Ada Louise Huxtable once described him as “a poet who happens to be an architect.” Italian architect Aldo Rossi (3 May 1931 – 4 September 1997) was known for his drawings, urban theory, and for winning the Pritzker Prize in 1990. Rossi also directed the Venice Biennale in 1985 and 1986—one of only two people to have served as director twice.
This article was originally published on May 9, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Situated on the peak of Bergisel Mountain above the picturesque alpine city of Innsbruck, Austria, the Bergisel Ski Jump represents the contemporary incarnation of a historic landmark. Designed by Zaha Hadid between 1999 and 2002, the Ski Jump is a study in formal expression: its sweeping lines and minimalist aesthetic create a sense of graceful, high-speed motion, reflecting the dynamic sensation of a ski jump in a monumental structure that stands above the historic center of Innsbruck and the mountain slopes around.
More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi's dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. But the dome's construction methods are still a secret, as no plans or sketches have been discovered. The only clue Brunelleschi left behind was a wooden and brick model. While the dome has been plagued by cracks for centuries, new breakthroughs in muon imaging may help preservationists uncover how to save the iconic structure and reveal new ideas on its construction.
“Will you look at that? St. Mark’s Square is flooded!” An Australian day tripper is astonished. “This place is actually sinking,” her friend casually exclaims. They, like so many I’ve overheard on the vaporetti, are convinced that the Venetian islands exist on a precipice between the fragility of their current condition and nothing short of imminent submersion. With catastrophe always around the corner a short break in Venice is more of an extreme adventure trip than a European city-break. If it were true, that is.
Situated in a former industrial district in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht, it’s perhaps fitting that the Bonnefantenmuseum has often been called a “viewing factory.” The museum, with its ‘E’-shaped plan and distinctive domed tower, is one of the most prominent landmarks along the River Meuse that flows around the city center. Europe’s rich cultural history was a key impetus for architect Aldo Rossi’s design, which employed a number of historical architectural gestures to place the Bonnefantenmuseum within a collapsed European canon.
Alvar Aalto was born in Alajärvi in central Finland and raised in Jyväskylä. Following the completion of his architectural studies at the Helsinki University of Technology he founded his own practice in 1923, based in Jyväskylä, and naming it Alvar Aalto, Architect and Monumental Artist. Although many of his early projects are characteristic examples of 'Nordic Classicism' the output of his practice would, following his marriage to fellow Architect Aino Marsio-Aalto (née Marsio), take on a Modernist aesthetic. From civic buildings to culture houses, university centers to churches, and one-off villas to student dormitories, the ten projects compiled here—spanning 1935 to 1978—celebrate the breadth of Aalto's œuvre.
Originally built as the headquarters for the Finnish Communist Party, the House of Culture (Kultuuritalo in Finnish) has since established itself as one of Helsinki’s most popular concert venues. Comprising a rectilinear copper office block, a curved brick auditorium, and a long canopy that binds them together, the House of Culture represents the pinnacle of Alvar Aalto’s work with red brick architecture in the 1950s.
The Nordic nations—Finland, Norway and Sweden—have reached a pivotal point in their collective, and individual, architectural identities. The Grandfathers of the universal Nordic style—including the likes of Sverre Fehn, Peter Celsing, Gunnar Asplund, Sigurd Lewerentz, Alvar Aalto, and Eero Saarinen—provided a foundation upon which architects and designers since have both thrived on and been confined by. The Nordic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale—directed by Alejandro Aravena—will be the moment to probe: to discuss, argue, debate and challenge what Nordic architecture really is and, perhaps more importantly, what it could be in years to come.
We're asking for every practice (and individual) across the world who have built work in Finland, Norway and Sweden in the past eight years to submit their project(s) and be part of the largest survey of contemporary Nordic architecture ever compiled.
Update: the Open Call for In Therapy closed on the 24th January 2016.
A Clockwork Jerusalem, the exhibition showcased in the British Pavilion at last year's Venice Biennale, will make it's UK debut at London's Architectural Association (AA) next month. Commissioned by the British Council and curated by Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT, and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Dutch practice Crimson Architectural Historians, the exhibition shines a light on the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s by exploring the "mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious - but also the moment that witnessed its collapse."
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.
The Pazzi Chapel is a landmark of architecture in the city that was once the cradle of the Italian Renaissance: Florence. Located in the Santa Croce church complex (the largest Franciscan church in the world), the chapel was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi - the goldsmith-turned-architect who dedicated his life to engineering the dome of Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore. It is "a prime example of 15th-century architectural decoration in grey pietra serena sandstone, colourful maiolica, and terracotta."
550 years have taken their toll on this structure and its decoration. Concern for the state of the loggia of the chapel is now so great that the non-profit institution in charge of the church’s administration - the Opera di Santa Croce - have raised 50% of the funds needed to carry out a restoration, set to begin in early 2015. They are now looking to crowdfunding to source the remaining half ($95,000) and, in so doing, are inviting people from around the world to become part of the 720-year-long history of Santa Croce.
