Click on a title to read the news item...
Traditional scheme fails to win Carbuncle Cup
St Anne's Square, Belfast. Click to view full image
BD Online, an online magazine for architecture (www.bdonline.co.uk), holds an annual competition for a derision award called the Carbuncle Cup. There is nothing wrong with that, if we all know what a carbuncle is. The term was coined by Prince Charles in 1984 in relation to a proposed Modernist extension to the National Gallery in London. As a result, the extension was modified to show a more satisfactory transition from old to new. BD Online picked up on the notion of 'carbuncle', but its nominations for the six finalists were odd to say the least.
The original nominations are all still available here, although you may struggle to find them now that the six finalists have been announced.
St Anne's Square, Belfast was chosen as one of the infamous six. St Anne's is designed in the traditional and classical mode of architecture and the photos indicate what has been delivered. The end result has been highly regarded by the people who matter: the client and the public. St Anne's has received three prestigious awards: the Irish Property Award for Northern Ireland's Residential Development of the Year; the Best Urban Regeneration Award at the Belfast Business Awards 2010 for innovation, sustainability and design excellence; and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors' Award for Best Regeneration Project in Northern Ireland 2010. It has also featured in the new international publication, The New Palladians, a book featuring examples of the best classical architecture projects in the world today.
The photographs of St Anne's show how traditional design can produce beautiful spaces. It seems that INTBAU is needed more than ever to help return architecture to its original discipline, one which produces buildings that future generations can enjoy just as we can enjoy the heritage we have received.
Modernity and the Future of Tradition:
Organised in conjunction with the RIBA Trust, University of Greenwich & University of Notre Dame, the debate held on Wednesday 9 June 2010 at the University of Notre Dame's London Centre presented another manifestation of the increasing rapprochement between traditional architects and modernists in London. The debate comes at a time when major new projects by Renzo Piano at St Giles, and Jean Nouvel at 1 New Change, have failed to inspire, attracting critical reviews by reporters normally known for their support.
The debate featured both practitioners and commentators discussing the meaning of modernity and the role of tradition in modern society and their impact on architecture today. Introducing the debate, TAG Chair Alireza Sagharchi noted that the event was "inspired by recent projects that polarised opinion" and that "the media was not the place for debate". Continuing on his theme, he insisted that TAG and other traditional architecture groups did not seek to start style wars, but rather, sought a greater understanding of modernism and tradition.
RIBA Chair Sunand Prasand quoted Bruno Zavi to the effect that modernism was not a style, but "something that happens from time to time", not only during the 19th and 20th centuries. Stephen Bayley ran with a full-blooded defence of the idea of the Zeitgeist, of which Modernism is the only valid expression, punctuated by theatrical crumpling of his script, and reiterating Rimbaud's cry (from Une Saison en Enfer, 1873) that il faut être absolument moderne!
Robert Adam countered with a densely-argued defence of tradition, building on the 'traditions' found in chimpanzee groups to show that traditions - group memory - are what defines us as human. Adam argued further that modern traditions are self-conscious and a reflexive response to a post-modern condition.
Patrik Schumacher, partner at Zaha Hadid Architects and leading theorist for Parametricism, argued from the position that with 100 years of Modernism already, "only the innovators are remembered" for the "decisive advantage" engendered by each innovation. Schumacher contended that "conscious innovation" had supplanted "unconscious tradition", and drawing on arguments made in Sigried Giedion's "Space, Time and Architecture" (1941) that epochal styles were aligned with socio-economic periods. Developing his argument, he put the view that Modernism had led to the "end of mimesis" in architecture, and drew parallels from the local asymmetries in Baroque architecture as inspiring his firm's own work.
Closing the debate for the traditional team, Samir Younés argued that design-value outweighs age-value, therefore the Modernist "historicist ideology... [and] history of ruptures" was superseded. Distinguishing between modern (a given in all contemporary architecture) and Modernism (a style choice), Younés emphasised that tradition was a process of iteration and refinement. The key, he said, was in the alternatives of copying (identical reproduction) and imitation (a process of iteration).
In summing up, Sunand Prasand caught the mood of the evening, observing how refreshing it was to see Modernism and tradition discussed in terms other than "caricatures". It was indeed an exciting, challenging evening, and one that presaged a much more interesting and engaged future, avoiding what panellist Alan Powers called "monisms".
This was the first of a series of debates under the title Architecture, Modernity, Tradition held jointly by the RIBA Trust, the Traditional Architecture Group, the University of Greenwich and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA). The debates are intended to explore the concepts and ideas behind modern architecture in a spirit of enquiry avoiding confrontation. If they are all as exciting and as spirited as this one, it will be a great series.
