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ARCHITECTURE AT TU DELFT

NR. 1

Texts by Tony Fretton Mark Pimlott Daniel Rosbottom Mechthild Stuhlmacher Eireen Schreurs Dirk Somers

Works by Guangjie Xue Davey van Giesen Petra Sejkorova Tom Radenz Nadine Spielmann Bart van der Zalm Taja Bencina

STUDIO: LIBRARY CHAIR OF INTERIORS, BUILDINGS, CITIES


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Studio: Library


SENSE AND SENSIBILITY This Studio booklet is the first in a series of compact publications that present the teaching and research of the Department of Architecture at TU Delft in the Netherlands. The STUDIO series begins with a number of issues on teaching positions and investigates the connection between positions and didactics of the Chairs. Concept & Editing: Eireen Schreurs

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MSC1 INTERIORS, BUILDINGS, CITIES PROLOGUE

POSITIONS

CATALOGUE

EPILOGUE

05 INTRODUCTION – Tony Fretton

10 SENSE AND SENSIBILITY – Eireen Schreurs

50 56 58 62 66 70 74

80 EPILOGUE Daniel Rosbottom

18 DESIGNING FROM INSIDE OUT Mechthild Stuhlmacher

Davey van Giesen Guangjie Xue Petra Sejkorova Tom Radenz Nadine Spielmann Bart van der Zalm Taja Bencina

82 Teaching team

26 LOOKING AND DESCRIBING Mark Pimlott 34 WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FACADE Dirk Somers

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Prologue


Cities of Interiors, Buildings and Chairs In its program, Interiors buildings and Cities sees buildings as cultural artifacts in the sense that their designers have negotiated with the values of the society and culture in which they are made, public media have shaped the ways they are received and their users and others who encounter construe them according to both conventional and personal ideas. To teach from this position is to seek to make students open to the qualities of the people and places for which they design and the materials and forms they propose, while insisting that Architecture can, and should add to the cultural ideas by which the times are understood. Design and writing are natural partners. The work in this book is accompanied by a number of texts written by the teachers of the chair who take position on their work in the studio. To complete the publication an afterword is provided by Daniel Rosbottom, a valued colleague, director of DRDH Architects and Head of the School of Architecture and Landscape, at Kingston University, London. Tony Fretton, Head of the Chair of Interiors, Buildings, Cities. Spring 2013

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Tony Fretton


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Prologue


At work

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Positions


POSITIONS

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Eireen Schreurs

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

In the famous novel by Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, the plot revolves around two sisters, one with good sense and the other with great sensibility. The novel follows the two quite opposite characters throughout their life struggles and their ability to conquer them, but only with the help of the other, as it appears. Up until the end of the story, it remains ambiguous whether sense or sensibility triumphs. The MSc1 programme of the TU Delft Chair of Interiors has adopted this title, based on the conviction that teaching architecture is essentially a balancing act, even to the point that students might begin to wonder if we are schizophrenic. We force them to think academically, yet we urge them to trust their instincts. We ask them to analyse societal demands, while simultaneously expecting them to take a position. We want them to build arguments, yet we dare to call its result ‘unbalanced’. How is it possible to compose an educational method that meets such seemingly conflicting learning goals?

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Positions


Before discussing the educational approach adopted by the Chair of Interiors, we should explain why this balancing act is so important. This will require us to introduce our other professional lives – our firms, which inevitably shape our ideas on teaching. As architects, we have learned our position in the world; we have learned to understand the ever-changing context, and our years in practice have taught us our modest place as designers within it. It is within this setting that we must set out arguments, in addition to analysing and solving problems, with an attitude towards the clients and the assignment that is both critical and productive. At the same time, we must be creative and flexible, quick and intuitive in our response and socially engaged, and we must hold our ground regarding our own position, in which we pursue our own ideas and fascinations. The balance between academia and craft is what makes our profession quite special, and this continuous shift between ‘making’ and ‘thinking’ is what we teach. In essence, our Chair is a teaching collective. Despite our highly varied backgrounds, we share an interest in particular themes, architects, discourses and aesthetics. We are continually redefining our position and delineating our realm by writing texts, giving lectures and composing literature lists. Our shared positions and the implicit knowledge of the lecturers are continually actualised in the studio briefs, as well as in our teaching performance. Nevertheless, discussions on our didactic approach are rarely explicit. Although it might seem that we lack the right words or an educational discourse to which we can relate, I suspect it is because our Chair regards our position and our didactics as symbiotic. This first issue of the STUDIO series represents an initial attempt to untie the knot of what we teach, how we teach and why we teach. It demonstrates how we ‘keep the balance’, as an articulation of our didactic and ideological position.

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Eireen Schreurs

Berlin State Library (1964), H. Scharoun

Rolex Learning Centre (2010), Sanaa


drawings Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet 1850

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The restricted programme brief The MSc1 programme at the TU Delft forms for most students the first solid design assignment. The formation of the MSc1 programme starts with a strict definition of the brief, which is firmly focussed on the material reality of architecture – the architect’s ultimate means of expression. The programme involves a public building. In order to avoid excessive emphasis on the programme, we opt for realistic briefs of average complexity and intermediate scale. They involve wellknown typologies: schools, music centres, museums, urban clinics, cultural centres – none too spectacular, none too hybrid. In our teaching, we work from within a strong awareness of the historical and programmatic development of buildings, stressing the inextricable relationship of buildings with societal demands and representation. We also encourage students to use the brief pragmatically, however, as a source of inspiration and reference. In the 2012 spring semester, the design brief consisted of a University Study Centre of the Erasmus University, combined with an existing small private library (the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet). The assignment did not question the programme, but it did offer enough freedom for different interpretations. The Erasmus Study Centre, which is currently housed in a campus outside the city centre of Rotterdam, offered us the opportunity to question the representation of academia in Rotterdam, in addition to societal questions of a more general nature (e.g. the future of books and the place of a library in it). The assignment raised a wide range of issues concerning the public and private spheres. We could discuss the type of public life to be expected in such a place and ways to accommodate it, as well as the private experience of concentration while studying. Because the site we selected for the Study Centre was somewhat constrained, all urban gestures were actually architectural moves.

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Eireen Schreurs

Splendid isolation In our teaching, we frequently work with the technique of isolation. The studio work is supported by brief exercises focusing on particular themes or aspects of the assignment. Students develop their own sense of architectural quality within a setting in which only certain aspects of architecture are relevant, while others are not. They must work quickly and trust their ‘first guess’, thereby training their design intuition. The so called charettes range from concrete architectural briefs with set products (e.g. preparing a model or a montage) to more associative and speculative assignments, as with the preparation of a ‘material manuscript’, the Vedute, as described in the text by colleague Mechthild Stuhlmacher in this booklet. The charettes have proven to offer an excellent testing ground. They formulate the research of the studio and feed the discussion on ideas (e.g. how ideas can be worked through in tangible objects and how they could work as models for their project). For example, in the library studio, we asked students to produce a small reading room in a model scale of 1:50.The critique of the results introduced students to our ways of working and our ambition for the studio. In a very early stage, our comments demonstrated our agenda and served as an invitation for students to take their own positions. At eye level We explicitly teach students to use their eyes in various ways. First, there is the ‘critical eye’ – the academic eye with which students learn to interpret visual information. We teach them to frame themes, to look at details and to recognise relationships. The ‘designer eye’ does quite the opposite. Rather than reducing information to elements or identifying systems, the designer eye is a way to let reality sink in, of seeing the potential within a certain context. This is the gaze at eye level, with which students learn to recognise and


exploit their own experiences or reactions to a situation, site or context. Our stress on using the eye also relates to the ways in which buildings are actually perceived, neither from the plan nor from the oblique view, but from eye level, using client eyes, which are usually not trained. For this reason, we often work with live clients in the studio, in order to help students understand the significance and framing of the future building for its users. Although the awareness and exploitation of social relevance offers singular starting points, the sensitivity to multiple perspectives contributes to capable judgment and the ability to transcend the merely individual. One example of the development of a more intuitive gaze is contained in an exercise described in this STUDIO by colleague and artist/architect/photographer Mark Pimlott. In his lecture, he introduced the photo exercise of the first studio week, in which students were invited to look at the site with their eyes wide open. What is there? What can I use? What interests me? What would fit? Repeated visits to the site and discussions in the studio provided a tool with which students could look contextually and from their own personal experiences. Although the resulting images seemed unfocussed at first, the students picked up themes ranging from the urban (e.g. the building as part of the skyline) to the architectural (e.g. the site as a sequence of enclosed spaces) and the historical (e.g. the site as a collision of buildings from different eras). Several of the themes re-emerged in the students’ work, thus affirming the relevance of the ‘gaze’.

Housing project Tietgens Aergelse (2010), Tony Fretton Architects.

