Bernard Tschumi’s first project in Italy appears to be on hold—if it is not dead altogether. The regional Superintendence for Architecture and Landscape Heritage has blocked plans for the architect's cultural center, called “ANIMA”, which was scheduled to open in Grottammare in 2017. The announcement about the plan’s fate was made the same day a retrospective on Tschumi’s work opened at the Pompidou Center in Paris—a retrospective that includes ANIMA, which stands for arts, nature, music, action. Tschumi’s perfectly square structure is encased in a white concrete facade that has varied, recessed openings to filter in light and serve as entrances. According to the firm, the exterior has a presence that is both simple and striking. Inside the roughly 100,000-square-foot space there are four interior courtyards, which accommodate various cultural programming as hinted by the structure's name. “All the different functional spaces will orbit around a central very large core: the heart of the structure, which will consist of a single ambience able to accommodate 1,500 seats that can be divided and used as a flexible and adaptable space,” explained Tschumi Architects in a statement. For now, however, the building’s future remains uncertain.
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It's easy to get overwhelmed at the Salone del Mobile and the dozens of related events during Milan Design Week. Luckily there are plenty of visual palate cleansers in form of immersive environments, from new showrooms by Pritzker Prize–winning architects to dazzling installations by up-and-coming designers. There is more to Milan Design Week than just great looking furniture! At the Triennale design museum, for instance, Paris-based DGT architects created a light-catching installation for Citizen watches called Light is Time (above), featuring space dividing curtains made of tens of thousands of watch plates. For the Swedish textile company Kinnasand, a division of Kvadrat, Toyo Ito designed a luminous new showroom to display the company's fabrics, many of which feature diaphanous qualities. Ito covered the walls in frosted glass, which gives them a shimmering quality as downlights tucked into the edge of the ceiling filter through the panels. The ceiling itself is paneled in reflective metal. Draped fabrics are displayed on curved metal rods suspended from the ceiling. Cassina tapped the rising Japanese star Sou Fujimoto to design a "floating forest" for their booth at the fairgrounds, arguably the most innovative display at the Salone. Fujimoto hung mirrored metal planters from the rafters, which held green Japanese maples. Canned bird noises added to the atmosphere, which felt both natural and surreal within the tradeshow hall. The reflective surfaces forced visitors to slow down within the booth, giving them more time to look at Cassina's classic and contemporary furnishings. Also at the fairgrounds, an invited group of architects—Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind, and Studio Mumbai—riffed on themes of domesticity with conceptual installations called, Where Architects Live. As far as installations like these at a furniture fair go, the installations were largely devoid of the trappings of daily life. Libeskind, for example, sliced deep voids into the walls, inset with screens showing videos about his personal history and architectural projects. Chipperfield showed of his German side, with photos of deliciously drab Berlin and clanging music underscoring the seriousness of the project.
Pier Carlo Bontempi and Ruan Yisan accept Driehaus awards for classicist architecture and preservation
Italian architect Pier Carlo Bontempi and Chinese preservationist Ruan Yisan last weekend received the highest honors in the world of classicist design—a school of though that AN previously examined alongside the more widely known Pritzker Prize. The 2014 Richard H. Driehaus Prize went to Bontempi, an architect from Parma, Italy whose work includes a block recovery plan for that city’s historic center, as well as the Place de Toscane and the “Quartier du Lac” resort in Val d’Europe near Paris. In a WTTW documentary made for the occasion of the award, Bontempi likened traditional and classical design to well-made salami and other local delicacies—modernists, Bontempi said, cut through the whole sausage, while those with an eye to the past are more careful in their preparation. He told the crowd gathered at the award ceremony Saturday in Chicago that he considered it a great compliment when a Dutch couple confused one of his buildings with a string of historic structures along the road to Rome, wondering why it wasn’t included in their guide. Administered since 2003 by the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, the $200,000 Driehaus Prize “is awarded to a living architect whose work embodies the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact,” according to its website. Ruan Yisan received the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed Prize, which is “given to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art through writing, planning or promotion.” Yisan, a historic preservationist and professor of architecture at Shanghai’s Tongji University, has helped catalogue and preserve numerous cities and cultural sites around China. He supervised the Yangtze River Water Towns preservation project, and won protection for the Pingjiang Historic District in his native Suzhou—both sites have since landed on UNESCO's World Heritage list. The professor, who turns 80 this year, told the award audience Saturday that the American remittance of funds paid after China's 1900 Boxer Rebellion helped educate a generation of architects and designers who would sustain the nation’s architectural preservation movement through the 20th century. “It’s good karma,” he said through a translator. (Somewhat ironically, American designers and universities are also helping reshape contemporary China in a fashion decidedly more modern than that honored by the Driehaus Awards.)
