If you find yourself in Valencia, Spain, and you're tired of Santiago Calatrava's immoderate, Jurassic Park–like Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, there is a much smaller and more interesting cultural space for you. The Alfaro Hofmann Collection is a small compound in an industrial quarter of the city that includes a collection of sculptures by the important Valencian artist, Andreu Alfaro; a small research institute; and the architectural offices of Fran Silvestre/Andres Alfaro, who created the complex. The Hoffman Collection focuses on the culture of everyday objects of the 20th century. It features a collection of hundreds of home and personal appliances (irons, toasters, radios, etc.) that includes some of the most important industrial designs of the century. Unlike, say, the Museum of Modern Art’s design collection, which really highlights design, this collection looks at the importance of these objects as they contributed to the evolution of the appliances' function and their importance to our culture. The collection of commercial refrigerators would never be found on West 53rd Street, but here they make a convincing argument for the evolution of this cooling machine. The Alfaro also features a collection of artwork and promotional literature on each of the objects in a research center that is open to the public. The collection is located at Fusters, s/n, Pol. d’Obradors 46110 Godella, Valencia, Spain.
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For clients who wanted two separate houses, one for the first floor and one for the ground floor, they couldn’t have found a better architectural match than in Fake Industries Architectural Agonism and Aixopluc. Headed up by Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau, the New York–based firm is constantly exploring new approaches to architecture. One of Grau and Goberna’s theories is on expanding the possibilities of replicating and copying architecture, and they have written a monograph on the topic: Architectural Replicas: Four Hypotheses on the Use of Agonistic Copies in the Architectural Field. As a result, the OE House in Alforja, Spain, is a mash-up of a Case Study house on the ground floor with Le Corbusier’s Maison Jaoul on top. The Case Study house is for summer use while Maison Jaoul is for winter. It is, as Fake Industries puts it, an architectural “exquisite corpse.” The clients wanted to be able to completely close off one “house” and then move to the other “house,” depending on the season and their current needs. “There are two different ideas of domesticity,” Grau said. “The sense of enclosure [on the upper level] and a traditional Catalan rural style of home, then the airy Case Study on the ground floor that has a relationship to the outside and the landscape.”
The challenges of this construction—super heavy and robust on top and permeable and light on the bottom—as well as what elements, like the staircase, could be used to reconcile the two, took careful planning. Fake Industries, in collaboration with Aixopluc, developed open-source systems and interchangeable components so that the house could be completed in 12 months. But “it was hard to find someone to do dry construction in Spain; specialized workforces who could do things like the brickwork are disappearing,” Grau said. All in all, it took five years to complete the house due to the economic crisis in 2008 and initially selecting the wrong contractor.
However, throughout the five years, the house became a part of the family’s history. They lived across the street, and their children grew up playing in the construction site and watching the house gradually rise. It was completed January 2016; the family has moved into the second floor while the first floor is currently a massive playground. “It is very similar to the way the Eameses had their living room organized—as a place to play,” Grau said. “And it’s like the Case Study houses where the social aspect and relationship were more important than the furniture itself; that is already emerging naturally here.”
|RESOURCES: Architects Aixopluc Construction Engineer Jordi Royo Engineer Josep Maria Delmuns|
AN reported last week on the yearly Cevisama ceramic fair in Valencia, Spain, and the award winning Harvard project, Extruded Tessellation: Ceramic Tectonics, of industrially produced clay extrusions from the university’s Material Processes & Systems Group. But it was not the only award-winning project of architectural interest at the fair. Cevisama’s most important award went to the La Gavina School Gymnasium in Valencia. The structure was designed by architects Carmen Martinez Gregori, Carmel Gradoli Martinez, and Arturo Sanz Martinez. The gym has a ceramic tile facade that acts as a screen, light diffuser, and acoustic barrier for the facility. But a second student award had perhaps the most experimental use of ceramics and potential to create a new type of easily and cheaply reproducible urban space and form. The project, Transhumant Renovation by Laura Alonso Blasco, proposes a shelter community for the migrant shepherds making their way along livestock routes. The scheme is also imagined as a place of refuge for any travellers that have reached the end of a stage of their journey along the livestock routes, paths, and trails. It uses colorful small ceramic pieces that can be easily replicable as part of of a series of covered wooden huts that frame a central sheep-grazing plaza.
Cevisama is the largest annual ceramic and terracotta exhibition in the world. Architects and designers from the whole world are here, but there is almost no North American representation—either displaying products, media reporting on building advances with the material, or architects looking for new products. Thus it was surprising to run across this Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) project from their Material Processes and Systems Group student studio. It is one of the most advanced and exciting projects in the entire fair. Have a closer look below.
This week, AN is at Cevisama ceramic tile fair in Valencia, Spain. In day one we visited San Gines, a small tile factory in the village of Talavera de la Reina near Toledo. A studio that still produces tiles painted and fired by hand, San Gines is currently producing and exquisite tile mural for a new Philippe Starck–designed restaurant on Brickell Avenue in Miami. The mosaic riffs on tattoos and graffiti to update the factory’s antique handmade tradition and produce a unique and spirited interior. The restaurant will open this summer in Miami.