Column - Johan celsing

Architecture and the elements In the studio, we make students aware of the fact that their position can ultimately and only be expressed through architecture. There will never be a sign in the front garden to clarify the intention of the building nor to provide an explanation of its details. Architectural elements are the only means with

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Catalogue


which to translate abstract ideas into form. In other words, they have to communicate. An awareness of how these elements work and what they signify is an important part of our teaching. In addition to questioning the material choices, we question our position as architects with regard to these choices. Studio discussions aim to reveal the potential of various architectural elements. We refer to modernist automatisms (e.g. the abstraction of the detail) and show students what the exposition of elements can bring. We show them that the construction is more than merely a technical device to fix gravity; it is an essential architectural tool that provides a distinct logic and rhyme to the building. This is equally true for an element like the façade, as colleague Dirk Somers argues in his polemic essay ‘What happened to the façade?’ In this context, architecture is regarded as an autonomous project, even though it is informed by cultural and historical conditions. Good education What makes good education? There is no formula, but there is a set of shared principles. This STUDIO can be seen as a frame within a timeline. Bad education stands still. Good education, we believe, is contextual in its essence, and it keeps sharpening its position. It is an education that situates itself between the situation ‘out there’ and the academic context. It continuously develops and reacts to what students already know or do not know, and what they can or cannot do. The position described above is the basis, which leads us to test ever new grounds. What, then, is a good student project? The charettes n the studio appear to have predictive value. If the exercises are consistent, it means that the student is speaking with his own voice. In many cases, the final design is also good: it is informed, it is personal and it is rich in ideas. Once students have found the balance between sense and sensibility, they can fly away.

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Auteur

Davey van Giesen Photo, Vedute, Charette, Design


Choi Wah Lui

Bart van der Zalm

Willem Barendregt

Davey van Giesen

Petra Sejkorova

Dimitri Sotiropoulos

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Positions


Erik Revelle

Narutai Riangkruar

Nadine Spielmann

Josje Hemmes

Tom Radenz

Warner van Haaren

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Week 3-4: Reading Room Charette


Mechthild Stuhlmacher

DESIGNING FROM INSIDE OUT The name and didactic aims of the chair of Interiors have been open to interpretation ever since the chair was established. Even though the interior of a building and its experiential qualities and meaning have always been at the very centre of our interest, we regard a limitation to the literal inside of a building contradictory to the integrative approach to architecture we believe in. Quality and meaning of space are our main focus, whether the space is small or large, or outside or the inside a building. In recent years the chair therefore has been called Interiors Buildings Cities in order to express its openminded and inclusive character.

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The state of present day architecture with its unsettling lack of definition, limitations and consensus has been generally criticised many times, most recently by my colleague Dirk Somers in the introduction of his essay ‘what happened to the façade’. Architecture in the Netherlands has, however, now entered a new phase that seems to be even more unsettling than before. Dutch architecture in general is losing ground. This crisis has been related to the economic crisis, but the problem is more fundamental. In contrast to the situation in our neighbouring countries, where architecture seems to be flourishing despite similar economic circumstances, and where firm political and cultural structures have recently been established to enhance this development, the profession in the Netherlands seems to have relinquished all the tools and structures that traditionally protected and communicated its value. We architects will have to redefine and reposition our profession if we want to find a way out of the present crisis. As educators we have a role to play in this, even though an academic institution has a different scope than the world outside and functions at a different pace. More than ever before we need to define explicitly what kind of architects we want to educate, what kind of skills and knowledge we want them to develop, and how we want them to reflect on their profession and to operate within a threatened culture. The more architecture seems to be endangered, the more firmly we believe in the specific aspects that, in our eyes, architecture has and needs. The more the current public opinion, the attitude of today’s clients and recent economic opportunities reduce the profession to the surface, the more we feel the need to concentrate on the values we share at Interiors, namely the integration of skills, craft and reflection. The more architecture merges in the public opinion with other visual disciplines, such as design, photography, fashion and advertising, the

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more we feel like emphasising architecture’s specific character and role. The weaker the foundations of architecture seem to be, the more we feel like concentrating on architecture’s fundamental aspects, such as building and space and the relevance of materials, structure and proportions. An integrated design task The Msc1 project is the first big architectural project during an architecture study at the TU Delft, and the first design project after the multi-facetted Bachelor programme. Because of the large variety of didactic concepts applied within the large faculty, architecture at Delft is taught as a colourful puzzle that often consists of many at times unrelated, fragmentary pieces, and despite considerable efforts it’s hard to integrate for both students and teachers those pieces into one consistent whole. In the Msc1 project we expect our students to design a real building, with a realistic, complex programme. We try to stimulate them to design a considered structure and a thoughtful façade, and to pay attention to careful detailing and materialization. We try to include conversations with a ‘real’ client into the semester. We choose a location on a historically and spatially demanding site, one that is close enough for our students to visit several times, that they can develop their own relationship with it. For our understanding of architecture the integration of those aspects is essential. In the Msc1 project we try to bring it into practice. We can summarise it very shortly. It means to us that we design from inside out. Designing from inside out Designing from inside out means many things to us. But it mainly means that we look at the very inside of a design task from various angles, using both our minds and our senses. This turns the commonly expected, linear design process from small to large, from concept to detail upside down.


We start with the essence of a project and from there we develop a shape, an organisation, and an architectural expression. When designing a school we simply cannot avoid starting our work with our own memories of our own experiences and our own ideas about the feel and character of a classroom in our minds. So instead of starting our semester with an urban analysis we ask our students to make a classroom model in 1:20 in the first week of the semester. We look at its atmosphere, its scale and its proportions, and we develop our building proposals from there. When developing a façade, we start by building a fragment at a large scale instead of gradually moving from the large scale to more detail. This way of working forces us, and our students, to get down from the bird’s eye perspective, right from the start. Interior Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet 1850

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Leeskabinet In the spring semester of 2012 we worked on a design for the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet– a small library dedicated to literature and history. It was privately founded in the 19th century, and now serves as a department of the university library. The library’s original inner city building was destroyed during the war, and its present spaces on the university campus lack quality, space and specificity. The need for a replacement is easily imaginable, and the present librarian encouraged us to take on the project by acting himself as client. The reading room of the pre-war Leeskabinet, with its large café on the ground floor and a reading room on top contained all ingredients that belong to the building type in general: a large, common reading table, the use of bookshelves as a powerful architectural gesture, the clarity and simplicity of its arrangement, and the combination of a high ceiling with a large, monumental skylight and the domestic intimacy of individual reading lamps. In the course of the semester we carefully studied the few existing, contemporary images of

Studio: Library

Positions


the beautiful space and discovered striking similarities to much grander libraries such as Labrouste’s St. Geneviève and Dublin’s Trinity College library. We then held an intensive, short workshop during which we intuitively worked on an experimental interior space as a large-scale model, testing our first associations, and then refining them. The models that were developed during the workshop were useful throughout the semester and formed a lasting source of inspiration for most designs. Context Designing from inside out means to us that we try to establish a personal relationship with the context in which we set our design tasks. We are quite suspicious about references taken from distant contexts, and try to avoid the unconsidered use of the vast imagery of architecture provided by the media. We start to look at our building site with our own, preferably unprejudiced eyes, spend hours walking around, taking photographs, observing its life, its buildings, its use, its light, its sounds and its atmosphere. We look at its history, its formalities and informalities, and at its qualities and shortcomings. We try (sometimes very hard) to develop sympathy for and an understanding of the place and from there we developed our interventions. We start to look at the urban space our building shares and influences and base our architectural intentions on this spatial experience. In the spring semester of 2012 this proved to be a demanding task. Not many students (or architects!) look with empathy at the architecture of the (recent) past and at neighbourhoods that were obviously built on a small budget. This applies especially to the many participants of the studio who did not know Rotterdam well. It takes time to appreciate Rotterdam’s post-war heritage, with its subtle beauties and obvious imperfections. It is even harder to make a conscious judgement for the required formal strategy for an intervention in such a fragile context. The

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Library St. Genevieve (1851), H. Labrouste

Wren Library, Trinity College (1695), C. Wren

Herenplaats 1945


communication with the context was mandatory (as it always is in our studio’s) and we discouraged the many attempts by students to escape their mundane surroundings by making (too) large gestures. Making space In the work in the studio, designing from inside out means that we make things and look at them. We make many big models, sketches, drawings and more models. To get a closer look photograph them to bring the images of the model closer to reality. We concentrate on capturing space rather than objects. We look at the structural setup of our projects and the implication of the structure for the interior character and quality of all spaces. We try to think like engineers and discover the beauty of grids, columns, rhythms and structural logic. We understand and appreciate this structure as the very grammar of our work. Finally, designing from inside out means asking questions. When starting on the essence of a programme, a building, a room or a site we need to know what kind of space we want to make. What’s the meaning of it, to us and to others? How does it suit its purpose, its context? What kind of materials do we want to use? Are those materials related to the structure and, if so, how? How do these materials relate to the surroundings? Does the choice make sense? Can we understand it? Would everybody understand it? Do we need clear shapes and proportions? Do we desire order, complexity or monumentality? What does our building represent? How intimate can a space be? How welcoming, warm, inviting? How much should architecture determine its use and how much should we leave to its current and future users? What does it take to inhabit a space? Or to put it more simply: what kind of skills do I need to make a good room? What kind of qualities does it need? Is there such a thing as a clear answer to good and bad in architecture? Is this a matter of skill, of good eyes or good think-

