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.
Posts tagged with "Spain":
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.
The Serpentine Galleries has announced that Spanish architecture firm SelgasCano has been selected to design its 15th Serpentine Pavilion in London's Kensington Gardens. While the pavilion plan won't be unveiled until February, here's what we know about the firm that won the coveted commission. "SelgasCano’s work is characterised by a use of synthetic materials and new technologies, often rarely applied to architecture," the Serpentine said in a statement. "Taking inspiration from Luis Barragan and Richard Rogers, the architects use distinctive colours and references to nature throughout their designs." SelgasCano was founded in Madrid in 1998 by José Selgas and Lucía Cano and has worked primarily in its home country. The firm teaches a class called "Nature and Climatology" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and participated in the 2010 Venice Biennale. "This is an amazing and unique opportunity to work in a Royal Garden in the centre of London," SelgasCano said in a statement. "Both aspects, ‘Garden’ and ‘London’, are very important for us in the development of this project. We are in the middle of a garden, a ‘Royal’ garden indeed, once divided in two and separated by a Serpentine. That garden clings in the middle of London. Garden and London (which best defines London?) will be the elements to show and develop in the Pavilion. For that we are going to use only one material as a canvas for both: the Transparency. That ‘material’ has to be explored in all its structural possibilities, avoiding any other secondary material that supports it, and the most advanced technologies will be needed to be employed to accomplish that transparency. A good definition for the pavilion can be taken from J. M. Barrie: it aims to be as a ‘Betwixt-and-Between’." Previous pavilion designers include Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, Daniel Libeskind, and Zaha Hadid. Check out some of SelgasCano's work in the gallery below.
Who’s most irked by the Frank Gehry backlash currently underway in press rooms from Sydney to Spruce Street? Why, Frank Gehry, of course. At a press conference in Oviedo, Spain, Gehry replied to one journalist’s implication that Gehry’s architecture was just about spectacle with a spectacle of his own: He gave the journalist the middle finger. A grumpy Gehry (who later apologized and blamed his behavior on jet lag) went on to explain that “98 percent of everything that is built and designed today is pure shit.” If only every architectural press conference were so interesting! Gehry's also ruffled some feathers in Chicago, penning an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune that chides a public skeptical about George Lucas' proposed Museum of Narrative Art. "Please do not dismiss it because it doesn't look like something you've never seen before," Gehry admonished from the page—one he shares with Blair Kamin, the Tribune's Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic, a design commentator with his own harsh words about the museum as presented thus far.
Al Jazeera has launched Rebel Architecture, a six-part documentary that profiles lesser-known architects who are using their design skills “as a form of activism resistance to tackle the world's urban, environmental and social crises." These designers aren’t building glass towers for the global elite, but schools, cultural spaces, and homes for everyone else. And they're often doing it in legal gray area. In the first piece of the documentary, Al Jazeera follows Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda, "the Guerilla Architect,” as he attempts to transform a defunct cement plant into a cultural hub. The rest of the series will be set in Pakistan, Israel and the West Bank, Brazil, Vietnam, and Nigeria.
For years, the Pritzker Prize has been the gold-standard in architectural recognition. It’s like the Super Bowl ring, or the Oscar for Best Picture, or whatever Joey Chestnut wins for downing 60-some hot dogs at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. (It’s gotta be a sash, right? It’s probably a sash.) This is the hallowed ground where the Pritzker lives. But it could soon be trumped in a big way. In a big enough way that even knighthood can't quite compare. Hear that, Sir Norman Foster? Local Catalonia radio station RAC1, reported that Antoni Gaudi—already known as “God’s Architect”—could be beatified within the next year by Pope Francis, making him the patron saint of architects. The Local, an English-language news outlet in Europe, reported, "the campaign has been headed by the Pro Beatification for Antoni Gaudí Association, who for the past ten years worked hand in hand with the Vatican compiling hundreds of documents about Gaudi’s life and testimonies by those who knew him.” Gaudi was born in the mid-19th century in Catalonia and went on to create some of Barcelona's most celebrated work. If you're not familiar with his work, ask your cousin who went on the free Gaudi walking tour while studying abroad. Beatification is the third step out of four in the full canonization process, but as the Local noted, while Gaudi will probably reach the veneration stage, "the fact that there’s no proof yet he carried out a miracle may prevent him from being fully canonized.” With construction on one of Gaudi's most famous landmarks—the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona—carrying on now for some 132 years, there's no word yet from Vatican officials as to whether simply finishing the cathedral will count as a miracle. [h/t Huffington Post.]
Eighty-five year old Frank Gehry has been named the laureate of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts for his design for the Guggenheim Bilbao. He beat out thirty-six other candidates to become the sixth architect to win this illustrious honor. Gehry's titanium design for the Guggenheim opened in 1997 and helped to breath new life into the industrial city. According to the jury, "His buildings are characterized by a virtuoso play of complex shapes, the use of unusual materials, such as titanium, and their technological innovation, which has also had an impact on other arts. An example of this open, playful and organic style of architecture is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which, in addition to its architectural and aesthetic excellence, has had an enormous economic, social and urban impact on its surroundings as a whole."
As AN reported earlier, Santiago Calatrava's legal battles with a number of his former clients are ongoing. The Spanish architect is embroiled in a number of disputes regarding issues of budget, maintenance, and functionality the costliest of which concerns the rapid deterioration of the facade of an opera house Calatrava designed in his hometown of Valencia, Spain. Now Graphenano, a Spanish manufacturer of graphene paint is offering a possible solution for the beleaguered architect. The company claims that a coating of their product would be enough to save building's problematic mosaic exterior. Graphenstone is a paint from a mixture of limestone powder and graphene and has already been used to protect the facades of older buildings in other parts of Spain. (Image: Courtesy Graphenano)
Santiago Calatrava has been ordered by a Spanish court to pay $4 million for problems plaguing a municipal building he designed in Oviedo in Northwest Spain. While the final fee is lower than an initial ruling, such legal problems have become something of an unfortunate calling card for the Spanish architect. The Palacio de Congresos de Oviedo was completed in 2011 and features the soaring forms and white ribs that tend to populate Calatrava's work. The suit stems from issues involving the construction of the building as well as the project's final budget, which exceeded original estimates. Calatrava's fairly loose interpretation of budgetary restrictions has come under fire throughout the architect's prolific career. He is also in the midst of a legal battle regarding an opera house in Valencia whose final cost of $455.6 million—four times greater than its original budget—was not enough to ensure structural stability for more than a decade. Part of Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences that the architect had a major role in designing, the concert hall is the biggest fish in a sea of problems besetting the complex. Practicality has also not always been a strong suit for the architect. Bridges in Venice and Bilbao have both developed reputations for the extreme slipperiness among other issues. An airport he designed for the latter city was found lacking in a sheltered arrivals hall, a problem that Calatrava himself was forced to remedy. And the list continues. Assuming all goes according to plan, by 2015 New Yorkers will be able to witness what may be the zenith of the troubled beauty that has come to define Calatrava's works. The World Trade Center Transporation Hub represents his avian aesthetic at its most striking. However, the project's completion date is six years behind schedule, while its initial budget of $2 billion has since swelled to $4 billion.