Jayapura At Home

Jayapura At Home

Koedoes Centra Java

Koedoes Centra Java

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool

The Mosque

The Mosque

BPK Branch Office

BPK Branch Office

Rusunawa

Rusunawa

Yowari Hospital

Yowari Hospital

BNI Building

BNI Building

The Villa

The Villa

Buddha

Buddha

Christmas Night

Christmas Night

Port At Night

Port At Night

Glass Box House

Glass Box House

Sunset View

Sunset View

Blue Town

Blue Town

Green Park

Green Park

Snow In New Years Night

Snow In New Years Night

Catedral

Catedral

Silent World

Silent World

City Of Life

City Of Life

Lighting Style

Lighting Style

Bedroom Interior

Bedroom Interior

Bedroom In Pink

Bedroom In Pink

Bedroom In Blue

Bedroom In Blue

Bedroom Style

Bedroom Style

Kitchen Interior

Kitchen Interior

Dynamic Living Room

Dynamic Living Room

ADAPTIVE RE-USE

Posted by HB on Monday, February 27, 2012 , under | comments (0)




Mehta, Madan, James Johnson, and Jorge Rocafort, Architectural Acoustics: Principles and Design, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999 ADAPTIVE RE-USE Buildings often outlive their function; however, their inherent durability often gives the building another life. There is a long tradition of buildings being adapted to suit new functions. Roman basilicas were converted to serve as worship spaces for the nascent Christian church. In medieval times, Roman fortifications were resurrected to form part of the fabric of the mercantile cities. It was not until the advent of ready demolition and the mechanization of the building process during the Industrial Revolution that the practice of adapting old buildings to new uses became less the norm. 

Following World War II, the pace of change in urban form, precipitated by technological advances and social upheavals, quickened. As buildings became obsolete and shifting land values directed economic development away from central cities, particularly in North America, large-scale demolition became commonplace. In some cases, well-built warehouses and industrial structures stood on land that had become more valuable for other commercial and office uses, further accelerating demolition. Housing that stood in the pathway of proposed highways was also torn down. Urban renewal stopped short of its promise, and vacant buildings quickly became vacant land. To combat these failures, preservation strategies were developed that employed the existing built environment to suit new uses.

There are four distinct building types in which adaptive re-use of older structures can be seen. Public buildings, which includes large transportation facilities like train stations and civic buildings built in the 19th and 20th centuries being converted to new public and private uses. Industrial buildings, with their large clear structural spans and, typically, large expanses of windows or skylight, lend themselves particularly well to housing an enormous variety of new use groups. Private buildings, like large houses, can serve multiple functions because of the inherent flexibility of the prototype. Finally, commercial buildings, the structures that are so emblematic of the advances in architectural technology in the 20th century, are being recycled with different uses, presenting unique preservation problems, as architects must address issues related to preserving buildings that employed contemporary technology.

The U.S. government owns many magnificent historic structures and has taken the lead in finding new uses for its stock of buildings, serving as an example for private sector development. In Washington, D.C., the Pension Building, an imposing brick edifice, was constructed shortly after the Civil War to provide office space for agencies distributing pensions to war veterans and their families. Its primary distinctive feature is a large, central skylit atrium space that allows the ring of offices access to natural light. The building stood dormant for many years until a major restoration project started in 1984 enabled the National Building Museum to occupy the lower floors of the building, with the bulk of the building retained for government offices. The soaring splendor of the building’s interior serves as an excellent advertisement of its function as a museum for the built environment.



Also in Washington, D.C., is the Old Post Office Building, another atrium building. Completed in 1899, the neoRomanesque building was almost demolished in the early 1970s. Fortunately, as a result of the dedicated efforts of local preservationists and the daunting cost of demolishing such a huge structure, the building was renovated in 1978. The three lower levels of the building, including the atrium, were converted to restaurants and retail, with the perimeter of the building on the upper level retained as office space.

One of the most well-known re-uses of a dormant train station is Gae Aulenti’s remaking of the Gare d’Orsay in Paris as the national museum of art and civilization. Originally opened for train traffic in 1900, both the building’s short platform lengths and changes in travel patterns lead to the abandonment of the station shortly after World War II. Reopened as a museum in 1986, the renovation makes use of the original attached hotel within the head house as exhibition space. Built within the volume of the train shed are smaller structures that house more intimate display space for sculpture. Despite the somewhat awkward intrusion of these galleries within the shed, the sense of the original great volume of the space is still preserved.



