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"architecture" Category


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.

 

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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.
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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?

 

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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.

‘The Mosquito’


Friday, March 27, 2015

I am sitting behind a table, in my parents house, on a familiar, comfortable chair. I am used to this seat and it has been around for as long as I can remember. My grandmother got a set of four teak wooden chairs with a matching table as a wedding gift in the late fifties.  I have seen them in two different states throughout my life. My mother was given the set when she was about twenty years old. Feeling that the natural teak wood colour was outdated and ugly she decided to paint the chairs red. The table was not present until recently.

About a year ago my mom started to regret her decision to paint the chairs, and had them brought back to their original state. After my parents moved to a new house the chairs and table were placed in their newly furnished home, where they stand in full glory. Ever since then I keep admiring them more

 

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two generations sitting at the dinner table

 

The Danish designer/architect Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) introduced the munkegaard chair – also known as the mosquito – in 1955, in the Munkegaard school located in Gentofte, north of Copenhagen. The school is considered one of his most important architectural works, within which he designed everything from the light fixtures to the sinks [x]. The chair that belonged to it became an absolute classic. Because of the setting that the chairs were made for, the design is highly functional. They are very easy to stack, which is perfect in places where you have to deal with limited space. They are extremely durable and comfortable at the same time. The part on which your back rests follows the natural shape of your spine. The seat of the chair is made out of pressure moulded sliced veneer. The bases are made of chrome steel tubes. The thin wood is strong but flexible. If you lean backwards, the wood moves slightly with you. The chairs are more than just convenient though. The elegant objects have an inviting look. They are unique in their simplicity with an understated aesthetic quality, which makes them so brilliant. They will complement any decor or surrounding, and bring an edge to any interior. Having only been produced from 1955 until the late sixties (and for a short amount of time in the nineties), they are now back in production again. When you pay attention they appear everywhere. When I was on a holiday in Denmark, I noticed that the chair was used in many different places, from office spaces, to cafeterias, and from the fancy to the less fancy places. Everyone seems to appreciate them. See here a website made especially for the chair.

 

Munkegaard schoolThe mosquito chair

Munkegaard School                             The Mosquito Chair, Teakwood

 

Jacobsen plays an enormous part in the image we have of danish design, and maybe even design in general. Traces of his work are found worldwide, even now still, thirty years after his death. Jacobsen was a man of extraordinary vision, strong ideals and in his time was considered true avant-garde. He is not considered intellectual or analytical in a traditional sense. Jacobsen was a producer; even when he was not working he worked nonetheless. Relaxation for him meant a shift in the creative realm. His output therefore was enormous. As a designer he strongly believed in the ‘form follows function’ motto. Jacobsen was inspired by the works of Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, which is explicitly visible in his own early works. He was also inspired by the furniture of Ray and Charles Eames who worked a lot with bent plywood. Even though Jacobsen is most famous as a designer he never called himself as such, and it is said he had a strong dislike towards the word. A lot of his designs were created in the context of the architectural buildings that they would be placed in.

I see Jacobsen as a visionary, as he played a huge part in designing the environment we live our daily lives in. From architectural masterpieces to simple things we use everyday, Jacobsen surrounds us. He makes things exactly the way I like them. His designs are the perfect formula of functionality, durability, and aesthetics. They are modern simplicity: all that it needs to be and nothing more. His mosquito chair will remain a timeless object that people will appreciate for ever. As for the chairs in my parents house, they are probably not originals, since the design is one of the most copied in the world. Nonetheless I am happy that I have grown up acquainted with such a beautiful piece of design.

MODEL SCULPTURE & DRAGONS


Sunday, January 11, 2015

A model is initially an object whose purpose is either to represent the real world or to be translated into the real world, in short the model can be a copy of reality or reality a copy of the model. The main difference is in terms of scale. Usually the model is a miniature of reality. But what more can it be? When we look at a toy car and a car, what do we see? Is the toy car just a replica of the car in a tiny scale? It is hard to analyze such a thing but I think that there is a huge difference triggered by (but not exclusively) the change of scale. When the toy car is made, it has no longer the same purpose as the car does. A child playing with it might as well imagine it just as real as the car and drive it around with his fingers, or see it in a whole new world, making it fly away, fist-fight and dance Rock n’ Roll. The new scale for things sometimes creates a new meaning for them above representation, a new reality even if they are seemingly the same object in different sizes.

