The Habitable Wall
The Habitable Wall. Two new linear projects in Italy_Richard Ingersoll
Two projects recently completed in Italy bring a very fresh aesthetic to a longstanding tradition of urbanism, the habitable wall. The one in Milan commissioned by the Feltrinelli Fondation will no doubt receive more attention due to the status of its architects, Herzog & de Meuron. But the City of Sun in Rome, designed by the Roman office of Labics deserves as much consideration. Both of these linear complexes interject a modern palisade along the edge of a well-defined urban district, creating a strong visual border while offering a porous fabric of significant public amenities to the local residents.
Cities of the Dead
Cities of the Dead_Douglas Murphy
Discussing his design for the Cemetery of San Cataldo, Aldo Rossi wrote: “The central concept for the cemetery was perhaps my realization that things, objects, buildings of the dead are not different from those of the living”. He was attempting to find his way towards an architecture that could not only speak about death in terms of individual memory but also cultural memory.
For Rossi, the way to achieve this was through allegorical means – architecture that played upon various types and themes from architectural history, stripped down and abstracted in the hope that they could connect with deeper memories that would be shared and recognised by all that came to the building.
It is this problem that makes building for the dead such a fascinating architectural challenge. The functions are generally simple, but the opportunities for architecture to communicate with its visitors on a sophisticated emotional and intellectual level, expressing moods that are generally absent from everyday life, is one of the purest forms of the architectural art. In this essay we examine some recent buildings that demonstrate the variety of different approaches to this question available to the contemporary designer.
Down to Earth
Down to Earth_Alison Killing
Rammed earth construction has an impressive pedigree, used to construct significant parts of the Great Wall of China and the Alhambra in Granada, amongst others. It has fallen out of use in many parts of the world, and is often stereotyped as inferior to modern construction materials and methods, or as only suitable for poor, rural areas.
In this article, we look at the work of five architects who show that earth can still be used to produce exciting modern architecture: Cheshire Architects’ Rore Kahu pavilion in New Zealand; blaanc’s Vineyard House in Montijo, Portugal; H&P Architects’ Community Centre in Mao Khe, Vietnam; Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane Architects’ House for Oiso, Japan; and Herzog & de Meuron’s Ricola Herb Centre in Laufen, Switzerland. The projects here show that rammed earth can be a modern, versatile and beautiful material. In which case why isn’t it used more widely?