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"architecture" Category


It wasn’t a spontaneous encounter. I looked for it.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

encounter

Coarse antique white paper. Slick bright white paper. Corresponding with these two feelings 70’s architecture gives me. This vintage feeling of the past, but in its day so modern and progressive. The book feels historic yet contemporary. I feel like I’m holding a treasure in my hand. This book; 17 by 24 centimeters, comfortable in one’s hand and easy to carry with you. Beautiful pictures in black and yellow printed on this coarse paper feeling like an old precious book in my hands.

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O B S E R V A T I O N S:

First of all, the book is titled “De kritiese jaren zeventig”, which I think is genius. The 70′s way of spelling “kritiese” is used in the titel, rather then the contemporary “kritische”. The book, designed by Beukers-Scholma, is linked to a 2004 exhibition with the same name. Their work contains several award winning designs.

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The book consists of 2 types of paper: coarse antique white paper and smooth bright white coated paper. Furthermore it contains 3 types of pictures: black and white, black and orange, black and yellow. The coloured pictures are like black and white prints on coloured paper.

Black and white prints are used for specific buildings. Every chapter is divided in paragraphs that deal with a building. The pictures of these buildings are in black and white on coated paper. The texts are also printed black on white coated paper.

The colour yellow presents scenes: People or streets. They are accompanied by relevant quotes and precede the introduction of every chapter. They are printed on antique white paper.

Orange is the colour being used in the general introduction as well as every chapter’s introduction and the first and final page of the book. The black and orange pictures that introduce the book are printed on antique white paper. The single orange introduction pages for each chapter are printed on white coated paper.

THOUGHTS:

How can I not read this book? Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. I’m not, I’m not reading. But I see words, I see sentences, their meaning is clear to me without doing effort and so I want to read, I want to continue what my mind processes without conscious effort. This coarse paper feels so…… coarse? soft? Old? Precious I guess. I know this book is about the past. And we’re making the same mistakes all over again. Humanity makes the same mistakes all over again all the time everywhere, always. Why is there so much violence, why are people so unhappy. And I mean unhappy, unsatisfied in a well-developed country. This book evokes so much in me. And it’s not the architecture, not so much the design, but the fact that I know it’s about the past and I am not happy about the world and… Past, present, past, present and I wonder; where is this going? The design of the book anticipates on the context very well. At least on the fact that the book is about the past. And the design feels like the past, it feels like not now. Old pictures, blurry pictures, pictures in black and white, black and yellow, black and orange. Then again I also think this book is bullshit. Pure bullshit. Like everything contemporary related to architecture; this quasi science. Conceptual bullshit about how architecture makes a better world. But it doesn’t because we are inherently messed up. People are insane.

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Let's try to take a step back.

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The book feels like an escape. Just like how I can get lost in google maps, looking at buildings, I can get lost in this book

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The book makes me passive, receptive. Maybe that’s how I am in general. No I’m not. I’m creative. I create. I’m not that passive. But then again I am. Well at least lately I am. Sigh. I just want to see, touch, feel, sense the book. Which is okay. I guess. That’s the assignment. But then again, am I researching? Is this going anywhere? No. I just want to get lost. Lost in the images of the book. Lost in the colours of the book. Why do I enjoy looking so much? I do it so much. Just watching buildings. Going on google maps or biking around the city and just looking at buildings. Getting lost in watching them and enjoying them. I can hide my face behind the book. I like it. I want to disappear……………………….

With drawing and painting I tend to write a lot. Write previous to painting or using written words in paintings. I tend to write a lot. In this assignment however. I seem not so capable of writing. Even though I’m writing now. The book makes me very passive. Makes me want to see the book, feel the book, read the book, but not write about the book.

Now how did this all start? How did I end up picking this book? It started with a list of books we could choose from and I decided to look for books about architecture and found this lovely book about 70’s architecture. I happen to have a thing for post-world war II, pre-90ties architecture, so I had to choose this book. Then the book also happened to be so well designed. Also, the text is not only about the architecture but the whole social context of the 70’s. The book contains beautiful pictures, not only of buildings but also of people and sceneries. Sceneries of the 70’s. This book is a history book and its content is wonderfully converted in its design.

It wasn’t a spontaneous encounter. I looked for it.

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De kritiese jaren zeventig : architectuur en stedenbouw in Nederland, 1968-1982 = The critical seventies : architecture and urban planning in the Netherlands, 1968-1982. /Rietveld library catalogue no : 719.22 vle 1

content vs appearance?


Monday, January 30, 2017

In high school, my teachers always thought that the content of a book was more important than the appearance. I had to choose my books based on the texts inside of those. Opposite to what I was asked to do high school, in this Basicyear I was asked to choose a book on its graphic design. I was pretty surprised when I was told to because I am totally not used to do that. I liked the idea of it immediately. At the same time, I actually did not really get why we had to reflect a book’s appearance until we had this guest presentation of Elisabeth Klement, a teacher from the graphic design department in Rietveld. She showed lots of books where she did the graphic design for or just really liked. She told us that the content of a book is dependent on the looks of it and also the other way around.
So when I was wandering through the library, this specific peachy/sand/pink colored book caught my attention immediately. I remembered that Elisabeth showed this one in her presentation. I took it out of the shelves and saw this nice bold font on the front saying: ‘From A to K, Aglaia Konrad’

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The book is like an encyclopedia. In an alphabetically placed order, you go through a list of words which refer to the rapidly advancing process of urban globalization. The content is focused on the relationship of society and spaces and how they change. On the cover of the book, the letters and words A to K are spread playfully over the cover. The A and the K are echoing behind the title as big geometric shapes which remind me of modernistic buildings from the past 50 years. graphic designer Linda Van Deursen made the decisions about the fonts, the cover, and the initial layout. She created an architectonic feeling in all these choices. The co-designer of the book is Eva Heisterkamp, a freelancer who got this job from Linda because she thought the job would suit her.

Aglaia Konrad is an Austrian photographer. She has a fascination for architecture, urbanization and especially their transformation. This leads into rough photographs of abandoned buildings, unfinished constructions and city infrastructures without any human beings involved. She experiences architecture and urbanization as something overwhelming. Something elusive. It is not simply about architecture but about trying to understand space and how it becomes nature itself in at a certain point. She studies the signs and codes, actions, representations and meaning of the architectural system.
Last year she had a solo exhibition called ‘From A to K’ in Museum M in Leuven. Paired with this exhibition she decided to publish a book included all the terms referring to her studies in alphabetical order. The photos featured in the book are her works from 1950 on till now.

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Linda van Deursen acclaimed international fame. Together with Armand Mevis she established the graphic design studio Mevis & van Deursen in 1986. Linda Deursen has been head of the graphic design department at Gerrit Rietveld Academy from 2001 till 2014. She is a critic at Yale School of Art since 2003. The agency has done great things. For example identity projects, organizing events, exhibitions. One of their more recent projects is the logo and identity for Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. They were awarded for several art prizes as the Amsterdam Prize and the Grand Prix at The Brno Biennial
Recently they also design the printed version of the magazine South as a state of mind: DOCUMENTA 14.  A magazine which is being published four times biannually till the opening of the exhibition in Athens which is paired with documenta 14. The magazine could be seen as a manifestation included critique, art, literature and research.

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Eva Heisterkamp was a student of Gerrit Rietveld Academy, she graduated in 2007 in the TxT department. Joke Robaard was head of the department back then. After having worked for Mevis & van Deursen for four years she now became head designer of Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. I was especially interested in her role in the whole design project I was wondering how much she had to say about the layout and division of the content. She answered me all my questions clearly in an email.

After analyzing this book the past few weeks, I could tell that the design of the book made the content stronger. Using Times Ten and Univers as main type fonts is very convincing. The fonts are formal but also a bit playful because they are a bit horizontally stretched. The empty space between the words refers to the emptiness of the decayed cities. The repetition of the words in alphabetical order refer to the repetition of modernistic buildings and the recurrence of urbanization. Every page has a vertical line placed on the left side, which accentuates the vertical aspect of modernistic cities where all buildings are raising to the sky. The book sometimes still seems under construction like cities themselves are. At one page you just see a row of O’s on the left side and a picture placed over what used to be ‘ the rest’ of the word which starts with an O. The pictures are most of the time black and white except for some pages. Eva herself decided which pages she wanted to be in color and which ones to be in black and white. There is also another book which is all printed in color but less editions of those were published.