In the United States, the nation’s private railroad system developed a legacy of magnificent structures throughout the country. When train traffic declined following World War II, these buildings, centrally located in the downtowns of virtually every American city, sometimes were virtually abandoned or, worse, torn down in the case of McKim, Mead and White’s Pennsylvania Station in New York. Union Station in St. Louis (Theodore C.Link), built in 1894 and renovated and modified in the early 1980s, is a good example of an important building restored to a new life. The barrel-vaulted Grand Hall functions in much the same way as it was originally intended, now serving as a hotel lobby and entrance to a multiuse complex that includes a parking garage and a restaurant and retail center within the former train shed. The shed, the largest of its type ever built, is organized into “neighborhoods” to make the integration of the building’s multiple functions more coherent. When Union Station was renovated, the ornate and eclectic spaces within the head house were restored and glass was inserted into the vaulted train shed, flooding the interior with natural light.


 In Philadelphia, a large commuter train station built for the Reading Railroad in 1893 became redundant in 1984 when a subterranean tunnel was constructed below it, linking the area’s railways to a regional network. The beautiful steel and glassvaulted shed and Renaissance revival terra-cotta facade were empty for several years as several different alternatives were studied for a possible re-use. Critical to the success of the project was the maintenance of the historic food market below the train shed. The Pennsylvania Convention Center, built in 1992 (Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Association), incorporates the Reading Terminal into the new construction, maintaining both this vital piece of urban architecture and the market’s social importance in the city fabric. The head house serves as the ceremonial entrance for the convention center as well as a hotel. The train shed links the entrance from the principal street to the new large convention center that spans over two adjacent blocks

The first International Style skyscraper, the PSFS Building (George Howe and William Lescaze), also in Philadelphia, was constructed in 1932 and served for many years as the headquarters for a local bank and office building. The building had retail on the ground floor with a cool modern banking hall on the second floor. After the bank went out of business in the early 1990s, the building stayed dormant for many years. Despite the high esteem held for the building locally, its relatively small floor plate did not attract the interest of businesses seeking space where the need for a large floor negated the desire to have ready access for natural light. Fortunately for the building, developers converted it to a hotel that uses the original banking hall as a multipurpose room. The former retail space now serves as a ground floor lobby and restaurant. The renovation is truly successful and the building retains its landmark neon sign, first lit to advertise the bank during the depths of the Depression.

Private buildings that have been adaptively re-used range in size and character from urban townhouses to urban palaces and castles set alone in the countryside. Museums are the most common new use for these buildings, often commemorating the house and holdings of the original occupant, as in the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, and the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. Alternatively, the urban mansions are often converted to art museums, making use of the variety of spaces, both small and grand. Institutions like the CooperHewitt Museum in the former Carnegie mansion and the Frick Museum, both in New York City, serve as excellent display space for sculpture and paintings of all manners of style and size. In European countries like France, Spain, and Portugal, châteaus and castles have been converted into hotels. The Spanish government, in particular, has made the conversions of these castles into paradores for the latter half of the 20th century a matter of restoration policy

Industrial buildings offer the most flexible typology for conversion. Mills and old factory structures are typically solidly built and often offer large expanses of natural light. Industrial buildings are generally anonymous buildings that, in the early part of the 20th century, were executed, if not by architects, then by highly competent vernacular builders. The prototype was a relatively recent phenomenon, and the pace of construction of these buildings accelerated during the time of great urban industrialization that coincided with a particularly eclectic period in architecture. Consequently, these buildings hold important social and physical significance in the urban context. The solid structures of these buildings may have contributed to their longterm survival; in some cases, the cost of demolition made their destruction not as viable an option, allowing time for alternative uses to be found

Housing has been a popular choice to occupy these spaces. In the United States, the vanguard of the movement to convert former industrial properties to housing was the SoHo neighborhood in New York City. What started as flexible and inexpensive space serving as artist studios became coveted by those looking for expansive living quarters in neighborhoods that the artists had helped to become fashionable. Outside of New York, one of the better-known early preservation and conversion projects is Lowell Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, a mixed-use complex that helped to revitalize a portion of that moribund town. 

