This year’s Park City offerings at the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals ranged from portraits of architects, a mayor with architectural dreams, a victim of the foreclosure crisis, those trapped in physical and dreamed spaces, and individuals exploring the cultural landscape. Always a harbinger of what is coming up, look out for these films and media projects coming to a screen near you.
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Composite facade brings new row house into harmony with its historic neighbors.
Florian Köhler, whose firm, Köhler Architekten, recently designed and built a new row house in Hamburg’s Ottensen quarter, observes a disheartening trend among his fellow architects. When designing for a site rich in historic context, they tend to shy away from all allusions to the past, opting instead for an antiseptic modernism. “Many architects only build cubic forms without reference to their environment, and cityscapes are becoming increasingly similar,” he said. “We deliberately wanted to go a different route.” Ice Loft, which is surrounded by protected properties dating to the mid-19th century, features a tripartite facade that translates familiar historic forms into smooth curves and planes. “Our unusual approach to the transformation of classical qualities into flowing forms seems to be a suitable alternative, at least at this point, in this urban district in Hamburg,” said Köhler.
The city of Hamburg is kicking off a massive effort to bury and cap two miles of a highway that cuts right through town. Fast Company reported that the $800 million project will create 60 new acres of green space which include “open meadows, woods, bike paths, community gardens, and tree-lined squares.” Capping the highway will also create space for about 2000 new homes, according to city officials.
Some of the biggest names in architecture have been whittled out of a competition to design a new Beethoven Concert Hall—or Beethoven Festspielhaus—in the composer’s hometown of Bonn, Germany. When the competition’s short list of ten proposals became an even-shorter list of three, the likes of Zaha Hadid, Snøhetta, JAHN and UNStudio were sent packing. David Chipperfield, however, made it through and is joined in the final three by Valentiny hvp architects from Luxembourg and Kadawittfeldarchitektur from Germany. The new hall, which is slated to break ground in 2016, is expected to host celebrations for Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020, and the 200th anniversary of his death in 2027.
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Ribbons of laser-cut metal lamellas envelop a glass curtain wall.
J. MAYER H. Architects designed the sculptural anodized aluminum facade of JOH3, a Berlin apartment building located near both the Friedrichstrasße and Museum Island, as a contemporary echo of its historic neighbors. “The project is located in an old part of Berlin, where there are lots of facades with stucco detail,” said project architect Hans Schneider. “We tried to do something as rich with a new design, something like Jugendstil [the German Art Deco movement] but in a modern translation.”
Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]”
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Barkow Leibinger designs a precast folded facade that puts a gentle spin on surrounding traditional architecture.
On one of the last urban tracts of available land in Berlin, Germany, local architecture firm Barkow Leibinger recently completed an 18-story tower, Tour Total. Highly visible from a neighboring train station, and the first completed project in the site’s 40-acre master plan, the tower has a raster facade with precast concrete panels that were geometrically computed in Rhino to create twisting inflections, conveying a sense of movement around the building’s four sides.
As a load-bearing facade, 40 percent of the surface is closed, and 60 percent is triple-glazed, with every other window operable. In addition to integrated energy management strategies—the first building tenant is French energy company Total—partner Frank Barkow said the firm’s extensive background in digital fabrication and research allowed the efficient development of the dynamic facade. Drawing from the surrounding, traditionally quadrilinear brick facades of the 1920s and 30s, the tower’s lines are imbued with an engrained depth that twists optically to read differently in direct sun or cloudy weather, without actually moving. Read More
Germans have taken on a unique approach to hospitality. This past August, hotelier Michael Schloesser introduced an innovative type of lodging two miles from the city center of Bonn. By converting an old storage facility into an indoor campground, Schloesser has created what he calls the world’s first camping trailer hotel: BaseCamp Bonn Young Hostel. Inside the warehouse, numerous trailers, vintage vans, sleeping cars and motorhomes are arranged to create a typical campground setup.
Miss out on your Bauhaus opportunity because you were not an artistic youth in 1920s and 1930s Germany? Now, architecture and design enthusiasts can revive their desired pasts as students at Walter Gropius’ iconic design school, at least in sleeping accommodations. The Bauhaus School of Design in Dessau, Germany has converted one of its studio buildings into a boutique hotel with dormitory-style rooms for overnight rental. Visitors can spend the night in spaces that once housed some of the biggest names in modern architecture, when they were still just students.
Even as Berlin loses green space, the city remains Europe’s greenest with more than 400,000 trees. One of the grandest, a 100-year-old chestnut tree towering over Montbijoupark, was the center of Tree Concert, a public art project that took place in September to bring light, literally, to the city’s diminishing greenery with a glowing LED sculpture circling the trees trunk.
As children love to imagine, what if we actually built our cities out of Legos? A bridge in Wuppertal, Germany, a city of 350,000 to the northeast of Cologne, offers one vision of what that city might look like. Street artist Martin Heuwold, or as he tags, MEGX, created the grand illusion last fall when he painted a dingy concrete span in the bright hues of every architect’s favorite toys.
The city appears to be banking on the High Line Effect. Faced with the prospect of a declining population, Wuppertal has been looking for ideas to reinvigorate the city and increase residents’ quality of life. The Lego Bridge is part of a 10-mile pedestrian and cycle path called Wuppertal Bewegung e.V. being built through the city on what was once the Wuppertal Northern Railway. Plans are also on the boards for a heritage trolley to run atop the viaduct. [H/T Colossal.]