Many describe the work of Alvar Aalto as an embodiment of the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (a total work of art), where architecture, design, and art merge into one. The Finnish architect is a pioneer in the so-called organic strand of modern architecture in the early 20th century and has strongly influenced what we know today as Scandinavian architecture. According to a description on the MoMA website: "his work reflected a deep desire to humanize architecture through an unorthodox handling of shapes and materials that was rational and intuitive." Its methods of bringing natural light into buildings are extolled and studied repeatedly until today. But throughout Aalto's career, wood has always been present and taken many different forms. From structures to ceilings to stools, Alvar Aalto brought this natural material to the fore.
Peter Zumthor, in one of his most emblematic works, gives concrete an almost sacred dimension. The work in question is the small Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, located in a small village in Germany, a construction that is both robust and sensitive. Built with white cement, which was mixed with stones and sand from the region, the chapel is composed of 24 layers of concrete that were poured day after day by local labor, and compressed in an unusual way. The building's flat and smooth exterior contrasts with its interior, which was initially made of inclined wooden logs forming a triangular void. To remove these internal forms, the logs were set on fire in a controlled process, reducing them to ash and creating a carbonized interior that varied between black and gray and retained the texture of the negatives of the logs. The result is a masterpiece of architecture, a space for reflection and transformation, in which the same material appears in diametrically opposing ways.
Known for his sensuous materiality and attention to place, 2009 Pritzker Laureate Peter Zumthor (born April 26, 1943) is one the most revered architects of the 21st century. Shooting to fame on the back of The Therme Vals and Kunsthaus Bregenz, completed just a year apart in 1996 and 1997, his work privileges the experiential qualities of individual buildings over the technological, cultural and theoretical focus often favored by his contemporaries.
Having been utilized as early as the Roman era in buildings of almost every scale, it is almost impossible to think of a building that does not have at least one concrete element. In fact, it is the most widely used construction material in the world, due to its versatility, resistance, ease of handling, accessibility, aesthetics, and other factors. At the same time, its manufacture is also one of the main polluters in the atmosphere, mainly due to the fact that the cement industry emits around 8% of all global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
In addition to its intensive production, concrete is an extremely rigid material, heavy and composed of cement, water, stone, and sand. Thus, would it be possible to continue to use concrete sustainably after demolition, eliminating its disposal as mere waste and overloading landfills?
As 2018 draws to a close, accommodation website Airbnb has dived into their data to reveal the most creative cities and countries from the year. Based on the percentage of hosts who are in the creative industries, the list builds on a previous survey by Airbnb which found that one in 10 Airbnb hosts and one in three Experience hosts identify as members of the creative community.
Read on below for the list of top creative countries and cities according to the new Airbnb study. For architects already planning a New Year’s getaway, check out an article we published of ten projects previously featured by ArchDaily, now available for booking through Airbnb.
This week we’ve selected the best chapels previously published on our site. They reveal different ways of designing a small and sacred space. For inspiration on how to create these atmospheres, integrate different materials, and make proper use of light, we present 32 remarkable examples.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer: "To Understand a Building, Go There, Open your Eyes, and Look!"
Six years ago Susan Szenasy and I had the honor of interviewing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer for Metropolis magazine. While he was a federal appeals judge in Boston, Breyer played a key role in shepherding the design and construction of the John Joseph Moakley United State Courthouse, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. In 2011 Justice Breyer joined the jury of the Pritzker Prize. Given his long involvement with architecture, I thought it would be fun to catch up with him. So, on the final day of court before breaking for the summer recess, I talked to Justice Breyer about his experience as a design client, how to create good government buildings, and why public architecture matters.
Yale University’s School of Architecture was in the midst of pedagogical upheaval when Louis Kahn joined the faculty in 1947. With skyscraper architect George Howe as dean and modernists like Kahn, Philip Johnson, and Josef Albers as lecturers, the post-war years at Yale trended away from the school’s Beaux-Arts lineage towards the avant-garde. And so, when the consolidation of the university’s art, architecture, and art history departments in 1950 demanded a new building, a modernist structure was the natural choice to concretize an instructional and stylistic departure from historicism. Completed in 1953, Louis Kahn’s Yale University Art Gallery building would provide flexible gallery, classroom, and office space for the changing school; at the same time, Kahn’s first significant commission signaled a breakthrough in his own architectural career—a career now among the most celebrated of the second half of the twentieth century.
Internationally acclaimed architect Frank Gehry (born 28 February 1929) has been headlining architectural news platforms since he established his Los Angeles practice in 1962 and remodeled his home in Santa Monica. Notorious for his expressive use of form (and its-sometimes inflationary effect on project budgets), Gehry is best known for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which fellow architect Philip Johnson once dubbed “the greatest building of our time.”
