March 5th, 2012
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
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.
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.
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.
February 15th, 2011
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.
October 29th, 2010
Luca Csepely-Knorr has commenced her studies at the Manchester School of Architecture into the work of the Hungarian architect Bela Rerrich and the British landscape and town designer Thomas Mawson prior to the Great War.
On 11 October 2010 the RIBA, the Goldfinger family, the National Trust and their guests formally presented the Scholarship award to Luca during a reception event held in Erno Goldfinger’s house 2 Willow Road in London. Amongst the guests were James Dunnett, Gavin Stamp, Kit Allsopp, Professor Kinga Szilagyi of Corvinus University of Budapest and László Magócsi, Science and Technology Attaché of the Hungarian Embassy in London.
Luca is pictured being presented with the award by Michael Goldfinger, and with Professor Szilagyi.
August 2nd, 2010
The 2010 RIBA Goldfinger Scholarship has been awarded to Luca Csepely-Knorr to undertake an M.Phil at the MSA. Luca will be studying the work of Bela Rerrich (1881-1932), independent Hungary’s first town planner who had studied under the Windermere garden designer and town planner Thomas Mawson (1861-1933) prior to the Great War. Rerrich’s principal achievement was the cathedral square, Dom Ter, in Szeged which is pictured. Luca will be supervised by Eamonn Canniffe and Sally Stone.
The estate of the late architect Ernö Goldfinger (1902-1987) endowed scholarships in 1999. The scholarships are administered through the RIBA to support young Hungarian architects through a period of postgraduate study (in the fields of Architecture, Art or associated disciplines) or work experience within a UK academic institution or architectural practice.
July 5th, 2010
The inaugural meeting of the European Architectural History Network was held at the beautiful Portuguese city of Guimaraes between 17 and 20 June and fulfilled the organisation’s mission to create a vibrant new forum for the study of the complexity and variety of European architecture.
The conference was hosted by Jorge Correia of the University of Minho and his team of ‘sweet, cute and smiling’ student assistants. A diversity of nations (and continents) was represented among the speakers although they were united, as Antoine Picon of Harvard Graduate School of Design remarked, by their shared difficulties with the English Language. Highlights included Paolo Varela Gomes of the University of Coimbra discussing the reception of Portuguese architecture and its relationship to different forms of imperialism, New York University Professor Marvin Trachtenberg’s magisterial reading of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence as an expression of the city’s military confidence at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and a session on “Architectures of the Suburb” jointly chaired by Andrew Ballantyne (Newcastle University) and Elizabeth McKellar (Open University) which ranged from the Palladian Veneto to contemporary Mumbai.
However, the star of the show in every imaginable way was Denise Scott Brown. Despite her advanced years she held the conference spellbound with her subverting of revisionist modernist hagiography and her insistence that the praising of the delights of autonomous architecture should be balanced with a profound respect for social needs and contexts.
Other provocative images evoked included that of the isolated Irish monastic site of Clonmacnoise as a new Jerusalem (Jenifer Ni Ghradaigh, University College Cork), an analysis of the urban space of renaissance Mantua (Janet White, University of Nevada – Las Vegas) the documenting of pioneering Czech panel costruction (Kimberley Elman Zarecor, Iowa State University) and a study of the Swedish social experiment in mid-twentieth century Vallingby (Lucy Creagh, Columbia University).
CiA staffer Eamonn Canniffe contributed a paper to the well attended session “Architecture in Nineteenth Century Photographs” chaired by Micheline Nilsen (Indiana University South Bend) which covered amateur and professional photographers and academic and tourist audiences for the then new medium. His abiding memory of the conference, though, was of Denise Scott Brown fulfilling her wish to talk to Portuguese students shaded under a tree in the garden of the Vila Flor Cultural Centre.
The next meeting will take place in Brussels in 2012. The Call For Session Proposals is here.
June 4th, 2010
Eamonn Canniffe has been invited to give a keynote lecture at the above titled conference orgainised by Dominic Holdaway and Filippo Trentin to be held at the University of Warwick in February 2011
The Postmodern Palimpsest: Narrating Contemporary Rome
«What better place to await the end, to see if everything ceases or not?» (Gore Vidal, in Roma)
The city of Rome has always been privileged in its relationship with Western history: constructed over layer upon layer, from Roman to Fascist empires, with corresponding iconic images. More recently, films by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini have contributed to capturing the changes modern Rome underwent, with suffocating traffic passing dazzling locations, long tracks down shadowed streets and lively social gatherings masking potential violence. These images have been qualified as embodying ‘modern’ Rome. The closing shots of Fellini’s Roma (1972) linger on dozens of mopeds fading into the distant black as they abandon the historical centre for an undefined urban sprawl. The sprawl, the latest metamorphosis of Rome, overlaps with historical images of the capital to form a shapeless identity, a fragmentary postmodernity.
This conference, which will take place at the University of Warwick in February 2011, aims to shed light on contemporary imagined geographies of Rome: it will investigate the void at the end of Roman palimpsest, addressing the following questions:
- Where present and past intersect and overlap synchronically, is it still possible to represent ‘reality’, or possible only to capture fragments of it? Can we still perceive the city as a ‘master narrative’, or do we need to challenge the notion of one city? How can the city be perceived in relation to Italian and to European landscapes? How does the image of Rome relate to contemporary global cities? How is this historical shift represented in global cultural products, and how do they redefine our perception?
The interdisciplinary nature of this event is acutely represented by its two keynote speakers: Dr. Eamonn Canniffe (Manchester School of Architecture; author of The Politics of the Piazza: the history and meaning of the Italian square) and Dr. John David Rhodes (Literature and Visual Culture, Sussex; author of Stupendous Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome).
More details to follow.
May 14th, 2010
Our colleague James Robertson continues his doctoral research on Jack Coia with a presentation on his work at the Association of Art Historians Summer Symposium at the Henry Moore Institute (24-25 June 2010) in Leeds. The conference theme is ‘Architectural Objects:Discussing Spatial Form across Art Histories’, and James’s abstract is below.
The Prototype Pavilion – Modernism, National Identity and Religion in the Context of Scotland
The national and international architectural expositions of the twentieth century gave designers the opportunity to craft on a small scale, with very distilled and often experimental forms of architecture. Through their participation in such varied architectural displays, designers would very often create work which in some way reflected the ‘mood’ of the nation or of the era. One such exposition, the international importance of which has not yet been satisfactorily documented, was the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1938.
A team of Scottish architects was commissioned to design the exposition pavilions representing industry and institution, in a nationally symbolic gesture of optimism following decades of economic and social depression. The pavilion of the Roman Catholic Church, designed by the Glasgow architectural practice of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, headed by the Scoto-Italian Jack Coia (1898-1981), was one of the most striking, unconventional and overtly ‘modern’ pavilions created at the exposition, particularly in a religious context, and in fact could be said to be seminal in terms of modernism in Scotland in a wider sense.
In collaboration with artist colleagues and student apprentices, and looking simultaneously to Scotland’s national past and to international architectural developments, Coia fused artistic and architectural themes with a provenance in contemporary Italian architectural projects. The de Chirico-influenced metaphysical painting of churches such as San Felice da Cantalice, Rome (Paniconi & Pediconi, 1934) and the political montages of the ‘Fascist’ architecture of the time, such as Terragni’s Casa del Fascio, Como (1932), are critically apparent, as are the quasi-religious architectural devices of the Exposition of the Fascist Revolution, Rome (1932). Coia effectively experimented on a small scale with architectural motifs at Empirex which would subsequently evolve into the ‘architectural objects’ of much of the firm’s later, more celebrated work.
It can be argued that that Empirex allowed Scotland to experiment with, through the medium of a small-scale pavilion in a national exposition, and through Coia, the prototype for a Scottish national version of ecclesiastical modernism, with potentially direct connections to Rome, the Vatican and the Italian artistic and architectural milieu of the era.
 The Scottish Catholic historian, Peter Anson argued in 1939 that the pavilion ‘may mark the beginning of a new epoch in Scottish church architecture’
 Empirex was an acronym relating to the Glasgow Empire Exhibition
March 31st, 2010
The ongoing collaboration of Continuity in Architecture with Instituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia and other architectural and archaeological schools coordinated by Margherita Vanore of IUAV reaches a new audience via the ministerial launch of the European Higher Education Area
Archaeology’s places and contemporary uses
(a link for which appears at the bottom of this page)
This collaborative project was funded by a grant from the Lifelong Learning, Erasmus Intensive Programme and it started with a two-week international student design workshop in the early Autumn of 2009. The workshop proposals were then exhibited at a conference at the IUAV in November 2009 and will form the basis of a travelling exhibition that will be in Manchester in the spring of 2010. The design workshop was based in Venice and the students and their tutors lived in the city for the two week period. The results of the workshop, and a compilation of papers written by the lecturers who were directly involved in the project will be published in May 2010.
The project is covered under the Bologna Process Aims on this website: European Higher Education Area: celebrating a decade of UK engagement
March 1st, 2010
January 25th, 2010
Charalampos Politakis, a Doctoral student at the Manchester School of Architecture (supervisor Eamonn Canniffe) is currently researching the philosophy of anthropomorphic architecture. Here are some images and text from his Masters project which he completed at the University of Salford in 2009.
From animism to the observation of nature, man has always turned his eyes to nature in order to explore it, study it, admire it, and deify the inexplicable. This relation between nature and man this ‘communication’ was an influence for mankind to create myths, works of art and architectural structures.
The ‘Emerging Face’ project is an artistic and architectural concept that finds its influences in Greek mythology, the anthropomorphic landscape, and the anthropomorphic structure of architecture in general. Anthropomorphic landscapes and how the human body and its parts are identifiable in nature, such as in mountains, has been a field of interests from an artistic and and architectural point of view, as well as the relation of the human body and the exterior form of architectural structures.
The basic concept for this project was the creation, at this initial stage of development, of a 3D virtual installation based on the shape of human face. The face appears not only as a 3D colossal sculpture but also as a 3D architectural structure; a building with the shape of a face in a supine position. The user navigates the installation and the 3D environment with the use of the game engine UnrealTournament 2003. The design of the 3D structure, its environment and installation, is a first step towards this concept being presented for a future development in the creation of a building based on the form of the human face.
June 30th, 2009
CiA staffer Eamonn Canniffe’s 2007 book ‘Modern Architecture through Case Studies 1945 - 1990′ (with Peter Blundell Jones) has been published in
Japanese Chinese. This new edition is available here.
June 7th, 2009
Alvaro Siza - Quinta da Malagueira, Évora, Portugal (1977)
An edited extract from an interview conducted by Manchester School of Architecture doctoral candidate António Oliviera with the 2009 Royal Gold Medallist Alvaro Siza Vieira
AO: What were the principles underlying the Quinta da Malagueira project and what is the importance of vernacular architecture in this project?
AS: … Hidden in the centre of Malagueira there is a street, which was illegal construction in the 1940s. It is no accident that it is put in the very centre of the land where it could not be seen, to maintain the image. I must also point out that at that time, for example, levels of thermal insulation were notrequired; there was no regulation for that yet. So what moved the vernacular model of the courtyard house, which is not the only one in Alentejo, … is the one that is favourable to the budgetary restrictions and the creation of comfort, that is, the courtyard introduces a kind of transition; the climate in Alentejo is harsh, it is very hot and very cold, it also has large thermal variations, so that is an area of transition. The white paint, has also clearly to do with the environment of Évora, with the color of Évora, all white, …
AO: I find the Malagueira is a representative project almost of the Alentejo culture, I do not know if you agree with that?
AS: There are many reasons for each thing in architecture. I have also heard this sort of project being classified as neorationalist, for example, and of course nobody is working today without having the background, even if they deny it, of the evolution of architecture which is usually called rationalism. I do not think we can separate the reasons of architecture by this or that, I mean, there are many reasons combining, sometimes there is even the taste of the promoter, which is something that isn’t often mentioned, but which obviously has influence.
AO: I chose Malagueira for two reasons because on the one hand it has a very strong relationship with the place, with Évora, with the environment, with the ethos, and on the other hand it has almost a vision of the future, for example, because that one element that binds the whole, … I think these two aspects of relationship with the place, and demand for a relationship with the future are, in my view, essential.
AS: Yes, once again I agree, but there are several, but you mean the viaduct. One of the reasons for the viaduct, is really a relationship, it is no coincidence that under the viaduct there is a great pedestrian way and beside it there are cars, I do not like this thing pedestrians to one side, and cars to the other. By the way, in Évora when I got the job, the idea was to make some collective garages, and those narrow paths, between houses, were pedestrian, also because lots of cars was unthinkable in Malagueira, because that was really meant for poor people, and a quick change was not expected, which was a mistake to predict. But what is a fact is that it started, more cars began to appear, more cars, …and people created a very interesting rule, that in front of every house, there is an eight-meter stop for the owner and nobody else, and going along well with this rule, no one violating this rule, then the streets are too narrow for the cars, but there too, as there are no sidewalks, there are no accidents because the car driver cannot accelerate like a Formula 1, he has to drive slowly because otherwise he will scratch the car, hurt people … Oh the viaduct, the viaduct, well, about my saying that there is a parallel between cars and pedestrians, one of the reasons for the viaduct is that I knew from the start that there would be no money for infrastructure.
AO: The very simplicity of the materials of the viaduct?
AS: Out of the same rule not to bury drains, … a network gallery could be made and kill two birds with one stone, introducing a new scale waiting for the equipment, because as you know, there are distributed gaps in the plan, which are designed for equipment, a number of request of the town hall … Put simply no money ever came. What I could not imagine is that until now no money would come, and money still does not come.
AO: Architecture has such adversity outside architecture itself that…
AS: It is not always external, because sometimes it comes from professionals, obstruction by professionals themselves.
AO: The existential place has an important role in the outcome of your projects and works. Do you consider existentialism as thought important in the shape of architecture itself?
AS: Yes existentialism is something that is almost no longer spoken of, but it is not something that is gone, a thought that is not included in the way of thinking today, but I do not know what sense architecture is seeing, but what I find important in architecture, is the attention to how people live and how they want to live. The balance is always variable, ambiguous but it has always some lines of force, which we must try to understand, that is, one of the problems of architecture is the understanding of what is happening and what is happening is always persistence and innovation.
AO: Because the relationship with the site is part of sustainability?
AS: Yes, indeed, indeed…
AO: How do you see the future of architectural creation and its relationship with society.
AS: Well I see a black future, if the trend is to give major strength to every expertise, forgetting that journey I was talking about. If I am right, I may not be… (there is) the gap between the one who projects and the one who will be using the projected product. In all fields of architecture there are also new generations that are normally assimilating the huge increase of information that is coming, and (developing the) means to assimilate this information and I want to believe (in) that.