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ing? Or is it a matter of luck? Or of skill, good eyes, good thinking and good luck? Vedute In order to encapsulate both the questions and the first attempts at answering them in one first-week design task, we started our MSc1 studio by making a Vedute. It’s a powerful design exercise to start the design process, as well as a small design project in itself. ‘Vedute has been set up with the aim to build up a library with spatial manuscripts: a collection of three-dimensional objects that make the notion of space visible and tangible, as visualised thoughts. Vedute invites artists, designers, architects and others working in other disciplines to illustrate and reflect their personal ideas about space by making a three-dimensional work. In contrast to books spatial manuscripts reveal their secrets by images. Some can be understood directly, whereas others need to be looked at again and again; the possibilities seem to be endless. By collecting and exhibiting these works Vedute aims to give giving new impulses to the thinking and the discussion about space and architecture.’ (Vedute Foundation website, www.vedute.nl) The kaleidoscopic collection of Vedute inspired us to use the format as a warming up for our semester. Many students accepted the challenge, with all its limits and endless possibilities. And many showed a surprising ambition, creativity and artistry. The idea arose from an own experience we had in our office. A couple of years ago the Vedute Foundation invited us to contribute to the collection. The invitation to make a manuscript in the Vedute format was a privilege and I felt happy to accept. At the same time it gave us enormous headaches. In our minds the whole thing grew to assume the proportions of a real project or even larger, with as

Positions


its programme no less than our concept of space and architecture in general. The impressive collection the Foundation has assembled over the years and the entertaining presentations that introduce new objects force the participants to take their small task very seriously. This sense of urgency is the very basis of the quality of the collection. If done well, a Vedute is a spatial object with the lightness of a ‘Santa Claus Surprise’, the weight of an altarpiece and the value of a treasury. I still prize the lengthy conversations we had in the office about this project, our smallest ever, and the experiments we did as a result –(in our case the casting and modelling bee’s wax!) I became more and more grateful for the opportunity to make a mission statement rather than having to think about writing down such a statement down. And I value even more the spinoff it all had for our teaching and our students. ‘Visualised thoughts’ –what more can a school of architecture hope to achieve in the first days of a design studio? The Vedutes by our students were to be presented in the second week. We had asked them to ‘make’ their ideas of a library and compress those thoughts into the Vedutedimensions of 44 x 32 x 7 cm. The task dealt with such issues as order, atmosphere, light, material, symbolism, simplicity- in short with the essence of a library. Wood was cut, guitars were destroyed and reassembled in a Braque-like manner, paint was spoiled, transparencies tested, patterns developed, churches built, poems written, wood sawn, cardboard chopped. The variety of the results was impressive. Poetic, beautiful, experimental, creative. The objects accompanied those who had accepted the challenge throughout the rest of the semester, as a meaningful guideline. I recall the presentation of the Vedute’s as one of the most cheerful, hopeful and inspiring moments of the semester. The almost absurdly tight restrictions of the Vedute

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dimensions made it impossible for anyone to reuse known strategies and to borrow imagery from somewhere else. The objects therefore revealed the surprising authenticity of our students. In the weeks that followed it proved to be hard work to transfer the promising, initial creativity of the Vedutes into a ‘real’ building design. Not all of our students had been adequately prepared for their masters, and unfortunately quite many miss basic architectural skills. Nevertheless, the Vedute proved to be a friendly, speculative design exercise for everyone, independent from level or experience. It helped us to think and speak about the integration of meaning and material. With the Vedute we invited our students to reveal their thoughts in a more direct way than a design of a building would allow them to do. Those who accepted the invitation felt inspired throughout the semester. Some learned by looking at others, others need more time, maybe more invitations. But everyone in one way or the other kept referring back to this first week, its images, thoughts and conversations. And like this the whole group got at least a bit closer to what designing from inside out means to us. For young architects who will need a lot of willpower, dedication and authentic thinking in the years to come that’s quite something.


Choi Wah Lui

Roos Cornelissen

Taja Bencina

Edwin Damen

Nadine Spielmann

Bart van der Zalm

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Positions


Warner van Haaren

Xiao Qin Zhuang

Anne Larsen

Tom Radenz

Marleen Klompenhouwer

Petra Sejkorova

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Week 2: Vedute


Mark Pimlott

LOOKING AND DESCRIBING NOTES ON MAKING PHOTOGRAPHS As part of preparations for an exercise in photographing a site in Rotterdam for the Vedute workshop of the MSc1 Interiors, Buildings and Cities studio for a Rotterdamsche Leeskabinet, I presented a short lecture on the photography of places. This paper concerns an idea of space, the part of photography in understanding and describing space, and very briefly, notes for a practice in making space––in writing, picturing and building.

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My own practice has been formed by environmental conditions, and benefitted from both a formative experience of consciousness and a model of photographic practice in order to form its attitude and approach. I offer this practice as of potential use to developing approaches for understanding spaces through their description in photography. Therefore, I discuss, briefly, some aspects of the environment in which I was raised; more briefly, the idea and attitude of the nineteenth-century photographer Timothy O’Sullivan; and finally, the writing and photographs pertaining to sites and places within my own practice. When I was a child, I made photographs. I responded to fleeting perceptions of the World that seemed to reveal itself and its fundamental characteristics with a camera. I saw meaning embedded in spaces and objects, as I still do: their forms are means toward understanding human motives and their results, however unsatisfied they may be. This view was partly attributable to the mythic presentations of my childhood surroundings––suburban tract housing, infrastructure and mute buildings set against the vast spaces of the continent––and the Utopian atmosphere that prevailed in the 1960s in my native Montréal. The co-existence of banal and futuristic spaces suggested a vast, continuous environment, supporting an array of artefacts and arrangements. Parking lots were of a piece with fields, airports, corporate office lobbies, meandering semi-public subterranean interiors, train carriages, megastructures, motorways, cars, suburban bungalows, sylvan wilderness, and ‘heritage’ settlements. Their unity and their equivalence constituted a plausible and exciting reality: it offered an image and feeling of complete freedom.1 As the years have passed, I have continued to make photographs of places and interiors, searching for those promised evanescent freedoms, in environments that share a catalogue of features reiterated throughout the

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industrialised world. One particular body of photographic work has served as a model for an attitude, approach and practice: the Great Survey photographs––or views––made by Timothy O’Sullivan in the late 1860s. They differ from the views made by the Surveys’ other famous photographers, which champion the conquest and interiorisation of the American continental space; there seem to be other priorities woven into their primary task, the scientific documentation of topography, geological formations, sites of strategic importance, natural resources, and natural spectacles. O’Sullivan’s views did not represent the West as sites of promise, to be possessed or as a resource to be exploited or as a domain to be dominated, but as places, those of and with others, that had to be met. It was the opposite of the prevalent, projective model for the consideration of space; the encounter in his photographic practice was a model for the actual encounter, which occurred in a clearing.2 This idea of a clearing, a charged field or campus which one is conscious of oneself, and conscious of one’s place in the World, and vulnerable, and at attention, and waiting for a meeting with something that is unknown and some one, an other, who is unknown–– has been instructive and consequently central to the attitude I bring to practice. The clearing, recognised as a place of meeting rather than as a site for the projection of predetermined ideas, offers approaches as to how to see and describe places. The clearing as a model for practice is in one sense also a model for behaviour and communication. My photographs of places are photographs of perceived clearings. The clearings are not declared as such; rather, I use a process that combines intuition, analysis and the knowledge of other places to suggest that they might be considered as places: the scenes in my photographic views are either true places, or are proposed as such through the arrangement of the view. The point of view is impor-


Mark Pimlott Praha CZ 1990

Mark Pimlott Parking lot (airport) c 1965; and 1642 (Salem) from photographic series 1970, 1996

Timothy O’Sullivan Sage brush desert, Ruby Valley Nevada c 1869

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tant only in as much as it permits the subject to be more readily visible. There is no particular science to the making of the photographs, and no manipulations after the moment they are taken other than those typical of the darkroom, regarding exposure, the correction of verticals, horizons and so on. They are otherwise not cropped. They are made with ordinary handheld cameras, analogue and digital, in an effort to be true to the spirit of a studied snapshot, a description of the pictured subject.3 The description I make of a place or scene is done as plainly and as thoroughly as seems possible given a particular stance or position, and in that description, the scene’s nature or character emerges: its disjunctions or inconsistencies or relations or evocations or signs or intimations of other places or other times. This description can be made with text––a fragment of which is presented below––and it can be made through views or photographs such as this one (Praha CZ 1990), on the preceding page. A text like the one I have described is ‘A scene’ (1995), written as a description of a remembered photograph made a few years earlier. And a moment of reading will offer some idea of its effect. It is both a litany of artefacts and effects, and an exposition of the natural achronisms and anomalies that characterise our efforts in making sense of and our place in the World. “The horizon is central. Above, the empty sky, a plume of smoke from a chimney stack, central. At one side a wood some paths a slope some cottages made of wood some slightly larger buildings covered with render scattered on the slope, roughly joined by the paths or tracks or roads but very few. More closely, cottages and houses one storey high with some windows and a door, plainer on the cottages than on the houses. All have chimneys with

