The silhouette of Istanbul, sailing West on the Bosphorus towards the bridge connecting Europe and Asia.
Continuity in Architecture is delighted to announce the opening of an important exhibition of twelve projects from the Erasmus Intensive Workshop held in Venice in Autumn 2011. The show features the work of post-graduate students from the CiA Unit of Manchester School of Architecture, collaborating with students and professors from Granada and Barcelona (Spain), Venice and Catania (Italy), and Oulo (Finland). The programme is in its third year and was established to explore the adaptation of archaeological sites for modern purposes. This year extraordinary sites of ancient civilisations in south-west Sicily – in Scicli, Syracuse, Paliké and Camarina – were the inspiration for dramatic design interventions in the landscape that redefined and reinterpreted place.The exhibition will be in the RIBA Hub, Cube Gallery on Portland Street from 26 April – 18 May 2012.
Buildings Outlast Civilisations. Throughout history buildings have been reused and adapted, they survive as culture and civilizations change. The already built provides a direct link with the past; it is a connection with the very building bricks of our society. The existing tells the tale or story of how a particular culture evolved. A simple building may depict a certain moment in time; it may relate the particular sensibility of specific era. A more complex collection of structures may have a much more elaborate story to tell. Jorge Silvetti describes this direct link with the past as part of our “fundamental urban condition”. He links the physical survival of particular elements of any built environment with the spiritual survival of our civilisation, and it is this visibility and durability of the physical man-made environment that are testimonies to the societies that produced them. “At the risk of sounding too partisan and biased, I would say that even in historic times documents were 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.”*
* Interactive Realms’ by Jorge Silvetti
** Prospects for a Critical Regionalism by Kenneth Frampton
Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery
Caruso St John Architects
Completed November 2009
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
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.
Fire extinguisher, Diocesan Museum, Cologne.
To the east of Barcelona lies the small town of Colònia Güell. This compact settlement was constructed to house the workers and the factories upon which Eusebi Guell’s fortune was based. On the outskirts lies the local church, or rather the crypt of the unfinished church. This is an expressive and atmospheric structure designed by Antoni Gaudí. Of course Güell and Gaudí had a long and fruitful relationship, with the construction of a number of much more well known buildings. This structure nestles into the rock of the hillside and is obviously intended to appear as if it is part of the landscape. The building is random yet exact. The stone is irregular at the building’s corners with what looks like a volcanic infill. The columns rise at acute angles from the earth and almost become flying buttresses as they struggle to hold the crypt itself in place. The interior is equally mysterious, the large open space is calm and organic, the unfinished quality adds to the drama. The only slight anomaly is the recent pavings, which is set in a regular manner around the building and becomes a podium upon which the building sits, thus breaking the illusion of the building growing from the landscape. The crypt is certainly big enough to hold the congregation, so perhaps that is why the ambitious building was never completed, but then again Gaudí and Güell have a reputation for taking their time.
On a recent visit to Barcelona it was a great pleasure to see once again his Carme Housing in the Raval District. This was always a modest building and seems even more so now that it needs a coat of paint and bit of a clean. However, the controlled forms combined with the close integration into the context means that the apartment block is both unpretentious, while still commanding a strong presence.
Two colliding rectangular blocks dictate the form of the building. The point of intersection creates a slight setback, which encourages the narrow street to expand and thus allows the building to breath. In what seems like a common practice in Barcelona, the corner of the building is set at 135˚, and thus the covered balconies project into the street. The green window shutters, which are flush with the walls, seem untraditional and slightly strange given the apparent extreme attempt to integrate the building into its particular location, but I am reliably informed that the city council actively discourages the construction of new open balconies.
The new library by Josep Llinás and Joan Vera Garcia close to the Parc Guell in Barcelona is a building, which from a distance appears to be low and somewhat disconnected from the environment immediately around it, however it gradually reveals itself to be a complex series of swoops and waves. It is an articulate white and glazed structure that marks the junction between a busy road, an underpass and the huge building blocks of the area.The building facade is peeled back to reveal an intensely coloured entrance, which is both human scale while still acting to control and guard the open space or plaza immediately in front of it. The interior is equally complex, an atrium, around which the circulation navigates itself, allows controlled natural light to penetrate through the space.