Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 40

1358 April 2010 Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects / Markus Scherer and Walter Dietl / Kengo Kuma / OAB Carlos


1358 April 2010 £9 / €17 / US$25 www.arplus.com

Herzog & de Meuron’s new playhouse for Vitra
A glorious mud library in Timbuktu by DHK
CAA Student Competition winners unveiled
VIEW/America’s most expensive development /
Bulgarian culture shock /A new platz for Berlin?
Volume CCXXVIi
076 Fast + Epp
 A look at the world’s longest glulam
wood/steel arches, at the Richmond
Olympic Oval skating venue in Canada

041 Map

080 The Casbah in context: Algiers’
historic neighbourhood and
042 World Heritage site now faces
Herzog & de Meuron overcrowding and ruin
VitraHaus, Weil am Rhein, Germany
Cover Fourth-floor plan, VitraHaus

022 SANAA’s sculptured, stoic

050 124
DHK Architects, 086 CAA international Student
Swiss university building opens Twothink Architecture Design Competition
Ahmed Baba Centre, Timbuktu, Mali  The five winning entries from

025 Architects from the Commonwealth a worldwide contest to design a
debate sustainability at the CAA memorial for a significant event
conference in Sri Lanka 056
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
026 Johan Celsing’s crematorium for Jovanovich House, Los Angeles, USA

Stockholm’s Woodland Cemetery

029 The vast MGM development in Las 060 090 Djenné, the city of mud; history
Vegas sets a new trend for urbanism Kengo Kuma & Associates and subversion at an exhibition
Nezu Museum, Tokyo, Japan of quilts; the creative condition

033 Buildings emerge as the stars of the of Japan; Horace Walpole’s
show at London Fashion Week Strawberry Hill at the V&A
035 Bulgaria considers a contemporary Markus Scherer, Walter Dietl
art space for its capital, Sofia Il Forte di Fortezza, Fortezza, Italy

037 Zvi Hecker proposes a public

‘reunification’ square for Berlin 072 128
Office of Architecture in Barcelona
098 Delight
Antony Gormley colonises the
038 AR House, a new £10,000 award for Azahar Group headquarters, Geometric Staircase at St Paul’s with
the design of the best one-off house Castellón, Spain a sculpture exploring art and faith

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Contents 003

Let bold
Good architecture cannot flourish
without enlightened patronage, which
must make Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman

patronage of furniture company Vitra, some

kind of patronage patron saint, the
Medici of Weil am Rhein. Fehlbaum

flourish – but collects architects as others might collect

stamps or snow domes. Since the early

every building
1990s, he has been cultivating a posse
of superstars to design new facilities
on the ever expanding Vitra campus.

needn’t be a
Vitra commissions have launched
careers. Zaha Hadid’s first big break was
to design a fire station there (which the

firemen apparently hated) and now, in
a squaring of the circle, Fehlbaum’s near
neighbours, Herzog & de Meuron ( just
down the road in Basel), are the latest
architects-du-jour to be added to his
collection. Rowan Moore reports on
the extraordinary new VitraHaus
in this issue (see page 42).
While Fehlbaum’s approach is
in many respects deeply admirable,
giving architects the longed-for chance
to experiment (up next are SANAA),
the ambience on what is essentially
an ordinary suburban business park
must rank as a tad surreal, like a band
comprising entirely of egotistical
and cacophonous lead vocalists.
For a resonant and authentic sense
of place, you need a boring rhythm
section; people (or buildings) content
to pump out a dignified backbeat, day
in day out, so that others can shine.
It’s far more difficult to achieve, but
enlightened patronage should extend
to the ordinary as well.
Catherine Slessor, Editor

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Comment 019

Lausanne, Switzerland Visiting the new SANAA- taken over? Presumably we apparent in its empty state.
designed Rolex Learning Centre could return with headsets a Sensing mild bewilderment,

SANAA creates at Swiss university École

Polytechnique Fédérale de
week later to experience both
building and narrative as part
Nishizawa’s partner Kazuyo
Sejima was quick to state that

a blank canvas for

Lausanne (EPFL) a week before of a much larger crowd? As it ‘from next Monday, students
it opened was a curiously hollow was, the journalists obediently will use the building and I hope
experience. Almost entirely followed client and design team that in this process students will

Swiss university
unoccupied, this vast boundless up hill and down valley while find a good place for themselves.
interior did have an awe- listening to Japanese practice Maybe this will complete the
inspiring serenity. Without SANAA’s hushed tones. building, [producing] a more

learning centre
the hordes of students it was Conceived as a fully final condition.’
designed to attract, however, integrated learning environment, Until now the EPFL campus
as an expression of its function, providing a seamless network of had has no real heart, and
the space was rendered almost services, libraries, information as the university’s president
Rob Gregory
meaningless. The hollowness gathering, social spaces, places Patrick Aebischer stated, with
here had no echo, as the to study, restaurants, cafés and over 10,000 students, ‘we
learning centre occupies a outdoor areas, as described needed to create a place where
territory between undulating en-route by architect Ryue they could live, and that was
planes of carpet and sound- Nishizawa, ‘the concept of the the original idea behind this
absorbing plasterboard. As building is to make one very building.’ Hopefully, with the
such, we were guided through big room, where people and imminent return of students,
the white-on-white interiors programmes can meet together.’ the building will emphatically
wearing headsets to hear the Unfortunately, despite its rise to that challenge. As seen
tour’s narration. Why, some of sculptural beauty (mildly here, however, it lay silent
us thought, had we been invited disturbed by health and safety and stoic, awaiting the arrival
here before the students had paraphernalia), none of this was of its lifeblood.

Hisao Suzuki
The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View 023
Colombo, Sri Lanka These days, no convocation making great buildings takes

CAA conference
on sustainability is complete immense reserves of patience
without Ken Yeang, who and persistence. Bawa had to
popped up to deliver the rebuff opposition from

explores notions
keynote address at the recent politicians and religious leaders
Commonwealth Association of (‘the only man who succeeded
Architects triennial conference in uniting Hindus, Buddhists

of sustainability
in Sri Lanka. Despite having a and Christians,’ said Perera), but
carbon footprint the size of his vision won out in the end.
Kazakhstan, Ken always makes Today the Kandalama is covered

that go beyond
a rousing curtain raiser to such in lush greenery, as its architect
proceedings, breezing through intended, merging to become
his theories on biointegration part of the landscape.

and comparing the built From Australia, Kerry Clare
environment to a prosthesis spoke of architecture that
grafted on to an organic host ‘locates people in a place rather
Catherine Slessor (nature). All fascinating stuff, than sealing them from it’. Her
www.comarchitect.org but he couldn’t stay for lunch work showed a clear
because he was off to Japan. responsiveness to climate,
The conference theme especially the tropical zone of
was ‘Architecture: Rethinking Queensland, through the
Sustainability’ (predictable reinterpretation of vernacular
enough), but the venue, in principles. ‘The affirmation
Colombo, gave more pause of local identity and character
for thought. In Sri Lanka and by understanding textures,
surrounding Asia, notions of rhythms and tectonics relevant
sustainability are not just box- to a culture is increasingly
ticking exercises, but crucial important,’ she said.
to human survival. South African architect
Rafiq Azam of Dhaka-based Llewellyn van Wyk had a
architecture firm Shatotto different perspective – basically
(featured in the 2007 AR we’re all doomed. Periodic mass
Emerging Architecture Awards) extinctions and extreme climate
brought things down to earth events are an inevitable part of
with a thoughtful discourse on the planet’s long existence and
the challenges of building in if these don’t get us, the dying
Bangladesh, ‘a land of six sun eventually will. ‘We have
seasons’ steeped in ‘the poetry to recontextualise our thinking,’
of the tropics’. Azam’s work said van Wyk. ‘We’ve lost the
sensitively mines climate, capacity to foresee and forestall.’
culture and context, but he is He proposed seven ‘canons
also aware of architecture’s of sustainability’ to enable green
responsibilities – ‘the power buildings to satisfy broader
to transform communities and concepts of sustainability,
society,’ as he described it. and align them ‘more directly
The ghost of Geoffrey Bawa with the transformative notion
still hovers benignly over the underpinning sustainable
canon of Sri Lankan modernism, development’.
and it was momentarily Though the CAA only
Above_ channelled by a Milroy Perera, assembles every three years,
Geoffrey Bawa’s who used to work with the great it draws together many
Kandalama Hotel man. His account of the building architects from the developing
richard bryant/arcaid

in Sri Lanka,
of the Kandalama Hotel (AR world, from Africa and Asia,
completed in December 1995), on a sensitive whose voices are not often
the mid 90s, now site near the famous Dambulla heard. But on the evidence of
greening with age cave temple, showed that this conference, they should be.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View 025

Stockholm, Sweden

Johan Celsing’s ‘stone in

the forest’ treads carefully
in the Woodland Cemetery
Rasmus Wærn

collaboration with landscape

architect Müller Illien, who won
the day with a modest, almost
camouflaged, brick block,
described as a ‘stone in the
forest’. The fallout from the
competition for the ill-starred
extension of Asplund’s City
Library (AR January 2010)
hung heavily over proceedings.
This one must not fail.
The site is on a safe distance
from Asplund’s and Lewerentz’s
temples. And even if every
other submission proposed
more intricate spatial
arrangements and most were
more sculpturally expressive,
Celsing’s monolith does have
the possibility of being the solid
When the ancient habit of the technical processes of ‘stone in the forest’ it wants to
burning corpses instead of cremation have not diminished. be. It has the same simple,
burying them was struggling for In fact, they have grown. unaffected spirit as the brick
a renaissance a century ago, The new building is intended buildings of Erwin Heerich at
Swedish enthusiasts (yes, there to be a small but efficient plant the Insel Hombroich art campus
were such) turned to young and where hundreds of thousands of in Germany.
progressive architects to create Stockholmers will melt into air, However, the jury rejected
the buildings for this newly with a tiny corner for mourners the concept of serene daylight
revived ceremony. With Torsten to follow the process. The new that characterised proposals
Stubelius, Sigurd Lewerentz rite makes the entire edifice from Ando, Caruso St John and
devised an exemplary proposal sanctified and, apart from the even Bjarke Ingels. Like his
that became the starting point historically charged setting, father Peter, Johan Celsing
for Lewerentz’s and Erik this is what makes the task favours strong contrasts in light
Gunnar Asplund’s collaboration so fascinating. and shadow. But there are
on the Woodland Cemetery in The notion of what sort of wonderful examples of simple,
Stockholm. This masterpiece building might stage and dignify even brutal, Swedish
of spiritual architecture and these rituals was very open, as crematoriums where the
landscape is to be augmented the city turned to such different daylight soars in thin air.
with a new building, for which minds as Bjarke Ingels, Tadao Compared to these, Celsing’s
a limited invited competition Ando, Caruso St John, White proposal has still a bit to go. But
has just been settled. Architects and Johan Celsing for if the stone gets its sacred space,
The problems of dignifying an answer. It was Celsing, in the winner will also be a victor.