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Mark Pimlott

smoke rising out of them caught by the sun’s light and by the wind which carries the smoke over the wooded slope the smoke white and blue and grey over the dark bare wood and bright in the sun. The wood and the houses and the cottages are in shadow dark. The clearings are lighter and the paths or tracks are lighter and the roads are light in the sun. Joining the roads and near the cottages and houses are wooden poles, trees slightly bent without branches or leaves and abruptly ended and so are poles. Between the poles hang single cables, some with another wound round them. On one or two is a single suspended street lamp pulling the cable taut. The loops of cable hang over the houses and the wood and the sun’s light connects the poles which stand next to the trees of the wood without leaves. The wood is dark and the branches of the trees are dark and the highest branches catch the sun’s light. Under the drifting smoke and the lighted branches and the hanging cables are the dark wood and the cottages and the houses and the people in them. Some people stand on the paths or tracks or roads but far apart from each other. One repairs a small white car. Another stands, on a path in the middle of the land’s slope, looking down the slope. A third is on a path at the bottom of the slope, in a large coat and a bobble hat and rubber boots, the vapour of each breath is caught by the sun’s light. The person looks out to another, the next place.”4 Looking carefully enough at the photograph that the text ‘remembers’ may yield a similar effect to reading the text. The contents of the view are there to see, as are their inconsistencies. The photograph, made from the roof of Adolf Loos’s Müller house in Prague, is


the most representative of my photographs. I think of it as a model, one that follows the model set by O’Sullivan, one that can be followed. I confess that I find its success as a picture difficult to emulate. As a model, however, it says one thing to me regarding practice or what to do: one has the obligation to look and to accept and to be responsible in order to learn, and possibly to know something. This obligation comes with demands: one must take time to meet the subject, to look, and embrace, and describe it; one’s attention requires movement toward the subject and the sloughing off of one’s desires, one’s ego. The task demands silence. The artist and photographer Thomas Struth uses the German word Stille, which describes this meeting, and substantiates the atmosphere of this silence and the attention that lives within it.5 It is difficult to describe my photographs in terms of what they achieve. That is best left to viewers. All I can say is that I am aware that in moving through the public world, I arrive at an instant––a place, if you will––when a photograph becomes necessary. Without a programme for finding anything, save ‘clearings’ where consciousness seems to be possible, there are physical aspects to certain ‘places’ that require my attention, offering themselves to a series of questions which I feel compelled to address. I am responsible to them, and I feel that making a photograph can address these questions all at once: what the subject is, and what it has been; what it has come to be, what it might be or become. The photograph is a description, like a text or a portrait, of a place that is or has wanted to be; and of what the photographer, or writer or builder thinks it to be or might want it to be. It is natural to me that the consequence of making a photograph is involvement. There must be a relationship between the photographer, the writer, the maker and the subject.

Mark Pimlott Łódz PL 1994 (Manhattan)

Mark Pimlott Montréal CA 2009

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Studio: Library

Positions


The photographic act is one of involvement; the dark room (camera obscura) within the camera is the space where the photographer and all the artefacts and protagonists of the scene meet. I regard the alteration of scenes or places–– the work of the architect or the public artist–– as another order of involvement of the type I have described in making photographs. In the case of my own practice, direct alterations constitute another kind of description, another kind of portrait, following the ‘O’Sullivan model’ of the attitude I bring to a subject in making photographs. I make alterations or additions to the place (or the place that does not declare itself to be a place) so that the place knows, or sees, or realises some aspect of its character that is latent, hidden, forgotten or imagined. This suggests that description through writing, through picturing and through building are all of a piece. In all cases, if the description through writing or picturing or making is true, then the essence of the place or scene will emerge. For me, this is all that is important: that the essence of what is there is visible and palpable and available. This attitude is the opposite of a projective attitude. The object of this work, and this approach, is to do the right thing for places: to make them and their deep characteristics more visible, more tangible, and more like themselves for the people that use them, who may become more conscious of where they are, of their place in the World, of themselves and of each other.

Mark Pimlott

1 Mark Pimlott, Without and within: essays on territory and the interior (Rotterdam: episode, 2007) 2 Wolf, Daniel [ed.] The American Space: Meaning in Nineteenth Century Landscape Photography (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1983) 3 Mark Pimlott, In passing: Mark Pimlott photographs (Heijningen: Jap Sam books, 2010) 4 Mark Pimlott, from ‘A scene’ (1995), published in Mark Pimlott, Studiolo (London: Todd Gallery, 1996) 5 Thomas Struth, Ulrich Loock, Thomas Struth: Unbewußte Orte/ Unconscious Places (Köln: Verlag Walther König, 1987)


Marleen Klompenhouwer

Chira Padron

Chira Padron

Edwin Damen

Pengcheng He

Qian Lan

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Studio: Library

Positions


Choi Wah Lui

Nadine Spielmann

Petra Sejkorova

Anne Larsen

Bart van der Zalm

Valerie Krautzer

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Week 1: Photo assignment


Dirk Somers

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FACADE The past few decades have surely been some of the most disorientated times in the history of architecture, particularly with regard to the cladding and appearance of buildings. With the total disappearance of a guiding avant-garde project in the late twentieth century, every footing, every normative framework for evaluating the appearance of buildings disappeared too. Since then, the vacuum has been filled by modish bursts of apparent innovation. An unceasing supply of new materials attempts to protect today’s designer from normality or repetition. The menu of claddings from which we can choose now extends to the remote quarries of China and India. Even those who swear by a traditional cladding material such as brick, for economic or practical reasons, are royally treated to seasonal catalogues displaying the latest ranges and models. It is not only the materiality of the cladding that finds itself in a senseless maelstrom. Composition, too, has become the

victim of depthless graphisms and motifs. In his hunger for variation, today’s architects prefer to design façades with varying window patterns, which give a building just as much identity as a bar code gives a department-store product. And there is always the option of a double façade, which separates contents and packaging still further. A reference to the supermarket is superfluous here. Amid this plethora of possibilities, a critical designer will opt for restraint. So in contrast to the hysterical demonstration of brand-new cladding materials and ditto graphs, there is also an undertow of asceticism. Those who wish to set themselves apart from the unbridled bid-raising for diversity shroud themselves in simplicity. Today, white plasterwork, a curtain wall or smooth grey concrete represent abstinence and self-control. It is as if, in the absence of a guiding narrative, it is better for the building to remain silent; no crazy materials, therefore

no crazy patterns. The ascetic swears by austere fenestrations or a few well-placed cut-outs in a flawless volume. Form follows form – or is it the other way round?

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Studio: Library

Positions


Yet, in this respect, the glutton and the aesthete share the same position. The glutton camouflages his desperation with profusion, the ascetic packages his nihilism in abstraction. The profusion and abstraction converge in the inability to devise façades that measure up to the depth and metaphor of the classical façade. However, both profusion and abstraction are guilty of omission. In both scenarios, the building is locked in a selfinterested narrative whereby, at best, façade and context are indifferently juxtaposed. The Classical Facade The same operoseness arises whenever a handful of architects work together to create a good urban street. The accumulation of individual expressions has a self-destructive effect. A common denominator is visibly lacking. In this essay, I attempt to search for that common denominator, which we will prematurely label ‘classical’. The classical façade, as I recognise it, has retained a simple and metaphorical logic, which can link the most diverse buildings, for more than 2 millennia. However, throughout the twentieth century, this recognisability was systematically dismantled under the pretext of innovation. The quality of what architecture has received in return for this dismantlement is dubious. We have surrendered the ability to allow buildings to enter into dialogue with each other for fake freedom and superficial diversity. Such crass language requires further explanation. Obviously, we cannot make a distinction between classical and modern façades without indicating precisely how they differ. In the following essay I therefore attempt to explain what gives classical façades their figurativeness, legibility and depth. 1. Permanence We begin with an evidence that appears to have lost something of its evidence: classical façades seek permanence. Permanence is

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Dirk Somers

an irrefutably positive desire that we cannot hold against the façade. Quite the opposite, in fact: just as a building is a product of the desire for stability and shelter, so the façade seeks to be the solid expression of this. Permanence is not the same thing as robustness. Permanence is concerned with expressing all the good that is inherent in the building. The building longs for durability and tenacity/; it wants to engender confidence and be recognisable. The building therefore knows that it must be cautiously contemporary, otherwise it would retire into itself and soon lose face. The classical façade understood its affirmative role as self-evident. The unhealthy hunger for experiment has driven the twentieth-century architect so far that the intrinsic goodness of the building is brought into question. Very occasionally in its entirety, but usually more superficially in its appearance. Façades sold us – and still sell us today – all manner of narratives. But the primary narrative, the one that relates to the goodness of the building, is often overlooked. Architects also like to conceptualise façades. The façade then becomes a skin, a jacket or veil. All these metaphors have a technological evidence, and in that sense they are also perfectly valid. But making the cladding a separate element also detaches it from its task of communicating about the building. If the façade is a cloth, we are looking at a tent, however heavy or solid the structure may be. The façade thus separates the building from the world around it. At best, it can then choose maximum transparency in order to limit its alienating effect. Glass curtain walls at least show us something of the building’s goodness, albeit it in an uncouth nakedness. I am not arguing that classical façades are by definition weighty, though. Who would ever describe the façade of the Seagram Building as a jacket? Although, in strictly technical terms, what we see is a curtain wall, Mies van der Rohe has made every effort to weave together cladding and structural expression


into a solid, supporting form. The Seagram Building is no exception in Mies’ glass architecture. The more experienced Mies became in designing glass buildings, the heavier they seemed to become. The pre-war, reflective form in the Friedrichstrasse evolved into the post-war sturdy colossus that is the Neue Nationalgalerie. Like the traditional façade, the curtain wall also needs depth, and therefore shadow, to lend it substance and permanence.

