Statement 2009 # 17
Spring 2009 # 17
M A G A Z I N E O N R E A L E S TAT E D E V E L O P M E N T
CURATOR FABRICE BOUSTEAU:
‘Architecture and design are art’s driving forces’ CHRISTIAN BIECHER: ‘I USE FORM AS A KIND OF PROVOCATION’ PROFILE: DANIEL LIBESKIND’S ARCHITECTURE OF MEANING
Statement Magazine is published on behalf of ING Real Estate Development. The magazine is distributed to ING Real Estate’s international business relations.
P UB LIS HER ING Real Estate Development, Schenkkade 65 2595 AS THE HAGUE the Netherlands Statement@ingrealestate.com ED IT O RIA L BO AR D ING Real Estate Development, Scripta Media BV ED IT O R IN CHIEF Sylvia van Wezel Statement@ingrealestate.com P RO D U CT IO N Scripta Media BV Amsterdam, Loes van Dokkum, Aafke Jochems, Kasper Marinus, Peter van Vuuren ART D IR ECT IO N & DESIGN Freddy Vermeulen Amsterdam, Ineke Huibregtse, assistant LIT H O G R A PHY Grafimedia Amsterdam P RINT Zwaan Printmedia T RANS LAT IO N Anne Thistleton CO VER PHO T O Philippe Provily/De Beeldredaktie © 2009 ING Real Estate Development/Scripta Media MO RE IN F O R M AT IO N If you have any feature ideas or comments on the content of this issue, or if you would like to receive additional information, please contact us. For a subscription, please mail your contact information to: Statement@ingrealestate.com www.ingrealestate.com
Architecture and design
ARCHITECTURE AFFECTS EVERYBODY’S LIFE. IT DEALS WITH THE environment of real people and reflects the values of society. It’s wonderful when people proudly show their house to their guests or when they describe their workplace as a place where they like to be. A developer creates new buildings and environments. While this is a privilege, it is also a big responsibility: if we don’t get it right, we might get places where people feel unsafe, as if they have been left out of the equation or even treated disrespectfully. For us the challenge is to understand the dreams of our clients and to create places where people like to go to and keep going back to for years. Architects and designers are crucial partners in this process. They challenge our ideas and take them to another level and finally deliver the design for a new building. While the current economic downturn undeniably influences our lives in many different ways, the demand for architectural quality remains unchanged. In this issue of Statement we’d like to introduce you to some of the latest developments in the world of architecture and design, ranging from BMW designer Adrian van Hooydonk and three young international architectural offices, to French architect, designer and artist Christian Biecher, whose creations span the entire spectrum from chair design to area development. Dutch architecture critic Bernard Hulsman reflects on iconic architecture, a subject developers are no strangers to and one that is much debated in the world of architecture. We hope you’ll enjoy this spring issue of Statement and may you continue to challenge and inspire each other. <<<
MENNO MAAS, CEO DEVELOPMENT, ING REAL ESTATE
Statement is printed on FSC certified 9 Lives paper.
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4 Design: global trends in architecture 12 The interview: Christian Biecher 16 Arupâ€™s spectacular software 20 Zooming in on materials 23, 31, 43, 49 Design & architecture 24 Expert opinion: Jacques Marseille
and Paul Koch 28 Branding: icons 32 The architect: Daniel Libeskind 38, 39, 48 Items 40 The user: Lawrence Scarpa 44 A new generation of architects 50 Work in progress: New York Times Building 55 Column: Winy Maas
DE S IGN O F T H E CEN T U RY
The Museum of Middle Eastern Modern Art in Dubai is a perfect example of neo-expressionism.
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in architecture TRENDS
With the first decade of the 21st century drawing to a close, it is time to take stock and look ahead. Sustainability and iconic architecture appear to be the most important architectural trends in the world, thanks to globalisation.
B Y B E R N A R D HUL S M A N P H OT O G R A P HY: A R UP, F O S TE R + PA RTN E R S , M I C K PA L A R C Z YK , F R A N K P. PAL M E R , S C A G L I O L A / B R A K K E E R OT T E R D A M , UN S TUDI O , N I G E L YO UN G
Masdar in the United Arab Emirates will be the world’s first zero waste and zero carbon city.
SUSTAINABILITY IS IN FASHION, ALSO IN ARCHITECture. Ask any architectural firm for a presentation brochure and chances are that sustainable building is cited as a significant factor in its work. Look at a design for a building anywhere in the world and it is likely to have sustainable elements. This is hardly surprising, of course. If there is any human activity where gains can be made, it is building. Building devours energy and materials, and even after it is completed, cooling and heating cost a lot of energy as well.
Oversize allows for flexible use and allows buildings to be easily adapted to future and as yet unknown requirements
EFFICIENCY AND PRECISION
Sustainability has a long history in architecture. The functionalism of the 1920s already had a sustainable aspect. With the adage ‘form follows function’ it dictated that designers had to gear the forms of their buildings as precisely as possible to the functions they had to fulfil. Functionalism meant frugality. Functionalist architects thought flat roofs were better because less material
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was needed to build them and they also took up less space. Embellishments were out of the question because they were useless and therefore uneconomic. Paradoxically, though, that frugal functionalism has resulted in remarkably non-sustainable building. In the West, as well as in former communist countries like East Germany, buildings designed according to functionalist principles are now being demolished en masse. And, as we know, demolition is the building sector’s least sustainable activity. Precisely because of their high degree of efficiency they no longer meet the new, different living requirements of the early 21st century’s globalised world. What is more, their industrialised construction method makes them extremely difficult to adapt. So the minimal homes geared to the nuclear family of 50 years ago in places like Amsterdam’s Westelijke Tuinsteden (Western Garden Cities) – the Mecca of modernistic urban planning – are now giving way to new, more spacious and flexible housing.
OVERSIZE Given the bankruptcy of functionalism, it would be logical to infer that the sustainable buildings are precisely the more spacious ones with what architects call oversize. Oversize allows for flexible use and allows buildings to be easily adapted to future and as yet unknown requirements. So Frank Bijdendijk, director of Stadsgoed, an Amsterdam housing association, acted accordingly. Stadsgoed is currently building so-called ‘solids’ in Amsterdam, buildings with heavy shells of large dimensions suitable for various uses. Although large, heavy and spacious construction may well be the most sustainable form of building, few have followed Bijdendijk’s example as yet. In architecture as a whole sustainability is still confined to smart, often technological solutions to save energy and raw and manufactured materials, and reduce carbon emissions. The usual energy- and material-saving sustainability gained ascendancy during the 1970s oil crises. Still known at the time as environmentally-aware or green building, sustainability was practised by a small group of enthusiastic architects whose work was associated with cranky vegetarianism by many of their colleagues. But during the 1990s green building became more widespread in the West and the adjective green was replaced by sustainable. Ten years later, sustainable building has become a worldwide phenomenon. Even in China, which has never allowed the West to dictate to it about carbon emissions, for example, sustainable building is gaining ground.
near Abu Dhabi, work will soon begin on the building of Masdar. The world’s first zero waste and zero carbon city covering an area of six million square metres was designed by Foster + Partners. Sir Norman Foster, incidentally, was one of the few world-renowned architects to show an early interest in sustainable building. Already in the 1990s he designed a new head office bursting with the latest sustainable building technology for the Commerzbank in Frankfurt. Elsewhere in the UAE plans are underway for the Ras Al Khaimah Eco City, wholly powered by solar energy. Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture designed the competitor of Masdar.
SOCIALLY ENGAGED That even architects like Rem Koolhaas, who have hitherto shown no sign of interest in sustainable building, are now designing eco cities is not entirely because it’s in fashion. Since Al Gore’s film and book An Inconvenient Truth many architects have become genuinely concerned about the future of planet Earth and are showing a new engagement, something they avoided since the rise of postmodernism in the 1980s. Young architects – and in architecture young means those under 40 – are even more engaged with the environment and sustainability: at the 2008 International Architecture Exhibition in Venice dozens of young Western architects showed designs that were not only sustainable, but also had to counter the loss of public space and the increasing segregation of population groups in Western cities. In most cases they are paper projects that will probably never be built. But they showed a social engagement unseen in international architecture since the 1920s, when modernist architects thought they could change the world with their designs.
NEO-EXPRESSIONISM Oddly enough, the global breakthrough of sustainable architecture and urban planning is not coupled with a return to the plainness of functionalism. On the contrary, the first decade of the 21st century saw the global spread of a sculptural architecture best described as
Even in China, which has never let the West dictate to it about carbon emissions,sustainable building is gaining ground
ECO CITIES Near Shanghai, building is starting on the Dongtan Eco City, a sustainable city designed by the German architect Albert Speer Jr. It is just one of the many sustainable projects in the pipeline in China, many of them designed by star architects from the West. Even the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country that showed little remorse until recently about having the world’s biggest ecological footprint, has taken to sustainable building. There, in the middle of the desert
The sustainable Dongtan Eco City, near Shanghai.
The remarkable loop-shaped CCTV building in Beijing.
neo-expressionism. Neo, because the sculptural stations, bridges, museums, theatres, cultural centres and office buildings, by architects like the Spaniard Santiago Calatrava, the Iraqi Zaha Hadid and the American Frank O. Gehry, evoke the exuberant expressionism of nearly a century ago of designers such as the Amsterdam School architect Michel de Klerk. Roughly speaking, neo-expressionism has two variants. The first one, with its complex forms full of curves and bends, is popular with architects like Ben van Berkel, who believed that the advent of the computer would bring fundamental changes in architecture. A good example is Van Berkel’s design for the Museum of Middle Eastern Modern Art, to be built in Dubai. The second type of expressionism features lumpy sculptures, often consisting of adaptations of architectural archetypes like the box, made according to the following recipe: Take a box, make indentations in it, or even a hole, add bulges to taste and behold: a neo-expressionist building. The Dutch firm Neutelings Riedijk, responsible for the large, nearly completed Stadsmuseum in Antwerp, pioneered this variant.
‘Building an anti-icon can make Dubai the 21st century’s most credible city, architecturally speaking’
ICONIC ARCHITECTURE Neo-expressionism is a style pre-eminently suitable for making icons, the colossal, spectacular landmarks which have appeared in recent years around the globe, particularly in the Middle East and China. The current boom in this ‘iconic architecture’ started in 1997 with Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Ever since this rundown industrial city in northern Spain became a tourist attraction, thanks to Gehry’s curvy, gleaming sculpture, every European, American and Asian city has wanted a similar building. Other clients, such as large companies, oil sheiks in the Middle East and Chinese public institutions, also want an architectural tour de force for their logo – a fine example is London’s giant steel and glass gherkinlike Swiss Re Tower built for the reinsurer in 2005. There are now so many icons in the world, with even more in the pipeline, that some critics and architects think enough is enough. So last year Koolhaas’ OMA office built an anti-icon in Dubai’s Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in the shape of a simple narrow box lying on its side. Although Koolhaas himself has given Beijing a colossal icon, the loop-shaped building designed for the Chinese television network CCTV, he lashed out against iconic architecture at the presentation of his design. Dubai faced a choice, asserted Koolhaas: it could join other cities in the ‘crazy and mindless race’ for spectacular buildings, or it could build anti-icons and so ‘become the 21st century’s first credible city in the architectural sphere’. He even used the word ‘renaissance’: Dubai had a chance to make a fresh start in architecture. Masdar.
While Koolhaas has started many architectural fashions and trends, there is no chance of him being a trendsetter this time. For there is nothing new about iconic architecture; people have always built icons. On its opening in 1973 the Opera House in Sydney, an early
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The glass and steel Swiss Re Tower in London is truly a modern icon.
