Venice last week.
CiA staffer Sally Stone and her co-author Graeme Brooker have just returned from the “Re-habituation of Interior Space” conference, which was held at the Università IUAV di Venezia in Italy. The theme of the conference was the remodelling and re-use of existing buildings and the design of interior space. This international conference attracted papers from as far away as Sydney, and Stone and Brooker were one of only ten speakers invited from almost ninety submissions. They found themselves sharing the platform with the distinguished Austrian architect and winner of the Heinrich Tessenow Medal, Heinz Tesar, who presented his newly completed Bode-Museum in Berlin. Also presenting were the eminent architects: Andrea Branzi, and José Ignacio Linazasoro and there was a special presentation from Umberto Riva, who showed a selection of his work from the last 50 years.
Gianni Ottolini, from the Politecnico di Milano, completed his opening address with a plea for the remodelling of existing buildings to be taken seriously as an importantant and necessary area of expertise; “…we must defend our specific competence and responsibility as formulisers and constructors of a habitational architecture that is authentic, desirable and possible, in a critical and vital relationship with the past.”
Stone and Brooker presented a paper, not without a certain amount of deliberate irony, on Spolia and the art of re-using whole and complete elements. When they suggested that, within a post-modern, post-industrial society, the traffic bollards and shipping crates re-used by the likes of Ben Kelly and LOT/EK are as viable examples of spolia as classical relics, murmurs of surprise (and disagreement) could be heard from the Venetian audience.
Further details can be found at: rehabitation of interior space
It was not all hard work and Stone and Brooker enjoyed an excellent meal, organised by the conference coordinators at the Trattoria da Ignazio on the Calle Saoneri in the San Polo district. The spaghetti with crab is highly recommended.
Conference publication: Gli interni nell progetto sull’esistente, ISBN 978-88-7115-561-6
CiA were saddened to hear of the death of the German architect Oswald Mathias Ungers in Cologne aged 81. Ungers exploited a controlled use of geometric form, particularly the square. His work represented a severity which redeemed classical order from the dark romanticism of its totalitarian associations, linking it back to the modernity of a tradition which stretches back to Schinkel. His rationalist compositions were never less than authoritative and thankfully free of easy charm.
A surprisingly positive obituary may be found here: Guardian Obituary
Apparently (press release): Michal Rovner, the renowned installation artist whose show in the Israeli Pavilion was one of the highlights of the Venice Biennale in 2003, has created a new piece inspired by the grounds and the history of Chatsworth. Built entirely of ancient stones from old houses in her native Israel, Rovner’s Makom houses a ghostly video installation evoking the generations of inhabitants who resided within such constructions. As such, it is a unique monument to several thousand years of human habitation and history.
A vintage postcard found in a flea market in Preston. It shows the pavilion of 1938 designed by Morpurgo to house the Ara Pacis. This building was recently replaced by a controversial new building designed by Richard Meier discussed in this post.
You can read the story of the discovery of the Ara Pacis and its subsequent housing at the Museo dell’Ara Pacis website. Extract:
Morpurgo, the pavilion’s designer, never came to terms with the ways in which the design had been simplified: cement and fake porphyry were used instead of travertine and precious marble, while the rhythm and course of the pilasters, both on the sides and the façade, had been changed. Behind these compromises was an unwritten agreement between the architect and the Governorship, to build only on a provisional basis and to return the building gradually to its original design after the inauguration. However the sums of money required, the uncertainty of the time-scale and the war hanging over the entire project, meant that this was never accomplished.
The media furore surrounding Doris Salcedo’s installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern has tended to remark on the originality of its gesture. Yet in its scale and pseudo-naturalness it would appear to be indebted to the generation of land artists from the 1960s. In particular it has strong similarities to Michael Heizer’s installation at the Fondazione Prada in Milan from 1996, although that work was rather more limited in size. Heizer’s work also avoided the pitfall of attempting a simulation of reality. In contrast Salcedo’s intervention seems to have attracted more attention regarding its constructional technique rather than its meaning, to the frustration of the artist.
The Church of the Holy Name on Oxford Road (OK, opposite The Academy) was built by the Jesuits between 1869 and 1871 and is one of the great spaces of the University area. It has an unusually wide nave spanned by lightweight terracotta vaults: “Hansom was pushing gothic way beyond a respectful copying of medieval precedents”*. The current Father Rector understands the building completely and has the skill to combine ritual, music, light (and incense) to produce a glorious result – a historic building that is open, animated and purposeful. The picture above shows the scene at around midday.
Architect: J. A. Hansom 1871
*Christopher Martin, A Glimpse of Heaven
Sally Stone of CiA and her co-author Graeme Brooker of MMU Interior Design have had their latest book published just in time for the RAE . The book explores the most interesting type of sustainable architecture – the re-use of existing buildings.
As the blurb says: …an essential introduction to the subject of interior architecture and the ideas that underpin it. Detailed studies of contemporary work are used to support basic theories, making this an invaluable reference tool for all students of interior architecture and design…
See Books by us for an Amazon link and other publications.
CiA staffers Eamonn Canniffe and Andrew Crompton recently attended the conference “Town and Townscape: The Work & Life of Thomas Sharp” at the University of Newcastle. The University Library has an archive of Sharp’s personal papers detailing his campaigns for the replanning of several English towns following the Second World War, and his skirmishes with notable figures such as Denys Lasdun and, rather surprisingly, the young Lord Scarman in which the ‘man of the people’ Sharp had the better of the noted jurist.
Link to the archive, which was listed as September’s Archives HUB collection of the month follow.
Today’s Guardian arts supplement includes a Jonathan Glancey tribute to Preston Bus Station. Much too late to have any effect we fear. According to a recent item in the Lancashire Evening Post the building will be ‘half-demolished’ while a new station is built in an equally inconvenient place. Given Preston’s ability to wilfully destroy historic fabric we have visions of the town in 2020 with a half-demolished, empty bus station structure occupying one corner of a still undeveloped city centre site.
The listed buildings of the future (see comments below the post)