Mies van der Rohe Seagram Building (1958) Neue Nationalgalerie (1968) Weighty and structurally expressive glass facades

Romano Palazzo del Tè (1524) A lucid manipulation of the tectonic language

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2. Tectonics You will sense that permanence is a comprehensive concept. One of the strongest pillars of permanence is tectonics. Tectonics is the expressive externalisation of the forces concealed in a building. This definition relates tectonics to permanence, as a form of technical component of the stable form. But tectonics should not be interpreted too technically. It reflects the constancy of a building. In a period in which façade and structure are separated by thick layers of insulation, this is not unimportant. In a sense, the classical, tectonic façade recaptures the structural common denominator, and renders it into a visual, plastic (and often more penetrating) alter ego of that which is clad. More so than in the past, when façades still had a closer relationship to the structure, the tension of the façade design arises from the energy that is created between the structure and its cladding. A tectonic façade is not necessarily the opposite of a graphic façade. To a certain extent, tectonics exists thanks to a specific form of graph; a graph relating to gravity and the elementary laws of load-bearing construction. Few pre-modern façades dared to stray beyond the boundaries of the tectonic evidence. Even the most eccentric Gothic or Baroque accumulates, stretches or weaves together constructive figures into enduring buildings. Obviously, constructional limitations did not allow for exuberant corbelling or the complete detaching of a façade from the structure. But the sculptural possibilities for at least giving a suggestion of floating, or visualising non-transfer of thrust forces certainly existed. The mannerist caprices of Giulio Romano and Michelangelo are proof that it was not a technological problem to create a different façade. Thus we could point to the hanging keystones of the Palazzo del Tè as a historic counterargument for the omnipresence of the tectonic. But is this an example of an a-tectonic language or, rather, a sort of witty interpretation of the tectonic? Does the witticism not confirm the solidity of the system?

Studio: Library

Positions


3. Truthfullness In times gone by there was the clarity of the primitive, solid building. The thermal cut separating the mass and its surface is not so easy to foster. Yet today I see the relationship between a building and its surface as a unusually exciting love affair; a stimulating relationship that cannot be entirely without obligation. Today, when we clad a stone building with wooden planks, or clad a wooden building with a layer of brick, it feels at least non-committal. The cladding does not have integrity; it lacks truthfullness. In the first case, a heavy structure appears light and temporary, and in the second case a wooden case takes on the form of a heavy, stacked construction. A substantive link between the object and the packaging is lacking. It is precisely this desire for truthfullness that is interesting. truthfullness is to truth what tectonics is to gravity. The link between structure and cladding should not be pure, but should interpreted as more than simply indifference. Take the cavity wall, for example. Cavity walls are sometimes poorly regarded by the purists in the field. They regard the cladding of stone walls with brick as ersatzlich. From a functionalist point of view, a cavity wall is indeed not the most ready technical solution for cladding a structure. Nevertheless, I will take this opportunity to praise the referential relationship in the derived link between the supporting stone wall and the non-supporting brick wall. In the case of the cavity wall, the outer cavity leaf shows the inner cavity leaf by repeating it. The repetition is not literal. The outer cavity leaf aestheticises the inner cavity leaf. The stone is more beautiful, the connection is more precise and the joints are smoother. Yet, in essence, we are still looking at the same thing: an accumulation of stones on top of each other. Due to the view we are creating here, the rowlock course above the window – a cliché in the brickwork details – suddenly appears to echo the structural lintel in the supporting brickwork. The everyday rowlock course can thus be understood as a remnant of a tectonic language that is threatening to slowly slip away from us. It would be stupid to argue that stone buildings should be clad in stone, and wooden buildings with wood. There is much to be said for such self-evidence, but it cannot be exclusive. A meaningful, constructive relationship between structure and cladding can be just as easily created through size, connections or detailing. The detailing on light claddings such as wood can be meagre or substantial. A brick façade can be sturdy, but it can equally well be paper-thin.

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Dirk Somers

Alberti Palazzo Rucallai (1451) A graphical representation of tectonics

Rowlock

Peter Markli Walenstadtberg (1999) Apartment conversion


Ascoli Piceno Central Square

The integrity of the cladding lies somewhere between the literal recapturing of the structure along the exterior and an authentic transformation of it. Between the indifference of the commutable skin and the determinism of the monolithic there is a interesting domain of meaningful possibilities . For purists and boffins, it is a difficult domain to unravel. truthfullness avoids the deductive and the objective. Like tectonics, truthfullness originates from a clear physical core, which it develops on a visual and metaphoric way.

Asplund Villa Snellman (1918)

4. Stratification Although there was a visible overlap in the previous 3 sections, I wish to add a fourth section that deals specifically with that overlap. Stratification deprives a façade of a simple, ready interpretation. Consequently, the façade can be read in several ways, and the building sets itself apart from the utility objects in the world. That distinction is essential. Buildings are not utility objects, and therefore deserve the necessary depth and scope for interpretation. Only then can a building manifest itself as enduring and lay full claim to its permanence. Stratification can be understood in physical as well as psychological terms. In physical terms, we can imagine all manner of compositional refinements in a stratified façade. Slightly more imagination is required if the concept of time is to be incorporated. That is why I am discussing this aspect in slightly more detail. Of course, there are intriguing façades such as those of the town hall of Ascoli Piceno. Building and alteration continued for generations, until the façade became saturated with memories and trophies. This astonishing form of time dimension is unknown in the buildings of today. The functionalist current of the twentieth century did everything possible to strip the façade of its historic significance. The fenêtre en longueur was a frontal assault on the dignity of classical fenestration. White plasterwork forced the building into abstraction, so that ageing no longer played a role in the depth effect of the cladding. But on both sides of fanatical functionalism, there were figures who did explore the historic depth of the modern façade. The elegant façades that Josef Frank designed for his villas in Vienna illustrate his desire for ‘Accidentism’; a suggestion of time within the context of the individual design. In the Scholl House, the composition of the façade even encompasses more than only the time of the apparently accidental. The windows are highly figurative. The French balcony is neatly po-

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Studio: Library

Josef Frank Scholl House

Josef Frank Scholl House

Positions


sitioned next to a deep-set oeil-de-boeuf window, or arched window. Here, time is association as well. This façade hoards memories of windows from times past. The white façade is not an abstract canvas, but a field of references whose coordination generates new meaning. Josef Frank was not the only designer who radically opted for depth, against the prevailing stylism. The façades that Asnago&Vender conceived in the 1960s in Milan, the subtle fenestration of Asplund’s Villa Snellman, and the rich pallet of abstracted figures in Tony Fretton’s Red House, are only a few examples of the desire for stratification – a desire that the avant-garde project of the twentieth century exiled to the periphery. Façade finishing It goes without saying that we can discuss the general qualities of the classical façade, by considering permanence, tectonics, truthfullness or stratification. Ultimately, however, the façade must prove itself in the street and in the city, where cultural and contextual parameters also come into play. The classical, in all its elasticity, neither guarantees nor has a monopoly on success. Yet the properties we have discussed explain much of the success that I recognise in historic and more recent façades, particularly when it comes to their engagement with each other. The classical façade, as portrayed here, generally does well in the vicinity of historic buildings. The properties of the classical façade do not dictate a style. This agenda is as well placed in a Gothic cathedral as in any modern-day building. Façade design is sometimes dealt with summarily in teaching, precisely because the normative framework for evaluating it has crumbled away. On the one hand it is seen as something personal, and on the other hand it is seen as a purely technological problem. Architecture schools and universities of technology do still sometimes dare to distinguish themselves from each other in this respect. The Master’s track Interiors, Buildings and Cities allows time for façades to be generated. We expect a minimum of insight from our students – just sufficient for them to be able to open the window that allows them to survey the broad meaning of the façade.

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Dirk Somers

Tony Fretton Red House (2001)


Ana Malgarejo Lopez

Davey van der Giessen

Narutai Riangkruar

Ana Malgarejo Lopez

Davey van der Giessen

Narutai Riangkruar

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Studio: Library

Positions


Tom Radenz

Taja Bencina

Tom Radenz

Taja Bencina

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Week 10: Facade Exercise

Choi Wah Lui


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Studio: Library

Catalogue


CATALOGUE

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ROTTERDAMSCH LEESKABINET AND ERASMUS STUDY CENTRE The assignment was to design a study centre for the Erasmus University, combined with a small but distinct library, the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet, whose former location served as a model for the programme. The Leeskabinet was established as a private initiative in 1859, elegantly housed on a beautiful spot on the banks of the river Maas. A cafĂŠ was conveniently situated on the ground floor, and the old reading room above functioned as a public library and club for the cultural elite for almost a hundred years, until the building was destroyed during the Second World War. In 1969, the library established a strategic collaboration with Erasmus University. It moved to the Woudestein campus of Erasmus University, a somewhat isolated location far from the centre of Rotterdam.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


The site We propose to return the Leeskabinet to a prominent location. In the city centre, the library would have the opportunity to re-assert its public position and to contribute to the cultural life of Rotterdam. We feel that there is an urgent need for this type of cultural representation in the Rotterdam city centre, which is currently devoted largely to commerce. The proposed site on the Herenplaats is located in the Laurenskwartier, a neighbourhood in which an intriguing mix of prewar and post-war tissue reflects the changing ideas on public form and space. In programmatic terms, it is one of the few parts of the city centre that has managed to achieve a successful combination of living, working, shopping and culture. The extremely popular Municipal Library is the most important public institution in the area, and the Erasmus University College will soon be opened around the corner. For Erasmus University this will be a first and strategic outpost of the Woudestein Campus. For the same reason, the University seeks to house a Study Centre nearby. The actual plot on the Herenplaats borders the shopping street Meent. The square was originally destined to have a department store, but the development never took place. It now houses a small cafÊ pavilion, which will be relocated in case of development. An appropriate urban form on this square would help to strengthen the public route through the area, from the public library to the Meent. With the development of a cultural programme, the area would become more attractive for urban living, a highly desired condition for Rotterdam. The programme The library’s demise has been predicted numerous times, yet libraries and study centres seem to thrive as never before. A library is a prime example of a public space, in which people meet, interact and relax. In addition to its members, the Leeskabinet currently serves this function for the employees and students of Erasmus University. To the mutual profit of all parties, the library programme has been extended with a Study Centre for the University. The University College, the Berlage Institute and several schools in the vicinity will be able to benefit from this additional facility.