Architects are only too happy to fulfill the global demand for icons
neo-expressionist creation by the Danish architect Jorn Utzon, instantly became the city icon. And Gothic cathedrals in many medieval European cities, as well as the much older Parthenon in Athens, are icons pure and simple, though they were not called such until recently. The same goes for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which roused vociferous protest 120 years ago. Already in 1887, 300 French artists including the writer Alexandre Dumas and the architect Charles Garnier, protested in Le Temps newspaper against building the ‘monstrous and useless Eiffel Tower’ for the 1889 World Fair. Their criticism sounds familiar: what Koolhaas says about Dubai is much the same as what the French artists said then about Paris. ‘Will Paris be irreparably damaged and dishonoured?’ they asked the readers. ‘Will Paris be associated with a mechanical engineer’s grotesque and mercantile image and be irreparably damaged and dishonoured in the process?’
SPECTACLE SOCIETY The only difference – the staggering number of icons currently being built – is clearly due to one thing: globalisation. It’s not just the West, the explosively expanding cities in Asia and the oil sheiks in the Middle East also want their own icons and have the money to pay for them as well. Architects are only too happy to fulfil the global demand for icons. After all, iconic architecture makes them famous. They know that respectable but inconspicuous boxes won’t get them into the magazines, but spectacle architecture will. That way everybody, clients and providers, profits from icons: the ‘spectacle society’ demands, and gets, ‘spectacle architecture’ in abundance. The credit crisis, which is turning into an economic crisis, may well slow down the rate at which icons appear. And there’s a possibility that the crisis may last so long that the icons will change – the abstract sculptures now so popular could be replaced with neo-classical colossi, for example. VISIONS
The Hague’s De Resident district is one of the first neo-traditionalist projects in the Netherlands.
Neo-expressionism has also caught on in the Netherlands. Architectural firms like Mecanoo and Claus en Kaan, which started out some 20 years ago as neo-modernists, no longer recoil from the idea of sculptural buildings. Sometimes, like Jeanne Dekkers with her dark brick Training Institute for Care and Welfare in Amsterdam, they literally refer to buildings of the Amsterdam School. It is tempting to note the similarities between the era of expressionism and that of neo-expressionism. Expressionism sprang up during the first globalisation and the Second World War; neoexpressionism appeared during the second globalisation and the War on Terror. And as the impact of the First World War made people pessimistic about the future of Europe, yet optimistic about the New World that could be built from the ruins of war, so is the second globalisation coupled with visions of the decline of the West and prophecies about the wonderful new world the digital age will bring.
RETRO-ARCHITECTURE Neo-expressionism appeared in the Netherlands before neo-traditionalism, the posh term for the retro-architecture now ubiquitous in the Netherlands. Ten years ago when the first sizeable neo-traditionalist projects appeared in the Netherlands – like The Hague’s De Resident district, with an urban plan by the Luxembourger Rob Krier – many were thoroughly shocked. After all, at that time the Netherlands was known as the ‘most modern architecture country in the world’ thanks among others to OMA and MVRDV. It was pre-eminently the country of ‘supermodernism’, a term coined by the critic Hans Ibelings for the global, anonymous architecture without context that looks the same from Amsterdam’s Zuidas to Shanghai. Supermodernism, according to Ibelings, was the architecture of the globalisation era and signalled the end once and for all of 1970s postmodernism – a style that had largely bypassed the Netherlands. But just when postmodernism was pronounced dead, it broke through in the Netherlands in the form of neo-traditionalism.
The abstract sculptures now so popular could be replaced with neo-classical colossi
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MARKET-ORIENTED Initially, neo-traditionalist buildings were nearly all the work of foreign architects – after all, postmodernism was taboo for most Dutch architects – but the more popular neo-traditionalism became, the more they took to it. In 2009 neo-traditionalism is now by far the most popular style, particularly in Dutch house-building. Dutch neo-traditionalist architects are increasingly going back to old-Dutch or even regional architecture. In the Netherlands, neo-traditionalist houses generally have brick exterior walls. But for the past two years, more and more Dutch architectural firms, such as Onix, have started to use wood as the principal building material. Wood is also being used in response to the demand for sustainable architecture – it is regarded as a sustainable and natural material. As a result, Dutch neo-traditionalism is showing a closer resemblance to the regionalism that is emerging in Scandinavia, the Baltic states and other Eastern European countries in particular. Here too, young architects especially are going back to old regional architecture, often executed in wood, the traditional building material in these countries. The remarkable success of both the Dutch neo-traditionalism and the Eastern-European regionalism is easy to understand. Besides ensuring that the same supermodernistic airports and office buildings appear all over the world, globalisation arouses in many
people both in and outside the Netherlands a longing for the calm, orderly world of their grandparents. Neo-traditionalistic housing satisfies this desire: the houses with dark brick façades and black or red tiled roofs give their occupants the reassuring feeling that not everything in the globalised world is governed by change. The huge scale at which this desire is being satisfied in the Netherlands is rooted in the privatisation in the early 1990s of the housing associations and housing corporations. Since then, it is no longer the housing associations, under the umbrella of the central government, that build most of the houses, but the real estate developers and commercial builders. And they give their ear to the market. Dutch architecture in the first decade of the 21st century is thus more in step with the rest of the world. For in countries like the United States, where the market has always dominated the housing sector, most housing has never been anything but traditional. <<<
Globalisation causes a deep longing for the orderly world of our grandparents
The Training Institute for Care and Welfare in Amsterdam refers to the buildings of the Amsterdam School.
‘Designers concentrate on the object, I look primarily at how that object affects a space’
ARCH IT ECT AND DESIGN ER CHR IST IA N BIECHER :
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Form gives structure to ideas, says the French architect and designer Christian Biecher. From small utensils to complete urban areas, in his extensive and varied oeuvre form is paramount.
BIECHER IS A ‘GLUTTON’ IN THE DESIGN WORLD. ACtive in the United States, Asia and Europe in particular, he designs areas, buildings, interiors and products, from hospitals to mobile phones, to libraries and lighting, furniture and cutlery. There is little Biecher has not gone into. As an architect, a designer or, some say, even as an artist. He finds that amusing: ‘I’m certainly not an artist, if I were I wouldn’t be concerned about the context I work in, with all its constraints. And that certainly does engage me. I am primarily an architect, an architect who designs buildings, interiors and objects, all with the same level of respect. Because I work in various disciplines, I force myself to shift from the one scale to the other. That’s instructive and keeps me on my toes.’
in space Statement-ENG_0109.indd 13
RUSSIAN DOLLS Though Biecher dislikes pigeonholing things, he realises there is an obvious difference between architects and designers: designers are often unassuming, whereas architects often behave as if they rule over their creation. But that is just outward show. And there are differences at the production level: ‘The logic is different. You don’t duplicate a building, but that’s precisely what you do with a piece of furniture or mobile phone. So in design, aspects like reduction and compression also play a role when it comes to keeping production costs manageable.’ But, says Biecher, the crux of the matter is that architects are not predestined to design buildings all their life, just as a designer does not have to stick to creating objects: ‘Take those Russian dolls. The smallest doll fits in a bigger one, which in turn fits in another one that’s a little bigger, and so on. I see it this way: someone sits on
B Y R UUD S L I E R I N G S P H OT OGR A P HY: C B A , P HI L I P P E P R O VI LY/ DE B E E L D R E DA K TI E
a chair, works in an office, that office is located in an environment and that environment fits in an even larger whole, the neighbourhood, the city or the world. Each element is part of one large space and all are related to one another.’
SHAPE AND FORM According to Biecher, form is the essence of the tangible, visible world around us: ‘It all starts with form. Shape is the physical expression of form. While form is also physical, it is primarily the intellectual basis of shape. Form gives structure to an idea.’ During his architectural training in Paris form was taboo. For Biecher that was almost like a red rag to a bull, he has, as he says, been into form ever since: ‘I also use form as a kind of provocation. When I was a student it was a sin to think in terms of form. It all had to be conceptual. I don’t believe in that. When I first became an architect I won a prize with my design for a library in the South of France. After that I simply had to do something different. I went into ceramics, because I needed to be able to put my hands into clay. I needed that in order to “extend” myself in physical forms. Not as a therapy, but to get a balance. Form is also a constant thing. Even if human beings become extinct or if all the languages disappear, form will still be there.’
HOLISTIC VIEW Biecher bridges the gap between architecture and industrial design, he combines construction and innovation, technology and implementation. You could even call him a total designer. As developers graduate from buildings to areas, so Biecher is increasingly with aspects of the living environment. Given his holistic view of architecture and design, one would expect his mindset to be far broader than that of architects or designers who stick to their chosen profes-
sion: ‘Designers concentrate on the object itself, my main concern is how that object affects the space. I think my architectural training has something to do with it. My starting point is always the space.’ A good illustration of Biecher’s thinking and approach is to be found in the Fauchon Restaurants, a global restaurant chain for which he did the interior design. The chair he designed for them is not so much a designer chair as a piece of furniture made specifically for that place. Biecher certainly did not intend the chair to become a worldwide hit afterwards: ‘It really is a piece of architect-furniture, suitable for Fauchon. I couldn’t possibly design a chair a month just like that, I wouldn’t know how to. I designed the Fauchon chair for a certain moment in a certain space, for the comfort of the people who experience that particular moment. Only after that did it become an icon.’
URBAN ACUPUNCTURE You might regard his fascination for products from the human living environment as a kind of zooming-in. But Biecher also zooms out. For an extension to La Grande Motte, a town built in the 1970s on the south coast of France, he has gone into area development: ‘There, as the leader of a team of landscape designers and urban planners, I can put my experience as an architect and designer to good use. I find that combination important in such a situation: I see the buildings before me as well things like street lighting or waste bins. For an area developer it is even more important to create opportunities for events and encounters. Look at it as a sort of urban acupuncture: you stimulate activity at a great number of points and all those activities together make up your physical environment. My background as architect and designer is helpful here. One of my obsessions is creating possibilities for social interaction. Not in a virtual world like Facebook, but physically, in the built environment. In the real world you can touch something or someone, you see the light reflected, you drive past buildings, things are tangible. That really blows my mind.’ In that respect Biecher also saddles himself with a certain responsibility; as area developer he is the one who can create context: ‘That feels like a huge responsibility! If I say things
‘The evolution of the world with all its surprises and constraints is my field’
CHRISTIAN BIECHER After graduating in 1988 from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville, Christian Biecher worked as assistant to the French-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi. In 1997 Biecher founded his own firm: CBA / Christian Biecher & Associés. Since then he has great number of diversified works to his name, from restaurants, hospitals and office buildings to furniture, fabrics, lighting and other products, many of them put into production by top brands like Christofle, Lancôme, Baccarat and Bernhardt Design.
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‘It all starts with form’
must be physical, then I also have to make sure they work. That is a heavy burden, but it’s a great honour as well.’
ZOOMING OUT Yet Biecher is content in a role that allows him, along with his specific design work, to get an almost ‘helicopter view’ of projects: ‘I don’t know what I’ll be doing in five years’ time, but I do know that the evolution of the world with all its surprises and constraints is my area of expertise. I am working on increasingly large projects, in terms of area and time. I like that, because it usually means I have more time and space to reflect on them.’ In a sense, Biecher is following an unconventional path.
While many of his colleagues specialise in specific areas, he wants to take an increasingly bigger and broader approach to things. One of his favourite models is the British architect David Chipperfield: ‘He makes huge projects, employs hundreds of people, has offices in different countries, but he hasn’t forgotten how he got there. He spent years designing small shops, nothing special. But that gave him the kind of modesty you need when you look at large urban projects. After that he was ready for the large scale. That really appeals to me, looking from the small to the large, zooming out ever further. Modesty is a precondition for being able to get close to the psychology of projects, and therefore of people in particular.’ <<<
From left to right: Chaumon chair for Drucker; Trois Roses crystal vase for Baccarat; Fauchon Casablanca; Drop cutlery for Christofle; Starship in Prague.
