With the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial in full swing and open to the public until January 7, 2017, we've scoured the galleries, halls and corridors of the Chicago Cultural Center to bring you our favorite fifteen installations. Documented through the lens of Laurian Ghinitoiu and assembled by our Editorial Team on location, this selection intends to shed light on the breadth, scope and preoccupations of Make New History – the largest architecture event in North America.
Pezo Von Ellrichshausen
In Baja California, Mexico, the 860 hectares that make up 'Cuatro Cuatros'—a tourism development that for the past ten years has been overseen and designed by Mauricio Rocha and Gabriela Carrillo of Taller de Arquitectura—present an arid and mostly monochromatic landscape interrupted only by stones and bushland.
Vast as the site may seem, only 360 of its hectares will be destined for housing development, of which only 10% can be impacted by construction. The challenge will lay in mitigating the protagonistic stance architecture usually assumes when conquering previously untouched lands, by taking on a presence that disappears into the landscape.
LocationCS10022 Place de la Libération, 94404 Vitry-sur-Seine, France
Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Felice Varini Unveil Designs for a Civic Installation in the UK's 2017 City of Culture
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Hull UK City of Culture 2017 have jointly commissioned Chile-based architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Swiss artist Felice Varini to design an ambitious temporary outdoor structure in the historic heart of Hull, a port city on the country's east coast. The project, which is part of the Hull 2017 "Look Up" programme of public art installations, will "transform Trinity Square with sixteen galvanized steel columns arranged in a grid formation in front of Hull Minister to highlight the symmetry of its façade."
As the boundary that separates work and leisure in the 21st Century continues to be blurred by technology, architects Christoph Hesse and Neeraj Bhatia sought out to uncover a tranquil solution. The pair are co-curating an upcoming exhibition at the Kulturbahnhof Kassel in Germany as part of Experimenta Urbana in a show called “Ways of Life,” which opens July 5th.
This international initiative seeks to discover “a new nomaticism.” A gathering of 19 emerging architecture offices each presents a dwelling encompassed in nature. These buildings are often equal parts project and manifesto. The show’s overarching theme is the delicate balance of naturally induced relaxation and programmatically encouraged productivity. Each firm must additionally consider constraints that include limited square footage, integration of rapidly advancing information technology, and a strictly sustainable design.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial has announced the list of participants invited to contribute to the event’s second edition, which will be held from September 16 to January 7, 2018 in Chicago. More than 100 architecture firms and artists have been selected by 2017 artistic directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, founders of Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee, to design exhibitions that will be displayed at the Chicago Cultural Center and throughout the city.
“Our goal for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial is to continue to build on the themes and ideas presented in the first edition,” explained Johnston and Lee. “We hope to examine, through the work of the chosen participants, the continuous engagement with questions of history and architecture as an evolutionary practice.”
Chilean studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen has erected a temporary wooden tower of “an ambiguous” scale in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. Named the “Deci Pavilion,” the structure is made up of ten stacked octagonal wooden drums of decreasing size. While in reality only large enough to hold one visitor at a time, the column’s form and relationship to its surroundings give it the presence of a much larger structure.
For Mauricio Pezo and Sofía Von Ellrichshausen, the architect's job is about much more than dealing with functional issues, as well as social issues, sustainability, and safety. “Of course architecture from its very essence is solving problems, and the problems constantly change,” says von Ellrichshausen in this interview with The Architectural Review outside their Vara Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. “But probably the life span of architecture is many times larger than the problem that it addresses initially. Therefore we think of architecture more in terms of this larger span and hopefully it might embody a set of values and not necessarily propose a solution.”
Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Vara Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Biennale is described by the architects as “a series of exteriors within other exteriors.” Breaking down this crypticness, what emerges is a maze-like complex of circles – ten of them – formed with steel, cement, and painted plaster, which collectively create a series of walls, but no roof, thus forming a pavilion that is open to the elements from above. The 324 square meter pavilion’s title, “vara,” refers to an imprecise and obsolete Spanish unit of measurement, that was employed during the country’s conquering of America to trace and measure cities. Each of circles of the Vara Pavilion is a diameter of the unit, ranging from two to eleven.
“Concrete has the ability to be primitive and technological, massive and levitating, to combine the properties of steel with those of mud,” says Rowan Moore in his list of The 10 best concrete buildings created for The Guardian. Through examples spanning three continents, Moore unites old standbys with unexpected wonders, all of which show the varied possibilities inherent in mixing water, aggregate, and cement. In a list that incorporates examples from Classical times to the present, Moore establishes concrete’s unique ability to adapt to different times, styles, applications, and treatments.
Examples by Le Corbusier, Álvaro Siza, Lina Bo Bardi, and Marcel Breuer demonstrate that concrete is anything but workaday or utilitarian. Moore’s list affirms that a material simultaneously strong and light, durable, sustainable, and fire-resistant, can scarcely be considered anything short of miraculous. Of course, ten buildings can only provide an abridged version of concrete’s possibilities, and Moore cheekily apologizes for some of the obvious omissions. Check out the full list here.
Chilean art and architecture studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s “Finite Format” exhibition is currently on display at one of the most important cultural sites in the Czech Republic: The House of Art of Ceske Budějovice. Composed of more than 480 paintings (Finite Format) and six ink drawings (Infinite Motive), the installation aims to demonstrate the firm’s “underlying method to understand not only the artistic qualities in a work of architecture but also the architectonic attributes of a work of art,” according to the architects.
In parallel, Pezo von Ellrichshausen also carried out a workshop with 14 architecture students from the Technical University of Liberec to conceptualize and construct a twelve-square-meter scale model for the "Infinite Motive" installation. Using the circle as the basic element, the architects reflect on how “architectonic intentions may be diluted by means of the repetition of a single figure with a diverse range of dimensions.”
Now for its third year, Portugal's famed Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP) will host "Porto Academy" - a week-long summer session of lectures, workshop studios and trips open to students internationally that provides the opportunity to work with the profession's finest. Planned to take place from July 20th through the 27th, this year's class will have the chance to work closely with the architects of Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Menos é Mais and many others. See a complete list of participating architects and find more details, after the break.
What influence do art and space have on the contemporary architectural design process? MoMA's most recent exhibition on architecture and design Conceptions of Space strives to answer this question. Themed under the umbrella of spatial relations, Curator Pedro Gadanho ruminates on the subject in a broad and philosophical sense. The exhibition delves into the topic using an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating research from French philosopher Michel Foucault on the subject of the expanded field. The exhibition aims to explore the relationship between the development of space and its deep-seated roots in the creative arts.
Yesterday at the Illinois Institute of Technology's (IIT), Pezo Von Ellrichshausen was awarded the prestigious Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) for Emerging Architecture. Selected for their finely crafted, concrete Poli House, which serves as both a summer residence and cultural center on the Coliumo Peninsula, the Chilean firm was the first practice ever to receive the prize.
As an accompaniment to their ongoing Sensing Spaces Exhibition in London, the Royal Academy of Arts has produced six wonderful films interviewing the architects involved in the exhibition, unearthing what motivates and inspires them as architects, and what the primary themes of their exhibition projects are.
The above video features both Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, who both designed their Sensing Spaces exhibits with the other in mind. Siza explains his preoccupation with the joints between the natural and the man-made through his Leça Swimming Pool complex, and the way the rock formations informed his interventions. He also introduces his one-time protégé Souto de Moura's Braga stadium as expressing the same understanding of the natural and man-made.
See videos from the 5 other Sensing Spaces participants after the break
This past week London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) celebrated the opening of, what many claim to be, one of the most “epic” and “enchanting” exhibitions of 2014: Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. With a series of large scale installations by some of profession’s most acclaimed architects, such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Kengo Kuma, the immersive exhibition creates an atmosphere that encourages visitors to become part of the experience and open their minds to the sensory realm of architecture.
"Architecture is so often the background to our lives," stated curator Kate Goodwin. "We often don't think about it - it's practical and functional, but when does it do something more?"
A preview of the installations, after the break.
French developer Christian Bourdais has enlisted eight architects to develop vacation homes on a 50-hectare nature reserve about two hours south of Barcelona. So far, so normal. However, each participant in the "Solo Houses" experiment was given what every architect dreams of (and hardly ever receives): carte blanche. The results, from the likes of Sou Fujimoto, Pezo von Ellrichshausen, and more, are stunning. See them all after the break...
Colorado’s Biennial of the Americas has invited artists and architects from across the Americas to participate in the second edition of Draft Urbanism: a citywide exhibition that examines the evolving relationship we have with our cities. This year, four architects - plan:b arquitectos (Colombia), Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Chile), June14 Meyer-Grohbrügge&Chermayeff (New York/Berlin), and Alex Schweder (New York) - were commissioned to each design and build a large-scale installation that address site-specific urban challenges and key planning issues presently facing downtown Denver.
With urban challenges ranging from Denver’s over abundance of surface parking lots to the effects of an 8-lane thoroughfare that splits the downtown core, these four installations aim to portray a deep understanding of the city’s history while proposing innovative ways in which art can address our urban future.
Read on to learn about the installations and view a short film for each by Cristobal Palma.