Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]” Prince-Ramus, who will deliver the afternoon keynote address at next week’s facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference, approaches facade design as an integral part of the design process as a whole. That process, in turn, revolves around a concept he calls agenda. “We set out in our projects to figure out what the project’s agenda should be, then we set out to delimit the constraints,” he said. “Then we try to find the embodiment of the agenda that will fit seamlessly within those constraints.” REX’s current projects include a pair of headquarters buildings for sister media companies in the Middle East. The stone-clad towers are covered in retractable sunshades that reference a traditional Arab Mashrabiya pattern. As an example of how constraints can influence facade design, Prince-Ramus cited the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas. REX (with OMA) slashed the project’s envelope budget in order to build a theater that changes shape to suit different arts events. The money they were left with, said Prince-Ramus, was about what standard aluminum siding would cost—so they started there. “We made a dummy design where we spent a lot of effort trying to not design something aesthetically, but that we’d put it out to the market and uncover what in the market drove costs,” he said. In Dallas that turned out to be weight, since frequent hail storms require thick siding. REX/OMA developed a facade system of extruded tubes that would protect against hailstones while minimizing the amount of aluminum required. “We made something that was very beautiful and very unique,” said Prince-Ramus. “Certainly if we’d come back to the client with flat aluminum siding they would have said, ‘Put the money back into the facade.'...The success of the facade is why we were able to build a building that’s renowned for its ability to transform.” While the Wyly Theatre facade was shaped by financial constraints, the client’s particular vision informed the envelope for the Mercedes Benz Future Center in Stuttgart. “Part of the collective agenda was that the building should be very transparent, as opposed to museums, which tend to be very cloistered,” said Prince-Ramus. But the automaker also wanted the Future Center, which will display its vision for the future of automobile technology, to be “a beacon for sustainability.” REX’s current solution (which may change as the design develops) is to create a curtain-like sunshade that wraps around the all-glass building. The shade is opaque on one side of the building and nearly transparent on the other, and rotates with the sun’s movements. The curtain is a metaphor for the unknowability of the future: Prince-Ramus recalled the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, which says that it is impossible to simultaneously determine the value of certain variables. “The more you know of one, the less you know of others,” he said. “In discussions about the future, that idea seemed really inherent in what they’re doing [at Mercedes Benz].” Whatever the origin of a particular facade design, for Prince-Ramus it always comes back to performance, the standard that for him encapsulates both function and aesthetics. “The more we’ve used the word performance, the more I’m convinced it does have that dual meaning,” he said. “When [they] talk about a high-performance auto, they don’t just mean it goes from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds. They mean it’s sexy, too.” To hear Joshua Prince-Ramus speak next week, visit the facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference website.
Posts tagged with "Germany":
Barkow Leibinger designs a precast folded facade that puts a gentle spin on surrounding traditional architecture.On one of the last urban tracts of available land in Berlin, Germany, local architecture firm Barkow Leibinger recently completed an 18-story tower, Tour Total. Highly visible from a neighboring train station, and the first completed project in the site’s 40-acre master plan, the tower has a raster facade with precast concrete panels that were geometrically computed in Rhino to create twisting inflections, conveying a sense of movement around the building’s four sides. As a load-bearing facade, 40 percent of the surface is closed, and 60 percent is triple-glazed, with every other window operable. In addition to integrated energy management strategies—the first building tenant is French energy company Total—partner Frank Barkow said the firm’s extensive background in digital fabrication and research allowed the efficient development of the dynamic facade. Drawing from the surrounding, traditionally quadrilinear brick facades of the 1920s and 30s, the tower’s lines are imbued with an engrained depth that twists optically to read differently in direct sun or cloudy weather, without actually moving. The design team drew a series of T-shaped elements to create the exterior components, and K-modules for structural stability. “The folding K modules produce an in-and-out for continual diagonals that wrap around the corners,” Barkow told AN. Interior and exterior concrete components sandwich around glazing, windows, and insulation. To test the design, 3D models were fabricated on a CNC router. Many of the profiles in the facade assembly are repeated many times, though 160 are unique. Each cast could be used at least half a dozen times before another had to be fabricated. German fabricator Dressler milled plywood molds and white concrete was poured over an affixed release surface. Once solidified, each section was finished with an acid wash to expose the aggregate and transported to the building site. Steel pins, embedded within the structure’s poured concrete floors, connect the layers of the facade sandwich. Barkow and the concrete contractor had several discussions about eliminating an interior precast layer in combination with an Isokorb thermal break to mitigate expansion but, in the end, opted for the original design. “It’s the next technological step, for the facade to work like an exoskeleton, but we’re a few years away from that,” Barkow said. Despite budgetary and time restrictions, the LEED Gold-equivalent Tour Total was realized successfully, in part, through parametric design and advanced fabrication methods. “We’re taking advantage of northern Germany’s extremely proficient building culture and working with our fabricators here and in Switzerland as early as possible in the design process,” said Barkow. “There’s a lot of back and forth where we push them away from conservancy and they push us towards efficiency.”