More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi's dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. Leaving no plans or sketches behind, some of the secrets of its construction that Brunelleschi pioneered are still an enigma today. This short animation, presented by National Geographic and created by Fernando Baptista and Matthew Twombly, gives an idea of how the dome of the Duomo might have been built. Demonstrating the complexity of the task, made harder due to poor construction prior to Brunelleschi's commission, this film serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to create something timeless.
Wim Pijbes, director of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, has declared in an open letter to the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad that the Dutch capital is "dirty, filthy, and too full." Complaining primarily about the culture of short-stay accommodation, segways, scooters and canal cruisers in the historic heart of the city, he argues that "the charm and spirited character has long since faded." Amsterdam, an apparent magnet for those who enjoy an "anything-goes atmosphere," faces an uphill battle in order to remold a dwindling reputation.
In an age when 1:1 3D printed buildings are becoming ever more commonplace from the Netherlands to China, it's important to pause and assess the existing built fabric of our cities, towns and villages. If we want to maintain and preserve them whilst protecting the inherent craft imbued in their construction, the importance of nurturing and promoting these skills should be recognised.
In the UK, the Heritage Skills Hub (HSH) push to see "traditional building skills, conservation, restoration and responsible retrofit" included within all mainstream built environment courses. In a recent conversation with Cathie Clarke, CEO of the HSH, we discussed the obstacles faced by an organisation dedicated to conserving and teaching skills like stonemasonry, roof thatching, glass making, traditional brick construction to a new generation.
Sheffield born Alison Gill, later to be known as Alison Smithson, was one half of one of the most influential Brutalist architectural partnerships in history. On the day that she would be celebrating her 86th birthday we take a look at how the impact of her and Peter Smithson's architecture still resonates well into the 21st century, most notably in the British Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale. With London's Robin Hood Gardens, one of their most well known and large scale social housing projects, facing imminent demolition how might their style, hailed by Reyner Banham in 1955 as the "new brutalism", hold the key for future housing projects?
The British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale takes the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and explores the "mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious but also the moment that witnessed its collapse." The exhibition tells the story of how British modernity emerged out of an unlikely combination of interests and how "these modern visions continue to create our physical and imaginative landscapes." To those who know the UK's architectural heritage, this cultural and social history is delivered in a way which feels strangely familiar, whilst uncovering fascinating hidden histories of British modernity that continue to resonate in the 21st century.
We caught up with Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT Architecture (of which this exhibition is their final project), and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Rotterdam-based Crimson Architectural Historians, outside the British Pavilion to discuss the ideas behind, and significance of, A Clockwork Jerusalem.
Norwegian architect and Pritzker Laureate Sverre Fehn’s original drawings for the Nordic Pavilion in Venice are to be presented alongside Ferruzzi’s monochromatic photographs of the building in an exhibition at the National Museum of Architecture in Oslo. Venice: Fehn’s Nordic Pavilion documents the incredible task undertaken by Fehn who, at the age of thirty-four, won the competition to design the pavilion and subsequently won international acclaim when the building was completed in 1962.
The Rijksmuseum, which reopened last year after a decade of restoration and remodelling, is a museum dedicated to “the Dutchness of Dutchness.” Pierre Cuypers, the building's original architect, began designing this neogothic cathedral to Dutch art in 1876; it opened in 1885 and has stood guard over Amsterdam's Museumplein ever since.
Over the centuries, the building suffered a series of poorly executed 'improvements': intricately frescoed walls and ceilings were whitewashed; precious mosaics broken; decorative surfaces plastered over; and false, parasitic ceilings hung from the walls. Speaking in his office overlooking the Rijksmuseum’s monumental south west façade, Director of Collections Taco Dibbits noted how the most appalling damage was incurred during the mid-20th century: “everything had been done to hide the original building […but] Cruz y Ortiz [who won the competition to redesign the Rijks in 2003] embraced the existing architecture by going back to the original volumes of the spaces as much as possible.”
For Seville-based Cruz y Ortiz, choosing what to retain and what to restore, what to remodel and what to ignore were, at times, difficult to balance. Cruz y Ortiz found their answer in the mantra: 'Continue with Cuypers'. They threw the original elements of the building into relief but did not act as aesthetes for the 'ruin'. In contrast to David Chipperfield and Julian Harrap's restoration of Berlin's Neues Museum, for instance, Cruz y Ortiz rigorously implemented a clean visual approach that favoured clarity over confusion. What is original, what is restored, and what is new mingle together in a melting pot of solid, understated architectural elements. Sometimes this approach contradicted Cuyper's original intentions; however, more often than not it complements them in a contemporary way.