ANTWERP INTERRUPTED

Link to student projects 

“…I would say that even in historic times documents are not always available, and buildings (monuments, vernacular constructions and public works) are themselves important texts, often providing the first and most lasting impression of a culture.”*

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The voids in the urban landscape, which are created by virtue of the enclosing nature of the surrounding buildings, have great value. These gaps, spaces or holes are important, for it is these that are occupied, that the visitor or resident will visit, pass through or inhabit. The structures that surround these squares contribute to the quality of the environment. Many buildings are deformed to accommodate the purity of the square, however some can exist as pure elements even within a complex system of buildings and voids. Ideal forms can exist as fragments, and can be viewed as mere collaborative elements to be“collaged” into an urban environment, and thus, rather than exist exclusively as landmarks, can contribute to the composition of the city.

In December 2012 Preston City Council voted ‘in principle’ to demolish Preston Bus Station and replace it with a surface car park. This building is a major cultural landmark and it should be preserved and creatively adapted to serve the city. It could act as a key building and public space to make Preston accessible and temper the decay that is affecting our city, and so many other city centres across the UK.

We will explore the nature of the fragment within an historic city, we will bring the Bus Station to Antwerp, it will occupy a definite place within the urban environment, it will:

 INTERRUPT the city

 “The bricoleur is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but, in contrast to the engineer, he does not subordinate each one of them to the acquisition of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the project: his universe of tools is closed, and the rule of his game is to always make do with ‘what’s available’, that is, a set, finite at each instance, of tools and materials, heterogeneous to the extreme, because the composition of the set is not related to the current project, or, in any case, to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions that have occurred to renew or enrich the stock, or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions.”#

 *VIA 8 Architecture & Literature, Form, Modernism & History ed. A. von Hoffmann, Harvard 1996 (* quotation from Interactive Realms by Jorge Silvetti). #Lévi-Strauss, C La Pensée Sauvage Librairie Plon, Paris, 1962, ch 1, p 31 [Ref. 59, p 17]

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Antwerpen-Centraal

Designed by Louis Delacenserie, inaugurated in the summer of 1905

W G Sebald in the opening passage of Austerlitz recounts a chance encounter and the consequent conversations that took place within the Station. He describes in detail the enormity and magnificence of the surroundings and explains its foundation…

 “The model Leopold had recommended to his architects was the new railway station of Lucerne, where he had been particularly struck by the concept of the dome, so dramatically exceeding the usual modest height of railway buildings, a concept realized by Delacenserie in his own design, which was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, in such stupendous fashion that even today, said Austerlitz, exactly as the architect intended, when we step into the entrance hall we are seized by a sense of being beyond the profane, in a cathedral consecrated to international traffic and trade.”

Over the last twenty years the station has undergone extensive restoration and massive expansion, and so now contains four layers of tracks, the lowest of which accommodate the Thalys high-speed inter-city trains.

Sally Stone has just returned from the Winter School at the University of Antwerp. This important annual event invites academics and architects to run projects upon a specific theme, this years was Transformer.

 Antwerp, an important city in northern Belgium, in the north of Europe, has been sought after and fought over for centuries thanks to its sheltered position on the estuary of the River Scheldt, the mild climate and the tolerant people. The legacy is a patchwork of ancient and modern architecture in which baroque rubs up against art deco, the traditional adjacent to the contemporary and the scarified next to the ephemeral

Look, said the voice … “A vacant lot at dusk” … “Long blurry beach” … “Sometimes you’d think he’d never use a camera before” … “Crumbling walls, dirty terrace, gravel path, a sign that says Office” … “A cement box by the side of the road” … “Restaurant windows, out of focus” … I don’t know what the hell he’s trying to get at.”

Antwerp

 by 
Roberto Bolaño

 

the City: the Building: the Room

“One could look from the campiello through openings, balustrades, screens, and discern the garden at the other side … and behold something at once a mystery and reality.”*

Architecture is the mediator between the City and the Room. An act of translation occurs at the point where the outside meets the inside. The window, door or threshold transforms the nature of the exterior and moderates it to accommodate the interior. When viewed from the hostile environment of the outside, the interior can possess qualities that are perhaps ethereal, enchanting or reassuring.

Imagine a crowd gathering in the Grote Markt, the quality of the light in the square, the coldness of the damp and windswept space, look through those twinkling windows of the tall imposing buildings, envisage what would be happening in these spaces, picture the character of the rooms behind the facades, create this interior.

*Carlo Scarpa talking about the Fondazione Querini Stampalia

 

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The City: We examined the particular qualities and characteristics of routes from the Grote Markt to the edge of the central area, and then back again. This analysis led us to create proposals for the transformation of the journey into a narrative; that is a collection of forms and spaces that communicated the essence of this excursion.

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The Building: We analysed the particular qualities and character of the Guild-Houses that face the Grote Mark. We looked at the size, scale, materials, construction, occupation and most importantly the quality of the light.

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The Room: We translated the ideas that were developed for the abstract space into a real proposal for the interior design of a space or collection of spaces within the Guild-houses.

Looking Through

February 15th, 2011

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Staff and students from CiA have just returned from the intensive ADSL week at the university in Antwerp. This annual event is a collection of lectures and workshops by an assortment of international architects and designers assembled together around a common theme. Each unit worked with a group of about 15 internationally mixed students and this year’s theme was: Congruence.

 The outcomes were wide-ranging – from city planning to furniture design – and the media employed included film, animation, photography, model making, and good old pencil drawing.

 Sally Stone organised a workshop entitled “Looking Through”. This used 17th century Flemish paintings of ordinary everyday activities, situated within atmospheric interior settings as its starting point. The students were asked to construct and present their own interior that reflected the narrative of these early paintings, but considered it from the perspective of the 21st century

 The intention of this workshop was to celebrate the long-light of the low sun, balance rather than symmetry, pointed architecture, huge windswept squares and of course, butter, milk and cheese, all of which epitomise the northern climate. These elements are all present in the paintings of, for example, Vermeer, de Hooch, de Witte, Maes and Saenredam. Social harmony and hierarchy, especially the elevated position of women and the democratic manner in which servants were treated, religion and culture, and the business of business, also contribute to the sense of narrative and identity that permeate the paintings. The conclusion was that all the paintings contained long and intense light, warm colours, character and narrative and ofcourse, movement through a number of different interior spaces, often leading to a glimpse of an exterior view.

 The students first built installations within the interior of the university. These were based upon the paintings, but without mimicking them. The installations were then drawn and photographed, these resultant images were then further manipulated, the settings altered to reflect the results and more images were recorded. Drawings were photographed and photographs drawn.

 The results show a modern interpretation of a four hundred year old idea.

 http://www.artesis.be/architectuurwetenschappen/international/international-week-adsl-2011-congruence.htm