The Spanish Church of Santa Barbara, designed by Asturian architect Manuel del Busto in 1912, faced severe deterioration from years of abandonment, until Church Brigade skate collective slid in. The collective's transformation, Kaos Temple, is a skate park completely immersed in geometric street art. With support from online fundraising and energy drink maker Red Bull, Church Brigade designed, built, and installed skate ramps inside the church. Church Brigade commissioned Spanish street artist Okuda San Miguel to paint the interior. In one week, San Miguel, with the help of three assistants—Antonyo Marest, Pablo Hatt, and MisterPiro—finished the transformation. Light filters in through stained glass windows, illuminating walls colored with geometric skulls, wildlife, and human faces. “I fell in love with it, even more after finishing it," San Miguel said of the church. "The contrast of my contemporary painting over the amazing classic architecture is incredible.” The street-artist called his completed transformation a "temple of urban art." Thanks to Church Brigade and San Miguel, the Spanish Church of Santa Barbara is, once again, a place of pilgrimage. Watch videos of the transformation here, and visit Okuda San Miguel's website to see his other works.
The Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies have revealed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava as the 2015 winner of the European Prize for Architecture. In awarding Calatrava the European Prize, the jury recognized the Spaniard's notable works including the Stadelholfen Railway Station in Zurich, the Bac de Roda Bridge in Barcelona, the Peace Bridge in Calgary, Canada, the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Innovation, Science and Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida and the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia, Spain. “Calatrava is more than just an architect,” explained Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, the president of the Chicago Athenaeum, in a statement. “He is a visionary theorist, philosopher and utopian and a true artist in the craft of engineering and architectonic expressionism. His buildings are not just ‘buildings.’ They are powerful works of art, inspired by a master’s gifted hand and sculpted by a superior, critical eye: immensely evocative and fiercely intellectual.” The award ceremony will be held at the World Trade Center in New York City on November 17 this year. Calatrava's works are set to be published the Metropolitan Arts Press and will be available via the European Center. Past winners include Finnish architect Marco Casagrande (2013), Italian architect Alessandro Mendini (2014), and Dane Bjarke Ingels (2010).
On September 4th, IE University in Madrid announced Martha Thorne as the new Dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design. School leaders anticipate that her knowledge of the international architecture and design worlds will further IE's mission of training forward-thinking designers and architects. Previously, Thorne served as the Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize. From 1996 to 2005, she acted as the Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Thorne has authored and edited numerous books and articles, including The Pritzker Architecture Prize: The First Twenty Years and Skyscrapers: The New Millennium. Thorne received her Master of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Urban Affairs from SUNY Buffalo.
Impossible architecture: Spanish artist’s acrylic-on-wood paintings feature gravity-defying, Escher-esque scenes
The impossible architecture depicted in paintings by Spanish artist Cinta Vidal Agulló are immersive M.C. Escher-meets-Dr. Seuss dreamscapes of multi-dimensional planes inhabited by tiny, doll-like figures. The “un-gravity constructions,” as Vidal Agulló calls them, are microscopically-detailed, small-stroke acrylic paintings on wood panels, each maze-like world resembling a planet unto itself. The confusion of the eye in its scramble to identify which way is up is a metaphor for the human condition: the impossibility of completely understanding those around us while grappling to comprehend ourselves. Namely, it is the oft-concealed disparity between our mental state and our physical environs. The topsy-turvy living spaces are peopled by faceless, solitary-looking characters and infinitesimal dollhouse-like furniture and objects, sometimes careening through the air. This foray into intricately detailed, realist painting is a first for Vidal Agulló, who has painted theater backdrops for operas for one of the world’s most prestigious scenography ateliers since age 16. She now works in a small studio in Cardedeu, a small town near Barcelona, Spain. Versed in the application of a large, broom-like brush and large-scale works, Vidal Agulló relished the challenge of reverting to a smaller scale where every flick of the brush matters. Her paintings feature multiple angles and top-sides of interconnected scenes where one is left to decipher the relationships between them. “The architectural spaces and day-to-day objects are an expression of how difficult it is to fit everything that shapes our daily space: relationships, work, ambitions, and dreams,” Vidal Agulló said in an interview with Hi-Fructose. Some of her paintings feature unnaturally conjoined buildings, while others depict upside-down-right-side-up interiors. “Playing with everyday objects and spaces placed in different ways to express that many times the inner dimension of each one of us does not match the mental structures of those around us,” she said.