These mill buildings are now also adapted to house the industries of the information age, the economic successor to the industrial revolution. Offices for computer technology firms, professional offices, and material and product showrooms in early 20th-century industrial loft buildings are such a commonplace sight in urban centers that it is often forgotten that those buildings were not originally constructed to house those functions. One particularly striking conversion is the Templeton Factory in Glasgow, Scotland, a former carpet mill built in a colorful and stylized Venetian Gothic style in 1898. The building complex was considered for demolition following its abandonment in 1978 as the result of changes in manufacturing technology. Preservation as a museum was rejected. In the early 1980s, a scheme was devised to convert the building into a hybrid research and business incubator center run by a local government development agency.

Winston Churchill’s aphorism—“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”—rings true. Preservationists seeking to link the past with the future take exception to this rule as we continue to shape our buildings, adapting them to new functions. Adaptive re-use as a tool used by architects, like the larger preservation movement, is a 20th-century phenomenon. The preservation of older buildings by giving them new uses also serves as part of an overall strategy for urban designers, city planners, and the consortium of public and private forces that view this approach as a tool of economic development. The supply of older and significant buildings is a source of sound urban ecological regeneration. As preservation practice evolves, the emphasis is shifting away from strict restoration to an attitude that frees the building from its former use.

Acoustics

Posted by HB on Thursday, February 9, 2012 , under | comments (0)



As Charles Garnier prepared the design for the Paris Opera House in 1861, the lack of acoustical design information and the contradictory nature of the information that he found forced him to leave the acoustic quality to chance and hope for the best. With few exceptions, this was the condition of architectural acoustics at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1900, with the pioneering work of Wallace Clement Sabine, the dark mysteries of “good acoustics” began to be illuminated. In his efforts to remedy the poor acoustics in the Fogg Art Museum Lecture Hall (1895–1973) at Harvard University, Sabine began experiments that revealed the relationship among the architectural materials of a space, the physical volume of the space, and the time that sound would persist in the space after a source was stopped (the reverberation time). Predicting the reverberation time of a room provided the first scientific foundation for reliable acoustic design in architecture. This method is still regularly used as a benchmark to design a range of listening environments, from concert halls to school classrooms.

 

Fogg Art Museum

 

The first application of this new acoustical knowledge occurred during the design of the Boston Symphony Hall (1906) by McKim, Mead and White. Original plans for the hall called for an enlarged version of the Leipzig Neues Gewandhaus (1884), a classical Greek Revival theater. The increased size would have been acoustically inappropriate, as it doubled the room volume, leading to excessive reverberation. Sabine worked with the architects to develop a scheme with a smaller room volume in the traditional “shoe box” concert hall shape. The Boston Symphony Hall remains one of the best in the world. Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Building (1889) in Chicago was praised for its architectural and engineering achievements as well as for the theater’s superb acoustics. As the profession of acoustical consulting emerged in the design of listening spaces, the firm of Bolt, Beranek and Newman made a significant impact on the development of architectural acoustics in the 20th century. Their work with architects Harrison and Abramovitz on Avery Fisher Hall (1962) in New York City represented a legitimate attempt to incorporate new scientific principles of acoustical design rather than merely copying previous halls that were known to be good. Although it presented several failures, one key acoustic point gleaned from a study of European halls for Avery Fisher Hall was that the room should hold 1,400 to 1,800 seats. Yielding to economic pressures, the architect increased seating to almost 3,000.

 

Boston Symphony Hall

 

 

A more successful implementation of modern acoustical theories is the Berlin Philharmonic (1963). Architect Hans Scharoun’s vision of a hall in the round blurs the traditional distinction between performer and audience. The approach posed quite an acoustical challenge, given the directionality of many orchestral instruments; it required an extremely unconventional acoustical design. The resulting “vineyard terrace” seating arrangement resolved many potential acoustical difficulties while creating a spatial vitality that resonates outward to form the profile of the building. This collaboration between Scharoun and the acoustic consultant Lothar Cremer engendered a truly inspired architectural design.

 

A more successful implementation of modern acoustical theories is the Berlin Philharmonic (1963). Architect Hans Scharoun’s vision of a hall in the round blurs the traditional distinction between performer and audience. The approach posed quite an acoustical challenge, given the directionality of many orchestral instruments; it required an extremely unconventional acoustical design. The resulting “vineyard terrace” seating arrangement resolved many potential acoustical difficulties while creating a spatial vitality that resonates outward to form the profile of the building. This collaboration between Scharoun and the acoustic consultant Lothar Cremer engendered a truly inspired architectural design.