The bubbles of the Watercube light up at night.
Norman Foster, Renzo Piano and Rem Koolhaas are regular visitors to the UK engineering consultancy Arup, whose engineers use CAD software to defy gravity again and again. With their digital wizardry buildings become marvels to behold.
ARUP â€™S SP ECTACULA R SO F T WA R E
Wrestling with B Y J A CO B OE R , PHOT OG RA P H Y: A R U P, B E N M CM I L L A N , CHRI S CL OA G/ D E B E E L D R E D A K T I E
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Tristram Carfrae (left) and J Parrish
Computer images of the Watercubeâ€™s structure.
THE WISHES OF THE CHINESE AUTHORITIES WERE considerable. Design the best swimming centre in the world; one that is sustainable, beautiful, uses the best technology and will cost 100 million dollars. The design team responded with an earthquakeproof swimming pool lit and heated largely through its transparent skin by the sun. Glass was not used for the walls and the roof due for acoustic reasons. The danger of oxidation meant the steel roof supports were positioned outside the building. And of course it looked wonderful.
ARUP The UK engineering consultancy Arup is bestknown for its designs for high-profile buildings by star architects. The mixed-use project Zlote Tarasy in the heart of Warsaw was recently completed. The undulating canopy of the atrium soon became a landmark in Poland’s capital. In recent years Arup has also been involved in various attractive infrastructural projects, such as the tunnel/bridge across the Øresund that connects Malmö in Sweden with Copenhagen in Denmark. At its highest point the 16-kilometrelong connection rises to 70 metres above sea level. Together with Norman Foster’s office they also won the competition to build the Millennium Bridge over the Thames in London. It was the first new bridge across the river since the Tower Bridge was built in 1894. Its information technology activities may be less high-profile, but Greenwich in the UK was very pleased with the IT network that was set up by Arup to connect a number of schools and community centres. The firm also helped to develop new software that may bring the production of cleaner cars a step closer. More surprising was its involvement in designing a new lighting plan for the Louis Vuitton shops. An exceptional project likely to create a furore is the spectacular canopy over a square in the city centre of Seville. It will be an undulating sculpture of six-metre-high parasols of reinforced wood. Besides providing much-needed shade for the people of the neighbourhood, the mushroom-like structure also encompasses a covered market and a museum about the Roman excavations in the area. Locals can have a bite to eat on a raised square or idle away their time on terraces. And the roof offers a dazzling view of the city centre’s age-old roofs.
A STACK OF BUBBLES A list of such ambitions would make most engineers rather nervous. But not Tristram Carfrae. With computer programs designed by himself and a large dose of creativity, the 49-year-old Australian manages every time to breathe life into the most curious designs. One of Arup’s most talented engineers, he pushes gravity to the limit every day. Yet even for him the Beijing commission was something special. ‘The building has such an unusual form that we had to develop a lot of new software to be able to do the calculations. And there was a very tight deadline. We met it thanks to the close collaboration with our Chinese and Australian colleagues.’ Last summer in Beijing the result was there for all to admire. A stone’s throw from the equally spectacular ‘Bird’s Nest’, the cube-shaped building has walls that appear to consist of stacked bubbles. A geometrically perfect skeleton of 20,000 steel pipes keeps the 4,000 transparent membranes of insulating ETFE foil in place. Another new icon for China.
‘You can program the software to be as flexible as you want’
WILDEST DREAMS The Beijing Olympics were a provisional highpoint for Arup. As well as the Olympic pool, it was also involved in designing the Olympic Stadium and the city’s new airport. It testifies to the reputation the consultancy has built over the last 60 years. What is designed by the 10,000 staff spread over 80 offices worldwide can be realised and is solid as a rock. Though not the largest consultancy in its field, Arup is regarded by many as the most extraordinary. Time and again its engineers succeed in making the wildest dreams of architects come true. It’s no wonder that renowned architects like Norman Foster, Renzo Piano or Rem Koolhaas are so keen to work with Arup. Many of the buildings to which the firm has contributed are among the best these architects have designed. From London’s rocket-
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shaped Swiss Re office, to the head office of Chinese state television in Beijing and Kansai Airport in Japan, Arup worked on them all.
THINK TANK The predecessors of today’s star architects were also keen to work with the engineering consultancy’s whiz kids. Virtually every postwar architect of any standing has set foot in its London head office. Ove Arup, the company’s founder, was also a fervent admirer of modern architecture, especially the work of Le Corbusier. As member of a think tank he was affiliated with the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and before World War II got to know many modern architects personally. Thanks to his knowledge of reinforced concrete he was a sought-after partner. Though the new material enabled architects to design hitherto impossible forms, unlike Ove Arup, they lacked the knowledge and mathematical insight to determine the correct mixture of steel and cement. For contemporary architects, up-to-date knowledge of materials and building techniques is not the only reason to collaborate with the engineering firm. Arup has also built a considerable reputation in working with CAD (computer-aided design) software. For the construction industry it would be impossible to imagine life without these ingenious design programs. Many projects are now so complex that designs can only be presented in a three-dimensional form. What’s more, CAD programs are prodigious calculators. Complicated sums that once took engineers days to complete can now be done in a matter of minutes. PARAMETRIC DESIGN Architect J Parrish knows all about that. Before coming to Arup, he was involved in designing Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. ‘It took me ten days at most to design the building. Then three colleagues spent two days each on it. That was fast for those days.’ As always since the start of his career, he used programs he had designed himself. Much in demand as a designer of sports complexes, he was, for example, responsible for the first CAD program with which the interior of a stadium could be quickly and easily designed. The distance between the seats, the width of the aisles and the sightlines from the tribunes: all rolled out of the computer in a flash. Meanwhile Parrish, already a step further, is exploring the possibilities of parametric design. In such programs a number of frequently recurring steps in the design process have been made fully automatic. Besides saving time, that also greatly facilitates the calculation of diverse alternatives. In Parrish’s view this type of design is the thing of the future. Some people fear that these new programs will result in uniform sports complexes. But Parrish waives that aside. ‘Every club wants its own individual stadium. In any
‘We prefer to think with the architect about every aspect of the design from the outset’
case, the customs and regulations are different in different places. You can program the software as flexibly as you want.’
PARTNERS IN CRIME Know-how and expertise are not the only factors of importance – it has to click between a client and an engineer. If the chemistry between partners is not right you can forget your top design. Renzo Piano in a foreword to a book about Arup is quite definite about that. In the most favourable circumstances, he says, engineers are partners in crime who support an architect at difficult moments. Carfrae agrees. ‘Most engineering firms are geared to solving isolated problems. We prefer to think with the architect about every aspect of the design from the outset.’ That multidisciplinary approach is perhaps one of the reasons why Arup always manages to attract the best engineers. Many who started there after graduating, remain with Arup for the rest of their career. Despite its huge growth most of the work at Arup is still done in small, independently operating project teams. With difficult problems they can fall back on the expertise of specialists, thereby combining a broad view with detailed knowledge. Though Arup has a considerable reputation among colleagues and clients, when a spectacular building is completed the media often only has eyes for the star architect. The engineer who made it possible to realise the design comes off second-best. Carfrae does find that a bit frustrating: ‘Although we are getting more recognition for our part in it than we used to.’ He thinks things may change in the future due to the increasing complexity of projects. ‘In design teams architects are still in charge, but they expect more and more input from other players. The time that an architect could claim a building only for himself may be over.’ <<<
The structural analysis model of Zlote Tarasy’s roof included a sliding snow loadcase.
Recent decades have seen a huge increase in the number of building materials. Wood, stone and metal have been joined by the most remarkable fabricated materials. Thanks to nanotechnology and biomimetics, some can even change colour or react to sound.
Zooming in on RE S EARCH AND INN O VAT IO N
B Y J A CO B OE R , P H OT OGR A P H Y: COR B I S
EVERY DAY PEOPLE PEER IN THE MIRROR AND ASK themselves, what shall I wear? Light summer trousers with a khaki shirt, or a grey pullover and a black skirt? Some clothes will suit the season more than others. But equally important is what image we want to project. The same applies to companies. How an office or building is fitted out is partially responsible for the image people have of the business. So architects need to consider very carefully which materials, or combinations of materials, to use in their designs. Are natural materials like brick and wood the best match for the company profile or is it possible to experiment with the latest
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It sounds like science-fiction, but offices with climate-controlled faรงades and self-cleaning windows are closer than you think
materials plastics? And how does that effect the ecosystem and our environment?
HUGE RANGE As the climate influences what people wear, so must architects take a diversity of technological requirements into account when choosing materials. A seaside shopping centre needs external walls that are resistant to blazing sun and salty sea wind. And a client may insist that only sustainable materials be used. The fact that every material has its own characteristics makes it easy for architects to meet those
requirements. The trick, though, is to select from the huge range on offer precisely what is needed to meet those requirements. Take stone: an architect can choose from 8,000 different kinds, each with its own characteristics. And every day sees the appearance of new materials that are even stronger, lighter, eco-friendlier, more flexible or more sound-absorbent than existing products.
NANOTECHNOLOGY It used to be so much simpler. You had to make do with natural materials sourced from the surrounding area. In southern Europe
exposed to sunlight, so that it washes off the glass when it rains. It sounds like science-fiction, but offices with climate-controlled faĂ§ades and self-cleaning windows are closer than you think. Developing these new materials is still extremely expensive. And it takes a while for innovations to filter through to the construction industry. For the time being, nanotechnology will largely be used in the building industry to produce coatings that provide existing products with better protection against unwanted outside influences. The paint industry for example is already working with anti-graffiti coatings and heat- or scratch-resistant paints. Other useful products are coatings that make it easier to keep taps and shower heads clean and the anti-rust treatments for metal.
BIOMIMETICS Another promising source of innovative materials is biomimetics. In this branch of science researchers study plants and animals in order to mimic their features in processes and products. The plumage of a penguin, for example, can yield valuable information of use when it comes to fabricating glass wool blankets for insulation. The Japanese are currently studying the characteristic resilience of the snake-like sea cucumber for clues on how to produce even better foundations for earthquake-prone areas. Many of these innovations are discovered in other sectors before the building industry takes them on board. Space travel has been a particularly fruitful source of innovation. NASA, for instance developed the ultralight Aerogel, which consists of 98 per cent air and insulates 20 per cent better than traditional glass. And research in the sports world often leads to interesting products for architects and building contractors. Outlast, for example, a temperature-balancing material incorporated in sports clothing, is now being used in ceiling panels and plasterwork.
Space travel has been a particularly fruitful source of innovation the finest kinds of stone were hacked out of the mountains, and in delta areas robust bricks were made from slabs of clay. Wood was another widely used natural material with a different shape and character, depending on where it came from. Only in the 19th century did steel and glass take over architecture. Buildings became higher and more transparent. Reinforced concrete allowed architects to span much larger spaces without having to use extra pillars. And in the 1950s all sorts of new plastics came on the market. The range of materials was greater than ever. Meanwhile we have moved on and we even have materials that change colour or shape, emit light or react to sound. Nanotechnology in particular has accelerated the discovery of new products. In 1981 scientists using a special microscope were able for the first time to distinguish the individual molecules of materials. Nine years later, a research team succeeded in getting the individual atoms of a product to move, which enabled them to manipulate its qualities. This enabled previously flammable wood types to be protected against fire with a natural fibre.
