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In Memoriam

Arthur Ovaska, Cornell architecture professor, dies at 67
Nearly 16 years ago, Professor Ovaska introduced me, as a teaching assistant on a summer studio road trip, to a wide range of architecture and landscapes across the U.S. On March 19, I revisited my favorite, Craters of the Moon National Park. On March 26, we lost Arthur. The "Moebius Trip" departed Ithaca, NY to criss-cross the country in a figure eight, which sometimes seemed to last for infinity. The nation's endless highways, expansive landscapes, and varied architecture—historical and contemporary, vernacular and uncommon, even eccentric (yes, I'm thinking of House on the Rock)—stretched out before us. The stops, often hot and crowded as tourist season hit its peak, were the slideshows with brief captions; the three minivans were the classrooms for discussion. My winter visit was rather serene as I looked across the snow-capped volcanic rock, the whistling high desert wind the only sound, reflecting on Ovaska's course. After he received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1974, Ovaska taught at Cornell University for more than thirty years as an associate professor of architecture. While he began his graduate studies that same year, studying under O. M. Ungers, he spent the next four years collaborating on projects, including “The City in the City: Berlin, A Green Archipelago,” (1977) a manifesto by Ungers and Rem Koolhaas. The project focused on Berlin as a series of interventions with city planning in symbiosis with architectural form, a theme Ovaska would pursue the rest of his life. In 1978, Ovaska went on to co-found Kollhoff & Ovaska, a firm in Berlin, with fellow collaborator Hans Kollhoff. Their most recognized design was the master site plan for the International Building Exhibition Berlin in 1987. In 1987, Ovaska accepted a teaching position at his alma mater where he became director of undergraduate studies, director of graduate studies, and chair of the Department of Architecture. Ovaska contributed an article, "States of Emergence: Place in a Post-Guru Context," to The Cornell Journal of Architecture #4, "States of Emergence: Place in a Post-Guru Context," where he—a man of few but poignant words—succinctly summarized his pedagogical approach: "difficult to grasp for the student who sees ink-on-mylar as the end product of a problem. These projects attempt to conceive of place as the medium in which the Architect works and from which ideas emerge. " He had a sense of humor, even after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, posting on Facebook an image of his head collaged on a medical illustration showing which parts of his body were to be removed in an upcoming surgery and another on the body of Dr. Frankenstein; obituaries for Fats Domino, Wilbur Post, and his colleague Bonnie MacDougall, and a plan of Alvar Aalto's Malmi Funeral Chapel. But rather than dwell on his own mortality, Arthur continued to seek the nuanced and unique in architectural anomalies, obscure drawings, and provocative (not sensational) design. He was 67 when he died at home in Ithaca.
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Drone Dramas

Cyprien Gaillard’s 3-D “Nightlife” offers mesmerizing look at cities and their histories of resistance
Marcel Duchamp Prize-winning artist Cyprien Gaillard’s film Nightlife (2015), currently on view for the first time in the United States at Gladstone Gallery in New York, is a portrait of the living city. Gaillard, who was born in Paris and lives and works between New York and Berlin, practices across media, including photo, film, and sculpture. He is known for his meditations on memory, history, and failure—including work on the legacy and present of modern architecture. His latest film, Nightlife, was filmed with advanced imaging techniques and drones, and the camera flows and glides between close-up, abstract shots to floating arial views with ease. Upon entering the gallery, a nautilus shell in a recessed light box mounted in a black wall marks the entrance to the screening area. Viewers are offered 3-D glasses, which enhance the hallucinatory, ecstatic nature of the piece. Though comprising seemingly abstract shots—swaying trees, fireworks, city streets, aerial views of buildings, all, of course, shot at night—the film is deeply allegorical, telling a complex history of revolution and resistance through objects, plants, and buildings that live and breathe as characters. Presented without caption or narration, the film advances in what might be described as four acts through Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Berlin, coming full circle in Cleveland again. The film opens on an almost indiscernible closeup of a plant before moving on to Rodin’s The Thinker, outside the Cleveland Museum of Art. The spinning camera revels in the sculpture’s apparent decay, the result of a 1970 bombing by the radical left-wing organization the Weather Underground. Nightlife then advances to Los Angeles, where it depicts dancing, rioting trees on the streets of the city—primarily the Hollywood Juniper, a non-native species that has been a recurring motif in Gaillard’s work. Shored up against the architectural forms, the trees not only trouble the boundaries of natural and artificial, but also evoke notions of indigeneity, migration, and belonging. The trees' movements might also be read more explicitly as a reference to the so-called L.A. riots of 1992 and to other forms of civil action and resistance. Though arguably all of Nightlife depicts the city as protagonist, the most explicitly architectural moment is the third act, which features the Berlin Olympiastadion. Built for the 1936 Olympics, the stadium served as a monument to the Third Reich. It now functions as a space for a variety of events, including an annual fireworks competition, the Pyronale, which is displayed in the film in explosive technicolor. The film returns to Cleveland, landing on American runner Jesse Owens's Olympic oak tree planted at the Ford Rhodes High School. Owens, whose four gold medal wins as a black athlete at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany flew in the face the Third Reich’s extensive racist propaganda campaign, was awarded an oak sapling for each of his gold medals (the oak tree serves as a symbol of Germany). In lieu of the sound of its settings, the film loops a sample of Alton Ellis's Blackman's Word (1969) throughout, its repetition pulling the viewer into Nightlife’s self-contained world even more completely and unifying the disparate scenes. (Originally featuring the refrain “I was born a loser,” it was re-recorded in 1971 as “I was born a winner.” Critically, both versions feature in the film.) Not merely a vibrant portrait of cities at night, Nightlife traces the residue of history left on the landscape—be it "natural" or built. Nightlife originally appeared at Sprüth Magers in Berlin and is on view at Gladstone Gallery through April 14th. Cyprien Gaillard: Nightlife Gladstone Gallery, 530 West 21st Street,New York, NY Through April 14th
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An American City

What to see at the first FRONT International Cleveland Triennial
On July 14 the inaugural FRONT International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art opens in Cleveland, Ohio, marking the latest in a string of art, design, and architecture events across the Midwest. Although it is primarily arts focused—unlike the Chicago Biennial and Exhibit Columbus—the theme, “An American City” and the dramatic backdrop of Cleveland’s downtown lend itself to several architecturally significant installations. “We are very much aware of putting the exhibition within the context of a cityscape,” said Fred Bidwell, executive director of the triennial. “It is not about Cleveland, per say, it is about using Cleveland as a canvas for the artists in an urban context.” The potentially most striking exhibition is Canvas City, a mural program across approximately nine downtown blocks that revives Cleveland’s 1973 City Canvases program and Julian Stanczak’s iconic mural. FRONT will restore Stanczak’s mural on its original twelve-story building on Prospect Avenue and Ninth Street. Over the next three years, more murals will be completed throughout the city by contemporary artists Odili Donald Odita, Sarah Morris, Heimo Zobernig, and Kay Rosen. “In the 1970s, the mural program was part of a blight remediation movement to help revitalize a very bleak condition,” said Bidwell. “Now, this is not a remediation, but a celebration and a way to enhance the city with new works by important artists and a tribute to Julian.” For this first triennial FRONT will create augmented reality versions of the proposed artworks. Cleveland Clinic, which is already home to a renowned art collection, is adding two new artworks, a wall painting by abstract artist Jan van der Ploeg and an installation by multimedia artist Sharon Lockhart. At Case Western Reserve University, FRONT artistic director Michelle Grabner and the university commissioned Chicago-based artist and sculptor Tony Tasset to create a pavilion for the 34,000-square-foot plaza at the university. The result, Judy’s Hand Pavilion, represents the hand of Tasset’s wife touching down on the earth. “It has this great interplay of masculine and feminine because it is clearly a woman’s hand, but also has these God-like references reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam,” Grabner said. The triennial expands beyond Cleveland into nearby northeast Ohio, including Akron and Oberlin. Oberlin College will also serve as a site for a few important architectural events. Conceptual artist Barbara Bloom will create a new installation in the Robert Venturi–designed wing of the Allen Memorial Art Museum by building architectural elements around the existing artwork. The museum will also feature Chinese artist Cui Jie’s futuristic city paintings that explore utopian/dystopian urban landscapes. To create these fantastical works, Jie combines the stories of Orson Wells with her perspective of Chinese cities, including Chinese propaganda and communist aesthetics. At Frank Lloyd Wright’s Weltzheimer/Johnson Usonian House—five minutes away from the museum—painter Juan Araujo will add a new series to the modernist art collection curated by art history professor Ellen Johnson, who lived in the house from 1968 to 1992. "A lot of people have realized that the contemporary art, design, and even architecture worlds are very concentrated in the big coastal cities and hubs, which distorts the market and creates this bubble-effect," Bidwell said. "Cities like New York and L.A. are terrific, but they are very unique and really don't represent the rest of the country. In addition, it can be difficult to do anything new in those cities because of the expense and hassle it takes to put on a biennial or a triennial. In a city like Cleveland, we have seven major arts institutions with international and national exhibitions across multiple venues and over 100 artists to create an expansive, thought-driven, thematically linked art triennial. It is an important time in the history of the U.S. to rediscover the center of the country." To learn more about FRONT Triennial and to stay updated on its programming, check out its website here.
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122 Community Art Center

Deborah Berke Partners reveals East Village community arts center
  New York's Deborah Berke Partners (DBP) has just completed interior work, unified by a subtle side-lot addition, on 122 Community Art Center, a space for theater, painting, and health services in the East Village. The five-story building, a former schoolhouse at 150 First Avenue, cheerily commands the corner of 9th Street. In the 1970s and 80s, arts groups occupied the building: actors from P.S. 122 (now Performance Space New York) converted the column-filled ground floor into a theater, and artists affiliated with Painting Space 122 worked under the light from tall classroom windows. Despite their long residency, the two groups, plus theater company Mabou Mines, legalized their occupancy only ten years ago. Working in collaboration with these groups, plus a health nonprofit, the Alliance for Positive Change, the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Design and Construction initially tapped DBP to bring the performance spaces up to code, but the project evolved into something bigger: Over a year of talks, the stakeholders developed a unifying program that would enhance inter-group collaboration while improving their individual workspaces. All four nonprofits wanted a room for meetings, and an ADA-accessible entrance lobby, as well as a common roof space. "They said, 'don't make it too nice—keep the grit,'" Maitland Jones, a partner at the firm, said. "There wasn't extra money for anything too fancy." To meet their needs, DBP carried the building, lightly, into an adjacent lot. Their addition, essentially circulation and a new entrance, hugs a former masonry schoolhouse designed in 1894 by C.B.J. Snyder—New York's go-to school architect at the time. The addition, clad in a perforated steel scrim and tucked carefully into the north wall, lightens the school's heavy red-brick facade without compromising its classical symmetry. On the fourth floor, the largest theater belongs to Performance Space NY, a company founded in 1980 in the building. Previously, the group staged performances on a first-floor space littered with structural columns, a charming but challenging arrangement. Now, actors perform in a double-height theater with a black-painted sprung floor—one of the extras the city paid for over the five-year-long construction process. On the second floor, Mabou Mines was staging a show in the smaller, 99-seat theater, and a puppet show had just wrapped in an adjacent studio. The second and third floors host Painting Space 122's studios, while the ground floor is home to their gallery and the Alliance for Positive Change clinic. Shop space, offices, studios for dance group Movement Research, and an as-yet-unfinished roof deck round out the program. Throughout, the color palette is simple: black for the floors, grey services and mechanicals, and white walls. To further unify the groups' individual workspaces, Berlin-based artist Monika Goetz crafted two light installations on multiple floors that dim and brighten rhythmically, like calm breath. Inhale/Exhale and Independent Lines, installed as architectural lighting on the cornice, and in the lobby and third floor addition, were visible from across the street on an overcast day, understated reminders of the creative frisson inside the building. The space is half-open right now, but Jones stated that renovations will be complete sometime before summer 2018.
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Freespace

Venice Architecture Biennale announces main exhibitors and expands on its theme
Curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale have announced more details about the 2018 show, themed Freespace. This year, 71 studios and 65 countries, seven of which are participating for the first time, including the Vatican, will show their work in two separate exhibitions, from May 26 through November 25, 2018. In the show’s manifesto by Farrell and McNamara, Freespace is described as, “[…] examples of generosity and thoughtfulness in architecture throughout the world that will be celebrated in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition. We believe these qualities sustain the fundamental capacity of architecture to nurture and support meaningful contact between people and place. We focus our attention on these qualities because we consider that intrinsic to them are optimism and continuity.” As such, Freespace entrants will be given leeway to present works that can range from open civic spaces to material studies, as long as they laud the natural world and “nature’s free gifts.” Freespace is accepting proposals, examples, and pieces of projects, both built and unbuilt, that evoke a hidden beauty through the use of materiality, form, complexity, or place. Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale di Venezia, praised this year’s theme and the participants’ commitment to improving society through design. “The absence of architecture makes the world poorer and diminishes the level of public welfare, otherwise reached by economic and demographic developments. To rediscover architecture means to renew a strong desire for the quality of the spaces where we live, which are a form of public wealth that needs to be constantly protected, renovated and created?" Below are all 71 architects:
  1. 6a architects(London, UK) Tom Emerson; Stephanie Macdonald; John Ross; Owen Watson
  2. Alison Brooks Architects(London, UK) Alison Brooks
  3. Álvaro Siza 2 – Arquitecto, SA(Porto, Portugal) Álvaro Siza Vieira
  4. Amateur Architecture Studio(Hangzhou, China) Wang Shu; Lu Wenyu
  5. andramatin(Jakarta, Indonesia) Andra Matin
  6. Angela Deuber Architect(Chur, Switzerland) Angela Deuber
  7. architecten de vylder vinck taillieu(Ghent, Belgium) Jan de Vylder; Inge Vinck; Jo Taillieu
  8. Arrea architecture(Ljubljana, Slovenia) Maruša Zorec
  9. Assemble(London, UK) Jane Issler Hall; Mathew Leung; Alice Edgerley; Adam Willis; Fran Edgerley; Amica Dall; Giles Smith; James Binning; Paloma Strelitz; Lewis Jones; Joseph Halligan; Louis Schulz; Maria Lisogorskaya; Karim Khelil; Anthony Engi Meacock
  10. Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner(Haldenstein, Switzerland) Peter Zumthor
  11. Aurelio Galfetti(Lugano and Bellinzona, Switzerland)
  12. Barclay & Crousse(Lima, Peru) Sandra Barclay; Jean-Pierre Crousse
  13. BC architects & studies(Brussels, Belgium) Ken De Cooman; Nicolas Coeckelberghs; Wes Degreef; Laurens Bekemans
  14. Benedetta Tagliabue - Miralles Tagliabue EMBT(Barcelona, Spain; Shangai, China) Benedetta Tagliabue; Elena Nedelcu; Joan Callís
  15. BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group(New York, USA; Copenhagen, Denmark; London, UK) Bjarke Ingels; Sheela Maini Søgaard; Finn Nørkjær; Thomas Christoffersen; Kai-Uwe Bergmann; Andreas Klok Pedersen; David Zahle; Jakob Lange; Beat Schenk; Daniel Sundlin; Brian Yang; Jakob Sand
  16. Burkhalter Sumi Architekten (Zürich, Switzerland)  Marianne Burkhalter; Christian Sumi with Marco Pogacnik (Venice, Italy)
  17. Carla Juaçaba(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  18. Caruso St John Architects(London, UK) Adam Caruso; Peter St John
  19. Case Design(Mumbai, India) Anne Geenen; Samuel Barclay
  20. Cino Zucchi Architetti(Milan, Italy) Cino Zucchi
  21. Crimson Architectural Historians(Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Ewout Dorman; Michelle Provoost; Cassandra Wilkins; Wouter Vanstiphout; Simone Rots; Annuska Pronkhorst
  22. David Chipperfield Architects(London, UK; Berlin, Germany; Milan, Italy; Shanghai, China) David Chipperfield; Alexander Schwarz; Martin Reichert; Christoph Felger; Eva Schad; Harald  Müller
  23. de Blacam and Meagher Architects(Dublin, Ireland; Ibiza, Spain) Shane de Blacam; John Meagher
  24. Diller Scofidio + Renfro(New York, USA) Elizabeth Diller; Charles Renfro; Ricardo Scofidio; Benjamin Gilmartin
  25. DnA_Design and Architecture(Beijing, China) Xu Tiantian
  26. Dorte Mandrup A/S(Copenhagen, Denmark) Dorte Mandrup; Frants Nielsen
  27. Elemental(Santiago, Chile) Alejandro Aravena; Gonzalo Arteaga; Juan Cerda; Diego Torres; Victor Oddo
  28. Elizabeth Hatz Architects(Stockholm, Sweden) Elizabeth Hatz
  29. Estudio Carme Pinós(Barcelona, Spain) Carme Pinós
  30. Flores & Prats(Barcelona, Spain) Eva Prats; Ricardo Flores
  31. Francesca Torzo Architetto(Genova, Italy) Francesca Torzo
  32. Gion A. Caminada(Vrin-Cons, Switzerland)
  33. GrupoSP(São Paulo, Brazil) Alvaro Puntoni; Joao Sodre
  34. Gumuchdjian Architects(London, UK) Philip Gumuchdjian
  35. Hall McKnight(Belfast and London, UK) Alastair Hall; Ian McKnight
  36. Inês Lobo, Arquitectos(Lisbon, Portugal) Inês Lobo; João Rosário
  37. Jensen og Skodvin Arkitekter AS(Oslo, Norway) Jan Olav Jensen; Børre Skodvin; Torunn Golberg; Torstein Koch
  38. John Wardle Architects(Melbourne, Australia) John Wardle, Stefan Mee, Meaghan Dwyer, Bill Krotiris, Jane Williams
  39. Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA(Tokyo, Japan) Kazuyo Sejima; Ryue Nishizawa
  40. Kieran Long; Johan Örn; James Taylor-Foster (Stockholm, Sweden) with  ArkDes (Stockholm, Sweden)
  41. Lacaton & Vassal Architects(Paris, France) Anne Lacaton; Jean Philippe Vassal
  42. Laura Peretti Architects(Rome, Italy) Laura Peretti
  43. Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo(Vittoria – Ragusa, Italy)
  44. Marie-José Van Hee architecten(Ghent, Belgium) Marie-José Van Hee
  45. Marina Tabassum Architects(Dhaka, Bangladesh) Marina Tabassum
  46. Matharoo Associates(Ahmedabad, India) Gurjit Singh Matharoo
  47. Michael Maltzan Architecture(Los Angeles, USA) Michael Maltzan
  48. Niall McLaughlin Architects(London, UK) Niall McLaughlin
  49. O'Donnell + Tuomey(Dublin, Ireland) John Tuomey; Sheila O'Donnell
  50. Paredes Pedrosa Arquitectos(Madrid, Spain) Angela Garcia de Paredes; Ignacio G. Pedrosa
  51. Paulo Mendes da Rocha(São Paulo, Brazil)
  52. Peter Rich Architects(Johannesburg, South Africa) Peter Rich
  53. Rafael Moneo, Arquitecto(Madrid, Spain) Rafael Moneo
  54. Rintala Eggertsson Architects(Oslo and Bodø, Norway) Dagur Eggertsson; Vibeke Jensen; Sami Rintala
  55. RMA Architects(Mumbai, India; Boston, USA) Rahul Mehrotra; Nondita Correa Mehrotra; Robert Stephens; Payal Patel
  56. Robert McCarter, Professor of Architecture(St. Louis, Missouri, USA) Robert McCarter
  57. Room11 Architects(Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) Thomas Bailey; Nathan Crump; Megan Baynes
  58. Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura(Mexico City, Mexico) Rozana Montiel
  59. Salter Collingridge Design(London and Ludlow, UK) Peter Salter; Fenella Collingridge
  60. Sauerbruch Hutton(Berlin, Germany) Matthias Sauerbruch; Louisa Hutton; Juan Lucas Young
  61. Skälsö Arkitekter(Visby and Stockholm, Sweden) Joel Phersson; Erik Gardell; Lisa Ekström; Mats Håkansson; Axel Wolgers
  62. Souto Moura - Arquitectos, S.A.(Porto, Portugal) Eduardo Souto de Moura
  63. Studio Anna Heringer(Laufen, Germany) Anna Heringer
  64. Studio Gang(Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, USA) Jeanne Gang
  65. Studio Odile DECQ(Paris, France) Odile Decq
  66. Talli Architecture and Design(Helsinki, Finland) Pia Ilonen; Minna Lukander; Martti Lukander
  67. Tezuka Architects(Tokyo, Japan) Takaharu Tezuka; Yui Tezuka
  68. Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects(Tokyo, Japan) Toyo Ito
  69. Vector Architects(Beijing, China) Gong Dong
  70. VTN Architects(Hochiminh City, Vietnam) Vo Trong Nghia
  71. Weiss/Manfredi(New York, USA) Marion Weiss; Micheal Manfredi
This year’s biennale will also see pavilions from the aforementioned 65 countries go up in the Giardini, the Arsenale, and the Venice city center. It also marks the first time that Antigua & Barbuda, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Mongolia, Pakistan, and the Holy See will be exhibiting pavilions. The national participants have chosen to tackle the theme in a variety of ways. While some countries have opted to highlight environmental justice, others will prompt discussions on a “lack of free space” or seek to explore the term. A full list of the 65 national entrants and their pavilion’s theme can be found here. The United States will front a hefty and diverse group of seven design teams for this year’s show to realize Dimensions of Citizenship.
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Domestic Details

Five shows that stretch the boundaries between furniture and art
While the boundaries between art, architecture, and design are already often quite murky, the following artists are troubling the bounds even further, using furniture’s familiar forms to examine intimacy between people and objects, reconsider how bodies negotiate space, or offer a platform for new activities. These five exhibitions are sure to provoke a reconsideration of furniture and its relationship to domesticity, technology, and history.  A two-for-one, C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G’s Bushwick, Brooklyn location has on display simultaneous shows of artists reinventing domestic forms. Hannah Levy: Swamp Salad C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G 396 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Through March 11 Hannah Levy’s fleshy furnishings in Swamp Salad feature her signature space-age grotesque sculptures in molded steel and flesh-hued silicon. Pearl-accented lounge chairs (derived from French modernist Charlotte Perriand’s iconic designs), coat racks of elongated steel bones, and alabaster bicycle helmets circle around a screen, mounted on an intrusive, curvaceous steel bar descending from the ceiling which a video of long-nailed hands plucking pearls from oysters. Categories like natural and artificial, familiar and strange, pull apart to uncanny effect in Levy’s mixed-up alien universe. Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel: Rosa Aurora Rosa C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G 396 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Through March 11 Also at C-L-E-A-R-I-N-G, Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel, who have been collaborating since 2003, go on a psychosexual escapade in stone, both reveling in and being irreverent of sculptural tradition. Rosa Aurora Rosa, a name derived from the Portuguese pink marble that makes up the central massive sculptures of the show, blends body and bathroom in forms that seem at once ancient and contemporary. Along the walls are “paintings” in stone, also depicting  with bodies, vessels, and holes. BLESS N°60 Lobby Conquerors Mathew 46 Canal Street, New York, NY Through April 3 BLESS, the Berlin and Paris-based creative collective founded by Ines Kaag and Desiree Heiss, has reimagined classic Artek products as “architurniture.” Expanding on their 1998 BLESS Nº 7 Livingroom Conquerors,. BLESS moved into public space with BLESS N°60 Lobby Conquerors. Originally commissioned for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Lobby Conquerors have been brought to New York’s Mathew gallery in collaboration with architecture magazine PIN–UP and furniture manufacturer Artek. Taking designer Ilmari Tapiovaara’s iconic 1960 Kiki benches and lounge chairs and 1954 Lukki stools for Artek, BLESS dressed up the modernist seating with fur, fabric, and architectural add-ons that invite a whole new confrontation between people and furniture. Welcome to the Dollhouse  Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Pacific Design Center 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA Through April 8 Welcome to the Dollhouse, at L.A. MOCA’s Pacific Design Center, uses objects from the museum’s permanent collection to come to terms with and trouble notions of domesticity. Featuring art across a range of media, the exhibition plays house with artists includinge Lynn Aldrich, Julie Becker, Meg Cranston, Ross Bleckner, Moyra Davey, Judy Fiskin, Robert Gober, Jim Isermann, Mike Kelley, Roy McMakin, Rodney McMillian, Bill Owens, Jorge Pardo, Richard Prince, among others. Jillian Mayer: Slumpies Tufts University 40 Talbot Avenue, Medford, MA and 230 Fenway, Boston, MA Through April 15 Artist Jillian Mayer has been designing furniture for the digital age. These amalgamations of fiberglass, epoxy, resin, wood, and paint are designed to be a new ergonomic solution for perhaps our most common activity, looking at our phones. The so-called Slumpies invite new postures of standing, sitting, and lying alone or with friends to stare at your screen endlessly without having to worry about neck strain. By equal measures practical and parody, the Slumpies are currently on view around Tufts University’s Boston and Medford campuses in conjunction with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston’s exhibition Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today.
Ever popular and prescient, the Slumpies are also currently on view at New York's Postmasters gallery.
Jillian Mayer: Post Posture
Postmasters
Through March 31
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Sitting Pretty

Office space: 6 ergonomic task chairs
Although the office has evolved to be many things with the advent of creative, collaborative spaces, standing desks, and remote working, there is one workplace constant: the task chair. Rolling to-and-fro at a desk nearby, these six chairs on casters are designed for comfort and durability. (Courtesy Humanscale) Diffrient Smart Chair Humanscale "So striking in mesh," says almost no one. This chair is the exception, featuring a tri-panel, u-shaped mesh backing that encourages ergonomic postures. Nuova Contessa Teknion This chair was designed to encourage sitters to move and change positions to optimize their workflow. To fall in line with the office aesthetic, it is offered as an all-mesh model or with mesh back and upholstered seat in a spectrum of workplace-ready hues. Elephant with casters Kristalia Like the the largest land mammals that inspired its form, this chair is sturdy with a stiff polyurethane structure, yet soft to the touch. It is available in upholstered fabrics by Kvadrat, or in hide with visible stitching that emulates an elephant’s backside.
BuzziBounce BuzziSpace Rock n’ roll! Shaped like the letter S, BuzziBounce’s tubular steel frame offers a spring-like “bounce” when sitting. Bringing movement to an otherwise static workday, the effect also provides the appearance and feeling of weightlessness, in a full range of bright and pared-down colorways. X3 X-Chair Tired from sitting? This chair tends to all those problem areas with an adjustable backrest height, a dynamic lumbar support, and an independently adjustable head and neck rest. Notably, the chair supports the user’s weight with Advanced Tensile Recovery fabric, a multilayered knot polymer whose support system was inspired by flying buttresses. Lyric  Allsteel Wolfgang Deisig, founder of the Berlin-based studio Deisig Design, designed this task chair to fit in with other office furniture, yet stand out with brilliant pops of color. It is offered as a mid-back or high-back chair, in standard or large-and-tall sizes.
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Under Wraps

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s early sculpture highlights architecture at the street level
For its 2018 edition, BRAFA, the Belgian art and antiques fair, honored Christo and Jeanne-Claude by exhibiting an early sculpture which has characterized their work ever since. We speak to Christo about working in the public realm, the importance of architecture, and why he would never accept any donations to fund his projects. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are best known for their large-scale, temporary works of art that intervene on the built environment as well as the natural world, like the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris, or more recently, the installment of floating walkways on Italy’s Lake Iseo. But it’s a far lesser-known work that the latest edition of BRAFA Art Fair celebrated earlier this month in Brussels. Three Store Fronts (1965-66), a rarely-exhibited, early sculpture 46 feet long and 8.2 feet tall, mimics the facades of a retail space, and marks an important shift in the artists’ career: from objects to environments. When the Bulgarian-born Christo met his late-wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris in 1958 (she passed away in 2009), his work mostly revolved around the wrapping of everyday objects, like cans and bottles. The couple first turned their attention to the outdoors in 1961, with the artwork Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages (also considered their first collaboration), installed at the Cologne Harbor, then again the following year, with Wall of Oil Barrels - The Iron Curtain in Paris, a response to the construction of the Berlin Wall. From 1963 until 1968, the development of their sculptural works Show Cases, Show Windows and Store Fronts, further solidified their interest in the public realm. In Show Cases, Christo collected glass displays and medical cabinets from flea markets in Paris, then hung pieces of fabric or pasted paper on the pane interiors, overturning their functions. While these works still largely revolved around an object (comparable to the early Wrapped Cans or Packages), they paved the way for the much larger, life-sized series Show Windows and Store Fronts — of which the views were, again, obstructed with fabric. Their proportions echoed the dimensions of the architecture of New York, where the couple emigrated to in 1964. “These works related to the architectural space of the street,” Christo explains of Show Windows and Store Fronts. “In some way, they were a precursor of works that we did later, like the Valley Curtains in Colorado, or the Running Fence in California.” Both of these projects were extremely ambitious in scale, and shared many similarities with a construction project, says Christo. Valley Curtains, completed in 1972 and removed after only 28 hours, due to a strong gale, featured over 200,000 square feet of woven nylon fabric orange curtain, installed across the Grand Hogback mountain range in Colorado. “We had the same people who build and suspend bridges, from suppliers to construction workers,” explains Christo, whose father ran a fabric factory. Meanwhile, Running Fence (completed in 1976) was made of over 2 million square feet of heavy woven white nylon fabric, extending over 24 miles east-west from the north of San Francisco and down to Bodega Bay. It required 18 public hearings, three sessions at the Superior Courts of California, the drafting of an extensive Environmental Impact Report and the temporary use of the hills, sky and ocean. The Store Fronts series certainly represent a milestone in the artists’ oeuvre, where the environment came to frame their artistic discourse. But for Christo, architecture always played an important role. When he studied at the Sofia Academy of Arts in the 1950s, the curriculum was heavily modeled after the German system, where students would equally study fine arts, decorative arts and architecture. “So it was natural that I was interested in architecture,” he laughs, when I ask about the architectural quality of his projects’ preparatory drawings. And it is precisely these drawings, as well as other collages and lithographs (many of which will be featured in a major exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in London this summer), that enabled the funding of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s costly, temporary outdoor works. “I refuse any donations,” insists the outspoken, 82-year old artist, who recently cancelled a project over the Arkansas river in Colorado that was 20 years in the making and cost $15 million to date, in protest against its landlord, President Donald Trump. “I escaped from a communist country; I will not give one millimeter of my freedom for anything.” BRAFA Art Fair ran from January 27 until February 4, at Tours & Taxis, Brussels, Belgium. Christo & Jeanne-Claude. Urban Projects runs until February 25, at ING Art Centre, Brussels.
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Ball is Life

Behold the MSG Sphere, a futuristic venue with precision sound coming to Las Vegas
Is this the world's most futuristic venue? Like most of Las Vegas, the forthcoming MSG Sphere will be built to dazzle the eyes—and ears. The 18,000-seat venue will feature what's known as beamforming audio, an acoustics technology developed by the German company Holoplot that uses planar audio waves to send sound directly to a specific location. Unlike typical speakers, which diffuse sound in spherical waves that bounce on every surface, beamformed audio is so precise that two people sitting close by can hear two different sounds without interference. The venue hopes to leverage interactive technology by providing high-speed internet for each seat. That way, fans can not only document their experience on social media, but interface with artists on stage during live performances. Up top, screens will span the 180,000-square-foot ceiling, and bass can be pumped through the floor of the sphere. Developer Madison Square Garden Company hopes the latter feature could be especially appealing to fans of mainstream electronic dance music (EDM): It hopes to book big EDM acts like Swedish House Mafia and Deadmau5, according to USA Today. Outside, the Sphere will feature 190,000 linear feet (36 miles) of LED lighting, so spectators could watch a concert going on inside, or have their retinas burned by a solid luminous ball, depending on the day. A camera system deployed throughout Las Vegas will collect and project images of the city onto the facade, too. Even though Madison Square Garden Company, the same team behind New York's eponymous venue, is behind the project, there will be no basketball or hockey at the Sphere (there may be boxing or MMA, though). The project will break ground later this year, and the developers estimate the venue will be open by 2020.
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New Old Town

In Shenzhen-Hong Kong biennale, the urban village is the main attraction
In mid-December, during the opening weekend of the 7th Shenzhen/Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB), the three former factory buildings hosting the main exhibitions are bursting at the seams. Outside, in pockets of the Nantou Old Town, which the biennale has effectively colonized for its duration, architectural installations occupy empty lots and ground-floor shopfronts. Visitors inspect installations such as WEGO, by The Why Factory and MVRDV, a 9-meter-high architectural folly transplanted from an Eindhoven square where it debuted during last year’s Dutch Design Week, or Pingheng, Understanding Chinese Reality, a mural by Spanish collective Boa Mistura that adorns the wall of one of the main exhibition venues. The 7th UABB is curated by Meng Yan and Lu Xiaodu, both partners at architecture and urbanism office URBANUS, with offices in Shenzhen and Beijing, and by curator and critic Hou Hanru, based in San Francisco, Rome and Paris, who self-identifies as the “outsider” on the team. The biennale is divided into three main exhibitions: Global South, an exploration of countries in the global south and their “informal” urban strategies; Art Making City, a trove of contemporary art exhibits prominently featuring urban environments; and Urban Village, which puts the urban typology of the same name center stage. But, as Yan says to a packed auditorium, “The real exhibition is the vibrant city life.” Much in sync with the biennale’s theme, “Cities Grow in Difference,” the auditorium where Yan is speaking is filled with an audience that ranges from architectural experts to local inhabitants of Nantou Old Town, the majority of whom are Chinese migrant workers. For the curatorial team, the urban village is a model for the future. Against what Yan calls the “globalized, standardized, capitalized city” that has expanded to the global scale, the urban village is a hybrid, a wetland, a “breeding ground for a new city.” The biennale seeks to learn from it, and to emulate it in its search for possibilities. The location of the biennale is a case in point. One of the oldest parts of Shenzhen, Nantou is an urban village, a specific Chinese typology of low-rise housing in the center or outskirts of the city, serving mostly migrant workers and temporary dwellers. Nantou is lively, crowded, and seems to be a place where everything is possible. This central focus on the urban village generates an exhibition that, according to Yan, seeks to have a “rhythm like an old Chinese novel or opera.” In practice, this rhythm materializes in a disorienting sequence of exhibition spaces, where art installations merge with urban studies and architectural drawings and models. Sometimes, components of the urban village find their way inside the exhibition, in the display of windows or wall segments; in others, performance takes over, mimicking the rhythms of urban public space, with an extensive array of video projections and performances by dance and music groups, who during the opening days performed everything from classical ballet to contemporary dance. This overwhelming ensemble proves challenging to digest, and the visitor is left with no clear takeaway. To a certain extent, this is caused by the abundance of artworks present, which are a refreshing if disorienting addition to a biennial of architecture and urbanism. Some of the artworks are fascinating, such as Cao Fei’s video work Rumba II: Nomad, where several vacuuming robots are released in an urban fringe of Beijing in an absurd invasion and impossible task; others feel out of place, such as Lin Rui’s An Anniversary Present: For the Love of Sailor Moon & Eiffel Tower, which cryptically combines a model of the Eiffel Tower with a skeleton dressed in a Sailor Moon costume and pictures of the artist’s friends. On the other side of the spectrum are installations by young design studios that actively engage with the dynamics of Shenzhen, like the ethereal Notch, by Berlin-based alt ctrl and SOLUTION, built on site exclusively with components sourced from Huaqiangbei electronics market, or the whimsical Urban Village Furniture Exchange Program, by Huang Heshan and Jiang Fan, where Chinese copy tropes meet several vernacular examples of stools and chairs found everywhere in Nantou, and used by street sellers and inhabitants alike. All are named after famous architects and architecture studios. Architectural luminaries are also present, such as Atelier Bow-Wow, with the The Fire Foodies Club installation, and Yona Friedman, who presents two instances of his Street Museum in Nantou and Shekou. Additionally, the UABB features a strong presence by architecture schools, whose installations occupy a whole floor of the main venue, even if they do dissect the urban village typology to exhaustion. Overall, despite its convoluted nature, the biennale is surprising and fascinating, much of it is due to its location and the overwhelming participation of the local inhabitants. Walking through the crowds of local residents and international participants, one is unsure where the exhibition ends and life begins. And yet, the unique ambiance of Nantou itself might be as temporary as the biennial. In a rapidly changing context like Shenzhen, which grew from a fishing village to a megacity in under half a century, the UABB is at the center of large-scale transformation. This is true for Nantou Old Town itself, where the biennale is the first step in a regeneration plan for the whole area–a process in which URBANUS is a consultant and will undoubtedly play a part. Here’s to hoping that the urban village inspires the planned regeneration, so that Nantou can be preserved and continue to be an inspiration and testing ground for the future of the city.
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Turbolift-off

This rope-free, sideways elevator may be coming to a building near you

Apparently, Star Trek had it right. Those familiar with the seminal sci-fi series will find the thyssenkrupp MULTI system eerily familiar. Like the ubiquitous turbolifts of the interstellar television show, MULTI is a rope-less, sideways-moving elevator system. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for the 22nd century to see them in action, because thyssenkrupp has a working prototype in the German countryside.

The nearly completed thyssenkrupp test tower in Rottweil, Germany, stands 800 feet above a rolling green landscape. Essentially a complex elevator core, the test tower will have a full working version of MULTI. At the same time thyssenkrupp puts the final touches on its testing facility, MULTI already has its first client. OVG Real Estate’s East Side Tower in Berlin will be the first to deploy the system.

Unlike nearly all elevators, MULTI functions on a system of rails rather than ropes or cables. This has a distinct number of advantages, especially when building supertalls. The simple weight and length of the cables is prohibitive, and they limit the directionality of the elevator car. In general, only one car is able to be in each shaft at a time—a problem for buildings with tens of thousands of people moving up and down every day. MULTI, on the other hand, circumvents many of these obstacles. With no cables, multiple cars can move in a single shaft. The track system can be used to move cars up and down, as well as side to side. Working in loops, MULTI has the potential to be faster, and more efficient, both spatially and environmentally.

Notably, while addressing many of the common issues facing current elevator technology, MULTI has one more advantage: There is no limit to the height or length of the system. While elevators are often cited as the invention that permitted the rise of skyscrapers, today supertall buildings are reaching the limits of that technology.

The real question now, though, is: How are the buttons going to work on an elevator that can go in so many directions?

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The Winner Is...

Post-earthquake prototype house is crowned World Building of The Year 2017
World Architecture Festival is the largest, annual, international, live architectural event. It includes the biggest architectural awards program in the world, dedicated to celebrating excellence via live presentations to an audience of high-profile delegates and international juries. The Post-earthquake reconstruction/demonstration project of Guangming Village has been declared the World Building of the Year 2017 at the tenth annual World Architecture Festival, held in Berlin. The scheme was designed by The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Following the Ludian earthquake in 2014, most of the local buildings in Guangming were destroyed. This project reinvented the traditional building technology, providing villagers with a safe, economical, comfortable, and sustainable reconstruction strategy that they could afford, own, and pass on to their children. A prototype house was built for an aged couple to validate the technology and building performance of the new system. The World Building of the Year and a host of other top awards were presented on Friday 17 November at a glamorous gala dinner for over 800 international architects at The Postbahnhof - Wilhelm Tuckermann’s Gothic masterpiece which is located in the heart of Berlin. Click here to view all the winners.