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Aglaia selected the pictures per chapter. She communicated this to Linda and Eva. Eva told me that through the whole process a lot of things changed and she could decide a lot in the design process. For example this case she told me that the font size of the essays were smaller in the beginning. In the last correcting round, the authors of the texts disagreed with the font size. The whole layout shifted, which made it very hard to finish the book in time. I find it very remarkable and a bit funny that the title refers to an unfinished alphabet because the design itself also seems like ‘unfinished’. Eva noted that here and there are some mistakes been made in the design, but I think we will find it out ourselves.The content, the appearance and even the process were constantly progressing. It all was endlessly in juxtaposition. That’s why I think content and appearance are always dependent on each other.

 

Aglaia Konrad, from A to K /Rietveld library catalogue no : konr 2

Transitions – from autonomous to applied arts


Sunday, January 29, 2017

A line, a letter, a page, a building, a photo, a book – separate stages that can either stand by themselves or remain transitioning points while executing somebody’s vision. It is common that an artist starts one’s creative process with making a sketch or writing down a sentence that popped out in the head, though, later on this idea might get a completely unexpected appearance. After the piece is created it will most likely be documented in a book, that sometimes serves as an autonomous work. Therefore, it is important to choose a right graphic designer to collaborate together for this process.

 

For my design research, I have decided to look into Alon Levin’s designed book ‘De Paviljoens: Journal of a Building 1992-2004’ that is a documentation of the former contemporary art pavilion in Almere.

 

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According to the Artistic Managing Director of the Museum De Paviljoens, Macha Roesink, the aim of this book was to expose the complexity of building such as De Paviljoens and document the history in a case study of the life of a building, in the form of a journal composed of accounts by many of the people who have been involved.

 

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Museum De Paviljoens

 

The building is transportable, like the ultimate kit, but it is standardized to meet building regulations. Documenting it in a book clearly makes it even more handy. I think it was not accidental that Alon Levin was invited to design the book as he himself works transiting from fine arts to design. To understand the concept of his way of working, it is important to look at his other projects.

 

In A. Levin’s book ‘Things Contemporary’ published by Dexter Sinister & Alon Levin, 2009 he talks about his interest in man’s eternal pursuit of order; not the ideal of order, which renders things absolute, resolve and static, but in the actual process of organizing things, which inevitably falls short. Artist takes up forms such as the triumphal arch, the victorious podium, or the Ferris wheel, and translates them into model-like wooden constructions and plaster forms reminiscent of the model. It creates images for the ambiguity of success and failure, for the instability of ideological, economic and scientific systems. Analogous to the accumulation and formation of knowledge in the “free encyclopedia” Wikipedia also Levin prefers, when he reused, deconstructed or repeated individual elements of his own works. Data, buildings and documents appear as moving building blocks in a constantly transforming and updating view of the world. To process this information, he uses charts, diagrams and transforms his knowledge into abstract geometrical shapes that later become sculptures or installations. Space-grabbing constructions from simple materials available in the construction market are based on the exploration of the technical and architectural achievements of the Western world and their significance for contemporary society.

 

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Things Contemporary published by Dexter Sinister & Alon Levin, 2009
 

Even though, it seems Alon Levin himself does not see switching from graphic design to fine arts as transitioning, I was curious to find out when and how do these two spheres meet. His pieces and texts are based on invoke either the incalculably large or the immeasurably small, hence the mathematical sublime, the way in which they thematise structure and collapse points. Using the design made for ‘De Paviljoens: Journal of a Building 1992-2004’ and photos of various installations I tried to create some ‘systems’ that could represent their ‘shape’. I discovered he used three sizes for the font, therefore a zigzag in my drawings representing ‘text’ in the book is in three different sizes. Considering purified and structured shapes he applies into his pieces I decided to replicate both pages and 3D objects into slightly modified, geometricized shapes. At some point I realized a certain rhythm appears, which blurs the line between two subjects of my research.

 

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Left – sketches of installations by Alon Levin, Right – schemes based on ‘De Paviljoens: Journal of a Building 1992-2004’

 

In fact, these two ‘sequences’ I made are just my interpretations of Levin’s creations. They might transit into something new and exciting at some point and that would probably be sort of an example the way the original author was building them. In ‘Things Contemporary’ he admitted that during his studies at Gerrit Rietveld Academie he wanted to understand the power of manipulating information: not just consume it, but to actually make it. To try and understand how all the information we ingest daily is organized and what the thoughts and structures behind it are. I think one of the best representations of this attitude is in his project ‘The Basics of Growth’ that dealt with similar ideas in botany as in economy, making some comparison through books that A. Levin had published himself. The content of these books was from Wiki that provides the material for the content of a book. He later on transits from the book into 3D structure based on the same subject, which in this case was a greenhouse on the rooftop of the office building.

 

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The Basics of Growth

I presume researching the history of the pavilions, he applied this same method in a reverse version – firstly, understanding the building with its context and then transmitting it into a book.

Throughout my research I learned that the endless cyclical game is the fundament of Levin’s work – a natural flow that drives him from one medium to another.

 

De Paviljoens : journal of a building, 1992-2004 /Rietveld library catalogue no : 700.4 pav 1

Stone, Space, Me; Pretending to be Solid


Sunday, October 30, 2016

How to enter a stone? by knocking? stroking? breaking it with a hammer? or by curving a door in order to step inside?

Thinking and imagining about how it must be like to dwell inside a stone and take part in the universal creation, I find my search. Focusing on the human ability to relate, think and imagine spaces in objects, I create a link between the interior of stones and human memory and imagination.

 

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Pretending to be Solid, Naama Aharony, Gerrit Rietveld Graduation show, 2016.

( solid as stone they say…)

Along with personal notes and thoughts of dwelling a stone, I collect, trace and place cultural narratives, legends and philosophical thoughts contemplating the meaning found in stones. Through those I look to change the perception of stones being solid, suggesting to look at it as constant movement. The mind then becomes the traveler, moving through environments, places and spaces the stone I hold may offer. Those spaces are changing, coincidental, circumstantial.

This writing can be seen as a collection of short texts where the shared ground is memory, imagination and the stone. It will not necessarily talk about actual caves, walls, floors or corridors that might exist in the interior of stones, but will be researching the potential content of the stone, the meaning and narratives this stone might bring. And although while reading you might drift away from time to time, one will always go back to the ground, and the stone.

 

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For my graduation project, I was focusing on the relationship between man and the stone. I wanted to work on the way people approach and perceive stones. To open up the understating of A Stone to discussion and new ways of seeing. To create tension between what people usually think of a stone and the sensible perception I am offering them.

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Writing the thesis and researching on different layers the stone offers, pushed me to create my own, man-made stones. Using ceramics, a study of oxide glazing and experimenting with different firing programs, enabled me to create a divergent collection of stones. Where each of the made stones carries different qualities, tells a chapter, a layer and where all together they create a story.

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The installation ‘Pretending to be Solid’ consisted of the stone collection I have made, creating a constructed landscape inside the room. The spectators were invited to walk through the room, in-between the placed stones. Through the walk, I looked to evoke a personal contact between the spectator and the made stones. Which was for me, a place for memory and imagination.

 

cover_image_shade download this thesis by Naama Aharony
all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016

 

Freestanding Architecture


Thursday, October 27, 2016

What can you do for the world?
A man who had already been expelled from Harvard twice, a man who had taken his own company into bankruptcy and suffered from alcohol abuse due to remorse for his daughter’s death from childhood paralysis. And it even goes so far as to think of jumping into the icy waters of Lake Michigan.
 
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At this point the reader must already be asking himself, “Should I really know this man?” My answer is yes, because this man decided to make an experiment that consisted in finding the answer to the following question, in his words:
“To discover how much a miserable and unknown individual with a dependant wife and a new born child can do for the benefit of all mankind.”

 

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Synergy – one of the key words to understand the world in which Fuller lived. It describes the unexpected effects that arise within a system that could not be predicted by the individual analysis of its parts. From the synergy comes the holistic vision that guides much of Fuller’s ideas.
The conception of the planet as a regenerative system where each organism being guided by its instincts of survival also ends up playing a secondary role that helps to balance the planet as a whole. As, for example, a bee that in obtaining the nectar for its survival ends up helping in the reproduction of the plants through the pollination.
According to Fuller, the alienation of man from nature in migration to large urban centers has caused mankind to lose this notion of how nature works globally and to consume resources in an irrational and unsustainable way because of its ceaseless pursuit for money.
However, Fuller believed that the technology and resources that mankind already has is sufficient to supply it with food, home and transportation. However, he believed that this revolution should not come by the control of people’s thinking through speeches or violent revolutions, as did and presently do many heads of state, but by a design revolution.

 

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Such a revolution consisted in proposing practical and sustainable solutions as alternatives to the problems of humanity, which would make the population’s adherence to a sustainable way of life much faster. Since this solution does not disprove the educational effects of people’s awareness, Bucky came up with a game called World Game to educate people about this holistic view of resource use.
“Make the world work for 100% of humanity, by spontaneous collaboration, without ecological damage and without harming anyone.”

