A Concrete Renaissance
A Concrete Renaissance_Nelson Mota
In approximately one century of global dissemination, reinforced concrete has built up a solid intellectual tradition. Concrete pervades our lives relentlessly. Either used by mainstream artists and architects or just part of our everyday contact with the most prosaic structures and artefacts, concrete is all over the place. Concrete’s extreme pliability, as Adrian Forty put it, makes it a preferred medium to explore formal vocabularies that challenge conventional building tectonics. Exposed concrete walls can be produced to show many different textures and colours. Even the textures and colours of other materials such as wood, metallic panels, or bricks, transferred onto its surfaces through more or less sophisticated formwork systems. In fact, concrete surfaces are ideal to create austere atmospheres but also to suggest voluptuous spatial experiences. Reinforced concrete structures can challenge gravity in ways that traditional building techniques could not. But they are also used as the most straightforward building system available even in remote locations. In many places, concrete is now part and parcel of the new vernacular tradition. One can hardly find a material with such potential to perform in contrasting circumstances. This potential to cope with such different challenges has contributed to instigate a renewed interest in concrete as a medium of architectural expression. After the period when it was stigmatized as a material associated with the darker side of architectural modernism, today we can witness a concrete renaissance.
Re-Living: New Residential Models for NYC
Re-Living: New Residential Models for NYC_Julia van den Hout
Manhattan is an island of finite space and endless construction. Its density has been the subject of many conceptual proposals, but it is not often that new approaches have an opportunity to be built. Instead the city has simply continued to rise vertically and new residential buildings like Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue have brought to the city a generic—albeit at times beautifully banal—residential experience. But two new projects test whether it might not finally be time for a different model of living.
The city’s Tribeca neighborhood is rich with pedestrian activity; its cobblestone streets force vehicles to slow down and the ubiquity of sidewalk stoops encourage people to take a rest and enjoy the area’s dynamics. Tribeca’s streets, now designated a Historic District by New York City’s Landmark Preservation Committee, are lined with spectacular cast-iron facades, each unique in the rhythm of its arches and adornments. In this once industrial neighborhood, where six-story former factories and warehouses have been transformed into luxury lofts, Herzog & de Meuron’s tower at 56 Leonard rises like a lone giant. With its slim footprint and immense height, it has become the single high point on the Tribeca skyline, standing tall as a bridge between the verticality of the World Trade Center downtown and the dense cluster of office towers in Midtown.
But unlike many of the new luxury towers rising in this city—with sleek continuous facades and an occasional penthouse terrace level—with 56 Leonard Herzog & de Meuron offer up a new alternative: what if we can have our serving of highrise living with its sweeping views over the entire island of Manhattan (and presumably also well into the boroughs), with a healthy dose of individuality, a relief from the repetition of unidentifiable units that lie behind stark, anonymous exteriors. The result is an ultra-luxury pixilation of stacked glass boxes, with an envelope
Recycle and Reuse
Recycle and Reuse: The Two Pillars of Sustainable Development_Fabrizio Aimar
“[…] I fear that unless we open up towards moral reasoning which can only arise out of resistance, there will be no next century.” Written in 1981, Max Frisch’s admonition warned against the trends of the culture-ideology of consumerism. Thirty-six years later, global warming imposes eco-conscious choices, even in Architecture, involving cuttingedge processes as a physical part of any modern society. Therefore, concepts such as “Reuse” or “Recycle” are now widespread in global cultures and examined for their positive impact on community, economic policies and the world-system. They fight against the consumption of resources beyond globally sustainable levels, contributing to the adaption of any country-systems to cope with change, better known as a synonym for Resilience. Adaptive reuse, urban re-activation1, creative recycled art and non-conventional practices are upcycling strategies for a “second life” toolbox, strictly connected to building materials in both inner and outer spaces. The following essay concerns the presentation of projects that range from the reuse of leftover products (e.g. wood) to demolition waste (e.g. stone). Architects and “cultural creatives” are taking notice of the wide range of opportunities offered by recycling and reuse coupled with smart design (e.g. ’cradle-to-cradle’ approach), as explained in the article below.