The Italian classicist architect Pier Carlo Bontempi has been named the 2014 Driehaus Laureate. A native of Parma, Bontempi's work in Italy and France re-imagines the traditional city with projects like a master-planned block in Parma and the Quartier du Lac outside Paris. "His buildings, seamlessly woven into their urban environments, demonstrate principles of the new classicism and urbanism," said Michael Lykoudis, dean of the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, in a statement. "Their durable construction, adaptive interior spaces and sensitive siting make them exemplars of architecture as an art of conservation and investment as opposed to consumption and waste." The $200,000 Driehaus prize, underwritten by the Chicago-based Richard Driehaus Foundation, is administered by the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame. It recognizes "a living architect whose work embodies the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact." Previous winners include Robert A.M. Stern, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Leon Krier, and Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil. While the purse is twice that of the Pritzker Prize, the Driehaus is still somewhat confined within the worlds or classicism, new urbanism, and historic preservation, as AN previously pointed out in a report of the overlapping world of the honorees and jurors. Along with the Driehaus prize, the foundation and school also award the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed prize, for individuals working outside of architecture to promote traditional city making. Ruan Yisan, a professor of urban planning and Director of the National Research Center of the Historic City at Tonji University, is this year's Henry Hope Reed Laureate.
Review> LOT-EK Designs the Exhibition, Erasmus Effect, On the Past and Future of Italian Architecture
The Erasmus Effect: Italian Architect's Abroad MAXXI Museum Rome, Italy Through April 6, 2014 The architecture and urbanism of Italy has long been an inspiration to architects from other parts of the world. From the grand tours of Lord Burlington and Thomas Jefferson to the establishment of the American, French, and British Academies, Robert Venturi's lessons learned from Rome, and the enormous influence of Manfredo Tafuri, Italy has been important to how we view architecture and livable cities. But now an exhibition, The Erasmus Effect: Italian Architect's Abroad, opening today at Rome's MAXXI Museum details how the world is enriched when Italian born and educated architects emigrate and find success abroad. The exhibit, curated by Pippo Ciorra, the Maxxi's thoughtful and prolific architecture curator (see his Energy: Oil and Post Oil Architecture Grids.) documents the " journeys, experiences, and stories of the many Italian architects to have found success abroad." This out-bound emigration by Italian architects is, of course, not new, and the exhibit documents the 20th century figures who left the country like Lina Bo Bardi, Paolo Soleri, Romaldo Giurgola, and Pietro Belluschi. The title, Erasmus Effect, is taken from the 1987 European communities exchange program that allowed students on the content to travel to other countries to study. But the exhibit's theme also documents the more troubling issue for the country: the inability of its young architects to have a career in the economically troubled nation. It also questions the problems of trying to actually create architecture in contemporary Italy, and what this means for the country's "brain drain" and future. Erasmus Effect includes projects by contemporary Italian expats: Architecture and Vision, Atelier Manferdini, Alessandra Cianchetta, Delugan Meissl, Djuric-Tardio Architectes, Durisch + Nolli Architetti, Barozzi / Veiga, ecoLogicStudio, Benedetta Tagliabue, gravalosdimontearquitectos, Vittorio Garatti, KUEHN MALVEZZI, LAN Architecture, Marpillero Pollak Architects, MORQ*, Paritzki Liani Architects, simone solinas, ssa | solinasserra architects, 3GATTI. The Maxxi installation is brilliantly conceived by New York City–based Italian architectural firm LOT-EK, who's signature shipping container architecture perfectly suits the "movement" theme underlying the show. Erasmus Effect opened December 6 and continues through April 6, 2014.