Buckminster Fuller’s inventions were called artifacts, all built on the idea of doing more and more with less and less, using maximum efficiency by using resources and technology to build sustainable solutions.
 
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I think his project ‘’dymaxion house’’ relates to this story. It is designed in the late 1920′s but not actually built until 1945, the Dymaxion House was Fuller’s solution to the need for a mass-produced, affordable, easily transportable and environmentally efficient house. What fascinates me is that the whole construction is build around one central extremely strong mast, it has the same kind of idea as an umbrella.
The house was even self-sufficient, heated and cooled by natural means, that made its own power, was earthquake and storm-proof, and made of permanent, engineered materials that required no periodic painting, reroofing, or other maintenance. You could easily change the floor plan as required – squeezing the bedrooms to make the living room bigger for a party, for instance.
The round shape of the building minimized heat loss and the amount of materials needed, while bestowing the strength to successfully fend off a 1964 tornado that missed by only a few hundred yards. And the Dymaxion only weighs about 3000 pounds versus the 150 tons of an average home!

 

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From this project we can move on to his next building project what became his lifework;

The geodesic dome.

The geodesic domes were responsible for making Fuller world famous. They are extremely lightweight structures, however quite resistant because of their ability to distribute the stresses applied at one point throughout the structure. As the geodesic domes have a spherical shape, this construction has a high volume per surface ratio, which results in a lower consumption of materials and less heat exchange with the environment, resulting in savings in air conditioning costs.
The part what interested me the most was the difference between the dome and his other project, the dymaxion house. This building is standing because of one mast, and the dome has none, it is standing because of the smart construction. So actually it is in that sense the opposite of each other.
These projects were based on what Fuller called the Science of Comprehensive and Anticipatory Design, which was characterized by thinking holistically, anticipating problems, proposing a solution through prototypes, and testing it scientifically while the whole process is documented.
 
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Fuller’s elegant geometries, pioneering principles, and holistic thinking have left their mark on contemporary architecture. In the field of art, he has probably left his deepest mark on the work of Olafur Eliasson, partly due to a personal connection. One of the key staff members in Eliasson’s laboratory-like Berlin studio is Einar Thorsteinn. The Icelandic architect not only worked closely with Frei Otto, the creator of the suspended roof constructions for the Olympia grounds in Munich, but also with Fuller himself.

You can definitely see the similarity in the base of this stadium. I have been here myself in 2009, and i was really impressed by the design, for me at that moment it felt really modern and futuristic and I was surprised that this stadium was build in 1972.

 

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Fuller left a great number of contributions and ideas in the most diverse areas such as engineering, architecture and education, serving as inspiration for several alternative movements and communities. His thoughts in favor of a collaborative, sustainability-focused world are increasingly present and more discussed.

 

The future that never arrived


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Most major cities in Japan were left in ruins after the second world war, in particular, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In the post-atomic bomb area, Japan was democratized and turned into a nation with a pro-American orientation. As a response to the human and environmental catastrophe, and as with the growth of the Japanese economy in the early 1950s, proposals for urban redevelopment began to appear. This is when the first concrete example of urban planning with ideas that would later come to define the metabolism movement appeared. You can argue that it started with the designing of the reconstruction of Hiroshima. The Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and his team of architects was commissioned to make this plan.

 

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum / Kenzo Tange. The initial plan was presented in 1949 and the building was made in 1955. source: "Hiroshima mon amour [1959]"

 

In the 50’s Kenzo Tange was very oriented towards the international architecture scene, note the resemblances between the memorial building and the work of Le Corbusier. He also met up with and found inspiration in an architect such as Aldo Van Eyck who was in many ways in opposition to the “functionalism” of Corbusier that was criticized of ignoring its inhabitants. Van Eyck created the orphanage next to our school, and took part in coining the architectural movement structuralism that Tange also defined himself within.

 

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Orphanage / Aldo Van Eyck build in 1960. source

 

In short you can say that they shared some of the same ideas in creating spaces where the relationships between the elements are more important than the elements themselves – built structures corresponding to social structures. It wasn’t until 1960 that the movement was actually defined, by the architect Kiyonori Kikutake who created their first manifesto together with the architect Fumihiko Maki and Kisho Kurokawa:
Metabolism 1960 : The proposals for a new urbanism ”.
The name arrived to an other member of the movement, Kionory Kikutake, as he was working on a floating metropolis, his “Marine City” project.

 

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Marine City / Kiyonori Kikutake 1958. source

 

The word “Metabolism” comes from Greek and translates to “change” but also refers to the life-sustaining transformations within the cells of living organisms. As the name might suggest? they pushed that buildings and cities should be designed in the same organic way that life grows and changes by repeating metabolism.
The “Marine City” is one of many projects that was never realized but played a central role in the works of the Metabolists. It was this vanguard idea of taking on new space whether it be the ocean or the sky that was the foundation of their way of shaping “the future”. At the same time it required developing and making use of new technology. None of the experiments and realizations were made by single individuals but drew on the big think-tank that the Metabolist movement was from artists and writers to scientists and industrial designers. The “marine city” was a proposal for a solution to the rapid population boom especially taking place in Tokyo in the years after the war till the brink of the 60s. Kikutake believed that the ocean was the only valid space to develop in times of an imbalance between population and agricultural productivity.

 

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City in the air / Arata Isozaki 1961. Never realized.

 

As such sustainability was surely an integral part of this movement as well as resilience considering how the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis make for tough conditions in japan – especially for urban concentrations. Structure wise the Metabolist movement was characterized by taking certain architectural steps towards recognizing this. A main idea was to design architecture to be built around “spine-like” infrastructure on and around which pre-fabricated replaceable parts could be attached being almost cell-like. At the heart of this setup is also reorganization of the relationship between society and the individual.
Another important inspirational source was found in old Japanese shinto religion and a specific Ise Grand Shrine that carries the ritual of being created anew every 20 years. This is an example of how the Metabolists as a movement was wearing multiple meanings, being both modernists and traditionalists at the same time.

 

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Ise Shrine having been in continual existence since 690 C.E. source

 

The Metabolists respected environmentally-conscious boundaries and the material in which they worked. This gave them the pride, and also reluctance, to not be parted from their vision. To demonstrate and construct only that of ideas was monumental enough.

 

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Festival Plaza / Kenzo Tange and the artist Taro Okamoto, Osaka Expo, 1970. source

 

After 10 years of development and growth within the Metabolist Movement, the structure that was metabolism came to a climax, exhibiting some of their finest work, at Expo 70’ in Osaka, Japan. It was around this time that Kisho Kurokawa’s project, The Nakagin Capsule Tower, began construction. A process that took only 30 days to complete.

 

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Nakagin Capsule Tower / Kisho Kurokawa 1972.

 

This building would serve as an “icon” to the movement. After the Expo 70’ took place in Osaka, individual architects from the movement began to take a step forward personally, focusing more on individualism and self-driven growth. Ideas about sustainable development within the 21st century are not new ideas; they have spread through a continuous evolution. An end sometimes not only existing as an end, but that of a new beginning.
 

text by Christian Stender and Ivan Fucich

 

The Flower Children of Architects


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The 60s was a very significant era in terms of cultural and technological advancement. It was the era of counterculture, and a social revolution. It was the “space age”, in which there were countless advancements in technology and space exploration. It was an era of optimism and playful experimentation, in which there was a rise of avant-garde and outlandish sensibilities in art and design.
 

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Archigrams pop-art aesthetic

England was one of the main countries which experienced the counter culture of the 60s very intensively, so called the “swinging sixties”, and this reflected evidently in art, design and architecture. Archigram is an example of a highly visionary, avant-garde architectural movement from that time and place. They were very experimental and pro-consumerist, and were very significant in that they questioned and opposed to the traditional conventions of modernist architecture and city-planning, finding it to be too homogeneous and lacking of individuality. They defended individualism; that each person should be able to be part of the design process of their own homes, those homes should be personalized. They also defended expendability; that cities could change and grow constantly through time. They were highly influenced by trends of the era in their designs. Their aesthetic was very in line with pop-art, with lots of imagery of consumer products in their designs, which makes sense considering their pro-consumerist stance, and their perception of housing as a consumer product. They were very technologically forward and optimistic, and indubitably utopian.
 

The Plug-in City

The Plug-in City

The Plug-in City is an example of one of many of the outlandish designs proposed by the members of Archigram. Designed by Peter Cook in 1964 – the leading figure of Archigram; it proposed to have modular residential units which would be plugged in to a central infrastructure mega-machine. Adhering to the ideal of expendability, the modular units could be carried around by cranes depending on necessity and preference.
 

