatherhood in your design for the nursery. You seem to slip right into their fantasy world. 076


An uninterrupted balcony embracing the building is said to comply with 19th-century housing regulations issued by the then city architect of Paris, Georges-Eugène Haussmann.

An uninterrupted balcony embracing the building is said to comply with 19th-century housing regulations issued by the then city architect of Paris, Georges-Eugène Haussmann.




0 1 5 10

Second floor.

0 1

Mirrors, windows and washbasins form an anthropomorphic composition in the locker rooms.

5 10

0 1




First floor.

0 1 5 10

Bright colours enliven the interior.



Ground floor.

RATP Building Paris/France 2011


The RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) Building accommodates locker rooms, a cafeteria and service facilities for adjacent railway workshops. The brutalist concrete design corresponds to the industrial function of the area. Three blades mounted atop the chimney are equipped with solar panels and lights.

1 5 10

Fifth floor.

‘In Japan they have vending machines that dispense used, even dirty, women’s female underwear’

0 1 5 10

Fourth floor.

0 1 5 10

Third floor.




Since discovering the animated TV series The Wings, my oldest daughter thinks she’s a fairy. I have to get used to the idea, though, because her costume makes her look more like a witch. And I love it when my middle child looks at the baker, raises her two fists in the air and screams ‘Power to the beaver!’ – which is what fairies say when exerting their powers. I totally understand. On your website is a photo of you and your team on the roof of the office. You clearly stand out – as the leader of the band, so to speak – while your business partner, Nicolas Hugon, is shown lying down. Should I be reading something into this? You’re right. We do look like a rock band. I think Nicolas lies down when we’re on the roof because of his vertigo. The roof was slippery that day, which probably reflects our relationship. Nicolas is part of the office. When he wants to be involved in a project, we share the design-related responsibilities. But I’m the one faced with potential difficulties, like debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure. Since I stand alone on the brink of such an abyss, the office has room for only one name: mine. I saw another photo of you and Nicolas posing as two ‘angry young men’ viewing the red version of Jota Castro’s work, Motherfuckers never die (2003). I suppose that had to do with Nicolas’s ties to the art world. When the two of you collaborate on art projects, is it different from working together on architecture commissions? Yes. But why all this delving into our relationship? What can I say? Nicolas once believed he was Andy Warhol reincarnated. That’s why he wore a white wig. [Laughs.] In all seriousness, he’s much more involved in the art scene than I am. He is friends with artists; I hate them. He reads Frieze; I prefer the Virgin Galactic in-flight magazine. It may seem implausible, but Maupin and Hugon have been friends for some 25 years. They studied architecture together in Marseilles before leaving for the United States, where they earned master’s degrees at different universities. In 1997, after receiving a grant to study in Japan, they found themselves together again. Maupin had been operating his own business for five years when he asked Hugon to help him with his first major project: the interior design of a café for the Palais de Tokyo. Hugon, who is a familiar presence on the museum scene, has designed exhibitions for several of the big museums in Paris. Now that an increasing number of commissions are coming Maupin’s way, Hugon is playing a part-time role as partner in his friend’s firm – he’s on board for not quite half of the projects – while running his own practice as well. As Hugon puts it: ‘We have two very different personalities that feed the design process continuously. He’s the leader and starts the design process alone. I join him only when ideas are at stake. Finally, we set up the final presentation together – like a piano piece for four hands.’ The commission for the Boulevard Pereire apartment building can be seen as an exercise in determining whether the way these two men work together is equally feasible on a large scale. 080


Silos Paris/France 2011 Municipal authorities commissioned Stéphane Maupin to design a silo complex for Paris. He submitted two proposals, one with three silos, each 37 m high; and one with two silos, each 50 m high. Maupin also suggested asking an artist to spice up the façades. Ultimately, however, at the request of the client he presented a design for silos that resemble melting candles.

The silos rise from the ground at a slight angle. Stairwells and footbridges connect the two towers, creating a pop-arty composition.


Illuminating the silos after dark is an abundance of randomly positioned lamps.

‘The more you build the less visionary you become’


First Floor.


‘French engineers built the Concorde and the Ariane rocket, but French architects still build houses with pitched roofs’

M Building Paris/France 2011 The M-shaped street façade of this building gives the project its name. Characterizing the complex, which contains 20 social-housing rental units, are stepped roof terraces that flank both sides of an inner courtyard shared by all residents. These intimate outdoor spaces enhance the desired sense of community.

Metal façade cladding used for the upper storeys creates a strong contrast with the building’s concrete base.



Fifth floor.

The M Building is nearing completion.

Fourth floor.

Third floor.


Second floor.

First floor.

Ground floor.




MontĂŠra Nursery Paris/France 2011 Occupying the ground and first floors of this building on Rue MontĂŠra is a day nursery. Apartments in the upper storeys are for special-needs residents. The first floor (on the roof of the enclosed section of the day nursery) provides a safe playground for children, while allowing light and air to enter the green courtyard at the rear of the building.

Standard floor.


Ground floor.

The first-floor playground is a veritable garden of vibrant colours.



‘We try to keep a sense of delirium in all our projects’



The day nursery interrupts the surrounding development with its bright, cheery design.


Kazunori Fujimoto.



‘Function is impoverished without beauty ’ Kazunori Fujimoto exploits the restrained aesthetics of concrete. Text Thomas Daniell Photos Kazunori Fujimoto




Since establishing his practice in 1998, Kazunori Fujimoto has created a steady stream of elegant and award-winning homes. They can be found all over Japan, though most are on suburban or rural sites in the Hiroshima region. On a warm spring afternoon, Fujimoto takes me to visit his House in Sunami (2009), set on a steep hillside overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. The precise, graceful composition of the architecture is now comfortably inhabited, chickens running free in the sheltered courtyard and the owners relaxing in the living room – a cool, tranquil space with no need of air conditioning despite the brilliant late-afternoon sun. Later we return to his office in Fukuyama, a small provincial town outside Hiroshima, to talk about the ideas behind his work. How did you end up here in Fukuyama? I was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, but as a child I moved to Chiba, near Tokyo, and studied architecture at Waseda University in Tokyo. After graduating, I spent two years working for Tadao Ando in Osaka, then returned to Tokyo and spent four years working for Nobuaki Furuya’s Studio NASCA. In 1998, when I turned 30, I decided to strike out on my own. I chose Fukuyama for several reasons. First, it’s the hometown of my father. Second, I intended to focus on designing houses, and I felt

‘Here in Hiroshima we have no need to pursue difference for its own sake’ House on Mt Yataka, 2003. Photo Kaori Ichikawa

that there would be much more potential for me to work in a semi-rural area rather than in a big city. I wanted the freedom of large sites. And the third major reason was my admiration for architect Toru Murakami, who is based in Hiroshima. I went to visit some of his houses, and I also managed to meet him in person. It was clear that his architecture had a freedom and a relationship with the environment that couldn’t be achieved in the big cities. That was very influential. What had attracted you to Tadao Ando and Nobuaki Furuya? While I was a student, I interned at Ando’s office during the university holidays. I visited his Koshino House and Church of the Light, both of which made a deep emotional impact on me, deeper than that of any architecture I had seen before, even in books. I loved his spatial compositions and use of geometry, so I joined his office after I graduated. It was very nerve-racking. We had to work in total silence, and Ando was a tough taskmaster. But the great thing about his office is that each project is assigned to a single staff member, who oversees it from the earliest design stage through to the completion of construction – dealing with clients, consultants, bureaucrats, contractors and so on. For a young graduate like



me, it was a tremendous education. I was put in charge of a small building in Kobe called Gallery Noda, but I found the responsibility too stressful. As soon as it was finished, I left to join Furuya’s office. I hadn’t met Furuya before, but I already knew of him as a professor at Waseda University who had once worked for Mario Botta in Switzerland. Furuya had just begun his practice so, unlike Ando, he didn’t yet have a distinctive style. I saw that as a good opportunity to broaden my experience. I was in charge of a few projects, including Furuya’s Sendai Mediatheque competition entry, which won second prize. But I remember him saying to me, ‘You are no follower of mine – you’re still an Ando protégé!’ [Laughs.] Is that why you tend to use bare concrete and inner courtyards? Actually, I have always tried to avoid doing anything that resembles Ando’s work. He began his career with the famous Row House in Sumiyoshi, a composition of blank walls that shuts out the context of downtown Osaka. But there is no need for such strong walls in the countryside. My House on Mt Yataka [2003], which I consider to be the real starting point of my career, was an attempt to open the courtyard to the outside. In a dense city, a courtyard blocks out the surroundings, creating a private outdoor space. My courtyards are more open, like buffer zones that cushion the relationship with the surroundings. Ando always uses concrete in the same way, but I explore other possibilities. I like the fact that concrete can act as both structure and surface, giving a very simple result. That’s important to me. I also choose concrete because it is difficult to use. In what way? Ordinary people often see concrete as an unpleasant, overbearing material. Gentle spaces are easy to achieve with wood, but it’s a real display of skill to design a comfortable home in concrete, with good environmental control and beautiful surface finishes. Many architects try and fail. You mentioned your admiration of Toru Murakami, one of a small group of interesting older architects in the Hiroshima area, which also includes Shinichi Ogawa. Recently, a talented younger generation has begun to appear here as well – architects like Hiroshi Sambuichi, Makoto Tanijiri of Suppose, and Keisuke Maeda of UID. Are you a close group? At a personal level, we’re friendly enough. When Murakami was younger, the members of his generation were all on very good terms and would often meet to chat, but these days we are all rivals, envious of one another. [Laughs.] I do feel a strong empathy with the work of other Hiroshima architects. We all tend to use simple spatial compositions and no surface finishes – that is to say, the structural elements themselves define the planning and the visible surfaces. Do you see an emerging ‘Hiroshima school’ with a distinct identity and style? Perhaps. Other people have suggested the same thing. But we’ve never talked about this among ourselves as a deliberate strategy. I don’t really know what the Hiroshima style is, but in Tokyo or Osaka you have to be making something different constantly in order to stand out, to make an 089



House in Nasu Tochigi/Japan 2010 This weekend house in a holiday town occupies a site 550 m above sea level. A rather small plot and the close proximity of both the road and neighbouring houses necessitated a design that would guarantee privacy. To achieve this goal, Fujimoto grouped rooms around a courtyard rather than opening them directly to the surrounding landscape. Tall trees blur the outline of the house, while filling the interior with diffuse light, shade and colour. Living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom are in one large space with two big windows and a freestanding concrete partition wall, which separates the various functions without eliminating the open-plan effect.

A freestanding partition wall separates the bedroom from the living, dining and kitchen areas.

Long section.

03 02 01

Cross sections.





01 L iving room/ kitchen/bedroom 02 Courtyard 03 Bathroom

‘It’s a real display of skill to design a comfortable home in concrete’

A ladder in the entrance area lends access to a storage space above the bathroom.

Privacy for the occupants of this weekend house is guaranteed by exterior walls that are mostly closed to the surroundings.

Large windows offer a view of the inner courtyard.




impact. So architecture tends to be overdesigned, and that’s what clients have come to expect – employing an architect means getting something that’s different from the norm. Here in Hiroshima we have no need to pursue difference for its own sake. Design is not consumed as it is in the big cities. It doesn’t go out of fashion. We prefer restrained, simple designs that still allow for rich expression. And I think we are looking for new prototypes, analogous to traditional vernacular houses. Of course, old Japanese houses are made of wood, and modern prototypes need modern materials. Yet your House in Henaji [2005] appears to be a pastiche of vernacular architecture. That’s a holiday bungalow in Okinawa, designed for a busy lawyer living in Tokyo. I wanted the client to be able to relax but also to appreciate the unique history of Okinawa. The interior layout is the same as that of a traditional Okinawa house, apart from the modern bathroom, which is expressed as a projecting box. Red ceramic-tile roofs are now quite common in Okinawa, but they are really just for the tourists. Originally, red tiles were reserved for the Ryukyu emperor, while commoners had to have thatched roofs. Cheap cement-tile technology was introduced from Taiwan in the early 20th century, after which wood-framed houses with tile roofs became the norm. These days, because of the frequent typhoons and a lack of wood, 95 per cent of the houses in Okinawa are made of concrete, so this heritage is being lost. I wanted to capture the traditional spatial rhythms and proportions with modern materials. The house has a concrete structure, but the cement tiles are authentic. There’s only one person left on Okinawa who still makes them. What about the roof of House in Sunami [2009] – is the seagull profile intended as homage to Toru Murakami’s early houses? Yes, in part, although Murakami’s seagull-shaped roofs are steel framed, whereas this is a concrete shell. But the main reason is the sense of freedom that a vault shape provides. The plan is very simple and rational, resulting in an array of structural walls that counter the thrust from the roof vaults, negating the need for big columns or beams. The vaults expand towards the surrounding area and create deep eaves that dictate sightlines from inside the house: up to the mountains from the courtyard and down to the sea from the living room. The client was born there, on a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, so for him the sea cannot be treated simply as a panoramic view. It’s more like a mother’s womb. That’s the sensation I wanted to capture, not isolated from the environment but embraced by the mountains and the sea. Your House in Nasu [2010] appears far more closed off from its surroundings. It’s located right next to a road, so the need to maintain privacy made it difficult to open up the façade to the outside. This land used to be a huge golf course with two sets of 18 holes, but half of it was sold and developed for vacation homes. It’s a very nice area. The emperor also has a villa nearby. Residents are able to use all golf-club facilities – restaurant, spa, and so on – so houses here don’t need to be complete homes, but more like hotel 092


suites. The local building code demands gabled roofs, so I used cathedral ceilings to achieve a sense of expansiveness, with large spaces partitioned only by white curtains. The sleeping area is screened by a freestanding black wall – I was alluding to the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. From outside, the house looks like a strong sculptural volume, yet it actually recedes into the background. The trees are far more conspicuous. This area is full of lavish villas designed in their owners’ favourite styles, so I wanted to manifest nothing more than the simple presence of a house. Apart from the generic roof shape, I avoided any kind of expression. The house comprises only the necessary spaces and their connections. Compared with designs by many of Japan’s younger architects, your work is quite restrained, even orthodox. I’m reminded of, for example, Kazunari Sakamoto. Yes, I love his work. Architects are afraid to be orthodox, not wanting to be seen as dull. I also have the urge to be spectacular, but I always return to the orthodox. I’m fascinated by contemporary Swiss architects such as Peter Märkli, Valerio Ogliati, Peter Zumthor – I like the modesty and frugality of their work. It has a mysterious beauty and power. In Japanese, I would use the term seihin, which means something like ‘honest poverty’.