026 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View

Las Vegas, USA It took MGM Mirage five years

The most expensive

to build and cost a cool $8.5
billion. Replacing the immaterial
graphic skyline with a veritable

development in US history
architectural zoo, this compact
‘city within a city’ transforms
27 hectares etched out of land

tries to redefine junkspace

adjoining the Strip on which
a third-rate hotel and multi-
storey car park once stood.

urbanism on the Strip

When Robert Venturi and
Denise Scott Brown wrote
Learning from Las Vegas in 1972,
Lucy Bullivant examining the cultural context
of the city as a generator of
form, they critiqued mindless
Las Vegas is universally relative resurgence at the hands Below_ CityCenter, Strip development and
dismissed as non-architectural of entrepreneur Steve Wynn an amalgamation reinvented the casino as a
of hotels, casinos,
or anti-urban. At night, neon reached its height with the 1998 quasi-public space that spills
residences and
signs and electronic billboards Bellagio hotel and casino, now public spaces, out and engages the street in
orientate the car driver and owned by gambling giant MGM opened this year an update of the Roman piazza.
conveniently overshadow the Mirage. With its eight-acre lake In a city where context and
city’s junkspace context of and artsy dancing fountains, use has been so out of tune
car parks. They signal Vegas’ it was merely another thematic with reality, and what seems
immersive gambling enclave step from Vegas’ mid-century to be reality is not, MGM
hugging the four-mile Strip yet, modernism of the Rat Pack era. Mirage now claims to have
while old signs are regularly Now off the Strip, and shifted the Vegas paradigm.
taken to the neon graveyard attached to Bellagio by a three- The ramped entry street
in the Nevada desert, little stop tramline, is CityCenter, indeed leads you to a piazza in
contemporary architecture has where starchitecture is a key front of Pelli Clarke Pelli’s hefty
replaced them. The Strip’s part of the development gamble. crystalline Aria Resort.

courtesy of mgm mirage

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View 029

At the hub of one of three CityCenter is economically Below_ Seven European post-war city and
blocks on the Gensler-designed sustainable, but its tactics are architecture way-finding signage on the
practices worked
masterplan, building and piazza a unity of art and architecture, pedestrian space, the idea was
on the CityCenter
are bonded by a huge curving mixed programme (70 per cent project, including
that visitors could navigate
waterwall. Everything radiates non-gaming allocation, for Rafael Viñoly, buildings outdoors. Yet the
from here and, instead of a dining, hotels, spas and so on) Foster + Partners quality of the seamlessless falls
spilled-out casino, there is the and the semblance of civic and KPF. Shown into being rather airport-like
first of many art installations on identity across the pedestrian- below is Daniel at Aria’s rear conference centre,
the site. The overhead monorail friendly district. There may and you half expect to find an
Crystals shopping
shuttles visitors between be high-end hotels – two with centre (right) outdoor smoking room there.
‘historic’ Vegas (neighbours retail apartments – but no Crystals, with its multi-
Monte Carlo and Bellagio) housing for the workers of faceted glass canopy that feels
and new Vegas (Studio Daniel this place of pleasure, or food like a reworked New York
Libeskind’s shopping centre, shops, as occupants either Guggenheim, is punctuated by
Crystals). Negotiating Aria’s eat out or order in. David Rockwell’s three-storey
labyrinth of foyer casino to find At CityCenter’s gateway tree house nudging the oculus
the elevators to the rooms is is KPF’s Mandarin Oriental, in the roof. It forms a fraternal
a bore. Up front, the building an elegantly simple and tactile union on the street with
lamely accommodates the building with a facade of Murphy/Jahn’s Veer Towers,
fleecing space that pays its way, interlocking motifs of vertical a pair of 37-storey residential
and Aria suffers as a result. stainless steel panels and blocks leaning 5° from
The pharaonic undertaking fritted glass. It bears a standard centre and sporting yellow
of CityCenter engaged tall atrium, but the upper-floor fritting and sun-shading fins.
seven architects, 60 interior podium, complete with Tucked away on the
designers and over 250 design ballroom and huge window north-west corner, Rafael
consultants in total, in a project overlooking the Strip, feels Viñoly’s Vdara hotel and spa
which took only five years to genuinely fresh – for Vegas. plays a symbolic card, a low-key
build from inception in 2005, With a pocket park lying crescent form of patterned
picking up a LEED Gold between Aria and Crystals, glass amply kitted out with
certification for sustainability. punctuated by a Henry Moore art (a Frank Stella painting in
It is too soon to know whether sculpture, a snatch of the reception lends gravitas) and
the Silk Road restaurant (a
smouldering gold bazaar). Less
evident at this point is Foster
+ Partners’ Harmon boutique
hotel. Opening in November,
this smart blue beacon will be
only half the original intended
height, due to a construction
error that curtailed its ambition.
Learning from Las Vegas
relied too much on formal
analysis. Looking at CityCenter,
it would appear Vegas has had a
pro-architecture shot in the arm
in the form of a grown-up urban
enclave replete with formal
sophistication, especially of the
crystalline variety. Moreover,
for a growing city, the largest
private development in US
history has raised desires for
courtesy of mgm mirage

more contestation of endless

sprawl and standardised
suburbia. It may be for real,
but is it enough?

030 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View

London, UK designer Vivienne Westwood

The beauty of London

showed in the Great Hall of the
1870s Royal Courts of Justice,
which was transformed into a

Fashion Week lies in more

gothic catwalk lit with giant
candelabras. I heard more
people comment on the general

than just the clothes

splendour of the venue than
on the design of the clothes.
The stunning art deco
headquarters of the United
Crystal Bennes
Grand Lodge of England, the
Freemasons’ Hall (designed
While the Autumn/Winter 2010 and hip LFW has never appeared by architects HV Ashley and
shows came to a close with the interested in making the most Winton Newman and opened
end of Paris Fashion Week on of the grander side of London’s in 1933) was also used as the
10 March, people in the UK built environment – or at least, setting for a number of
have not yet forgotten London not until this season. designers. One particularly
Fashion Week (LFW). The The main venue for LFW memorable show, by Oman-born
clothes have yet to transit 2010, sponsored by the British BodyAMR, was held upstairs in
from catwalk to consumer, but Fashion Council (BFC), has been the banqueting hall, which is
fashion insiders are still talking at Somerset House – a nice divided into two sections by an
about what they saw at LFW. change from its former home at intricately carved wrought-iron
An oft-heard term this the rather cumbersome Natural three-arched gate, through
season was ‘architectural’. History Museum. The main BFC which the models strutted to
Generally, it means a piece tent is erected in the courtyard reach the press pack.
that is minimal, structured of Somerset House and buzzes Perhaps LFW’s most
and geometric, like a trapezoid- with fashionistas. William stunning and original venue
shaped dress. And, though these Chambers’ magnificent was that which hosted Erdem
details rarely appear in style neoclassical gem, situated just Moralioglu’s show. Set in Charles
reviews, editors and journalists off the Strand, is a sensational Holden’s 1930s Senate House at
are still talking about the real venue for LFW: it is central and the University of London,
architectural stars of the season: the snug courtyard provides models gingerly made their way
the runway show venues. a sense of enclosure, ideal for down the marble staircase in
Below_ Erdem Haute couture shows in an industry that likes to feel the splendid art deco Great Hall.
Moralioglu’s Paris have a tradition of taking exclusive, but also for keeping Why do designers seek out
catwalk show advantage of beautiful venues: most of LFW in one place. these venues if such details
was staged in
Karl Lagerfeld is famous for There are designers who never make it into the show
the stunning art
deco Great Hall
unveiling Chanel collections in opted to show outside the reports? For the same reason
of Senate House, the spectacular art nouveau official venue. Early last year, the general public isn’t allowed
Bloomsbury Grand Palais. But quirky, young Burberry moved into new to attend them: exclusivity.
headquarters at Horseferry In fashion, it’s never about the
House in Westminster, an old clothes alone. For those present,
government office building the venue and the clothes
redesigned by Gensler. The become impossible to dissociate.
building is just around the corner The hundred or so attendees
from the Chelsea College of Art will refine then broadcast their
and Design’s Rootstein Hopkins perception of the designer, the
Parade Ground (redesigned by clothes and the show to the rest
landscape architect Planet of the world. Shoppers will head
Earth in 2007), where Burberry out to purchase an Erdem dress
staged its last two catwalk shows. because a senior fashion editor
This year also included three thought the whole production
of London’s more interesting was one gloriously entertaining
getty images

– and often publicly off-limits – spectacle, enhanced by some of

architectural landmarks. English London’s most notable buildings.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View 033