Germans have taken on a unique approach to hospitality. This past August, hotelier Michael Schloesser introduced an innovative type of lodging two miles from the city center of Bonn. By converting an old storage facility into an indoor campground, Schloesser has created what he calls the world’s first camping trailer hotel: BaseCamp Bonn Young Hostel. Inside the warehouse, numerous trailers, vintage vans, sleeping cars and motorhomes are arranged to create a typical campground setup. This unconventional hostel offers 120 beds across fifteen camping caravans. Marion Seul, film and TV outfitter, salvaged vintage mid-century American Airstreams, Pullman coaches, and camping caravans, which she then individually customized. The trailers come with faux-front lawns in order for campers to mingle with neighbors, and are each equipped with outdoor chairs and tables. Each trailer is designed after amusing themes such as “flower power” or “safari."
Miss out on your Bauhaus opportunity because you were not an artistic youth in 1920s and 1930s Germany? Now, architecture and design enthusiasts can revive their desired pasts as students at Walter Gropius’ iconic design school, at least in sleeping accommodations. The Bauhaus School of Design in Dessau, Germany has converted one of its studio buildings into a boutique hotel with dormitory-style rooms for overnight rental. Visitors can spend the night in spaces that once housed some of the biggest names in modern architecture, when they were still just students. From 1923 to 1935, the Bauhaus studio building contained 28 rooms for architecture students studying at the school. Now, hotel clients can choose from 20 different spaces, each furnished with the steel tube furniture of architect, designer, and former Bauhaus instructor Marcel Breuer in recreation of the original dormitory accommodations. Select rooms have been designed to reflect some of the Bauhaus’ most famous alumni. Beginning in late October, these specialty rooms can be rented out, according to the visitor’s architectural preference. Among these dorms, the New York Times’ T Magazine says, is a room in the style of Josef Albers that contains replicas of the furniture he created for himself while at the design school and another, representing architect Franz Ehrlich, decorated with furniture he designed for the German Democratic Republic in the 1950s. The Bauhaus Studio Building offers single accommodations from €35 and doubles from €55. But, be warned, like in the Bauhaus’ student dorm days, bathrooms and showers are communal and accessed from the hallway.
At its 37th session held from June 16 to 27, 2013 in Phnom Pehnh and Siem Reap-Angkor, Cambodia, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added 19 sites to the World Heritage List. The new additions bring the list to 981 noteworthy destinations. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of exceptional universal significance and satisfy at least one out of ten selection criteria, which are frequently improved by the Committee to reflect the advancement of the World Heritage notion itself. The following cultural sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. · Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, Qatar · Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora, Ukraine · Bergpark Wilhemshöhe, Germany · Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, China · Fujisan, Japan · Golestan Palace, Iran · Hill Forts of Rajasthan, India · Historic Centre of Agadez, Niger · Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong, Korea · Levuka Historical Port Town, Fiji · Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany, Italy · Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, Canada · University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia, Portugal · Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region, Poland & Ukraine · El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, Mexico · Mount Etna, Italy · Namib Sand Sea, Namibia · Tajik National Park, Tajikistan · Xinjiang Tianshan, China
Even as Berlin loses green space, the city remains Europe’s greenest with more than 400,000 trees. One of the grandest, a 100-year-old chestnut tree towering over Montbijoupark, was the center of Tree Concert, a public art project that took place in September to bring light, literally, to the city’s diminishing greenery with a glowing LED sculpture circling the trees trunk. The project was a combination of audio and visual elements. As chestnuts fell one after the other onto a series of internally lit shapes covered with polymer membranes placed around the tree, ambient sounds emanated from hidden speakers creating a symphony for park goers. Tree Concert was put on by the ad agency Proximity BBDO Berlin and the environmental organization BUND for Environment and Nature Conservation Germany, inspired by recent years when more trees have been cut than planted. The groups also wanted to draw awareness that trees are not being properly maintained because of a lack of funding. Thus they created an easy way to donate through text messages from passing visitors. The design was executed by Gang of Berlin with music from Ketchum Pleon PR.