The Walking City

The Walking City

The Walking City is another project, proposed by Ron Herron in 1964, which proposed a nomadic city infrastructure in which none of the components of the city are tied to a specific location. Robotic structures would roam around, depending on where the owner wanted to take it.

Incontestably, none of their projects were actually realised. Their projects required technological advancement which would be far from where we are even in our current times. Even if one of their projects were attempted to be built, it would require funding. Indeed, their projects were quite utopian and optimistic, in true 60s fashion.
 

Constant's New Babylon

Constant’s New Babylon

Utopian ideals in design seemed to be a common theme running through the era throughout the western world, another example being Constant Nieuwenhuys; a Dutch designer/artist who also proposed similarly utopian projects, which were also far from being realised. He also defended individualism, and was opposing to the traditional conventions of homogenous modernist city planning, but didn’t necessarily stand by pro-consumerism. He also made a proposition for a nomadic city, in which playfulness and creativity were inhibited.

There seems to be more of a cynical and pragmatic attitude in our current times, so these utopian ideals and optimism may seem superfluous to us 21st century folks (including me, when I first started reading about them, I was quite cynical about their outlandish projects) – but, perhaps such an optimistic and utopian attitude, and playfulness is exactly what we need, in our current world infected by political turmoil, and conservatism.

Project inspired by The Walking City
The Archigram archival project

An Open Hand


Monday, October 24, 2016

Imagine a

sculpture, 26 meters  red,  yellow ,green metal

reaching into the sky   –    an open hand,

waving with every breeze.

The Hand
click on picture to see more beautiful pictures of Chandigarh
made by Fernanda Antonio for Arch Daily

Corbusier-and-Nehru
left: Le Corbusier right: Jawahal Nehru

an open hand [interview]

open to give and open to receive,

a recurring symbol in the work of Le Corbusier

a sign of peace and reconciliation.

 

The city of Chandigarh was planned to be the capital city of the province of Punjab.
Punjab was left without a capital after India’s decolonization , leading to the partition of East and West Punjab. Lahore, the former capital of Punjab, became part of Pakistan in 1948.
Just three years after leading India to independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s prime-minister, commissioned the planning of a new capital to the architects Mayer and Nowicki.
Nowicki died in a plane crash in 1950 and Le Corbusier was asked to finish the project in 1951.

Being less popular  in Europe and the U.S. at the end of his life Le Corbusier, was hungry to realise his ideas had the ambition to realise them in one last big project: building Chandigarh gave him that opportunity. With the personal blessing of India’s prime-minister Nehru, who called Chandigarh his dream city.
It is important to state that there were already plans for the city of Chandigarh and it is false to believe that Le Corbusier planned the whole city himself, which he did not.

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Chandigarh as planned by Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier’s plan was very similar to the one prepared by Mayer and Nowicki, changing original curved road networks with rectangular ones and grid iron patterns for fast traffic roads. Mayer’s Urban Village became a Sector in Le Corbusier’s plan. The idea was to build a Garden City without high skyscrapers, embodying big ambitions of social living conditions for its citizens. Le Corbusier’s modernist ideas about light, space and greenery were widely incorporated in the plans.

Chandigarh in numbers:
1.000.000 citizens (and growing) : divided over 57 sectors :
each sector is 800m x 1200m (resembling a traditional Indian ‘mohalla’) :
the city has 8 types of roads (these are all labeled)
Every sector has its own public spaces to centralize the daily life of citizens and avoid scattering all over the city..

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this pictures links to an interactive map of Chandigarh!

V1: arterial roads which connect one city to another

V2: urban, city roads

V3: vehicular road surrounding a sector

V4: shopping street of a sector

V5: distribution road meandering through a sector

V6 residential road

V7: pedestrian path

V8: cycle track

Fietspaden-in-Candigarh

 

the Capitol Complex with the High Court designed by Le Corbusier: a concrete structure with columns of the recurring red, yellow and green, with a structure of rectangles starting from the first floor ending in bigger rectangles (now with air-conditioning in them) bending towards the streets, and after a solid concrete ceiling, a gap held by other pillars to make way for a great concrete roof including a canopy, so if you can stand out of the sun in front of the court

 

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the Capitol Complex with the High Court

The Legislative Assembly is of the same concrete grandeur, but with a big superficial pond around it; it is less high and more rectangle than the High Court, there is a massive canopy held by thin walls with square windows in it, this is the place where the Assembly of Punjab ánd Haryana (a state which separated itself from Punjab in 1966 on a linguistic basis)

 

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The Palace of Assembly by Benjamin Hosking for Dezeen The picture links to an article and more beautiful pictures of the concrete buildings in sector 1

With merely naming Le Corbusier, I do not do justice to his cousin Pierre Jeanneret who was leading the design of the structure of sector 1 and designed multiple other buildings, like the University:

 

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Former University building designed by Pierre Jeanneret

By designing he perfect city, Le Corbusier’s hand stretches out to touch each individual life ledin Chandigarh. By designing an environment based on smaller sectors, Le Corbusier, Mayer, Nowicki, Piere Jeanneret and Jane Drew understood how overwhelming big cities can be—in that aspect, I think they were ahead of their time. Recent studies show that Chandigarh is the wealthiest city of India and also has the happiest citizens, therefore I think, the life long learning experience formed Le Corbusier and I believe that Chandigarh is one of his masterpieces. Chandigarh certainly earns it’s place on the Unesco World Heritage list, which he obtained this year.

 

poetry-reading

Public listening to poetry at the Open Hand Monument last December picture [links] to the facebook page of a poetry collective

 

When Le Corbusier ideas meats the middle east


Monday, October 24, 2016

Le Corbusier was a well-known architect who designed in many ways, the foundations of architecture and building systems in the way we are observing it today. Le Corbusier was one of the first architects who has developed the way to take advantage of concrete. His modern building designs were inspired by his vision to adapt the architecture to the industrial age. The buildings should “work” as a machine that serves the residents, as he was claiming. He wanted to create utopian structures and  surroundings that would fit the working people and provide them the best quality of  life. He developed a theory of urban planning based on simple, non-decorated, functional design

 

Le Corbusier looking on a scale model of on of his designs. You could definitely see the connection between it and the Brutalists.

Le Corbusier, looking on a scale model made for one of his designs. You could definitely see the connection between it and the Brutalists architecture.

 
Inspired by his ideals, the Brutalist architecture style was developed. The Brutalist architects were broadly active in Germany, UK, France, Italy, Australia, Israel, Yugoslavia, Japan and the US. Mainly at the first half of the 20th century until the seventies. Brutalist design is characterized by the exposed cement and simple functional structure. The structure supposed to represent the essence of a building, therefore the most important elements are the materials, space and form. The name, Brutalists come from Le Corbusier’s expression (French) – Béton Brut, which means raw concrete.

One example of an utopian Brutalist experience is in Be’er Sheva. “The capital of the desert” in Israel. After Israel was established in 1948 the new government encouraged the building up modern, progressive projects. The new developing country had a lot of new migrants coming from all over the world. Their vision was to make all these people feel and act as one united nation. Even though they were coming from such different backgrounds, they were bound to be as one. As more and more newcomers continued coming, there was a constant need of new buildings. That aspect gave the chance to many architects to bring to life very unusual plans.

 
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Ben Gurion university : Be'er Sheva • A typical .Béton brut (French) raw and concrete wall texture

 
The leaders on those days believed that they were designing the future society of ideal new kind of people under a socialist narrative. Moreover the architecture was a tool that could represent this ideal society and help shaping it. Therefore they were even dreaming of having a large modern, green, “western” oasis. A city in the desert area, that before that wasn’t as developed or inhabited with many people. To bring the civilization, the great strong structures that represent a progressive, successful society

 

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Women walking at the fifth neighborhood, Be'er Sheva. After it was recently build

 

One of the most famous projects in the city was designed by Avraham Yaski and Amnon Alecandroni. They were planning a very long building that was part of an utopian neighborhood – a large scaled housing project, called “The Fifth Neighborhood” – in Hebrew “Shouna hei”. This neighborhood was designed as “A Model Neighborhood” and it includes different architectural projects that were supposed to show different kind of modern, progressing attitudes towards the deserts conditions.

The most well known one, that also became as a symbol for Israeli Brutalist building is the Quarter Kilometer Long Building . This project was completed in the 1960s. It used to be considered as the longest block in the Middle East. The Idea was to build such a long building that will block the wind and the dust, then in the surrounding of it they were building up lower houses that enjoyed from protection of the larger structure. Inspired by Le Corbusier the first level is only pilots and is being used as an open space. The building is very geometrical and simple and there are any windows that have a wide conceit frame to differed it from the strong sun shine.

