Hamar, Norway

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Hedmarksmuseet, Hamar, Norway. Sverre Fehn’s seminal/iconic/etc. masterwork completed in 1973. A collection of ruins (Archbishop’s fortified palace, manor house) on an important medieval route have been rebuilt/completed using modern building techniques. This has been done in order to display artefacts connected with the place and to preserve and display the archaeology of the ruins themselves. The buildings are penetrated by a concrete structure of ramps, platforms, balconies and rooms. The structure forms an elevated route giving the viewer an overview of revealed layers below and access to discreetly placed top-lit cells containing small historical artefacts.

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Fehn’s museum is part of a much wider archaeological landscape preserved following the construction of the new town of Hamar in the 1840s. As at Scarpa’s Castelvecchio the architect benefits from the discipline imposed by the interpretation of the archaeology and the existing structures. The concrete path is strange, sculptural, novel. The artefacts have difficulty asserting themselves in the conversation between the architect and the older buildings.

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Posted from Kil, Sweden

Karlstad, Sweden

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The Varmland Regional Museum by Cyrillus Johansson (1926-1929). Where one might have expected the architect to closely follow a local architectural idiom Johansson chose to follow his strong interest in Chinese architecture. The building is built upon a mound of earth scooped out from the axial reflecting pool. The arch is, with the reflecting pool, one element along a conceptual axis joining the railway station on one side and a bend in the river on the other side of the building. The use of the axis as a sort of long void passing through the building gives this apparently closed form a wider significance in the town. Despite the Chinese overtones the building is unmistakably Swedish in the simplicity of the whole form and the articulation of its details.

Posted in Kil, Sweden

Three Men in a Boat…

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….Woody Woodmansey, David Bowie and Mick Ronson. The DFDS ship ‘Princess of Scandinavia’ is typical of its type having an interior reminiscent of a motorway service station. The one interior of interest is the ‘Heaven 11’ disco on deck 7 which sports large black and white photographs of the above mentioned Spiders from Mars, Led Zeppelin, Faces period Rod Stewart and, er, Chuck Berry. The disco is used as a breakfast bar in the morning so it is quite interesting to see these camp, debauched figures looming over the muesli-eating passengers.

Posted from The Skagerrak

Location

The City Past and Present

Eamonn Canniffe of Manchester School of Architecture has received a contract from Ashgate Publishing Ltd to edit a book entitled “The City Past and Present: Global perspectives on urban history and change”. The other contributors are Reza Abouei, Hacer Basirir, Murat Cetin, Mohamed Gamal, Debabardhan Upadhyaya and Mingxi Zhu, all former or current doctoral candidates at the University of Sheffield.

The book, due for publication in 2008, will consist of a collection of essays on the historical process of transformation in a series of contemporary cities. The aim is to provide international perspectives on development exploring the disparities and commonalities as the phenomenon of urban globalisation approaches definition. The authorsĀ¹ contributions represent a range of research methodologies in the fields of architecture and urban design. Each chapter consists of an essay in which the historical and contemporary developments are explored, with introductory and concluding essays comparing the effects and directions of urbanisation. “The City Past and Present” will provide a key to the understanding of contemporary urban developments since, while change in cities has been a constant throughout history, the accelerated pace of that change since industrialisation has only been thrown into sharper relief as the effects of globalisation have begun to become apparent. Transformation through political will and social and economic change, and resistance to these directions are among the themes to be explored. The examples covered in depth in each chapter range from the ancient origins of Cairo to the relatively recent development of Mumbai.

Within this spectrum examples will be explored from totalitarian, democratic and commercially driven societies, from cities where the traces of the past city are preserved to cities where they are swept away. The fabric of Yazd presents an example of a significant survival of pre-industrial urban form remarkable for its consistency, but which faces threats to its survival. Similarly, the more consciously planned example of Nanjing faces a slow erosion to its fabric from the speed of contemporary Chinese developments. Diversity of development and changes of occupation have produced a disparate urban environment in Cairo and also in the city of Gazimagusa / Famagusta, the later still the subject of the conflict of the division of Cyprus. At a larger scale, and poised between east and west, Istanbul represents an example where resistance to the forces of development have focused around the oppositional attitudes of various communities, while the commercially derived environment of Manchester faces no such opposition as it regenerates itself as a city of spectacle. The new economy which drives the development of Mumbai presents the direction in which urban development is proceeding at the start of a new century.

Eamonn Canniffe’s “The Politics of the Piazza” will be published by Ashgate in 2007.

Editors

Other books by CiA contributors can be found HERE.

Some Vandalism

Municipal vandalism.

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Library Walk curves and tapers in response to Vincent Harris’s two great Manchester buildings – Central Library and the Town Hall Extension – joining St Peter’s Square to Mount Street. A correspondent has sent us some pictures of recent small but significant additions to one of our favourite urban spaces. The elegance of the space, the care of its detailing and the subtlety of its signage have been undermined by these crude signs.

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Location

Rus in urbe

Rose coloured spectacle

Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens (Location) were once famous for floral displays,
and “New Piccadilly” was treated to a temporary makeover during
Easter 2006 with the Ando wall festooned with roses.