model

sketch model of van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam by Gerrit Rietveld [object: SM]

In 1963-1964, the furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) designs the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum. In 1964 the architect dies before the project is finished. The building is completed by his partners  J. Van Dillen and J. Van Tricht, and the construction was concluded in 1973. The model exposed in the design collection of the Stedelijk was produced by Gerrit Rietveld in those first two years. It is a sketchy model made of wood, paper, cardboard and glass. The final building is close but does not respect this concept, with a unified color of brick and very little white (from front).
I present this piece for multiple reasons. First, because in my personal taste, I prefer this version from the finished one. Rich in contrast between black and white rectangles overlapping each other, the building has the balanced complexity of the Rietveld style although the shapes which compose it stay simple and limited (only colors: white, black and blue) which gives sobriety to the building. When we look at the final museum’s front view, the unity in brick color makes the building lose its striking composition at first sight, for the overlapping rectangles melt into each other. The second reason why I chose this model is because of the way it was made, without any connection to the building itself. I see in between the other models of the museum [x], well built, detailed and clean; something of a stain. On a dirty piece of wood on which we can see quick pencil sketches for the display, an irregular, clumsy, and worn little building is erected. The colors are simply indicated by a rapid and un-precise use of color pencils ( blue and black). The materials used are cheap, and if we try we might not even find one horizontal or vertical line. And yet it is beautiful, marrying complexity and simplicity in form and color, with a rich diversity of cheap materials. Its cheapness gives it a poetic and rough authentic aspect, we see that it was handmade.

collage-model

 

 

James Castle

This may remind us of James Castle’s sown cardboard sculptures, which are made of scrap which gives them strength, or Bill Traylor’s choice (and no choice) of using cheap surfaces like cardboard for his paintings.

Bill Traylor blue man with suitcase                                                               James Castle

 

 

The model is in addition to this, very close to the final version. That sketchy but precise model shows the talent of Gerrit Rietveld as an architect, like the lines of a great draftsman. Its clumsiness along with the use of paper, lightly put together and slight curved, gives a feeling of fragility and tenderness which contrasts with the strongly built shapes of Rietveld’s buildings or the roughness of the materials.
I love this model because –to me– it is not a model anymore but a sculpture that contrasts with what we usually see, giving a new idea of his work and of what a model can be, even though it was not intended to become a piece of art. A model can be seen in ways that exceed its limits as a technical object.

A perfect embodiment of this idea is seen in the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice. The movie takes place in a small town and specifically in a house on top of a hill overlooking the town. In the opening scene (link here and here for the end with spider) a fake areal shot of the town is taken on a model of the town one of the main characters has built. We are tricked into believing that we are flying over a forest to finally overlook the whole town, then fly over and across it all the way to the house on top of the hill. Although it is possible to see that the scene is really shot on a model, the illusion is strong, and we are astonished to see a real spider (this time) which seems to be the size of a hippo, climb over the roof and be picked up by a real (gigantic) hand. What this illusion does is it gives life to the model, it gives it a new reality, and this is proved later on in the movie when we discover that the model has an “inhabitant”. When the protagonists are changed to the scale of the model, (in this scene) they come to its graveyard to dig up the main antagonist, Beetlejuice. In this case, the change of scale from real world to model is more than representation, the real world and the model are entangled, mingled into each other, whilst the two are different, the real world and the new world of the model. The model can open a whole new world for our imagination to create, a transcendental realm full of fire, wonder, and dragons.

Who is Gherpe? About Superarchitecture and corruption by conventions


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Gherpe – a lamp designed by Superstudio
Gherpe
 (via:http://www.nova68.com/gherpelamp.html)