Outcry Over Towers in Rome:
Rome from the air. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Used under licence.
Alemanno is promoting residential tower blocks, "La tua casa, nel punto più alto da cui guardare il mondo" as one developer puts it, which could eventually encircle the central historic district. The plan seeks to replace buildings such as the despised and failing Corviale project, 1.6km long, with new skyscrapers. The proposal follows hot on the heels of the first bridgehead of modernism in Rome, Richard Meier's Ara Pacis project, which attracted widespread condemnation. Some commentators feel that the Ara Pacis is now being used as a Trojan horse for further incongruous developments in Italy's historic city centres, with tower proposals in Milan, Turin and Bologna appearing in the last few years to public outcry.
At the same time, a lively debate has opened up about the redevelopment of the Corviale, with three proposals seeking to replace the hulking concrete structure with a series of traditionally-scaled residential buildings structured around traditional streets and squares. These proposals have received wide popular support in the press, while attracting a predictable outcry from the promoters of modernist design. We hope that in this case the public will vote to retain Rome's unique low-rise silhouette in perpetuity.
The Corviale: avoe.org/corviale.html
Skscrapers in historic towns: avoe.org/grattacieli.html
Save Ancient Sofia:
The recently uncovered archaeological remains of Ancient Serdica, located at the administrative heart of present-day Sofia, Bulgaria, are in danger of being destroyed by new Metro project. Referred to as "my Rome" by Constantine the Great (306-337 CE), Serdica was one of the most significant centres of Roman/Byzantine culture in the Balkans. It was runner-up to Constantinople when Constantinople was chosen to be Byzantium's capital. It was here that the famous Council of Serdica was held in 343-344 CE, attended by 170 bishops from the Christian world.
The opportunity to conserve the city's exceptionally rich heritage is in danger. There is a chance to display Sofia's two millenia of history and to preserve its "Via Principalis" in situ, thereby increasing the symbolic power of this capital city and of European heritage in general, as well as the chance to give Europe another premier archaeological site and tourist destination. However, this option could be compromised by crrent construction of a new underground extension by the Metrostroy company, as well as by city authorities.
Activists in Sofia call for the preservation of these priceless treasures for posterity. Says organiser Andrey Vrabchev, "the underground railway will be constructed anyway, and a slight delay in the completion would be much preferable to having pangs of remorse every time we use Serdica Station". Vrabchev asks that you alert all your friends and the authorities with which you are in contact and which would be able to help find a solution to this problem. Below is a list of Bulgarian and European institutions to which letters of protest could be sent. If he manages to spark a genuine international reaction, he might succeed.
Organisations in Bulgaria:
"Ugly Paris" at the Grand Palais:
The six presentations were moderated by a panel consisting of Corinne La Balme, an American writing for the English language magazine Paris and a member of the Association de la Presse Etrangère; Michel Schulman, from the Association des Journalistes du Patrimoine, and Remi Koltrine, architect and chief editor of Paris Patrimoine), Dominique Alba, Director General of the Pavillon de l'Arsenal exhibition centre, Francois Loyer (art and architecture historian at the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research), and Gary Lee Kraus of the web site francerevisited.com.
Corinne's plea was similar to her article Invitation to a wrecking ball, which cited ex-RIBA President George Ferguson's idea of preparing a list of ugly buildings that should be demolished. François Loyer, an art and architecture historien with the CNRS, provided a photo essay of numerous ugly buildings and an interesting brief account of Paris's urban development and the progressive watering down of planning guidelines.
Dominique Alba, director of the Arsenal, an exhibition space for Parisienne architecture) was there and was generally sympathetic about halting the decline happening in Paris, but had no real solutions. She presented her thoughts on three themes: 'Pedestrian Paris', the way in which architecture and the use of the public space was in harmony in the past; 'Urban Regulations', consistency over centuries of rules for buildings and the persistence of the same system, including Height, or importance of obeying the rules and the impact of violations, and 'Gabarit', or the importance of the way in which the massing is articulated; and 'The New Urban Form'', talking about the disasters of the Front de Seine and l'architecture d'auteur or starchitecture.
Kraus touched upon why the visitor wanted to see Paris and what they were looking for, arguing that it was not for the 22nd century architecture and planning. His general plea is that too much is being destroyed and that the new replacements should at least use sympathetic materials to those traditionally used in Paris: limestone, lime and plaster render, zinc roofs, and so on.