Sofia, Bulgaria

Magazine masterminds efforts to

rescue art museums from stagnation
Timothy Brittain-Catlin

converted former arsenal in

Sofia. To make use of a recent
European Union grant, this will
be done cheaply, at great speed,
and without an architectural
competition, which does not
bode well for the outcome.
A further eyebrow-raising
proposal is the foundation
of a museum for totalitarian art
– including the so-called ‘red
collections’ from the former
Museum of Bulgarian-Soviet
Friendship – near the offices
of the national traffic police.
In February, Abitare Bulgaria
staged a well-attended
international conference called
‘Do we need museums?’ which
invited curators and architects
Above_ A visitor In a situation that’s surely get a discussion going. And to suggest answers to the
to the Totalitarian unique for a European capital there is plenty to talk about. questions that the ministry
Art exhibition
city, Bulgaria’s Sofia has no The current anxiety is that of culture will eventually have
held last year
at the National
purpose-built art museums the Bulgarian ministry of culture to tackle. Speakers included
Gallery of Art and no state gallery for has suddenly woken up and architect Jean Nouvel, Wu
in Sofia contemporary art. Its national begun to act in a high-handed Wenyi of Urbanus (designer
collections have fallen into manner without reasonable of the Dafen Art Museum in
stagnation, and corruption consultation. In January, it Shenzhen, China) and various
among directors and curators published a draft ‘concept’ curators and artists. One
is endemic, with works sold off for the reorganisation and speaker likened the ministry’s
for personal gain. The National rehousing of the national high-handed approach to the
Art Gallery and the National collections without addressing attitude of Lyudmila Zhivkova,
Gallery for Foreign Art have any of the central questions the late daughter of Bulgaria’s
between them made just two behind contemporary museums. former Communist ruler Todor
purchases in the last 15 years; What should curatorial policy Zhivkov, who apparently
the National Art Gallery is be? What type of building suits determined cultural policy in
housed in a decrepit former a modern exhibition space? person in her role as president
royal residence and has nothing How should the museums of Bulgaria’s Committee for Art
in the way of modern facilities, and galleries be administered and Culture from 1975 to 1981.
either for the display of its and funded? What is the role Peter Torniov, editor of Abitare
vassil donev/epa/corbis

pictures or for its visitors. It of the private collector? Bulgaria, said that in his country
is some tribute to the recently One concern is that a ‘it is the architects who are the
established Bulgarian offshoot museum of contemporary art, radicals among the creative
of Milan-based design magazine a relatively prestigious project, artists’. Let’s hope they get
Abitare that it has managed to is about to be established in a Sofia the museums it deserves.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View 035

UK and west, dense city structures

In protest at municipal
and the Tiergarten park. Why
not call it Reunification Platz?’
he suggests.

apathy, Zvi Hecker plans a

To the east of Brandenburg
Gate is Pariser Platz, which,
despite its uninspiring

new public platz for Berlin

architecture, is at least a
reception area leading into the
Unter den Linden boulevard.
Tourists wandering through
Layla Dawson
the gate from Pariser Platz
to the west look round in
bewilderment when confronted
Who really builds the city? by a racetrack highway without
Despite being the capital of a orientation. This former
reunified Germany, Berlin is militarised western zone has
probably the country’s poorest never been truly won back by
metropolis. Reduced tax returns the people. Here, in 1987, US
and increasing unemployment president George Bush stood
in a time of international demanding that the Soviets
financial crisis make politicians pull down the wall. In the
and planners easy prey for intervening decades the area
investors’ demands. Big has been patriarchally managed
architectural projects for as a beer and circus venue. In
a Potemkin city palace or between such events there is
development of the former no protected public space in
Tempelhof Airport remain airy which to sit, read, talk, or walk
visions of the future, while a dachshund.
many built projects are empty. Hecker offers three options,
There is nothing so galling all centred around an oval,
for city planners as having hard-landscaped space with
nothing to plan. seating and a central water
To fill the creative void, new feature, in the style of early
public spaces appear a cheaper 20th-century Berlin. The first
option, as well as a practical is a complete elimination of the
way of stringing together the traffic; the second an oval space
disparate projects that have around which traffic to the
sprung up since 1989. Last Reichstag, Tiergarten and
year, Berlin held an open ideas Potsdamer Platz is diverted;
competition for the area to the third a shared space for both
the west of Brandenburg Gate. public and traffic. The second
But, overwhelmed by 600 option seems most viable,
submissions, the city later making a pedestrian connection
cancelled the competition between Pariser Platz and
Above_ Architect without a result. Hecker’s Reunification Platz by
Zvi Hecker’s In protest, Zvi Hecker, an way of the Brandenburg Gate.
proposals for Israeli architect based in Berlin Combining symbolism,
and Amsterdam, has publicised functionality and a reasonable
Platz – an open,
democratic public his idea for an open, democratic budget for implementation,
space in Berlin public platz, which he presents it will be hard for the Berlin
as a critique on the current Senate’s director of building,
Berlin situation. ‘New Regula Lüscher, to ignore this
monuments are not needed, scheme, which is on show at
and this is the best place for the city’s Aedes am Pfefferberg
a people’s square, between east Gallery until 25 April.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / View 037

Page 056
123 128
Page 072
LOCATION LOS ANGELES, USA Page 042 headquarters Page 060
ARCHITECTS LOCATION Weil am Rhein, ARCHITECT Office of LOCATION tokyo, japan
Germany Architecture in Barcelona
ARCHITECT Herzog & & associates
de Meuron

In an elegant twist on

Herzog & de Meuron is the vernacular building types,
latest in a line of high-profile Japanese architect Kengo
practices to have built on Kuma creates ‘a huge roof’
Page 066 furniture manufacturer Vitra’s Page 050 for this museum housing
Il Forte di Fortezza campus. This instalment is ahmed baba centre pre-modern Asian art.
LOCATION Fortezza, Italy a witty and whimsical take LOCATION timbuktu, mali
ARCHITECT Markus Scherer, on the basic house shape. ARCHITECT dhk architects,
Walter Dietl twothink architecture

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 041

herzog & de meuron
Rowan Moore
Roland Halbe

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 043

Previous page_ The The great American function is to be a showroom with through a labyrinth or a visit to a
‘enigmatic thicket’ mid-century designers – Charles and an added hint of museum: it invites stately home. From reception you
the bars are seemingly of the VitraHaus,
an agglomeration
Ray Eames, especially, and George people to enjoy Vitra’s current are taken to the top of the building
Nelson – were distinguished by two products alongside impressive in a lift, from where you trickle
piled up at random, cutting of loosely and
precipitously things. One was an appetite for the specimens by Eames, Nelson, Frank back down via a series of stairs and
techniques of modern industry. The Lloyd Wright, Isamu Noguchi and diversions. It’s a classic shopping
into each other and fusing stacked bars, is
the latest addition other was playfulness, a child-like others, obtained from the collection mall technique – rapid ascent by lift
at their junctions to a campus already
bursting with
delight in shapes, patterns and that used to reside in the museum, or escalator, slow descent with many
images. The simplest way to describe which will now be dedicated to distractions – but done with tact.
experiment Herzog & de Meuron’s VitraHaus is temporary exhibitions. If the building appears on the
Left_ Like a pile that it takes this playfulness and does The role of the VitraHaus is to outside as a dark, enigmatic thicket,
of horizontal something quite serious with it. seduce, entice, charm and publicise the internal route feels natural and
periscopes, the Vitra is a furniture company more than directly sell, although a easy. It is bright and white. It starts,
building peers
whose modern prosperity is based system of screens allows you to send when the lift doors open on the top
1 VitraHaus, Gehry, 1989 inquiringly over the
winter landscape on its ownership of the European information about objects to your floor, with a startlingly lovely view
Herzog & de 8 factory building,
Meuron, 2010 Frank Gehry, Below_ The glazed and Middle Eastern rights to the personal email, together with details of vineyards on an opposite hill. It
2 factory building, 1989 ends of the Eameses’ designs. On the strength of on how to buy them. You can also, is framed by the ubiquitous house-
SANAA, 2010 9 gate, Frank house-shaped this prosperity Vitra has assembled at the end of the experience, buy pentagon, which repeatedly shapes
3 bus stop, Jasper Gehry, 1989 tubes offer glimpses
two collections, one of classic pieces smaller objects on site. At the same other prospects as you move through
Morrison, 2006 10 factory building, into the building’s
interior life of furniture, the other of buildings time the building has to attract the building. A 180° turn away from
4 factory building, Nicholas
Álvaro Siza, 1994 Grimshaw, from the 1980s onwards, designed attention for Vitra, both of passing the vineyard presents you with the
5 Fire Station, 1981/1987 by Nicholas Grimshaw, Frank Gehry, traffic on the large roads around this skyline of Basel, seen through the
Zaha Hadid, 11 dome, Zaha Hadid, Álvaro Siza, Tadao Ando slightly nondescript district, and other end of the tube. At other times,
1993 Buckminster and (soon) SANAA. These have been within the global sphere of images. calculated glimpses are offered of
6 conference Fuller,
built on Vitra’s campus in Weil am The Gehry museum already does a the surrounding roads and landscape,
pavilion, Tadao 1978/2000
Ando, 1993 12 petrol station,
Rhein, under the leadership of chief reasonable job of attracting attention, and of the rest of the Vitra campus.
7 Vitra Design Jean Prouvé, executive Rolf Fehlbaum, to serve but from Vitra’s point of view there The determined repetition of the
Museum, Frank 1953/2003 the company’s activities. There was no harm in doing something new. basic form is offset by the random
are storage, production and Herzog & de Meuron’s design placings, the occasional curve applied
administration buildings, as well as starts with two child-like themes, to vertical circulation elements, and
a museum for design exhibitions. the house-shape of an oblong with adjustments in proportion and pitch
Fehlbaum didn’t just want to sell a triangular top, and the precarious of the pentagon-section. Surprising
furniture, he wanted to contribute to stacking of building bricks. These intersections are created – sideways,
the culture of contemporary design. themes are then played out with an upwards, obliquely. At one point
Weil am Rhein, although oscillation of figurative and abstract: the floor steps up and then down in
technically in Germany, occupies few images could be more literal than terraces, in order to get over the ridge
1 a tri-national territory close to both the house shape, but the execution of the roof below. There is some
the French and Swiss borders, and here is plain and reduced. degree of accident in the creation
11 functions almost as a suburb of Basel. The shape is extruded into long of these intersections, but not in
12 9 Basel is the base of Herzog & de bars or tubes, glazed at the end and their detail. Each junction has been

Meuron, the kind of internationally treated near identically on all five modelled at 1:5 or 1:20, with about
celebrated practice that Vitra liked to other planes, in dark concrete. The 50 models in all, in order to avoid
4 8 attract to its site. Yet until recently, bars are piled up seemingly at the three-dimensional car crashes

6 Fehlbaum looked everywhere but random, cutting into each other and that they could have been.
locally for his architects. For decades fusing at their junctions. As you get The overall feeling is of an
5 Vitra and Herzog & de Meuron, a few nearer, the stack creates a series of abstracted and extraordinary house
10 10
kilometres apart, pumped ideas and intriguing, semi-enclosed spaces, that is then tuned to create different
images into the world of design, side with framings of the sky, of views, atmospheres. The setting in the top
by side but separately. and of glimpses into the inner life of room is like a loft apartment, with
VitraHaus is the long-delayed the building. At its heart you discover Vitra’s finest domestic furniture
2 consummation of the union of these an irregular court, darkened by the displayed to good effect. Other spaces
neighbours. Open to the public, it proliferation of jousting beams above contain collections such as historic
is, like the Gehry-designed Vitra and around, from which you reach pieces, or a children’s section, and the
Design Museum (AR December the VitraHaus discreet glass entrance. place is subtly modified accordingly.
1994), placed outside the perimeter There is a recommended route The means are proportion, shape and
fence of the industrial complex. Its through the building, like a thread orientation, and a limited range