‘I also have the urge to be spectacular, but I always return to the orthodox’

House on Mt Yataka, 2003. Photo Kaori Ichikawa

Has your approach changed in the 12 years since you founded your office? Not at all. But I am trying to change – that is to say, to look deeper into ways of making richer living spaces, like nests, with simple compositions of a few essential elements: floors, walls, roofs. But I don’t want to design things that are merely poetic. They must also be rational. It’s like translation. I look at the place, I look at the client, and I translate what I see into spaces. I’m trying to find a single formula that will enable a tremendous diversity of designs. Something like E=mc2 – the complexity of the universe distilled to a simple, beautiful formula. That’s what I am pursuing in architecture, universal truths. Perhaps your readers will think I’m talking nonsense . . . [laughs], but ultimately my sole intention is to create spaces that are emotionally moving. What about function? Of course, a dysfunctional building is no good. But emotion is more important. Function is impoverished without beauty. 093



Load-bearing elements are in a zone set back from the faรงade.



House in Henaji Okinawa/Japan 2005

Sliding walls allow residents to turn the interior into one large space.

This weekend house is on an island in the northern part of Okinawa Prefecture. Fujimoto wanted a house stripped to the bare essentials – a dwelling that would capture the atmosphere and the slow pace of life on the island. Rooms can be separated by wooden sliding doors framed by columns and beams. A continuous ceiling – actually the underside of the roof – shelters the entire interior, however, making it one large space. Broad eaves offer shade and protection from the elements. Sliding doors on all sides of the house provide cross ventilation in warm weather. The floor plan follows traditional plans of the region, and the cement-tiled roof also echoes the roofs of older wooden residences in this part of Okinawa, an area once known for its impressive rooftop landscapes.

The exterior walls create a rather abstract impression, which is due to Fujimoto’s constrained detailing. 03


01 04

Plan. 01 Living room and kitchen 02 Bathroom 03 Bedroom 04 Tatamiroom

The floor of the bungalow rests on a recessed plinth, making the house appear to hover in midair.





House in Sunami Mihara/Hiroshima/Japan 2009 Thanks to its elevated location, this house offers a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea. Fujimoto situated the courtyard to the rear of the house and interior spaces at the edge of a bluff overlooking the sea, giving his clients wonderful views of the water and the mountains beyond. The roof is a single concrete shell, only 120 mm thick, which does not rest on a solid concrete frame but on a steel frame combined with reinforced-concrete members. The result is a relatively lightweight construction with a rich sequence of open spaces and a comfortable relationship with the surroundings.

Panels of obscureglass form a wall, with door, which separates the inner courtyard from nearby public space.


Cross section.





Axonometric. The vacation house perches at the edge of a hill.


Plan. 01 02 03 04

Courtyard Living room Bedroom Bathroom



Exploded view. 01 Concrete shell 02 Concrete walls 03 Steel frame


02 The living room overlooks the Seto Inland Sea.



‘I’m trying to find one formula for a variety of designs. Something like E=mc2’


Glazed walls provide residents with a grand view of the scenic surroundings.


Ikimono Architects Atelier 148

Takeshi Hosaka House 138 098


Long X-TU Architects Museum 100

Sec t i on

SelgasCano Youth Centre 114


Perforations dotting the museum’s façade reinforce its outer-space aura.





AGE S TO RI ES The Jeongok Prehistory Museum by X-TU Architects transports visitors back to the Stone Age. Text Jinyoung Lim Photos Wan Soon Park




The Jeongok Palaeolithic site is the oldest and largest in Korea. The local and provincial authorities of Yeoncheon and Gyeonggi, respectively, have had the landscape of this area – which is surrounded on three sides by the meandering Hantan River – restored to its prehistoric condition. Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières of Paris-based X-TU Architects assumed responsibility for the design of the Jeongok Prehistory Museum, a new building that occupies the site and houses the artefacts that have been excavated here since 1978. What was your first impression of the site in Jeongok? Anouk Legendre: When we started working on the competition design, we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit Korea, so we used topographic maps and virtual imaging to get an impression of the geomorphology. When we visited the site after winning the competition, we immediately liked it, even though it wasn’t quite what we had expected based on the drawings that had been at our disposal. The drawings were accurate, but we had interpreted them differently. To our surprise, the two hills on the site were not as high as we had thought, and the valley in between was not as deep. Even so, the curves in the terrain are beautiful, and the natural environment – with the mountains and the Hantan River nearby – is impressive. At the moment, the immediate surroundings are urbanizing at a very high rate. It is important to preserve a feeling of nature. The city’s planning authority needs to be careful about that.

‘We want visitors to feel as though they’re travelling to another world’

How did the design process evolve? Nicolas Desmazières: We started with the concept of a bridge that spans the small valley. To develop the idea, we had to study the morphology of the land from various angles. We tried to link the hills in a straight line, akin to the style of Le Corbusier. We also considered placing segmented buildings at diverse angles. But we soon realized that to do justice to the flow of the ridges, we needed to design a curved building. We envisioned the building as a series of crossroads, with paths crossing under, inside and on top of the building. It can’t be easy to design a prehistory museum, since the historical scenes involved are only a vestige of reality. How did you approach the programme? Legendre: Although the programme was for a prehistory museum, because Korea is an advanced economy we thought the design should be high-tech and future-oriented. We ended up with the concept of a spaceship. We want visitors to feel as though they’re travelling to another world. For the exhibition content of the museum, we teamed up with palaeontologists and other scientists to research prehistoric lifestyles, after which we proposed several scenarios for a visit to the museum. How did you get the idea for the interior? Desmazières: Most prehistoric people lived in caves, so we wanted the interior of the museum to look like a cave. White is the colour of dreams, and the cavernous white space is meant to express the search for a memory, a dream relating to the prehistoric age. Legendre: We also saw photos of excavation sites. To mark the position of an object – a stone 102



The surroundings, including the nearest town, are clearly visible from a walkway on the roof.

A tunnel-like space marks the entrance to the museum and enhances the sense of walking into a time machine.




The museum spans an area between two hills. The entrance to the building is beneath the curvaceous volume.







The faรงade has a double skin. The inner layer provides waterproofing and insulation, and the outer layer offers protection from the sun.




axe, for instance – archaeologists dig around it, making a rounded shape similar to the artefact itself. In this way, they create countless small elevated platforms. Excavations sites are covered by tents, and the result looks almost like a limestone cave with stalagmites. We linked ceilings, walls and floors, creating one continuous movement that is meant to give visitors the sense of moving through a cave. What did you focus on during the early design phases? Did you revise anything later? Legendre: Because our interpretation of the geomorphologic information wasn’t quite right, we had anticipated a landscape that was more poetic and wilder than it turned out to be. Our initial competition drawings clearly show this. That was one thing we had to revise. And even when the competition was over, they kept excavating the site to search for archaeological remains. On one such occasion, a rampart from the Goguryeo era was found. After that, some parts of the site were off limits to construction, which meant we had to move the building and change the shape a little to prevent the foundations of the museum from

a clean outer skin. The shiny stainless-steel finish is quite conspicuous – not at all like the original sense of serenity we had in mind. How do you feel about that? Desmazières: The polished panels are intended to strengthen the effect of a spaceship and to create mysterious reflections. Initially, we wanted to use matte stainless steel for a rougher appearance, but we had to deal with pollution and a potentially dingy-looking surface. So eventually we selected polished stainless-steel panels. We like to think that reflections on the façade make the museum more ethereal. What message do you want to convey to visitors? Legendre: First of all, we want the museum to be in harmony with the landscape. Second, we tried to create a surprise for the visitors, transforming their perception of space and time. On the roof is a footpath. Up there, you can walk across the shimmering surface of the building. We hope that visitors taking a break from the exhibits inside the building will look at the reconstructed landscape around them and wonder what era they are in.

‘The building is a series of crossroads’

damaging archaeological finds. In the initial design, the building featured a single curve, but now its curvaceous body forks into three branches. Desmazières: The structural design also had an impact on the shape of the building. First we designed a 60-m-long bridge structure, which had to be reduced to 30 m owing to structural loads and accompanying costs. And when we entered the detailing phase, we ended up constructing the building slightly higher than in the original plan, somewhat lessening the impression of a structure buried partly underground. The silhouette of the building is still in harmony with the geomorphology of the site, however, and the most important feature of the design is still present: visitors can view the landscape through the valley under the building. Why did you use a double skin for the façade? Legendre: We decided on a double skin mainly for reasons of economy. Using different layers to separate structure, waterproofing and heat insulation not only saved money but also produced 107


Desmazières: The crossroads that go over, under and through the building are supposed to remind visitors of the nomadic prehistoric way of life, in sync with nature. How has your practice evolved since your involvement with the museum? Legendre: Thanks to this project, we were invited to enter a competition for the Civilization Museum on Réunion Island and, more recently, a competition for a wine museum in Bordeaux. We won them both. Meeting archaeologists and other scientists while working on the museum in Jeongok stimulated us and gave us new perspectives. Having become interested in the natural environment, we now try more environmentally friendly approaches. For example, the museum we designed for Réunion Island is cooled with natural ventilation – a constant flow of fresh air – rather than air conditioning.


The most striking exhibit in the permanent-exhibition hall is a platform showing replicas of the first inhabitants of Korea.




The main feature in the research centre is a large interactive table displaying Ötzi’s mummified body. Large windows in the restaurant provide a view of the surroundings.

A wide stairway leads from the ground-floor foyer to exhibition spaces on the floor above. Visitors who pause at the intermediate level have a view of the auditorium.




The first-floor corridor, which occupies the span between two hills, connects the research centre and museum restaurant at one end with the permanentexhibition hall at the other.










First floor.


04 03 01

Ground floor.

Section over the restaurant and the permanentexhibition hall.




01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07.

Entrance Cinema Exit Storage Research centre Permanent- exhibition hall Restaurant

‘Reflections on the shiny façade make the museum more ethereal’ Rendering of exhibition spaces.

Roof plan.

Section over the entrance, cinema and research centre.


Section over the storage rooms and the permanentexhibition hall.



After dark the centre glows like a huge beacon.





O F SelgasCano created a luminous outlet for youthful exuberance in Spanish Mérida. Text Michael Webb Photos Iwan Baan

M I ND 115



Mérida was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Roman remains and is best known for Rafael Moneo’s magnificent Museum of Roman Art. It is also the capital of Extremadura, the poorest province in Spain, and its younger inhabitants crave the excitement (and employment opportunities) of larger, more prosperous cities. In response, the provincial government has sponsored youth recreational centres, called Factories, in Mérida, Badajoz, Cácares and Plasencia. The competition for Mérida’s Factory, an exuberant complex of indoor and outdoor spaces, was won by SelgasCano, an inventive Madrid firm. The youth centre is in a low-income district not far from the city’s historic core, and it’s flanked by a small park, warehouses and apartment blocks. The programme was simple: a skate park, a climbing wall, an open-air theatre, multipurpose areas, storage and toilets. This short summary gives little hint of the Factory’s complexity and the diversity of activities it hosts. Besides skateboarding and climbing, the list includes internet access, modding, tuning, street theatre, visual and performing arts, electronic music, hip-hop, dance, circus activities, manga, parkour and MACC. Not bad for a complex that was built inexpensively on a footprint of 1550 m2. Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano, who established the SelgasCano office in 1994, have some of the same free, rebellious spirit as the kids who use the Factory. They reject most architectural shibboleths and choose to live and work in a rural enclave on the northern edge of Madrid, far removed from the offices of their colleagues. It’s an idyllic setting: a transparent tubular studio opens onto a walled garden (see Mark #20, p. 46), and home is a few steps away. They claim that isolation allows them to work without distractions and peer pressure. Thanks to the competition system, they have built several major projects, including congress centres in Badajoz (Mark #5, p. 14), Cartagena and Plasencia. ‘When we began our design for the Factory, we had one thought: freedom,’ says Selgas. ‘We visualized a place where everyone could gather and do whatever they wanted, with a large canopy to protect them from sun and rain. It has been one of the most exciting and fun projects we have worked on, because of our continual interaction with different youth groups.’ SelgasCano liken their role to that of the cook in a Spanish bistro, who shouts Oido cocina! to acknowledge each order that the waiters call in. ‘It’s a beautiful game of repetition,’ says Selgas. ‘The architect’s role is to respond in just such a way to the needs of the client and the site. We act as intermediaries. The architecture emerges from practical considerations and a respect for the context. All decisions are based on need. For us, the priority was to achieve economies in construction, and that drove the design.’ Lest this sound too self-effacing, the partners concede that they value complexity and risk, and insist that good architecture is essential in projects of this kind, to give them an urban presence and enrich their surroundings. Justo García Rubio, a regional architect they admire, was passionate about his design for the Factory in Cácares, but it was rejected as being too costly, and an inferior scheme is now being built. The Mérida Factory is conceived as a series of layers. The first is Roman; pavements and foundations are preserved within a basement that’s excavated to a depth of 1.5 m. The following layer is a sculpted concrete playground for bikes and skateboards. The 116


third is the metre-thick mesh frame of the canopy, which was brought to the site in sections, raised by cranes, welded together, and supported on steel poles around the periphery of ovoid meeting and activity rooms. Fourth is the corrugated polycarbonate cladding, chosen for its strength and translucence, which forms cable-braced hollow walls and a roof canopy that the architects call their ‘cloud’. This is orange to conceal the build-up of dirt, a colour that is also used for the toilets; the other walls are white. On plan, the canopy loops around a central patio, shading most of it, and links up to the climbing wall – a faceted block in chevrons of black and white, yellow and green. The hollow roof and walls provide some protection from summer temperatures that can rise to 40 degrees centigrade in the building. Suspended fluorescent tubes augment the natural light, and after dark the entire complex glows like a huge beacon. The architects designed tables and


‘We use Photoshop to explore the possibilities for each space’ The climbing wall is a faceted block in chevrons of black and white, yellow and green.

The ovoid meeting and activity rooms of the youth centre are clad in corrugated polycarbonate.

work surfaces that were fabricated at no cost by the building contractor, using wood salvaged from the polycarbonate containers. Chairs and other furnishings were retrieved from government storage rooms. The rough-edged, improvised character of the venue makes it user-friendly and tolerant of hard use round the clock. Bold colours are often used to divert attention away from cheap materials or construction. Selgas insists that he has no interest in vibrant colours for their own sake and was reacting to the pervasive grey of the raw construction and interiors. ‘Our selection is motivated by multiple factors – luminosity, cleanliness, psychology, history,’ he explains. ‘We use Photoshop to explore the possibilities for each space and evaluate them all before making a choice and starting to build.’ For the architects, the Factory served as a laboratory in which to test materials and structural concepts. ‘Initially there were fears that, in this tough location, the project would be vandalized,’ says Selgas. ‘In fact, it has worked out very well, socially and as an urban amenity. The locals are pleased to have an interesting new building, and they understand that it enriches a marginal neighbourhood and may spur further improvements.’ Sadly, the other three facilities do not match the quality of the one in Mérida – a failure of nerve on the part of the authorities. Inspired architecture can transform poor barrios – as the example of Medellín in Colombia demonstrates – and the need is greater than in affluent neighbourhoods, for people who lack private resources make far more intensive use of streets, parks and public amenities. The investment, in lives and communities, pays off many times over. 117



The youth centre is located in a lowincome district not far from Mérida’s historic core, and it’s flanked by a small park, warehouses and apartment blocks.