The proposal for skyscrapers around the periphery was not touched upon in any detail, nor was there any discussion of the
possibility of new traditional or classical buildings. One brief comment was new buildings of this type were a "pastiche". Those present were perhaps thinking of the dismal attempts at traditional style from the large building companies, with their poor proportions, oversized and crude details made of concrete, and use of plasic or aluminium detailing.
It also seems that the grande public believes that we must "move with the times". The Beaux Arts seems to carry certain negative implications - social and class order, rigidity, symmetry - particularly in architect's minds.
A comment from François Loyer about Eurodisney's Val de Marne project was that the type of architecture appropriate to the region be used, not a direct copy or in competition to that of the central city. Nothing was mentioned about a transect ofdensity / forms or of the idea of the polycentric city.
Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, supports the highrises but not the manner in which Sarkozy is proposing to change planning law to exclude local government control (local town halls) particularly around the proposed new rail loop line and the redevelopment zones around stations.
New Urbanist Ray Gindroz reports that there was an extensive discussion of the way in which architects are selected, the role of politicians, the lack of public involvement in spite of the very negative feelings most people have about new architecture of the type that was illustrated; and discussion about particular incursions of inappropriate architecture in the traditional city, with several people chiming in on whether the Boulevard St. Germain was looking sad.
Gindroz was the last to speak and noted that "there are two new radical avant garde movements in the US, England and Italy: The revival of traditional urbanism and the revival of classical architecture", and that "that many young architects and planners were joining them". He asked, "is there any such movement in France? If not why not?" The panel did not know, but two people from the audience spoke up, with one mentioning "pastiche".
Gindroz quoted a Catalan urbanist who refers to the current building process as "urbanalization", a term received with general applause and good cheer.
Some interest was expressed interest in starting an exchange of ideas across the Atlantic and possibly a colloquium at some point in the future.
2010 Driehaus Prize winner announced
Rafael Manzano Martos, a Spanish architect known for his distinctive use of the Mudéjar style, will receive the 2010 Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture at a ceremony March 27th in Chicago. The $200,000 Driehaus Prize, presented annually to a distinguished classical architect, represents the largest recognition of classicism in the contemporary built environment.
Manzano's work spans cultures. Mudéjar emerged as a style blending Muslim and Christian influences in the 12th century on the Iberian Peninsula. With expertise in this style and a command of the Western and Islamic vernaculars, Manzano has designed hotels and other commercial buildings, along with homes and residential complexes throughout Spain and the Middle East. His best-known work includes state homes for Chueca Goitia in Seville and Curro Romero in Marbella (now a Julio Iglasias property). His fluency in Islamic style is evident in his designs for a hotel in Mosul, Iraq, and a hotel resort and shopping district in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A manor house for Faisal Hassan Jawal in Bahrain is currently under construction.
Born in Cádiz, Spain, on November 6, 1936, Manzano received his PhD from the Architecture School of Madrid in 1963. His career has included building restoration, urban planning, and teaching, in addition to his architectural work. From 1970 to 1991, Manzano served as the Director-Curator and Governor of the Alcázar of Seville, a royal palace. Originally a Moorish fort, the Alcázar is one of the best remaining examples of Mudéjar architecture. While in this role, Manzano restored the al-Muwarak Domestic Palace, the residence of al-Mutamid in Seville, on the premises of the Casa de la Contratación (House of Trade). The Casa, which dealt with legal disputes on trade with the Americas, includes a chapel where Christopher Columbus met with Ferdinand and Isabella after his second voyage. Today Manzano teaches at the Seville Superior Technical School of Architecture.
Established in 2003 through the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, the Richard H. Driehaus Prize honors the best practitioners of traditional, classical and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world. The Henry Hope Reed Award recognizes achievement in the promotion and preservation of those ideals among people who work outside the architecture field. Together, with the $200,000 Driehaus Prize, the $50,000 Reed Award represents the most significant recognition for classicism in the contemporary built environment. Recipients were selected by a jury comprised of Richard H. Driehaus (Founder and Chairman of Driehaus Capital Management), Michael Lykoudis (Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture), Robert Davis (Developer and Founder of Seaside, Florida), Paul Goldberger (Architecture Critic for The New Yorker), David M. Schwarz (Principal of David M. Schwarz/Architectural Services, Inc), Adele Chatfield-Taylor (President of the American Academy in Rome), and Léon Krier (Inaugural Driehaus Prize Laureate).
University of Notre Dame
Views expressed in articles are those of the author and not necessarily of INTBAU
All rights reserved
INTBAU UK Ltd a registered charity no 1132362
© INTBAU 2001-10