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 045

of materials: white paint, untreated
Right_ Concave
oak floors, and stucco lustro on
4th floor
timber-clad walls
There is a play and the curving parts. Otherwise it is
swell out to form
integral benches
left to the objects and furnishings
reversal of internal and themselves to set the mood.
Below_ At the heart
of the stack is a
Eventually you are returned to
external, and also of ground, where there is a gift shop and
courtyard darkened
by the jousting
scrabble of
enclosure and exposure a glass-walled café. Here the house-
beams overhead
shaped tubes are modified with
concave external walls that are
1 entrance fourth-floor plan wood-lined and fitted with benches,
2 reception/foyer in order to make a sheltered place to
3 shop sit. The external deck on which you
4 café
stand is also wood. From here you
5 business lounge
6 exhibition space can look back across a space planted
7 cloakroom 13
with cherry trees (which originally
8 back office covered the whole Vitra site) to the
9 1st floor
Gehry Museum and the rest of the
3rd floor

10 WC 12
campus. The VitraHaus fits within
11 showroom
12 loft showroom a Herzog & de Meuron masterplan,
13 terrace under which it was felt best to put
some space between their own and
0 20m Gehry’s different forms of eye-
catching architecture.
In the VitraHaus you feel yourself
to be inside a charmed circle of
first-floor plan third-floor plan
delightful design. This is what the
Vitra world has always been, but here
it is distilled. There is a play and
detailed section through
reversal of internal and external – timber-clad wall
11 01 0m

1: 500
5m 10m
wooden decking outside, hard floors
inside – and also of enclosure and
11 exposure. The glass ends of the tubes
Ground floor sharply reveal the domestic mise en
2nd floor

scènes inside: this makes them look

11 3 vulnerable and fragile, except that
there is no real danger – which in the
end enhances the feeling of security.
There are touches of the
Germanic fairytale about this place.
The delightful zone inside can only
be reached through a dark tangle,
ground-floor plan second-floor plan something like a forest. There are
moments of severity, slight menace,
and withholding before rewarding.
10 The abstract/figurative oscillation
m 5m 10m 6 5 01 0m

1: 500
5m 10m
LEVEL 1 creates some disorientation and an
1: 500
11 uncertain void which requires you
to trust that the unseen makers of
the building know what they’re
1 doing. It also pushes you to occupy
this void with your own actions
4 3
and imagination. But despite the
2 disorientation you know that, at the
7 8
end of this beautiful story, everything
will be all right.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 047

Left_ Vitra cross section Architect
furnishings Herzog & de Meuron,
orchestrate the Basel, Switzerland
mood around the Project team
building. White Jacques Herzog, Pierre de
Meuron, Wolfgang Hardt,
walls and untreated
Guillaume Delemazure,
oak floors form
Charlotte von Moos, Sara
neutral backdrops
Secci, Harald Schmidt,
to the displays
Katharina Rasshofer,
Below_ The
geometry of the
Wolfensberger, Nicolas
clashing tubes Venzin, Isabel Volkmar,
can be read from Thomas Wyssen
the inside Associate architect
Below right_ Glazed Mayer Baehrle Freie
ends frame views Architekten
out over the Structural engineer
landscape ZPF Ingenieure
Services engineer
Krebser und Freyler
long section Landscape architect
August Künzel

01 0m 5m 10m
1: 500

01 0m 5m 10m
1: 500

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 049

ahmed baba centre
timbuktu, mali
dhk architects,

The Ahmed Baba Timbuktu, the Ahmed Baba Centre

Centre in Timbuktu has the unique facilitates the restoration and analysis
mission of preserving and presenting of the writings inherited from those
the ancient written treasures that effervescent times. Manuscripts date
testify for Africa’s intellectual past, from as early as the 12th century and
challenging the common notion that are mainly written in Arabic, with a
the continent had only an oral few exceptions in the local languages
tradition. The new resource centre, Fulfulde, Tamashek and Songhai
the result of a concerted international (the only examples of this language
effort, was designed by South African written in the Arabic script so far
DHK Architects (Phase 1) and preserved). They cover a broad range
Twothink Architecture (Phase 2), of subjects from history, theology and
with the Malian architect Baba law, to astronomy and medicine. In
Cissé as a cultural consultant. addition, factual documents such as
Timbuktu was founded in 1100 AD letters, journals and legal papers give
at the intersection of the main trade an insight into Timbuktu’s society
routes where the Niger River reaches and its polemics, discussing topics
the Sahara Desert. Between the 12th such as slavery, divorce or the
and 16th centuries it became a focal peaceful coexistence of Christians,
point for commerce of gold, salt, Jews and Muslims.
ivory and slaves, quickly developing The delicate books from pre-
into a multicultural city. This colonial Muslim Africa are highly
pluralistic society attracted thousands endangered by climate, insects and
of scholars who studied in over 180 poverty. There are currently around
madrasas, turning Timbuktu into 80 private libraries in Timbuktu,
the cultural centre of Muslim Africa. yet often the owners don’t have the
Named after one of the most means or expertise to ensure their
important intellectual figures of preservation. Families also

050 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings

124 AHMED BABA CENTRE DHK ARCHITECTS, twothink architecture

the interesting spaces

in the city became the
backbone of the concept
andre spies, project architect

ground-floor plan first-floor plan 1 reception Previous page_ repudiate deciphering the writings African president Thabo Mbeki
2 foyer The new archive in out of fear of compromising their offered assistance by committing
3 covered galleria Timbuktu lies near
ancestry through unpleasant findings. to support the construction of the
4 stage the distinctive
8 5 celebration conical structure
And then there are those who, unable IHERI-AB resource centre.
7 garden of the historic to read Arabic, place little value Today, Timbuktu is a slightly
6 amphitheatre Sankoré Mosque on their possessions and will sell surreal place. To get there, it takes
9 7 kiosks Above left_ The a manuscript for a few coins. two days by four-wheel drive, three
6 8 walkway low-slung volume The first efforts to save the days by boat on the Niger River or
9 WC merges with the
manuscripts were made in 1970 at a a shorter journey on one of the rare
10 Islamic townscape
9 classroom Above right_ The UNESCO initiative. Thirty years later, flights from Bamako, in the south-
10 11 storeroom building made use of IHERI-AB (Institute des Hautes west of Mali. The city is dominated
4 12 lecture theatre traditional building Etudes et de Recherche Islamique by the monochrome, uniform tones
13 courtyard methods and its Ahmed Baba) was established as an of clay houses and tangled dirt roads.
3 14 library architecture alludes
5 independent establishment of higher The doors are always open, bread
25 15 café to vernacular types
2 1
9 16 kitchen learning, with the legal and financial is baked in mud ovens on the road,
9 17 guest rooms frame to assure the ‘restoration and and kids are taught on empty street
12 24
11 14 18 reading room conservation, scientific exploitation corners, occasionally disturbed
19 boardroom and dissemination of the manuscripts by roaring cars and scooters.
20 staff kitchen
in possession while also offering ‘The first take was just looking
21 photographic
studio services to private collectors and at the urban planning of Timbuktu,
13 owners’. The institute is the one of which had a sporadic and organic
15 22 digitisation
23 restoration the largest documentation centres growth,’ explains project architect
22 16
18 17 24 offices in Africa, holding over 30,000 items, Andre Spies. ‘The interesting spaces
20 9 19 17 25 plant
21 yet there are an estimated 700,000 in the city became the backbone of
manuscripts in the region. But Mali the concept. It’s a straightforward
is among the poorest countries in the approach: a few buildings grouped
world and any preservation efforts around a courtyard and walkways,
are heavily dependent on foreign and that is pretty much the way
0 25m aid. Help came in 2002 when, after in which Timbuktu grew as well.’
visiting Timbuktu, former South Four separate blocks defined

052 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings

124 AHMED BABA CENTRE DHK ARCHITECTS, twothink architecture
Architect Below_ The
DHK Architects, Cape double-height
Town, South Africa volume of the library,
over half the wall surface (phase 1); Twothink
Architecture, Cape Town,
which will hold
30,000 items
was built in the traditional South Africa (phase 2)
Project team
Bottom_ A long ramp
links the two levels
method with clay, engaging Andre Spies (phase 1);
Andre Spies, Valerie
Right_ Part of the
internal street
the locals in construction
Lambrechts (phase 2)
Structural engineer
Kantey and Templer
Services engineer
Goesain Johradien
and Associates
cross section

long section

programmatically as the archives,

restoration area, researchers’ spaces
and the auditorium are spread along
a patio. An open amphitheatre makes
the connection with the surrounding
urban square, drawing in the public
from the street. The architects were
inspired by the context and built over
half the wall surface in the traditional
method with clay, engaging the locals
in the construction process. ‘It was
a big local trade that we could use,’
says Spies. ‘Just the speed with which
they built was impressive, because
everyone knows how to do it.’
At the crossroad between the new
and the old city, across the square
from the new library and next to
the 15th-century Sankoré Mosque,
tourists mingle along with locals and
scholars. Indigenous Tuaregs sell
traditional craftsmanship in silver,
leather and wood, decorated with
imagery of their nomadic life, of
caravans and sand dunes. In this
informal and challenging context,
the new Ahmed Baba Centre assumes
the difficult role of a subtle mediator
between different spaces, different
times and different worlds.

