Monday, September 29, 2008

Peter Zumthor at Experimentadesign Lisbon

"Peter Zumthor - Buildings and Projects 1986-2007″ is an exhibition part of Experimentadesign Lisbon 2009. Featuring 29 projects, 5 large-scale models and a life-size video installation of 12 buildings (by the artists Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch), the exhibition gives an intriguing insight in the creative process of modelmaking that supports the creation of architecture. Stretching over almost 2000 m2 in LX Factory, an emerging cultural space in Lisbon, it takes place from September 7 to November 2, 2008.

The exhibition is produced by and presented in association with Kunsthaus Bregenz, where it was first shown in September 2007. After a visit to the new office of Embaixada Arquitectura (see their WallPaper-published Tomar-project, the Tomar Environmental Monitoring and Interpretation Offices (EMIO), a conversion of a run-down factory in a small town in the middle of Portugal), MovingCities visited the Peter Zumthor-exhibition.

More than giving an insight in the aesthetics of architecture and the organization of space, the exhibition gives the viewer an unique opportunity to observe the vicissitudes of architectural design. Zumthor has opted to present his projects as a strange cabinet of architectural creations, different models of one and the same project are presented next to each other, offering the visitor the opportunity to see spatial and material variations of the attempts to tame the creative process. As such the exhibition isn’t a celebration of the final creation, neither a catalogue of finished projects, but gives the viewer a glimpse into the laboratory of architectural design. With projects and models higlightening Zumthor’s great sense for scale, materiality, color, austerity and position, the exhibition brings to life an architectural in-between state, neither a finished nor a fossilized model room.

In a review of the same exhibition in 2007, Building Design published a review called “Peter Zumthor exhibition presents a reality check”. The author justifiably points out the difference between the architecture as process and project:

It is a testament to Zumthor’s work that the biggest problem with the exhibition is that it is no substitute for visiting the buildings themselves. For this reason, models of unfinished and terminated projects which have no real-life counterpart to compete with prove to be most interesting. The Topography of Terror exhibition centre proposal depicts just what could have been realised on the site of the former Gestapo HQ.

As such the presentation of one’s architecture as a series of projects, has been undermined by Peter Zumthor. Presenting a topography of textures, a creative collection of the culture of craftmanship and an insight in architectural indecision, the exhibition illustrates the basic principles underlying the work of Peter Zumthor, explained as follows:

His striking creations stem from a bedrock of meticulous draftsmanship, coherence and flawless conceptual quality. A staunch believer that architecture is made and meant to be experienced first hand, inhabited and used, Zumthor’s buildings are rooted in principles of sustainability, balanced integration in the natural surroundings and an extreme sensibility in the treatment and application of materials, drawing upon their tactile, plastic and reactive qualities.

via: movingcities

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A new face in Architecture Magazines.

I was impressed by this architecture magazine when I came upon it through another architecture blog, check out the website. It seems to be a great view on up and coming architecture.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The elaboration strategy of the project was to think to an architecture that can:
- define the drawing of the esplanade
- give an image and a new symbol for the city
- become integrated into the existing context, rich in style and language without perturbing the synergy
- Bring a new definition of the spaces for sport.

The public spaces: the esplanade and the square
The orthogonal imprint of the building is parallel to the facades of the school and the city hall and allows to re-qualify and to value the urban spaces. The treatment of the esplanade, by the insertion of steel plates, indicates the entrances of the diverse constructions and the new gymnasium.

Architectural sign: balance and magic
The choice of the copper cover for facing was dictated by the envy to give to the object a precious and elegant character, being able to become integrated without contrast into the vocabularies of the two churches, the school and into that of the city hall. The facing treatment aims at reflecting the buildings of the esplanade, so disturbing the perception of the gymnasium and duplicating the facades of the others construction.

So the gymnasium allows ordering spaces, but its facing come to create an ambiguity emptying the building of its materialism until remove it.

Every time the reflection awakens the curiosity by letting suspect a new facade.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Icelandic Opera by Arkitema and Arkthing

When building in Iceland up to the elf hill Borgarholt, it demands a special in depth understanding of Iceland's history. A complex new opera house for the Icelandic national opera deserves a building with presence and grace, a new cultural landmark for Reykjavik. Arkitema and Arkthing's winning proposal takes its concept based on these premises and has created a building both to the Opera, the elves, the capital's residents and the tow of Kopavogur in Reykjavik.