As children love to imagine, what if we actually built our cities out of Legos? A bridge in Wuppertal, Germany, a city of 350,000 to the northeast of Cologne, offers one vision of what that city might look like. Street artist Martin Heuwold, or as he tags, MEGX, created the grand illusion last fall when he painted a dingy concrete span in the bright hues of every architect's favorite toys. The city appears to be banking on the High Line Effect. Faced with the prospect of a declining population, Wuppertal has been looking for ideas to reinvigorate the city and increase residents' quality of life. The Lego Bridge is part of a 10-mile pedestrian and cycle path called Wuppertal Bewegung e.V. being built through the city on what was once the Wuppertal Northern Railway. Plans are also on the boards for a heritage trolley to run atop the viaduct. [H/T Colossal.]
Frankfurt’s Zeil gets another facelift with an ever-changing media installationThe Zeil is Frankfurt’s main shopping district, a pedestrian-only street bordered by two large plazas. In 2009, Massimiliano Fuksas’ vortex-clad Mab Zeil mixed-use center brought a new face to the street. Not to be outdone by its neighbor, the Zeilgalerie shopping mall began its own facelift the same year. Designed by Wiesbaden, Germany-based interdisciplinary collective 3deluxe, its LED-illuminated black facade brings a new sense of unity to the street and was recently given the Red Dot 2011 design award in the category of Information Design/Public Space. Originally designed by German architects Kramm & Strigl and completed in 1992, Zeilgalerie was an architectural mix consisting of a glazed semi-cylindrical structure and central entrance tower, to the right of which was a perforated aluminum facade. To make the building read as one structure without losing its original forms, designers at 3deluxe envisioned three all-black facade systems composed of glass and aluminum. The sleek building envelope would be the new canvas for a light installation showing off the latest capabilities in LED technology and multimedia design. The media installation spans the rightmost structure’s entire 2,800-square-foot façade. Double-glazed black glass panels are mounted flush with matte black cladding, behind which a rhomboid grid of 310 LED strips applied to the exterior glass pane creates the computer-controlled lighting display. Each of 19,700 diodes can be controlled separately, allowing the facade to project sharp geometric patterns as well as abstract shapes and the illusion of light and shadow drifting across the building. The facade performs at night (with music). Diagonal lines of light are superimposed by an orthogonal pattern printed onto the transparent film between glass panes. Corresponding to the pattern that is laser-cut into the metal cladding, which itself includes 2,500 LED modules, a dot screen ties the entire display together. The dot screen is repeated in the cylindrical structure to the left, which is clad in horizontal strips of matte-black aluminum outlined on the lower edge with more LEDs. Viewed as a whole, the facades take on a uniformly dark appearance in daylight, but slowly become three pronounced structures at night, each playing off the others’ patterns. Media design firm Meso Digital Interiors created the program to run the lighting display. “The complex layout of the LED fixtures called for a bespoke mapping system, which prepares all of the graphics for the Leurocom-built installation with sub-pixel precision,” describes the team in its design brief. Using graphical programming toolkit VVVV, Meso programmed scenes that would play “hide and seek” in the building’s contours, ensuring that no two performances are ever the same with software that calculates new frames for infinity.
Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977 Dia: Beacon/CCS Bard 3 Beekman Street/18 West 86th St. Beacon, NY/New York, NY Though October 31 Dia: Beacon and the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies have co-organized a comprehensive exhibition of the post-war German artist Blinky Palermo. Palermo’s works on paper (1963–1973) are on view at Bard, while his Metal Pictures and later works (1973–1977) are displayed in Dia: Beacon’s expansive galleries. A student of Joseph Beuys, Palermo’s work dealt with the relationship of color and space, and in Europe he gained notice for his abstract large-scale murals. Inspired by a trip to America in the early ‘70s, Palermo created the To the People of New York series, above, based on the colors of the East German and West German flags.