Back then, they were really dreaming about having great life quality, adjusted to the weather conditions. The creators of this building, neighborhood and city believed that they could subjugate the natural conditions of the place if they would just build in the right way. If it would be big enough, massive enough – the desert will surrender to the architecture. They were planning this buildings to be designed and built in high quality  standards, for medium class residence. Eventually when utopia meets reality different things happen. Despite the innovative design, this building “has become an urban legend bleak, a magnet  for problems and crime.” Avraham Yaski, the leading architect “of the project referred to it as a “conscious tryout that completely failed”

 

he quarter-kilometer block

The quarter-kilometer block, today.

Be'er Sheva, Israel

The longest block in the middle east. 1960. Be'er Sheva.

Today many people criticize the Brutalist style, claiming that the exposed cement, the rough structures and the simple geometric shapes looks massive, neglected, aggressive, ugly and represent the way the regime was trying to force this unreal utopia version. Building in the same way they where trying to led the people as one machine that needs to serve a certain kind of a national dream.
While wondering about that I find my self split between a respectful, even amazed feeling towards those architects that dared to dream and to try something that was so revolutionary at the time and the feeling that this vision of great wide buildings with European meadow in the desert is so alienated and disconnected from the traditional way of surviving in this landscape
I think that this contradiction represent a very familiar complexity that exists in the Israeli society still today. The contradiction between the utopian vision of being part of the European culture (in that case architecture and urban design) and the fact that the country is based in the middle east, that lots of the civilians are coming from middle eastern, north African countries and that it is surrounded with very reach culture that makes it impossible to fully deny those other influences that pops up and stand against that utopian vision. In a way the quarter kilometer block is a living example for that complexity

 

A cover of the book: Avraham Yasky, Concrete Architecture. A monograph on Yasky's work by Sharon Rotbard

A cover of the book: Avraham Yasky, Concrete Architecture. A monograph on Yasky's work by Sharon Rotbard

 

Constant Nieuwenhuijs en Rem Koolhaas


Monday, October 24, 2016

Constant Nieuwenhuijs. Een verbinder van autonome kunst en moderne architectuur. Wij gebruiken Constant als vertrekpunt en zoeken naar de relatie tussen zijn werk en dat van de Cobra kunstbeweging en Rem Koolhaas, een moderne architect. Hoe het werk van Constant door de cobra beweging is beïnvloed, en de ontwerpen/ideeën van Koolhaas weer door Constant, als in een kettingreactie.
 

Overeenkomsten tussen de Cobra beweging en Constant’s ideeën over New Babylon en architectuur in het algemeen.

De utopische denker Constant Nieuwenhuijs heeft zijn roots in de schilderkunst. Tussen 1948 en 1951 was Constant zeer actief binnen de Cobra kunststroming. hij was er mede oprichter van.

Cobra kwam op na de tweede wereld oorlog. Na deze heftige en gruwelijke tijd doorleeft te hebben waren kunstenaars opzoek naar een wedergeboorte. Iets om steun uit te halen of iets om te kunnen relativeren. Cobra kunstenaars vonden onder andere hun inspiratie in kinderlijke en primitieve kunst. Hiermee konden ze hun zorgen over de toekomst van kunst en menselijkheid uiten, die beschadigd waren voor de traumatische ervaringen uit de oorlog.

De kunstenaars streefden naar een utopische wereld, waarin vrijheid centraal zou staan. Dit vonden ze door te breken met het artistieke verleden en esthetica en een nieuwe kunststroming te creëren waarbij spontane activiteit en expressie het belangrijkst was.

Vanaf de jaren ’50 wordt het werk van Constant werk abstracter en ontwikkelt het zich uiteindelijk meer in de richting van ruimtelijke experimenten en architectuur. Hij bouwt een stad van de toekomst; New Babylon, vormgegeven in schaalmodellen, collages, tekeningen, landkaarten en meer. Hij wordt zich steeds meer bewust van hoe gebouwen om ons heen mensen beïnvloeden. Het valt Constant op dat de meeste moderne constructies vooral praktisch zijn en saai en dat ze nauwelijks ruimte bieden voor een speelse en creatieve manier van leven.

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Burning Earth‘, uit 1951 (boven), een schilderij door Constant aan het einde van zijn Cobra periode. Je ziet al meer interesse voor ruimtelijkheid in zijn werk. Waar het voorheen altijd plat is geweest. Ook lijkt de constructie rechts achterin het schilderij bijna op een van de latere werken van Constant. Een New Babylon compositie, (onder).
 

New Babylon is een radicale, doch logische opvolging van de Cobra periode in Constants carrière als kunstenaar. In beide is een diepe drang te zien, een zoektocht naar vrijheid en verandering. In het New Babylon project van Constant gaat hij uit van een alternatieve, volledig geautomatiseerde maatschappij, waarin arbeid overbodig is. In zijn ideeën over deze moderne en vooruitstrevende samenleving is de mens vrij om zich volledig te richten op het ontwikkelen van creatieve ideeën. De spelende mens bepaald zelf het uiterlijk van zijn leefomgeving. In beide levensfases zoekt constant naar zo’n alternatieve levenswijze. Zowel in de cobra beweging als in de New Babylon tijd was Constant opzoek bezig naar een ideologie van ultieme vrijheid en spel.

In beide delen van Constants leven drukt hij een utopie uit, geïnspireerd op wat er op dat moment in de wereld aanwezig was en wat hij daar graag anders aan zou zien.
 

Relatie Constant Nieuwenhuijs en Rem Koolhaas

Zowel Koolhaas als Constant gaat uit van de sociale functie die architectuur te bieden heeft. Het heeft de kracht mensen met elkaar te verbinden doordat ze in een bepaalde ruimte zijn met een bepaalde ambitie, een functie.

Bij Rem Koolhaas zie je duidelijk dat de persoon die zich in zijn architectuur bevindt, een gebouw van hem betreedt, onderdanig is aan zijn ontwerp. Een voorbeeld hiervan is de Nederlandse ambassade in Berlijn.

In dit gebouw is er een deel met een glazen vloer waardoor je bij mensen met een rok of jurk inkijk hebt in het kruis.

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Dit veroorzaakte bijvoorbeeld al een probleem bij de opening van het gebouw. Bij deze opening zou de toenmalige koningin Beatrix aanwezig zijn. Zij draagt altijd een jurk of een mantelpakje.

Het idee dat je onder de rok van de koningin kon kijken als men zich op de etage eronder zou bevinden, zorgde voor een schandaal. Maar dit werd uiteindelijk simpel opgelost door er een loper te leggen voor de opening van de ambassade. Het gebouw heeft ook richtlijnen die je naar bepaalde hoeken en punten dwingen te kijken.

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Rem Koolhaas straalt met deze keuzes een bepaalde brutaliteit uit. Het gebouw wordt een ervaring voor diegene die er binnentreedt en gedwongen is zich aan deze ervaring over te geven. En dat zie ik in ieder ontwerp van Koolhaas. In ieder van zijn gebouwen voel je zijn aanwezigheid sterk. Hij laat het gebouw als een gids aanvoelen die je er heel natuurlijk en toch gedreven doorheen leidt.

Tijdens het onderzoek kwamen we terecht bij een filmpje over het theater wat Rem Koolhaas heeft ontworpen voor Taipei. Het is interessant om te zien hoe hij naar theaters kijkt.
 

 
We zien een duidelijke connectie tussen het Theater in Taipei van Koolhaas en de stedenbouwkundige plannen van Constant. Rem Koolhaas bouwt hier een nieuw gebouw over een reeds bestaand gebouw heen. Het theater wordt over de nachtmarkt heen gebouwd. Hiermee wil Koolhaas twee werelden combineren die beiden ‘s avonds floreren. Hij vertelt in het interview dat in Taipei de mensen laat naar bed gaan. En is het nachtleven dus heel belangrijk. Hij gaat in op hoe mensen zich gedragen, waar ze zijn en waarom. Hij analyseert en onderzoekt ieder detail voor dat zijn ontwerp tot stand komt.

Het idee van een nieuw gebouw over een bestaand gebouw heen bouwen, in plaats van de nachtmarkt te verplaatsen, zoeken zij naar een manier om het oude en nieuwe samen te laten komen, is door Constant geïnspireerd.

Koolhaas slaagt er in allebei om ruimte zo efficiënt mogelijk te gebruiken.

