Archive

Illustrations

inks 03 copia 04-sm

Click to enlarge

Summer vacation is unfortunately over, so let’s catch up with published work that hasn’t made it to the blog yet. Today’s post belongs in the series of illustrations I did for the ‘Interchange’ interviews published in A10 magazine over the last 2 years. As you may know, A10 went out of business last Spring. So, whether this is something permanent or -hopefully- it is not (read announcement here), these posts will remain, for the time being, as the only available peek at the A10 archives. Except, of course, for our Forty and Famous bookwhich compiles 10 of them. There are still some copies left, I believe. Contact @IndiraS if interested.

Today’s post features ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles], a practice led by Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman that ‘researches and intervenes in the contemporary urban landscape with productions ranging from urban plans and architecture to installations and fashion.’

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

When I first interviewed ZUS in 2006, the office had only existed for three years. At the time, principals Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman wondered, ‘Often we ask ourselves which challenges are solvable with good design, and which can really only be solved through politics. After the tsunami in Asia or the hurricane in New Orleans, the question arises to what degree human influence has on our surroundings. What means are still tangible for a designer at larger scales?’ In 2014, ZUS won a major design competition in New York that deals with this exact question. Now they are in America, having just founded ZUS NY.

Since Katrina (2004) and hurricane Sandy (2012), the American awareness of the need for a more inclusive way to solve its climate problems gained ground. After Sandy hit New York it was with amazing speed that Rebuild by Design was founded. The competition’s formula to bring stakeholders to the heart of effective resilience planning has been very successful ever since. Designs were issued (and won) by big firms like OMA and BIG. But among the six finalists was also the team of MIT CAU, de Urbanisten and ZUS Architects, with Deltares, 75B and Volker Infra Design. They received 150 million dollar (of a total 930 million dollar) to realize their proposal for the Meadowlands in New Jersey. The aim is to work with local governments and communities to ensure that the design is incorporated into the lives of everyone involved.

Like in the Netherlands, you deal with communities and stakeholders, with a focus on ecology, community, culture, and landscape design – an inclusive way of working that influences spatial planning and peoples’ lives. Thus, your projects are usually also political. Is working in the US different from here?

If interdisciplinary and proactive work is an ambition in Europe and the Netherlands, it is a necessity in America. To get a project done, you have to work proactively through all the political layers, and you automatically come up against economic and environmental factors. These must somehow be integrated in the plans. You will have to create support from top to bottom. In that sense, working in America is fundamentally integrated and always political. It sometimes takes a little longer, but it’s very valuable.

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

Excerpts from: Indira van’t Klooster: Inclusive archipolitics – An Interview with ZUS Architects.  A10 Magazine #64. Jul/Aug 2015

FaF_omslag_compleet_sm

Click to enlarge

So, after some waiting, finally my book with Indira Van’t Klooster is out! As  you’ll remember, if you’ve been around for a while, back in 2014 Indira van ‘t Klooster, editor-in-chief of A10 magazine contacted me asking if I would be interested in making some cartoons for a series of interviews with different architects. This evolved into a series, published monthly in the magazine, which has now been (partially) compiled in the book Forty and Famous: 10 interviews with successful young European architects.

The book features interviews with a series of relatively young practices comprising ALA (Finland), KOKO (Estonia), Barozzi / Veiga (Spain), SO – IL (USA), WWAA (Poland), ZUS, (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) and JDS (The Netherlands) Chartier Dalix (France), Jürgen Mayer H (Germany), and Assemble (England). Previews of all those can be found in the links above, or by clicking the A10 tag in this very blog.  Some of these images might be familiar for the usual visitors here, but there are still a few unseen ones, such as Jurgen Mayer’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ cartoon, or the cover featuring the whole line-up.

The official launch in this year’s Biennale will take place at the Polish Pavilion, Giardini, Venice on May 27 between 11.00 and 11.30 am. A second event will take place in June 8, 20.00 pm, at Pakhuis De Zwijger, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Amilcar editions is putting out a limited print of the book, so if you’re interested in ordering a copy before they run out, or want any other information, please contact Indira van ‘t Klooster, via email or through her twitter account (@IndiraS)

A10_Book_03-9_sm

A10_Book_03-12_sm

A10_Book_03-15_sm.jpg

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

Presented in this book are 10 young European architecture practices. They all found, in the midst of the financial crisis, a new attitude, a hands-on practice, with great commitment and an eagerness to get things done, thinking large-scale against all odds. How did they succeed? By winning competitions (ALA, KOKO, Barozzi / Veiga), by finding new clients outside Europe (SO – IL, WWAA), by raising new issues (ZUS, JDS), by innovating typologies (Chartier Dalix, Jürgen Mayer H.) and by new types of organization (Assemble) – usually by mixing all of the above, after having been educated abroad for some time.