Tables and work surfaces were fabricated using wood salvaged from the polycarbonate containers. Chairs and other furnishings were retrieved from government storage rooms.

06 05

05 04 03




05 05

Floor plan. 01 Skate park 02 Climbing wall 03 Open-air theatre 04 Office 05 Multipurpose room 06 Toilets





Exploded view.

Roof: canopy.

‘SelgasCano liken their role to that of the cook in a Spanish bistro, who shouts Oido cocina!’

Structure: climbing wall and steel poles around periphery of rooms.

Ground level: sculpted-concrete skate park.

Subterranea: Roman ruins beneath the building.








I S Jürgen Mayer H realized an immense wooden canopy in the heart of the Spanish city of Seville.


Text Rafael Gómez-Moriana Photos Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre


CR I ME 123




‘Seville’s esteemed citizens have already found several aspects of Metropol Parasol to criticize’




The expansive waffled-timber canopy provides shade in the hot climate of Seville.




Seville’s public squares come in all shapes and sizes. Some are large and officious, others small and illicit; some are patronized by conservative families in their Sunday best, while others are taken over by rowdy radicals in their Thursday-night gear. The life of Seville’s plazas changes with the time of the day, the day of the week and the fiesta of the month. Yes, public space is still ‘public’ in Spain, meaning it is a charged, highly contested area of gentle conflict. Progress may have usurped the role of public space in much of the rest of the world – or packaged it into a cheesy, sanitized theme-park ‘experience’ – but here it is still considered vital for purposes of leisure, commerce, ritual, making yourself heard, or simply seeing and being seen. This is especially the case in Seville, where stepping out the door requires spending at least half an hour in front of the bathroom mirror – or else risk being mistaken for a guiri (Spanish slang for ‘tourist’). Squares are even among the favourite subjects of joking complaints by Sevillanos, almost up there with politics and football. The riddler’s question most often comes down to why so many contemporary plazas are duras (hard-paved), which is to say treeless, soulless and inhospitable. Answer: so that guiris can sunbathe there. This criticism does not apply, however, to Jürgen Mayer H’s Metropol Parasol, a multi-level, multi-use redevelopment of the centrally situated Plaza de la Encarnación that locals have already dubbed ‘las setas’ (the mushrooms). Generously shading the square – now elevated over a market, boutiques and an archaeology museum – is an expansive waffled-timber canopy that looks much more like a grove of stone pines (Pinus pinea, interestingly referred to as the ‘parasol pine’) than like a cluster of mushrooms, magical or not. But not to worry: Seville’s esteemed citizens have already found other aspects of Metropol Parasol to criticize, such as serious cost overruns and delays. Such grievances are, of course, indisputable. But I do wish to make the following case before the court of public opinion that has emerged over this structure: a work of public architecture is worth significant extra investment when, as here, it experiments and takes risks in pursuit of a more ecological way of building intended to benefit future generations. Admittedly, the construction of schools and day-care centres should not have been put on hold for the sake of a single high-profile building project, but architecture that builds new knowledge is equally important. We need both. Let’s begin with the facts. Plaza de la Encarnación is a square at the centre of Seville’s extensive historical core, originally occupied by a medieval convent and, later, a 19 th-century market hall that was demolished in 1973. After that, for almost four decades, the site was surrounded by metal hoarding initially erected for the construction of an underground car park; a project that had to be abandoned when ancient archaeological remains were encountered. The hoarding remained not only during the subsequent archaeological excavation but also throughout the lengthy construction of Metropol Parasol. The programme of Jürgen Mayer H’s redesign of the square – the winner of a 2004 competition – comprises an archaeology museum, a market, and a plaza with a vast, habitable parasol-like structure supported by six columns that rest on foundation pilings remaining from the discontinued car park. 126


Construction of Metropol Parasol encountered delays and cost overruns caused by the complexity of building over archaeological remains, as well as by the complexity of the parasol itself. Using exposed laminated timber for the first time on such a large scale and in such a hot climate necessitated the development of a new method for protecting wood from high levels of ultraviolet radiation and heat. Yes, Metropol Parasol is experimental. But the experimentation involved was not done purely for the sake of fab form or trailblazing engineering. This investigation focused on the formal possibilities of a construction system new to a climate zone that occasionally sets global high-temperature records. By curving, folding and nurbing the parasol, the architects tested the permutations and possibilities of the system. It is experimental architecture at its best, if you ask me, because the inventions developed to make this structure last offer lessons and new possibilities for application. So why not simply use good old steel or concrete instead of wood? Because wood is the building material of the future. Wood is not only renewable; it also sequesters carbon, making it perform even better than a carbon-neutral building material. Finding new, more complex applications for wood is crucial today, especially in conditions of intense heat – a scenario that awaits more and more regions of the planet. How better to catalyse a research agenda than by way of an ambitious public-space project that produces findings for everyone to see and (bonus!) to enjoy. Architecture is the most public of the arts, and when it involves extensive research and development, as this project does, it disperses public, open-source knowledge. Spain is often criticized for investing less than other European countries in R&D. I wonder how the rankings would look if experimental public architecture were part of the equation.

‘Metropol Parasol is a work of art imitating nature’ Since 1973, when a 19th-century market hall was demolished, Plaza de la Encarnación had been an urban square hidden from view by construction-site hoardings.


Beneath the roofed plaza are a retail level and, underground, an archaeology museum.







Metropol Parasol features six great columns supported by the foundations of an underground parking garage that was never completed.




This less-visible, long-term aspect of Metropol Parasol should be taken into consideration if the project is to enjoy a fair trial in the court of public opinion. But even leaving aside its value in terms of embodied knowledge, Metropol Parasol is fantastic as a public space, a fact that cannot be denied. It is a work of art imitating nature, a strategy that makes much more sense in a dense historical urban context than the addition of just another building. Metropol Parasol is an adventure-filled promenade of unexpected delights to walk over, under, around and through. Passing under the canopy is a generous stairway leading from Calle Imagen, the busiest street in the heart of the city, to the elevated plaza. Reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome, these wide stairs invite pedestrians to linger and relax. The rather baroque handrails terminate by turning in broad arcs, closing in on themselves and making possible protected micro-gardens and openings through which archaeological remains can be seen below. The elevated plaza has a spacious surface designed to host all sorts of events, including the Holy Week procession, Seville’s most important traditional fiesta. Metropol Parasol is still too new to judge how well it will be appropriated and whether it will become an organic, living part of this vital historical city. For this to happen, the controversy has to die down, the politicians have to move on to other issues, and the Sevillanos have to stop looking at the structure as a foreign intrusion and truly make it theirs. It is, after all, a public space both simple and complex enough to offer something for everyone. Unlike most icons, which are semi-public if not outright private, this square is open 24/7 and of interest to one and all, not just to architects and guiris. Hey: experimenting in public is not a crime.

Isometric view of a construction detail.




‘Why not use good old steel or concrete? Because wood is the building material of the future’

A skywalk on top of the canopy offers a panoramic view of the city of Seville.




Ground floor: shops.

long Section.

1,645 m2

2,913 m2

1,002 m2

8,393 m2

8,505 m2

5,188 m2

5,270 m2

3,172 m2 5,270 m2

8,00 %

Basement: museum of archeology.




Balcony level: restaurant and skywalk.

‘The Sevillanos have to stop looking at Metropol Parasol as a foreign intrusion and truly make it theirs’

Elevated plaza.




Larry Gainen.






Lawyer Larry Gainen recalls some ‘architectural’ horror stories from his legal practice. Text Katya Tylevich Photos Alexei Tylevich

IN 135



In no uncertain terms, Larry Gainen is the man to call when the roof caves in – particularly if we’re not speaking in metaphor and you’re the architect who designed the roof. Gainen is a founding partner of Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti, LLP, a major New York law firm that offers, among its other services, specialized legal help to architects. Gainen’s clients include Studio Daniel Libeskind, Alexander Gorlin, and James Corner Field Operations. Not to be a downer, but architects seem particularly ripe for the suing of late, especially in the USA. I base my conjecture on the number of high-profile lawsuits brought against high-profile architects in recent years, and on the number of times an architect’s name – as if on some blazing movie marquee – leads press headlines about building or development catastrophes, which often have very little to do with the architect in question. Not to mention the stalled projects and bogus promises – ‘the check’s in the mail’ – that come with a down economy. Are we at the point where an architect, like a celebrity or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, has to keep his lawyer on speed dial? It’s a question I ask Gainen when we meet in his Park Avenue office in New York, just a few blocks north of Grand Central Station. I also ask him whether the current aggressive legal climate has changed the culture of architecture. The answer is yes.

claims. New York, especially, is a litigious place, with an ‘in your face’ business atmosphere. Has this aggressive environment changed the culture of architecture? I think it has. Architects are more selective about what kinds of commissions they take. In a down economy they want to stay busy and employ their people, of course, but let’s talk five years ago, when architects were definitely shying away from certain kinds of work and certain kinds of clients, because of the potential legal ramifications. For example, condominium and cooperative work, where you’re doing something for the developer and end up exposed to potential claims from 112 different unit owners. Some architects love that stuff, but others are less willing to take creative steps and expand the boundaries of their practice because they know they’re going to be held to the same standard as the experts, even if they’ve never done this kind of a project before. Let’s take a very unusual adaptive reuse project a bit outside an architect’s expertise; some of my clients are less interested in taking on this type of project, only

What is your personal background in architecture? Larry Gainen: I graduated from law school in 1974 and went to work for a large New York law firm, doing traditional commercial litigation – a lot of my work was for the New York Yankees. Near the end of my tenure there, I worked on a federal case for a naval architect who was involved in major litigation concerning design defects. Then in 1982 I was advised of an opportunity to join a small firm that specialized in representing architects and engineers, so I took a flyer and decided to join. Do you notice more law firms specializing in architecture today? There’s been some increase. This is a very active area right now. There’s a lot of litigation. Everyone’s looking backwards to collect money on projects going sour. But a lot of law firms just do malpractice litigation when architects are sued. We also do contract negotiation and drafting, agreements and business deals. For example, I’m currently involved in three deals where principals are selling their firms to others. For some of the smaller firms we represent – with one or two principals who have no one to talk to about problems on a project – I also act as the ‘firm psychologist’. Are architects more likely to seek legal counsel now than before? They’re more sensitive to the need for legal counsel. Today, a lot of architecture schools have classes on law and architecture. There are more books on the subject, and architectural organizations have been better at promoting the need to be business-oriented and to have a relationship with a lawyer. I think architects now sense that it’s just part of living, especially in our country. We have a very litigious society, where everybody’s always worried about liability and 136


because of the realities of the environment in which they practise. So there’s tension between legal realities and experimental aesthetics? Look, it’s not often I ask my clients not to accept a commission – they might as well do something else for a living then. You can dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s from a legal standpoint, but then not have any work. So I do think architects have to take calculated risks. My job is to make sure my clients aren’t taking on liabilities they shouldn’t be taking on and promising things they can’t promise. I counsel them to make sure they’re adequately insured, so if there is a problem they won’t have to give up the family farm. You taught a course on architecture and law at Pratt Institute. What kinds of things did you tell your students? It was like an architecture crime show: I would give them examples of actual cases and take them through a trial. As far as I can tell, very few of them quit architecture after my horror stories. DESIGN LITIGATION

Horror stories? Here’s one. My client’s client – a developer – is getting a loan to build a project and needs the architect to report certain things to the bank so that the bank will advance construction monies. I’ve had a number of examples where the developer plays fast and loose with the bank to get more money and pressures the architect to say that more work has been done than has actually been done. That puts the architect in a terrible situation: the architect wants to keep the client, but by going along with such a request the architect could be aiding and abetting bank fraud. I always advise the architect not to do it, but there is great tension between doing what’s correct and legal and doing what the client wants. Or another example: the architect draws a plan that conforms to building code, but the developer wants to save money and take shortcuts by building in a way that doesn’t comply with code. The developer’s asking for things that are a real problem – and not only aesthetically. Obviously, the simple answer is: tell the owner to shove it. But the architect has a lot invested in the client relationship. Further, what should the architect do with respect to reporting? Even if the owner gets a different architect, is it the architect’s public responsibility to report him? Look, architects are always sued. And I think the biggest thing we get involved in is architects getting dragged into litigation because the contractors screwed up. The contractor messes up, and the argument is always that the architect should have found the mistake, should have inspected the job. But what are inspections? Are you making periodic observations to see whether there’s general conformity with the design intent, or are you ensuring that every nail went in right? You can’t do that as an architect. You’re not there all the time, and, even if you were, you wouldn’t know. But architects get sued all the time for construction defects. That was something I had to teach my students.

go forward; further, we had no control over one of the worst economic downturns in history. Are we at a point where architects have to keep their lawyers on speed dial? Some firms come to mind that are so businessoriented, that’s all they think about. Maybe the lawyer is on speed dial for them. As for people who really love architecture, I don’t think they have a speed-dial relationship with their lawyers. They consult their lawyer when they have a problem, although some do consult us beforehand. I would say a third of our clients are people pre-emptively trying to set up a relationship with us, as opposed to: I’ve just been sued. Get me out of here. Would you like to see anything change in the relationship between architecture and law? I would like to see licensing laws changed to make it easier for architects to freely associate with other design-related professionals and partner with them. I think it would broaden the practice and make things more profitable. For example, architects can’t form partnerships with unlicensed professionals,

‘Architects are held to the same standard as the experts, even if they’re doing a new kind of project’

What are some of your current war stories? I’m representing an architect who was working on zoning issues for some developers, and during this course of work, the developers asked – off the top of their heads – what they could build if they bought another building in the same area. My client did five minutes of research and gave an off-the-cuff answer, saying you could add a certain number of storeys to the building. Now as it turns out, other people, including the broker, told the developers they couldn’t do that. But these developers went and bought the building for several millions of dollars, anyway. My client got deeper into the investigation and also said, ‘You know, you can’t add storeys.’ Now the developers are suing my client, claiming about $15 million in damages. Why is this an interesting case? Well, at the time the developers found out they couldn’t build what they wanted to, they could have sold the building at a profit – it had gone up in value. I mean, I wish I was defrauded like that! Maybe I couldn’t have made $10 million, but I could’ve made $3 million. How have I been hurt? They could have sold the building, but instead these guys hired a new architect, knocked the whole damn building down, and built a new one. And, in the interim, they got caught up in the recession. So we’re arguing that we had nothing to do with that developer’s decision to 137


like interior designers – not in New York, anyway. And some of these laws don’t really accomplish what they’re intended to accomplish. It also costs a lot to be in lawsuits, and lawsuits are very easy to file in America, even if they’re not meritorious. This becomes a real burden to the architect and impacts the ability of firms to do good work. So I wish there was a way that spurious, stupid litigation could be more seriously frowned upon, and that there would be more sanctions against it. From the legal standpoint, are architects more vulnerable today? Architects are very vulnerable, especially in a down economy. I don’t know how many examples I have of projects stopping. So, you’ve spent a lot of money, gone through a schematic design and haven’t been paid. The project’s dead. Now what? I had a meeting yesterday with a client who worked on a big hotel project. The project was in foreclosure. This client ran up services of $400,000 in billable time and did not get paid for any of it. And we’re talking about a small firm here. How do you survive? LARRY GAINE N