SMART MATERIALS This revolutionary discovery appears to have unlimited possibilities. The drawbacks are being removed from materials that were previously too heavy, light-sensitive or dangerous to peopleâ€™s health. We can now make materials with the qualities we need, or reduce the qualities we need less of to meet certain requirements. That is good news for the environment. Things are looking particularly bright for materials that react to outside influences, the so-called smart materials. There are now floors or walls, for instance, that change their colour and smell in response to heat, not to mention photochromatic glass that darkens when exposed to ultraviolet radiation â€“ not a bright prospect for window cleaners. But facility managers will welcome the coating that transforms the dirt on windows when
SUSTAINABLE FUTURE In recent years the discovery of new materials has rapidly accelerated. Scientists in different sectors and disciplines are collaborating more closely than ever, thereby optimising the exchange of knowledge and the resultant cross-fertilisation. The explosive increase in the calculation capacity of computers has also contributed to a faster rate of innovation. What is more, CAD software makes it far easier for construction engineers to calculate the amount of material needed in certain places to make them strong enough. Which means that raw materials can then be used more efficiently, benefiting both the budget and the environment. In any case, the growing demand for products that degrade the earth as little as possible will soon compel inventors to work more than before according to sustainable principles. Poorly degradable materials like chemical coatings and products consisting of several components are on the way out. Clever researchers, then, will concentrate more on innovations that help to limit the use of raw materials or the emission of dangerous substances. <<<
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DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE ADRIAN VAN HOOYDONK, DIRECTOR OF DESIGN AT BMW
‘The new BMW 7 is as exciting as the Guggenheim’
The interface between architecture and design is a stimulating source of inspiration for those practising the art of design. ‘I AGREE WITH THAT PROPOSITION,’ SAYS BMW’S DIRECTOR OF DESIGN Adrian van Hooydonk, who is responsible for designing the new BMW 7 series. ‘Both are inspiring and in my case literally new lines arise based on those impressions. So I feel part artist and part designer. Obviously I am not as free as an artist. I can’t permit myself to produce a one-off, my designs have to still be functional yet modern in eight years’ time.’ Although architects do influence him, his designs do not contain visible references to the great master builders, such as the deux chevaux Bauhaus circle. He does have to take account of things like the shark-nose grille and the typical BMW design feature in the car’s C-pillar, the Hofmeister-kink. ‘Then again a car is fundamentally different from a building. With a car the surroundings change and within those changing surroundings the design must be able to hold its own. An architect is concerned with fixed values. I with changing values. Ideally speaking, when you see the front of a car you also want to know what it looks like from the side and the back. If you know how to incorporate that tension you’re doing a good job. If I can tell what a building looks like from the back when I glance at the front, I lose interest. That’s why I find the architect Frank O. Gehry’s buildings so exciting. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a building that really has pace, just as a car design has to have a certain dynamism. There you have the similarity I think between architecture and car design; it must invite you to explore it, attract you to it, and hold your attention. Compare the new BMW 7 for my part with the Guggenheim. I can live with that.’ <<<
B Y PAUL ST EENHOF F, P H O TO GR APHY: I NG MAR SI EG RAM
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Paris versus the rest Jacques Marseille, intellectual and economist, and Paul Koch, ING Real Estate France’s country manager, exchange ideas about the situation in the French real estate market. About the illusion known as Greater Paris, the need for schools with strict discipline and opportunity for entrepreneurial initiative.
B Y MARI JN K RUK , PHOT OG RAPHY: EMI L E L UI DER/ DE B EEL DREDAK T I E
ATTRACTIVE ARCHITECTURE IS scarce on the ground in the suburbs of Paris. Hastily built apartment complexes, spaghetti junctions, depressing shopping centres, deserted industrial estates – for which the Dutch architect Winy Maas coined the term ‘mocheness’, an anglicised version of the French word moche, meaning ugly. That ugliness is not limited to the notorious barrack-like housing of Clichy-sousBois in the north-east, but extends all the way to districts like Les Piramides in Évry to the south. ‘At a recent meeting with mayors from the suburbs, I noticed they had all adopted the word coined by Maas,’ says Paul Koch, ING Real Estate France’s director of Development and indirectly involved with the Greater Paris project launched last year by President Nicolas Sarkozy. Opposite him, in his office near the stately Parc Monceau, sits Jacques Marseille, Professor of Economic History at the Sorbonne, author of such bestsellers as Le Grand Gaspillage (on the great wastage of public spending) and a thorn in the flesh
of French politicians, whose illusions he is in the habit of destroying with indisputible figures. According to Marseille, Sarkozy’s Greater Paris is one such illusion. Last spring, the hyperactive president unfolded his ambition to open up Paris, a 19th-century treasure, and link it with its 20th-century crown of poor and wealthy suburbs. Ten leading architects (including the Rotterdam office MVRVD’s Winy Maas, mentioned above) were asked to come up with ideas for Greater Paris. ‘But what is Greater Paris?’ wonders Marseille. ‘Are the real problems of the suburbs being taken into account? As long as the French don’t face up to what they are, all plans are doomed from the start!’ PAUL KOCH: ‘To go back to that ugliness for a moment: that’s easy to explain. When the demand for cheap rented housing exploded during the post-war reconstruction period, house-building became highly industrialised. Sustainability was not a concern and subsequently everything
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‘It’s always been a case of Paris and everything else.The idea that you can put all that together in one category is an illusion’ was very poorly maintained. Whole cities were thrown up in that way and the municipalities interpreted things as they wished. Bear in mind that the Île de France is an archipelago of about 1,100 municipalities, all with their own ideas. If a mayor wanted a shopping centre, he put one up. And the whole conurbation of Paris was filled up like that, all in a jumble, without any coordination at all.’ JACQUES MARSEILLE: ‘I don’t yet know whether a Greater Paris will be an improvement. After all, in the Île de France every decision is politically motivated. In the north the socialists call the shots, in the east and in the south left and right are in conflict, and the rich live in the west. The political rivalry is horrendous! Paris itself is a factor apart. The centre is surrounded by a ring road that has taken the place of the 19th-century fortifications. There has always been that idea of Paris and the rest. The rest being those arriving at the stations of St. Lazare or Gare du Nord. So the idea
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that you can put them all into one category is a complete illusion.’ PAUL KOCH: ‘Even so, I was surprised by what I observed during meetings of the mayors’ association AMIF where Greater Paris and the possible architectural projects were discussed. You find socialists there, communists, conservatives, etc. They certainly compete against the central government which wants to impose its will, but remarkably enough they were largely in agreement amongst themselves. The only thing that divided opinions was the transport issue.’ JACQUES MARSEILLE: ‘The real question is: why the continual emphasis on transport? The answer is simple: because that gives the authorities a pretext for not facing up to the ghettoisation of French society. Parents know perfectly well which schools they want their children to go or not, but the politicians and the administrators don’t want to acknowledge the fact that
Île de France is an island realm of different communities that shun each other: the middle class shuns the lower middle class; the lower middle class shuns the workers and everybody shuns the immigrants. Transport is no solution, just as architecture can be no solution; even if you put up the most beautiful building in the world nobody will live there, because nobody wants to live near people they want to avoid.’ PAUL KOCH: ‘All the same, Manuel Valls – the mayor of Évry and rising star of the Socialist Party – still believes architecture can provide a solution. The development arm of ING Real Estate France, for example, after winning a developers’ competition in which the entire developers’ market participated, is trying to build affordable quality housing in the centre of Évry. Valls believes that if you deliver attractive and sound architecture you can attract people from neighbouring municipalities. Up until now, however, that has not happened; the only people who want to live there are
ING R E A L E S TAT E FRANCE In Paris, the development branch of ING Real Estate participated in the expansion of the Paris Rive Gauche business district around the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (François Mitterrand site). This year, work starts on the construction of three buildings with 40,990 m2 of office space on the grounds of the former Claude Bernard hospital in the 19th arrondissement.ING Real Estate is also active in many other parts of France, such as Lyon, where it is working on the ambitious Le Monolithe, a futuristic building with both housing and offices. Other projects include 30,000 m2 of retail space right beside the new Pompidou Centre in Metz, 450 high-quality houses, office space and shops in the centre of Évry and, at five locations near Bordeaux, innovative housing designed by, among others, the architect and Pritzker prize winner Jean Nouvel. ING Real Estate is also active in Nantes, Mulhouse, Tours, Valenciennes, Saint-Brieux and Le Havre.
those from Évry itself. But, unlike Jacques, I still believe that somebody like Valls can achieve things in his municipality, because it is possible to change such a zone. Before this, I spent 12 years in Prague where we had a similar situation: and there we completely changed things. Branding is crucial. Building alone is not enough, you also have to work on the image of your city. That you do via information, advertising campaigns, etc. With the Seine beside it Évry has so many possibilities. Why does nobody make use of them?!’
students want to identify with.’
JACQUES MARSEILLE: ‘Parents leave those districts because they know their children will be in a class with 40 different nationalities and that their school results will lag behind. If you take a map of the Île de France and compare the house prices with the school results you will see what I mean. What you have to do is, like the British, provide good schools ruled by strict discipline, with excellent teachers, so that the schools can again become places the
JACQUES MARSEILLE: ‘Oddly enough there is plenty of that. A survey showed that 34 per cent of young French people wanted to start their own business. And last year, 330,000 new companies started up in France. A record. Now, after a recent measure, new start-ups only pay their initial taxes after they know what their annual turnover was. That is a significant reform. Do you know how many business start-ups there were in the first weeks
PAUL KOCH: ‘School is certainly important, but the scarcity of medium and small businesses is at least as serious a problem. The suburbs lack a creative and entrepreneurial class. Take Évry and the impoverished Les Piramides district. Rotterdam had a similar district which it sold for a token amount to young creatives and entrepreneurs. You should see what they have made of it! School alone is not enough. There has to be scope for entrepreneurial initiative.’
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‘The French paradox is that people earn money in places where they don’t want to live and spend money where they would like to live’
of January? Two thousand. A day! But do you know what is really fascinating about France? It has every possible trump: tourism, a favourable geographical position, gastronomy, inventiveness. The really striking thing about us is our ability not to use any of them; our talent for leaving our trump cards untouched! What is happening now is that anyone who has the chance to leave the Île de France region moves away to the west of the country and the Mediterranean. Many elderly people do that. Their place is taken by immigrants from countries like Mali, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. Paris will eventually become a kind of Washington: a wealthy white centre surrounded by poor districts where blacks live in ghettos. Meanwhile you see the revival of provincial cities that had lain dormant since the 19th century: Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rennes, Nantes – plenty of building is going on there. The weight of Paris as the centre of France is declining and we are witnessing a major territorial reshuffle.’
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PAUL KOCH: ‘I am still not so sure about that: Île de France continues to be the area where most of the money is earned.’ JACQUES MARSEILLE: ‘Even so. Twenty years ago 22 per cent of the French national income was earned in the in Île de France and 21 per cent of that was also spent there. Now 30 per cent of the national income is earned in the Île de France and 22 per cent is spent there. Which means that 8 per cent is spent elsewhere. The French paradox is that people earn money where they don’t want to live and spend money where they would like to live.’ PAUL KOCH: ‘It is a strange country! But interesting for real estate companies. Especially if they do things thoroughly, because there is a huge demand for housing and what is built is usually of poor quality. You often hear it said: “good architecture is expensive architecture”, but that is not necessarily so. Good architecture does not have to be expensive, provided it is realised with
knowledge of building methods, of materials and of architectural details, and as long as you use the know-how of local building companies. In France it can certainly be done 25 to 30 per cent cheaper.’ JACQUES MARSEILLE: ‘That offers huge opportunities given the demographic developments. Economic crisis or not: that demography is a major trump card. What other European country can say nowadays: we need 300,000 to 400,000 houses a year. But the monopoly of building giants like Bouygues, Vinci and Eiffage must be broken; they have cornered most of the market.’ PAUL KOCH: ‘We managed to do that in Lyon. ING formed a coordinated front with four companies from Lyon and we were able to divide the activities to our mutual benefit. But the building costs per square metre constantly amaze me. In my time as urban planner for the Municipality of Rotterdam I put up more than 2,000 social housing units in the Delfshaven district. But when I see how that goes here... incredible, incredible! Yet I know it is possible to build cheaply in France.’ JACQUES MARSEILLE: ‘The economic crisis will affect house prices in particular. The French economist Jacques Friggit compares them in a curve, specially designed by him, with the income available to households for real estate. Every time the limit of 1.2 is exceeded house prices go down. Over the last six to seven years house prices rose to such an extent that if you want to catch up with the trend at all those prices will have to go down by about 30 to 40 per cent. That’s good news for people who want to buy something, especially if the interest rate goes down. But it’s a problem for the builders of new houses. They can’t just cut their costs by 30 to 40 per cent. So if prices for materials remain high they have a serious problem. On the other hand: the high demand for new homes continues unabated, so anybody who can think how to build in France beautiful things for little money, will not be short of business in the years to come.’ <<<
Form follows desire ICONIC ARCHITECTURE
A spectacular new building sometimes puts a city or region permanently on the map – something every city wants. In recent decades, the unceasing attempts of architects to make icons have led to a rash of such buildings.