This selection also shows the different circumstances in which they blossom, through clients in America, Asia and Georgia, post-communist courage in Central Europe and Estonia, bottom-up strategies in The Netherlands and England, an international Erasmus generation flowering in Spain, new traditionalists in France, the benefits of young-architect-friendly Finland, and cross-over markets in Belgium.

-Forty and Famous: 10 interviews with successful young European architects. Indira van’t Klooster. Illustrations by Klaus. Additional texts by Gonzalo Herrero Delicado. Amilcar Publishers, 2016.

A10 063 06_sm

Click to enlarge

Since their start in 2000 KOKO Architects (Andrus Koresaar and RaivoKotov) have evolved on the tides of developments in Estonia, employing an intriguing combination of graphics and modest servitude, and literally building an identity for a new nation with new sense of self-esteem. It made them win the Young Estonian Architect Award 2015, but it didn’t make them conceited. ‘We believe in layers of time, and not so much in permanence.’

Between the KOKO office and the house of one of its partners is a tiny door. It’s invisible to who doesn’t know it, situated in the kitchen behind the dustbin. You have to bend deep to go through the door, designed to make it function like an Alice in Wonderland transformation. You enter from the one world to the other. ‘It’s so small on purpose, so that every time I enter it, I undergo some sort of transformation from private to work, from work to private life. As I do this 3 or 4 times a day, you understand how important it is.’ The story is illustrative of the way KOKO works. They feel comfortable in transforming big historical complexes, they have this way of adding something subtle and personal, and there is always a sense of relativity and humbleness. As if to illustrate that they are just one of the many tiny passers-by in many layers of time.

Having regained independency (as the Estonians like to put it, rather than having become independent) in 1991, the country was ready for its first appearance at the World Expo, the Hanover Expo in 2000. The commission was won by KOKO architects, formed by a recently graduated artist and an architect not even out of the Academy. For what is better for a young nation than to be represented by young talent? Now the country is preparing the celebration on a 100 years existence of the Estonian nation (ignoring the Russian and German supremacy between 1918 and 1991), while Russian pressure is again clearly sensible at the Baltic borders. KOKO is looking for ways to expand their practice outside Estonia, for example in Norway and Finland, both countries that have heavily influenced Estonian architecture. And to close the circle: they have just completed the interior of another national pavilion: at the EXPO Milan.

What made you win the World Expo competition in 2000, do you think?

We proposed a maritime theme to connect to the naval history of Estonia and maximum visibility so as to stand out between all the other countries. The result was a flowing movement high above the visitors’ heads, an undulating forest of fir trees, symbolizing both sea, woods and movement. The spectacular result was an instant success: 2.7 million came to visit the pavilion. For us ‘movement’ has become a recurring feature in our work. Not literally, but metaphorically. In this country every 30 years everything changes drastically. We don’t think that buildings or designs will keep their original functions for much longer than that.

(…)

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

Excerpts from: Indira van’t Klooster: Temporal Layers – An Interview with KOKO Architects.  A10 Magazine #63. May/Jun 2015

 

 

 

A10 068 09-sm

Click to enlarge

Pascale Dalix and Frédéric Chartier started their office 10 years ago. Coming from big offices like Herzog & De Meuron and Dominique Perrault it’s easy to recognize where they learned to play with surfaces and how to combine rationality and poetry. The shiny surfaces of the Young workers’ hostel, crèche and studios in Paris are quite different from the edgy facades of the Sciences and Biodiversity school in Boulogne-Billancourt (France), but the reasoning behind them is the same: ‘It’s the first question to ask and the last to answer, because we keep researching on better solutions during the process: ‘How can we enrich the program?’, say Frédéric Chartier and Pascale Dalix.

Since 2010 they have finished 10 projects with an office of 30 people. As such it is a fast growing office that likes to work in teams. Still, it’s a lot of buildings. One explanation is the way they like to collaborate with other architectural practices. Collaboration makes it possible to work on many buildings at the same time, as well as to experiment a bit with different styles and materials. Their oeuvre as such is not exactly homogeneous, but each building offers a fresh approach. What connects them is their fluidity of spaces: voids and floors interact of various functions and various scales.

How can you enrich the program?