054 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings

opened up,’ says Lorcan O’Herlihy.
‘The task of infusing a banal house
JOVANOVICH HOUSE with energy and light was harder
Location than starting from scratch, but the
cost of building anew on such a
LOS ANGELES, USA site would have been prohibitive.’
architect The big move was to unify old
LORCAN O’HERLIHY ARCHITECTS and new with PVC-coated polyester
woven yarn, stretched taut on a
writer lightweight metal frame. The mesh
MICHAEL WEBB is cut away to frame views out and
up to the sky. It conceals and reveals,
provides shade and thermal
MICHAEL WESCHLER protection, and adds depth to the
composition. The layering and
articulation of the facades echoes
that of the practice’s Formosa
condominiums in West Hollywood,
which assert their urbanity as a
metallic sculpture in fire-engine
red. These facades are also inspired
by art works – O’Herlihy is an
accomplished painter who created
his own tower house in Venice as

tate lown
a three-dimensional version of his
geometric abstracts (AR January
2004). Here, on a quiet residential
Lorcan O’Herlihy street, the effect has to be subtler
Architects has mastered the art of and softer. ‘We chose the fabric,
building on steep or confined sites which should last five years, in
and its houses respond creatively preference to perforated metal,
to the topography and the urban because it is light, ephemeral
context. Most recently, the southern and tactile,’ says O’Herlihy.
California firm transformed a The house exploits the shifts of
hermetic A-frame house perched level on the site. An inclined bank
on the edge of a canyon by making leads to the entry foyer, from where a
modest additions, opening up the crisp steel stair descends to the living
interiors to decks and sweeping room. A long hallway along the west
views, and wrapping the hybrid front links the open kitchen to the
form in a white scrim. The crisp double-height living room, media
cut-out carapace sits lightly on the room and guest room. Pocketing glass
street and from below it appears as sliders open onto a broad wooden
insubstantial as a kite, floating free deck that runs the length of the
of the wooded slope. house. Bleachers and steps descend
To accommodate a young family to a pool and garden down the slope.
and their guests and to take The decks extend the house into the
advantage of a 180° view, the landscape and reveal the drama of the
architects gutted the existing shell, guest suite to the rear of the garage,
enclosed the carport to serve as a which is supported on a tree-like
spacious foyer, and cantilevered structure of steel tubes. Within, stairs
a garage and guest suite out to the lead up to an all-white master suite,
south. The new rooms add only 80m2 infused with natural light, that opens
to the existing 340m2 of enclosed onto roof decks. From this lofty
space, but the decks furnish another perch, you feel as though you are
200m2. ‘We took the old structure floating above the expanse of trees
as a found object to be cut away and and the blue blur of the ocean.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 057


the mesh conceals and

reveals, provides shade
and protection, and adds
depth to the composition

cross section

Previous page, top_ 1 reception

0 20m
Wrapped in a gauzy 2 dining room
fabric veil, the house 3 living area
clings precipitously 4 kitchen
to the hillside 5 media room
Previous page,
1 entry court 6 guest bedroom
bottom_ The
2 master bedroom 7 bathroom
remodelled house 3 private balcony 8 recreation room
exploits light 4 living room 9 master bedroom
5 lap pool 7
and views 10 bridge/breezeway
Left_ The double- 6 12 11 garage
height kitchen Section 7 9 12 roof deck
Centre_ The master 12 13 pool
0’ 5’ 10’
bedroom, with
LA panorama
Top right_ The mesh
is cut and shaped
around the 1
original structure 7 7 11
4 3 6 10

Lorcan O’Herlihy
Los Angeles, USA
project team
Lorcan O’Herlihy, Pierere
De Angelis, Banv Altman upper and lower floor plans

058 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings

KENGO KUMA & Associates

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 061

Previous page_ ‘I wanted to create
Its eaves honed to a huge roof’, says Kengo Kuma of
i wanted the new museum to an exquisitely fine
edge, the great
the new Nezu Museum, designed
to house the collection of wealthy
be linked naturally with its roof envelops
the building Japanese industrialist Kaichiro Nezu
on a lusciously pastoral site in the
surroundings by the shade Right_ The new
museum sits in Aoyama district of Tokyo. The big,
extensive traditional
from the slope of the roof gardens that block
minimally articulated roof is a Kuma
out the blare signature. His Hiroshige Ando
kengo kuma
of Tokyo Museum (AR October 2001) was just
Below right_ Part of a huge shed clad in cedar slats, but
the approach to the it had a powerful lyricism. Kuma’s
entrance, designed
roofs are abstractions of traditional
to allow visitors to
decompress Japanese architecture, in which
overhanging eaves shelter and
site plan
shade, subtly blurring the boundary
between inside and out. Of this latest
project, Kuma says: ‘I wanted the
new museum to be linked naturally
with its surroundings by the shade
from the gentle slope of the roof.
Shadows link buildings to the ground
and give comfort to the architecture
and warmth to the city.’
Founded in 1941 following Nezu’s
death, the museum boasts one of
Japan’s most culturally significant
private collections of Asian art from
the pre-modern period. Nezu was
a particularly avid collector of
hanging scrolls and utensils for tea
ceremonies, and today the museum
has over 7,000 objects, including
calligraphy, paintings, sculpture, contemplative serenity of the
ceramics, metalwork, bamboo crafts museum, visitors are steered on
and textiles. The collection was a trajectory around the gardens.
originally displayed in Nezu’s This takes you through a thicket of
ground-floor plan first-floor plan Aoyama residence, which stood in bamboo (characteristic of ceremonial
extensive traditional gardens studded approaches to tea houses) and along
with ponds, bridges and teahouses. the building’s deep eaves to the main
In 2006 his grandson Koichi Nezu entrance. En route, the blare of the
commissioned Kuma to remodel and city dissolves in the verdant, calming
rationalise the existing facilities and embrace of nature. Kuma likens this
design a new building on the garden decompression to a journey from
3 3 3 3 3
site. The revitalised complex town to forest, or the transition from
reopened in October 2009. profane to sacred space, where a
2 3 4 Intimately relating both to its site traditional torii gate marks the
3 and the wider city, the new museum entrance to a shrine.
is conceived as a piece of urbanism The museum is essentially an
1 reception rather than a single object building. elegant two-storey pavilion capped
2 shop It structures and defines routes from by a voluminous, grey tiled roof.
3 exhibition space the nearby Omotesando, Tokyo’s Appearing to float on walls of glass,
4 information room
famous ‘Parisian’ boulevard thronged but actually supported by a steel
with shoppers and flâneurs. To frame, the roof gathers visitors into
0 20m disengage from the distractions the building. Scale, form and the
of the street and prepare for the post-and-beam structure all

062 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings

Right_ Kuma Architect
abstracts and Kengo Kuma &
refines the Associates, Tokyo
kuma’s sober new galleries traditional forms Structural engineer
Shimuzu Corporation
of Japanese
provide an ascetically architecture Exhibition cases
Kokuyo Furniture
Far right_ Galleries
neutral backdrop so are dimly lit and
Landscape consultant
neutrally appointed,
the collection can shine so the precious
artefacts can
take centre stage
Below_ Landscape
and light press in
through glazed walls

cross section through galleries

cross section through galleries

and basement lecture hall

allude to Tokyo’s lost heritage in through the glazed walls. Public

of vernacular timber buildings, gardens are rare in Tokyo, so this lush
but Kuma reinterprets this in an enclave has a special resonance.
authentically contemporary way. The new museum provides six
The low edge of the roof sharpens gallery spaces, four more than the
to a blade, made from exquisitely previous building. Each gallery is
cross section through information room thin planes of steel, treated with devoted to a different artistic or craft
phosphoric acid for maximum discipline and works are displayed in
slimness and refinement. simple glass cabinets. Kuma’s sober
Beyond the entrance, visitors new galleries provide an ascetically
encounter a double-height space neutral backdrop so the collection
shaped by the angular pitch of the can shine. Among the museum’s
great roof, its underside clad in holdings are seven national treasures,
lightweight panels of neritsuke including Korin Ogata’s Irises, an
(thinly shaved bamboo on a plywood 18th-century depiction of flowers
base). Around the edges are rows on a pair of gold foil screens. It’s one
long section of theatrically illuminated Buddhist of Kuma’s favourite works. ‘As an
sculptures. The grey Chinese stone architect, I have been greatly
of the gallery floor spreads outside, influenced by the technique of
softening the distinction between showing depth of space with limited
internal and external. In turn, the elements,’ he told the Tokyo Reporter,
landscape almost becomes part of ‘and this is reflected in the
the exhibition as greenery presses construction of space at Nezu’.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 065

Il Forte di Fortezza
Fortezza, Italy
Markus Scherer
and Walter Dietl
Catherine Slessor
René Riller

‘Begun under Francis Despite the Habsburgs’ labyrinthine underground passages,

I in the year 1833; completed by impressive mobilisation of men and the fortress provided an apt backdrop
Ferdinand I in the year 1838’ reads resources, the revolutionary threat to the festival’s theme of freedom,
the Latin inscription over the gate failed to materialise. The fortress set against the historically defensive
of a monumental fortress that soon became redundant, ‘built for an culture of the Tyrol.
dominates the village of Fortezza enemy who never came,’ according Local architects Markus Scherer
(originally called Franzensfeste) in to local historian Josef Rohrer. By the and Walter Dietl were commissioned
Alpine northern Italy, near the border end of the 19th century this supreme to restore the structure so it could
with Austria. Strategically positioned manifestation of military and cope with the new demands of
to oversee the entrance to the Eisack imperial hubris was serving as exhibitions and tourism. Preserving
Valley, this brooding redoubt was a humble powder depot. In 1918 the existing buildings while also
constructed by the Habsburgs to Franzensfeste came under Italian emphasising the distinctive character
protect their empire from growing rule and became Fortezza (though of the architecture was key to
anti-imperialist fervour fomented German is still widely spoken in the Scherer and Dietl’s brief. The thick
by the French revolution. region) and the complex was used granite walls were restored, roofs
In just five years, 6,000 workers by the Italian army until 2003. waterproofed and windows repaired.
and soldiers constructed the complex Relinquished by the military and Walled-off spaces were opened up
under the direction of regimental acquired by the province of South and unsympathetic later additions
engineer Franz von Scholl. Tyrol, it now has a new incarnation removed. Throughout, the process
Resembling a small town, it consists as a historic monument and place of has been a tactful cleaning up and
of three separate fortified enclaves cultural exchange. In 2008 it was one drilling down to the raw form and
hugging the contours of the hillside of the four venues for Manifesta 7, the structure of the fort, which itself acts
site. Executed in a functional yet European biennale of contemporary as a cue for the new interventions.
heroic stripped classical language, art, and in 2009 it hosted the From the entrance courtyard
it was built to last, an impregnable Landesausstellung, a regional arts behind the main gate, the extent of
bastion of imperial power. festival. With its massive walls and the complex is not immediately