Deep underground, in the highlands and under the cliffs around Iceland live the elves. Their dens are not visible from the outside, but it is believed that they live underground somewhere or other. From the outside the elves’ homes are dark and enclosed, but from the inside a radiant and crystalline space is revealed. The Opera’s expressional form with its heavy and massive lower floor level and its light and crystalline upper floor level refers to the mythical home of the elves. The heavy expression of the lower level is broken up with window openings that vary in size but which all replicate the cubic form.
Over the base the transparent shining cubic tower rises up, housing the main scene and the opera’s large concert hall which can hold an audience of up to 820. The facade of the shining cube is a glass screen with LED lights which give the facade an ever changing appearance, that through the course of a day changes in colour and strength. The characteristic cube is the Opera’s landmark that will light up Reykjavik, and from the interior be the Opera’s distinctive feature. The cube continues down through the building so that it is visible from the interior, allowing the large foyer area to look directly into the concert hall.

With the elf hill as their one neighbour and the town as the other, the Opera is situated between history, tradition, a modern urban district and a cultural landscape with a library, museum and cultural centre.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

OMA battles H & DM Back-to-Back Architectural High Rise SuperBlock

To be completed by OMA’s New York office, 23 East 22nd Street is located just off Madison Square Park in the ‘Flatiron district’. The building will include 18 residences within 24 residential floors. Amenities such as the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) Screening Room, main lobby, pool and gym, are also being designed by OMA, and will be shared with One Madison Park, a second residential tower located immediately adjacent on 23rd Street.

“We wanted to exploit the potential of the building’s scale—more modest than One Madison Park and other residential high-rises emerging in the area, yet larger than the surrounding neighborhood,” said OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu. “This mid-rise condition allows us to create an unusual degree of spatial and programmatic variety in the building,” he said.

As it rises to a height of 355ft (107m), the OMA-designed tower stretches up and to the east gaining additional area as well as views of Madison Square Park as it cantilevers 30 feet over its neighbor.

“Mirroring the traditional New York setback, the building’s form is at once familiar and distinctive”, said OMA founder and partner Rem Koolhaas. “The form provides a number of unexpected moments that appear at each step – balconies at the upper part of the building and floor windows at the lower part—providing a variety of unit types and features throughout the building”, he said.

The building is scheduled for completion in 2010.

The project is led by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas in collaboration with project architect Jason Long.

Making a Book Circa 1945

Printing a Book, Old School from Armin Vit on Vimeo.

via: Core77

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Peter Zumthor Honored with Japan’s Praemium Imperiale Prize

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor received the 2008 Praemium Imperiale prize offered by the Japanese emperor. The prize is awarded to artists who have earned exceptional merits for advancing of the arts. According to the jury from the Japanese Arts Association, Zumthor is an extraordinary appearance within the field of architecture and he always pursued to create something culturally and socially valuable.

The jury said: “Zumthor earnestly examines the location and purpose of a building, and spares no effort in selecting the most suitable materials for it. He insists on “custom-made architecture.” After working on the restoration of historical buildings in southeastern Switzerland, he became independent as an architect. He still has his studio in the small village of Haldenstein. His works can mainly be found in Switzerland but also elsewhere in Europe. Whether religious buildings, art museums, thermal bath facilities or housing projects, they consistently give a strong sense of spirituality. Kolumba, Art Museum of the Archbishopric Cologne, which opened in Cologne last year, expresses the continuity of history from Roman times by making use of a ruined area. The use of light and shade would be equally at home in Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki’s ‘In Praise of Shadows.’”

Further 2008 laureates of the Praemium Imperiale prize are Richard Hamilton (painting), Ilya & Emilia Kabakov (sculpture), Zubin Mehta (music), and Sakata Tojuro (theatre/film).

via: Bustler

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Minneapolis Calling...Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future

Photo By Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts jointly present this first major museum retrospective of architect Eero Saarinen’s short but prolific career. Saarinen was one of the most celebrated, unorthodox, and controversial masters of 20th-century architecture. In many ways he was the architect of what has been dubbed “the American century,” the post-World War II era when the United States emerged as an influential world superpower.

Although Saarinen’s most iconic and publicly recognizable design is the soaring Gateway Arch in St. Louis, his work spanned many different areas of architectural practice, including the design of airports, corporate and academic campuses, churches and private residences, and furniture. Although criticized by his peers at the time for having a different style for each project, Saarinen rejected the dogma of an orthodox modernism and instead adopted a varied approach to architectural design, letting the subject and site guide his inventive solutions. His resulting body of work includes such masterpieces as the sweeping concrete curves of the TWA Terminal (1956–1962) at New York’s JFK Airport; the grandeur of General Motors Technical Center (1948–1956), dubbed an “industrial Versailles” by the media; and the iconic Womb Chair and Ottoman (1946–1948) or the innovative Pedestal (1954–1957) series of tables and chairs, both for Knoll and all classics of mid-century modernism.

Featured in the exhibition are never-before-seen sketches, working drawings, models, photographs, furnishings, films, and other ephemera from various archives and private collections. Exploring his entire output of more than 50 built and unbuilt projects, it provides a unique opportunity to consider Saarinen’s innovations in the use of new materials, technologies, and construction techniques within the larger context of postwar modern architecture.