UNESCOitalia: Italy’s World Heritage Sites in the Works of 14 Photographers Mueso Italo Americano Fort Mason Center, Building C San Francisco December 6 to January 26, 2014 In celebration of 2013: The Year of Italian Culture in the United States, the Museo Italo Americano, in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute and the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco, will be showcasing a collection of images of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites as seen through the lenses of 14 prominent Italian photographers. To be proclaimed a World Heritage site, a number of criteria must be met, and the site must hold outstanding universal value by means of exceptional design or cultural significance to a group or civilization. As of June 2013, Italy has 49 UNESCO World Heritage sites, which is more than any other single country in the world. The traveling show will be on display at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco from December 6, 2013, to January 26, 2014. Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Claudio Bisogniero, describes the exhibition as, “A journey in pictures, bringing the Italian wonders to the United States. Fine art photography for a fascinating exhibition: a visual adventure across the length and breadth of our country.”
The current Milan Triennale exhibition, running through December 2013, is on view in the city's Palace of Art building, part of Parco Sempione, the park grounds adjacent to Castello Sforzesco. Nancy Goldring visited the exhibit for AN and reports back on the highlights of the exhibit. When you enter the Milan Triennale, there is a line-up of fanciful chairs—rather a small version of Lucas Samaras' great show at the Whitney. But the exhibition itself promises a much more serious consideration of the world of design. The Association for Industrial Design (ADI) added a new category to its 2010 Trienniale Design: Service Design. This year in Design for Living, Luisa Bocchietto and the Triennale committee have added yet another new section—Social Design—those who have offered examples of responsible design, an attempt to get away from simply the design of beautiful objects and to focus on the activities of designers who are trying to make a contribution to the way we live and change the systems themselves. In the catalog Bocchietto says, "Creating new design products assumes that there has been an ethical reflection on their genuine usefulness. Certainly, there is a market to conquer and a job to do, but beyond this there is the urgent need to respond to certain questions that are no longer individual. We must address the problem of the use of resources, respect for the environment and future sustainability, social inequality, and ethical as well as economic sustainability." In the category of Social Design are a few projects that promise a new direction: Hispaniola-Design for Solidarity is a project for international relief and welfare design—an idea of Claudio Larger. The project was funded by the Italian ColorEsperanza in association and managed by the Domincan One' Respe NGO for inner city and disadvantaged areas of the Dominican Republic, where Haitian and Dominican children are unable to attend state schools. From ten prototypes the jury selected three designs to be produced by a local Dominican joinery—to generate workshops to create local products such as tables and chairs for the schools. Then Best Up is a non profit organization founded in 2006 to promote sustainable living through dialogue and sharing of knowledge and experiences. The idea is to spread good models that improve skills and share resources concerning personal wellbeing and the public good. It offers a way to promote collaboration between urban and rural sectors. It becomes a kind of center for the sharing information about smaller businesses and organizations that are attempting to change the way we live. This show—the presentation of their system—was selected in particular by ADI for its new format, Good Design Work Well to Live Better, that travels to spread information throughout the country. New Scenarios for Living has been examining water as a resource, in ways that respect the environment while also respecting cultural differences. It focuses on the recognition of the access to water as a universal right. It is exploring ways for protect and to save water supplies. Finally a powerful part of the exhibition is a show of objects and photos from Mathare in Nairobi documenting the ability of a community to adapt local materials and simple objects to produce new and useful forms. The show was beautifully curated by Fulvio Irace.