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 067

127 Il Forte di Fortezza Markus Scherer, Walter Dietl

the process has been

a tactful cleaning up
plan of middle fortress
and drilling down to the
raw form of the fort

overall site plan


6 9

Previous page, left_ 1 forecourt plan of lower fortress

The heroic stripped 2 public square
classicism of the 3 administration
fort informs the and children’s
new additions play area 6
Previous page, right_ 4 ticket office,
The fort overlooks cloakroom 6
a lake. A pair of new and shop 7
walkways rationalise 5 bar/bistro
circulation 6 exhibition space
Far left_ Detail of 7 seminar room
steel walkways 8 suspended
Left_ Dark, catwalk 6
patinated steel 9 staircase and lift 6 6
forms a crisp 10 tunnel
counterpoint to 11 church
the mass and weight
of the original 3 5 10
Above_ Detail of
concrete blocks,
2 10
to roughen
their surfaces 11 9

0 25m

068 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings

127 Il Forte di Fortezza Markus Scherer, Walter Dietl

new parts have the same

tough, stripped-down spirit
as the original architecture

plan of entrance pavilion

long section Left_ Drilled into Architect obvious. Minimally articulated stone pattern and the surface of the
the rock, a new Markus Scherer, Meran, structures that once housed barracks, concrete was roughened by
shaft and staircase Italy; Walter Dietl,
stables and stores now accommodate sandblasting with fine granite
link the lower- Schlanders, Italy
level fort with Project team a visitor centre, bar, restaurant, particles to match the colour of the
subterranean Heike Kirnbauer, Elena children’s play area and an exhibition existing stone. The weatherbeaten
caverns and Mezzanotte space spread over an enfilade of effect mimics the passage of time,
tunnels below Structural engineer
rooms. Carefully restored vaults of so the new interventions have
Above_ A former Baubüro-Klaus Plattner
Services engineer exposed brickwork and plastered the feel of a modern ruin.
powder magazine is
Planconsulting walls, some embellished with murals, The most dramatic new addition
restored to become
a new pavilion convey a powerful sense of the past. is a double deck arrangement of
above the shaft A 22m-deep vertical shaft was driven dog-leg shaped catwalks that swing
Above right_ Detail through the rock to connect the out precipitously over a lake at the
of staircase, lifts lower fortress with a subterranean lowest level to connect the exhibition
and pavilion
cavern. A dark concrete staircase spaces and complete the visitor
with a golden handrail spirals up circuit. Like the new doors, grilles
through the shaft, terminating in a and handrails, the bridges are made
partially destroyed powder magazine, of galvanised steel coated with a
which was restored and reconfigured rough black patina. Thin and sharp
as a new circulation pavilion. like a blade, the dark steel crisply
New parts have the same tough, counterpoints the massive stone
stripped-down spirit as the original walls. This intelligently judged
architecture. Thick concrete blocks reciprocity between architectures,
are used to form simple buildings eras and functions is emblematic
and enclosures. Between the blocks, of the surprising rebirth of an
layers of sand were flushed out to extraordinary piece of 19th-century
produce an irregular horizontal joint military history.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings 071

The Office of coastal site between Castellón de la roof’s cranked cross-section.
Architecture in Barcelona (OAB) Plana and Benicàssim in Spain, its Approached from the west, visitors
AZAHAR GROUP HEADQUARTERs blends youth and experience. Born striking white form (finished with cross a patio – a ‘parade ground’ that
Location of the Carlos Ferrater Partnership’s a self-cleaning, flexible stucco) functions as an external reception
40-year legacy, OAB is described was devised to reflect the dramatic area. To the east, a more enclosed,
CASTELLÓN, SPAIN by founder Carlos Ferrater as both topography of its mountainous concave area provides external space
architect ‘a certified “laboratory of ideas” and surroundings. These forms also with a greater sense of privacy
Office of Architecture a professional company of the highest
standard’. Since its inception in 2006
combine to create a new topography
in which the individual companies
and intimacy. In between is a large
internal foyer; a central patio that
in Barcelona the firm, co-founded with Xavier find their own unique place. unifies the two wings of cellular
writer Martí, Lucía Ferrater and Borja Orientated on an east-west axis, accommodation with a soaring toplit
Ferrater, has expanded with great the plan is formed by two near-linear roof at the heart of the plan. Open
ROB GREGORY success. Its latest building, the wings that buckle to create three to the north, this space is filled with
photography Azahar Group’s headquarters, is distinct interstitial territories, which light borrowed by adjacent rooms.
ALEJO BAGUÉ designed to give identity to a group are resonant with, but purposefully The building’s form is more than
of companies committed to isolated from, the landscape beyond. a picturesque response to its setting;
promoting sustainable practice in In contrast to the building’s blank it serves to create a sheltered and
the fields of landscape design, exterior, its inner faces are fully controlled environment. Even the
recycling and waste treatment, glazed and open to the new roof makes a contribution, collecting
environmental consultancy and internalised landscape, revealing all run-off water in a reservoir to
construction. Situated on a 5.6ha interiors that faithfully trace the irrigate the adjacent landscape.
128 AZAHAR GROUP HEADQUARTERS Office of Architecture in Barcelona
Office of Architecture
in Barcelona, Spain
the striking white form Project team
Carlos Ferrater, Núria

was devised to reflect the Ayala, Emilio Llobat,

Teresa Ribeiro

dramatic topography of its Previous page_

mountainous surroundings Looking south and

east towards the
coast, the Azahar
Group headquarters
has a striking white
Below_ Patios
are dominated by
full-height glass
walls, seen here
in the eastern
private garden
Below right_ The
internal patio forms
cross section looking west
the heart of the
building, with north-
facing rooflights
Right_ Unlike
the patios, the
building’s exterior
is characterised by
blank white walls roof plan
long section looking south

ground-floor plan

3 4


1 office suites
2 entrance patio
3 central patio
4 private patio

0 20m

074 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Buildings

Chris Rudge, CEO of
the Canadian Olympic Committee, did
not pull any punches when comparing
this building with other, more
celebrated Olympic landmarks. On
architect Cannon Design’s website, he
RICHMOND OLYMPIC declared: ‘Every visit to the Richmond
OVAL Olympic Oval is awe-inspiring,’ adding
that, while much has been said about
Location the visual impact of Beijing’s National
RICHMOND, BRITISH Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) and

COLUMBIA, CANADA Aquatics Centre (the Water Cube) and

their ‘stunning’ exteriors, interiors
key words ‘were rather pedestrian’. By contrast,
SMALL SECTION, ‘the interior of the Oval is majestic’.

LONG-SPAN ROOF Creating a column-free space in

which Olympic speed skaters chased
ENGINEER record times, the structure itself
FAST + EPP became this site’s first record holder,
with the world’s longest composite
glulam wood/steel arches achieving
rob gregory a 95m span. However, what caught
the attention of Trevor Boddy in his
article for the AR (March 2010) was
not the impressive statistics or
opinions of the host city’s politicians.
Rather, it was the innovative use of
small-section timber, salvaged from
threatened British Columbia pine.
With many wood producers forced
to harvest timber early due to the
impact of hungry pine beetles, this
impressive 2.5ha roof (built for £475
per m2) found an inventive use for
the unusually large stockpiles of the
humble two-by-four stud.
The primary structure comprises
15 arches at 14.2m centres formed by
two slabs of 175 x 1,700mm glue-
laminated Douglas fir wood

076 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Skill


‘wood wave’ panels tie the

arches together and give
the interior its distinctive
serrated character

Previous page, top_ connected at the bottom with a

Cross section 10mm thick stiffened steel blade.
showing typical Between these are the ingenious
condition with arch,
pre-tensioned ‘wood wave’ panels
buttresses and
lift-up roof to north that tie the arches together and give
Previous page, the interior its distinctive serrated
bottom_ Richmond character. While other infill options
Oval’s ‘majestic’ were considered, a US $1.5 million
(£980,000) research contribution
Opposite page, top_
The world record- from the state government and forest
beating arches have industry enabled Vancouver-based
V sections that engineers Fast + Epp, working with
allow integration sister company StructureCraft, to
of services
offer, as managing director Paul Fast
Opposite page,
centre left_ explains, ‘a unique made-in-BC
Southern entrance solution that would also meet the
elevation during wood/pine-beetle use design criteria’.
3 construction Typically produced in 3.6 x 13m triple
Opposite page,
V units, held in bow-shaped form
centre right_ The
last of 450 ‘wood
by three Dywidag tension rods, the
wave’ panels being roof’s prefabrication also included
lifted into place installation of acoustic and fire
2 Opposite page, insulation and sprinkler branches.
bottom_ Typical In 2009, Fast + Epp won an
wave panel
Institution of Structural Engineers
perspective view
Left, top_ Detail Award for its innovative ideas in the
of a ‘wood wave’ Oval, beating Arup’s design for the
1 V section, showing Bird’s Nest. Boddy says: ‘If the heavy
hit and miss steel members and faux-sculptural
two-by-four studs.
mesh of the Arup/Herzog & de Meuron
The gaps open
4 design represents the architecture
up to layers of
acoustic insulation and economies of the decade past,
Left, bottom_ Detail the elegant green efficiency of
1 d ouble 2 x 6
of the buttress- Fast + Epp surely represent a bold
arch-wall junction
2 shop-fitted direction for this new decade.
on north elevation
plywood [Olympic medal designer Omer] Arbel’s
magnificent gold medals should go
3 1in exterior DFP
plywood panel
to engineers for leading the way
4 Dywidag for shunted-aside architects in
tension rod North America’s greenest city.’