In this collaborative presentation, the Walker Art Center will feature Saarinen’s furnishings and residences as well as his designs for churches and academic and corporate campuses, while the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will present his designs for airports, memorials, and embassies, as well as his early work within the context of its modernist design collection.

via: core77

Herzog & de Meuron's Second NYC Building 56 Leonard St.

Work has started on the construction of 56 Leonard Street, a 56-storey residential tower in New York designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. The tower, the architects’ first, will be built on the corner of Leonard Street and Church Street in Tribeca.


Since its formation in 1978, the Basel, Switzerland-based architecture firm of Herzog & de Meuron has achieved international renown for buildings — houses, libraries, schools, stores, museums, hotels, factories, arenas — that strike an uncanny balance between strict refinement and pure invention, practicality and the sublime.

Their recently completed Beijing National Stadium in China, for billions of worldwide spectators the single most enduring image of the 2008 Olympic Games, has redefined the sports arena for the future, while museums like the Tate Modern at Bankside in London and the de Young Museum in San Francisco ambush expectations of what makes a building ideal for art.

With such commissions, Herzog & de Meuron has aimed not for virtuosity but innovation, looking always to the broader culture and art for inspiration. Referring to Andy Warhol, Jacques Herzog has said, “He used common Pop images to say something new. That is exactly what we are interested in: to use well known forms and materials in a new way so that they become alive again.”

On the threshold of its fourth decade, Herzog & de Meuron is poised to reinvent another great architectural prototype as construction begins in New York City on the first hi-rise tower of the firm’s career. 56 Leonard Street will be a 57-story residential condominium building at the intersection of Church Street and Leonard Street in the Tribeca Historic District of downtown Manhattan, where it will rise above cobbled streets and historic 19th century neighbors.

The tower will house 145 residences, each with its own unique floor plan and private outdoor space, in a veritable cascade of individual homes that the architects describe as “houses stacked in the sky,” blending indoors and outdoors seamlessly together.

With its articulated surfaces, dramatic cantilevers, profiled slab edges, profusion of balconies, expanses of glass, and views from downtown Manhattan to as far as the Atlantic Ocean, Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Street breaks down the old image of the high-rise as a sleek, hermetically sealed urban object to propose instead a thoughtful, daring and ultimately dazzling new alternative — the iconic American skyscraper re-envisioned as a pixilated vertical layering of individually sculpted, highly customized, graceful private residences opening to the atmosphere.

The architects’ design for 56 Leonard Street also updates the relationship between private tower and public streetscape with an articulated base whose cantilevers generate a sense of movement and permeability. Here, the building’s defining corner will be the site of a major commissioned sculpture by internationally celebrated London-based artist Anish Kapoor.

Fully integrated into the architecture itself as if to say that culture and the city are indivisible, Kapoor’s massive, reflective stainless steel piece – an enigmatic balloon-like form that appears to be combating compression from above – will be a new cultural landmark in Tribeca and the artist’s first permanent public work in New York City.

Kapoor’s sculptural contribution to 56 Leonard Street extends his ongoing exploration of physical and psychological space, as in such works as the “Cloud Gate” in Chicago’s Millennium Park and the recent mammoth temporary installation “Sky Mirror” at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan.

Homes available at 56 Leonard Street will range in size from 1,430 square feet to 6,380 square feet, and will include two- to five-bedroom residences and 10 penthouses. Prices for the residences at 56 Leonard Street range from $3.5 million to $33 million.

56 Leonard Street has been developed by Izak Senbahar and Simon Elias of Alexico Group LLC, New York City, developer of such acclaimed Manhattan projects as The Mark by Jacques Grange and 165 Charles Street by Richard Meier.

Costas Kondylis & Partners of New York City is serving as executive architect for the building. Construction manager for 56 Leonard Street is Hunter Roberts, New York City. Exclusive sales and marketing agent for the project is Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.

Occupancy at 56 Leonard Street is anticipated in late fall 2010.

“We are extremely pleased and honored to be able to create a tower of true global character at a moment when great architectural ferment is reshaping New York City,” said Izak Senbahar of Alexcio. “With 56 Leonard we aspire to make a unique contribution to the fabric of our town with a building that relates directly to the city but is also an outstanding international address.”


At 56 Leonard Street, the architects’ intention is to preserve the celebratory spirit of traditional skyscrapers while introducing new structural possibilities and suggesting fresh ways for people inside such towers to relate to their city.

Inspired by the permeability and spatial qualities of Modernist houses and the great American dream of a customized home, Herzog & de Meuron has replaced the usual extrusion of standardized skyscraper floor plates with a staggered progression of structural slabs turning slightly off axis by degrees as they ascend, creating constant variety among the apartment floor plans.