You might know Renzo Piano as the architect behind many of the world's leading museums, but get ready to meet Renzo Piano, wind-turbine expert. Testing has commenced on Renzo Piano’s small-scale wind-turbine blade at the Molinetto Test Field near Pisa, Italy. Piano’s turbine blade resembles a dragonfly’s wing and incorporates elements from the insect that promote stability in flight in order to allow the turbine to tolerate gale-force winds. Piano's slender, two-blade turbine differs from the customary three-blade scheme and has proven to operate successfully in low-intensity wind. To avoid spinning too quickly during storms, larger turbines typically use particular blades that stall at too-high speeds, or computerized systems that regulate the blade angles according to wind speed. Such systems are too costly to use with small-scale turbines, as they do not generate enough power to justify the price. The dragonfly turbine, which benefits from tough, lightweight composite resources, takes advantage of even the slightest breeze—it utilizes winds of only 6.5-feet-per-second for rather endless power. It can also be used effectively even at lower elevations than its larger counterparts. Designed with transparent plexiglass panels that emphasize the internal carbon structure, the turbine has minimal visual impact. While not in motion, the blades align with the mast to blend in with the environment. Held to the ground by cables, the tower is just 65 feet tall and 13 inches in diameter. The dragonfly has generated over 1200 KWh of energy over the course of a couple months. The prototype will continue to be tested for a few more months, followed by mass production as part of a groundbreaking approach that aims for advanced performance on all renewable technologies.
The Torre di Pisa is straightening up its act, according to scientists who monitor the famous tower's tilt. There's no need to worry, though, the Tower of Pisa won't be standing completely vertical any time soon. The Huffington Post reported this week that the tower has shifted about an inch (2.5 cm) back toward being upright since 2001, when the structure was reopened to the public. This gravity-defying maneuver was brought about by a restoration to the tower's foundation that began in 1992 when the building's foundation were secured, moving the entire structure a whopping 15 feet. Structural interventions included temporarily installing steel cables as an emergency measure followed by excavating stones beneath the tower and replacing them with steel and concrete. The overall effect, according to HuffPo, was to sink the tower slightly into the ground and thereby make it more vertical. Scientists said these restorative measures will make the Leaning Tower safe for two- to three-centuries.
Stefano Boeri—the talented architect, politician, and former editor of Domus—was summarily dismissed this week from his position as Councillor for Culture, Fashion, and Design for the city of Milan. Boeri, who for several years has tried to bring architecture and design into official decision making process, has apparently butted heads with Milan's Mayor Giuliano Pisapia and has been pushed out the door. He has, according to one observer of Italian politics, clashed with the mayor "over how much he spent on an exhibition," who may be using the country's budget woes as an excuse to sack a potential political opponent. Boeri was coordinating the upcoming Milan Year of Culture and is not gong without a fight. A petition signed by host of major architects, artists, and cultural workers is being distributed to the press to put pressure on the mayor to bring Boeri back into government.
Dear Mayor Pisapia, It is with regret and disappointment that we learn that Stefano Boeri was dismissed from his position as Councillor for Culture, Fashion and Design for the city of Milan. Thanks to the energy and commitment of Boeri, and despite the deepening of the gravest crisis to have faced Italy since the postwar years, since 2011 Milan has succeded in projecting an image of renewed cultural vibrancy and dynamism onto the international stage. Thanks to Boeri's many initiatives—citywide events such as Book City and Piano City, or international exhibitions of internationally renowned artists such as the Marina Abramovic, Picasso, Bramantino, Alberto Garutti and Jeff Wall—Milan had finally succeeded in reaffirming itself forcefully on the international stage as an epicentre of art, design, fashion and culture. This unmotivated dismissal deprives Milan of one of its greatest assets—an individual who possesses the intelligence, energy, motivation and global network of relationships needed to make Milan an unrivaled protagonist of the European cultural scene of the 21st