A N D M E N Takeshi Hosaka designed a house for two people, two cats, the sun, the rain and the wind. Text Cathelijne Nuijsink Photos Koji Fujii/Nacรกsa + Partners




‘The attempt to control the indoor environment is a disease of contemporary society’

In the ‘Inside Out’ house that you recently completed in Tokyo, the owner’s cats play an important role. How do you design a comfortable environment for cats? Takeshi Hosaka: I wasn’t interested in creating a space and furniture specifically for cats. My focus was on a house where people and cats would feel equally at home. When you install stairs, bridges and holes exclusively for cats, the result is not at all natural for human beings. And the more elements you include with only cats in mind, the more confrontational such things become for people. I never sacrificed the clients’ comfort for that of the cats. What I did was to provide places I believed would appeal to cats. A thorough observation of cats reveals that they make clever choices about where they want to spend time. Cats often prefer secluded areas – indoors and out – such as shady spots beneath trees. A cat engages in a lot of activities: gazing into space, fiddling with plants and soil, eating in the semi-outdoors. This house has an abundance of such places. Where did your affinity with cats originate? When stray cats started prowling around my Tokyo office, I began to monitor their behaviour. I focused on how cats respond to the weather, the season and the time of the day. I’ve also adopted a homeless cat who lives with me. 140


Another theme of the house is energy consumption. You’ve used the weather to cool the house, which has no air conditioning. That’s very rare in present-day Tokyo. It’s very hot in Tokyo during the summer. In the past, people had to deal with the heat, but today people habitually make use of air conditioners. It’s a frightening reality. I see the attempt to control the indoor environment as a disease of contemporary society. The Japanese have completely lost sight of what life should be like in the summertime. They no longer notice subtle changes in the quality of light, heat and wind. Nuclear power plants are needed to produce the energy to meet modern demands. In my opinion, the majority of the electricity now used is not essential for the wellbeing of the population. My clients, a married couple in their late 30s, share my concerns. They feel a need to limit energy consumption in favour of a more ecological lifestyle. I believe we can enjoy and respect the benefits of each season, even when it’s very hot or very cold outside. Take a glass of beer, for instance, which tastes delicious in the heat of summer. Think of how pleasant it is to read a book or to hear the sounds of insects when it’s warm. Searing summers should be enjoyed again, as they were long ago. Can you tell us about your energy-efficient solutions? The house consists of an enclosed core that accommodates a bedroom and a living room and is surrounded by an outer shell perforated with openings. The zone between the core and the shell is a garden-like space exposed to rain, wind and natural light. The inner volume has sliding glass doors on all sides that open into the intermediate zone, and warm air can escape through apertures in the roof. When you’re upstairs in the living room, with the glazed doors open, it’s like being outside. In designing these spaces, I tried to turn the negative notion of heat into a positive feeling of comfort. The intermediate zone reminds me of the traditional veranda-like space known in Japan as an engawa. The traditional Japanese veranda is an important space that connects the interior of a house with the exterior. During my childhood, I used to sit on my grandfather’s veranda, drinking tea, eating fruit, playing with the cats and talking with the adults. I remember the engawa as a place for sharing time with others and enjoying hot summer days. The Japanese used to live in close relationship with the changing seasons and the different types of weather, but it’s a bond that no longer exists. This house is an effort to restore that spirit of kinship. So the old-fashioned way of life in Japan wasn’t all that bad? That’s right. I also installed sliding doors as a reference to the traditional Japanese house. Although authentic shoji were made from wood, we had to use steel to comply with fire-prevention regulations. The traditional Japanese house is based on a spatial composition of horizontal openness. Opening the sliding doors creates a flow that connects the interior to the world outside. This house goes one step further by introducing a quality of openness both horizontally and vertically. As a result, the internal space intermingles with the external HOUSE

Surrounding the core of the house is a zone that combines indoors and outdoors; openings made in the walls and roof invite wind, rain and light into this garden-like space.




A small terrace above the bathroom can be reached by climbing a ladder.




space to an even greater degree than the situation found in a traditional Japanese home. What takes place in the intermediate zone? The residents actually behave in a way similar to their cats: they move from one area to the next, doze in a chair, take in the scene outdoors and, weather permitting, have their meals in the garden-like space. It sounds as if their lives rely completely on the weather. Are they constantly on the move? The direction of the wind determines which parts of the floor get wet when it rains. The couple and their cats try to avoid getting wet, of course. Comfortable spots continually change. Nothing remains absolutely the same. My point in telling you this – and in designing the house – is that a feeling of comfort and wellbeing should not hinge on the ability to heat or cool interior spaces artificially.

‘Searing summers should be enjoyed again, as they were long ago’ Sliding doors on all sides of the living room can be closed to shut off this part of the house from the remaining areas. The occupants of the house are collectors with a special interest in beer bottles and Star Wars figures.







According to architect Takeshi Hosaka, it’s become a habit in Japan to run the air conditioner day and night, all year long. The ‘Inside Out’ house allows occupants to experience the seasons as people did in the past.




Long section.

Cross section. Note ‘cat windows’ in the lower part of exterior walls.

04 07

05 01


02 03

Ground floor.

First floor.

01 02 03 04 05 06 07

Site plan.




Bedroom Walk-in closet Toilet Bathroom Laundry Living / dining room Terrace

‘Cats make clever choices about where they want to spend time’

The bedroom occupies part of the ground floor.










The new office of architect Takashi Fujino is an interior landscape under a glass roof. Text Christopher Kaltenbach Photos Ikimono Architects

RES T 149



The office interior rises to a height of 8 m.




In Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away), the 2001 animated film by Hayao Miyazaki, we are presented with a supernatural landscape that transforms as night falls. What was once an abandoned theme park at the top of a hill becomes inundated with a perverse community of spirits, while the valley below is submerged by a great flood. The main character, Chihiro, accepts this fate without further ado. Within this transformation of place, imagination and self is the idea of jinen, a term used during Japan’s Edo period (1604-1868) to describe a life view of ‘self-becoming’, which involves ‘intuiting the course of nature and following it’. For Takashi Fujino of Ikimono Architects, Miyazaki’s film is a source of architectural inspiration and a key to understanding Tenjinyama Atelier, which was completed this past January. Located in an area once known as Tenjinyama, in the city of Takasaki, one hour west of Tokyo by Shinkansen, this building is the office of Fujino’s practice, Ikimono Architects. A 62-m2, slightly skewed box shelter, the structure is an ikimono or ‘living thing’. Part nature, part urban condition, incorporating aspects of the garden and nuances of street clutter, the building contains biological organisms and matter both organic and mineral, while framing meteorological phenomena mediated by the sun’s rays and the glow of the moon. From the front door, the interior holds an ethereal atmosphere, as if all the air in the volume has been frozen. On the day of my visit, an even afternoon light hangs between glass roof and granulated floor, softening all definitions. The auditory and visual stillness felt from this entryway is perceived from an unexpectedly elevated vantage point. Beneath my feet, a miniature knoll assists in announcing my arrival. In fact, this is the start of a terrain that continues in a much gentler grade throughout the one-room building. Made from a soil of decomposed granite known as masado and prepared with a tatakitsuchi (beaten earth) or tataki technique, the floor resembles the footpath of a public park and is interspersed with patches of moistened untreated soil, where trees and small plants are tended. Two tall, thin trees assume strategic positions within the space. A lemon yukari (Eucalyptus citriodora) near the front entrance, once grown to maturity, will provide, like a column, a corner where two circulation paths will be defined. An olive tree at the far end of a communal worktable will eventually become, as Fujino points out, ‘a kind of umbrella, diffusing the natural light coming through the ceiling’. Smaller plants – such as lemon myrtle, Jasminum officinale (‘Fiona Sunrise’) and thyme – line the bottom edges of the windows. They not only provide subtle aromatic filters but also act as soft bollards. Beyond the configuration of plant life, no internal walls exist in this space. Instead, an eclectic range of devices and furnishings subtly define the various programmes and assist in creating an unfamiliar landscape. An almost 5.5-m-long and 6-mm-thin sheet of steel appears to defy gravity as it partitions the office from the bathroom facilities and Fujino’s semi-private living space. Sleeping quarters are hidden beneath a retractable wood floor. Exaggeratedly sheer openings, which range in height from 5.2 to 6.4 m, penetrate all four exterior walls. It is only when standing directly in front of 151


‘Tenjinyama Atelier is a contemporary response to nature and the Japanese garden’

All sorts of plants, bushes and trees line the outer edges of the building. Nature has been introduced into the office as well, where trees and small plants grow in patches of moistened untreated soil.


these walls that one realizes they are glazed, an illusion emphasized by bottom sills that are buried in the soil. Two bookshelves – one freestanding, the other built-in – tower above the office floor, complementing an unusual amplification of scale. Fujino explains that the angle of the glass roof and a number of windows are meant to ‘generate slow movement of falling rain and melting snow’, no doubt providing the office with theatrical light modulations. Powerful ventilation fans regulate the interior climate of the building in accordance with the season, and sliding windows provide the necessary cross drafts in the summer months. All in all, this interior landscape verges on being otherworldly, somewhere between nature and fantasy. It is a space of the imagination and for the imagination. In the words of Fujino: ‘This is a space from which I can draw inspiration.’ Outside, distortions in the building’s scale and shape are further emphasized. The axis of the south-facing wall pivots slightly at its southwest corner, both east and west walls gradually tilt inward from their footings, and a single sloping roof defines the top perimeter of the building. The slight peak of this roofline combines with the grey cast-in-place concrete to create an overall effect that is uncannily geological. It is difficult not to see Tenjinyama Atelier as a contemporary response to nature and the Japanese garden. Within the lineage of built forms recognized by the pantheon of architectural discourse, the 7th-century Ise Shrine and the 17th-century Katsura Imperial Villa are two that are held up as examples of how the Japanese have venerated and modelled their natural world. Although the divine images and symbols that these two building compounds present may no longer be completely understood by contemporary Japan, Fujino’s architecture is an attempt to tap into the cultural resonance of these aged designs. While some observers have suggested that the country has begun to be more inward-looking, spawned by two decades of economic deflation, the affluence that once defined the people of Japan is giving way to a generation which is sidestepping the usual symbols of wealth and success. Many young people are looking for new expressions of value, meaning and inspiration in their own communities. And now, with the tragic events of 11 March still reverberating, the intimacies of everyday life are becoming ever more appreciated. Around the back of the building, Fujino shows me a small pit in the ground. At one end a circle has been cut out, leading to a darkened void. ‘Do you know what this is?’ he asks. I gesture no. He points to the roof. ‘Because it’s glass, it gets too hot. Butterflies die when they touch the surface and fall to the ground. This is their burial place, a crematorium.’ He places his hands together, closes his eyes and bows his head. As my eyes return to the circular void, for a brief moment an unrecognizable world emerges.



Both east and west walls tilt slightly inward, 2 degrees and 4 degrees, respectively.

‘A new generation sidesteps the usual symbols of wealth and success’


Ikimono Architects occupies a building in Takasaki, in an area once known as Tenjinyama.

Fujino’s semiprivate living space runs across the north side of the building, hidden from view by a 5.5-m-long, 6-mm-thin sheet of steel.




An olive tree will eventually become a kind of umbrella, diffusing natural light entering the office through the glazed roof.

Burial place for butterflies that touch the hot glass roof of the atelier and die. Photo Christopher Kaltenbach

‘Butterflies die when they touch the hot glass roof’







Sleeping quarters are concealed beneath a retractable wooden floor.




‘This is a space from which I can draw inspiration’ Ground Floor.












An alley, a cafĂŠ, a market and a square: Yukiko Nadamoto used urban models in the design of her most recently completed house in Hokkaido. Text Cathelijne Nuijsink Photos Seiya Miyamoto




At the heart of the house, the alley is two storeys high. Small windows provide a view of the semipublic area.

Overhead arches – little ‘bridges in the air’ – enhance the spacious feel of the corridor.

‘The idea for the arches was inspired by my visit to historical towns in Italy’




Once an intrinsic part of the personal space and everyday life of the people of Japan, the country’s lively alleyways – or roji – are rapidly losing their significance and, in many cases, their very existence. In the small coastal town of Yoichi, in Hokkaido Prefecture, Yukiko Nadamoto’s most recently completed house illustrates her research into the current relevance of these distinctively Japanese urban spaces, which she has created inside the building itself rather than out in the open.

A sliding door can be used to separate the living area from the corridor.

Small alleyways are everywhere in Tokyo. They’re fun to explore. Do you find alleys in Hokkaido as well? Yukiko Nadamoto: No. Unlike traditional Japanese cities elsewhere in the country, Hokkaido’s cities are based on a unique urban-planning programme and distinctive building techniques, developed properly only after 1868, during the Meiji era. Historically, Japanese architecture has been designed with the sweltering summer heat in mind and is ill equipped to deal with harsh winters. But in Hokkaido, architects have had to incorporate features that can withstand extreme cold and the heavy build-up of snow in winter. Piles of cleared snow as high as 2 m accumulate on the sides of the roads. That’s why roads are wide in Hokkaido and why buildings are arranged with ample space between them. So why the alley in Roji House? Does it stem from personal recollections? No, I don’t have childhood memories of playing in alleyways, if that’s what you mean. I was born and raised in Sapporo, a city whose roads are laid out according to a grid pattern, just like a go board. Most of the main thoroughfares are broad boulevards with clear, unobstructed sightlines. Like the rest of Hokkaido, Sapporo has no charming back alleys. In designing Roji House, I tried to create a beautiful urban landscape indoors. Having seen the narrow alleys in other Japanese cities, I wanted this house to be a roji precisely because I come from an environment that makes it difficult for such exterior spaces to exist. But you did rely on personal experiences, didn’t you? I associate the experience of walking through alleyways with memories of playing in the snow. After it had piled up thick on the ground, I would dig my way into the soft, fluffy snow that had gathered on a vacant lot and carve out a narrow path for myself. Then I made a little house, about 1 m deep. I have fond memories of lying down in my little hide-out and looking up at the sky, while daydreaming about all sorts of things. Although I was outdoors, I felt as if I’d managed to stake an exclusive claim to a little piece of public space. There was a sense of openness, but also the feeling of being in a private domain. My snowy hide-out occupied an ambiguous position between public and private, which provided an ideal environment for playing.

A plain dark façade reveals nothing of the spaciousness inside the building.



Does it make sense to create a roji in a town with no vernacular equivalent? I think it does. Yoichi is a small port. It’s not built on a grid, like Sapporo. Yoichi’s streets follow the natural contours of the coastline and the riverbanks. The town has no narrow alleyways that you could call roji, but being on Yoichi’s curved, meandering YUKIKO NADA M O T O

Walls painted black give the café a cosy air of intimacy.