 

 

Berlin Philharmonic

 

New techniques for improved acoustic environments are applied in many building types, including school classrooms, music practice rooms, church sanctuaries, movie heaters, transportation hubs, and industrial facilities. Simultaneously, with more and more exposure to digital-quality sound, clients have become keenly aware of their sonic environment and expect high levels of performance. Speech intelligibility in classrooms has been related to learning, with efforts to reduce excessive background noise from mechanical equipment. The issue has become the focus of a U.S. federal government assessment and proposal for a nationwide acoustical standard for schools. Additionally, careful selection of materials, their quantities, and their locations in classrooms are important to enhance speech intelligibility. Music practice spaces require adequate room volume with both soundabsorbent and sound-diffusing materials to control loudness and reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss to musicians and teachers. Religious liturgy relies more heavily on intimate spoken sermons, cathedral-like choir singing, and high-powered amplified music in many denominations. These trends, coupled with a prevailing increase in sanctuary size and the desire for more congregational interaction, have demanded sophisticated sound reinforcement systems and carefully configured room acoustic design strategies to strike a balance among divergent sonic criteria. Digital surround sound, the new standard in movie theater entertainment, incorporates the environmental acoustic character as part of the movie sound track, which should not be colored by the theater space. This requires very low reverberance, low background noise levels from mechanical equipment, and exceptional sound isolation from adjacent theaters. Unintelligible announcements, the bane of transportation hubs, have been the focus of many recent acoustical studies, affirming the need to consider room geometry, size, and material selection as they play as great a role as the actual announcement system itself in the success of these spaces.

 

Many meaningful advances in acoustic knowledge were made in the 20th century. The application and integration of this information within architectural design leaves much room for advancement. Alvar Aalto’s famous acoustical ray tracing diagrams for the lecture room of the Viipuri Public Library (1933–35) in Viipuri, Finland, represent acoustical thinking in the earliest phases of design. Developing sophisticated methods to assimilate newer acoustical knowledge as part of the architectural design process is the work at hand in the 21st century.

 

Viipuri Public Library

Richard Buckminster Fuller

Posted by HB on Thursday, January 5, 2012 , under | comments (0)



The American Richard Buckminster Fuller has been variously labeled architect, engineer, author, designer-inventor, educator, poet, cartographer, ecologist, philosopher, teacher, and mathematician throughout his career. Although not trained professionally as an architect, Fuller has been accepted within the architectural profession, receiving numerous awards and honorary degrees. He thought of himself as a comprehensive human in the universe, implementing research for the good of humanity. Born in Milton, Massachusetts, on 12 July 1895, he was the son of Richard Buckminster Fuller, Sr., and Caroline Wolcott (Andrews) Fuller. His father, who worked as a leather and tea merchant with offices in Boston, died when Fuller was 15 years of age. Fuller’s first design revelation came to him when, in kindergarten in 1899, he built his first flat-space frame, an octet truss constructed of dried peas and toothpicks. As a boy, vacationing at his family’s summerhouse on Bear Island, Maine, he became an adequate seaman and developed an appreciation of nature’s provision of principles of efficient design. He followed the philosophy of Pythagoras and Newton, that the universe comprises signs, or patterns of energy relationships, that have an order to them. Fuller used the term “valving” for the transformation of these patterns into usable forms. According to Fuller, these patterns in nature were comprehensive and universal. “Synergy” was the name that Fuller gave to the integrated behavior patterns discovered in nature.

 

Fuller attended the Milton Academy (1904–06) and Harvard University (1913–15) and was expelled twice while at Harvard. He worked in a few industries and then enlisted for two years of service in the U.S. Navy (1917–19). This experience in industry and with the Navy helped him gain knowledge of technical engineering processes, materials, and methods of manufacturing, which he would apply this knowledge to future inventions. When one of his two daughters, Alexandra, died of influenza at age four (1922), Fuller became obsessed with her death. Five years later, on the brink of suicide, he decided instead to devote the rest of his life to helping humanity by converting ideas and technology designed for weaponry into ideas for “livingry.” At the age of 32, he started an experiment, Guinea Pig B (the “B” stood for “Bucky,” his nickname), to discover how an individual with a moral commitment and limited financial means could apply his knowledge to improve humanity’s living conditions by technological determinism. This experiment continued until his death at age 88. Thus, his technological and economical resources belonged to society. He believed in the same moralistic drive to develop better housing for the masses through mass production that many of the European modernists did, but Fuller’s forms and design principles were quite different.

