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 Continuity in Architecture have just returned from the 2013 Heritage and Architecture of Urban Landscape under Productions Workshop. This international project, which was based at the Università Iuav di Venezia (IUAV), was a collaboration between the schools of architecture in Manchester, Venice and Granada. It was completed between 16th September 2013 and 28th September 2013.

The basis of the design workshop was an examination of the still abandoned parts of Arsenale in Venice. The area, which until recently, was still used by the military, is gradually being assimilated into the city. Great discrimination needed to be taken with this absorption. The city of Venice has an incredibly distinct character, and any changes must take into consideration the qualities of what is there in combination with the needs and technology of the Twenty-First century: pastiche is not an option!

The Arsenale itself is an impressive and complex cluster of boatyards, armories, and wet and dry docks, assembled around two large harbours, all of which is protected by high brick walls. It was responsible for the bulk of Venice’s naval power during the middle part of the second millennium AD. It was one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises in history. Even Dante was impressed by the sheer presence of the place:

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians


Boils in winter the tenacious pitch


To smear their unsound vessels over again


For sail they cannot; and instead thereof


One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks


The ribs of that which many a voyage has made


One hammers at the prow, one at the stern


This one makes oars and that one cordage twists


Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen…

As always, we started with a thorough examination of the site, its surroundings and what can only be described as a Venetian coach trip; our own personal Vaporetto ride around the islands of the Lagoon. The visits were accompanied by a series intense lectures and talks by the curators of the sites. The passion of the conservation architect can not be overestimated; the enthusiasm that they held for their subject and the remains in their custody was inspirational.

The group of students was divided into small inter-nationality group, each containing one student from each institution. This inevitably initially caused much tension. The problem of language, difference in approach and differing priorities will create anxiety and disagreement, but it also encourages cooperation, understanding, compassion and eventually synergy. And so it was here, initial distrust was gradually replaced by firm friendship. There was a great amount of professional support for the workshop, and this involvement included the architects and conservators to the Arsenale, structural engineers, architects, conservation architects, as well as two or three academics from each participating university, almost an embarrassment of riches

The students were encouraged to analyse the qualities of each place before attempting to make changes. They looked particularly at the context, that is the history, topography, geology, the very nature of the place. From this analysis they developed an understanding of how the place could be activated. They needed to feel confident that the proposals that they were making were totally appropriate to the qualities of the sites. The students all worked hard to produce proposals of great quality and worth. They endeavoured satisfy all of the often conflicting demands of the conservators, users, consultants and academics, but what was created were truly context driven proposals, which explored the relationships between the water, the buildings, the climate and the place.

This is the fourth collaboration that CiA have made with IUAV, and the second with Granada. Every year the students work incredibly hard, they put in long hours in the studio and then always an enjoyable night in the squares, bars and restaurants of Venice. And again, this year all of them embraced the project with enthusiasm and plenty of intellectual inquiry, and all were a credit to their own institution and the project. Everyone travelled an enormous distance; physically, intellectually and emotionally. The manner in which architecture is taught and discussed varies from one institution to another and certainly there were often great divides between the approaches of each nationality, but of course, there were also great similarities. This was a project that served to bring together the North and South of Europe. It showed how a love for storytelling combined with an understanding of history and technology could bind together a group of disparate and distinct individuals into a forceful united team. This was a project that ventured to create something appropriate, distinct and contemporary from the variously eccentric approaches of our enormous continent.

The design proposals can be viewed here:

On the Industrial Ruins

September 20th, 2011

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On the Industrial Ruins

Over the last forty years the western world has witnessed massive social and economic restructuring. The old heavy industries, upon which our society was constructed, have collapsed. Countries such as the UK and Spain, once the workshops of the world, are now reliant upon the new service and information-technology industries. The urban areas within these countries contain a vast wealth of memory and experience. We need humility in the face of such grandeur of industrial legacy if we are to construct new elements in these neglected areas. Within the cities of the industrial revolution a new form of spatial production is needed to invest the dying urban patterns and decaying fabric with meaning.

 At this important juncture, we need to understand the nature of human interaction, the consequences of cross-disciplinary communication and experiences, and the affect that this has upon events and environments. The blurring of boundaries between different activities, subjects and the level of interaction starting to be developed between specialities means that old ideas of space, form and use are now being questioned. This means that concepts that would have sounded barmy forty years ago have become common practice. Massive advances in technology have facilitated this, and at the beginning of the second decade of the twenty-first century, our pluralistic both/and society is now in a position to understand and take advantage of the consequences of this. The manner in which most people now operate encourages them to actively embrace mobile technology. Wireless systems mean that we are no longer constrained by cables and sockets and big, deep pieces of machinery. This will allow us to further rethink the urban, the working, and the domestic environment; environments in which technology will propose itself as the architect of our intimacies.

 Buildings outlast civilisations

Continuity in Architecture will run two projects both in post-industrial cities. Each city has approached the problem of how to transform the unban environment to accommodate the needs of the twenty-first century population in a different manner. We will examine the qualities and character of the places before making design proposals.

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 Coketown

It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next.

(Charles Dickens, Coketown)

 

Blind with Love for a Language

The prospects of the Barcelonese worker remained the same throughout the nineteenth century: grinding, brutish, and without much hope of change. Statistics altered and demographic shifts were seen: for instance, the more machines were used in the mills, the more demand there was for women to run them, since machinery did not require as much physical strength, and women could be paid less. But the vile calculus of human misery was unaltered… They lived cramped in garrets and basements, without heat or light or air. Midcentury Barcelona made Dickensian London look almost tolerable; Cerda` found that its population density was about 350 people per acre, twice that of Paris, and that workers had a living space of about ninety square feet per person.

(Robert Hughes, Barcelona)

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Neil Stevenson was a tutor at Manchester School of Architecture during the ‘nineties (now at Sheffield Hallam). He combines experience of practice with a generous approach to teaching, a wide knowledge of artistic culture and an ability to stop, look and draw. To mark his fiftieth birthday Neil undertook the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He has scanned and published his camino sketchbook … Photoset

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Melanie Miller (of Schiffli fame) forwards the following pictures from Barcelona where the Mobile World Congress was in full swing on Montjuic.

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Choice quote from a participant (via Reuters): Richard Windsor, industry specialist at Nomura, estimated after day one that attendance was down as much as 25 percent.

“Taxi, lavatory and sandwich queues are all down substantially on last year meaning that MWC is an accurate reflection of life in the mobile phone industry,” he wrote.

Mies’s rather more refined temporary pavilion was not spared ill-treatment.

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Expo Zaragoza 2008

April 28th, 2008

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Eamonn Canniffe has been invited to contribute photographs of Italian villas to the interactive exhibition which will feature in the Italian National Pavilion at the 2008 Zaragoza Expo. The theme of the Expo ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ will be represented in the pavilion, sponsored by the Italian Foreign Ministry, in a display which features

‘our common historical past: from the marvellous achievements of the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages and Renaissance water mains and Leonardo da Vinci’s hydraulics systems. An interactive map – running around the walls with plasma screens waiting to be “interrogated” by the visitors and equipped with holograms – is both the packaging and the leitmotif of all the material on display, alternating between examples of state-of-the-art technology and brilliant solutions designed by geniuses of the past.’

The gardens featured include Villa Lante at Bagnaia, Villa Barbarigo Dona delle Rosa at Valsanzibio, and the Villa Barbaro at Maser, all of which are illustrated on guttae

The site for the Expo and for the Italian Pavilion.

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The designer can create small valuable elements within a much larger composition that can affect the quality of a much larger space. Within the hot climate of Mallorca, Rafael Moneo has used the natural qualities of light and water to create an atmosphere of coolness and character.moneo.jpgThe architect delicately placed the foundation building between the almond grove that spreads out over the slope below the building and the artist’s studio, which occupied the space immediately next to the road. The building is composed of a star-like volume to hold the collection and a linear element, which contains the service areas, the entrance and the schoolrooms. There is a very tense relationship between these two contrasting elements. The long thin building is placed on slightly higher ground than the splintered building; stairs within the foyer offer access to the lower gallery areas. This slight disconnection is emphasised by the pools of water, one of which is actually placed upon the roof of the lower building. The landscaping also reinforces this difference, the upper level is organised in an orthogonal manner, while the lower gardens are as dynamic as the star-like building. The upper rectangular building has integrated into it, a south-facing colonnade and from here the visitor has a magnificent view over the top of the gallery, across the island to the sea. This arcade also acts to help cool the building. This slender out-side space shades the enclosed rooms, therefore reducing solar gain. The narrow shape encourages air movement, thus creating a slight wind, which again aids cooling. This is supported by the louvers within the top half of the façade, they also stimulate air movement by encouraging the hot air to speed up as it rises through them. The pool of water directly below this area provides cooler air to replace this, and thus a small isolated stack effect is created. The movement of the water enhances the quality of the atmosphere, as it ripples, it is reflected onto the underside of the colonnade and into the interior space. A small detail that creates a beautiful and effective environment.Name: Pilar and Joan Miró FoundationLocation: Palma de MallorcaDate: 1993Designer: Rafael Moneo

EMBT Housing, Barcelona

January 8th, 2008

The slightly warped orthogonal form of the housing next to the Santa Caterina market contrasts strongly with the flowing roof canopy of the market building. The contextual deformations of the housing appear responsive and natural in the tight urban landscape. The walls are sheer and pale with an apparently arbitrary splattering of windows arranged on them. This simplicity is reinforced by the manner in which the openings are treated. Each window is covered with an austere and unpretentious wooden louvered panel, mounted on runners. When necessary, these can slide in front of the openings to stop direct sunlight from overheating the interior, while still encouraging air movement through the gaps between the individual blades.

Enric Miralles - Benedetta Tagliabu

Student work 2007

September 16th, 2007

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Beatrice Fasciato, Mixed-use Development, Barcelona. Mixed Media.

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Ian Scullion, Detournement, Barcelona. Mixed Media

Please click here to see more of the student’s work.

by the Colegio del Patriarca

An infill scheme in the Plaza del Colegio del Patriarca in Valencia uses an arcaded screen derived from the blind arches in the adjacent building to produce an understated urban form. I have no information about the date of the building or the architect.

next to Colegio del Patriarca

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next to Colegio del Patriarca

Last Chance

August 28th, 2006

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The Interventions exhibition at CUBE showing student work from the Atelier Barcelona/Manchester (a collaboration with the architecture school at UPC Barcelona) finishes on 16 September. Get down there to see what students get up to when they are abroad.

The CUBE Gallery is on Portland Street in Manchester (Location).

Exhibition curated by Sally Stone and Nick Dunn. While you are there buy the catalogue of the exhibition published by Artemide, Rome.

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Interventions Exhibition

July 9th, 2006

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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!

Interventions

June 12th, 2006

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The INTERVENTIONS exhibition opens at CUBE on Wednesday evening at 6.30pm.
Exhibition Location

Interventions is an exhibition of the work of a group of students from the college of Continuity in Architecture at Manchester who worked with the students from the Recycled Architecture Unit at the University in Barcelona. They created installations, first in February in Barcelona and then in May in Manchester. Interventions is a record of this process.

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Buy the catalogue at CUBE for a fiver.