I think the Gherpe lamp is a relevant design because of several reasons. First of all, the lamp itself is made of materials that are still considered modern, even though it was designed more then forty years ago. That alone already shows how we still hang on to, or maybe are condemned to these materials nowadays. Next to that is the design, which references to the mathematics that appear in Nautilus shells. Then again the way this shape is interpreted is more like a cartoon of it, leaving the classical Nautilus image behind. This way of designing, letting interests and research – the designer was into marine biology – influence the work is something I think many designers work like, or would like to work like. Last reason why I think this is a relevant piece is because I think the whole of Superstudio, their designs and mainly their architecture is, because of their new views and extensive researches, relevant. They were part of a critical wave, commenting on Florence and it’s ancient heritage, on the years of full trust in technology and on architects before them. They wanted designers to be responsible for their creations when they design to make a better world. Their criticality on how design and architecture influences the life of other people and self-reflectiveness is what made them different from many before them. This idealism in theories, but with playfulness towards the designing process itself is to my opinion something important to keep relevant in art and design.

gherpe_01


(via:http://photografieundmehr.com/pics/2012-11/gherpe_01.jpg)

Nautilus-OS

Nautilus shell

(via: http://www.hungrywalrus.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Nautilus-POS.jpg)

To test it’s relevance I’ m trying to get to know what Gherpe is, what it is not and what it could be, what it means to Superstudio and what it means to me.

At a time where popular culture is stealing all the science and logic that Modernism employed to make this world better, with youngsters starting to call themselves Mod.’s, Pop Art commenting on this Modernist reality and society by reproducing imagery from that popular culture, Gherpe is born. It’s designed by Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, and adopted by Superstudio, the Italian architecture group where Toraldo is the most important member of, together with Adolfo Natalini, who is a Pop Art painter when they found the group in 1966.

 

big_374062_2176_giulia_superstudio3

Alessandro Magris, Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, Piero Frassinelli, Roberto Magris, Adolfo Natalini
(via:http://www.domusweb.it/content/dam/domusweb/en/from-the-archive/2012/02/11/superstudio-projects-and-thoughts/big_374062_2176_giulia_superstudio3.jpg)

 

Where Modernism, in its affirmation of the human power to improve their environment the aid of practical experimentation and science, goes for logic, Gherpe pretty much mocks Modernism, by taking it’s science and it’s new materials to make something that is not in any way useful other than it’s aesthetical purpose. Gherpe is not practical, and it’s not helpful. But Gherpe’s cartoon like ambiguity looks fun, you want to have it, it looks smart even though it isn’t, and that’s exactly in line with popular culture of that day. Gherpes connection with nature is meaningless, but very important for it’s attractiveness. You could say it’s a beauty trick. The interest of Superstudio in nature combined with construction is to be traced back to one of their guides in the Academy of Architecture in Florence, which most members of Superstudio were attending. His name was Leonardo Savioli. As Adolfo Natalini says about Savioli: “Even when the drawings looked like traces of insects or explosions, galaxies, spiderwebs or wounds, they were always able to resemble parts of constructions or something constructable”.

 

Savioli_plateXVIII

Plate XVIII, a drawing by Savioli

(via:www.etsavega.net/dibex/Savioli_citta-e.htm)

 

The fact that Gherpe’s reference to nature doesn’t have any symbolism or engagement in it, already shows what things it really has to do with, things like freedom. Gherpe is free from the morals that come with modernism: Superstudio didn’t think architecture could change the world for the better. Gherpe is the joyous realization that the burden of creating something that will add to create paradise on earth is not possible.

Gherpe was in the Superarchitettura show. This was a show combining two groups. The Superstudio and Archizoom, both from Florence and mainly from the same architecture school. The show took place right after a flood had swallowed a chunk of Florence’s renaissance beauty, at a time where others mourned renaissance architectures birthplace the Superstudio show was a psychedelic experience work that purposely lacked engagement and put consumerism on a pedestal. Their ideal: morals were irrelevant to architecture, and so you should not aim to change the world with it either. So there is a different approach: “Superarchittettura accepts the logic of production and consumption, it utilizes it in an attempt at demystification” and  “Superarchitecture is the architecture of superproduction, of superconsumption, of superinduction of superconsumption, of the supermarket, of the superman, of the super gasoline”.

gherpe-archivio2

Toraldo and Gherpe, and Passiflora
(via:http://www.centrostudipoltronova.it/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/gherpe-archivio2.jpg)