IN THE PAST, AN ICON WAS A RELIGIOUS IMAGE OF Jesus, Mary or a saint. But today anything or anyone can be an icon, from pop stars to chairs, from politicians to paintings. In architecture, the ‘icon’ concept is also liable to inflation. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge (1933) is, rightly, called an icon, as are new buildings in urban renewal districts far from being embedded in the collective memory. Like Parkrand, for example, a 2006 apartment box with five huge holes in Amsterdam’s Nieuw-West district, designed by the Rotterdam architectural firm MVRDV. ‘The building will give the neighbourhood an iconographic quality which it previously lacked,’ write the MVRDV architects on their site. Sometimes a building gets to be an icon because of its enormous height. Designed by the Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli, Kuala Lumpur’s two phallic Petronas Towers (1998), linked by aerial walkways, became an icon simply because it was for a time the world’s tallest building. The same goes for the nearly completed Dubai Towers designed by the American firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill: the 688-metre-high building is set to become the tallest in the world. But if a building is not uber-tall, it must have something striking in order to be an icon. But the globalised world, particularly the explosively growing cities in China, the Gulf states and other Asian countries, are producing so many iconic buildings that both critics
Critics and architects are getting bored with the countless sensational projects
B Y B ERNARD HUL S M A N , I L L UST RAT I ON: RONAL D SL A B B E R S
S TAT E M E N T
and architects are getting bored with them. More than a year ago, for example, Willem Jan Neutelings, one of the two partners in the Neutelings Riedijk firm, already denounced architectural icons in The Destiny of Architecture, his now famous lecture at Rotterdam’s Architecture 2 symposium. ‘Architects – perhaps uncomfortable because they have not managed to formulate solutions for global warming, the energy crisis, overpopulation or the poor housing in the conurbations – seem to be taking flight in exuberant designs and virtual debates, away from the everyday,’ stated Neutelings, who also has numerous iconic buildings to his name for that matter. The internationally renowned critic Hans Ibelings was even more vehement in his protest against icons. ‘Any self-respecting icon is a frivolous building, a building with a twist, its odd form one in a thousand, though there is already such a rash of icons that the uniqueness of the craze is subject to inflation. Anyone who asks about the why of iconic architecture, gets no real answer. Why? Because. Because there is a demand for it, because it’s possible. There for no apparent reason. Not, form follows function; not even, form follows fiction. An icon, in the current sense, is not relevant, brings nothing to expression, lacks deeper meaning, has no raison d’être except the desire to be conspicuous. Producing iconic buildings is just as immaterial as David Beckham’s curling shots. After a while they look frightful.’
DEBAUCHING OF CURRENCY Icons have been under fire for a long time. Deyan Sudjic, the present director of the Design Museum in London, already criticised the
phenomenon six years ago. ‘Icons are the architecture of diminishing returns in which every new sensational building must attempt to eclipse the last one,’ he wrote in an article in the UK newspaper The Guardian. ‘It leads to a kind of hyperinflation, the architectural equivalent of the Weimar Republic’s debauching of its currency. Everybody wants an icon now.’ Sudjic’s bête noire was the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who has in recent years built spectacular, organic cultural centres, museums and railway stations in Valencia, Milwaukee, Liège and many other parts of the world. In his view, Calatrava is a victim of his own success, who hides his lack of creativity with repetitions of his own work. In 2003 Sudjic said he expected that iconic architecture, like Art Nouveau around 1900, would be a short-lived phenomenon. But six years later, that prediction has clearly not proved correct. More icons are being built than ever before. That is because iconic buildings are not ‘there for no apparent reason’ and are more than just ‘flights from reality’.
PERMANENT In his book The Iconic Building (2005), a response to Sudjic and other English-speaking critics of iconic architecture, the BritishAmerican architecture critic Charles Jencks shows that icons are an essential, permanent and even inevitable phenomenon in world architecture. Icons, in his view, far from being irrelevant buildings, can give a city or company an identity. A good icon must meet a number of conditions, states Jencks. Iconic buildings have a distinct form that is unmistakeable, yet they
are enigmatic and open to multiple interpretations. As an example he gives Le Corbusier’s famous chapel in Ronchamp (1955), which can be read as a nun’s head in a wimple as well as a swimming duck or folded hands. Sir Norman Foster’s Swiss Re tower in London is a rocket as well as a gherkin. In The Iconic Building Jenks also shows that iconic architecture has been around for a long time. Among others, he mentions the Sydney Opera House by the recently deceased Danish architect Jørn Utzon, which instantly became the Australian city icon on its completion in 1973. He could also have cited the Gothic churches with which medieval European cities tried to outdo one another. For all things considered there have always been icons in architecture. What is new in the current period of globalised capitalism is the exponential growth in the number of icons.
EXUBERANCE The current boom in iconic architecture started in 1997 with the opening of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, northern Spain. The gleaming titanium building has become the rundown industrial city’s icon, continuing to attract masses of tourists more than ten years later. And ever since, nearly every European, American and Asian city has wanted a similar icon for their city brand. And they are not alone – large companies, oil sheiks in the Middle East and public institutions in China also want buildings to use as a city brand. The nearly completed loop-shaped building by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA office for the Chinese television network CCTV in Peking is a good example of a ‘state icon’, commissioned by authoritarian regimes in particular. Designing an icon with a distinct yet enigmatic form is no sinecure. It is impossible to repeat an iconic success. In Seattle and Los Angeles, Frank Gehry’s Experience Music Project and the Disney Concert Hall, both akin to the Guggenheim Bilbao, failed to become icons. Indeed, as Jencks maintains, an icon must be unmistakeable. A prerequisite that paves the way for architects to come up with ever-different and increasingly spectacular designs to provide their clients with icons. The architectural exuberance race is most noticeable in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two cities in the United Arab Emirates governed by an incredible building mania, in which money
was no object, at least not until the credit crisis. Here, world-renowned star architects like Zaha Hadid (Abu Dhabi Opera House, Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre), Jean Nouvel (Abu Dhabi Louvre Museum), Frank Gehry (Guggenheim Abu Dhabi) and Tado Ando (Abu Dhabi Maritime Museum) try to outdo one another with their spectacular buildings. It is not only the clients who want icons, the media also facilitate ‘spectacle’ architecture. Architects are perfectly aware that ordinary, well-built, properly-functioning buildings won’t get them into the architectural magazines. To become famous they must make something sensational. And in this age of visual culture, that means, above all, a photogenic building that also comes out well as a digital computer image. At the start of the 21st century, architecture is first and foremost an image: editorial teams decide whether to write about a building on the basis of photos. ‘Beauty’ has therefore become the all-important criterion when judging architecture. ‘Functionalism’ and ‘sturdiness’, two architectural components considered essential by the Roman architect Vitruvius, now play a minor role or are not even taken into consideration. Which is why so many ‘iconic’ buildings are defective. For example, it is not easy to hold good exhibitions in Richard Rogers’ and Renzo Piano’s Pompidou Centre, the iconic modern museum in Paris dating from 1975 – only 20 years later, it had to be rebuilt from top to bottom.
SKYLINE So the circumstances in which architecture is produced in recent years smooth the way for icons. Form follows desire: clients and the media want icons, which architects are all too willing to provide. Yet inevitability does not mean that iconic architecture is without its problems. In the first place, a surfeit of icons will mean that not one of them will become a brand name. This is likely to be the case in Dubai, where there is such a rash of ‘iconic’ buildings that none of them are likely to function as the city brand. In all probability the city skyline will do that. A more serious problem, as in ‘ordinary’ architecture, is that much iconic architecture fails. But while ‘ordinary’ failed architecture is not that disturbing – a failed neutral box is still neutral – failed icons are affected monstrosities. <<<
The clients are not the only ones who want icons, the media also smooth the way for ‘spectacle’ architecture
DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE MARKUS AND DANIEL FREITAG OF CULT LABEL FREITAG
‘Every bag, like every building, should be a surprise’
The interface between architecture and design is a stimulating source of inspiration for those practising the art of design. THE SWISS BROTHERS MARKUS AND DANIEL FREITAG BECAME WORLD FAMOUS with their bags made of recycled truck tarpaulin, safety belts and air bags. ‘Design and architecture are closely related,’ says Markus Freitag from their base in Zurich. ‘In our view both should be unique, just as our bags are all unique. You will have gathered that I’m not in favour of uniform districts or batch production. And the design should also be sustainable. A building shouldn’t fall apart after ten years, just as one of our bags should last a lifetime. Both architecture and design ought to be beautiful as well as functional. Therefore we make typical men’s bags and typical women’s bags. All beautiful but functional too, geared to the user. Just like it should be in architecture. A building or house should fit the user, but must be beautiful as well, should rouse an ‘‘ah’’ response.’ The Freitags’ designs have swiftly become classics. ‘Yes, we’re very proud of that. We are now in the same league as the Matterhorn and the Swiss Army Knife. And our shop built from used sea containers has also become a monument, an icon. Those containers are the building blocks with which we built and can continue to alter our accommodation. Compare it with our products; we keep using the same materials and yet each product is unique. Of course an architect basically does the same, creating a unique product every time with the same materials. I think that’s a good parallel there between architecture and design. You can’t find any architectural influences in our designs, at least not conscious ones. But that gives me an idea …’ <<<
B Y PAUL ST EENHOF F, P H O TO GR AP HY: A NDREAS SCHWAI G ER/ DE B EEL DREDAK T I E
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The Royal Ontario Museum project set out to renovate ten new galleries in the existing historical building and creating an extension to the museum.
THE ARCHITECT His experimental and highly controversial designs continue to stir up feelings. Never one to make concessions, Daniel Libeskind is not concerned with the form, but with the meaning of a project. ‘I am not an architect who is into architecture.’
DA N IEL LIBESK IND
B Y ROB H A RT GE R S PHOT OG RAPHY: B I T T ERB REDT, JUEDI SCHE S M U SE U M , R O YAL ONTARI O MUSEUM, SI LVERST EI N PROPERTI E S & D B OX
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. Situated at one of the most prominent intersections in downtown Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum has become a dynamic centre for the city.
ecture of meaning Statement-ENG_0109.indd 33
FOR A LONG TIME, Daniel Libeskind was known as the ‘paper architect.’ Fresh out of architecture school in New York, he was offered a job by the renowned Richard Meier. After only seven days he quit because he disliked the office routine. He spent the next two decades of his career teaching architecture and showed little interest in designing anything that could actually be built. He did enter competitions, but his designs were highly abstract constructions. Two years before the wall came down, Libeskind designed a housing project in West Berlin in the shape of huge bar rising diagonally from the ground, with one end hovering ten stories above the underlying street. It won the design competition, but the project was never built. It did however end up in an exhibition about Deconstructivist Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Shortly afterwards, Libeskind was asked to enter the competition for a new Jewish Museum in Berlin. It was to become his first design that was actually built.