Word spread yesterday that Dresden-born, Deconstructivist-inspiring architect Günter Behnisch had died. His son's firm, which had taken on much of his work, sent around the following announcement today. There will be a memorial service tomorrow in Stuttgart, Behnisch's long-time home.
Professor Günter Behnisch passed away in the early morning hours of July 12th at the age of 88. A good three years ago he retreated from professional life. Since then he has lived, weakened by several strokes, in his home in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch, where his family cared for him. His practice in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch, which he founded in 1952 (from 1966 onwards called Behnisch & Partner with partners Fritz Auer, Winfried Büxel, Erhard Tränkner and Carlo Weber; later with Winfried Büxel, Manfred Sabatke and Erhard Tränkner) existed until 2008. In the last years of the practice he worked with Manfred Sabatke in the Sillenbuch office. Günter Behnisch stood for the architectural expression of Germany’s transformation into a democratic, freer, and more social society. As an architect active in the years of Germany’s reconstruction he shaped the appearance of schools and universities. Architectural critics described his buildings and facilities for the 20th Olympic Games in Munich, as well as his buildings for the German Parliament in Bonn, as symbols of the “open democracy” of the “Bonner Republik,” and these buildings found widespread international recognition. As an educator Günter Behnisch had a decisive influence on several generations of architects. Through their work and their daily practices his teachings will no doubt, in the years ahead, continue to manifest themselves in a decidedly freer approach to architecture. Through a permanent questioning of the architectural uniformity of the, as he once put it, “self-opinionated” Berlin Republic and its particular definition of architecture, he eventually realized, after a time and energy-consuming planning process, his last project, the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, in 2005. Acknowledging that he would be unable to complete his last successful competition winning entries, Günter Behnisch entrusted his son Stefan with a number of projects—the “Haus im Haus” for Hamburg’s Chamber of Commerce and the Ozeaneum in Stralsund. […Stefan has his own firm, Behnisch Architekten, which had been working in concert with Behnisch & Partner for a number of years. …] During the years of collaboration projects such as the St. Benno Gymnasium in Dresden, the “Museum der Phantasie” for the Buchheim collection in Bernried, the State Insurance Agency Schleswig-Holstein in Lübeck, the service center for the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart and the office and exhibition building for VS in Tauberbischofsheim were realised. Today many of the staff employed by Behnisch Architekten were previously either students of Günter Behnisch in Darmstadt, where he was a professor, or they worked with him as interns in his office in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch. Günter Behnisch’s approach to architecture, in particular with respect to his ‘idea of man,’ continue to influence our daily activities.
The feature that I wrote for issue 20 is about personal rapid transit. PRT, as it is called, is a mass transportation concept that swaps high-capacity trains for small "pod cars." These individualized vehicles run on dedicated tracks from origin to destination, bypassing all other stations along the way. Such a system is currently being installed at London's Heathrow Airport and Foster + Partners is developing a PRT solution for its Masdar City project, but the idea has been around at least since the 1950s. In the late 60s and 70s several prototypes were developed and tested for possible urban application, but—aside from a semi-PRT system installed in Morgantown, West Virginia—none of them were ever realized. The one that came the closest was Cabinentaxi, which was to be rolled out in Hamburg, Germany. A recession in 1980 sank the project, but luckily they made this lovely film before falling into the dustbin of history. Enjoy.
From Germany via Dangerous Minds comes this stunning 3-D architectural illusion: A square building appears possessed, its facade rippling, segmenting and mutating. Giant hands manipulate the building's surface and then dissolve. A wave ripples through the building's bricks as if it were shivering. It's called "How it would be, if a house was dreaming," and it's a trompe-l'oeuil video projection by Hamburg-based creative collective UrbanScreen. The title's perfectly apt, as these look like nothing so much as disjoint visions flitting across the subconscious of a slumbering building. The building in question is O.M. Unger's Galerie der Gegenwart in Hamburg, completed in 1997 as the final wing of the Kunsthalle Hamburg art museum. Its facade is flat, gridded, and largely windowless, severe by day, but a perfect pixellated canvas for UrbanScreen's fantasies by night. A steady stream of passers-by on the sidewalk below—some stopping to watch, others simply going about their business—make the metamorphosing building behind them seem all the more surreal.