Zo worden verschillende werelden gecombineerd. De code van het combineren houdt Koolhaas ook binnenin het gebouw aan. Hij plaatst de drie ruimtes naar elkaar toe met het podium als centrum. Als publiek zit je om de drie podia heen alsof je in een arena naar sport zit te kijken. Alleen heb je dat als publiek niet door. Iedere tribune wordt als aparte zaal gezien. Per tribune kijk je naar een andere voorstelling, zoals je dat in de klassieke theaters ook hebt. In iedere zaal wordt een andere voorstelling gespeeld. In deze constructie kun je de schotten tussen de drie podia weghalen. Hierdoor creëer je een nieuwe ruimte. Dit geeft een breder perspectief voor het gebruik van deze ruimte. Voor theatermakers is dit een interessant gegeven. Ze hebben nu meer inspraak en keuze in het gebruik van ruimte. Voor andere doeleinden wordt de ruimte nu ook interessant. Koolhaas slaagt er hier in om zoveel mogelijk uit een ruimte te putten. Zodat deze nog functioneler gebruikt wordt.

We hebben het idee dat je in de gebouwen van Koolhaas nooit alleen bent. Hij maakt scheidingen maar toch weet hij de ruimtes niet zo te isoleren dat het afgesloten en op zichzelf bestaat.

Constant en Koolhaas zijn eigenlijk de hele tijd op zoek naar hoe ze mensen met elkaar kunnen verbinden door de functies die architectuur als doel heeft.

text by Eefje Stenfert en Renée Zadelhoff

 

Spaces in Between


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

 
 

Spaces in Between

 

 


Unsorted, disarranged, unorganised library, full of elements placed according to different components, which have an order or perhaps do not have it at all, just existing in an unrestricted randomness. Which ironically speaking could actually be seen as the same thing, since a lack of order is also an order in itself. Chaos with a clear beginning and ending kind of like a bad book. What exactly did I find there…? Big books, small books, orange, white, shiny, mat, hard, soft, precious, forgotten, books that are filled with content, wedding books. Books of a specific nature, books that are about nothing at all, ones that wait for attention and ones nobody cares about. Art books, design, educational, pointless, and sharp and blunt, basically all you can find in a library. I was asked to find a solution for the lack of structure in their position on the shelf. So the primary question that I am asking myself is; what is the point of doing it at all? Of course the obvious reason would be the easy access to the content, otherwise lost in the madness of disorganisation. However, I still struggle to understand why to bother ourselves with creating this specific order, if in the end it is still the same amount of books in the same space? Somehow I think this action is irrelevant, especially if we put so much effort into creating a puzzle that can be made in an infinite amount of ways… according to any system that a specific person would find attractive or interesting (depth weight, etc).

 

    In the name of captivation and curiously-provocative passage, I am trying to crack this system of easy predictable result, which in my opinion is rather obvious to foresee if you limit yourself by the boundary of an actual shelf. Instead of doing that I would rather step out of this radius. The concept that I tried to create is aiming to expand the perspective on how we view the book. What is a book actually? In short, it is a box of content pocket size captured by the single pages glued together, now isn’t that somehow equal to the very idea of a book shelf, in which many different books are aligned in the same way as the pages, however this time at a larger scale of information? Somehow I believe it is possible to see these systems as parallel ones. If a thousand books make a library; then, so to a thousand pages, and further, a book can also be seen as a pocket size bibliotheca.


The establishment of the fact that from now on, one copy can stand on its own, gives me the possibility of putting in on a pedestal and seeing it as something autonomous, in other words, let’s give the books the space that they deserve. There is no reason why they should be kept together in one place since in the end it’s just creating a bigger chaos. Let us treat books as unique objects instead of piling them on top of each other. As absurd as this sounds, to create an order you have to separate everything from each other and never put them back together again.


For my next step, I have chosen ten books from the shelf that I eventually turned into their own autonomous libraries, spread all over the city; one book for one building. I did this by searching for the places that seemed to me as the right environments for the books.  The main question that I had to ask myself, is how do I decide what aspect of the book should be the main criteria for the location, the physicality or the content. Not to leave it too vague, by physicality I mean the literal materiality of the book and where it could fit in the space of a building, so in the end it seems as the space was designed for the book and not reversed. In this case of preciseness, the dilemma of leaving the content out of the picture was not so disturbing anymore. However, after I found the main foundation that would determine the way of approach, I decided to take it further and only use the fore edge  of the books (opposite side to the spine), which presents it as more of an anonymous object rather than a work.


The result of this practice was the creation on ten completely autonomous bibliothecas, in ten different buildings. This created a situation in which a book stopped being a book, but rather a body living in perfect symbiosis with the surrounding environment.

 

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Turbulant Times for Tubular Chairs


Monday, October 19, 2015

In the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum Design Derby exhibition there were two chairs that use a different main shape to catch your eyes and bring them to ‘ their side’ of the show. In both cases, the armrests follow this main shape; the rests of the Dutch chair are symmetrically shaped by an oval, while the rests of the Belgium chair are asymmetrical and sturdy angled.

 

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The Auping fauteuil, 1931 • The Chaise Lounge by Gaston Eysselinck, 1932

 

Despite this difference, the chairs are rather similar because of the chrome-coted construction parts, the use of wood in the armrests, the shared function, and the same exact period in witch these chairs were made (1930′s). Without any background information you could say that these chairs were made by the same enterprise or you can take it the other way around; these designs could have been competing with each other back in the day. This tension field spiked my interest to take a closer look in the history of both designs. Are they that different?

Examinating these chairs further I found that the same Dutch designer movements influenced the choices that were made in both of the designs. Designs meant for modern progressive consumers. These influences include Dudok [x], J.P.Oud [x], Gerrit Rietveld and De Stijl movement [x].

In the 1930′s Auping decided to broaden their horizon and manufacture a line of tubular living room furniture including the Auping fauteuil. At this time, this branch was not important. The designer of the fauteuil was not even linked to the chair itself. Later investigation concludes that the unknown interior designer Ben Reynsdorp is likely to be the designer of this magnificent chair. (jaarverslag 2014 Bojimans.nl [x])

At the same time, at the end of heroic period of the Avant Garde, the young architect Eysselink succeeded in assimilating these influences in a highly personal way. He went after Rietveld and designed his own home in Gent and manufactured fitting and unique furniture;

House_Eusselinck

“In 1932 he designed all the furniture for this house. It is tubular steel furniture [x], of which the stacking chairs and the large recliner are the most interesting. He hoped to manufacture the furniture at a later date, with the name FRATSTA (Fabriek voor RATioneelse STAalmeubelen – Factory for Rational Steel Furniture), an enterprise which in fact proved unsuccessful. Eysselinck is the only architect in Belgium from the period between the wars to produce a ‘collection’ of tubular furniture.”

The latter brings me by another less fortunate similarity found; both chairs were part of lines that initially were not well received in the market and this brought production to an end in both cases. As said, the enterprise of Eysenck went bankrupt after only two years. His unique “machine à habiter” was not mentioned by the media. Auping on the other hand, focused on the improvement of their bedding and the continuing of their existing production lines in the crisis. They did not continue the production of tubular living room furniture as it was not as popular as their beds.

Nowadays Eysselink is seen as one of the great in Modernism. The Chaise Lounge [x] even got a re-edition in the 70′s; a modern and luxurious implementation.

 

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The re-edition of the Chaise Lounge by Gaston Eysselinck, 1970's

 

The Auping chair ultimately got the attention and the designer the credit he deserves. Both chairs flourish at the Holland – Belgium Design Derby Exhibit and defend the honor of their ‘native countries’.

But ‘What differs the Chaise Lounge from the Auping fauteuil?’ you might ask. These chairs can not possibly be from the same designer for one major reason: The Auping fauteuil is not designed by Eysselinck’s ‘Form Follows Function’ regime. The armrests of Auping are used in a more decorative way than Eysselinck would have wanted. This makes that, although these chairs may look very similar, my gut feeling was right and they can be categorized in a whole different way.

 

Tabula Rasa


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

rei-kawakubo copyConstant_Nieuwenhuijs_(1974)

 

1. Rei Kawabuko

 

Rei Kawakubo is a Japanese fashion designer. She first studied fine arts and literature at Keio university but then later thaught herself how to design and started making clothes under the label Comme des Garcons. In 1973 she incorporated it as a company. Soon Comme des Garcons became a label preferred by the Avant-garde. Kawakubo designes clothes with a modus operandi more familiar to conceptual art than to fashion.

 

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Rei Kawakubo
and Yohji Yamamoto,
1983

 

During the 1980s, her garments were primarily in black, dark grey or white but later more colors were added. The materials were often draped around the body and featured frayed, unfinished edges along with holes and a general asymmetrical shapes. Comme des Garcons is often referred as anti-fashion with their austere, deconstructed garments and the focus is more on the three-dimensionality of shapes and not so much on the surface and finish. By all these means Kawakubos designs challenges the traditional notions of beauty in fashion.