The extension to the Denver Art Museum, The Frederic C.Hamilton Building, is inspired by the vitality and growth of the city.
INACCESSIBLE VOID When the Jewish Museum opened in 1999, it was unlike any other building. It is a metaphor come to life. It is shaped like a giant zigzag. From the air, it resembles a broken Star of David. The building’s three interpenetrating corridors are called the Axis of Emigration, the Axis of the Holocaust, and the Axis of Continuity. Long, narrow windows, like slashes in the façade, let in light at unexpected places. In the middle of the museum there is an empty concrete shaft called the Holocaust Tower, with windows only near the top. A long, inaccessible void cuts through the entire building. Elsewhere, a staircase leads to a blank wall. Outside, in the Garden of Exile and Emigration, 48 20-foot-high columns are filled with earth from Berlin – a reference to the year Israel was founded. A 49th column is filled with soil from Jerusalem. In his memoir Breaking Ground Libeskind, whose parents survived the Holocaust by escaping to the Soviet Union, wrote: ‘I find myself drawn to explore what I call the void – the presence of an overwhelming emptiness created when a community is wiped out; when the continuity of life is so brutally disrupted that the structure is forever torqued and transformed.’ As an exhibition space, the Jewish Museum is not very functional. As a symbol of the horrors of the Holocaust, it definitely is. So much so, that for the first two years after it opened, the museum had no exhibit. It was an exhibition in itself.
Admirers laud Libeskind as the architect who brought philosophy back into construction
The Imperial War Museum North is the interlocking of three shards representing earth, air and water.
‘I am not an architect who is into architecture,’ explained Libeskind. ‘A writer’s not interested in writing, he just wants to tell a story. Architecture is a medium to communicate the beauty of a place, of light and shadows. I have a repertoire of forms, but I don’t think about them. I think of the meaning of the project.’ Libeskind’s Jewish Museum caused great controversy. His admirers lauded Libeskind as the architect who put philosophy back into construction, and who can communicate ideas, emotions and memories through architecture. His opponents claimed that the architect with the trademark black outfit, wraparound spectacles and cowboy boots is more concerned with form than with content. The Jewish architect Isi Metzstein criticised the ‘negative attitude’ of the Jewish Museum. He accused Libeskind of ‘kidnapping’ the Holocaust: ‘It was meant to be a museum which celebrated Jewishness. But it says nothing about the Jewish contribution to the history of Berlin.’
SYMBOLIC STRUCTURES Partly due to the controversy, the Jewish Museum thrust Libeskind, in his early forties, into the front rank of international archi-
tects. He became the architect of choice for projects that required a poetic or emotional response. In the years following the completion of the Jewish Museum, he went on to design the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen, the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. In 2003, he won the competition to design the master plan for the reconstruction of Ground Zero. Libeskind’s plan calls for a 1,776-foot (541m) spindle-shaped tower (Freedom Tower), with 7.5 million square feet of office space and room for indoor gardens above the 70th floor. At the centre of the World Trade Center complex, a 70-foot pit will expose the concrete foundation walls of the former Twin Tower buildings. This design went through many revisions until a final plan was unveiled in the summer of 2006 – though by that time, Libeskind himself was pushed off the design team for the Freedom Tower. As with most of Libeskind’s architecture, his uncompromising symbolic structures divided the public and the critics. The influential New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp was initially thrilled when Libeskind was chosen as the main architect for the Ground Zero site, but changed his mind when he took a look at the final drawings. He called Libes-
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kind’s idea of leaving the rock wall, which had protected the towers from the Hudson river, open in a deep pit, ‘astonishingly tasteless, emotionally manipulative, and close to nostalgia and kitsch.’ Libeskind remained unshaken. For him, the infighting is part of the job of being an architect, he told The Guardian: ‘Architecture (…) is a deeply political act, as it can only be built through agreement, through discussion, through discourse, and through a democratic view of what is best for the citizens of a city.’
TRADITIONALIST WITH A TWIST
The extension to the Jewish Museum Berlin connected House (top) and Thanks to the abundant wind, air andinlight theis Turbulence to the baroque building underground axial roads. Planar House are placesvia made for reflection.
His success as a designer of buildings that commemorate global tragedies has left Libeskind with the dubious epithet of the architect ‘who does death very well.’ It does not do him justice. Libeskind is much more than that. He is an architect who has developed a unique and very distinctive style, characterised by crystalline shapes. His buildings often feature sharp angles, glass ceilings, and slanted walls. In Libeskind’s spectacular extension to the Denver Art Museum, seemingly composed of colliding silver boxes, virtually all walls are sloping. Likewise, the new wing of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto consists of five intersecting volumes, which are reminiscent of crystals. The intersection of two of the crystals, each of which is dedicated to new galleries, creates a void called the Spirit House. This is essentially a large atrium rising from below ground level to the fourth floor. Containing a number of criss-crossing bridges at various levels, it is intended to be a place for visitors to reflect on the exhibitions they have visited. A fourth crystal, known as the Stair of Wonders, is dedicated to vertical circulation. A fifth crystal houses a restaurant. Because of Libeskind’s experiments with form, he has been labelled a deconstructivist or a post-modernist. He rejects the labels. Libeskind likes to think of himself as a traditionalist with a twist: ‘I don’t believe that I am doing anything that goes against tradition. But one would have to begin a discussion about tradition. Is tradition an imitation? Is tradition the unconscious, habitual reinforcement of the notknowing? Or is tradition the grasping of the ungraspable and passing it on, having had a lot to do with it?’
For the first two years after it opened, the museum had no exhibit. It was an exhibition of itself WILD MAN
For the first 20 years of his career, Libeskind was the architect’s architect, a brilliant theorist whose designs seemed to be too far-out to ever be made in stone or concrete. After he designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin all that changed overnight. Libeskind became a practising architect with an international staff of 130 people and satellite offices in several cities. Still, for a long time he remained the wild man of architecture. He ranted against ‘the notion that architecture must be instantly understandable’. It was hard to image that
Studio Daniel Libeskind’s design study was selected in February 2003 as the master site plan for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site.
Libeskind’s brand of experimental, ‘emotional’ architecture would win him commissions for shopping malls and housing projects. Yet this is precisely what happened. Libeskind and his team have been asked to design a luxury mall in Las Vegas, a waterfront development in South Korea, and recently, a 54-storey residential tower in Manhattan with voids spiralling around the tower, which expose the interior structure and innards of the tower. These huge voids will serve as hanging gardens and be filled with trees and shrubberies.
Some have suggested Libeskind has toned down his experimentalism to become accepted as a mainstream architect. One only has to look at project 18.36.54 (due to be completed this year) to see this is not true. A wealthy client asked Libeskind to design a weekend home near New York City. The result is breathtaking. The design resembles a giant steel snowflake, futuristic and ancient at the same time. It certainly lives up to one of Libeskind’s maxims: ‘If a building is good, then surprise is part of the building, even if you walk into it hundreds of times.’ <<<
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Budapest, Hungary WELCOME MIXED-USE ALLEE
ING Real Estate Hungary is developing Allee, a unique mixed-use project created by internationally renowned architect Chapman Taylor. Strategically located in the heart of the most populated district in Budapest, one of Central Europe’s leading capitals, it is set to become one of the dominant shopping centres in the city. Budapest is a dynamic, cosmopolitan city with a population approaching two million and around 20 million visitors every year. Its residents are highly fashion conscious and brand aware, contributing to the city’s reputation as ‘the Paris of the East’. Allee, comprising 46,000 m² of retail and leisure accommodation, 6,900 m² of self-contained class ‘A’ offices and 1,200 underground parking spaces, is under construction and will open in November 2009. In view of the current economic situation the project is designed to high international standards and will provide a modern shopping environment serving the affluent Buda suburbs of Budapest. The project is expected to open with 100% occupancy, offering an unrivalled tenant mix anchored by leading international (fashion) retailers. Furthermore, an Interspar hypermarket of 6000 m² in the basement and a 13-screen cinema of Cinema City with a food court on the upper floor will welcome the visitors. The credentials of Allee are compelling: excellent public transport access, superior catchment population, strong retailer demand, unique tenant mix and carefully designed layout that provides an enhanced shopping environment. ING Real Estate is confident the project will contribute to the region’s economic uprise. With long term leases, full indexation, and sustainable base rents with turnover rent upside, Allee is expected to outperform other assets within this sector.
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Antwerp, Belgium IMPROVED CULTURAL HOT SPOT
After closing for renovation for the last two years, the Flemish Opera in Antwerp reopened its doors in November 2007. The completely refurbished opera building now has a side stage, loading platform, workshops, offices and a new practice room for the opera choir. The extra space needed for this makeover came from the neighbouring buildings, one of which was a former ING bank. The complex incorporation of the city block also included the realisation of 16 apartments on the upper floors of the historical bank building and a restaurant on the ground floor, adding to the attraction of the new town square. The Flemish Opera is a cultural hot spot once again.
L’ Î l e S a i n t - D e n i s , F r a n c e E C O - F R I E N D L Y WAT E R F R O N T The southern part of L’Île Saint-Denis, an island northwest of Paris on the river Seine, is to be transformed into an eco-friendly waterfront community. The 7-hectare site formerly occupied by the warehouses of the French department store Printemps will become an ecologically innovative and efficient neighbourhood. The operation is a unique urban-planning project, creating a sustainable balance between residences, offices, activities and facilities. Incorporating the island’s natural features, the urban design is rooted in respect for the environment and in reviving lifestyles and leisure activities centred around the river Seine. The project includes 435 apartments (50% free housing, 20% aimed housing, 30% social housing), 2000 m² of shops and facilities, 4,700 m² of artist and craftsman studios, 15,500 m² of office space, a hotel, a cultural equipment, a nautical warehouse and a water park as well as a student residence and a day nursery. The avant-garde neighbourhood will be designed by urban specialists WEST 8 and landscape architects and designers Mutabilis, who will ensure its unity of style. WEST 8 will coordinate the seven architects responsible for the project’s architectural variety. Noteworthy is that the architectural design was guided by the buildings’ energy needs. ‘The project will strive to answer the needs of the island’s residents and visitors by building a community where people will be happy to live on a long-term basis,’ says Fadia Karam, project director Development at ING Real Estate in France.
Living in your Are you more likely to do your best when you design your own house? ‘It’s not that,’ says architect Lawrence Scarpa. ‘But being my own client is an advantage, that makes it easier to realise what I have in mind.’
LAWRENCE SCARPA IS CO-FOUNDER OF THE ARCHITECTURAL firm Pugh + Scarpa in Santa Monica. Together with his wife and son, he has lived since 2005 in the Solar Umbrella House, self-tailored to their personal vision in Venice Beach, California. He and his wife Angela Brooks – a partner in the same architectural firm – have shown with the Solar Umbrella House that simplicity, eco-friendly materials, modern design and costeffectiveness can make a good marriage. And in any case, living in your own design is wonderful.
INSIDE MEETS OUTSIDE The house is situated on an elongated 12 by 100-metre plot of land which, when Scarpa and Brooks spotted it, housed a bungalow dating from 1923. Together they upgraded that villa into a sustainable and visually attractive home for themselves. The result is an architectural treasure that since its completion has been visited by hundreds of architects and developers. The living area is now three times larger than that of the original bungalow, partly because they built an extra floor on top. The interior is largely their own work as well. Some pieces of furniture have been built in: in the sunken living area the back of studio couch is integrated into a higher floor. Such solutions strengthen the impression that the house is a single space. The rooms flow into each other, doors are few and far between and there is plenty of natural light everywhere. An open sightline running the length of the house accentuates that transparency and links the outside with the interior space. Scarpa: ‘Spatial quality is essential. The garden and terrace are kind of outside rooms, the house is a dynamic combination of solids and voids. We open the doors and the garden comes right into the house. We live inside and out. Maybe that’s special, but our eight-year-old son grew up here, for him it’s kind of normal.’