078 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Skill

Right_ View down
the Casbah to the
harbour, as seen
from the terrace of
a merchant’s house
Below_ Pirated
ceramics from
the Low Countries
strike a slightly
surreal note
Far right, top_
timber buttresses
on a typical Casbah
Far right,centre_
the casbah in algeria’s capital algiers A riot of decorated
tiles on the
is a world heritage site steeped in anteroom bench
of a townhouse
history, but overcrowding and neglect Far right, bottom_
The ‘Florentine’
now threaten this ancient neighbourhood loggia in an
internal atrium –
the Casbah’s
writer, photography
architecture bears
DENNIS GILBERT the imprint of a
number of styles
and eras

With petrol at a John McAslan to take some

fraction of UK prices, generous photographs there to document the
non-interest loans from French historical context of the new building.
carmakers and a complete lack Entering through the encircling
of traffic lights, you would expect wall, you immediately come
Algiers’ traffic to be interesting. across one of the lesser palaces
It is in fact in continual gridlock or townhouses, characterised by
from 7am every day except Friday. an extraordinary timber buttress
The hilly city geography adds to structure. The entrance has a low
the frustration. You might be able vestibule leading off to the side (for
to see your destination just across privacy) with a riotous collection of
the valley, but it needs an hour of tiles decorating the walls and integral
driving to get there. Blue uniformed benches, where friends and business
policemen with whistles stand visitors might have waited. The
at junctions of stationary traffic, square atrium with its second floor
blowing idiosyncratically and loggia makes it feel perfectly
waving you on in a surreal display Florentine. One particular house had a
of justifying their jobs. vast upper-floor bath area, uniformly
The Casbah, however, is a clad with Dutch tiles in a cooling,
car-free labyrinth of interconnected minimal layout of hundreds of ships.
houses, palaces, merchants’ This period decoration is a result
dwellings, mosques, small shops, of the persistent aggression of the
workshops and a university. Peaceful, Ottoman corsairs, also known as the
friendly and quiet, the Casbah rises Barbary pirates, a highly disciplined
up steeply from the harbour, so the and self-regulating bunch of North
ideal approach for a new visitor is African privateers that preyed on
from the upper entrance. On an non-Muslim vessels. The peak of
assignment to record the new British privateering was controlled from
embassy, I was asked by its architect Algiers in the 1600s, and the

080 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Exploring Eye

the casbah algiers, algeria

Far left_ The mosque

housing the
mausoleum of the
city’s Sufi patron
saint, Sidi
Above_ Typical view
of a Casbah alleyway
– this historic area
is free of cars, which
greatly enhances
its character
Left_ A young
Casbah resident.
Estimates of the
population vary
wildly, but
and squatting are
rife. The area is
desperately in
need of investment
and a development

082 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Exploring Eye

the casbah algiers, algeria
Right_ French
the casbah is dense but colonial additions
near the harbour;
secluded and rich in the paradoxically, the
Casbah seems safer
conjunction of steep lanes, and more civil than
the ‘European’ city
cranked alleys and steps Below_ A jewellery
workshop, one of
the many small
of the area
Far right, top_ View
from the Casbah
towards the Bay of
Algiers and the city
Far right, centre_
Texture of Casbah
structures, though
there is much
physical decay
Far right, bottom_
A street at the
bottom of
the Casbah

corsairs ranged throughout the liberated in 1516 to become part I was allowed to take pictures
Mediterranean and later into of the Ottoman Empire until 1830, of the interior with them present.
the Atlantic as far as Iceland and when the French colonised and In the Casbah you sense an
the United States, resulting in the established the current borders. underlying liberal culture that is
two Barbary Wars in the early 1800s. Opinions differ as to why Spain did completely absent in wider Algiers.
At least a million slaves were captured not return to control the country. The city, however, is struggling to
over the 300-year period of piracy, During the Algerian struggle maintain the integrity of the Casbah.
and apparently during a mere seven for independence between 1954 It may be a World Heritage Site, but
years from 1609 to 1616, England lost and 1962, the complex layout of many of the buildings are in very poor
466 merchant ships to Barbary the Casbah was crucial to the structural condition and there are no
pirates. Stretches of coastline in Italy, insurgency planning of the National funds to restore much of the private
Spain and the Balearic Islands were Liberation Front and others, providing housing. Overpopulation exacerbates
abandoned for decades. shelter and escape routes back from the problem, but there is no clear idea
Effectively a fortified city, the terrorist attacks on French citizens of the Casbah’s exact population
Casbah was founded on the ruins and other targets. This brutal – estimates vary between 40,000 and
of the Roman settlement of Icosium in guerrilla warfare was memorably 70,000 – and squatting is rife. Tighter
146BC, and developed from the base reconstructed in Gillo Pontecorvo’s control of planning is apparently
of the hill in the harbour. In the 5th 1966 film The Battle of Algiers. preventing the repetition of recent
century AD the Vandals conquered, As you make your way down brutal additions, but the area is still
and then Algiers was re-taken by through the warren of streets, the in need of investment and a realistic
the Byzantine Empire before the Arab Casbah appears to be an extremely preservation strategy. At the lower
conquest of the 7th century. In the attractive place to live – dense but end, the historic Casbah merges into
early 1500s the Spanish occupied secluded and rich in the conjunction the French colonial architecture and
several Algerian coastal towns, and of steep lanes, cranked alleys and streets of the ‘European’ city, where
sought help from the corsairs who steps. And also more socially open. you are advised to put away your
had previously supported Andalusian At the mausoleum of the city’s Sufi camera and watch your wallet.
Muslims and Jews to escape Spanish patron saint Sidi Abderrahmane Paradoxically, like some South African
oppression in 1492. Instead they (1384-1469), female pilgrims townships, the Casbah seems a safer
joined the Turks and Algiers was worshipped energetically, but and more civil place to be.

084 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Exploring Eye

the ar reveals the five winning entries
for the triennial caa student design
competition, which called for a fitting
memorial to a significant past event
catherine slessor

The eighth appropriate memorial does not from 16 countries. Since the last Top_ The winning
Commonwealth Association of already exist) and submit proposals CAA student competition (AR July entry, Digested
Architects (CAA) International Student for a building or structure that will 2007), entry has been open to Landscapes by
Simon Crockford,
Design Competition was for a memorial make manifest the memory. The students from all over the world,
is a response to the
commemorating a significant event. competition jury was interested in not just the Commonwealth. history of quarrying
Students could choose both the ideas that explored the nature of a Entries were astonishingly in a village in Wales.
event and the site, but the event had memorial in contemporary society diverse, encompassing an impressive This entry calls for
to be real and worthy of remembrance and how students responded to a (and occasionally offbeat) range a re-excavation of
the quarry over time
– for instance, a famous battle, complex interaction of environmental, of subject matter, from political
Above_ Thomas
disaster, oration, revolution, strike, social, cultural and economic factors. protests and natural disasters to Ibbotson’s Memorial
act of bravery or celebration. The jury met in Colombo, Sri the untimely death of Australian actor to the Wahine
Certain historical events help Lanka, just before the opening of the Heath Ledger. Many were extremely Disaster
to shape a society’s identity and the triennial CAA Conference (see page 25). thoughtful submissions that showed commemorates
one of New Zealand’s
more significant ones, such as wars The jury comprised Ashley de Vos great sensitivity in their physical
worst maritime
and revolutions, are often marked (architect and academic, Sri Lanka), and experiential approaches to accidents, the
with memorials and monuments. DB Nawarathna (architect and commemorating often quite traumatic sinking of the
These can become historical and convener of ARCASIA Awards, Sri events. The skill with which these Wahine ferry in 1968
cultural points of reference for that Lanka), Kerry Clare (teacher and architectural narratives connect Left_ Joint third
society. But many past events go director of Architectus, Australia) with society, shaping culture and prize-winner Aisan
Kianmehr’s Azadi
unmarked and unremembered, and and Catherine Slessor (editor of the collective memory, can be clearly
Square highlights
lose their significance. Competitors AR, UK). Animated by a lively debate discerned in all five prizewinning the protests in Iran
were asked to identify such an event and fortified by a splendid curry schemes, which are described in in the wake of the
in their own country (for which an lunch, the jury considered 91 entries more detail here. presidential election

086 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Competition

caa student design competition winners
Left_ Harry
many submissions showed EQUAL THIRD PRIZE £300 Croucher’s entry,
HARRY CROUCHER. Mauaharanui, guides
great sensitivity in their 2nd year, Unitec, Auckland, visitors across the
New Zealand. beach and clifftops
approaches to commemorating Mauaharanui that formed the
setting for a
often quite traumatic events A memorial to a bloody internecine
Maori conflict in the late 17th century,
particularly bloody
Maori conflict, in
an event which introduced muskets which muskets were
to tribal warfare with devastating newly used to
consequences. Armed with these devastating effect
Below_ Matthew
new weapons, one tribe virtually
Roberts’ Back To
wiped out another. Mauaharanui The Future won the
means ‘place of great wrongdoing’ award for best first
and the project tactfully steers or second year
visitors around the cliff and beach student submission.
His proposal
where the massacre took place. The
incorporates a
jury was impressed by the thoughtful number of timber
reciprocity between architecture and Maori stele at the
place, and the robust yet dignified site of the signing
quality of the individual buildings. of the Treaty of
Waitangi, which
marked the founding
EQUAL THIRD PRIZE £300 of New Zealand
3rd year, University of Putra,
Azadi Square
Set in Tehran’s Azadi Square, this
imaginative and provocative project
draws public attention to the scandal
of last year’s Iranian presidential
election and the wave of protest and
political activism that was sparked
in its wake. Jurors admired the
FIRST PRIZE £2,500 presentation brought complex scheme’s strong urban design quality
SIMON CROCKFORD. ideas vividly to life. A unanimous and the powerful way in which the
6th year, University and outstanding overall winner. building captured, articulated and
of Nottingham, UK. memorialised public discontent.
Digested Landscape SECOND PRIZE £1,000
sensitive scheme commemorates the 4th year, Victoria University OR SECOND YEAR STUDENT
long history of quarrying in the village of Wellington, New Zealand. MATTHEW ROBERTS.
of Twyn-yr-Odyn in rural Wales. The Memorial to the Wahine Disaster 2nd year, Unitec, Auckland,
unorthodox choice of subject matter A clifftop structure commemorates New Zealand.
is the cauterisation of an industrial one of New Zealand’s worst maritime Back to the Future
past and how this can be reclaimed disasters, the sinking of the Wahine The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi marked
and reconnected to the present ferry in 1968 with the loss of 53 lives. the founding of New Zealand. Today,
through physical and experiential Jurors thought the relationship only a flagpole commemorates the
means. The jury admired the between a dramatic site and site where the treaty was signed.
scheme’s powerful yet poetic emotive subject matter extremely Emphasising the connection between
response to its site, an infilled well handled. The building looks colonialism and indigenous people,
former quarry that would gradually be both outwards, to the site of the this project places a series of timber
re-excavated over time. Jurors were sinking, and inwards, to focus on Maori stele around the site, which will
also impressed by the forensic level the poignant historic and human weather over time. The jury thought
of detail, indicating the great thought impact of the disaster. A tranquil this a simple yet effective response
that had clearly gone into the project. internal realm provides a fitting to the challenges and complexities
An especially elegant and lucid space for contemplation. of commemorating nationhood.

