NK 22 blog

Click to Enlarge 

So, yes, my dear(s). The basic gag is exactly the same as the one in the previous post, only reversed this time. Anyone who’s been following this blog, read a few of my texts or just within a few kilometer-radius of me knows what I think about the late-90s-2000s fever with starchitecture and the effects it has had on the urban scene around the globe. Mostly, the post-Guggenheim re-discovery of architecture as a marketing device, fueled by politicians and entrepeneurs alike, and invaluably helped by (star)chitect’s egos has resulted into the transformation of much -not a grammatical error- of our cities into Architectural Theme Parks. Even Bilbao, which stands as the epytome of success in urban renewal, has performed its renovation in a bleak post-industrial scenario with some casualties: namely, a big chunk of its own personality.

So, when Sophie Lovell e-mailed me to remind me that I had completely forgotten I had a deadline for their issue on Universal Exhibitions, I did the obvious and wondered what flashy architecture would look like in a few decades’ time. In retrospect, this was maybe not the funniest out of the different ideas I considered for this issue, but, hey, it looks kinda cute, doesn’t it?

……………………………………………………

The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #32: Expotecture, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Ron Wilson and Elvia Wilk et al.

NK21 inks copy 04_01_sm

Click to Enlarge (or don’t. It’s up to you)

(*) Yes, ‘Hanna’ is Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Warsaw’s current mayor. If you live in Poland and you don’t think Warsaw is suffering from a case of  major -and pretty late- Bilbao-itis, drop me a line.

The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #31: Poland, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Ron Wilson and Elvia Wilk et al.

Chatter_Challenging_Satirical_david_schalliol

Click to enlarge. Copyright David Schalliol

So, after last year’s relative silence, 2015 is featuring an also relative back to business in terms of exhibition-related events, with a couple of cameos in bigger exhibitions, and maybe something else a little later. -Of course, all of them happen because there are extremely kind people out there who decide to take the time and effort necessary to put these things together. If it depended on me, then it would have been total silence all these years.

………………………………………………………

The first of these events is taking place within the Chatter: Architecture Talks Back exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Curated by Karen Kice, the exhibition states that ‘Architecture is a perpetual conversation between the present and the past, knowing full well that the future is listening. So what happens when this dialogue is influenced by contemporary modes of communication such as texting, Twitter, and Instagram? Chatter happens: ideas are developed, produced, and presented as open-ended or fragmented conversations and cohere through the aggregation of materials. Chatter:’ Thus, Architecture Talks Back ‘looks at the diverse contemporary methods and approaches wielded by five emerging architects: Bureau Spectacular, Erin Besler, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Formlessfinder, and John Szot Studio.

chatter_mas_context

photo (4)

copyright Mas Context

Within this main exhibition, the rear gallery features an installation by Iker Gil, director –and longtime partner in crime– of Mas Context, journal ‘, which offers visitors a chance to explore the multitude of ways in which architecture can be communicated.’ Iker ‘conceived this section [as a way] to look at the active qualities of chatter-from being constant to satirical-to spark conversations about the field of architecture, our cities, and their citizens.

Chatter_Overall_01_david_schalliol Chatter_Overall_02_david_schalliol

Chatter_Diagnostic_02_david_schalliol Chatter_Challenging_02_david_schalliol

copyright David Schalliol

Walking this section you will meet projects by Ecosistema Urbano; Over, Under and Pinkcomma; Mimi Zeiger and Neil Donnelly with the School of Visual Arts Summer Design Writing and Research Intensive; “Project_” with Sarah Hirschman; 300.000km/s with Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona; Luis Urculo; and Christopher Baker, and a selection of cartoons by yours truly. All the works are exhibited under a series of labels: ‘Challenging’, ‘Collective’, ‘Diagnostic’, ‘Empowering’, ‘Interpretive’, ‘Constant’, ‘Revealing’, and -inevitably- ‘Satirical’.

 Chatter_Collective_01_david_schalliol Chatter_Revealing_01_david_schalliol Chatter_Diagnostic_01_david_schalliol

Along with the exhibition, several events have been organized within this space: Chatter Chat: Talking Back (April 11, 2015), a roundtable discussion moderated by Kelly Bair, Director, Central Standard Office of Design, Chatter Chat: Communication (May 16, 2015), moderated by Iker Gil, and a tour through the exhibition (Tuesday, June 16, 2015) led by Iker Gil and Karen Kice.