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Assignment

Rotterdam city centre after WWII

Original plans and elevations Leeskabinet


nt ee

M

te Bo rs ot lo N

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The site: Herenplaats

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Studio: Library

Catalogue

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The site: Meent

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Assignment


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Studio: Library

Catalogue


The site: Botersloot

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Assignment


DAVEY VAN GIESEN

This strip building is actually a study on how a section can determine the character of an entire building. By stacking three different sections, Davey has constructed a library with very distinct spatial qualities, which are further enhanced by the precise handling of light and rhythm. The wooden construction conforms to Davey’s position that a library interior should combine a certain element of robustness with delicate intimacy. The elongated block is placed on the northern perimeter of the site, thereby creating a small southfacing square. The façade of this section plan was the toughest part of the project. Davey struggled with the conclusion of his perpetual section and tried to anchor his project to the site. He ultimately chose to make a neutral and transparent glass façade, with a steel curtain system that echoes the façade detailing of the 1960s.

Even if the façade montage in its surroundings reveals that Davey’s urban form could have been refined even further, the transparent facades of his library share its wonderful interiors with the city.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


Final model, South facade: On the ground floor, an arcade addresses the small square. The large windows act as showcases, revealing the varied qualities of the interior.

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Davey van Giesen


Final ground floor plan. The building follows the street and creates a south oriented square Final cross section. The stapling of the sections with varied relation to the streetside.

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Studio: Library

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Interior model week 4, with the two-storey study room at the front and small book niches that can serve as study cells in the rear.

Final model. One of the generous study rooms on the first floor, looking out onto the square: The wooden materialisation aims to create a distinct and intimate atmosphere.

Final model. On the top floor, a central corridor doubles as study room. The multiple roof lights and the wooden beam structure impart a strong rhythmic quality to the space, emphasising the length of the building. Small study cells and workspaces are connected to the hallway, providing views of the cityscape of Rotterdam.

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Davey van Giesen


GUANGJIE XUE

The library building of Guang can be read as a sequence of spaces that gradually lead the visitor from the hectic life on the street to the concentrated atmosphere of the study room. The idea originated from Guang’s charette, a library room that could be accessed only through a small courtyard. The theme of both connecting and contrasting inside and outside is translated into a circular promenade architecture, starting at two modest gates at the sides of the building. Visitors access the library building through an enclosed courtyard. A series of stairs circling around a void leads them up to the large library hall, with an extra loop on the courtyard roof. This results in a dynamic interior, in which the spatial articulation and the construction are somewhat underdeveloped. The composition of the façade was chosen such that the route would not be recognisable. The spatial arrangement therefore remains unpredictable, ensuring a range of surprises.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


Final model. The inner courtyard is the central feature of Guang’s plan. For the centre of Rotterdam, such an interiorised garden is a remarkable gesture and a very valuable addition. The thick walls contain additional programme elements, including the library cafÊ.

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Guangje Xue


Final ground floor plan. Two side entrances head to a small courtyard with access to the library Final cross section. Continuous routing connects the different parts of the building.

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Studio: Library

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Model interior court.

Final impression of the central void, with small platforms along the route that serve as working spaces: From here, visitors look into the courtyard and the rooftop garden.

This study model of week 8 shows how the sloping routing connects inside and outside, providing the library interior with its dynamic character.

Final model of the library, with development of a faรงade programme that hides the circular movement in the interior, while framing the exterior at specific points and causing the building to stand out from the context, thus fitting the specificity of the programme.

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Guangje Xue


PETRA SEJKOROVA

In Petra’s project, one particular element of the interior organises the design of an entire building: the impressive blown-up version of bookshelves that Petra developed for her charette. It is interesting to note how she managed to avoid a mere conceptual approach of this idea. By merging the giant bookshelves with an urban form, the building mass has been tied to the site in a simple but effective way. Rather than placing the shelves on the immediate perimeter of the building, she positioned these wooden racks perpendicular to the street, making her library more introverted and appropriate to the subtle language of post-war Dutch brick architecture. Even though one might question the final massing of this building, the library is convincing in its simple yet effective spatial interior.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


Axonometric impression of the building volume - final presentation.

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Petra Sejkorova


Final ground floor plan with two interior streets, leading to the main entrance at the centre of the building Final cross section. Two zones order the section and function as backbones of the building.

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Charette reading room week 4. Using the bookshelf as an architectural element that structures the room and, ultimately, the entire building.

Final impression from the shopping street the Meent, with a brick faรงade that speaks to the surroundings, yet in a formal language that sets the building apart. Final impression from the interior, with the study spaces relative to the bookshelves, which have developed into small rooms themselves.

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Petra Sejkorova


TOM RADENZ

From the start of the project, Tom chose to house the library in a kind of miniature skyscraper. All of the consequences of choosing this typology, from the organisation of the vertical transport to building structure and climate design, have been investigated with a seriousness that almost obscured Tom’s ironic statement. His project fits quite well, even though (or perhaps because) it ignores the historic setting and connects to the typical Rotterdam heroism of sturdy towers. Even the arguable quality of the elevator shaft, which is located next to the main volume, seems to fit within this play of sublime banality. The true beauty of this project is visible in the interior, however, where an amazing vertical space is revealed and the bookcovered walls reach many storeys high. This inverted book tower is the actual library, and its nostalgic beauty is immediately convincing.

Climbing the tower, a few well-positioned windows provide visitors with a framed view over Rotterdam, once again relating the interior space with the city.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


Impression from the Meent: The stark contrast of the tower with the surrounding slabs transforms the library into a landmark.

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Tom Radenz


Final ground floor plan. The compact plan creates a large yet sheltered square. Final cross section. The section reveils spectacular spaces and rooftop garden.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


The interior of the building is spectacular yet intimate, a living room of enormous proportions.

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On the top floor, the building communicates with the characteristic Rotterdam skyline, marked by skyscrapers.

Tom Radenz


NADINE SPIELMANN

The project fills most of the former square at the tip of Rotterdams Central District. The main facade is located on the Meent and articulated by a small square at its front, thus creating a small public space. In a most radical way Nadine has succeeded to confront her building with the structure, that runs perpendicular to the spatial scheme of the library. This results in a dynamic central atrium with a beautiful exposed structure in the ceiling, while simultaneously the load bearing walls organize the study rooms in the periphery of the building. It lastly also differentiates her facades, the front and back facades representing the load bearing walls of the interior, the side facades are filled in with brick. The windows correspond tot the size of the space behind it, and although the facades might be a bit unbalanced, its logic is charming.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


Final plan. The heart of the building consist out of a large reading room, with light coming from all sides. The continuity of the space is materialized by continuing bands of books stacked on top of each other. The structure is revealed in the ceiling.

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Auteur Spielmann Nadine


Final ground floor plan. Shows the concentration of the spatiallayers with the rigorous construction, Final cross section. With the large reading room in the centre.

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Vedute. Already in the Vedute one recognizes the myriad spatial qualities of Nadine’s plan. The Vedute had been turned into a small reading room, researching the space, light and construction. Charette week 4, Interior.

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Auteur Spielmann Nadine


BART VAN DER ZALM

To fit the context, the building is a simple and compact volume, Inside, three large spaces organize the interior, with very different characteristics, as if it were three different buildings altogehter. Like the conglomerate of Soane’s bank of Englang, Bart has managed to make their collision productive, and give the interior a very specific character. The facades re-interprets a style that for a long time has been largely ignored by architects: the typical 1980ies appartent building bordering the site. While respecting it and finding connections, Bart manages to develop its own language for a representative building, responding to a number of large institutional buildings in the Botersloot, that concludes with the famous public library.

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Studio: Library

Catalogue


In this final facade Bart’s paraphrasing of the 1980’s facade next to it, While at the same time distinguish it as a public building.

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Auteur Bart van der Zalm


Final ground floor plan. The plan as a collision of different spatial elements making the different directions in the site productive. Final cross section. Enfilade of halls bring you slowly up in the building.

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John Soane - Bank of England Important source of inspiration. Final interior hall on the first floor with a wooden beam ceiling.

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Auteur Bart van der Zalm


TAJA BENCINA

Taja’s Vedute was a monster – a strange, enigmatic, soft black sock hanging in a rigid timber cage. Taja’s friendly comments didn’t answer any questions, and so the monster entered her building design unexplained. It first took the shape of an amorphous, textile interior within an orthogonal loadbearing structure. Later, Taja managed to straighten the shape and materials without losing the intended contrast between interior and exterior. The building was subsequently carefully fitted into the existing context. Although Taja’s design process was neither linear nor logical, she managed to keep control over her decisions. The final plan offers various possibilities for the changing needs of the Leeskabinet and therefore forms an adequate yet poetic solution to the given task.