088 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Competition

Drums beat as women bring Below_ Quilting is traditionally regarded
as an innocuous feminine pastime, but

buckets of water and boys as a new exhibition, Quilts 1700-2010,

at London’s V&A shows, it is rich in

trample mud and water subversion, allusion and social

commentary. Historic quilts mix with

to make plaster edgy contemporary works, as an

age-old craft skill discovers new
followers. Shown here is At the End
of the Day, stitched by textile artist
Natasha Kerr. Until 4 July.

What I have never seen is the

beautifully hand-crafted Great
Mosque, with massive mud walls
that vary in thickness depending
on height, its walls impaled with
bundles of rodier palms
projecting from the surface.
The real discovery of the
exhibition lies not with the
architecture, but in the story of
the community which maintains
it. The classic images of the
Great Mosque usually show it
devoid of humans, but here
we see astonishing imagery
of thousands of mud-covered
Exhibition / Djenné: bodies rebuilding the mosque
African City of Mud in an annual festival that repairs
RIBA, London the building after the rainy
Until 29 April season. You cannot help feeling
www.architecture.com humbled by the scale of what
is essentially a labour of love.
Since being made a UNESCO Drums beat as women bring
World Heritage Site in 1988, buckets of water, boys trample
Djenné’s fame has escalated. mud and water to make plaster
Its historic 1907 Great Mosque and children ferry the plaster
has become emblematic of West to the highly regarded masons,
Africa, and the beauty of mud who climb up the projecting
buildings in particular. With this palms to replaster. The
image fixed in mind, I visited the achievement of the RIBA’s show
RIBA’s show on the architecture lies in its ability to convey the
of this small town in Mali and coordination, energy and speed
the skills of its masons. of a such process, which,
Many of Djenné’s buildings, amazingly, is finished by mid
including the Great Mosque, morning. I’m going to suggest
are made from sun-baked mud drums at my next site visit.
bricks, set with a mud-based Jon Beswick
mortar, which are coated with
a mud plaster that provides the Goes below the surface of the
sculptural element. The historic relationship between
exhibition’s comprehensive community and building

natasha kerr ©v&a images

photos, drawings and selection Leaves you wanting more –
of mason’s tools left me a bigger show next time?
reminiscing about the numerous
half-built mud structures I have
seen across Western Africa.

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Marginalia 091

Japan is now all original,
producing some of the world’s
most creatively charged work

From left to right_ Atelier Bow-Wow’s Gae House; Sou Fujimoto’s Final Wooden House; Terunobou Fujimori’s Takasugi-an, a tea house on stilts

Book /
New Architecture
in Japan
Yuki Sumner and
Naomi Pollock with David
Littlefield. Photography
by Edmund Sumner.
Merrell, 2010, £29.95

Flicking through the opening

pages of this book, three key
images present contrasting
traits of Japanese architecture.
There is of course much more to
come, with over 600 photographs,
two essays and over 100 case
studies. Nevertheless, these
introductory images seem
particularly well chosen. Shot
by photographer Edmund
Sumner – with text by wife Yuki
and co-authors Pollock and
Littlefield – Atelier Bow-Wow’s
Gae House, Sou Fujimoto’s Final
Wooden House and Terunobu
Fujimori’s Takasugi-an illustrate
the curious nature of
contemporary Japanese regularises but preserves the architectural scene.
architecture by setting an wilderness of the surrounding Perhaps a victim of the
ingeniously planned domestic forest, while his ungrounded tried and tested (and popular) the current post-bubble niggles, such as the omission
building alongside the nation’s image of Fujimori’s tree/tea intro-essay-case-study condition, saying that ‘until of a contents map, this is by
love of traditional craft and house amplifies the manner in publishing format, there is about 20 years ago, you often far the best book on Japan’s
fascination with the absurd. which this maverick architect little connection between heard Japanese culture being recent architectural exports.
In one of the project’s takes history with a pinch of Edmund and Yuki’s observations dismissed as “all copies no Rob Gregory
most celebrated images, salt, as he takes tea within his in the book. The fact that the originals” … [but] it’s now an
Sumner’s enthusiastic manner own curious bird box. Whatever Sumners work so closely haphazard and chaotic offer temporary escape from between ‘the jagged, earthy indisputable fact that Japan Captures Japan’s creative,
persuaded the client of Gae the context – be it city, suburb together, reading architecture condition while successfully stifling rules and regulations, work of Fujimoto and Fujimori has become a nation that chaotic condition
House to pose in his sunken or woodland clearing – Sumner’s in different media, could have making their own mark. Yuki rituals and protocols that plague on one side; and the smooth, exports culture.’ A more bespoke format
study, where he prepares literary shots surprise and delight, produced far more critical leads the narrative with a piece its society’, before focusing transparent, more refined output In accordance with Abe’s might have better suited the
critiques with bikes hanging giving this book equal appeal tension had a more bespoke entitled The Residue of Japan- on two current dualities. First, of Ito, Kengo Kuma and SANAA claim, this book clearly shows collaborative approach
overhead and shoes neatly to anyone with an interest in format been used to record ness, in which she wrestles the recent trend to embrace on the other’. Pollock also that the best from Japan is
aligned next to the front door. the culture or nature of this their combined efforts. That with describing the ambiguity visual chaos, which goes discusses variations of now all original, producing some
With equal fluency, the fascinating country. And, said, however, the project of Japan-ness, saying that against the tactic epitomised Japanese normality in her of the world’s most creatively

edmund sumner
photographer’s interpretation for those who want to delve texts are clear and concise as ‘a comfort zone from the by Tadao Ando, who traditionally essay Architecture in Japan: charged work in response
of Fujimoto’s rustic bunk barn deeper, essays bring first-hand and two essays cover the nation’s traumatic past … built solid walls to contain In Context. Here she quotes to its remarkably energetic
shows how the interior accounts of the current common ground of Japan’s subtle subversions of the norm interiors. Second, the duality architect Hitoshi Abe to describe environment. With one or two

The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Marginalia 093

A sequence of theatrical
spaces that played with scale,
atmosphere and colour

Below_ The Tribune at Strawberry Hill c. 1789, which contained Walpole’s finest things

with scale, atmosphere and eating room. The library,

colour as a background to designed by Chute, is Strawberry
Walpole’s collection of objects, Hill’s most serious essay in
all ‘singular’, ‘unique’, or ‘rare’. medieval Gothic. The Holbein
To coincide with Inskip + chamber, focusing on the early
Jenkins Architects’ £8 million 16th century, is followed by the
renovation of Strawberry Hill, state apartments, including
due to reopen later this year, the gallery, the round drawing
a lively and colourful exhibition room, the great north
at the V&A brings together part bedchamber, and finally the
of Walpole’s collection of Tribune. Designed to contain
pictures, silver, ceramics, glass, Walpole’s finest things, this
miniatures, enamels and room has ‘the air of a Catholic
curious objects of virtu. chapel’ and was named after the
Backgrounds of grey or faintly Tribuna, the room of treasures
inscribed Gothic tracery on white at the Uffizi in Florence, Italy.
paper evoke the atmosphere of The exhibition’s display
‘gloomth’ that Walpole created, faithfully follows Walpole’s
and recall his remark that ‘my picture-hanging principles,
castle is built of paper’. mixing portraits with landscapes
The exhibition, designed and hanging canvases of
by Block Architecture, first different sizes side by side to
introduces us to the ‘Strawberry give the impression of accretion
Committee’ of amateur over time. His ‘principal
designers: Walpole, John Chute, curiosities’ are identified with
whose pivotal role was the labels featuring a star. This
Exhibition / after acquiring a summer villa ‘oracle in taste’, artist Richard exhibition is an unmissable
Horace Walpole and in Twickenham, south-west Bentley and poet Thomas Gray. opportunity to see part of
Strawberry Hill London, in 1747. He altered Walpole did not employ an Walpole’s collection – one of
Until 4 July, V&A, London, and extended it to create architect until the later stages the most unusual and interesting
UK, www.vam.ac.uk ‘the castle... of my ancestors’, of development. He eventually of the 18th-century, and surely
and later renamed it Strawberry commissioned Robert Adam for an inspiration for that other
‘Visions... have always been Hill. Strawberry Hill changed the the round drawing room – even great collector, John Soane.
my pastures... there is no course of architectural history. then dictating the design – and Marion Harney
wisdom comparable to that It was one of the earliest and James Essex for the offices, Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University
of exchanging what is called most influential examples of executed by James Wyatt. A chance to see Walpole’s
the realities of life for dreams. Gothic Revival architecture, Next, we are taken through fascinating collection of
Old castles, old pictures, based on antiquarian printed a series of dynamic, irregular ‘singular’ objects
old histories, the babble of old design sources (the arched spaces on a journey through the The exhibition design has
people make one live back bookcases in the library were house. We encounter ‘gloomth’ too much ‘gloomth’ and not
into centuries that cannot inspired by a choir screen seen in the hall and armoury – spaces enough colour
disappoint one.’ So said Horace in an engraving of London’s Old that inspired Walpole’s 1764
Walpole (1717-97), youngest St Paul’s Cathedral). It was the Gothic novel, The Castle of
son of Great Britain’s first prime first purpose-built, antiquarian Otranto – and in the refectory,
minister, Robert Walpole. ‘museum’ interior; a sequence which was part country-house
Walpole realised his dream of theatrical spaces that played dining room and part monastic

094 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Marginalia

Christopher Wren’s famous enveloped in a cloud. But are they
Geometric Staircase at St Paul’s flying or falling? Lucifer, the rebel
Cathedral in London has been angel, famously fell from heaven,
temporarily colonised by a site- so the temptation might be to read it
specific installation, Flare II, by artist as a meditation on the forces of grace
Antony Gormley. Suspended within and gravity. Gormley himself talks of
the staircase’s cylindrical void, like the work as an ‘attempt to use applied
some anarchic, fractured Christmas geometry to construct an energy field
bauble, Gormley’s intricate wire- describing a human space in space’. It
mesh sculpture depicts a figure will be on view until the end of 2010.

glenn copus

098 The Architectural Review / April 2010 / Delight