In the hierarchy of major themes that shaped the modern spirit in architecture, hygiene, the imperative of a more salubrious habitat and city, is undeniably at the top of the list. With the book ‘X-Ray Architecture’, Beatriz Colomina, historian and theoretician of architecture and teacher at Princeton, chooses to make this a structuring principle, more to do with the fear of death and the repressed unconscious than the spirit of innovation. Is modern architecture as hysterical as that of the Baroque period?
In this review, Yushi Uehara describes the Volume Studies project by LOG/OUT magazine, reflecting upon what Volume means for the Japanese architectural scene and more in general trying to map the influence of the ‘superdutch’ experience in Japanese architecture at large.
Can architecture bring positive elements in peacekeeping operations? Does it have a substantial role in the transition between ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ peace? Arjen Oosterman’s opening questions set the tone to the varied contributions enriching the debate on Architecture of Peace during the Law & Order Mini-Conference, taking place at Stroom The Hague on May 20th.
As you may know, our exhibition The Good Cause is on show until 1st June at Stroom The Hague. Earlier this month, ArchiNed, one of the Netherlands’s major architecture websites, published quite a positive review about the exhibition.
The Netherlands has two new prizes, the Geert Bekaert Prize for Architecture Criticism and the Simon Mari Pruys Prize for Design Criticism. They’re promoting ‘a vibrant design culture’ by stimulating writing and reflection and awarding the prize to one critique, not to a critic. Initiated by Archined and Design Platform Rotterdam they were awarded for the first time in Amsterdam on March 20th 2014. For architecture the award went to Plain Weirdness: The Architecture of Neutelings Riedijk, a text in El Croquis by the former Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, now Director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Aaron Betsky. The Simon Mari Pruys Prize went to Sander Manse for his essay on the use of models in designing design.
What is essential about the work of Neutelings Riedijk is its plain weirdness. The two aspects of this definition are essential. The use of form and materials that are familiar, simple, and sometimes even primitive grounds the strangeness, the baroque involutions, and the haunting quality that gives the work its power. These architects know how to mine the vernacular to find within it the material that both grounds us and connects us to something bigger, stranger, and older than we are. Their buildings use this basis to teeter between abstraction and reference, creating a blur that allows us to intuit forms, images and spaces that the designers only imply. Finally, Neutelings Riedijk’s buildings become stages on which we can act out the roles to which we would like to become accustomed, sometimes as masques in which both the structures and we are actors, and sometimes directly, when the buildings’ interiors become, more often than not, stages.
There is an intimate relation between conflict and change. Archis’ Architecture of Peace research suggests that the ambition to create a better society on the ruins of the past comes with unforeseen effects, creating situations that are disrupting in many ways. The story of ‘the West’ coming to rescue and help other cultures isn’t positive throughout. It seems that we’re still stuck in concepts that already during WWII manifested as guiding principles. A book on the planning history during that period sheds (a relative) new light on the matter.
‘Post-starchitecture’ is one of the terms used to describe the main theme of the recently released book Reactivate! Innovators of Dutch Architecture. Written by A10 editor-in-chief Indira van ‘t Klooster and published by Trancity/Valiz, it portrays a new generation of architects, designers and planners in the Netherlands who have left behind the urban master plans and iconic concepts, and taken a more small-scale, DIY and community-focused perspective on city-making.
Since the architect-artist Luc Deleu (1944) founded T.O.P. Office in 1970, the bureau has made some thought provoking and critical contributions to the Flemish architectural landscape. Now that the office has celebrated its fortieth anniversary, Wouter Davidts, Stefaan Vervoort, and Guy Châtel found the need to bring Deleu and his office back to attention by composing a monograph. The human, urban, and global scale, as well as the concept of scale itself form the starting point of the architectural office, which could be called a research bureau more than an actual architectural practice. Building has never been its priority, because when you build something you really have to add something to the already saturated world, and not simply build just to build. The goal of the monograph is a “theoretical exploration of the work and practice of Luc Deleu and T.O.P. Office“ in which seven themes are each addressed by different written essays, a visual essay – created by fourteen different contributors – and a visual essay for every theme that was composed by Luc Deleu himself.