This structural arrangement of floor plates at 56 Leonard Street will create an irregular flurry of cantilevered terraces up and down the building, making plays of light and shadow that give the tower a shimmering, animated appearance on the skyline and widely varying interiors. 56 Leonard Street contains five key zones ascending from street to sky: lobby, “townhouse” residences, amenities, tower residences, and penthouses.

Appearing to rest upon Anish Kapoor’s sculpture, the base of 56 Leonard Street will have the appearance of a stack of cantilevering volumes with varying degrees of transparency and opacity. This section of the building contains a dramatic double-height, 1,600 square foot lobby with an entrance on Leonard Street adjacent to a verdant exterior vertical garden to the west.

Sheathed in gleaming black granite, the lobby space includes stations for a 24-hour doorman and concierge, with custom designed reception desks by Herzog & de Meuron; private residents’ mail, package and refrigerated storage room; custom-designed visitor seating fixtures; and two separate elevator landings with a total of seven elevators featuring interiors designed by the architects.

Above the 18 foot-high black granite-walled lobby are several floors of residences that relate very directly to the immediate scale and panorama of the neighborhood (homes known by the architects as “the townhouses”) and two full floors of amenities spaces custom designed to the last detail by Herzog & de Meuron.

These include an indoor/outdoor 75-foot infinity edge pool, one of Manhattan’s largest, surrounded by a black terrazzo deck inlaid with spherical glass aggregate. An adjoining outdoor sundeck cantilevers 20 feet over the block to provide extraordinary Tribeca views and a sense of connection to the district.

Other amenities include a fitness center with yoga studio, wet and dry spa features and terrace; a library lounge (above); a screening room; a private dining/conference room; and a Tribeca Tot Room for children’s play and family activities. Every angle and structural element has been designed to create visual access to the cityscape for those inside the building and aesthetic excitement for passersby on the street.

Floors eight through forty-five at 56 Leonard Street containing the building’s one- to five-bedroom residences. In each residence, grand glass doors of up to 12 feet in height lead to private outdoor spaces outfitted with travertine pavers, a frameless balustrade and custom designed handrail. Balconies and terraces are arranged in varied schemes that provide uninterrupted views of the city, its flanking rivers and New York Harbor, and saturate living spaces with light. Interior details, sharply refined by Herzog & de Meuron, enhance the perception of spatial flow and an atmosphere of harmony. The building’s exposed exterior concrete is complemented indoors by a subtle neutral palette of extremely sensual materials. Champagne colored window mullions, satin etched glass, natural pale solid woods, travertine, Thassos marble, polished metals, black granite and high gloss black lacquer accents are part of a super-customized, luxurious package of finishes chosen to complement furniture and art.

Extending the assertive sculptural character of the building’s exterior to key interior details, Herzog & de Meuron has conceived several signature sculptural fixtures for the homes at 56 Leonard Street. Fireplace hearths soar from floor-to-ceiling, crafted by the architects in high gloss white enameled steel. Derived from pragmatic architectural functions, this monumental freestanding sculptural element anchors the great room and provides a dramatic focal point while reflecting and diffusing ambient light.

For 56 Leonard Street kitchens, Herzog & de Meuron have designed a special prep and dining island fitted with a high gloss black lacquer base and enhanced honed black granite countertop – a feature with the alluring curves of a grand piano or an elliptical lozenge – accompanied by a custom hood either sculpted from the wall or descending from the ceiling.

Generous cooking and entertaining spaces are complemented by top line appliances integrated into custom cabinetry, and sleek, minimal glass cabinets designed by the architects. Bathrooms at 56 Leonard Street are similarly meticulous in detail. Curving spaces enclose custom Herzog & de Meuron marble mosaic tiled walls, vanities, cast six foot oval soaking tub, shower, cabinetry and fixtures, all planned in relation to expansive windows framing views in the most private area of the home.

The building’s dramatic nine-story crown contains its apex penthouses - eight occupying full floors and two occupying half floors - will appear on the Manhattan skyline as a chimerical geometric sculpture of stacked, glimmering glass volumes. Ranging in size from approximately 3,650 to almost 6,380 square feet, these aeries embrace the outdoors through expansive private terraces of up to 1,700 square feet. Penthouses are accessed by private elevator. Soaring window walls rise to 14 feet and open onto panoramas of the city and sky.

Summarizing their design, Herzog & de Meuron has said, ““We approached the design process for 56 Leonard Street from the inside out, from the homes themselves. But we also considered the outside in terms of the Tribeca neighborhood. Here you have the small townhouses, the old manufacturing buildings, and the high-rise buildings, but also a lot of little corners and surprising things between. The different scales characterize the neighborhood and we wanted to establish a dialogue among them. For us, creating a building is a research process. We call it a journey.”

Additional public information about 56 Leonard Street is available online at

text and images via: Dezeen