Grass Table

In summer 2005, Dale Street had been enlivened by a temporary bar,
where the bouncers dragged the customers in off the street and the
beer was free.

With models of ephemeral public works as delightful as these, why are
the permanent modes of Manchester’s urban design so drear?

Topography of Triumph

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The Italian Football Squad’s triumphant return to Rome as World Cup
winners recalled the entries of previous victors into the city:

It is indeed as if the war were still being fought, now for the benefit of
the throngs crowding the streets, porticoes, theaters, circuses, and
probably the surrounding hills of Rome itself. In fact, if the triumph at
its most general level was, like the temple of Janus, a symbolic passage
between war and peace, then that passage has been extended by the procession
to include the entire city in the liminal stage of transition, in which the
triumphator is still, in effect, a symbolic warrior. The conquest-capture
thematics of the entry are thus reinforced by the construction of the
processional performance as a ritual re-enactment and prolongation of
‘battle’. This battle will finally conclude only with the symbolic – and
perhaps cathartic –
coup de grace of the execution of the enemy general on
the Capitoline, after which the triumphator would dedicate his spoils, lay
down his still active imperium militiae, and complete his incorporation into
the civil (peacetime) society of Rome.

(Allan Plattus ‘Passages into the City: The Interpretive Function of the
Roman Triumph’ The Princeton Journal: Thematic Studies in Architecture Vol 1
Ritual 1983)

Continuity in Architecture Rome correspondent Robert Coates – Stephens
reports that on Monday he

was there for the Azzurris’ triumphal arrival in the Circus Maximus last
night: they descended the rostra to the deafening strains of the “Ben Hur”
soundtrack! Closest thing you’ll ever see to an ancient Roman triumphal
procession-cum-gladiatorial extravaganza! Of course, it’ll never happen in England in our life times!

Trickledown Urbanism

Trickledown Urbanism

In contrast to the landscape of civic veneration produced for the
Cenotaph in St. Peter’s Square, the present generation of
Manchester’s city fathers favour a landscape of civic disportment.
Not the least surprising arrival in “New Piccadilly” during the 2005
Christmas season was this convenient addition to the public realm.
Two questions could be asked. Firstly, why do the authorities promote
the commissioning of buildings (in this instance from the Japanese
architect Tadao Ando) which might be mistaken by the inebriated for
public toilets? And secondly, do the commerical imperatives of the 24
hour city completely override any sophisticated idea of civic decorum.

Location

Set in Stone

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Sally Stone of Continuity in Architecture has followed up her recent letter about the redevelopment of Preston with an opinion piece for the Lancashire Evening Post. Her original letter deploring the City Council’s proposals has obviously struck a chord locally as she has been invited to meetings with others worried by the published scheme. Her views are reinforced by the leading article in the same issue. Click on the images for readable versions of the opinion piece and leading article (click through to Flickr page and click ‘All Sizes’ above the Flickr image for larger versions). A supplement in the same issue showing aerial photographs of the city points to a possible general awakening of interest in the qualities of the place.

lep leader

Interventions Exhibition

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The ‘Interventions’ Exhibition at CUBE opened at the end of June and runs until the middle of September. The exhibition features work from the Atelier Barcelona/Manchester run by Sally Stone and Nick Dunn in collaboration with the Architecture School at UPC Barcelona. The CUBE Gallery is on Portland Street in Manchester (Location).

Buy the book!

The Great Stone

The War Memorial in St Peter’s Square, Manchester has had problems for a few years now. The construction of a Metro stop made it into an overspill for the platform space. The openess of the memorial precinct appears to have undermined any sense of it being different from the surrounding pavement. The Cenotaph, a version of Lutyens’ original, struggles to register in a scene dominated by signposts, lamps and poles and the Vincent Harris buildings beyond.

The Great Stone

It is interesting to see the informality of use especially on a hot summer day. In the picture a couple find shelter in the shadow of the Great Stone apparently indifferent to the wreath placed to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the The Battle of the Somme. The subtle connotations of altar and tomb do not register. Others sit or lie along the perimeter wall. The memorial has become a shallow, stepped landscape blasted by the sun.

In his AA Files article The Secret of the Cenotaph Andrew Crompton reflects on the genesis of the design of the original Cenotaph and Great Stone particularly the significance of geometry in their composition.

Also, have a look at The Electric Cenotaph.

Thought for the decade…

‘In contrast to Rem Koolhaas’s notion that freedom is an absence of
architecture – as, for example, when he describes the open space of a town
square as embodying the greatest possible freedom – we side with Rossi’s
belief that freedom in Koolhaas’s sense is vacuous; that, in fact, it is the
constraints of architecture, its formal particularity and persistence beyond
any functionalist determination, that truly embodies freedom. For in being
neither uniformly open, nor uniformly closed, it lies open to the unforeseen
as it works on our changing activities over time.’

Reiser + Umemoto ATLAS OF NOVEL TECTONICS Princeton Architectural Press
2006 page 23

near san sebastiano

Near San Sebastiano, Venice