 

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Rei Kawabuko,
1997

 

In 1997 the spring/summer collection was an ironic commentary on female vanity and advertisements for cleavage enhancing bras and figure sculpting thights. These designs suggest that the mind no longer need to submit itself to the dictates of conventional notions of beauty, but it is free to find it where it will. Also that beauty may not reside in the places what our culture suggests but more in our own imagination.

 

What is beautiful doesn’t have to be pretty

Rei Kawakubo

 

Working together with other professionals like photographers and architects their approach in fashion is very collective. Kawakubo wants to be involved in all aspects of her business like photography, graphic design etc.

 

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Ensemble
Rai Kawabuko
1997

 

Ensemble is a top and a skirt from collection Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body. It is made of cheesecloth stapled together in layers of pattern sections. The sculptural silhouette and the complex piling reflects Japanese ideas about the garment, which is seen as a construction in space. Here the garment is an autonomous sculptural object and it is no longer dependent on the shape of the human body.

This garment was part of a exhibition in Booijmans museum under a theme: Tabula Rasa. I think Kawakubos design fits quite well to the theme because she has been quite groundbreaking in her field by challenging the traditional idea of beauty in fashion.

 

2. Constant Nieuwenhuys

 

Constant Nieuwenhuys (1920 Amsterdam – 2005 Utrecht), also known as Constant is dutch. He is a painter but he touched other fields such as sculpture, music and, what interests us, theory and architecture.

His brother Jan Nieuwenhuys, who was born a year after him also became
an artist and their paths are closely related as they founded together with Corneille, Asger Jorn, Karel Appel and others the Experimentele Groep in Holland in 1948. It is important to mention that all those people then took part to the CoBrA movement which we all know and which was a period when Constant painted a lot and a lot of beautiful paintings.

 

Constant

Constant Nieuwenhuys
Maskierte Ungehorsamkeit
1948

 

Constant took part to the theorizing of CoBrA. In Wikipedia I found his theory resumed to six points, I translate it here.

 

– Realism is the negation of reality
– Who denies hapiness on Earth denies Art
– No good painting without great pleasure
– Civilization admits the beautiful to excuse the ugly
– The best painting is the one reason cannot admit
– Imagination is the way to know reality

 

After CoBrA, he briefly joined the revolutionary Art movement International Situationist (from 1958 to 1960), led by Guy Debord, between others. Asger Jorn was there as well. This part of his life is really important to understand his work New Babylone.

The International Situationists were influenced by Marxist thinking and wanted to end the class society and the merchandise dictatorship. Their thinking is well explained in the book Society of Spectacle Guy Debord wrote in 1967. Guy Debord is an important character to understand New Babylon because in 1956, he theorizes the Derive in his text La theorie de la derive.

 

One or several people experiencing the Derive are renouncing, for a laps of time more or less important, to the reasons to move and to act they generally know…

– Guy Debord, Theorie de la derive, 1956

 

societeduspectacle

Image used for the cover of one of
Society of Spectacle editions

 

New Babylone was supposed to be called Deriville. It is a utopian city in which the defaults of capitalism (and of society of spectacle) does not exist anymore. In this sens, it fits very well in the Tabula Rasa theme.

 

imageproxyboijmans

Constant NieuwenhuysNew Babylone
1966

 

3. Tabula Rasa

 

Even though the history and works of Constant and Kawakubo aren’t similar, they work in different fields, different puposes and connections are hard to find, we see that in those both particular works, some interesting aspects can be joined.

 

The first aspect is the use of architecture thinking for works that are not only architectural. Kawakubo, in Ensemble, thinks the garment as a construction in space, which means that she works with the object but also with the void it creates. Ensemble is a garment created using architecture.

Constant tries to build an utopian city, he has no choice but using architecture (he also made some beautiful models of New Baby- lone). The sketch we are talking about can also be seen as a piece of Art because the city was never built, it was only a big project that, I think, even Constant himself did not think he would see become real. New Babylon is a piece of Art using architecture.

 

The second aspect is related to the idea of Tabula Rasa. As we saw, Constant relation to it is quite obvious, he wants to built a new city for a new kind of human. In other words start everything again.

Kawakubo, in her garment, tries to challenge our traditionnal idea of beauty and to find new aesthetic values. We saw in Ensemble that the garment becomes autonomous from the body form an can be seen as a sculpture too.

 

 


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

SLOTHOUBER AND GRAATSMA

jan et willliam

Jan Slothouber is a Dutch architect and designer who often teamed up with his colleague William Graatsma who had the same background. We could also call them artists… Indeed, their status isn’t so clear. They both have been trained as architects working for the DSM (Dutch State Mines) in which they had the kind of privileged position to be very free in their buildings and creations. This way they could develop their interest : cubic constructions.
Considering the art movement of the time (i.e Cobra) as too elitist,they were much more interested to work with CUBE a simple, basic and humble shape, easy to reach for everybody. Also, working with such a basic and geometrical shape opens a lot of possibility and a much bigger diversity of work than an already complicated shape, usable only in a certain context.

According to this view on the Art Scene, they liked also to qualify themselves as « anonymous » and to work around social issues. But, they became famous when the Stedelijk Museum asked them to do an exhibition called Four Sides: Size, Shape, Colour, Letter (Vier Kanten: maat, vorm, kleur, letter). From this exhibition started a big enthusiasm around them, including lots of exhibitions and presentations, such as the Venice Biennial from 1970. [x]

Slothouber-Graatsma_vierkantenSlothouber-Graatsma_vierkanten2

Starting this period they built the Centre for Cubic Constructions (CCC) for which they are very famous. But a few years later, when they’ve been asked to design stamps in favor of children charity, and they used their now famous style to give those stamps value, a lot of people were very skeptic regarding this choice : Slothouber and Graatsma were indeed judged too « avant grade » not accessible enough for the average people. Which is exactly for what they were fighting against.

 

RICHARD ARTSCHWAGER

artschwager

Richard Artschwager is an American sculptor and painter. He Studied Science and Mathematics. After studying he worked as a cabinet-maker. He got to be pretty successful with his furniture untill his studio and all his contents was destroyed by a fire in 1958. After this he started to work more as an artist, this was in the time that abstract expressionism influenced the arts.[x]

After the 60’s his work is mostly pop- minimal- and conceptual art.
His work had a dichotomy between painting and sculpture, abstraction and representation, industrial manufacture and hand craftsmanship. The works are on one side sculptures and on the other hand pictures of objects. His craftsmanship for making furniture enabled him to make artworks with an identity and function that brings subject materiality, form and space into a balanced combination. Artschwager experimented with basic forms and materials, for example in his work Handle (1962), a handrail shaped in to a frame. The work is simultaneously pictorial and sculptural. Via an utilitarian and aesthetic approach he creates works that emphasize space.

In 1963 Artschwager starts to work with Formica, a new material, synthetic laminate, which was used a lot in furniture making because it was cheap and resilience. Artschwager: “It was Formica which touched it off. Formica, the great ugly material. the horror of the age, which i came to like suddenly because i was sick of looking at all this beautiful wood.” For Artschwager the Formica is a picture of a piece of wood. If you take that and make something out of it, than you have an object. But its a picture of something at the same time, its an object. By covering box-shaped plates with Formica in different colours and textures he creates a composition of domestic objects. In this way he pushes a painting in to three dimensions. mirror/mirror – table/table (1964) and later on triptych II (1967)

table 1964

mirror-mirror-table-table-1964_800 Table and Chair 1963-4 by Richard Artschwager 1923 - 2013

 

SCALE

This research is about the differences between art and design, we compare an artist and a design couple that both had their artworks in the exhibition ‘Setting the Scene’ at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum. Both of our artists/designers shared the room themed by scale. To which extent is this the right theme to connect them to?

Scaling down is used in architecture to present large designs for building projects in a manageable format, as a floor plan or a scale model. Design and art also use scale models as way of crystallizing and communicating ideas and research. They can be used to experiment freely with form, scale, material, and details – after all a model does not always have to have a ratio of one to one in the real world.

Scaling up or down need not always be a practical solution; it may be and end in itself. A functional object can be made dysfunctional by enlarging it, reducing it or making it from unconventional material. Deviating from the human scale changes an object’s relationship with the human body. And if you enlarge a recognizable pattern far enough it transforms into an abstract structure of its own accord. The surrounding space is also a factor: you see things fundamentally differently when you see them from a distance or stand very close to the object. Scale changes one’s view of things.

