After Barcelona, here I am, one day in Roma which apparently has some new surprises every time I visit it. La Fontana di Trevi
by Nicola Salvi
, despite a noisy popularity for the tourists, presents very interesting baroque details that directly talk to architecture. The fountain is made to appear as a building -since it is its basis- back to the natural state. The stone used for the building transforms itself in a performative way into the original rock it was (romantically) extracted from. The craft of this transformation is very well made and the transition between one another is thus extremely fluid.
One can use this beautiful example in order to illustrate narration in architecture…
Last Tuesday, I re-visited Barcelone’s Sagrada Familia
. The six years since my first visit there made me forget how absolutely amazing this building is from the inside. Each pillar is a magnificient tree supporting vortex brick and concrete ceilings.
The chuch is of course still in construction and still will be for quite a while but I came to think that those high cranes in the sky could now be considered just as much as part of the building as the rest of Antoni Gaudi‘s architectonic inventions. Since the beggining of its construction the Sagrada Familia have seen two languages dialoging one with another: the incredible Gaudian architectural vocabulary and the technical support (scaffoldings, cranes, workers etc.) that is necessitated in order to build the former.
This beautiful Prairie House
was created by a Bruce Goff
‘s (see previous post
) protege, Herb Greene
in 1960. Built in a Oklahoma prairie, this architecture appears as a manifest for the American “provincial” architecture like Goff designed or more currently Bart Prince in New Mexico: a vernacular construction that seems to have been created by its own biotope.
published a small article
about the famous former Ministry of Transportation in Tbilisi (Georgia). Designed in the 70′s this building is a good example of the sequel of Soviet Administration Constructivism.
Although Bruce Goff
(1904-1982) is very famous in the Chicagoan architecture milieu, he is not so well known (I think) outside of the United States. His Bavinger House
(1955) in Norman Oklahoma is however a very interesting hybridization of high level of craft (see the joint between the glass and the stones) with a more deliberate approximation (see the net handrail or the polyurethane volumes).
This house is only the most expressive manifesto of Goff’s architecture but there are several other buildings that definitely deserve attention.
Architecture is the physical form which envelops human lives in all the complexity of their relations with their environment.
Jean Renaudie, 1968
In my opinion, Jean Renaudie is one of the very best French architects of the last fifty years. His two housing complexes in Ivry sur Seine near Paris (see previous post) and in Givors near Lyon are two very successful examples of architecture becoming urban in an era (50′s-60′s) that created what is now famous as the French suburbs catastrophe. In fact, those two housing complexes are extremely interesting in the fact that they embody a real urban density, mix several social levels, organize urban life on a multitude of storeys, blur the limits between private and public areas and supply a little piece of garden to every apartment. This architecture is full of episodes, surprizing moments of beauty in an urban artefact/landscape full of hideaways.
In order to know more, I recommend Irenee Scalbert‘s book: A Right to Difference at AA Publications
The following photographs and plans are excerpted from this book.
I happened to see some pictures (via Archdaily
) from various pavilions’ construction yesterday for Shanghai Expo 2010 and it made me recall when World Expos were actually synonym with architectural experiments and innovation.
In 1958, Le Corbusier and Xenakis
designed the Philips Pavilion for Brussels’ Expo
In 1967, Montreal’s Expo hosts various innovative buildings designed by Frei Otto
(German Pavilion), Moshe Safdie
(Habitat67) and Buckminster Fuller
In 1970, Kisho Kurokawa
designed three buildings for Osaka’s Expo as metabolist manifestos.
Today, the French pavilion for Shanghai 2010 is pretty representative of the global quality of architecture (as far as the Expo is concerned but maybe also in general): it is drab, conventional and thinks it talks about sustainability because some plants grow (have been plugged) on it… I talk about the French one, but the others are not so interesting either…Heatherwick’s British pavilion might be the only one interesting questioning the notion of archive by hosting a giant seed bank.