century. Stefano Boeri is one of Italy's foremost cultural exponents: he has taught in universities in Italy and abroad, curated exhibitions, designed buildings and written books that have been translated into many languages. As such, this unmotivated dismissal seems to us inexplicable. In this moment of grave crisis, we urge you to put personal differences aside and, for the good of the city, reconsider your decision. Yours sincerely, Marina Abramović - Artist, New York Iwan Baan - Photographer, Amsterdam Tatiana Bilbao - Architect, Tatiana Bilbao Architects, Ciudad de Mexico Daniel Birnbaum – Director, Moderna Museet, Stockholm Petra Blaisse - Landscape Architect, Inside Outside, Rotterdam Erica Bolton and Jane Quinn - Directors, Bolton Quinn, London Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec - Designers, Paris Maurizio Cattelan - Artist, Milan Yung Ho Chang, MIT, Head of the Department of Architecture, Cambridge Teddy Cruz - Architect, Teddy Cruz Architects, San Diego Chris Dercon – Director, Tate Modern, London Elizabeth Diller - Architect, New York Jimmie Durham - Artist, Berlin Okwui Enwezor - Curator, Munich Amos Gitai - Film Director, Tel Aviv - Paris Joseph Grima - Editor in chief, Domus, Milan Zaha Hadid - Architect, Zaha Hadid Architects, London Nikolaus Hirsch - Dean, Städelschule Frankfurt Li Hu - Architect, Beijing Bjarke Ingles - Architect, Bjarke Ingels Group Architects, Copenhagen Rem Koolhaas - Architect, Rotterdam Koyo Kouoh - Art Editor, Dakar Armin Linke - Photographer, Berlin Ross Lovegrove - Designer, London Qingyun Ma - Architect, Shanghai Michael Maltzan - Architect, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Los Angeles Giancarlo Mazzanti - Architect, Mazzanti Arquitectos, Bogotà Shelley McNamara & Yvonne Farrell - Architects, Grafton Architects, Dublin Mohsen Mostafavi – Dean, GSD Harvard, Cambridge Alexei Muratov - Journalist, Moscow Jean Nouvel - Architect, Paris Hans Ulrich Obrist - Co-director, Serpentine Gallery, London Julia Peyton Jones - Director Serpentine Gallery, London Bas Princen - Photographer, Amsterdam Edi Rama – Artist and politician, Tirana Anri Sala - Artist, Paris Tomas Saraceno - Artist, Berlin Milica Topalovic - Architect, Zurich
Hadrian's Villa—the real one, the 2nd century site of pilgrimages by architects, classicists, and any human interested in the origins of culture—has been selected as the site of a new garbage dump by a Berlusconi-appointed sanitation minister. That stinks! An international effort with a petition already signed by the likes of Richard Meir and Salvatore Settis, former director of the Getty Research Center is fast making the rounds in order to stop the ruling before it gets final approval within a month. Here's the best account in English of the situation prepared by the American Institute of Roman Culture. The potential Corcolle dump serving Rome is less than a mile from the villa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was placed on the 100 Most Endangered Sites 2006 list of the World Monuments Watch because of the rapid deterioration of some of its 30 buildings. The selection of the Corcolle dump was affirmed when an alternative site was deemed too close to an intelligence agency building; five other sites were in the running but apparently rejected because they could not be up and running fast enough. It is unclear why a local archeological society said the land just meters away from one of the richest archeological sites in history could be deemed "archaeologically sterile." The hope is that an international uproar will make Berlusconi's garbage man realize he's holding the wrong bag. Please sign.
Carlo Scarpa: The Architect at Work The Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery The Cooper Union 7 E. 7th Street Through April 21 A collection of hand drawings and photographs of work by renowned postwar Italian architect Carlo Scarpa is on view for the first time in New York. The exhibition depicts the conception and realization of two major works, the renowned Villa Ottolenghi (Bardolino, Verona, 1974–79) and the Il Palazzetto series of imagined interventions in a 17th-century villa (Monselice, Padua, 1969–78). Scarpa is renowned for his poetic expression of space through the use of materials and ornamentation, and visitors to the gallery will witness the architect’s development of spatial ideas through 22 original hand drawings of Villa Ottolenghi and 11 of Villa Il Palazzetto. Reproductions of historical photos taken of the Villa Ottolenghi before it was completed as well as recent and historical photos of Scarpa’s work at Villa Il Palazzetto are included, along with reproductions of his drawings for the Museo di Castelvecchio and the Museo Nazionale dell Arti del XXI secolo.