Each year, the MoMA/PS1 Young Architect’s Program features an exciting design by an up-and-coming architect in the courtyard for the Warm-Up series. This year Madrid- and New York–based Andres Jaque and his Office for Political Innovation will build a huge, roving sprinkler system called COSMO that will surely liven up the event. However, it is different from years past: It will be built in Spain and shipped over by boat. Why? “Architecture is no longer about sign or form,” Jaque told AN. “It is about social networks, and how materials move through those networks. Architecture is nothing if it doesn’t engage these networks.” The design for COSMO is made from off-the-rack parts that are not altered in anyway as they are assembled on site. They remain as generic as possible so that they can be reused more easily. “We are designing them so that we don’t have to cut them. If we cut them we would be minimizing their reuse potential.” This could mean making something locally, or shipping it globally. It is a rethinking of what something means to be local. Much of COSMO could be made anywhere in the world. The parts are put together with wires, which are also reusable. The novel tectonics of COSMO are derived from the new, specific ways that the generic parts are put together. When the parts are allowed to have life after architecture, they take on 2nd and 3rd lives elsewhere. “It is a new way to relate to the land,” Jaque said, “It is an alternative to consumption. We want to give things more lives. It is a different culture of materiality that we want to bring to PS1.” Irrigations systems have been a recurring theme in Jaque’s work. He sees them as one of the original and most complete, open source knowledge systems. Since the 1940s, the collective intelligence of irrigation systems have been evolving so that anyone can use the technology. This radical way of thinking about objects and their networks is something the Spanish architect has researched extensively over his career, since growing up. “My family comes from Madrid but also from Aquitaine in France. Both parts of my family had their lives divided between cities and countryside. In France I remember spending summers looking and playing with the centered pivot irrigation systems that my uncle had in his farm,” said Jaque. “I also saw the way he transformed them and exchange parts of it with his neighbors. I guest it all started with that. It was part of a neighbors-based economy.” COSMO is not the first PS1 project to give afterlife to building materials. Past winners such as SO-IL, CODA, HWKN, and Interboro Partners have used ready-made parts that can be re-used after the summer, such as scaffolding, ping-pong tables, skateboard decks, and a host of other objects. “Billion Oyster Pavilion,” one of the 2015 Figment pavilions on Governor’s Island, is specifically designed to be thrown into the New York Harbor later this summer, where it will take on new life as an oyster habitat. According to Jaque, bringing in parts from all over the world is actually better for the environment. This new, global way of producing an architecture is actually more energy-efficient and causes less emissions, due to the sheer volume of freight that a boat can handle compared to a truck. So shipping tires from Turkey is better for the environment than bringing them from somewhere in the U.S., since New York has a harbor. The team also found irrigation pyramids in Spain, where they were more easily procured. The parts are expected to arrive in New York sometime in May, and should be ready for the June 27 opening Warm-Up.
Santiago Calatrava really wants you to stop blaming him for the very delayed and very over budget World Trade Center Transit Hub. All of your snark and rude comments have really gotten to him, which he recently revealed to the Wall Street Journal. “It has not been easy for me,” he said. “I have been treated like a dog.” But there's now some good news that should help cheer up the Spanish starchitect: famous person George Clooney is staunchly on his side. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=34&v=O6SinrRmuUU Clooney is in some new movie called Tommorowland that filmed at Calatrava's City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia, of which he is a big fan. At a recent press conference to promote the film, which took place on the modern campus, Clooney lavished praise on Calatrava. "This is an amazing place," he said. "If there's ever a question about whether or not there are dreamers in this world just come to look at this building, it is the most extraordinary place. There is such hope here, it's really fun to be in a place like this." The complex is striking, sure, but maybe Clooney hasn't heard about all the controversy and issues its run into over the years. We're talking ballooning budgets, crumbling facades, and lawsuits. As Susan Morris recently wrote on the AN Blog, Calatrava's City of Arts & Sciences is not the only high-profile piece of architecture featured in Tomorrowland. Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion has a cameo too.
Architects in Barcelona are remaking this tired, old bridge into a glow-in-the-dark, smog-eating sustainability machine
Spanish architecture studio BCQ recently announced plans to upgrade the arterial Sarajevo Bridge in Barcelona to be self-cleaning, smog-eating, and boast hanging gardens to boot. The Barcelona City Council commissioned the firm to improve the pedestrian experience through better lighting and air quality. First, a layer of photocatalytic concrete will replace the existing surface. This self-cleaning material neutralizes air pollutants by absorbing nitrogen oxides and converting them into harmless substances, and can also be applied to white or gray cement. All pollution removed will be simply washed away by the rain, guaranteeing a self-sustaining method that is environmentally non-invasive. This same technology will be modeled in the Italian pavilion at the upcoming Milan Expo 2015. Reminiscent of the glowing roads currently being trialled in the Netherlands, the bridge will harness glow-in-the-dark phosphorescence using photoluminescent glow stones to provide ambient light. Non-toxic and non-radioactive, the stones absorb solar energy during the day, which they slowly metabolize by night. BCQ will also mount photovoltaic solar panels to power low-energy LED lighting fixtures. Meanwhile, the area will be vegetated by green walls and pergolas covered in climbing plants. “It enables better interaction between pedestrians and vehicles, provides the space with vegetated arcades and changes the image of the bridge to distinguish it as one of the gates of Barcelona,” the architects said. As the gateway linking traffic from the north to the Catalonian capital, and spanning the Avinguda Meridiana, a major avenue, the dual carriageway will become a hoped-for meeting point between the two Trinitat neighborhoods.