BY R U U D SL I E R I N GS, PHOT OG RAPHY: PUG H + S CA R PA A R CH I T E CT S
GREEN IS THE NORM As for light, air, ventilation, heat and cooling, the design makes the most of the mild Californian climate. The sun has plenty of opportunity to do its work and rainwater is collected and recycled. The eye-catching roof of 90 solar panels generates 95 per cent of the energy needed by the occupants. The umbrella-like panels over the house protect it from extreme heat or too much light. The umbrella overhangs part of the terrace and
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the swimming pool and also prevents other people from looking in – while Scarpa and Brooks believe a house should be one with its environment they also value their privacy. The solar roof combines business with pleasure, green with the aesthetical, the house with its environment. You don’t often see that. ‘No big deal,’ says Scarpa, ‘I think it’s common sense. Sustainability and good design are not mutually exclusive, they are one and the same. When you design a building you at first should think about and react to the site. And thinking about the site is thinking about the climate as well. So the solar panels are truly building-integrated. On the other hand, you can take them off and replace them by some other skin if you want. But that skin wouldn’t generate energy.’
EXTRAORDINARY THINGS As Scarpa himself knows, sustainable building is much less simple in practice than it sounds: ‘Recently we lost a competition for a museum project. Besides that I think we had the better scheme, we preserved and tied into our project a beautiful old mill and five 200year-old oak trees. But the winning entry got rid of this. So, it’s not just the architect, it’s the client as well.’ So it’s sometimes nice to do a project in which you have free rein, like your own house. Also when it came to materials Scarpa and Brooks took the unconventional route, using among other things compressed woodchips and old newspapers. That meant they could keep the costs down and make the house even more unique as well. Scarpa: ‘You have to investigate a little bit to find extraordinary things. When somebody says “you can’t”, that stimulates us. We look for materials that are easily overlooked. For this house we resourcefully took materials and contextually repositioned them as design elements. That’s not difficult, that’s part of the joy of being an architect.’
It’s nice to do a project in which you have free rein, like your own house
P U G H + S C A R PA An architecture, engineering, interior design and planning firm with over 20 professionals from Santa Monica (United States). Gwynne Pugh, Lawrence Scarpa and Angela Brooks head the firm. Founded in 1991 Pugh + Scarpa strongly believe that architecture should engage users, heighten their sense of awareness, and bring a deeper understanding and vitality to their experience.
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE According to Scarpa, building the Solar Umbrella House cost less than if he had built an ordinary house, partly because he did a lot of work himself and with the help of friends. Nevertheless, in his view green building is cheaper if you are prepared to take into account the long lifespan of a house in your calculations: ‘Five years as payback time, that’s foolish. We looked at a 20-year payback time for this house for justifying the investment. By the time we’d finished construction we had utility prices and could cut that period by half. So the Solar Umbrella yields valuable lessons on overcoming barriers to green, affordable development.’ That should be a fine business case for people who are still reluctant to invest in sustainability. Scarpa is sceptical: ‘Unfortunately in this society it’s a tag line for many designers to be a sustainable architect. Sustainability should not be a paradigm for architecture, it’s a fundamental principle: a building should work with its site and climate. We don’t generally make a big deal of it or even talk about sustainability. I think it’s a question of ethics and not of a design concept. We have some clients who couldn’t care less about it. They get it anyway, they just don’t know it.’ <<<
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DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE ALEXENA CAYLESS OF FARM DESIGN COLLECTIVE
‘Design should arouse emotion’
The interface between architecture and design is a stimulating source of inspiration for those practising the art of design. THE UK DESIGN COLLECTIVE FARM IS FAMOUS FOR ITS REMARKABLE FURNITURE and accessories. A sofa made of corrugated cardboard, a stool in the shape of a pig, a vase like a hand grenade and a bird flat. Alexena Cayless is one of the four members of the collective. Alexena: ‘Of course architecture has an influence on our designs, but I think that is mostly subconscious. It differs from person to person. My colleague Guy Brown is a practicing engineer and his designs are very structural. My designs, on the other hand, are more driven by emotion. I feel more like an artist than a designer. I trained in sculpture and came late to design. My designs are about more than solving problems. I want to touch the human side, attract and hold attention with my designs. They must create their own world within the context of the existing architecture. In that respect I feel more like an interior designer.’ Alexena’s father was a furniture maker and he passed on those genes to his daughter. He also gave her some pieces of furniture that are now in her house in London. ‘They are designs from the 1970s. I find them inspiring and I’ve also redesigned a couple of those retro chairs and included them in my collection.’ Boxes are another of Alexena’s passions. ‘My whole house is full of them. They remind me of the shoe boxes people use to keep their personal things in. I find them fascinating and I’ve designed and decorated many pieces on that theme. That way I hope to charge my designs with emotion. I think a design really works only when it triggers that emotion in other people.’ <<<
B Y PAUL ST EENHOF F, P HO TO GRAPHY: CHRI S G L OAG / DE B EEL DREDAK T I E
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Crossing borders, A N EW GENERAT ION O F A R CHIT ECT S
That architecture is a profession for the old was a popular saying until late in the last century. But the 21st century has seen a radical change. Up-and-coming talent is making its presence felt, makes cross-overs and ignores borders.
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ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS HAVE TURNED INTO STUDIOS, ‘dovecotes’ where young people from all over the world fly in and out, networking and absorbing knowledge. Geographical borders are there to be crossed and the same goes for the profession itself: from the epicentre of architecture cross-overs are made to design, fashion, film, graphic design, interior and public space. With all disciplines in-house, the studio of today knows how to tap new sources.
CROSS-FERTILISATION Internationally oriented postdoctoral institutions like London’s Architectural Association (AA) or Rotterdam’s Berlage Institute facilitate this cross-fertilisation. But one architect is undoubtedly responsible for this development: Rem Koolhaas. With their intellectual challenge, his office OMA and his research department AMO have had a magnetic attraction for young international talent. International Design in Rotterdam is just such a ‘Koolhaas offshoot’. The Mexican Felix Madrazo (1972) was assistant to architect Winy Maas (of MVRDV) in the 3d City project before moving to OMA/Koolhaas. His Turkish colleague Arman Akdogan (1973) gained his practical experience at Adriaan Geuze’s West8. They could have set up in Mexico or Istanbul but ended by chance in Rotterdam. Both took courses at the Berlage Institute between 2000 and 2002. After leaving the mega-offices of OMA and West8, they decided to collaborate on a smaller scale and won competitions for regeneration projects in Spanish social housing. Akdogan: ‘In different circumstances there would have been no logic internationally in combining the ambitions of two different nationalities in one business. Unexpected relationships give rise to concepts for our projects that form the basis of IND.’ Young architects are eager to set up on their own. The attraction is the adventure and intensive effort that go with every project, as well as the opportunity to fulfil their own ambitions. Large firms offer little scope to
‘We are dependent on competitions’
B Y J A A P H U I SM A N , PHOT OG RAPHY: L ANA CAVAR, I N GM A R SI E GR A M
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create an image and develop your talent: the ‘mean and lean’ principle. The former are comparable with design studios and fashion designers who easily move office and widen their horizons.
FAÇADE Competitions are the perfect springboard for young architectural talent. Information Based Architecture (IBA) in Amsterdam won the competition for a tower that may already be declared an icon of the Chinese city Guangzhou (previously Canton). A combination of television mast and sightseeing tower, it is both functional and an attraction. ‘The façade is the construction’, explains IBA’s Mark Hemel (1966), ‘the tower is so narrow in the middle that the steel frame there is as dense and compact as possible.’ Mark Hemel: ‘We are dependent on competitions. And the increasingly strict European regulations governing new architectural studios, such as minimal turnover and maximum experience, force us to move to Asia.’ That explains why young studios expand into Dubai, Russia or China. What evidently appealed to the Chinese was the imaginative form, an introverted Eiffel Tower, that fits with the concept of a new China in combination with a link to the West. That is the effect of global architecture.
‘The tower is so narrow in the middle that the steel frame there is as dense and compact as possible’
Based in Zagreb and Split, 3LHD was founded in 1994 and consists of Sasa Begovic, Marko Dabrovic, Tatjana Grozdanic Begovic and Silvije Novak and today it consists of 40 architects. They won the Architectural Review Award in the UK and the ID Magazine Award in the United States. 3LHD’s Sports Hall in Bale, Italy was Sport category winner on the 2008 World Architecture Festival in Barcelona. Significant projects: the Croatian Pavilion for the 2005 Expo in Japan, the Eastern European Cultural Centre in Xi’an (China) and the Memorial Bridge in Rijeka. www.3lhd.com
NEW VISUAL IDIOM This exchange is discernible in the ‘new Europe’ as well. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Balkan War graduates of technical universities swarm across the world to acquire new knowledge which they take home again. A multidisciplinary sutdio with offices in Zagreb and Split, 3LHD focuses on the integration of architecture, urban planning, design and art. They have won prizes, been given commissions and explored their chosen field. And they have crossed the border into China. In Xi’an they won the competition for the Eastern European Cultural Centre, proving that the world can also be conquered from Zagreb. Marko Dabrovic (1969), incidentally, does not regard himself as part of Eastern Europe. ‘Our exact location is Central Europe and the bulk of our work is in Croatia. We seize every opportunity to cross the border and be part of the international scene.’ Besides China, that scene is also in Spain, Hungary and Japan, where 3LHD designed the Croatian Pavilion for the 2005 Expo in Nagoya. UNLIMITED BY BORDERS Mark Hemel and his colleague Barbara Kuit (1968) spent five years learning their profession with Zaha Hadid. In 1998 they founded IBA. ‘I am in London on a regular base because I teach at the AA and have connections there.’ It shows the mentality of the new generation: it doesn’t really matter where you are based. Nonetheless, Hemel does not find it easy to realise a building in China. The language is an obstacle, as is unfamiliarity with the culture, not to mention the local regulations. ‘We are lucky to have a pool of Chinese and Asian ex-students who provide back-up.’ IND, whose work during its short existence has mainly consisted of commissions for studies, is also discovering that it takes years to establish yourself abroad. ‘Because the new generation is not confined by borders, we need to find ways of presenting ourselves in today’s society,’ says Dabrovic. ‘We
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think that architects today, like our predecessors, are equally constrained by rules, clients, budgets and all kinds of obstacles.’ In that sense being unlimited by borders is a relative concept.