………………………………………………………

For more information about the exhibition, please visit the official website, MAS Context’s page, or the different reviews on the show that can be found online. For past exhibits on this very blog, click hereAs usual, a big thank you to Iker and the chief curator.

A10 062_ALA-blog

Click to enlarge

ALA is one of Finland’s success stories, winning a major competition at the age of 30, heading a 40+ employees’ office at 40 and now looking abroad for new opportunities. Besides redoing the Finnish embassy in New Delhi they are also working on the high profile new library in Helsinki. Still, they participate in both open and invited competitions. And now there looking for opportunities in America. But did they enter the Guggenheim competition? ‘That one did not meet our standards.’’

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Mahlamäki said that he appreciates the echo of Finnish Modernism in your work “with a touch of internationalism, mixing the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas with the Finnish Design-orientated approach.” Sounds like Kilden?

 We certainly like to rigorously analyze every situation we’re thrown into, still leaving room for intuitive results.

You have won several important commissions after Kilden, like Kuopio (A10#61) and the Helsinki New Library. Competitions are still an important part of your business strategy. How do you decide which competitions to take on and which you don’t?

We like competitions, both invited and open, that keep our minds and our presentational skills sharp. We set tight criteria as to which competitions to enter and which not (…).

Did you enter the Guggenheim competition?

No, it didn’t meet our criteria. […]

Mahlamäki also said, when I asked him: “I believe their skills and their ambition will carry them far. The Finns are normally shy, but ALA is not – they boldly show their passion and goals.” Do you?

I think we couldn’t possibly hide them if we tried.

What do you think about the younger generation of architects?

We are in a way old fashioned and middle aged. Who designs an opera building today or a metro station like we did? There are still competitions in Finland and abroad that can shape new offices. But the collaborative non-permanent approach of the younger generation is at odds with the more master plan-like projects coming up. We’ll see if it’s the architects shaping the system, or the other way around. Soon a competition for a large school will open and the winner will start a new office from that for sure, if they don’t already have it. It will be interesting to see whether it will be won by architects from a younger generation or by the older guys.

Excerpts* from: Indira van ‘t Klooster: Competitive spirit An Interview with ALA. A10 Magazine #62. March-April 2015

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

(*) They aren’t really that laconic, these guys, as I made them look here. So, if you want to get a sense of what they sound like, I guess you’ll have no other option but buying the magazine (or googling other online interviews with them).

They still owe me a photo, though.

A10 061_05_sm

Click to enlarge

Yes, unfortunately, this year’s scholarly life and my increasing committments with real publishing (aaahhh… money…) and its dreadful deadlines (ahhh…. my weekends…) has resulted in an almost total neglection of the blog. So, in order to catch up a little, let’s move on with the series of illustrations I’ve been doing for A10 magazine (@A10magazine) this past year. All of them were done to illustrate a still ongoing series of interviews with ‘young’ architects or architectural teams (because if you’re an architect under 40, you’re still young, you know? -suck that up, engineers!) conducted by A10’s editor, Indira van ‘t Klooster (@IndiraS). This one, from December 2014, featured NY-based firm SO-IL, run by Florian Idenburg, Jing Liu, and an old colleague from my Cambridge days, Ilias Papageorgoulias Papageorgiou. Dang, has it been so long already??

……………………………………………………………………..

Unlike most architects in Europe, you mainly work for private clients. Why is that?

In Europe, one thinks that governments take care of public space, but outside Europe it’s usually different. (…) It’s very usual for an architect there to be part of the funding efforts for his own design. To arrange for your own fee calls for a different mentality. (…) Personal contact with your client is more important, mutual appreciation is crucial. Also, with public funding, the most important thing is to deliver a building on time and within budget. Once those demands are secured, there is little debate about the design any longer. 

[…]

What do you think would have happened if you had stayed in Europe?