Seeing Gherpe from the eye of the Superarchitecture that it is, means not that Gherpe was meant for a world better than ours, but for the world as it was in 1967, where consumption and production were exploding. You could say, Gherpe is super itself. A lamp fitting for all these phenomena that felt relevant for the younger generation at this time. Instead of denying these phenomena, or wanting to change them, Superstudio designed something that fit in. It might even accelerate superconsumption, be meant for that purpose. In this perspective Gherpe is in a way a neo-futuristic piece, a monument for the speed and mass of its time. You could also see Gherpe as an, perhaps slightly melancholic, attempt at creating something, something touchable and real out of all the superlatives that together form the ungraspable frightening dystopia that was (and is) everyday life. And maybe that this is the reason we enjoy it, because Gherpe is then our comfort, a sign that from superproduction and superconsumption something appreciable can materialize.

superarchitettura-3

Image of Superarchittettura show
(via:http://www.stylepark.com/en/news/a-landscape-of-mountains-and-valleys-the-design-parade-03-in-hyeres/283330)

Gherpe shows Superstudio’s double nature: it’s serious, socially critical but can also be ironic.  When Superstudio presents an utopian, or dystopian design we can never accept it at face value. When they design a utopia, they explore every possibility into the extreme, and so exploration of the architecture itself is it’s aim. Instead of presenting the possible solutions it tells the stories of the decisions of mankind, the ones it made and might make. A very serious and melancholic subject, reflecting their serious opinions (Adolfo Natalini: “the race of consumerism is definitely wrong”) but enabling playful and smart experimentations.

As Gherpe is an early Superstudio piece, Gherpe is also an early exploration which, as we can see in the Stedelijk, ended in a lamp. As Superstudio kept exploring their ideas became more and more critical of architecture and design, which made their projects end up way less often in actual designs and realizable architecture. Instead they expressed their ideas in movies, models and collages.

According to Superstudio architecture was corrupted to such an extent that even the avant-garde architect was guilty of suppressing human development, since he made use of existing conventions in architecture. An interesting idea, which suggests human development can come from no other place than out of the blue. Where one can ask the question what human development actually is, but let’s get back to Superstudio. They saw reason as the only quality that’s uncorrupted by these conventions. This makes it’s easy to see why they step farther away from architecture and design, as they are easily seen as complete and valid evidence of manifestos or ideas, rather than generally questioning and alienating. That doesn’t mean Superstudio didn’t make anything at all anymore, as you might expect.

Instead they found ways to visualize what architecture could be, without designing from conventions. Something that wasn’t really architecture. For the exhibition “ Italy: The New Domestic Landscape”  in the MOMA Superstudio made an 8 x 8 black square on the floor, and made it repeat itself in an endless grid by placing mirrors at the walls. They put a box with wires on each corner, making the plugs recur regularly in this “landscape” [x]. It wasn’t the first time they worked with this black grid [x], but it was the first time architecture and design was so completely dismissed that it was actually left out at all. Even though this seems like the ultimate conclusion, there’s more to the ever expanding black grid. In the Continuous Monument, a glass grid-like structure that spans all over the world, visualized in absurd collages [x] where it embraces Manhattan or faces the Taj Mahal, the irony, social critic and dystopia remains: a homogenous unrealizable blank space, but also a space where we can project our own ideas on of what it really is. Our ideas, full of conventions and corruption.

521d003de8e44effd40000a8_environments-and-counter-environments-italy-the-new-domestic-landscape-moma-1972-exhibition_5-528x362

Grid in the Moma: View of Supersurface: An Alternate Model of Life on Earth, by Superstudio, in Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, MoMA, 1972. Photo: Copyright Cristiano Toraldo di Francia.

(via: http://www.archdaily.com/421040/environments-and-counter-environments-italy-the-new-domestic-landscape-moma-1972-exhibition/)

As you understand now, Gherpe too is a piece of corruption. A mash up of conventions and brainwashing, which will, as you look at it, only corrupt and brainwash you more. Which is very true in the sense that, the more you know, the more you are stuck in the things that already are. Whether that really suppresses the development of humanity is questionable. I personally am less negative about the influences of the past and the conventions we get taught. But the fact that Superstudio deals so productively with their frustrations over a system is something everyone, defenitely every art student, can be inspired by.

Over thinking and commenting on how design works is something I find fundamentally important, as I think this self reflection is what can bring us to new insights. Insights that can be reflected on again later, a continuous process I’d say would be human development rather than corruption. But, if you are reading this, and you do happen to find yourself having been corrupted by looking at Gherpe and reading about it, then at least we can be sure about it’s relevance for the (design) world today.