I N F O R M AT I O N BASED ARCHITECTURE (IBA)
Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit founded Information Based Architecture in 1998. Hemel teaches at the Architectural Association in London and Kuit has worked as assistant to Zaha Hadid and Philippe Starck. Most important project: the TV & Sightseeing Tower in Guangzhou. Others include competition designs for a concert hall in Sarajevo and a media centre in Leipzig (IBA was short-listed), urban plan including a stadium for Naestved (Denmark). www.hemel.dircon.co.uk
I N T E R N AT I O N A L DESIGN (IND) Felix Madrazo and Arman Akdogan founded the Rotterdam-based International Design in 2007. They took part in the Roots exhibition at Arcam in the summer of 2008. Most important projects: social housing in Ceuta (Spain); study for a bridge over the River Maas in Venlo; urban proposal for the new capital city of Kazakstan (Astana), and holiday homes in Ismit near Istanbul. www.internationaldesign.nl
PERFECT RECIPE Looking at 3LHD’s projects you see that being unlimited shows more in the mix of disciplines. The Memorial Bridge in Rijeka, a waterfront boulevard in Split, a hotel in Rovinj, the Expo Pavilion for the world fair in Japan underline its scope. Functional needs are not the only conditions buildings have to meet, according to 3LHD. An integral approach and a thematic underpinning are the roads leading to a good design, with the location (the genius loci) serving as inspiration. But they find the synthesis between different cultures in an urban environment in a constantly changing world even more important. They believe that is the task of architects task at this time. IBA’s Mark Hemel also feels that architecture needs to get away from superficiality. He sees architects ‘standing beside their building’ as it were, as if they are not part of it – a sad way to practice your profession, he thinks. YOU TUBE-LIKE BUILDING That is the only way for a new up-and-coming studio to distinguish itself from the multitude of relatively anonymous ones. That IBA uses other disciplines in its projects can be seen in a pavilion for Amsterdam’s Museumplein where light and video artists play a major role. ‘A You Tubelike building in which tourists can make their own broadcast. That’s much more exciting than the IAmsterdam logo which is there now.’ As IBA integrates study and research into the design, so does Rotterdam’s IND set store by analysis, seeking in fact a fusion between Cartesian and phenomenological thought. How can we avoid the disagreeable aspect of pure modernism, how can we achieve subjective quality, are the questions that come up during such philosophical exercises. Akdogan: ‘Looking at our recent projects, we feel we are most successful in dense urban environments or the complete opposite: projects with the fewest programmatic requirements, like bridges, an athletics track or a house.’ AMBITIONS What would the three studios like to achieve? For the Croatian 3LHD that means the integration of interior and exterior space, the use of digital/electronic media as well as architecture in a historical context. IND, for the time being, is after a wide-ranging portfolio with room for discussion and hopefully for controversial proposals. IBA’s Mark Hemel believes architecture should also adapt to its context, but he also thinks space should be enriching. Architecture must have value, which is possible if it reflects, for example, the changes in the weather, nature and the landscape. In this light the TV & Sightseeing Tower in Guangzhou is likely to be more than just a landmark: it will be an experience for both visitors and onlookers. <<<
F r a n c e ’s H o u s i n g P l a t f o r m SEVENTY EXPERTS ON BETTER AND CHEAPER HOUSING Why is housing in France smaller yet more expensive than in any other European country? This is the main issue addressed by France’s Housing Platform, an initiative of the development business from ING Real Estate. At a time when purchasing power is the major preoccupation of the French people, the Housing Platform brings together experts from different European countries to find out how to realise better and cheaper housing, why construction prices in France are 30 to 50 per cent higher than in the rest of Europe, why housing in countries like the Netherlands and Germany is far more sustainable than in France, and how to engage in cultural evolution in favour of architectural innovation. Such important questions are discussed in accordance with five major themes: price
structure, value creation, architectural quality, construction methods, and management. During the first meeting on October 13th 2008, over seventy experts such as architects, urban planners, economists, land developers, construction companies, and social housing investors, analysed the determinant factors of housing construction costs per square metre in the French hexagon. One of the projects Development France of ING Real Estate presented during the Housing Platform meeting was Habiter les Quais in the town of Nantes. It is one of the projects meeting the values and criteria to which the ING Group has committed, in favor of a sustainable and innovative habitat which is adapted to the current and future needs of families, notably first-time buyers.
D o l c e V i t a Te j o OPPORTUNITY FOR SUCCESS Chamartín Imobiliaria and ING Real Estate are developing Dolce Vita Tejo. The project is created by the architects RTKL and Promontorio and will be opening in May 2009. The shopping centre is located in the north of Amadora, 10 kilometres from the centre of the Portuguese capital Lisbon. Dolce Vita Tejo will be part of a commercial complex with a total surface area of 152,782 m2 and a net retail area of 104,700 m2. The project is expected to open at close to 100% occupancy, including retailers like an Auchan hypermarket (Alcampo), El Corte Inglés Group, Inditex and a cinema. The complex is part of an undertaking including a residential and industrial area and will be part of the largest commercial area in Portugal. Centrally located within six districts of Lisbon and adjacent to the junction of the inner ring road of Lisbon and the highway IC 16, the shopping centre gives a unique opportunity for success.
S TAT E M E N T
Statement 1-2009-p48.indd 48
DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE FABRICE BOUSTEAU, CURATOR OF THE CHANEL MOBILE ART EXHIBITION:
‘The fusion of fashion, architecture and design gives rise to the new language of art’
B Y PAUL ST EENHOF F, P H O TO GR APHY: PHI L I PPE PROVI LY/ DE B EEL DREDAK T I E
The interface between architecture and design is a stimulating source of inspiration for those practising the art of design. FABRICE BOUSTEAU IS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF BEAUX ARTS MAGAZINE, A French monthly fashion, architecture and photography publication. He is also the conservator of the Chanel Mobile Art exhibition, housed in a mobile museum in the form of Coco Chanel’s famous 2.55 quilted leather handbag. The mobile museum – a creation of the architect Zaha Hadid – has already visited Hong Kong and Tokyo and is on its way to Moscow, London and Paris. ‘The project was launched by Karl Lagerfeld to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 2.55,’ says Bousteau. ‘So I asked artists like Subodh Gupta, Tabaimo and Leandro Erlich to look at Chanel’s fashion, the handbag in particular, and present their vision of it. I gave them carte blanche. What is notable about this exhibition is that it has become a melting pot of art, fashion, architecture and design. So I am quite comfortable with the proposition. As an artist you pick up things from all over the place and they become the composite of your world, your art. I think that process is reflected better in this mobile museum than anywhere else. What’s more, thanks to that fusion, you see a universal language come into being, which is understood in America as well as in India. I find that fascinating. As far as Bousteau is concerned, the artists can use any medium they like to express their vision on Chanel and the 2.55. Gupta, for instance, uses a split screen for his video impression. ‘It was not Chanel’s intention to entice celebrities. Gupta, for example, was not very well-known in India. And now he is world-famous. So in a sense the exhibition is a breeding ground as well, and Chanel is also gratifying in that unknown artists have been given an opportunity. I am proud to have been able to work on this exhibition. The building alone – the exceptional architecture, plus the fact that it’s mobile – makes this quite unique.’ The exhibition ends in Paris in July 2010, the year in which the bag celebrates its 50th anniversary. <<<
S TAT E M E N T
Openness and transparency Since its grand opening in November 2007, Renzo Piano’s New York Times Building has become a vital, fully-integrated part of its Times Square neighbourhood. The building was an initiative of the Development branch of ING Real Estate, the New York Times Company and real estate firm Forest City Ratner Companies. The construction was a joint venture of the latter two.
WORK IN PROGRESS
LOCATED IN THE CENTRE OF THE REVITALISED WEST side of midtown Manhattan, the iconic New York Times Building houses other companies as well as the newspaper’s new headquarters. The 52-storey building expresses the intrinsic link between the newspaper and the city through a striking double-skin curtain wall of clear glass. Architect Renzo Piano: ‘I wanted a transparent relationship between the street and the building. From the street, you can see through the whole building. Nothing is hidden.’ The remarkable façade is made even more dramatic by a screen of ceramic rods. Piano: ‘Like the city itself, the building will catch the light and change colour with the weather. Bluish after a shower, and in the evening on a sunny day, shimmering red. The story of this building is one of lightness and transparency.’ The ceramic rods also serve as a sunscreen that reduces the amount of heat coming into the building, allowing the use of floor-to-ceiling ultra-clear glass which maximises views and light for the occupants and enables people outside to see in. The vision of openness is also wonderfully apparent in the building’s lobby, which includes a semi-public auditorium and publicly accessible restaurants and shops. Furthermore, there is a birchand-moss garden surrounded by glass walls, forming the heart of the building and the focal point of the colourful, airy lobby. The New York Times Building has quickly become a recognisable fixture on Manhattan’s legendary skyline and home to major financial services companies and law firms. Jeffrey A. Barclay, who structured the joint venture with Forest City Ratner and the New York Times Company on behalf of ING Real Estate: ‘This building was conceived within months of the terrorist attacks of 9/11; now, in 2009, it stands as a monument to the optimism shared by a legendary communications company, a world class developer and a great global financial institution.’ <<<
B Y K ASPER MARI NUS, P HOT OG RAPHY: MI CHEL DENANCÉ, RPB W I NG REAL ESTAT E DEVEL OPMENT
S TAT E M E N T
Differences in faรงade colour, window layout and size distinguish the semi-detached houses, resulting in a livelier looking street.
This customised villa, maximising the possibilities for excellent views, ensures higher-quality of living.
The all-glass curtain wall with the ceramic sunscreen is the first of its kind in the US. It is a highly innovative way to bring natural light into the building.
The integration of interior and exterior, nature and the built environment reaches its peak in the ground floor garden.
S TAT E M E N T
‘You can see through the whole building. Nothing is hidden’
Moveable Type is a media artwork consisting of hundreds of digital screens displaying fragments of The Times’ ever-growing news database.
The vision of openness is wonderfully apparent
The buildingâ€™s basic shape is simple and primary, similar to the Manhattan grid. The tower has quickly become one of the most recognisable on the Manhattan skyline.
The open plan and low workstation panels of the newsroom support the Times Companyâ€™s goal for a vibrant, stimulating workplace emphasising strong communication.
S TAT E M E N T
‘It is essential to hold a mirror to society’ Architect and cofounder of MVRDV Winy Maas is professor architectural and urban design at Delft University of Technology (TU) and founder of the Why Factory, a research consultancy affiliated to the TU.
‘ARCHITECTS ARE IN THE FIRST PLACE DESIGNERS OF buildings and landscapes. They respond to society’s demand for certain products and services. You can be critical about the level of the average design. In new housing estates, for instance, there are lots of houses in historicising styles. But while there is nothing wrong with the role of service provider, it is also important that designers as ‘hands-on’ experts mirror society to a certain extent. By deliberately exaggerating spatial processes they can hold up a mirror to society and show that there are alternatives to patterns entrenched in living and working. That can be difficult. An architectural firm is also a company that must remain in business. But for a society that wants to renew itself that mirroring aspect is crucial. It remains to be seen whether the enormous focus on sustainability will eventually result in good buildings. It is logical that designers should take the environment into account. But at present the extra cost of a sustainable building usually results in a lesser quality of the urban plan and architectural design. That can never have been the intention. Another exciting aspect is how the credit crisis will affect society and architecture. Will the design remain optimistic and geared to satisfying individual needs or will the social agenda get more space? Architects are good at representing social processes. They can make public spaces that really are communal if there is sufficient support for that within a community. But will that really happen? Until recently architecture was sexy above all. But the credit crisis is changing that. The discussion on the iconisation of architecture must also be seen in that context. In itself it is laudable that buildings arouse emotions and stir people, but the demand for spectacular buildings was often very banal. Every city wanted something designed by a certain architect. But that results in exactly the kind of generic city that architects ought to be avoiding. So those commissioning a building should take a more indepth view. And the demand for exceptional quality should be extended for a change to people’s everyday working and living environment. Make something they can be proud of. At the moment there is too much focus on the individual building. In the future the architect’s role will not be marginalised so easily. It’s true that designs are increasingly complex technically. That means designers will have to work closely with engineers to realise their buildings. But, unlike the latter, designers are able to identify what is special and unique about a place. If the technology becomes dominant what you get is precisely more of the same. Clients are starting to realise that. In the past, the spatial expertise of architects was often ignored. But that’s changing. Designers are increasingly appreciated for their know-how and insight, which brings new challenges for the profession. They will need to take a more process-oriented approach and communicate better with other players. That will keep them on the ball.’ <<<
PHOT OG RAP H Y: R OB ‘ T H A RT
S TAT E M E N T
Modesty is a precondition for being able to get close to the psychology of projects, and therefore of people in particular
CH R I ST I A N B I E C HE R , A R CH I T E CT A ND DE S I G N E R (s e e p a ge 1 2 )
Published on Mar 9, 2009
Published on Mar 9, 2009
Scripta bedacht Statement, een aantrekkelijk ogend, maar vooral inhoudelijk en journalistiek gedegen magazine. Het biedt de lezer informatie...