 

CONNECTION WITH SCALE

We think that in Artschwagers work scale isn’t a central point. The alienating effect of modifying scale, is something that Arschwager achieves via material and playing with assumptions. The way he works is different but the result has similar aspects. The work in the exhibition, Counter III, is probably the only work that has a different proportion, but we think his works more relate to form and space. A form that is recognizable for his works is the cube, which is a central shape as well in the works of Slothouwer en Graatsma, our artists relate more in form than in scale. Indeed they’re using the cube for its simplicity and thus the diversity of composition it offers. Slothouber and Graatsma are then able to play endlessly with scale. The cube can be the piece in itself, as well as an essential element (like an atom) to build a bigger form not necessarily with a cube shape. The cube can be the final object or the substance of the object.
genicapart-inspirations-07

grid

SlothouberGraatsma

There is a clear difference shown between art and design that also matches the common view on this distinction, the works of the artist are not for use even though they look like in first sight, the works of the designer are based on shapes that are not immidiatly recognisble as domestic objects.

 

 

architectural rendering: about


Saturday, May 16, 2015

 

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read it all on ISSUU

center expansion


Friday, May 15, 2015

i was interested in the term “meta-modernism” that i had been reading about, so when we got this assignment i decided that i wanted to focus on that topic.
i found an artist named Jonas Staal that works in a meta-modernistic way.
before my meeting with Jonas i made some research about his work, and when we met we went straight into discussing his works.
he had one work about a new prison model, a thesis by the leader of the Freedom Party MP, Fleur Agema.
(book is called Art, Property of Politics III: Closed Architecture if you want to read more. you can download the publication with this : link)

this publication became a starting point for me, as i was inspired to change/improve/alternative solution of an existing structure.
i decided that i wanted to “minimize” the gap between the suburbs and the city center, a topic that have been very discussed in Swedish media lately.
to enter this topic, I felt that starting with something I already know would be a good starting point. to this took me back to Sweden, mainly in Gothenburg.
i tried to find out what have been done/tried to be done, to “solve” it.
there were a lot of different approaches.
i am going to mention some of them briefly:

-       back in 1985ties if you were a Swedish citizen and moved to the suburbs, you got 15% of your rent.
-       some apartment buildings had rules, that X apartment is only for Swedish citizens, in apartment Y you can only live if you are a non-Swedish citizen, and in apartment Z you can only live if you are over 50.
-       a large number of high schools have been built outside the city center, to send people outside of the center.
-       building large shopping-malls with a number of exclusive stores that can not be found anywhere else in Gothenburg.
-       building villa-neighborhoods and schools for kids age 6-12.

with this knowledge in my mind, I started sketching up a city plan, as you can see below.
citylayout

 

hus5

 

my idea behind this plan is based on what have been tried before. but how come those plans did not work?
why do I go out of the city center?
with these questions in my mind, i decided to make a construction plan where student housing/cheap housing, is built around a galleria with some exclusive stores.
when i leave the center it is because i am going to visit someone or if i need to go to a specific place to buy something.
the area i decided was a place where it was possible to make fast collective traffic and effective bike lanes into the center and out to the neighborhood.
instead of creating a new area, how can i expand the already existing center?
here are some try-outs where i try to add to already existing buildings:

 

hustry12345SvampHus

 

designhusgrej

 

HusRiktigtExampel_1100

 

with the try outs above, i tried to use the space that would not take up space on the ground but still expand the construction of the building.
in the last picture, i was trying to work with two buildings and a piece to connect them, that made made me think of Tetris, and my work took another direction.
into something you can always keep adding as long as you have the right pieces.

 

tetris3   tetris5

 

tetris4

 

TetrisIRL TetrisIRL3

 

The Egg – Perfectly Laid


Saturday, March 28, 2015

 5695915-retro-arne-jacobsen

It’s always hard describing a well known person, a song, movie image, object, etc. In my case it’s a chair. Not only any chair, but Arne Jacobsen’s famous, or should I say infamous Egg chair. So, to get the formalities over with, I will start with some less elaborate reading about Jacobsen’s history.

Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971), was a Danish architect and designer. Jacobsen graduated from the Danish Royal Academy of Architecture in 1927, where he later became professor in 1956. After graduating, Jacobsen quickly became a worldly name. He is internationally best known for his iconic chair design; Seven, the Ant, the Swan, and the Egg.

Jacobsen is one of the few who have enrolled in both design and architectural history. His breakthrough as an architect came in 1929, with the winning proposal for a competition, House of the Future. The proposal, which was realized temporarily in connection with a large housing exhibition represented the then 27- year-old Arne Jacobsen along with fellow student Flemming Lassen. As an architect, Arne Jacobsen was truly an interpreter of functionalism, with its rigid geometric lines, and white surfaces. Even though the rigidness and sharp lines remain in Jacobsen’s architecture, he breaks with it in his furniture design, especially with the Egg and the Swan. It is this integration of architecture and design, also known as Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art, ideal work of art, universal artwork etc) that reveals Jacobsen’s best abilities.[x]

 

How can design say something about you?

 

fec458a966f1dbc9bf6f4772f4fa96e7
10 Crosby Fall 12 By Derek Lam

So what is it about that Egg, why has it won so many people over, what is so alluring, so irresistible that people are even willing to spend thousands of euros, or in other cases willing to buy fakes, just for the sake of owning a Jacobsen? Is there at all any difference between a fake and a real chair, does it even matter, and is it perhaps not about authenticity, but instead about the design, the look?

When someone says that the dog looks like its owner, is it because the owner chooses a dog that mirrors some of the owner’s properties. Here I guess we can transfer the example on our personal choices of design, because we often choose designed products from our own personality. Thus the objects we buy, become a kind of extension or doubling of ourselves. Often it happens unconsciously, but we can also choose to “brand” ourselves, that is, create a specific idea about ourselves to others, by choosing a particular clothing style, listen to a certain type of music and buy products that support the impression we want to give of ourselves.

If you invest in expensive design, and designer ”stuff”, it’s obvious you want to portray yourself in a certain way. But what about originality ? If someone chooses to invest in an original Egg chair, and bought it in good conscience, but it turns out it’s a fake, without the buyer knowing it. Would the value still remain the same because the conviction of belief still is intact ? Here I would argue that it is.

I recently read an article in the danish news paper Politiken, about a man, Henrik Buus Nielsen, who purchased two copy’s of Arne Jacobsen’s the Swan chair through the English dealer Voga.com.

I could well buy the classics in the ‘real’ issues, but ‘why pay 30,000 Kr, when you can make do with 7,000‘, he asks. And since the money still does not go to the designer, but the producers, he can not see a problem in buying replica furniture.

 I think Henrik Buus Nielsen makes a good point in the sense that the money doesn’t go to the designer, but to the producers. In this way he argues that the ”original” Egg or Swan chairs being produced today, in a way also are ”fake”!? So perhaps originality doesn’t play as big a role any more, and if so what is it about?

 

The Design

 

eggs

My first encounter with the Egg chair, was on an eighth grade school visit to the famous Royal SAS hotel [x] in Copenhagen. I remember starring at the chair, and feeling quite apprehensive about sitting in it, it was almost to ”valuable” in a way. It reminding me of the first time a saw a baby chicken hatch. The Idea of protection, and openness at the same time, was quite intriguing. The Egg is crafted as one piece, and in doing so, it gives the impressions of shelter, it kind of holds you, almost like a hug.The form of the chair is recognizable, you have seen it before. But there is something about the shape, the eye never becomes sated by, and you constantly see new lines and new forms. I Recently went to visit the SAS hotel again [x], and it’s quite remarkable that the Egg chairs in the lobby feel ever as contemporary as they did 10 years ago. Personally one could argue that the modernist building style and architecture, hugely inspired by the functionalists, in some cases doesn’t always work in the interior design, but in this case it really does. The round curves of the chairs, oppose the straight and linear constraints of the building, which together dance quite elegantly. While I was in the lobby I began to think about Henrik Buus Nielsen, and his fake chairs, and what if these chairs in the lobby indeed also were fakes. Firstly I don’t think anyone would noticed, or ever question their authenticity, after all they are in an original Arne Jacobsen building inside and out. And honestly I don’t think it would bother me that much if they were. In this case the design overshadows the fake, or real of it all. Stores have copied quality design for ages, but I think it’s first during the last couple of years, that it has become more accepted to own or buy fake designer goods. The tendency is all but increasing. People want good design, but for a cheaper price, and like Henrik Buus Nielsen said: ‘why pay 30,000 Kr, when you can make do with 7,000.’ Originality can always be discussed to a certain extent, and probably a question that is going to be asked more and more frequently, but good design can never be discarded. For me that is the main essence with the Egg, having a design that no matter how many years go by, and how many replicas there are produced, still prevails. And that is what Arne Jacobsen’s Egg represents. It embodies all aspects and criteria of good design, a universal design, and like the hatching of an egg, Arne Jacobsen’s chair will remain, it really is perfectly laid.


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