As one of the key figures of midcentury Modernism and perhaps Finland's most celebrated architect, Alvar Aalto (3 February 1898 – 11 May 1976) was known for his humanistic approach to Modernism. For his characteristically Finnish take on architecture, Aalto has become a key reference point for architecture in the Nordic countries, and his commitment to creating a total work of art left many examples of his design genius not only in buildings but also in their interior features, including furniture, lamps, and glassware design.
Visiting architectural masterpieces by the greats can often feel like a pilgrimage of sorts, especially when they are far away and hard to find. Not everyone takes the time to visit these buildings when traveling, which makes getting there all the more special. With weird opening hours, hard-to-reach locations and elusive tours we thought we’d show a selection from our archives of masterpieces (modernist to contemporary) and what it takes to make it through their doors. Don’t forget your camera!
This article was originally published by The Architect's Newspaper as "Rendering LOL: How architects are absurdly using Calder sculptures."
Why do so many architects use Alexander Calder sculptures in their renderings, even when the works have nothing to do with the institution or project depicted? The Calder Foundation has been tracking this phenomenon, and the results are featured in the images for this article.
A new exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York explores mobiles—kinetic sculptures in which carefully balanced components reveal their own unique systems of movement—created by American sculptor Alexander Calder from 1930 until 1968, eight years before his death.
Whether architecture is a form of art or not has often been a controversial topic of conversation within the architecture world. If one goes by the general definition of the word "art," architecture could potentially fit within the umbrella term: "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power." As anyone involved in the architectural discipline probably knows, there is an abundance of varying definitions of the word "architecture," so whether its primary purpose is to achieve beauty or to organize space is evidently up for discussion.
Ask Jay A. Pritzker, founder of the Pritzker Prize, and he may say that "architecture is intended to transcend the simple need for shelter and security by becoming an expression of artistry." Ask The Guardian's Jonathan Jones and he may tell you that "architecture is the art we all encounter most often, most intimately, yet precisely because it is functional and necessary to life, it's hard to be clear about where the 'art' in a building begins." But this ambiguity is part of what makes the field of architecture challenging and exciting. To celebrate this complicated aspect of architecture, below we have collected a list of just some of the works that could be seen as art, architecture or both, depending on who’s looking, to provide some context to those blurry boundaries.
Last year saw the Alvar Aalto Foundation experience a record-breaking number of visitors at each of its four sites – a total of 42,755 as opposed to the 36,744 people that toured the sites in 2015.
Of those numbers, The Alvar Aalto Museum and the Muuratsalo Experimental House in Jyväskylä received a total of 20,005 visitors combined, half of which had arrived from outside of Finland to explore the Museum, while also continuing the recent trend of an increasing number of visits over the past five years.
Throughout the 60-year career of Álvaro Siza, his work has continuously defied categorization--having variously been described as “critical regionalism” and “poetic modernism,” with neither quite capturing the true essence of Siza's intuitive architecture. In this interview, the latest in Vladimir Belogolovsky's “City of Ideas” series, Siza discusses those attempts to categorize his work, his design approach and the role of beauty in his designs.
Vladimir Belogolovsky: Your student, Eduardo Souto de Moura said, “Siza’s houses are just like cats sleeping in the sun.”
Álvaro Siza: [Laughs.] Yes, he meant that my buildings assume the most natural postures on the site. There is also a reference in that to the human body.
AD Readers Debate: Preserving Breuer's Brutalist Library in Atlanta, Problems with Coliving and More
The past two weeks have seen an interesting mixture of comments on ArchDaily. Topics of conversation have ranged from Brutalist preservation to the future of living, and from neoliberal planning systems to restrictive copyright laws, raising insightful questions, interesting ideas and impressive arguments. Read on to find out what has been occupying our readers’ minds these past two weeks.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Sweden ruled against Wikimedia Sverige in a landmark case over “Freedom of Panorama,” a ruling which The Wikimedia Foundation has “respectfully disagreed with” in a blog post. The Swedish Supreme Court’s ruling, in short, states that Wikimedia Sverige is not entitled to host photographs of copyrighted works of art on its website Offentligkonst.se, which provides maps, descriptions and images of artworks placed in public spaces in Sweden.
The concept of freedom of panorama describes a provision in copyright law which extends the right to take and to disseminate photographs of copyrighted works provided those photographs were taken in public spaces. Most people who own a camera (in other words, most people) have probably given very little thought to their freedom of panorama, or any restrictions that may have been placed upon it. But the reality of this little-known copyright-related oddity is something that many people, and architects especially, should find very concerning indeed.
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.