 

Among the proliferation of books that Fuller published during his life, the first, (1928), propagated his lifetime philosophy. The term “4D” meant “fourth-dimensional” thinking, adding time to the dimensions of space to ensure gains for humanity instead of personal gains only. The first patent of the 4D designs was a mass-production house, first known as 4D and later as the Dymaxion House (1927 model; 1928 patent). A hexagonal structure supported on a mast, the house was to be air deliverable and based on his strategy of “design science,” which sought to obtain maximum human advantage from minimum use of energy and materials. Using the analogy of airplane technology, he chose materials such as steel- alloy cables and the Duralumin mast. After developing the Dymaxion House, Fuller was to engage in developing prototypes of the Dymaxion Vehicles (1937) and the Dymaxion Bathroom (1940). Later he developed the Dymaxion Deployment Unit (1944), a lightweight corrugated-steel shelter made from modified grain bins. Thousands of these units were bought by the U.S. Army Air Corps for use as flight crew quarters. The Dymaxion Deployment Unit became the basis for Fuller’s Wichita House (1946). These houses were built to be used as full-size family dwellings, weighing four tons each, and were to be assembled on aircraft production lines built during the war. Another of Fuller’s Dymaxion inventions was the Dymaxion Airocean World Map (1946). This map transferred the spherical data of a globe onto a two dimensional surface.

 

 

Construction plan of the geodesic dome

Construction plan of the geodesic dome

Fuller, however, is best known for inventing the geodesic dome (1954), a triangulated space-enclosing technology. According to Fuller, this type of structure encloses the maximum internal volume with the least surface area. Designs such as the domes were based on synergy and its connection with mathematics, using such forms as the tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron. Fuller brought into the dome structure ideas concerning the dome’s tensile ability by introducing a new structural geometry and advancing mechanics into the dome form. He tried to emulate in this structure the atom’s form, including the compound curvature trussing of its dynamic structure. Although this domical design was not new in its elementary form, it was new in its manner of employing these principles in a human-made structure. Numerous domes have appeared all over the world for domestic as well as large-scale industrial use, including the Union Tank Car Company (1958), Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the Climatron Botanical Garden (1961), St. Louis, Missouri; the U.S. Pavilion (1967) at Expo ‘67, the World’s Fair,  Montreal, Canada; and the Spruce Goose Hangar (1982), Long Beach, California.

 

As noted by architectural historian Kenneth Frampton in his book, (1980), Fuller has influenced future generations of architects, most notably the Japanese group the Metabolists, the British group Archigram, Moshe Safdie, Alfred Neuman, Cedric Price, and Norman Foster. A few semiotician scholars liken him to Joyce, but whereas Joyce sought to obscure language intentionally, Fuller sought to emphasize a precise meaning. Often he would invent words for this purpose, as displayed in his numerous writings and lectures. Later in life, he entered into partnership with Shoji Sadao in New York and Sadao and Zung Architects in Cleveland, Ohio (1979–83). Fuller died on 1 July 1983 in Los Angeles, California, from a massive heart attack; his wife died three days later.

 

RichardBF

IL Forte Di Fortezza

Posted by HB on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 , under | comments (0)



Begun under Francis I in the year 1833; completed by Ferdinand I in the year 1838’ reads the Latin inscription over the gate of a monumental fortress that dominates the village of Fortezza (originally called Franzensfeste) in Alpine northern Italy, near the border with Austria. Strategically positioned to oversee the entrance to the Eisack Valley, this brooding redoubt was constructed by the Habsburgs to protect their empire from growing anti-imperialist fervour fomented by the French revolution.

 

In just five years, 6,000 workers and soldiers constructed the complex under the direction of regimental engineer Franz von Scholl. Resembling a small town, it consists of three separate fortified enclaves hugging the contours of the hillside site. Executed in a functional yet heroic stripped classical language, it was built to last, an impregnable bastion of imperial power.