A large window in the café offers guests a clear view of the street.

‘My clients decided to start a café after being inspired by their trip to Italy’




roads, where you can’t see very far ahead, gives me almost the same feeling that I get when looking down a narrow, winding street. But what prompted you to design a house with an interior that features an alleyway? People in Hokkaido have a special knack for living comfortably indoors, but they don’t really know how to enjoy themselves in outdoor spaces. That’s probably due to the snow and the frigid weather. Traditional Japanese dwellings in other parts of the country place a lot of importance on the relationship between a house and its garden or courtyard. But the custom never caught on in Hokkaido, with its cold winters. So I thought it would be great to make a building whose interior felt like a city street. The arches in the double-height void remind me of European alleys. The idea for the arches was inspired by my visit to historical towns in Italy. I remember how amazed I was while walking through Venice. The streets that link one building to another, the apartment

blocks and building clusters that face the roads, the squares, the alleys, the bridges that join one alley to the next – all these things were an endless source of fascination. Coincidentally, my clients for the Yoichi project decided to start a café after being inspired by their trip to Italy. It was only natural, then, that both my clients and I wanted European elements to be part of the design. But the arch is also a reference to the Japanese concept of hospitality, which comes into play the moment guests arrive at your door. Is Roji House an attempt to make a little Venice in Hokkaido? That would be a bit too presumptuous. Deliberately trying to create a tortuous, complicated maze of streets is no simple matter. Nevertheless, moving through Roji House is an enjoyable experience. The alleyway inside the house gives the residents a sense of excitement and anticipation that exceeds anything that a more deliberate, purposeful design could offer. In what sense does the alleyway contribute to a comfortable living space? This roji is a corridor within a home. Typically, corridors or hallways are used only for the purpose of getting from one room to another – a bit like the roads in Sapporo. Here, though, the husband and wife who commissioned the project sit in the corridor for hours on end, chatting, or perch on the staircase while enjoying tea and cakes. More than simply a corridor, the roji also functions as a living room. Keeping Venice in mind as a model, you can compare each room in the house to a different sort of urban space. The café hosts a market from time to time, where food and other goods are sold, including art, crafts and accessories. I envisioned the living room as a city square where the family could gather, and the café section of the house is based on the cafés that line the streets of Venice. Once the house was built, however, the café turned out to be a sort of square for the family as well. Tell us more about the café. The rather small café, which occupies the northeast corner of the house, is run by the wife. She serves coffee made from beans that she roasts herself, as well as homemade cakes and bread. Although I had to combine two different functions in one building – a workplace and a private residence – I made a clear distinction between the two, which is the result of a dramatic difference in their colour schemes. The spatial differentiation is a strong signal to the woman working in the café that she has moved from her house to her workspace. The form of the roji is rather fanciful. What sort of considerations influenced the way the space took shape? I didn’t start by thinking about the shape of the roji. It emerged quite spontaneously from the shape of the site, the budget and my clients’ brief. The oblique angles of the walls generate a logical flow and movement that culminates in the most efficient use of each room. Slanted walls were also a way to reduce the amount of wasted space. The roji became a kind of blank space within a cluster of rooms. The shapes of the rooms were determined, in turn, by the shape of the roji.




Wash your face here

Back alley

Bedroom for couple's parents when they move in.

Catnap spot

Drying clothes


around Rolling aroun on the floor

Small tunnel


Tea time!

Chatting Measuring out the beans Grinding the coffee Bookkeeping

Cleaning equipment

Espresso machine

Gradually getting brighter...

Cafe kitchen Making dinner for the family

Storagee ffor Storag snow shovels

Storage for Baking bread coffee beans

The family piazza Listening to music

Storage fo for bicycles in winter

Settling the bill Buying bread and coffee beans

A staircase that gently divides the space


Seats for regulars Outdoor area that gets tons of snow


Dad'ss smoking corner Dad


Brewing coffee Crafts and accessories

Outdoor area where w here the snow won'tt pile up


Tunnel leading to the roji

A bit dark

Gym area for cats

The sunniest spot

Storage for christmas lights

Laundry area

Chatting Gym area for cats

Storage fo for winter tires

Watching TV

Red coffee roasting machine

Red coffee roasting machine greets customers

Entrance to the cafe

Roses and herbs

Ground floor.


Long section.




3D drawing of the roji.





Where the kids sleep

Family library

Where the kids sleep Bridge Window overlooking the roji

rojii roj (Void)

Gym area for cats A peek at the roji

Master bedroom

Gym area for cats

roji (Void)


Gym area for cats

private nook

Cozy cat corner

The eye-catching chimney chimne himney

A cosy cafe

VIP seat with a distant view of the ocean

Seat in the furthest corner

First floor.

‘In designing Roji House, I tried to create a beautiful urban landscape indoors’




Gleadless Valley.




Letter from Sheffield Text and photos Steve Parnell

D E AR Banner protesting at the policies of Nick Clegg, as it appeared on the Unison Building. Unison is a major public-sector trade union.


When you think of Sheffield, what comes to mind? Sheffield Wednesday? The Full Monty? Steel? The music of ABC, The Human League, Pulp or Arctic Monkeys? All of these are Sheffield tropes, of course, but there is much more: it’s the UK’s greenest city, with one-third of its boundary lying in the Peak District 167


National Park. Because of its industrial reputation, visitors are always amazed when looking down from the University of Sheffield’s Arts Tower at how greatly the trees and parks dominate the cityscape. Built on seven hills, Sheffield features a topology second to that of no other UK city, offering views of the surrounding countryside from all over its urban centre. But it’s also a strongly polarized city, with one of the country’s poorest districts in the city’s northeast and one of the richest in its southwest. Surprisingly, the constituency of Hallam regularly appears in the top three of the national league table of disposable income, alongside Kensington and Chelsea in London, where Russian oligarchs live, and Tatton in Cheshire, where Manchester United footballers live. Perhaps because of its polarized nature, Sheffield is also a highly politically charged place. The Member of Parliament for Hallam is the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, currently Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, following last year’s coalition deal with the Conservatives. Today Clegg is arguably Britain’s most vilified politician, having pledged not to raise tuition fees

Gleadless Valley’s timber-framed, deck-access flats were designed by Peter Jackson and John Taylor of the City Architects’ Department.

for students before the elections and, once in power, agreeing within months to treble them. After years of domination by the Left, the council has been vacillating between Liberal Democrat and Labour since 1999 but largely thanks to Clegg’s unpopularity, it returned to Labour’s leadership in May’s local elections. Sheffield University lies within Clegg’s constituency, and many of Sheffield Hallam University’s staff and students also live there. The more than 50,000 students from these two universities now represent about 10 per cent of the city’s total population, and recent construction in the city shows this changing demographic and shift from a left-wing, manufacturing economy to one that is centrist and service-based: education is now one of Sheffield’s biggest income generators. Students – especially international students, who now count for around 10 per cent of Sheffield’s contingent – are seen as cash cows. Sheffield University sold its halls of residence in leafy Hallam before the recession hit, and




Built on seven hills, Sheffield’s topology is second to that of no other UK city

Persistence Works.

private developers like Opal and Unite have since built cheaper, denser, smaller warrens with broadband to justify the increase in rent. And if you are in doubt about the target group, please note the accompanying English Language Support Centre. Arguably the best recent addition to the city is the University of Sheffield’s Jessop West Building for the arts and humanities, designed by Sauerbruch Hutton. A generous interior is hidden behind the practice’s signature smooth, colourful barcode façade, within which is concealed a clever natural ventilation system and soundproofing, a necessity based on its proximity to the busy ring road. Cranked in a way reminiscent of the plan for Park Hill, the building’s individual arms leave similar meeting spaces at the intersections. Meanwhile, Sheffield Hallam, the city’s other university, has demolished its students’ union, the Nelson Mandela Building, and moved into the £15-million Nigel Coatesdesigned Millennium flop that was supposed to be the National Pop Museum but lasted less than a year, owing to lack of interest (see Mark #22, p. 179). Telling times. Sheffield’s original wealth was built on steel, of course, and the city’s historical form is answerable to geography, geology and meteorology: a confluence of five rivers and nearby iron ore, coal and gritstone made it the ideal place for producing steel. The steel barons built their golden sandstone piles in the southwest, so the prevailing winds took the factory smoke away from them and over the thousands of once red-brick terraced houses where their workers lived. Interestingly, the city still produces as much steel as it ever did, but it is specialist rather than heavy, and the work is automated rather than manual. Much of the previous century’s housing remains, but the Don Valley, where the steelworks used to be, is now occupied by development from the 1990s: nondescript call centres, business



parks, warehouses, a cinema complex, and a postmodern-cumhigh-tech sports stadium and arena. At one end, next to the M1 motorway that forms a direct connection to London, is the Meadowhall Shopping Centre. Somewhat appositely financed by a son of a miner who made a fortune selling scrap metal, and built on the site of Hadfield’s East Hecla steelworks, Meadowhall opened in 1990, when it was the largest shopping mall in Europe. Nothing better represents the shift from a society of industrial production to one of postindustrial consumption. The mall was planned under the Sheffield Development Corporation, one of Margaret Thatcher’s Non-Plan experiments to encourage regeneration by offering money to local councils on the condition that they concede their normal planning controls to the developer.

In Sheffield, pretence is spotted a mile off and duly put in its place Castle Markets.


The resulting mall, designed in the key of £/m2 by Chapman Taylor Architects, was arbitrarily based on the Plaza de Los Naranjas in Marbella. It is an architecture of the anaesthetic rather than the aesthetic. Meadowhall, understandably, sucked trade from shops in the heart of town, and an effort was under way to address this situation just before the recession hit. The developer, Hammerson, drew up plans to raze a large portion of the city centre and to rebuild Sevenstone, an inner-city shopping mecca and the regenerated urban answer to Meadowhall. Also doomed to demolition, Castle Markets – an ambitious example of 1960s’ planning and easily the most exciting shopping precinct in the city – is enjoying a last-minute reprieve, again thanks to the recession. The hustle and bustle of the fishmongers, the greasy spoons and the CD stall thumping out its choons will



soon be silenced. This is the very sort of place that pulls in the creative types which Sheffield claims it wants to attract. But the piles of rubble across town already mark the site of its future home, while the architects’ renderings promise an airport-style nowhere of shiny surfaces and designer labels. Another benefactor of the recession is Portland Works, formerly a small cutlery works but currently a base for artists. The economic crisis stalled its development into more city-centre ‘luxury’ flats, and now, and after much campaigning, the council is considering denying permission for such development and keeping the facility for fledgling creatives. After all, the nearby neobrutalist Persistence Works, a superb art space by Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, is highly successful and over-subscribed. Clouds of recession can have silver linings. Attracted to the city’s steel production like a moth to a flame, the Luftwaffe destroyed much of Sheffield during the Second World War. Sheffield’s industrial workforce historically led to a strong Labour council, which prioritized council housing after the devastation of the war. Only London could match the ambition of Sheffield’s modernist housing programme, the most dominant icon of which is Park Hill, Europe’s largest listed building and the first embodiment of the Smithsons’ ‘streets in the sky’ principle. It looms over the city centre like a concrete cliff, reminiscent in shape and scale of Stanage Edge in the nearby Peak District, so beloved by the city’s large climbing community. Park Hill consisted of almost 1,000 flats – as well as schools, pubs and shops – and was, according to Reyner Banham, ‘the building by which 1961

The so-called ‘sugar cube’ car park by Allies & Morrison.

will be remembered’. The first tenants were delighted with their spacious new flats, complete with indoor plumbing, communal district heating and a Garchey refuse-disposal system. Hyde Park, a denser, higher block, was constructed next door along the same deck-access principles, and the process was repeated across town at Kelvin.



But housing wasn’t constrained to concrete megastructures only. At Gleadless Valley, the council mixed low-rise houses and flats, with point-blocks sprinkled liberally over an idyllic valley of virgin countryside. Its outstanding physical beauty belies its reputation as one of the worst sink estates in Sheffield. The architects experimented with deck access, benefiting from the topography of the site, which also afforded a range of close-up to long-distance views. A variety of housing types were tried and cars intelligently separated from pedestrians. The result is as

Barker’s Pool, featuring a 1980s’ pseudo-high-tech commercial building currently occupied by the Embrace Club. This building became notorious after appearing in A Vision of Britain, a 1989 book by Prince Charles, who named the building as an example of architecture he detests.

picturesque a setting as any 1960s’ Architectural Review editor could have hoped for – thoroughly modern in a garden-city suburb with glimpses, even, of a Californian Richard Neutra. Fast-forward a generation, however, and Thatcher would initiate the right-to-buy scheme, which allowed council tenants to purchase their houses or flats at a discounted price. The age of consensus, which had remained left of centre until Thatcher, had shifted perceptibly to the right, so renting your home, especially from the council, became a stigma. Park Hill became residualized with respect to those who had no choice: druggies, prostitutes and immigrants. What was built as a symbol of hope became a place of no-hopers. Architecture took the blame for society’s problems. Kelvin flats, like much of the Hyde Park housing, were demolished, and the rest was re-clad in what looks like Tupperware. Park Hill was spared, though, and even listed in 1998. It was given to developers Urban Splash to renovate. They proposed the creation of 900 flats – 200 rented by a housing association and the remaining 700 privately owned. But once again the recession stopped work. With bail-outs from English Heritage and the Homes and Communities Agency, work is once more slowly progressing, but the only element left of the original building is the concrete frame. The striated bricks have been replaced with anodized aluminium and the washing line hooks removed from the balconies. In other




words, the welfare-state image is being privatized behind a textureless façade. Park Hill is destined to become another halfempty pension pot for private landlords as the nation continues to transfer its assets from public to private ownership. In short, Park Hill is a synecdoche for Britain’s entire post-war social history. This may all sound very critical, but I should point out that – having lived and worked in the USA, Australia, Spain, Oxford and London – I choose to live in Sheffield. It is where my parents, my wife and my son were born, although I grew up half an hour away, my parents having left in the smoky ’60s for greener pastures. My dad opted for concrete over the steelworks. My earliest memories are of a once-proud city coming to terms with a loss of confidence that resulted from the closure of the steelworks and mines

Meadowhall is an architecture of the anaesthetic rather than the aesthetic


elsewhere in the once Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire. A generation later, it is still struggling to define itself, preferring to erase its proud history in favour of postindustrial blandness in a paean to neoliberal policies. But it is, above all, the people that make it for me. They are tough but friendly, with a dry, self-deprecating humour, their character no doubt having been forged in the mills years ago. In short, they are the people you see in The Full Monty and hear about in the music of Pulp and Arctic Monkeys. Pretence is spotted a mile off and duly put in its place. Perhaps this explains Sheffield’s lack of ambition, and perhaps this is why I criticize it for not being what it could be but secretly love it for what it is.













