Conjunto residencial, Kilchberg (Suiza) The Synthesis of Modernity
Naturaleza y material
Mahler, Scranz & Strolz
Bloque de viviendas, Innsbruck (Austria)Block of Dwellings, Innsbruck (Austria)
Kathan, Schranz & Strolz
Bloque de viviendas, Bürmoos, Salzburgo (Austria) Block of Dwellings, Salzburg
Conjunto residencial, Hamburgo (Alemania) Housing Complex, Hamburg (Germany)
Alsop & Störmer
Ecología, tecnología y contexto Ecology, Technology and Context
Viviendas y comercio, Berlín (Alemania) Apartments and
Shops, Berlin (Germany)
Dúplex y estudios para artistas, París (Francia)
Duplexes and Artists' Studios, Paris (France)
Autoría y traducción
Bloques de vivienda, Frankfurt (Alemania) Blocks of Dwellings,
"Put an architect in your life." The ritual invitation to use the professional knowledge of designers has sometimes had such discouraging results that many deliberately exclude the architect from the domestic project, not without strong grounds judging architecture and everyday life to be incompatible. The ironic statement that "the architecture of the house is too important to be left in the hands of architects" is becoming more frequent and probable. Much of the blame must go to the architectural press, which tends to value the esthetic originality and artistic excellence of buildings more than their technical or functional aspects. This reprehensible state of matters becomes serious in the field of housing, where economic and utilitarian considerations acquire an importance that need not be emphasized. Allow me to cite examples which, so as not to appear blind to criticism, have been extracted from our own AV and Arquitectura Viva.
Three years ago, in issue 36 of Arquitectura Viva published Hans Kollhoff's KNSM block, a massive volume of dark brick over a pier in Amsterdam's old harbor zone. While lecturing at the Berlage Institute in the context of a seminar on housing where this was one of the most discussed projects, and in the company of my students and other professors, I was able to visit some of the city's latest residential projects. Without a doubt, Kollhoff's powerful, sculptural and somber building, with its severely carved shapes towering over the water's edge, was by far the most imposing image of the tour. At close range, however, the sordid courtyards formed by slabs of overlapping constructions, the narrow, uncomfortable accessways and he cold metal joineries of the galleries had such a hostile effect that both Kenneth Frampton and I decided to us it as a negative example in subsequent seminar sessions. In the end, notwithstanding, respect for plastic rigor and the Berlin architect's intellectual vigor weighed more heavily, and the building was lauded in our magazine as an outstanding example of housing.
The next year it was in AV itself, in issue 56, and also in the context of a monographical compilation of residential projects, that we published a 24-unit apartment block built by the young architects Florian Riegler and Roger Riewe in Graz. Though we had been following the work of the Austrian partners since their beginnings, on this occasion no member of the magazine's editorial staff had actually visited the site, yet the geometric and abstract beauty of the facades as well as the diagrammatic austerity of the floor plans quickly inspired us to include it in that selection of recent European housing developments. Some time later, when I participated in a conference at the Haus der Architektur of Graz, my hosts kindly showed me the latest architecture of the city in a panoromic tour de rigeur, and we soon bumped into Riegler & Riewe's block, an aggressive bulk of concrete and steel sheets asserting itself like a lone minimalist manifesto amid smiling, floral, fragmented residential developments. It was the only visually striking object in the area, and evidently the one most abhorred by its occupants and neighbors alike.
And earlier this current year Arquitectura Viva dedicated the cover of its 54th
issue to a new building in Amsterdam designed by MVRDV, a Rotterdam-based team of
very young architects (Winy Maes, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries) whom I had
previously had the pleasure to meet through Archis, and whose energy and talent had
greatly impressed me. The magazine's colleagues at the Netherlands Architecture
Institute invited me to participate in its anniversary celebrations, and accompanied
me afterwards to the architects' desolate harbor studio as part of a survey of young
promises. True enough, MVRDV is now the most innovative firm of Holland's fertile
architectural scene, and their block of apartments for people over 55, with its
huge cantilevered wooden drawers and its colorful glass balconies, is one of the
most unusual, refined and daring realizations of the past decade. But should we
have said that the cantilevered apartments penetrated diagonally by structural
elements had not found tenants? We did not, and the building was presented as
the extraordinary and provocative architecture that it is, and not as the debatable
dwelling that it might be.