 

Despite the Habsburgs’ impressive mobilisation of men and resources, the revolutionary threat failed to materialise. The fortress soon became redundant, ‘built for an enemy who never came,’ according to local historian Josef Rohrer. By the end of the 19th century this supreme manifestation of military and imperial hubris was serving as a humble powder depot. In 1918 Franzensfeste came under Italian rule and became Fortezza (though German is still widely spoken in the region) and the complex was used by the Italian army until 2003.

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

The heroic stripped  classicism of the  fort informs the  new additions

 

 

Relinquished by the military and acquired by the province of South Tyrol, it now has a new incarnation as a historic monument and place of cultural exchange. In 2008 it was one of the four venues for Manifesta 7, the European biennale of contemporary art, and in 2009 it hosted the Landesausstellung, a regional arts festival. With its massive walls and  labyrinthine underground passages, the fortress provided an apt backdrop to the festival’s theme of freedom, set against the historically defensive culture of the Tyrol.

 

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

The fort overlooks a lake. A pair of new walkways rationalize circulation

 

 

 

Local architects Markus Scherer and Walter Dietl were commissioned to restore the structure so it could cope with the new demands of exhibitions and tourism. Preserving the existing buildings while also emphasising the distinctive character of the architecture was key to Scherer and Dietl’s brief. The thick granite walls were restored, roofs waterproofed and windows repaired. Walled-off spaces were opened up and unsympathetic later additions removed. Throughout, the process has been a tactful cleaning up and drilling down to the raw form and structure of the fort, which itself acts as a cue for the new interventions.

 

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

 

From the entrance courtyard behind the main gate, the extent of the complex is not immediately   obvious. Minimally articulated stone structures that once housed barracks, stables and stores now accommodate a visitor centre, bar, restaurant, children’s play area and an exhibition space spread over an enfilade of rooms. Carefully restored vaults of exposed brickwork and plastered walls, some embellished with murals, convey a powerful sense of the past. A 22m-deep vertical shaft was driven through the rock to connect the lower fortress with a subterranean cavern. A dark concrete staircase with a golden handrail spirals up through the shaft, terminating in a partially destroyed powder magazine, which was restored and reconfigured as a new circulation pavilion.

 

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

 

New parts have the same tough, stripped-down spirit as the original architecture. Thick concrete blocks are used to form simple buildings and enclosures. Between the blocks, layers of sand were flushed out to produce an irregular horizontal joint pattern and the surface of the concrete was roughened by sandblasting with fine granite particles to match the colour of the existing stone. The weatherbeaten effect mimics the passage of time, so the new interventions have the feel of a modern ruin.

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

 

The most dramatic new addition is a double deck arrangement of dog-leg shaped catwalks that swing out precipitously over a lake at the lowest level to connect the exhibition spaces and complete the visitor circuit. Like the new doors, grilles and handrails, the bridges are made of galvanised steel coated with a rough black patina. Thin and sharp like a blade, the dark steel crisply counterpoints the massive stone walls. This intelligently judged reciprocity between architectures, eras and functions is emblematic of the surprising rebirth of an extraordinary piece of 19th-century military history.

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

 

 

IL Forte Di Fortezza

The Most Expensive Development in US History Tries to Redefine Junkspace Urbanism on The Strip

Posted by HB on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 , under | comments (0)



Las Vegas is universally dismissed as non-architectural or anti-urban. At night, neon signs and electronic billboards orientate the car driver and conveniently overshadow the city’s junkspace context of car parks. They signal Vegas’ immersive gambling enclave hugging the four-mile Strip yet, while old signs are regularly taken to the neon graveyard

in the Nevada desert, little contemporary architecture has replaced them. The Strip’s relative resurgence at the hands of entrepreneur Steve Wynn reached its height with the 1998 Bellagio hotel and casino, now owned by gambling giant MGM Mirage. With its eight-acre lake and artsy dancing fountains, it was merely another thematic step from Vegas’ mid-century modernism of the Rat Pack era.

 

Now off the Strip, and attached to Bellagio by a three- stop tramline, is City Center, where starchitecture is a keypart of the development gamble. It took MGM Mirage five years to build and cost a cool $8.5 billion. Replacing the immaterial graphic skyline with a veritable architectural zoo, this compact ‘city within a city’ transforms 27 hectares etched out of land adjoining the Strip on which a third-rate hotel and multi- storey car park once stood.