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Catalogue


Final impression from the shopping street the Meent. The facades responds to the segmentation of the surrounding facades.

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Auteur Taja Bencina


Final ground floor plan. With a simple ordering of the plan and a large cafe filling the ground floor. Final cross section. The large terraces of the first floor connnect to the city and create a piano mobile.

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Central double heigh space with stairs to the library and cafe in the rear.

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Auteur Taja Bencina


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EPILOGUE

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Daniel Rosbottom It might appear initially unremarkable, perhaps even self-evident, to express a concern with the three spatial and material conditions, which together constitute the environments that we collectively construct and inhabit. Yet as the thirteen-year tenure of Professor Tony Fretton concludes, it feels appropriate to recall that under his direction, the programmes offered by the Chair of Interiors, Buildings and Cities at T.U. Delft have, in fact, presented a somewhat singular position. Explicitly focusing upon the physical and cultural opportunities that emerge from the consideration of these conditions as a continuum, they have explored the potential of the public interior as a catalyst rather than an addendum, ‘fitted out’ after the fact. Examining its role, not only as an intrinsic component of the contemporary city, but also as a precursor to the wider experience and understanding of it. Writing from the outside looking in, this essay represents an inevitably cursory attempt to examine both the context and the potential of such a position. We are all able to recognise and appreciate the qualities of a beautiful public room in the city. We respond with delight to its warmth, generosity, comfort and sensitivity to scale; we register the rhythms of its elegant structure and the delicacy of its decoration; we enjoy its shifting light or its cool calm on a warm day; we like the way it ages gracefully. Yet as urban space becomes increasingly privatised, commercialised and dissipated, the very idea of the public interior, as a place of collective action or as the representation of shared civic values and identity, is increasingly called into question. In parallel with this wider public and political disengagement, the architect’s capacity to make such rooms appears to recede, as our common understanding of both their infrastructure and their more intimate scales of furniture, fittings, lighting and decoration devolves into the hands of specialist consultants. This is symptomatic of the wider disaggregation of professional and contractual responsibilities, described by Mechthild Stuhlmacher elsewhere in this volume, which make it increasingly difficult for architects to think and act holistically. Fretton suggests, in conversation, that working within and from the interior challenges the designer to confront issues of contemporary society and culture in a direct, immediate and inclusive manner. One quite different from either the pragmatic or the more abstract, intellectual concerns that commonly inform the design and making of buildings. In this way he and his colleagues position the interior as both a critical condition and a generous one, within which the

larger and arguably more complex orders of the city can become both perceivable and available to the citizen. Such understandings are not new. Indeed it is a proposition that embodies a particular spatial memory for the Netherlands where, in the 17th Century, the genre painters of the Delft School sought to describe the experience of the city as one seen outwards, from the controlled intimacy of domestic life. The accurately described maps and landscapes depicted on the walls of Johannes Vermeer’s painted interiors represent that implicit tension, drawing into each room the larger order and complexity of the world outside, never quite glimpsed through the large windows. The paintings of his contemporary, Pieter de Hooch went still further, capturing the city’s many layers through the extended thresholds of interior rooms and room like courtyards. They describe the spaces of inhabitation and threshold that engender everyday existence, through elements which define our degrees of connection to one other: courtyards, passages, gates, doors, railings, steps, walls and windows, to name a few. Equally, they remind us of the small actions needed to sustain that existence, remembered in a broom lying on a swept floor, materialised in the sheen of a polished tiled surface that reflects the sky, or embodied in the loose furniture that accommodates a conversation. Mark Pimlott’s practice of looking and describing demonstrates that critically observing these ordinary, yet profound moments is not an activity whose value is confined to some golden age. It remains the means by which to make the complexities of the present ‘visible, palpable and available.’ Returning to the past, Alberti’s maxim that ‘the city is like some large house and the house is, in turn, like some small city’ succinctly encompasses the historical interdependence of the interior and the urban, in determining both the character and the functioning of the city. Nonetheless it is an idea that seems quite at odds with the circumstances and sensibilities that have come to predominate within our own culture. Where we might now habitually imagine the interior as a controlled, spatially demarcated and increasingly private domain, a retreat both from the complexities and uncertainties of the contemporary urban environment and, ultimately, from each other; the Renaissance house of Alberti was instead the setting for what might be described as intimate public life. In his celebrated essay ‘Figures, Doors and Passages’ Robin Evans describes how its unfolding sequence of rooms, which opened one onto another without intervening spaces of circulation, were designed to foster a social milieu. Indeed he quotes

Alberti, who advised that between each of these rooms, ‘It is convenient to place the doors in such a manner that they may lead to as many parts of the edifice as possible.’ This inherent privileging of connectivity over privacy reinforces the possibility of the interior as a permeable spatial and organisational structure, a microcosm of the wider city and a place from which to reflect upon it. Capable of sustaining the complex discourse and daily lives of its inhabitants through its own physicality, it describes layers of hierarchy and usage, through the scale and form of each room, by their relative positions and in the nuances of their decoration and furnishing. If the Enlightenment understood the interior as an intimate piece of the city, then the Pianta Grande di Roma of 1748, by Giambattista Nolli, rendered its counterpoint equally explicitly. Within this remarkable plan, Rome’s collective and representative spaces, both interior and exterior, are described as a series of grand public rooms, set within a darkly hatched, urban poché. Here, the sense of equivalence in his depiction of both the public interior and the public piazza, ably illustrate how intrinsic were their inter-relationships. Walter Benjamin, writing in the early part of the Twentieth Century, similarly understands the city as an evolving, unfolding experience, from inside to outside. His description of it as ‘the interior of the collective’ is redolent with possibilities for inhabitation and appropriation that draw together a range of scales and conditions. In his Arcades Project, he describes how the city ‘opens up to him as a landscape, even as it closes around him as a room.’ Depicted like this it becomes, at once, the immense house of Alberti’s imagination, whilst simultaneously attaining an alternate identity, which prefigures its imminent transformation. For even as Benjamin was writing those words, Modernism was attempting to reconceive the city as a coherent and unambiguous artefact: socially engaged, functionally ordered, visually permeable and capable of being understood at the scale of the whole. Amplified by the Twentieth Century’s waves of industrialised destruction and construction, these ideas were appropriated as the tools with which to sweep away swathes of the dense, accreted and anonymous urban fabric that had, until then, supported everyday city life. The myriad rooms, courts and streets, represented by Nolli’s hatched ground and through which Benjamin’s 19th Century flâneur roamed, were to be replaced en masse with new forms of building, arrayed with geometric precision across sunlit spatial fields, against a landscape horizon.

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Epilogue


Whilst the ideals of the Modernist city finally dissolved into something closer to disarray, they have, nonetheless, had a profound effect on our subsequent reading of urban space. Paradoxically, the immediate visual proximity between interior and exterior, made possible through the dissolution of the façade into the window wall of modernity, did much to polarise the two conditions. Undermining the more holistic, experiential and imaginative relationships of earlier centuries and reducing the dialogue between inside and outside to the often disturbing, yet compelling immediacy of the gaze. Auguste Perret’s statement, in response to the fenêtre en longueur, that the window should ‘embrace the presence of an upright human’ might, after Modernism, feel overly restrictive. Yet it does remind us that the components, from which the exterior wall of a building is composed, carry practical and cultural responsibilities beyond the visual. When le Corbusier and others sketched those new, light filled interiors, they generally depicted the inhabitant looking out through a glazed wall, across their sparse but tasteful furnishings, towards that abstracted horizon. Looking back now we discover, all too often, a more mundane reality. The detritus of daily life, shoved expediently down the side of the desk or the back of the sofa, has become public property, as the collected interiors of contemporary buildings present themselves to the street in an aggregation of unplanned intimacies. ‘Face’ as Colin Rowe concluded ‘was never a pre-occupation for modern architecture’ and he saw this lack of interest as a persistent failing. It confronts us still, in different ways. There remains much to admire in modernism’s innate humanism and its interrogation of the aesthetic, material and spatial possibilities made possible through social and technological change. Yet within the heterogeneous urbanity that we have since inherited, its forms, spaces and surfaces have been largely severed from their social and ethical roots, adapted and mutated to the service of the market and often brutally juxtaposed against fragments of the historic city. The idea that a building might have a wider sense of responsibility to its place has been eroded to become largely a matter of choice and whilst contemporary architecture is undoubtedly concerned with the appearance of the building envelope, the outcome is often more akin to that of a mask than a face. The city is in danger of being reduced to scenography. Dirk Somers, writing in this volume, describes how this preoccupation with exterior surface, reinforced by an environmental

