A Formal Tension
A Formal Tension _ Silvio Carta
In architecture of recent decades, architects have continued to elaborate the formal vocabulary of the Modern movement, in which regularity, purity and simplicity of shape are among the main rules. On the other hand, and especially with the advent of digital design, architects have begun to experiment with new geometries and construction techniques, by which fluidity, irregularity and non-standard shapes have become part of our current cityscape. What happens when these two formal approaches coexist in the same building? Is a marriage between free and regular shapes possible? Or does it instead inevitability create clash, generating areas of tension? This chapter presents two projects — the Emerson College Los Angeles Center by Morphosis Architects and the House of Music in Aalborg by Coop Himmelb(l)au — that may offer interesting insight into this discussion via a focus on areas of interaction between free and regular shapes.
Live / Work Hybrids _ Douglas Murphy
Lewis Mumford, in The City in History, noted that the medieval synthesis of living and working space only remained in the modern city through the studios of painters and architects. The office block, barely 200 years old as a typology, has come to be one of the most prominent types of building in the contemporary city. With automation continually diminishing manual labour, and with urbanization still accelerating, what kind of office space we work in future will be incredibly important.
For at least 50 years technological advancement has encouraged the prediction that the office will become obsolete, but there is still a very stubborn need for people to come together and work in close proximity. But does the advance of communications technology in the 21st century finally make the dissolution of the office possible? Here we look at a number of small office projects that raise questions about the way working space will be organised in future.
Recovering Wood _ Tom Van Malderen
Although wood has always been around as a resourceful material for all sorts of creations and purposes, its popularity as a building material has been under the influence of changing tastes and demeanours throughout history. The possibilities and merits of wood were at the start exposed through extensive use and experimentation, and more recently by systematic research and the advance of ground-breaking manufacturing processes. Concerns about our environment also precipitated the discovery that wood is a renewable resource, and offers alternative routes to challenge our generally carbon-hungry construction industry.
The projects illustrated within this chapter show the recovery of wood as a contemporary construction material and reveal a wide array of motivations for this renewed interest. They touch upon a number of reoccurring themes within architecture like our position versus “nature”, and show us that the application of wood can soften the dichotomies between our natural and built environment. The projects emphasize our longstanding relation with nature and the impact the presence of wood has on our health, both psychologically and physiologically. They demonstrate how technological discoveries turned our traditional carpentry into a dynamic practice and help us understand how culture and construction condition one another. Wood is back in fashion and last but not least is making its return as a key construction material at the very centre of our cities.