 

When Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown wrote Learning from Las Vegas in 1972, examining the cultural context of the city as a generator of form, they critiqued mindless  Strip development and reinvented the casino as a quasi-public space that spills out and engages the street in an update of the Roman piazza. In a city where context and use has been so out of tune with reality, and what seems to be reality is not, MGM Mirage now claims to have shifted the Vegas paradigm.

 

CityCenter

 

The ramped entry street indeed leads you to a piazza in front of Pelli Clarke Pelli’s hefty crystalline Aria Resort.  At the hub of one of three blocks on the Gensler-designed masterplan, building and piazza are bonded by a huge curving waterwall. Everything radiates from here and, instead of a spilled-out casino, there is the first of many art installations on the site. The overhead monorail shuttles visitors between ‘historic’ Vegas (neighbours Monte Carlo and Bellagio) and new Vegas (Studio Daniel Libeskind’s shopping centre, Crystals). Negotiating Aria’s labyrinth of foyer casino to find the elevators to the rooms is a bore. Up front, the building lamely accommodates the fleecing space that pays its way, and Aria suffers as a result.

 

The pharaonic undertaking of CityCenter engaged seven architects, 60 interior designers and over 250 design consultants in total, in a project which took only five years to build from inception in 2005, picking up a LEED Gold certification for sustainability. It is too soon to know whether CityCenter is economically sustainable, but its tactics are a unity of art and architecture, mixed programme (70 per cent non-gaming allocation, for dining, hotels, spas and so on) and the semblance of civic identity across the pedestrian- friendly district. There may be high-end hotels – two with retail apartments – but no housing for the workers of this place of pleasure, or food shops, as occupants eithereat out or order in.

 

At CityCenter’s gateway is KPF’s Mandarin Oriental, an elegantly simple and tactile building with a facade of interlocking motifs of vertical stainless steel panels and fritted glass. It bears a standard tall atrium, but the upper-floor podium, complete with ballroom and huge window overlooking the Strip, feels genuinely fresh – for Vegas.

 

With a pocket park lying between Aria and Crystals, punctuated by a Henry Moore sculpture, a snatch of the  European post-war city and way-finding signage on the pedestrian space, the idea was that visitors could navigate buildings outdoors. Yet the quality of the seamlessless falls into being rather airport-like at Aria’s rear conference centre, and you half expect to find an outdoor smoking room there.

 

Crystals, with its multi- faceted glass canopy that feels like a reworked New York Guggenheim, is punctuated by David Rockwell’s three-storey tree house nudging the oculus in the roof. It forms a fraternal union on the street with Murphy/Jahn’s Veer Towers,

a pair of 37-storey residential blocks leaning 5° from centre and sporting yellow fritting and sun-shading fins.

 

Tucked away on the north-west corner, Rafael Viñoly’s Vdara hotel and spa plays a symbolic card, a low-key crescent form of patterned glass amply kitted out with art (a Frank Stella painting in reception lends gravitas) and the Silk Road restaurant (a smouldering gold bazaar). Less evident at this point is Foster + Partners’ Harmon boutique hotel. Opening in November, this smart blue beacon will be only half the original intended height, due to a construction error that curtailed its ambition.

 

Learning from Las Vegas relied too much on formal analysis. Looking at CityCenter, it would appear Vegas has had a pro-architecture shot in the arm in the form of a grown-up urban enclave replete with formal sophistication, especially of the crystalline variety. Moreover, for a growing city, the largest private development in US history has raised desires for more contestation of endless sprawl and standardised suburbia. It may be for real, but is it enough?

 

 

Seven architecture practices worked on the CityCenter project

Johan Celsing’s ‘Stone in The Forest’ Treads Carefully in The Woodland Cemetery

Posted by HB on , under | comments (0)



When the ancient habit of burning corpses instead of burying them was struggling for a renaissance a century ago, Swedish enthusiasts (yes, there were such) turned to young and progressive architects to create the buildings for this newly revived ceremony. With Torsten Stubelius, Sigurd Lewerentz devised an exemplary proposal that became the starting point for Lewerentz’s and Erik Gunnar Asplund’s collaboration on the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm. This masterpiece of spiritual architecture and landscape is to be augmented with a new building, for which a limited invited competition has just been settled.

 

The problems of dignifying the technical processes of cremation have not diminished. In fact, they have grown. The new building is intended to be a small but efficient plant where hundreds of thousands of Stockholmers will melt into air, with a tiny corner for mourners to follow the process. The new rite makes the entire edifice sanctified and, apart from the historically charged setting, this is what makes the task so fascinating.