My career would have been entirely different. It would have been harder, I believe, and I wouldn’t be where I am today. I learned the most by leaving the Netherlands, but I never intended to ‘escape’. We seek commissions in Europe (…).As an office, we are much more European than an average American practice, for example, when it comes to our attitude toward public space.

What would be your advice for young architects?

We are six years old now and have set the office on a track that currently allows us to work on a range of exciting projects around the world that engage culture and the public realm. The path of an architecture firm is inherently rocky. The people in our office are even younger than us. The new generation is much more flexible; it’s a more fluid generation. Traditional buildings will always be needed, but I think architects will find a wide range of new fields in which to work. Their skill set is ultimately suited for the demands of our time. Americans are unbeatable in their knowledge of computer coding, which is essential if you want to remain in control of your design. That’s something European architects should be concerned about—they know how to make a model, but very few have a clue about writing computer scripts.

Excerpts* from: Indira van ‘t Klooster: Reflections from overseas An Interview with SO-IL. A10 MAgazine #61. Jan-Feb 2015

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

(*) For the rest you’ll have to buy the magazine. That’s the way it works. Toughen up.

a10- 60 - Julien de Smedt

JDS Plotting

Click to enlarge

In your view, how do design and architecture relate?

It starts with architecture; that’s what I have been involved in the longest. MWA [Makers With Agendas] is an extension of that, but in some ways it goes further. It is easier distributed and available for more people. A building is a single event and is eventually only used by a few. It has a given set of users. MWA has extended our reach and our ideas to a larger population.

Ideas like obesity, education, areas of conflict… huge and complicated stuff.

If the issues are bigger, the products are smaller and more pervasive. We’re not trying to be freaks, but the reverse creation process we’re setting up is like an anomaly, if compared to the big brands. As we develop and extend our resources, we can make more complex products that need more research and thus more money, but are also more influential. The issues at stake sometimes lead to the conclusion that a real resolution would be a change in the law, but as far as our capacity goes now, it’s though the ingenuity of our designs that we aim to make life better. […] MWA derives from an urge to understand other forces that drive the world. My architecture goes in the same direction, but to really address societal issues one needs to utilize other tools and cover other topics.

Have you implemented ideas from MWA back into your architecture?

We have a project, a new mobile home. William Ravn asked me to design his summer house. So we discussed it as a general issue first. Consumption of land is becoming problematic. Small retreats are a big burden on the planet, and they are hardly used, they pollute the landscape and eventually contribute to the financial stress of a country. I wanted to challenge that typology and the mobile home typology. […] I would definitely apply MWA knowledge back into architecture when it makes sense. Before MWA, in 2005, we did the GANG School in Copenhagen, where we implemented a few ideas. It was a school for expelled kids, to keep them off the streets. It was a complete hybrid in that sense. […]

What innovation in architecture is most needed at the moment?

We need to increase urbanity and natural settings at the same time. The city needs to improve in its environment. In China, I never see the sun. It’s really spooky, because of the smog. If we could live and work in a city rethought as an ecosystem where biodiversity and density would cohabit, we would, for instance, massively reduce transportation while maintaining quality of living, which would make a huge difference.

Excerpts* from: Indira van ‘t Klooster: On a scale of hybrid – An Interview with Julien de Smedt. A10 MAgazine #60. Nov-Dec 2014

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

(*) Yes, you’ll have to buy the magazine if you want to read the rest.

_NK20 00_01_01_01_sm

_NK20 05_sm

Click to Enlarge (yes, please)

(*I know there’s a Numerus Klausus Cartoon missing; I’m saving that one for later). You’ll excuse me if I don’t comment much, but I pulled an all-nighter yesterday. Now, plug your Tito and Tarantula’s ‘Greatest Hits’, and relax.

The original cartoon can be found as originally published in the “Klaus Kube” section of Uncube Magazine #29: After Dark, edited by Sophie Lovell, Florian Heilmeyer, Ron Wilson and Elvia Wilk et al., which is full with Luna Parks, neutrino detectors, night walkers in nocturnal london (this one’s particularly worth checking), an article on NY’s 1977 Blackout (which was also the sunject of the inaugural issue of The New City Reader), and a lot more…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,896 other followers

%d bloggers like this: