Search results for "shenzhen"
If you build it they will come! Well not necessarily if you are talking about new arts facilities, claims “Set In Stone,” a just released study from the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago.
It won't be good news for architects to learn that many new cultural buildings built on the assumption that they would benefit their institutions, in fact, “put enormous strain” on them. More disturbing still, the report claims that some institutions stumbled when they became “signature pieces for leading architects.” The study makes important recommendations for civic leaders, arts organizations, donors and government officials contemplating new cultural buildings.
First, it recommends that clients focus on their organization’s mission and the public’s “demand for the project.” Before formulating final plans, leaders and donors need to understand the precise reasons for the project, as well as determine need, attendance and long-term financial support. Successful projects were driven by both the organization’s artistic mission and also by clear and definable needs. The report recommends that leadership be clear and consistent throughout the process and that a single project manager be appointed to monitor the project through to completion. Finally, they suggest the need for flexibility—both in terms of how to generate income but also in light of the fact that cultural projects can take as long as ten to 20 years to complete. It’s a cold, hard reality that the community served by the building may be different than the one that originally envisioned the building.
According to “Set in Stone,” projects usually faltered when they became signature set pieces for the aspirations of donors or local community leaders. Initial cost projections for these projects were frequently both extremely and unreasonably low, making the final tab much more expensive than anticipated. More than 80 percent of the projects studied ran over budget, some by as much as 200 percent.
The study also found that cities in the South had the greatest increase in cultural building in part because it had lagged behind the rest of the country for many years. But more to the point, “increases” in cultural facilities were most common in communities that had also had increases in personal income and in education among their residents. Finally during the study period (1994-2008), New York led the country in cultural building spending $1.6 billion, while the Los Angeles area witnessed an expansion of $950 million and the Chicago area saw spending of $870 million on arts related projects.
In October, I traveled to Shenzhen, China to the opening of the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture. The curator of this fascinating exhibition, Terence Riley, took the assembled journalists on a tour of Shenzhen which 20 years ago had a population of 35,000, but now has over 10 million. Riley pointed out the new Arata Isozaki-designed concert hall, a contemporary art museum by Coop Himmelb(l)au, and a design museum by Chinese architect Pei-Zhu. None of these new cultural facilitates had any collections or work on their walls. The design museum was being used to film a car commercial.
In China, it did not seem to matter whether or not the facilities had anything in them, only that Shenzhen had a cultural district with museums designed by famous architects. In the U.S., our cultural institutions have to work harder. Of course, with the still slow economy, the number of cultural projects in this country has already decreased. Going forward, it hardly needs a massive study to understand that institutions need to plan and develop only those projects the public really wants, demands, and needs.
This project is one section of AN's five-part feature on architectural lighting, "Sharing the Spotlight." Click here to view additional projects.
Steven Holl Architects
The Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China is a culmination of architect Steven Holl’s long-time pursuit to defy gravity. Although physically elevated above ground on broad concrete pillars, the secret behind this levitation effect is the building’s lighting design. “Steven thinks of light as an integral material, like stone or glass,” said Jason Neches a principal at L’Observatoire International, the New York-based lighting design firm. The firm’s contribution to the design is evident: the solid concrete-core supports, for example, which house the circulation up to the first floors, are wrapped in glass and lit to give the impression that the building floats. “Steven wanted uplighting, which provides a dramatic effect,” said Neches. “But since people are drawn to light, they would have looked down when we wanted them looking up at the building. So it is lit top-down.”
The value of intrinsic lighting design seems obvious, but lighting designers are too often enlisted after a project has already been developed. With complex projects such as Vanke, the solution was to work with the architects from the outset. “Steven brings us in very early on in the design process for most projects, usually just after the concept stage,” said Neches.
Vanke’s complex interior spaces posed a particular challenge for L’Observatoire in spite of the firm’s familiarity with Holl. “Its diverse program meant that different parts of the project were advancing with different schedules,” said Neches. As well, its setting in China meant that traditional practice puts the finishing touches in the hands of local designers “to nurture local industry,” as Neches put it. In the underground auditorium, for example, L’Observatoire only took it through design development before handing it back to Holl’s Beijing office for final specifications of the lighting fixtures.
According to Neches, Holl has a clear vision before the designers even come to the table, and they are asked to provide feedback on the quality of light rather than have vital creative input. “However,” said Neches, “there is always flexibility so we can affect a change if we think it will make the space better.” In the case of the “bowtie” staircase area, which was difficult to read in plan and section, L’Observatoire used a 3-D physical model to test and demonstrate various lighting fixtures and options for the interior. As a result, track lights have been integrated into folds and facets of the bowtie with areas of highlights, while in a cove at the wall, there is an uplight to encourage people to gather.
The Vanke’s relatively monochromatic interior relies heavily on lighting to create different atmospheres. “We have a lot of opportunities with Steven,” said Neches. “These are the benefits of working with an architect who thinks of light as another building material.”
Every summer, the Serpentine Pavilion offers the chosen architects of the plot adjacent to the London gallery a chance to offer a meditation on essential qualities in their work. In this way the pavilion is not only a showcase for designers who haven't yet built in the UK, but also a physical gauge of architecture’s current preoccupations. This year, it is the garden.
Rather than open out the pavilion to the surrounding rolling green of Kensington Gardens, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, working with landscape designer Piet Oudolf (also responsible for the plantings on New York’s High Line), has enclosed his own patch of green. If the pavilion is any kind of bellwether for the current social condition—for it clearly is not a reflection of the UK's current economic condition Zumthor tells us we should take note and be quiet. Inside his cloistered pavilion—“coffin-like,” as one observer commented on Jonathan Glancey's recent article for The Guardian—there is space only to sit and to reflect.
Indeed it is a far cry from previous pavilions: Kjetil Thorsen and Olafur Eliasson's 2007 conical viewing platform, Gehry's bombastic theatre-cum-promenade in 2008, and SANAA’s translucent and shimmering surfaces in 2009 offered follies in the landscape, a pleasant interlude in a visitor's trip to the gallery and a unique space to house a cafe. Zumthor's design, however, eschews the pavilion's requisite commercial opportunity and presents an altogether prescriptive program. The tar-textured enclosure forces the visitor to do nothing but look and think. The central atrium, a sharply cut rectangle open only to the sky, compels the viewer to look inwards or upwards but never outwards. As Glancey notes, the experience at times stirs claustrophobia more than contemplation: “Outside…you suddenly feel free and here is that very thing he's trying to encapsulate...nature.”
The design is intended to create a palpable contrast between the open space of Kensington Gardens and the pavilion's interior. While lights have been fitted along the corridors, these are not always switched on creating a somewhat menacing threshold. Perhaps the intention was to provide a sense of danger sandwiched between idyllic places—a compelling aspect of the design that has not received as much attention as the cloister courtyard. Landscape designer Oudolf has spoken of an integrated design to draw in passersby. In The Telegraph in June, he said, “I want visitors to see that architecture is simple and planting is complex. Looking into plants brings you into another kind of thinking, connected with inner space.”
If the pavilion, a 4,200-square-foot timber-frame structure wrapped in scrim and covered with a black duct sealant, reflects architecture today, it is a fitting collaboration between Zumthor and Oudolf. Their rectangular box enveloping a courtyard garden is in tune with a wider movement towards ground-skimming designs and landscaped architecture such as Stephen Holl’s Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen, China or Morphosis’ Shanghai Giant Interactive Group Campus. Zumthor, in The Independent, cited this year's pavilion as a memory machine: “I think of gardens I have seen, that I believe I have seen, that I long to see.”