 

The notion of what sort of building might stage and dignify these rituals was very open, as the city turned to such different minds as Bjarke Ingels, Tadao Ando, Caruso St John, White Architects and Johan Celsing for an answer. It was Celsing, in collaboration with landscape architect Müller Illien, who won the day with a modest, almost camouflaged, brick block, described as a ‘stone in the forest’. The fallout from the competition for the ill-starred extension of Asplund’s City Library (AR January 2010) hung heavily over proceedings. This one must not fail.

 

The site is on a safe distance from Asplund’s and Lewerentz’s temples. And even if every other submission proposed more intricate spatial arrangements and most were more sculpturally expressive, Celsing’s monolith does have the possibility of being the solid ‘stone in the forest’ it wants to be. It has the same simple, unaffected spirit as the brick buildings of Erwin Heerich at the Insel Hombroich art campus in Germany.

 

However, the jury rejected the concept of serene daylight that characterised proposals from Ando, Caruso St John and even Bjarke Ingels. Like his father Peter, Johan Celsing favours strong contrasts in light and shadow. But there are wonderful examples of simple, even brutal, Swedish crematoriums where the daylight soars in thin air. Compared to these, Celsing’s proposal has still a bit to go. But if the stone gets its sacred space,the winner will also be a victor.

 

 

Woodland Cemetery

CAA Conference Explores Notions of Sustainability That Go Beyond Box-Ticking

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These days, no convocation on sustainability is complete without Ken Yeang, who popped up to deliver the keynote address at the recent Commonwealth Association of Architects triennial conference in Sri Lanka. Despite having a carbon footprint the size of Kazakhstan, Ken always makes a rousing curtain raiser to such proceedings, breezing through his theories on biointegration and comparing the built environment to a prosthesis grafted on to an organic host (nature). All fascinating stuff, but he couldn’t stay for lunch because he was off to Japan.

 

 

The conference theme was ‘Architecture: Rethinking Sustainability’ (predictable enough), but the venue, in Colombo, gave more pause for thought. In Sri Lanka and surrounding Asia, notions of sustainability are not just box- ticking exercises, but crucial to human survival.

 

Rafiq Azam of Dhaka-based architecture firm Shatotto (featured in the 2007 AR Emerging Architecture Awards) brought things down to earth with a thoughtful discourse on the challenges of building in Bangladesh, ‘a land of six seasons’ steeped in ‘the poetry of the tropics’. Azam’s work sensitively mines climate, culture and context, but he is also aware of architecture’s responsibilities – ‘the power to transform communities and society,’ as he described it.

 

The ghost of Geoffrey Bawa still hovers benignly over the canon of Sri Lankan modernism, and it was momentarily channelled by a Milroy Perera, who used to work with the great man. His account of the building of the Kandalama Hotel (AR December 1995), sensitive site near the famous Dambulla cave temple, showed that making great buildings takes immense reserves of patience and persistence. Bawa had to rebuff opposition from politicians and religious leaders (‘the only man who succeeded in uniting Hindus, Buddhists and Christians,’ said Perera), but his vision won out in the end. Today the Kandalama is covered in lush greenery, as its architect intended, merging to become part of the landscape.

 

From Australia, Kerry Clare spoke of architecture that ‘locates people in a place rather than sealing them from it’. Her work showed a clear responsiveness to climate, especially the tropical zone of Queensland, through the reinterpretation of vernacular principles. ‘The affirmation of local identity and character by understanding textures, rhythms and tectonics relevant to a culture is increasingly important,’ she said.

 

South African architect Llewellyn van Wyk had a different perspective – basically we’re all doomed. Periodic mass extinctions and extreme climate events are an inevitable part of the planet’s long existence and if these don’t get us, the dying sun eventually will. ‘We have to recontextualise our thinking,’ said van Wyk. ‘We’ve lost the capacity to foresee and forestall.’ He proposed seven ‘canons of sustainability’ to enable green buildings to satisfy broader concepts of sustainability, and align them ‘more directly with the transformative notion underpinning sustainable development’.

 

Though the CAA only assembles every three years, it draws together many architects from the developing world, from Africa and Asia, whose voices are not often heard. But on the evidence of this conference, they should be.

 

 

Geoffrey Bawa’s Kandalama Hotel in Sri Lanka