We tend to treat our buildings as vertical micro-cities. French cities are so dense, we need to create valuable human living spaces in high quantities. This is only possible when we can also make a sort of recluse. A place that extends the city inside the building itself. To be able to do that within the strict budget limits we have learned to play with structures and spaces.

What’s the reason that you seldom use the ground floor for public amenities?

If all public functions are on the ground floor the rest of the program needs to come on top of that, which creates monocultures on the higher floors. And who has invented to put amenities on the ground floor? In the case of the 240 studios, we had a library, restaurant, a laundry and a fitness center for the young workers and a kindergarten to accommodate and we did not have enough place on the ground floor. By inserting extra program on the upper floors we bring life to all levels. Thus we have created public space that has more urban life than outside the building. (…)

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

Excerpts* from: Indira van’t Klooster: Fluidity of Spaces on All Scales– An Interview with Chartier-Dalix Architectes.  A10 Magazine #68. Mar/Apr 2016

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(*) As usual, there’s more to be found in the magazine itself.

A10 66 v05_sm

Click to enlarge

So, It’s been half a year since I posted anything here. I’m not going to promise things will be different from now on, because it wouldn’t be the first (or nth) time I fail to keep that promise. In any case, for those who have stopped by here faithfully these last 6 months just to find there was nothing new, let’s dust off an old piece, published some time ago in A10 magazine.

As those among you who know me already know, I’m partially skeptical about the ‘new architectural collectives’ scene that has emerged with renewed strength in the last years, fueled by the crisis. Not that I have any problem with the concept per se, mind you: I am among those who think that the profession is in desperate need of change and diversification, on the one hand. We are not in Le Corbusier’s times anymore, and -maybe sadly, maybe fortunately- few of us will have the chance to be that kind of architect. Also, I certainly find it worthy that architects climb down from their ivory towers and talk face to face -and hopefully in the same language- to real people. You know, the ones who will use the buildings we design. More on this later.

However, even if I’m happy to see this change, I feel a little less enthused when I see it becoming just a trend, and when the much needed diversification of architectural practice(s) is substituted by a sameness of hipster poses. I’m all in for an putting an end to the ‘starchitect wannabe’ era. Let’s just not substitute it for a New Establishment of allegedly ‘committed’ architects… whose ultimate goal is, again, become famous in the architectural scene, just by using different means.

Amongst the maremagnum of ‘cool’ collectives, there are of course those who are genuinely interested in giving response to the architectural needs of today, and truly believe in collaborating with the public -or, what’s even better, in accepting members who are not architects themselves. Withing this last group, British collective Assemble has become a referent in its own right, even winning the Turner Prize in the process. The fact that some have declared the death of the famous award because of this only underscores that they’re doing the right thing.

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

The Power of Many

Assemble are probably one of the most prolific and influential collective architecture practices nowadays in UK. Working on very different scale projects from public realm improvement strategies to building renovations or exhibition designs, their 18 members have a shared interest to create projects of real social value. They don’t usually self-start their own projects instead of waiting for commissions to come to them. The collective jointly work with communities, institutions and other clients to make projects happen, what in many cases means to build them in case it is necessary by themselves, learning as they go. From their working space SugarhHouse in London they are shaking up the architecture panorama in UK.

How did it all start?

It was in 2009 when the majority of people that later became Assemble were doing Part I architecture jobs working on small part of big projects, we all had some kind of collective desire to understand projects in a more holistic way and have hands on role and experiment and try things. There was a collective dissatisfaction. (…)

What is the leitmotiv for all your projects?

First that we all really want to do them. Secondly, Assemble is a broad church and people act here in many different ways and for many different reasons. We don’t try to push a manifesto but to give people as much freedom, resources and critical support to do the work that they want to do in the best way that they can and in the ways that this is necessarily possible within a traditional practice. It’s very important in Assemble that works as a horizontal structure where everyone’s got their responsibility for what they do and think. (…)

Do you think there is any shared philosophy in the collective practices?

From our experience talking to other practices or groups that are in a similar position and make similar things, we see that there’s a shared ambition and dissatisfaction that can probably be related with a lack of opportunities. When you talk to people they seem fairly to turn on innovation, they have a shared interest in making things differently, mixing life and work in a different way and have the control of your own and your projects. (…)

Excerpts* from: Gonzalo Herrero Delicado: The Power of Many– An Interview with Assemble.  A10 Magazine #66. Dec 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(*) If you are interested in reading more, you’ll have to buy the magazine. They have bills to pay, too.

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- 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. […]

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.

%d bloggers like this: