This year the Architectural Association (AA) Visiting School programme will extend its reach to the Dutch city of Rotterdam – a place which, “by some strange twist of geographical and historical fate, has the highest concentration of architects and architectural thinkers in the world.” The workshop, which will run for two weeks in July, will explore issues of inhabitance, perception, and intensity through analysis and creative interpretation of Rotterdam’s ‘core’ “or, more likely, its multiple cores, invisible to the untrained eye.” Based in the Shell Tower on Hofplein, students will be afforded the opportunity to observe and analyse the city from on-high.
The Learn’d, a short film directed by Victor Vroegindeweij (The Office for Nonfiction Storytelling, Hazazah Pictures), captures the poetry of light and space within KAAN Architecten’s Education Center. Part of the Rotterdam academic hospital Erasmus MC, the center was once an abandoned atrium that was transformed into an “enlightened inner square” that united all the building’s medical student programs under a single roof.
The medium of film has long been employed to visualise, document and narrate architectural and urban space. Since the advent of more accessible devices to capture and record these journeys and explorations it has been used more frequently by practices and students in an attempt to develop new ways of experiencing built designs. #donotsettle, a YouTube channel established by two architects and urban enthusiasts while studying at TUDelft in The Netherlands, seeks to reconcile the disparity between film as architectural representation and as an experiential medium. Although not high in production value, their films are exciting examples of how user-oriented architectural ‘vlogging’ can uncover an entirely new way of understanding the world around us, imbued with a refreshing level of enthusiasm and authenticity.
Following our top 40 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2014 and our favourite 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013, 2015 is no exception! Our latest round up continues to feature a fantastic range of films and documentaries telling the tales of unsung architectural heroes and unheard urban narratives from around the world. This entirely fresh selection looks past the panoply of stars to bring you more of the best architectural documentaries which will provoke, intrigue and beguile.
From a film which explores one man’s dream to build a cathedral (#4) and a simultaneous history of and vision of Rotterdam’s future (#7), to a tour of the world’s last surviving squatter town in Copenhagen (#14) and A Short History of Abandoned Sets in Morocco (#16), we present – in no particular order – thirty freshly picked documentaries for you to watch in 2015.
The Netherlands Builds in Brick is one of the latest exhibitions at Het Nieuwe Instituut (formerly the NAi) in Rotterdam. It seeks to modify the “assumed triumph of Modernism” in the interwar period, drawing upon two photographic collections from the Institute’s extensive archives. The exhibition has been curated to highlight that brick remained the favoured construction material throughout the advocacy of the Modernist movement, even for experimental construction.
Inside Rotterdam’s Sonneveld House everything is in order: books arranged nearly on shelves, chairs tucked under tables, rugs set square on the bedroom floor. The house is a pristine tableau depicting what the interior would have looked like whilst inhabited by the eponymous Albertus Sonneveld and his family.
Yet something interesting lies underfoot, thanks to an intervention by Inside Outside that sees the entire floor of the home covered with a single, continuous mirror. Read more about the installation and view selected images after the break.
In 1954 British sculptor Henry Moore was commissioned to design and install a large wall relief into Joost Boks’ new bouwcentrum (Construction Centre) in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The project, pieced together with approximately 16,000 hand-carved Dutch bricks, stands as the sculptor’s only work completed in the humble material. In a short documentary film produced by ARTtube, architectural historian Wouter Vanstiphout narrates the fascinating story behind Wall Relief No.1.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, one of the major changes within cities around the world has been the rise of so-called “privately-owned public space,” a development which has attracted the attention of many urbanists and is still being widely debated. However, for MONU Magazine, the increasing prevalence (and arguably, acceptance) of such privately owned spaces for public use gives us an opportunity to discuss another aspect of public space: interior urbanism. With the rise of the shopping mall and the increasingly diverse functions required by buildings such as libraries, interior spaces now resemble exterior public spaces more and more.
The following interview is an excerpt from the 21st issue of MONU Magazine, in which MONU’s Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo interview MVRDV founder Winy Maas, discussing the concept of interior urbanism in the work of MVRDV, in particular in their Rotterdam Markthal, Glass Farm and Book Mountain projects.
Architects: Team CS: A cooperation between Benthem Crouwel Architects, MVSA Architects and West 8
Location: Stationsplein 1, 3013 AJ Rotterdam, Netherlands
Lead Architects: Jan Benthem, Marcel Blom, Adriaan Geuze, Jeroen van Schooten
Area: 46000.0 sqm
Photographs: Jannes Linders, Luke Harley, Rijksoverheid, Team CS, Gemeenten Rotterdam
Great movements in architecture are usually set in motion by a dull societal ache or as a response to a sudden, unforeseen reorientation of a community at large. The Dutch city of Rotterdam - vast swathes of which were cast into oblivion during the blitz of May 1940 – has been at the forefront of many shifts in approach to the built environment. It is therefore fitting that the latest exhibition at the Nieuwe Instituut (formerly the NAi), simply titled Structuralism, is being held in the city that was recently named Europe’s best.
Furthermore, Dutch Structuralism is a timely subject for Dirk van den Heuvel and the Jaap Bakema Study Centre (JBSC) in Delft to tackle. With major civic buildings like OMA’s extension to Rotterdam’s City Hall taking shape, it appears that a resurgence of Structuralist formal thought is appearing in the contemporary city. The exhibition seeks to shine a new light on the movement by uncovering drawings, models and texts which profoundly shaped 20th century architectural thinking.
Fundamentals, the title of the 2014 Venice Biennale, will close its doors in a matter of days (on the 23rd November). From the moment Rem Koolhaas revealed the title for this year’s Biennale in January 2013, asking national curators to respond directly to the theme of ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’, there was an inkling that this Biennale would be in some way special. Having rejected offers to direct the Biennale in the past, the fact that Koolhaas chose to act not only as curator but also thematic co-ordinator of the complete international effort, was significant. This announcement led Peter Eisenman (one of Koolhaas’ earliest tutors and advocates) to state in one interview that “[Rem is] stating his end: the end of [his] career, the end of [his] hegemony, the end of [his] mythology, the end of everything, the end of architecture.”
The Dutch city of Rotterdam, often referred to as a hotbed of architectural activity, has been named as the best city in Europe by The Academy of Urbanism at the 2015 Urbanism Awards. Pitted against two other finalists – Aarhus in Denmark and Turin in Italy – the city has been praised for its “predominantly young, open, tolerant community that is embracing innovative architecture and urban design and new business models.”
Despite being a very closely fought battle, the Academy said that Rotterdam was a vote winner for its “unique approach to governance. Appointed for six years by central government, the role of mayor sits outside of political structures and with no portfolio, allowing greater engagement with citizens and businesses.” Steven Bee, Chairman of the Academy, said that “a long-term perspective, a high level of autonomy, strong leadership by the mayor and municipality, and strong partnerships between public and private sector, are all helping Rotterdam grow positively.”
Location: Meent 119, 3011 JH Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Partners In Charge: Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf
Associate: Alex de Jong
Project Team: Philippe Braun, Clarisa Garcia Fresco, Maaike Hawinkels, Andrew Linn, Takeshi Murakuni, Peter Rieff, Tom Tang, Sakine Dicle Uzanyayla, Mark Veldman
Interior Team: Saskia Simon, Andrea Giannotti, Ross O’Connell, Mafalda Rangel, Lucia Zamponi, Grisha Zotov
Area: 43370.0 sqm
Photographs: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of OMA