Christian de Portzamparc admits his concert hall in Rio de Janeiro looks very Brazilian, but it wasn’t on purpose. Text Cathelijne Nuijsink Photos Nelson Kon











The dynamic of the huge cultural complex emerges from its shape: a parallelogram that looks rectangular or triangular, depending on the viewer’s vantage point.


‘When the new mayor arrived, he immediately closed the building’



The concert hall hovers 10 m above a garden designed by Fernando Chacel.

French architect Christian de Portzamparc is married to a Brazilian and has a good understanding of the culture of her South American birthplace. His familiarity with the ways of Brazil surely helped him to accept the curious state of affairs surrounding the realization of his design for a concert hall in Rio de Janeiro. Last April in his Paris office, having just returned from Rio, the architect explained the recent turn of events. ‘We had 15 months to construct the building, as it had to be finished within the mandate of the mayor who initiated the project. At a certain point we had 2000 workers at the site. It was one of the biggest construction sites in the world, similar to that of the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. The project had to be finished in a hurry, and in December 2008 we had a first provisional opening. When the new mayor arrived in January 2009, he immediately closed the building and stopped the project. It was decided that the City of Music – the original name of the project – had to be changed to the City of Arts, a title that would attract more people and new investments, both public and private.’ One of the more drastic repercussions of this unanticipated development was the need to rebuild the larger auditorium, which now had to accommodate not only concerts and operas, but also theatrical and dance performances. Although the building is scheduled to open for a second time at the end of the summer, sceptics fear the actual completion will take much longer than planned. Do you think that most big buildings become landmarks? Christian de Portzamparc: In this case, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro specifically asked for a landmark. Landmarks are very useful when a city has a labyrinthine sprawl. The neighbourhood of Barra da Tijuca, the richest area in Rio and the host of the 2016 Olympic Games, has been growing fast and not without consequences. It is filled with various enclaves: commercial centres, office buildings, closed condominiums. It is a place that people may find comfortable, but the separation of functions

Site plan.




Cidade da Musica marks a traffic junction in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro’s most affluent neighbourhood. De Portzamparc raised the building above ground level to give visitors a view of the sea and other areas of the city.




in this part of town makes it a terrible place in which to live. The concert hall is in the middle of this urban area, at the intersection of two motorways. I hope the 90-x-200-m building becomes an enjoyable landmark rather than simply an impressive one. The site is part of a master plan by Lucio Costa and, as you say, is at the heart of a traffic junction. How did you deal with that? The first time I saw the site, from a helicopter, I found the place outlandish. Not until the next day, when I visited the site for the second time by car, did I discover the qualities of the location. There was a little hill with a small amphitheatre on top. When I climbed the hill, I realized that the building I designed should reach the same height. At ground level you are trapped and lost. But 10 m above the ground, you see the sea, the mountains and the city, and you suddenly understand how they are related. I organized the entire programme between two horizontal planes: the floor and the roof. The roof shelters the building, and the floor resembles a huge veranda. The veranda is a public space, a gathering place that lends access to all auditoriums, movie theatres and rehearsal rooms, as well as a restaurant, a library, shops, and the offices of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. From this veranda, you overlook the surroundings. Between the two horizontal planes is an interplay of volumes and voids. Can you explain this part of the design? I wanted to create something that looks simple from the outside but contains the richness of an interior landscape opening into a larger landscape. What I came up with looks like a human shelter from the outside, while the inside contains a complexity of curves. We had a lot of columns at the beginning, but they made the project look ugly, like an elevated car park. By using prestressed concrete for the walls of the big auditoriums, we were able to make 40-m-long cantilevers without all those columns. The walls touch the ground but at the same time seem to fly. What did landscape designer Fernando Chacel add to the project? I asked him to include water in the garden so that sky and sunlight would be reflected underneath the building. But Chacel did much more. He made a sunny garden around the building and a shadowy garden underneath the building. You can compare it to Antonio Gaudí’s Park Güell in Barcelona, a very architectural park that plays with nature without trying to copy it. The connection between the ground and the elevated veranda gives the space a strong spirit. Wind circulating through openings in the veranda creates a fresh feel throughout the entire building. Even when it’s very hot outside, the climate on the veranda is quite pleasant. The use of concrete to create architecture that invites light and air to move through the building – we can’t avoid the comparison to Brazilian Modernism. Is this pure coincidence or a deliberate homage? I would say it is an unconscious homage. I didn’t set out to do something ‘Brazilian’. If I had had a preconceived plan to copy a certain style, I’m sure it would have led to disaster. Instead, I thought about the tropical climate, about sheltering, concrete forces, an elevated plane, ramps for easy upward movement – because escalators were too expensive. 179



The expressive forms of the various theatres are evident in their equally spectacular interiors.




The ‘veranda’ – a plane 10 m above ground level – lends access to all functions of the building.

Knowing that Brazilians are skilled in working with concrete, De Portzamparc used their expertise to good advantage.

‘The first time I saw the site, I found the place outlandish’




Long sections.

1 2 3 4 5 6 1

7 8

2 9 3 10 4 5 6 7 9

11 12









Veranda level.




I also know that Brazilians are good at working with concrete. Brazil is a country that is still making bridges and tunnels and public works of art from concrete. If you add up all these factors, you end up with a huge concrete veranda. At a certain point I had to admit that the two horizontal planes did make the project look very Brazilian, but it was certainly not on purpose. Cidade da Música is, as the name suggests, a 9000-m2 city rather than a building. How did you manage to generate such a dynamic atmosphere? The shape of the building – a parallelogram that appears to be rectangular when viewed from certain vantage points, yet triangular from others – allowed us to incorporate a sense of motion into the complex that would have been impossible if we had anchored the building to the ground. That sounds very baroque. I don’t like something that is a total illusion. To me, one of the pleasures of architecture is to feel the static forces at work. This concert hall conveys a clear understanding of its structure. But the deformation of the rectangle, which plays with your perception of the building, does have a baroque quality.

great sense of openness. Its sloping ramps invite people in. Once they reach the large veranda, the pleasure of discovering starts – finding the different theatres and various other functions. I’ve always thought that moving through a building, finding one’s way and discovering spaces in the process, is essential to architecture. The difference between this building and many of my other projects, however, is the presence of a second defining theme: in Rio, we revealed the static forces of the construction.

‘One of the pleasures of architecture is to feel the static forces at work’

How does this project relate to your other work? As in most of my projects, the idea of the void plays an important role. In this case, the void is the empty space between the two horizontal planes: roof and veranda. Although a landmark, the building has a



When a new mayor took office, the larger auditorium had to be rebuilt to accommodate not only concerts and operas, but also theatrical and dance performances


Niccolò Baldassini. Photo RFR






Structural engineer Niccolò Baldassini of RFR offers a glimpse behind the scenes of buildings designed by Frank Gehry, Tom Mayne and Renzo Piano. Text David Keuning





Niccolò Baldassini, one of the directors at engineering company RFR, with offices in Paris, Stuttgart, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, sends me a text message at precisely the moment we have arranged to meet, to tell me that he will be a few minutes late. Five minutes later he walks into the hall of the Faculty of Architecture of Delft University of Technology, where he spoke at a congress the day before. ‘I ordered a taxi, but it didn’t arrive,’ the Italian Paris resident apologizes. I like to think that this accuracy is typical of the species of human being known as structural engineers. An accurate engineer results in a precise building. The reason for our meeting is two large projects in Paris that are expected to be completed in the coming few years: the Phare Tower by Morphosis and the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création by Frank Gehry (RFR collaborated on the latter with engineering company TESS). Both designs show fluid forms, with façades that turn away in all sorts of directions. Easy to draw but difficult to build. RFR is also working on the geometrically far simpler Intesa Tower in Turin by Renzo Piano at the moment. What makes this project a challenge is not the complexity of the forms but the climate installation and the façade detailing. Thom Mayne, Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano are all architects who have more than earned their spurs in their profession. What is it like to collaborate with designers who so clearly know what they want? Niccolò Baldassini: Our affairs with architects are like friendships, with all the ups and downs of any natural cycle. We have long relations with most of them. When you work together for five or six years, you get to know each other well. Sometimes the ties get less tight and you lose contact. Our relationship with Renzo Piano, for instance, started when we did the Lingotto building in 2001 and then it went quiet for some time. Now we’re going strong again with the Intesa Tower and the winning competition design for the Citadel of Amiens. But surely a structural engineer often has to make proposals that rationalize the architect’s design? Do architects not find it annoying that they have to compromise their design through the intercession of the structural engineer? It’s our aim to realize the architect’s goals. In the case of a free-form design, we want to make the concept the architect has in mind, but at the same time adapt the geometry of the structure in such a way that we get the highest possible level of standardization and as few different building parts as possible. But doesn’t that sometimes lead to conflicts? For instance, is the Phare Tower being built in exactly the same geometry as Mayne’s design? In the case of the Phare Tower, my colleague Mitsu Edwards brought Morphosis’s geometrically complex façades back to a limited number of surfaces each composed of glass panels with a single basic form: a triangle, a rectangle, a parallelogram or a lozenge (a diamond-shaped quadrangle). As a result, the complexity of the design is reduced to four simple geometric types. And yes, that does have some consequences for the architecture, although very limited. It is a common iterative process, resulting 186


in a solution that is acceptable to both the engineer and the architect. Thom Mayne is perfectly able to integrate our contribution in his design. Only young architects occasionally have difficulties understanding that budgets are important. The terms most used by structural engineers at the moment are geometry and parametric design, sometimes in all sorts of interestingsounding combinations. Is this a fleeting trend or a fundamental change in the way structural engineers carry out their work? I think it’s both. Over time, a working group specialized in geometry took shape within our office. Ten years ago, you never heard a structural engineer say: I do geometry. In a short time, it has suddenly become a fashionable word, but we’ve been involved with it for ages. Peter Rice, who founded RFR in 1982, was already involved with geometry in the 1960s, when he worked on the design of what was at the time the exceptionally complex supporting structure for the Sidney Opera House in Australia. Geometry is in our office’s DNA. If you look at your firm’s production output since the 1980s, can you point to a development that is representative of what your profession as a whole has experienced? I think so. Free-form constructions are becoming more and more refined and smooth. When designers felt the need arise for free forms, due to the development of blob architecture in the 1990s, structural engineers at first tried to achieve these forms with triangulated surfaces. One example of this is our roofing for the courtyard at Neumünster Abbey in Luxembourg in 1999. This type of construction was popular in the late 1990s but is now outdated. Why is that? We have pretty much had enough of it now. Of course it’s possible to achieve any curved surface with triangles. That realization was useful and necessary to bring geometrics to a higher plane. But it’s just like playing the piano. For the first ten years you practise scales, and that is as it should be. But once you’ve mastered them completely after endless repetition, you’re allowed to stop. Then it’s time for other, more complex music. What sort of music is that? We’re now trying to define the required geometry much more closely by implementing the surface as a curve: cylindrical approximation as opposed to the faceted approximation of the 1990s. This is especially challenging when those surfaces are transparent, since the structural and connecting systems are visible in that case. A first step in the evolution towards smooth surfaces is the roofing of the SaintLazare metro station in Paris, with double curvature glass panels. It dates from 2003, and it taught us that double curvature glass panels are very expensive and not sustainable in many respects, even if aesthetically coherent. The TGV Station in Strasbourg from 2007 is an example of the next step: the toroidal transparent skin is composed of single curvature, cold-bent glass. In a horizontal direction, where the curvature is the least pronounced, the glass panels are narrow and straight. At that point, the angle shift is absorbed in the mullions. In a vertical direction the curvature is stronger, so the glass panels there are elastically STRUCTURAL ENGINEERI N G

Phare Tower Paris/France Architect: Morphosis In development (expected completion 2016) Standing 300 m tall, the Phare Tower in La Défense is much taller than all the other buildings in the immediate vicinity. The building stands out because of the absence of straight lines, which is a challenge for the design of the façade. RFR developed an external solar shading system on the south side of the building. Situated about a metre in front of the façade there are metallic fabric strips, which also hide the façade maintenance installation from sight. RFR carried out extensive research into rationalizing the complex design of the façades, resulting in façade panels with only four basic geometric types.

‘Free-form constructions are becoming more and more refined and smooth’

Mock-up of the façade.

Rendering of the Phare Tower.

The south façade is provided with sun blinds made of metallic fabric. Specially designed steel junctions can absorb all the angle shifts.



Geometric composition of the south façade. Yellow: rectangle Green: parallelogram Red: lozenge Purple: triangle


Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création Paris/France Architect: Frank Gehry In collaboration with TESS Under construction (estimated completion 2013) In the Fondation Louis Vuitton, located in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry replicates the complexity of forms that he applied in the museum in Bilbao, this time using a transparent surface instead an opaque one. The result is a light transparent skin that evokes images of nineteenth-century engineering feats like the Crystal Palace. Twelve transparent curved surfaces (dubbed ‘sails’ by the architect) surmount the building, creating terraces that provide a view over the park. Each sail is a free-form surface, realized as a smooth glass skin, using only cylindrical glass panels held on two sides, according to a layout provided by Gehry. The glass panels are manufactured using adjustable moulds, numerically controlled, in order to modify the radius and adapt it to the geometry of the design. This technique also allows the use of toughened glass.

‘You can’t design a façade without knowing how it will affect the internal climate’

Mock-up of the façade. Photo Nicolas Borel

Scale model of the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création. Photo Nicolas Borel




Galeries Lafayette Marseille/France Architect: Moatti et Rivière Under construction (estimated completion 2013) This building is situated in the area between the ‘Vieux Port’ (old harbour) and the city centre, nowadays under renovation. Lafayette wanted to extend and renovate its existing department store, and in so doing upgrade the district. Moatti et Rivière moved the façade a few metres forward to create more space in the interior. Undulating canopies on the façades give the building a striking appearance. They are mounted on triangular consoles, each with a different inclination. The upper side is clad with sandwich panels provided with a 5-mm-thick covering layer of ceramics that looks like natural stone. To make the twisted forms possible with flat panels, the undulating surface is subdivided into a number of quadrilateral flat units. The more pronounced the curvature, the smaller the subdivision. The underside is clad with aluminium strips.

‘If you don’t completely trust your own expertise, then you should stop doing what you do’ 189


Subdivision of one of the canopies into flat geometric forms.

