Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eduardo Souto de Moura

My news story and analysis on Eduardo Souto de Moura, recipient of the 2011 Pritzker Prize, Why Souto de Moura Won the Pritzker, appears today in the news section of the Architectural Record web page.

For background on Souto de Moura, here are three articles I've written on his work over the years:

Beinah Nichtes With a Twist /Almost Nothing with a Twist
Torre Burgo, Porto, Portugal
architekur.aktuell, November 2008, pages 58 - 69.
(Sorry, no web version available at present).

Different Voices
Pousada de Santa María do Bouro

Different versions of this article appeared in:
Architectural Record, November 1998, pages 120 - 123.
Bauwelt 4, January 22, 1999, pages 174 - 179.
World Architecture 73 (London), February 1999, pages 78 - 79.

The Court House Revisited
Court Houses, Matosinhos, Portugal

Published as:
Hofhäuser in Hafenmähe
Bauwelt 33, September 1, 2000, pages 36 - 39.
Holding Court 
World Architecture 86 (London), May 2000, pages 78 - 81.

Photo by Luis Ferreira Alves
Paula Rêgo Museum - Cascais, Portugal 2005-2009 
Courtesy of The Pritzker Architecture Prize

Saturday, March 26, 2011

La Trufa

I write on Antón García-Abril's Truffle House, the latest of his experiments in heavy construction, in the March issue of the Viennese journal architektur.aktuell. This small guesthouse on the coast of Galicia is an unreinforced concrete structure, poured in a single day using hay bales and unconsolidated earth as formwork. García-Abril has taught at Cornell and Harvard as well as in Madrid; he is currently teaching at MIT.
García-Abril's investigations into the architectural implications of extremely dense materials, into the qualities of gravity, balance, mass and materiality and the choreography of the construction process, are as compelling in their own right as the early theoretical house projects of Peter Eisenman, for example; they are just as frivolous and serious and pathbreaking
Back to Nature
Trufa House, Costa da Morte, Spain by Antón García-Abril.
architektur.aktuell 372, March 2011, pages 52 - 61.

Photo © Roland Halbe

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spatial Viscosity thru Color

Two recent articles in Bauwelt and Speech feature a nursery by Alejandro Muñoz Miranda near Granada where colored glass plays a central role. The issue of the Russian jounral Speech is dedicated to the theme of color in architecture, and Bauwelt to the theme of kindergartens.

From the Speech text:
Contemporary architecture has returned to two of the most radical formal preoccupations of the early Modern Movement: the aspiration to transparency and weightlessness on the one hand, overcoming bounded space, and the Expressionist aspiration, largely unrealized in its time, to an architecture of colored space... Today the qualities of transparency and weightlessness scarcely seem radical to us, but the concept of space expressively altered through color has only recently become a subject of investigation.
Project:        Nursery, El Chapparel, Granada
Architect:    Alejandro Muñoz Miranda, Granada  

Beyond Transparency 
Speech 06/2010 (released March 2011), pages 208-226.

Das Glasscheibenspiel
Bauwelt 5.11, January 28, 2011, pages 12 - 17.

Photos © Javier Callejas

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calatrava: Case Update

In a post on January 4th I discussed the court case on Santiago Calatrava's unrealized project for a waterside opera in Palma de Mallorca, where I wrote:
News is still scarce, but ... Santiago Calatrava's ... 1.2 million euro fee for the design of an opera in Palma de Mallorca in 2007 has raised the suspicions of Judge José Castro... The judge is investigating the regional President at the time, Jaume Matas, for 25 cases of illegal bribes, kick-backs and other schemes for robbing public funds.
Here is an update on the case:
Both Calatrava and Matas have been indicted by the judge, and have testified before him since our last post. The major accusations to emerge so far are two.

First, on the part of ex-President Matas, the commission was given to Calatrava without following legal procedures, which require competitions to be organized for all public projects, among other things, and without any preliminary studies justifying the project. According to the accusation, the design was a public relations stunt concieved by Matas during an election campaign. In fact, the public commission overseeing the electoral process at the time halted the execution and publication of the project as a violation of campaign fair play.

Matas is therefore accused of using public funds "for exclusively personal and partisan interests," according to prosecutors. The judge has imposed a bail of 1.6 million euros on Matas for his potential personal liability in the case; this is in addition to the 3 million euros he has already posted for other charges in related cases (El País, 02.13.11; 03.03.11) .

Secondly, Calatrava`s office has been accused of numerous irregularities in billing the project, most flagrantly the failure to pay the required 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) on the 1.2 million fee, or more than 160,000 euros, according to a report presented by the Spanish tax authority to the court (El Mundo 01.17.11).

Calatrava is also accused of being an accomplice and party to the fraud perpetrated by Matas. He presented only two models, a video and a power point presentation of the design, without any other documents or studies, according to the prosecution. The local press in Mallorca has picked up accusations that Calatrava lifted the design directly from a 1989 competition project for a floating structure in the Lake of Lucerne (see for example here), a charge Calatrava has denied in court.

Stay tuned for further developments...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jean Nouvel in Gentleman

The March issue of Gentleman, now on the newsstands in Spain, has a major feature on upcoming projects by Jean Nouvel. The Louvre in Abu Dhabi (left) and the National Museum in Qatar are his most interesting designs to date, and probably the best two projects to come out of the Emirates' building boom. Special thanks to Gentleman Editor Alessandro Ryker and Director Fernando Rimblas for the chance to publish drawings of unbuilt work in a general circulation magazine.

No debe sorprendernos la renovada fuerza creativa de Nouvel en éstas obras de su madurez. Recordemos que Frank Gehry tenía 68 años cuando se inauguró el Guggenheim de Bilbao, y Le Corbusier terminó su ciudad nueva de Chandigarh en India a la edad de 69. Algunos arquitectos pueden caer en la tentación de repetir sus anteriores éxitos, incluso siendo bastante jóvenes. Pero otros como Nouvel encuentran, con el respaldo de la experiencia y el éxito, la libertad para descubrir nuevos territorios a explorar.

El mejor Nouvel
Gentleman 83, March 2011, p. 32-38.
Rendering © Ateliers Jean Nouvel