There is an architectural invention I believe James Wines (SITE)
created that fascinates me. It consists in designing architecture as it is expected to be, yet this paradigm is being frozen, corrupted and dramatized in a way which cannot be ignored and therefore which question this paradigm. This technique is a perfect architectural adaptation of what the Situationnists were calling Detournement, a form of acknowledgment that resistance towards establishment can be only accomplished by this same establishment’s weapons and pictorial objects and therefore the hijacking of those weapon in order to flip them back towards their system of production.
This invention has been re-used by Edouard Francois
for his renovation of the Fouquet’s Hotel in Paris. Continue reading
I’d like to think that I was not the only one who did not know about this Synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
before I did visit it. Commissioned by the Beth Sholom Congregation
in Philadelphia, Wright designed a very singular building strongly inspired by his Japan experience. I am personally a bit torn in my appreciation, recognizing an origami boat symbolizing the Jewish continuous exile and on the other hand, the weight and spectacular aspect of the building makes me think that the nomadic and discreet appearance of usual synagogues has been denied.
In any case, this project is one of Wright’s last (he died five months before the opening) and it is interesting to observe his style evolving just like it did with the NY Guggenheim museum.
Décio Tozzi has always worked in Sao Paulo and still is. His work from the 60′s, the 70′s and the 80′s is striking by the love expressed for the craft work and exposed materials. One can obviously recognize Oscar Niemeyer’s influence but along the years, Tozzi’s work seems to have developed an own very interesting identity (by the color and the “graphic design” of the projects to name only one example).
- Jardim Ipe School (1965)
- Geraldo Abbondanza Neto Residence (1989)
- Carmen Heloisa Ferraz Carvalhal Gonsalves Residence (1977)
- Antonio Teofilo de Andrade Orth Residence (1974)
- Fazenda Veneza Residence (1970)
Looking for drawings of the incredible Claude Parent, I found an ad for one of his house , known as Maison Bordeaux le Pecq,in Bois-le Roy, that is for sale.
Here is Salvador Dali’s Pavilion for the New York World Fair of 1939. It is officially called Dream of Venus but Dali calls it Twenty thousand legs under the see in reference to Jules Verne. Inside it, is a pool where a lot of representation of femininity are exhibited.
The Hofatelier Elvira by August Endell in 1898 is a German version of Art Nouveau. It was a photography studio founded by Anita Augspurg and Sophia Goudstikker and was the first German company created by women.
Last but not least, here is the Panjab and Harraynah Assembly which host the two regional parliaments (Chandigarh is the only Indian city being capital of two provinces). Inside is accessible but pictures are not allowed…
Second Corbu’s Capitole complex building in Chandigarh is the High Court which includes a beautiful ramp giving an access to the different building’s storey. Use of color here is quite daring I have to say !
Chandigarh’s Secretariat is one of the three administrative buildings Le Corbusier designed in the 50′s for Penjab and Harraynah provinces’ Capitole. Despite its massive and austere aspect, the roof is amusing to see since it has been appropriated by plants and soldiers’ laundry. On the two sides of the buildings (it is so long, we can assume there are only two sides !), two monumental ramps have been constructed and allow one to access any storey.
Few people might know that but Ahmedabad hosts a Geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller and which has been collapsing since then. Ruins are nevertheless still use and represent an interesting example of architecture of destruction.
Indian Institute of Management designed by Louis Kahn in 1963. To see more, and it may sounds cliche but watch the very good movie My Architect
by Nathanel Kahn.
The Ahmedabad Millowners Association Building was designed in 1952 by Le Corbusier. This building is not really used anymore, except by architecture amateurs who still visit it and…monkeys who seem to have so much appropriated themselves the top floor of the building that they are ready to fight if you cross their territory !
I discovered this building during one of my Mumbai’s walk, it did impress me a lot with its metallic structure and the fact that time made it evolute as you can see on the pictures. I, then learned that it was the first cast-iron building in Mumbai and that it used to be an hotel.