Rendering of the Galeries Lafayette.


bent, to match the radius of the supporting structure. Even more challenging is the Fondation Louis Vuitton: here the glass canopies are freeform surfaces, approximated by cylindrical panels. These previous examples all involved single glass, which was possible because they were canopies or spaces with low climatic constraints. The design for the new pavilions on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, by Moatti et Rivière, presents us with a new challenge: now we’re making double curvature double-glazed surfaces, composed of single curvature glass panels only. The double glazing is necessary because these pavilions have an indoor climate. This is a whole new question. The curved forms of the Strasbourg TGV Station and the complex shapes of Gehry’s oeuvre are already well-known, but this is one of the very first times that forms of this complexity are being realized in double glazing. But wasn’t the visitors’ centre at Italian distillery Nardini Grappa by Massimiliano Fuksas in 2005 also constructed of double glass curved in two directions? Yes, that’s true, but that’s a small and probably extremely expensive building. Moreover, it’s technically limited to the use of annealed glass, which is not particularly efficient. The Fondation Louis Vuitton and the Strasbourg TGV Station are much larger and allow for a thorough investigation in glass production, increasing our know-how and making smaller projects like the pavilions in the Eiffel Tower economically feasible. Does RFR also perform fundamental research, separate from the projects the firm is involved in? Unfortunately we are unable to carry out fundamental research at the level we are used to at most universities. But each new project gives us an opportunity to investigate something new and to take small steps forward. In this way, we make significant progress in the course of a few years. In addition, we have a four-year research programme funded by the European Union, together with the University of Vienna and consultancy firm Evolute. In this way, fundamental research does still get a chance in our firm. We need new mathematical calculation methods for complex geometries and this collaboration makes it possible to acquire them for ourselves. We regularly have Master’s students in the office, for example, who carry out research that is separate from the current projects. For instance, we are conducting research on the optimization of structural shapes using genetic algorithms. I often compare this optimization method to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Different forms develop, but only the strongest survive. This particular evolution takes place on the computers in our office. Another example of innovation, which is in fact linked to a project, is the search for double curvature surfaces that are composed of flat lozenges instead of flat triangles. A structure like that is much more sustainable, cheaper and lighter than a triangulated construction, because you need fewer ribs and junctions and you have much less waste from cutting the sheeting material. If the curves are not too pronounced and the pattern is rather dense, then the surface will look rather smooth. We’re applying this principle in the football 190


stadium in Limoges, which we are now designing with Atelier Ferret. This will be the first skin realized according to this concept. You recently set up a new business unit. Under the name RFR Element you now carry out environmental studies, and building physics as well. Why is that? You can’t design a façade without k nowing how it will affect the internal climate and what impact it will have on energy consumption. Besides, we find it important to provide all the engineering services as an integrated package and to take advantage of the synergy between the various disciplines. Could you name a project where you approached the building environment in an unorthodox way? A good example is the Intesa Tower by Renzo Piano, which we carried out together with my colleagues Bertrand Toussaint and Benjamin Cimerman. To cool the building at night in a natural manner, we proposed making the façades in such a way that they could be opened once all the employees had left the building, creating cross ventilation. However, imagine a bank building with windows that can open: the people at the bank were totally against the idea, of course. Far too unsafe. So we designed a natural cooling system where air is circulated through the building at night through channels in the concrete floors. Openings in the façade ensure that the wind flows into one side of the building and leaves on the other. In that way, the air releases its coolness to the floor elements. Do you think it will work, this natural ventilation? Just perforating the building slab doesn’t automatically mean that the wind will blow through it. That’s true. There is no suction due to thermal differences. We preferred to use the wind to drive the air through the ducts. The angular shape of the building, with its laterally cantilevered screens, creates overpressure on the windward side and underpressure on the lee side. The difference in pressure makes the air flow through the channels. How do you make sure that what you design will actually work when it’s built? Do you make mock-ups? Yes, in many cases we do. But this doesn’t come anywhere near the thoroughness that characterizes the automotive industry and aerospace engineering, for example, where research takes place in a much more evolutionary way than in the building world. There, engineers make a design that they subsequently build in parts; each part is tested and adapted in every possible way before it is actually built. In architecture, you see none of this at all. As structural engineers we only have one chance: on the actual building site. That is precisely what makes our work beautiful, exciting and interesting. We trust that what we propose and deliver will meet all standards. We’re used to not having a second chance. If you don’t completely trust your own expertise, then you should stop doing what you do.


Intesa Tower Turin/Italy Architect: Renzo Piano Under construction (estimated completion 2013)

Appearance of the façade construction. The glass louvres in the outermost screen can be opened to provide the cavity behind with fresh air.

RFR was responsible for the building physics and the façade of this tower, not the geometry. Within Renzo Piano’s oeuvre, the Intesa Tower fits into this group: Congress Center and Offices in Lyon (1996), Daimler Financial Services headquarters in Berlin (1998) and the New York Times headquarters in New York (2007). The façades of these buildings display an increasing level of refinement and the Intesa Tower goes one step further in this respect: the façade consists of an exceptional filigree construction, with extremely thin mullions. This is achieved by suspending the façades from the floor slabs four floors at a time, so that the mullions are under tension, stabilized by the dead weight of the glass panels. This makes very slender dimensioning possible.

Composition of the floors, containing the ventilation ducts.

‘Ten years ago, you never heard a structural engineer say: I do geometry’ Rendering of the Intesa Tower.




Section of the façade construction. Façade shutters positioned at floor height can be opened to allow cool air to flow through the floors.

Studio Dror Case Study 206

Momoyo Kaijima Bookmark 194 192


Rupert Soar Portrait 200

Se r v i ce A r ea 193

Momoyo Kaijima.




‘Books on traditional architecture are most important to me’ Momoyo Kaijima of Atelier Bow-Wow values books that document vernacular culture. Text Rahel Willhardt Photos Atelier Bow-Wow 195



‘Is she famous?’ asks the curious manager of RWTH Aachen University’s guest facilities on the way to the interview room. ‘Atelier Bow-Wow is one of the world’s most innovative architecture firms,’ I reply. ‘But you can ask Momoyo herself. She’s studied and taught at ETH Zurich, and she speaks fluent German.’ The self-assured woman I meet prefers to be interviewed in English, however. Outside, Aachen lies beneath in a thick blanket of fresh snow; inside, we settle into classic black Barcelona chairs that murmur Mies van der Rohe and Poltrona. Momoyo Kaijima’s deep-red mohair pullover contrasts sharply with the stark blackand-white surroundings. As I am to find out, the way she dresses reflects the way she thinks. Her use of language is associative. Her hands sketch lines in the air as she talks. At times her gestures reveal more than her words. Spatial designs are not easy to capture in text, but Atelier Bow-Wow’s publications prove that it’s possible. The built work and the written word merge to become an architectural Yin and Yang. The entity is perfect; the union of opposites – theory and practice, literature and reference book, design and research – forms the basis of contemporary building innovation. It’s like the disclosure of a magic trick: once you understand how it works, it seems simple, but not necessarily reproducible. Atelier Bow-Wow is well known for inventing new ways to respond to users’ everyday needs. How do you store your own books? The house and atelier we designed for ourselves [built in 2005] has a 6-x-3-m set of bookshelves on the second floor. I haven’t counted the books, but the wall is covered completely. In the lower section we store reference books on architecture, which we use for looking up details and getting new ideas. In the upper part are art and design books. On the highest shelves we have theory, literature and books that we have already read. Have your reading habits changed over the years? Well, I liked stories as a child. My mother loved English literature. She gave me many books to read, such as Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Canadian bestselling 196


‘The different perspectives of contemporary writers help me to make up my own mind’ author. It’s about a red-headed orphan named Anne. She gets to live with a brother and sister at the Green Gables farm. In her early years, Anne has a lot of trouble. She is very sensitive and complains a lot, but has a beautiful imagination. She observes landscapes and buildings, which she uses as a basis for imagining different stories. I also liked Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s about a father, a mother and three children who live in some remote place in the USA. They build their house by themselves and cultivate the surroundings. The story includes many details of a farmer’s lifestyle back then – how they butchered animals, preserved meat, churned butter, made cheese, played the fiddle. I still like these sorts of books. What makes them so fascinating? From my perspective today, it’s not so much the human story but how they ate, cooked, cut down a tree or decorated the house. These books are full of such details. These were the stories I liked from when I was about ten up to junior high school. What happened after high school? After high school? Of course I started to read architecture books. [Laughs.] Have you focused only on design and construction since then? No, I read literature now, too, much of which is from Japan. Soseki Natsume is one of my favourite writers. He is considered the Japanese Charles Dickens. He’s tried many narrative styles. In Wagahai wa neko de aru [English translation: I Am a Cat], the main storyteller is a cat living BOOKMARK

in a professor’s house, observing Japan’s middle classes. It’s an ironic piece. Written in a majestic plural, it’s all about conversation, atmosphere and behaviour, as seen through the cat’s eyes. I also like manga. Japanese comics are really beautiful – like illustrated poetry. With some exceptions that are simple and funny, most manga are too difficult for children to understand. You have to know how to read between the pictures. My partner [Yoshiharu Tsukamoto] and I have a favourite novelist: Kazushi Hosaka. His stories are about ordinary people living ordinary lives. This simplicity helps people to imagine their own lives as part of a similar story. Hosaka also gives the story a context – a place within the world – and explains the meaning of a novel. Kusa no ue

on historical events. His novels are simple, strong and personal. He collected various historical facts, visited places, conducted interviews, checked historical documents and turned his findings into stories. Until recently, I didn’t know exactly what he’d done, so I read Ryoma ga yuku [Ryoma moves ahead], a novel about a samurai who tries to change the empire – with its governmental restrictions – into a democracy during the Meiji period [1868 - 1912, an era that represents the first half of the Empire of Japan].

no choshoku [breakfast on the grasses] is about a father and son who live together. Each night the father cooks breakfast soup: it’s a ritual, during which they talk. The book has a rather straightforward plot.

cultural and functional richness of vernacular architecture. Rudofsky is a kind of practical theorist. In Now I Lay Me Down to Eat he offers alternatives for everyday design problems. It’s a random collection of old daily practices, and it shows that life can be easier than we make it. Why, for example, do we always design bathtubs that are impossible for adults to lie down in? I just mentioned Anne of Green Gables. It helped me to understand how to relate life to space. For most people, literature is much easier to understand than specialized books, which also have their place, of course. From a theoretical perspective, I like Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York. Venturi has an interesting view on the differences between architectural forms, as

How do you decide what to read? It depends. Mainly I go to the book store to find something interesting. Once I find an interesting writer, I try to follow his or her work. It’s nice to compare what contemporary writers think of our times. Different perspectives help me to make up my own mind. What’s the last book you read? A novel by the late Ryotaro Shiba, best known for his books on Japanese history. Originally he was a journalist; even as a novelist, he sort of ‘reported’ 197


Which architecture books are most important to you? The architecture book I value most is, without doubt, Bernard Rudofsky’s Architecture Without Architects. It provides an insight into the


well as the causes of those differences. His comparisons are based on a broad range of examples – from traditional to modern buildings. Koolhaas documents his own observations. Like a journalist, he explains what’s happening in today’s architecture. According to Koolhaas, architecture can be read as a representation of society. What kind of architecture books are you looking for at present? When I’m abroad I try to find books on traditional houses, local cultures and relevant background information. The most important are books on traditional architecture. I love the bay windows that you find in wooden Ottoman houses in Turkey, for instance. Sometimes I find nice

monographs. My favourites are monographs I have on Le Corbusier, Lina Bo Bardi and Erik Gunnar Asplund. Also dear to me is Kazuo Shinohara’s 16 Houses and Architectural Theory. Since Atelier Bow-Wow was founded in 1992, you have published 11 books. What is your driving force? So many? I guess we like to observe and document in an architectural way and, through that, to say something with wider implications. Architecture is a universal language that communicates history, behaviour and habits. Take a window, for instance. A French window may differ from a Venetian window. But without knowing any French or Italian, we can touch it, open it and tell whether it’s got a comfortable ledge. We can participate in another culture by 198


reading the architectural language. There may be misunderstandings, of course, but that makes it interesting. We try to make this language visible and understandable in our books. Made in Tokyo, for example, shows the culture of the city as represented by architecture. I try to capture as much as possible by showing only buildings, but sometimes we add text, diagrams and descriptions of the local lifestyle to make it clearer for foreign readers. We also like to include nice photos of our own work. We want to explain how people behave in the signature houses we have designed and why they decided on the exact design that we executed. Architectural forms, daily needs, lifestyle: it’s interesting to include such things

when documenting how people live today. Lastly, our books provide a framework for architectural thinking in a wider sense. Seen from our perspective, we design single projects – one at a time. But seen though someone else’s eyes, an incidental house might lead to a new typology. Books like Made in Tokyo and Pet Architecture open our work to public scrutiny. Do you consider yourself a theorist? Well, a practical one, if at all. How would you describe the impact of your publications? They get an exchange of ideas started. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here, holding a lecture on ‘cliché architecture’ at Aachen University. [Laughs.] Lectures prompt people to approach each other BOOKMARK

and enter into a dialogue. Every time we are invited, I try to find out about the audience’s interests. Once a Norwegian philosopher wanted to revitalize a stretch of seaside occupied by heavy industry. We presented Pet Architecture, hoping that smallness and art could provide a solution for bringing life back into the area. It seemed to inspire the Norwegians, who finally built a lot of small buildings along the water.

Books that have influenced Momoyo Kaijima Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, L.C. Page & Co, 1908 Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods, Harper & Brothers, 1932 Soseki Natsume, Wagahai wa neko de aru, Tuttle Publishing, 1905-1906; I Am a Cat, (English translation), Tuttle Publishing, 2002.

Your latest book, Behaviorology, is a more classic monograph. Yes, it’s a collection of our works – from single houses to big buildings – and includes documentation of the research that led to them. It’s the first time we asked someone to write the foreword. We have contributions from an architecture professor, a sociologist and an art curator. They point out the similarities between our work and Japan’s historical architecture, connect what we do to recent findings in cultural research, and explain why the art scene is close to our work, respectively.

Kazushi Hosaka, Kusa no ue no choshoku [breakfast on the grasses], Kodansha, 1993 Ryotaro Shiba, Ryoma ga yuku [Ryoma moves ahead], published in eight paperback volumes between 1963 and 1966 Bernard Rudofsky, Architecture Without Architects: A Short Introduction to NonPedigreed Architecture, The Museum of Modern Art Press, 1964 Bernard Rudofsky, Now I Lay Me Down to Eat: Notes and Footnotes on the Lost Art of Living, Doubleday, 1980

Any new books in the pipeline? There’s one I prepared more than three years ago. It’s about a design project I did in the studio: 23 houses in different cities. I wanted to show the condition of urban space through a single house in each city.

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, The Museum of Modern Art Press, 1966 Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, Oxford University Press, 1978 Kazuo Shinohara, 16 Houses and Architectural Theory, Bijuteu Shuppan-sha, 1971

‘Books like Made in Tokyo and Pet Architecture open our work to public scrutiny’

You used to teach at ETH Zurich, and currently you’re an associate professor at the University of Tsukuba. As a teacher, do you see cultural differences in the way students use books? Language is an important issue. In Japan we have a lot of architecture books that were translated into Japanese; in Switzerland they read more books in the original languages, mainly English, German and French. It’s easier for Swiss students to sense a differentiation between backgrounds and to understand the subtleties involved. Japan is an island. We try to understand cultural differences through books. But travelling, talking, watching – cultural exchange by any means, basically – all are necessary to explain architecture.




