“I feel a misfit in my own time,” says Rem Koolhaas, setting the tone. Seated in soon-to-be renovated Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Koolhaas bares all intellectually through the course of his lecture. As founder of Rotterdam-based OMA with a worldwide practice, candid conversations with Koolhaas are rare. The discussion provides a glimpse into the creative process of one of the world’s leading architects and current Curator of the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Koolhaas confides in the audience from the outset, admitting his discomfort with current architecture. “From the inside of my current condition, I feel profoundly out of step with the contemporary situation,” says Koolhaas, adding ”I’m very annoyed by the contemporary belief in comfort as the ultimate virtue.”
Read on after the break for more summary of the fascinating lecture
Koolhaas stands at the intersection of art and architecture, deliberating on the evolution of museum design. Using the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern by Herzog & de Meuron as an example, Koolhaas states: “In order to fill spaces like this, artists are forced into an apocalyptic mode as only very strong emotions register – this is not a space you can fill with delicacy.” Koolhaas’ solution to the apocalyptic problem can be found in his recent design for the renovation of Galeries Lafayette, a heritage protected building in Paris with zero tolerance for structural modification. The design calls for movable floors installed in a steel-framed courtyard – the only intervention available in the listed building. “The beauty of preservation is that it begins with acknowledging that another architecture is worth keeping,” concludes Koolhaas.
Have you ever treated a famous city like your very own sketchbook? Claire and Max of Menilmonde did just that. The duo re-envisioned the buildings and monuments of Paris by capturing the lower stories through video and sketching imaginary additions in a project that viscerally challenges pre-conceived attitudes towards iconic structures. Take a walk through the City of Love and experience it anew as a work of art.
Architects: Babled Nouvet Reynaud Architectes
Location: 387 Rue de Vaugirard, 75015 Paris, France
Area: 2910.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Babled Nouvet Reynaud Architectes
The French government has announced that it is committing €200 million towards restoring the Grande Arche de la Défense, the 110m tall hollow cube which marks the Western end of Paris‘ Axe Historique. The arch was completed in 1989 to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, however in its 25-year lifespan it has not fared well: an elevator scare in 2010 forced the rooftop facilities to close, and the area around the North tower has been closed to the public due to the risk of falling marble tiles. Studies conducted between 2004 and 2010 concluded that one in six of the facade tiles had been severely damaged by rain.
The €200 million investment will focus on the arch’s Southern tower, where workers for the French ecology and housing ministries who occupy the space have complained of a lack of natural light and poor working conditions.
More on the Grande Arche’s future after the break
In an article for the New York Times Rachel Donadio examines Masterworks vs. the Masses. From the Louvre in Paris to London’s British Museum, Florence’s Uffizi to the Vatican Museums, the increasing surge of visitors to these international cultural nodes “has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces.” Balancing everyone’s right to be “nourished” by cultural experiences with protecting and preserving the works of art in question is a very real problem. According to Donadio, ”even when the art is secure, the experience can become irksome.” With some museums seeing annual visitors of up to 6.7 million visitors (British Museum), addressing the issues faced by institutions that are a victim of their own success is becoming more and more pressing. Read the article in full here.
A former treasure in Louisville is now nothing more than a storage facility, while a dilapidated office building in Paris has sat empty for months on end. Both of these cities are taking proactive, but wildly different, measures to help the valuable vacant buildings and lots in their jurisdictions find new life. To learn more about each city’s potential solution to this global problem, keep reading after the break.
Architects: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Valero Gadan Architectes
Location: 123 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75015 Paris, France
Project Leaders: Project: Gaston TOLILA et Élodie VADEPIED | Competition: Gaston TOLILA
Project Team: Project: Delphine ALTIER, Léa CHARRAT, Yseult DE DIEULEVEULT, Marie-Charlotte PROSPERI | Competition: Chen CHEN, Nathalie DIEBOLD, Damien FARAUT, Samuel LACAILLE, Fabrice LAGARDE, Sophie LAROMIGUIERE, Marie-Charlotte PROSPERI
Area: 18992.0 sqm
Photographs: Christophe Valtin, Patrick H. Muller
Renovated numerous times during its history, Gaumont-Alésia, a Parisian cinema housed in a structure that is over 80 years old, will now be revamped by firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture. With a design that emphasizes filmography’s presence in modern culture, the Gaumont-Alésia is set to become an inviting cultural hub for the surrounding city, showcasing cinema’s influence on both the interior and exterior.
Both street facades will be composed of glass curtain walls shaded by pleated metal panels. These panels will be perforated by hundreds of LED “pixels” which will create an image across the pleats. Both entrances to the building become animated walls, broadcasting film stills, movie trailers, and advertisements, all meant to entice passersby. The LEDS are spaced fewer and farther apart toward the edges of the building, creating a stippling effect around the border of the images. At the entrances these animated panels will peel upwards, creating a canopy under which patrons can walk.
Welfare Centre for Children and Teenagers in Paris / Marjan Hessamfar & Joe Verons architectes associes
Architects: Marjan Hessamfar & Joe Verons architectes associes
Location: Porte des Lilas, Paris, France
Area: 5,211 sqm
Photographs: Vincent Fillon
With no casualties, last week’s fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which caused significant damage to parts of the building and gutted Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s canonical library room, will be remembered as a tragic event that robbed us of one of the best examples of Art Nouveau of its time. The intention of the Glasgow School of Art is to restore the building in the hope that in generations to come, the fire will be all but forgotten, a strategy which has been largely well received by the profession.
However, in the case of other fires things have not gone so smoothly: for millennia, fire has played a big role in determining the course of architectural history - by destroying precious artifacts, but often also by allowing something new to rise from the ashes. Read on after the break as we count down the top 10 fires that changed the course of architectural history.
Architects: Michel Guthmann
Location: 81 Rue des Cévennes, Paris, France
Design Team: Michel Stéphanie Appert, Olivier Barthe, Valentin Bourdon, Bénédicte Caspar, Amélie Jonville, Céline Motte-Moitroux, Samuel Reist, Oona Savransky
Area: 6,500 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Michel Guthmann, Michel Denancé , Takuji Shimmura