 

2701091233096716superstudio_monument_1_kl

The Continuous Monument, one of the many collages.

(via: http://www.spaceinvading.com/bookmarklet/Images/2701091233096716superstudio_monument_1_kl.jpg)

Stedelijk Design Show 2015 /Relevant Highlights


Monday, December 1, 2014

 

16 Rietveld Basic Year students visited the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum to examine the items in the permanent survey of the design collection.

Does the Stedelijk exhibit all these design items simply because they are in their depot.

Do the collection criteria still have any significance today.

Do these design items have any relevance for us, our life or work,now? Is it possible to make a clear statement about that.

If you click on the image a caption will appear –just as a in a real museum– presenting information and a personal reflection on why that item is considered relevant. You can review the whole exhibition in pop-up mode.

 

click on images to visit the exhibit

Gijs_Bakker_Waterman_2_Cropped

modelWieke_stool_SM

PatrickJouinWelcome-To-The-StoreBeowatch_SM2

tafel-stoelunfolded

DSC_0321 Schuitema_300

superstudio_gherpe_flippedVaclavCigler_headband

cow-chair_flipped Paulina_glass

 

My Sofa Journey


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Larssofa_0

What happens if you could take a nap when and wherever you want? Forrest Jessee designed the sleep suit(1), that makes it possible to sleep in your own cocoon, at work, school or at the streets. I wanted to challenge the idea of Jessee. So I went to the streets to experience it, not with clothing… but with a simple sofa.

 

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(1)

 

The sleep suit of Jessee immediately got my attention when I visited the exhibition “The future of fashion is now”. The shape in combination with the material its made of, creates an architectural form. It looks as a personal space, because of the thickness of the primary material, EVA foam, which is also used for padding and shock absorption in sports equipment. Usual fashion, in my opinion, is meant as a kind of jewelry for the body. Fashion, in common, plays with the form of the body, and is meant to be decoration. In this design the form of the body is almost not visual anymore. It adds something to the body, where it almost becomes a second body part. That in combination, with the daily environment, creates very interesting images (2,3).

 

Desk_675 (1)(2)

Steps_675 (1)(3)

 

The part where this piece is playing with his environment is the part that I wanted to experience by myself. I just moved to my new home in the centre of Amsterdam, as I found my new sofa in the streets of Amsterdam South. So I walked 5,2 km to my home with it. I had to take a lot of breaks, and interesting things happened that for me related to the ‘Sleep Suite’ of Jessee.

What I wanted to experience, is the interaction with me laying/relaxing/sitting/jumping at my sofa and the busy city life. A lot things happened on my way so…

I want you to share my ‘Sofa Journey’.

 

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Larssofa_10(10)

Larssofa_11(11)

Larssofa_12(12)

Larssofa_13(13)

Larssofa_14(14)

Larssofa_15(15)

Larssofa_16(16)

Larssofa_17(17)

Larssofa_18(18)

Larssofa_19(19)

Larssofa_20(20)

Larssofa_21(21)

Larssofa_22(22)

Larssofa_23(23)

Larssofa_24(24)

Larssofa_25(25)

Larssofa_26(26)

Larssofa_27(27)

Larssofa_28(28)

 

 

After 4,5 hours

Larssofa_29(29)

 

The experiences I’ve had this journey, I would never had without the sofa. The sofa became a medium to communicate with buildings, animals, trams and people. In the pictures I tried to play with the environment. For example, I saw a lot of buildings which had the same stripes above their windows as the stripes from the couch. I could involve in that way the couch with his surrounding(11,12). Also the stripes of the zebra path were interesting to combine with the sofa(14). The garbage that I found at the streets I also used to create a fake ‘living room atmosphere’, with the television, couch and ventilator(13).

Also the opposite situations were very interesting. Where the sofa was not palpitating the surrounding. A good example of it, is the picture where people looking strange at me sitting at my couch.(16) In the rest of the pictures there is also a lot of ‘miscommunication’ between me, relaxing at my sofa and the busy background. I enjoyed the journey a lot with me and my sofa, which is now settled in my appartement. It will always remember me of this day.


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