Hive Mind

Macrotermes michaelseni termite. Photo Isaac Eastgate

Rupert Soar slices through structures built by termites to develop a revolutionary method of fabrication. Text Terri Peters Photos Rupert Soar & Freeform Construction 200



Washing: Rupert Soar in Namibia after a week’s continuous washing of the mud to reveal the inner structure of a mound, as a cast of the internal structure.

‘Termite mounds are the ultimate adaptive architecture’ Digital design, rapid prototyping, 3D printing – these terms are nothing new for avant-garde architects and forward-thinking members of the construction industry. Such technologies exist, at least in part, thanks to the work of Rupert Soar, partner of the world’s leading RM (rapid manufacturing) research group at the University of Loughborough, England, and, more recently, the brain behind his private consultancy, Freeform Construction. Soar, a mechanical and manufacturing engineer and inventor, has been pioneering research into additive fabrication and

RM for more than 15 years. He helps clients, including Buro Happold and Foster + Partners, to integrate RM and RP (rapid prototyping) into their operations, which now produce an annual output of over 3,500 ‘prints’ of geometries and sketch designs based on the use of these techniques. While at Loughborough, Soar led an ambitious EU-funded research project aimed at building room-scale 3D printers. His dream, he confesses, is to one day ‘print’ a whole building. But RM has implications beyond speed and scale. ‘We quickly realized that if

we could get the material right,’ says Soar, ‘we could do more than just rapidly produce more and more end-user parts.’ These new technologies allow for the creation of geometries that are beyond the capacity of previously used fabrication methods. His goal is adaptive, customizable, highperformance architecture, and his fascination with additive manufacturing technologies (which, unlike subtractive processes such as laser cutting and CNC milling, involve the layering of material) has taken him to the 3-m-high termite mounds of Namibia and back again.

The scanning machine that Soar and his team custom made to document the termite mounds.



Filling: the internal channels and ducts of the termite mound were filled continuously with 6 tonnes of plaster of Paris prior to it being digitally scanned.

Known as ‘the termite researcher’ in many circles, Soar carries out ground-breaking research into the insects’ selfcooling, naturally ventilated structures. In presentations at prestigious architecture schools, and at conferences for material and fabrication companies and academic institutions worldwide, Soar shows images of enormous plaster casts of termite mounds and exhibits digital models of termite behaviour. He calls termite mounds ‘the ultimate adaptive architecture’, explaining that the insects’ evolutional construction technique, which responds to and adapts to constantly changing internal conditions and external weather influences, features certain ecological concepts that he sees as relevant to discussions on adaptive architecture for human use. ‘My story really began in 1990 when I stumbled upon one of the first commercial RP machines in Europe. Coming from a construction background, I immediately spotted the advantage of building things layer by layer; after all, that’s how we construct buildings.’ Soar was immediately fascinated with the potential of the technology. ‘RP was a pretty radical concept


A digital model made using the 3D scan of the termite mound.

The scanning machine slices and scans the plaster filled mound.

for automotive and consumergoods manufacturers, because machining and moulding don’t allow you to build like that.’ He began using RP to make high-performance parts. ‘We could print moving parts in assemblies, we could print rigid materials as flexible geometries, and we could make whole assemblies from a single material. As materials got better, we stopped talking about the technology as “rapid” and began describing it as “functional” or “with greater function”, but no one seemed to know how to quantify these functions, let alone squeeze more of them into a single design.’ Soar then began finding other ways of using rapid prototyping. ‘Everyone else was down-scaling, but I thought: what if we upscaled RP to construction?

Would we be talking about printing whole buildings or bits of buildings?’ He and his Freeform Construction team went on to develop mineralJet, a 3D-printing machine that uses Soar’s newly patented mineral material to print full-scale building components. The maximum bed size of the printer is 1.5 m, and he thinks this invention fills a niche in the industry: somewhere between model making and mass-production. ‘At the moment, I don’t see a market for whole buildingadditive manufacturing solutions, but we do anticipate a demand from architects who are looking for new processes for the manufacture of large components with complex external and internal features.’ Soar has tested 3D-printing in the past with

A slice of the mound. The white areas show the complex tunnels the termites have constructed.



great success, but not in a traditional architectural setting. He applied his expertise in the areas of 3D scanning and ‘printing’ objects to his study of insect-built structures: those made by Macrotermes michaelseni termites to be precise. As we talk about the trajectory of his work – from the design of materials to the development of manufacturing technologies – everything seems to relate obviously and naturally to termites. Over a five-year period, he obsessively recorded the precise organization and the complex structures of termite mounds in Africa, using microphones, moulds, huge machines to slice through the mounds, and custom scanners for the rapid manufacturing of identical 3D models on his return to the UK. It was the coolest research trip imaginable. In 2004 Soar first visited termite mounds in Namibia with the BBC Natural History Unit, which was filming a David Attenborough Life on Earth TV series. Soar arrived with a multidisciplinary team to conduct moisture experiments and to document the precise geometries and structures of two 3-m-high termite mounds, each belonging to a colony of up to 1.5 million termites with an underground nest as well. In an effort to learn how to transfer knowledge of ecology and PORTRAIT

adaptable structures to the construction industry, he developed bespoke in situ 3D scanning and imaging technologies. The process of documenting the termite mounds involved filling them with 6 tonnes of plaster of Paris, but this was the least of the team’s logistical challenges. ‘We had three months to design, build, test and ship the world’s largest mobile scanning machine to the site in order to make the June-to-August goodweather window, when both temperature and rainfall are low,’ he says. To fully understand and document the complexities of the termites’ mounds and behaviours, they had to scan each mound in 1 mm increments. It took ten minutes to capture each ‘slice’ digitally and two months of night-and-day scanning to secure more than 2,500 images. ‘As part of this research, I produced the weirdest set of sound recordings of the mound reverberating and the millions of termites going about their activities. They have a full communication system which no one had ever heard.’ In May 2010, as part of a team commissioned to create a pavilion for the International Insect Arts Festival in London, Soar provided a glimpse of his experience to the public. ‘The space was designed to transport the visitor from

The termite pavilion at the International Insect Arts Festival in London (2010) – a scaled up 3D section of the scanned termite mound at human scale, into which the noise of the supercolony was reproduced as an immersive experience. Photo Joseph Burns




‘Architecture allows us to cheat natural selection’ one swarm environment – the bustling Southbank Festival – directly into the heart of an insect swarm.’ His collaborator, Chris Watson, collated the termite recordings into a single looped track, which was played into the space. ‘It was electric’ says Soar, ‘the lowfrequency audio components produced deep booming sounds inside. The first time we switched it on the hairs on my neck stood up, and the sense of immersion was instant.’ A total of 50,000 visitors entered the space during the three-day festival. ‘We’d spent all our budget putting it together, and we ended up squatting in it for three days – the only way to keep the planning officers

from fining us.’ The pavilion, which was at the London Zoo for the remainder of the year, is currently in Cornwall. ‘I see buildings in strange ways. I see them as living extensions of us,’ says Soar. ‘Architecture allows us to cheat natural selection – to create stability for ourselves, our families and our colleagues within.’ Through his termite research, Soar has inspired architects to think of ways to use natural structures and behaviours to make materials and processes for real buildings. His work also suggests methods for producing complex architectural forms and intricate functions that would be impossible to create by any other means. He believes his

newest work with materials and machines is emerging at the perfect time. It addresses the need for architects to consider a building’s whole life, to recognize the impact of their designs on ecology and to work towards a truly adaptive architecture. The implementation of Soar’s research could lead to incredible step changes in material use and carbon reduction. ‘Sustainable architecture is, at its core, about the ability to generate and integrate process solutions with very few resources, and about using materials so they can be reused and recycled.’ Structures should act as membranes, mediating the relationship between inside and outside and managing energy flows. He thinks it’s all possible, but we need to embrace new technologies and practices. ‘The most important agent of change is us – the occupiers of buildings.’ Unlike his termite research, Soar’s most recent work does not make for exciting imagery. Certain pictures seem to show nothing but piles of white dust and chalky blocks. Called mineralStone, this scaleless, shapeless substance may not look like much, but Soar says it is a potentially game-

changing invention. ‘it’s taken three years to develop and it is submitted for patent,’ he says. ‘The result of years of research, mineralStone is not so much what you see in these images, but what you can do with it.’ Soar goes on to list mineralStone’s surprising properties and advantages. The dense, highly engineered, low-energy material is fully recyclable, has excellent thermal mass, is naturally fire retardant, and is relatively inexpensive. A 5-mm-thick layer has the equivalent strength of 15-mm-thick plasterboard with a skim coat. ‘The material has integrated functional structures, which means we are able to maximize the performance of insulation, utilities and ventilation.’ Soar has various applications in mind, including use as a secondary cladding to retrofit existing housing: he sees an old façade filled with mineralStone providing both insulation and an ‘interstitial space’ between the building and its environment in which additional functions could be embedded. Another potential use is as a ‘functional cladding’ for new buildings; here the material could act as a responsive membrane between inside and outside. ‘I am not an idealist,’ insists Soar, ‘and this isn’t just a load of science fiction.’ What makes these new technologies so exciting is their spot-on relevance to today’s formal and performance-focused contemporary practice. They propose truly new and untested ways of designing and building architecture. With the building industry desperate for innovative ways to generate alternative energy, the future of architecture lies in creating and adapting buildings that can harvest energy available at a stone’s throw – a bit like the industrious termite does. www.freeformconstruction.

Soar’s MineralStone material is a new class of ‘printable’ construction scale fabrication materials.




Freeform Construction are developing computer scripting methods to digitally grow complex ‘functional skins’ which integrate multiple properties for thermal, acoustic, moisture regulation and the termite ventilation method within a single printable product for new build or refurbishment applications.

‘I am not an idealist, and this isn’t just a load of science fiction’

MineralJet: proposed large format 3D printing machine, called MineralJet, Freeform Construction wish to develop for custom ‘functional’ cladding and freeform partitioning systems using the MineralStone material.




Suppor ting by Collapsing

The QuaDror system as part of an installation at the ‘Mutant Architecture & Design’ show (2011) in Milan.

Studio Dror developed collapsible blocks and frames to create selfsupporting structures. Text Peter Dykes Photos Studio Dror




Building the block system.

For the past five years, New York-based designer Dror Benshetrit has headed up a cross-disciplinary team that is investigating the properties of an unusual interlocking structural geometry. The way the team’s initially flat geometric forms twist open to stand by themselves evokes a simple wooden toy or puzzle, but the applications are extensive, including a potentially significant innovation in the field of humanitarian architecture. Where did the idea come from? Is there a precedent for the way the pieces fit together? Dror Benshetrit: The idea came from serendipity and curiosity, really. I am not aware of any similar system or precedent. Transformation and movement are consistent themes in our projects. I am fascinated by the movement of a simple gesture being able to transform and change the shape and nature of an object. In 2006 I was in the workshop playing with different forms and materials, when I stumbled upon this geometry and became interested in its aesthetic and versatility. I gathered an interdisciplinary

Rendering of a QuaDror road barrier.


team and together we began to explore the structural integrity of the interlocking members and the potential of this new structural system.

nature of its geometry when standing. The triangulation of the four identical sides gives the system its load-bearing capacity.

So how do these interlocking members actually work? The QuaDror system, as I named it, is made by assembling four identical L-shaped pieces, which are either thick panels resulting in a solid block, or thin frames resulting in a trestle structure. These are collapsible, which allows for rapid assembly and a transition from closed and flat to open and selfsupporting. The strength of the system relies on the

What sort of applications do the two designs have, and how do they compare with existing systems or structures? The first design, the solid panel system, was prototyped at different scales and with different materials, including plywood and concrete. After testing these, we found that they would be particularly effective for building retaining or dividing walls. These units show amazing load-bearing capacity. Their unique

A QuaDror concrete block.

‘The idea emerged from serendipity and curiosity’


Rendering of the connecting joints of the Relief House, open and closed.

Assembling the Relief House.

‘The kit contains instructions, tools and a set of universal joints’

Visualization of the Relief House, showing the elements supplied and the number that fit into one standard shipping container.




geometry also creates an acoustic barrier when they are stacked together to form a retaining wall, thanks to the inner air space in each unit. The second design, the trestle frame, has larger-scale structural applications. The space truss frame consists of four triangles mirroring one another, which gives great strength to the structure. The strength of the opposing triangles’ 3D geometry, along with the ability of the system to collapse and be easily assembled or disassembled, benefits certain types of construction projects. In addition to a more permanent steel-frame unit to be used as part of a building’s structure, we have also designed a prototype for a Relief House kit, which enables users to build emergency dwellings in Third World countries or in the aftermath of natural disasters. The Relief House as an installation at the New Museum in New York.


What’s the process for shipping and constructing these kits? The kit itself contains instructions, tools and a set of QuaDror universal joints. The Relief House is easy to assemble and is based on the trestle frame system; the joints supplied enable the folding mechanism. The components that make up the structure can be transported to where they are needed; alternatively, the rest of the structure can be built from locally available material. This allows for the cultural and ecological context to be integrated into the house. What’s most exciting is that we estimate around 1,750 of the most basic QuaDror Home kits can be shipped in one 40’ [12 m] container. This means the houses can reach more people while reducing the environmental impact of transportation and material manufacture. Is the finished structure a permanent dwelling or a temporary shelter? The QuaDror system is just the structural frame of the building. We want to start by providing the structural system for temporary shelters after a disaster, but we also hope

our shelters can continue to function indefinitely. Depending on context and implementation programmes, QuaDror could serve as a strong, easy-to-build, structural-support system for a temporary shelter or as a structural frame and an integrated design solution for affordable basic housing. How can you get your design into the hands of aid workers and charities? With the unveiling of the system, we launched a call for collaboration. The studio is eager to find the right partners for making this innovation as available as possible. The system has not been developed exclusively as a model for non-profit organizations, however. We have opened dialogues with microfinancing organizations who offer micro-loan plans for affordable housing programmes. In this case, the studio will sell the QuaDror joints and offer to accompany the partner organization in the development and implementation of its building system.


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Unitised double-skin curtain wall for Green Buildings Schindler Fenster + Fassaden

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Ideos Kermi

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A new renaissance is taking form, the globalisation of architecture. Archello is embracing it, by connecting people with experience in the built environment. This open platform allows you to extend your network, learn from the stories of professionals and discover great projects, products and materials. Contribute your projects today and show the world your connection with architecture.

Exit Mark #34 October / November 2011



I N 224

Attempting to create a symbiosis between indoor and outdoor space, Keisuke Maeda of UID Architects designed a house in Onomichi, Japan, with interior verandas for a single mother and her two teenage daughters. Inside the main volume, two large, glazed, sliding partition walls allow for a wide range of flexibility in configuring living spaces. When not in use, these partitions glide outside, where they rest on steel-braced shelves that protrude from the rear faรงade. Sliding the walls back into the ground-floor interior space delineates three semi-separate zones for more privacy. Also USJ Campus in Beirut by 109 Architectes House on St Michael Island by Bernardo Rodrigues And A letter from Helsinki EXIT

Photo Hiroshi Ueda

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