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imperative to separate claddings from linings, ultimately ‘detaches the interior from the world beyond it.’ Encouraging its retreat into a conditioned, hermetic and increasingly universal shell. He recognises that, within contemporary construction, traditional tectonic relationships have in large measure been transformed, from a concern with joining to one of resolving the joint. Yet he proposes that whilst the ‘link between structure and cladding should not be pure’, it should be ‘interpreted as more than simply indifference.’ His critique of what happened to the façade makes a timely and compelling case for its re-appropriation, by the Chair, as a negotiative structure. Able to encompass form, function, construction and inhabitation, within a larger compositional order that eloquently establishes a building’s place within the city, in dialogue with the qualities of its interior spaces. It is a premise that exemplifies the wider convictions of the Chair, which are clearly neither formalist nor nostalgic but are, ultimately, political in their intentions. These establish a ground that extends beyond the confines of scholarship and the academy, to inform and be informed by a developing attitude to practice, in an iterative and reflective manner. Writing in 1992, Tony Fretton said of his own, seminal building for the Lisson Gallery in London, that ‘the elevation…rhymes with the surrounding high rises, voids and objects to point out that these are not mistakes or by-products, but part of an unconscious project that has to be acknowledged… they shine a light on a continual process which requires more than architecture to happen.’ With non-judgemental frankness, his façade juxtaposes the abstraction of the gallery interiors against what William Mann describes as ‘the phenomena of the city, in all their confusion and clarity.’ It is a description that returns us to the question and appropriateness of the public interior’s civic role, touched upon at the outset of this piece. The critic and theorist, Mark Cousins suggests, in a discussion of Fretton’s work, that civic architecture ‘usually entails the imposition of a social ideology upon the urban fabric’ whereas what he describes as civil architecture ‘is an architecture that bridges two worlds through a gesture of inclusion.’ By valuing the breadth of relationships between things as a prerequisite for making architecture, the Chair appears to follow the thread of this argument. Seeking to clear away the rhetoric and schisms of the past and encouraging its students to recognise and profit from the expanded historical and spatial continuum of the contemporary city, as a valuable, conglomerate urban order.

Daniel Rosbottom

By re-engaging with its social dimension, across scales, the aspiration is to transform its physical capacity to express the shared values of a diverse community and to embody the relationships between people. Within this open interpretation of the contemporary city, the public interior reclaims its identity as a deep threshold that embodies the nuances between private and public. A civilised, humane and dignified place, capable of offering both individuals in public and the collective public, the freedoms and opportunities they require to creatively engage in the daily practices and festive moments of urban life. William Mann calls this ‘the space of civil society’ and one can see, within the best of the student work shown here, the emergence of such aspirations into tangible, material forms and spaces. With the departure of Professor Fretton, the Chair will shift its attention to ever larger and more complex interiors, which exist as a parallel conversation to the one we have just touched upon. Within such networks of space - airports or malls for example interior, building and city conjoin, as the inside becomes a quasi-urban experience. This is a brave step, which will confront a highly complex, yet debased reality, where social freedoms are more often curtailed than fostered. It will be intriguing to observe how the Chair’s interest in the social dimension of architecture translates into such situations and continues, one would hope, to disseminate out and effect change within the actual city.

Daniel Rosbottom is a director of DRDH Architects and Head of the School of Architecture and Landscape, at Kingston University, London.


Tony Fretton, AA Dip RIBA (1945), founded Tony Fretton Architects in 1982. After graduating from the Architectural Association School of Architecture he worked as a project architect for, amongs others, Arup Associates and Neylan and Ungless. Tony Fretton was Unit Master in the Diploma School at the AA, London from 1990-1992 with Mark Pimlott. He was visiting Professor at the Berlage Institute, Amsterdam and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne between 1994-1996. Since 1999 he is Professor of Architectural Design and Interiors at the TUDelft, taught a semester at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard, Cambridge MA, USA, Spring 2005 and two semesters at the ETH, Zurich (2011).

Mechthild Stuhlmacher was born in Germany, studied music and architecture in Germany and the Netherlands, graduated in 1992 and worked at various offices in the Netherlands and the UK from 1992. In 2001, she founded the Korteknie Stuhlmacher architectural firm, together with Rien Korteknie. The firm has recently established a close working relationship with the Munich-based Hildundk firm. The two firms collaborate on educational and healthcare projects in Belgium. Mechthild has been a member of the editorial team of OASE for many years, and she is involved in various other publication projects. She teaches architectural design at Delft University of Technology, and she is regularly invited to give lectures and workshops in the Netherlands and abroad.

From 1995-1999 Dirk Somers studied architecture in Antwerp and Milan from 1995-1999, completing his degree in Urban and Environmental Planning at KU Leuven in 2002. In 2001, he established Huiswerk Architecten, together with Erik WieĂŤrs. He regularly writes and holds lectures on topics including tectonics, materialisation and urban architecture, and he is a frequent participant in workshops and juries at universities in Flanders and abroad. Dirk teaches architectural design at Delft University of Technology. Since September 2011, he has also been a visiting professor in the faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at UGent. In 2011, Dirk Somers established a new firm: Bovenbouw Architecture.

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Epilogue


Mark Pimlott is an artist and designer, making installations, photographs, film, public spaces and interiors. His work includes interiors for Red House, London (in collaboration with Tony Fretton architects, 2001- 2011); La scala, Aberystwyth (2003); restaurant Puck, The Hague (in collaboration with Zeinstra van Gelderen architecten, 2007); Piazzasalone (in collaboration with Tony Fretton), Venice (2010); and World, London (2011-13). His books include Without and within: essays on territory and the interior (2007) and In passing (2010). He has taught architectural design since 1986. He was Visiting Professor Architectural Design/ Interiors at TU Delft (2002-2006), and now Assistant Professor there, teaching, conducting research and starting a new course in the architecture of the interior.

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Jurjen Zeinstra (1961) studied at the Faculty of Architecture TU Delft. Together with Mikel van Gelderen, he founded Zeinstra van Gelderen architectural firm and realised many projects, including the Rubberhouse (2010) and the IJdock housing and offices in Amsterdam (2012). In cooperation with Mark Pimlott, they realised the Puck & Pip restaurant in The Hague (2007). Jurjen Zeinstra works as an assistant professor of Architectural Design /Interiors at TU Delft, and he has been an editor of both OASE and Forum. He has lectured at various academies of architecture. He is currently preparing a publication on Amsterdam.

Teaching team

Eireen Schreurs (1968) studied at the TU Delft and Southbank University London. After working for Rapp+Rapp, she founded the architectural firm SUB office, together with Like Bijlsma. The firm distinguishes itself by taking a critical attitude and various cooperations. This has resulted in a broad portfolio, ranging from small-scale building projects to architectural research and publications. From 1997 to 2001, Eireen was a member of the editorial board of OASE. She also writes critiques and articles for various media. Since 2005, she has been a design lecturer and coordinator at Interiors/TU Delft, responsible for design and research instruction within the Chair’s msc1 and msc2 programmes. In 2012 she initiated the STUDIO series at the TU Delft.


COLOFON This Studio booklet is the first in a series of compact publications that present the teaching and research of the Department of Architecture at TU Delft in the Netherlands. The STUDIO series begins with a number of issues on teaching positions and investigates the connection between positions and didactics of the Chairs. Student group spring 2012: Willem Barendregt Taja Bencina Bencina Edwin Damen Jon Garbizu Davey van Giesen Dwayne van Halewijn Marleen Klompenhouwer Valerie Krautzer

Qian Lan Choi Lui Ana Melgarejo Lopez Chira Padron Sanne Pronk Tom Radenz Erik RevellĂŠ Narutai Riangkruar

Petra SejkorovĂĄ Dimitrios Sotiropoulos Nadine Spielmann Arthur Waisblat Guangjie Xue Bart van der Zalm Xiaoqin Zhang

Staff of interiors Master Programme 2012: Irene Cieraad Christoph Grafe Tony Fretton Mark Pimlott Peter Luthi Eireen Schreurs Susanne Pietsch Dirk Somers

Mechthild Stuhlmacher Leontine de Wit Jurjen Zeinstra

Guest teachers msc1 studio 2005-2013: Laura Alvarez Eric Soors Arzu Ayikgezmez Jarrik Ouburg Kurt van Belle Pelle Poiesz Berry Beuving Andrej Radman Nikolaas vande Keere Anna Rocha Gert Somers Jeroen Schippers

Serge Schoemaker Gert Somers Gus Tielens Catherine Visser Laura Weeber

Student assistants msc1 2005-2013: David de Bruin Thomas Dirrix Anne van Hout

Merijn Muller Jille Koop Sander Rutgers

We are grateful to the staff of Erasmus University, and particularly the staff of the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet, who acted as visiting critics on several occasions: Pierre Pesch & Elsa Valente. Images: All images and photographs presented in this booklet were provided by the authors and students, unless otherwise stated. The publisher has attempted to meet the conditions imposed by law for the use of the images. If we omitted any proper acknowledgement, we encourage copyright holders to notify the publisher. Concept: Eireen Schreurs Edited by: Eireen Schreurs, Anne van Hout Translation: UVA talen Graphic Design: Hans Gremmen Spring 2013 To order a copy or pdf of this publication, please visit press.tudelft.nl

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Rosie van der Schans


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Profile for Interiors Buildings Cities

Studio №1: LIBRARY  

Texts by Tony Fretton, Mark Pimlott, Daniel Rosbottom, Mechthild Stuhlmacher, Eireen Schreurs & Dirk Somers; Works by Guangjie Xue, Davey...

Studio №1: LIBRARY  

Texts by Tony Fretton, Mark Pimlott, Daniel Rosbottom, Mechthild Stuhlmacher, Eireen Schreurs & Dirk Somers; Works by Guangjie Xue, Davey...

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