500 Words

Essays

Johnson Wax Headquarters

There are 2 types of architects, those who follow current trends, and those who design for the future. The latter are guided by timeless morals that make their designs last through time, and still be seen as iconic decades after.

Frank Lloyd Wright has proved to be part of the second group, leaving us examples such as the Falling Water in Pennsylvania, or the Johnson and Son headquarters in Racine, IL. But, how do you spot which architect was part of what group? (more…)

Advertisements

Housing…What next?

Every single architecture student knows what lectures are taking place in, at least, 3 architecture schools: AA of London, HU-GSD in Cambridge and, hopefully, their own school. Since I recently moved to Boston for my Master of International Marketing, I decided to pick up on my architecture background and attend as many architecture lectures as possible. My first lecture of this year, yesterday: “Housing…What next?” at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

The lecture was organized as an opening for the current exhibition in the Harvard School of Design Hall, “Living Anatomy” is hosting. Four architects, with different approaches, talked about what housing was and is, and try to call out that architects should put more effort in its theoretical and formal development. (more…)

A BETTER START

I wanted to come back with an optimistic piece of news. It hasn’t been easy, and I won’t hesitate in using it as an excuse for my lately laziness. However, I found it and here it is. Finally I have seen a change in the horizon in my school of architecture in Barcelona. 
There have been debates, demonstration, strikes, and a long list of other actions and activities going on in the school during this past semester, all of which stopped a month before finals, as it’s starting to be usual. Nevertheless, I am starting to see changes that are, most certainly, fruit of these past, at first only confusing, events.

An exhibition of final projects is having place at my school, free for everybody to see, an admire if possible, what the students of the ETSAB have to present in order to get their license. No an easy task, and very good projects come out of it. What better way of honoring the best students that by showing to the world their work. If this continued to happen I am sure more people would make a bigger effort. Everybody loves being given credit for hard work. But, there is always a but, this exhibition has been organized by Epson, a private company whose criteria was not only outstanding architecture, but also eye catching images. We live in a visual world, hard to fight against that, right?
The second piece of news that I am proud about is the article written by Josep Muntañola, a professor at ETSAB, who encourages everybody to think architecture as not only a matter of those who already are architects, but as a problem that affects even the smaller kids. Unfortunately I don’t entirely agree with everything he wirtes, but the general outline is positive. He points out that our school has been living of past glory for the last 25 years or so, that professors are not always chosen by their education skills, but by their long list of awards, and that, in some cases, doesn’t help the student. He also animates us not to complain but to propose new ideas, more or less what the activities in the last month had tried.
But, he himself, as a professor, is blinded in some specific points. One of the issues that our school faces is good quality versus creativity freedom. I am not going to deny that the level of the projects that come out of our school are, in the majority, very good. “Perfection” requires sacrifices, and our school sets some rules very tight the first three years of its program, making sure nobody’s project goes crazy and therefore problematic.
If we want society to perceive architecture in a better way, we, architects and architecture students, have to give a damn and take care of it from the start. Involving kinder garden teachers and Josep Muntañola suggests is as a beautiful idea as it is a foolish one. Why don’t we start, as I think we all agree, by setting new rules for what the education of architecture might be? More freedom, no whimsical craziness, and more fun are what I think would be the most important aspects to take into account.

Let’s have a Spanish NOWNESS.


inés

The New Architecture and the Bauhaus

“The quality of a man’s creative work depends on a proper balance of his faculties”1.
.
.
Walter Gropius wrote The New Architecture and the Bauhaus in 1935 with his life-long knowledge as an architect. What he puts the most effort to is trying to answer what the New Architecture is by explaining, as he clarifies, “my own work, my own thoughts and discoveries”.2 The book was written a little bit as a autobiography of his professional life and, therefore, starts explaining the situation he has to cope with just after the fist world war. A period when many different individualistic manifestos were written and published, with an economic decline, and also when “every thinking man felt the necessity for an intellectual change of front”3.
.
Therefore, he starts defending the “liberation of architecture from a welter of ornament”4, what will be Modern Architecture, with flat roofs, pillars and bigger windows as a response to the “emphasis of its structural functions”5.
.
He believes that to do so he must define the “simplified practical exemplar of anything in general use which embodies a fusion of the best of its anterior forms”6 by creating a ‘norm’. To Gropius’s eyes, this could be applied to anything, from teapots, to buildings or even cities. He upholds the idea that this ‘norm’ enhances urban culture by the “increases of their (the final product) quality and decreases of their cost; thereby raising the social level of the population as a whole”7.
.
He continues to write about rationalization, what architecture was headed to. When, thanks to technical proficiency would allow to rationalize buildings into “a number of component parts”in factories, allowing continuous activity and shorter construction periods; making it possible to fix lower prices. All this without “restricting the architect’s freedom of design”9. But not only is he interested in productivity, he also talks about beauty being fresh air, daylight and sunshine.
.
This ‘laws’ started to form in Gropius’s mind when, in 1908, after his preliminary training, he starts working for Peter Behrens, who introduced him to “logical and systematical coordination”10. After, war will encourage him to rethink architecture, and he will agree with the Deutscher Werkbund “to give the rising generation of artists a practical training for handicrafts and industry”11. He, then, created the Bauhaus.
.
This school aimed at “standards of excellence”12 was based on the “fundamental unity underlying all branches of design”13, “combining imaginative design and technical proficiency”14, thanks to the creation of different workshops, the most important structure of the institution. And it looks like it worked, as it can be seen from the design of the Bauhaus in Dessau in 1925. Happy for his success, in 1928 Gropius handed over the control.
.
Finally, he will start thinking about urban planning and concer for the “lowest-paid section of [the] population”15. This led him to designing siedlungs and researching the relation between country and city and, therefore, the benefits of flat roofs. Light and fresh air will be very important to Gropius due to the state of abandonment of big cities.
.
To conclude, this New Architecture only could flourish if the problems related to national planning, town planning and to the ideal type of building were correctly solved. He also wanted, one last time, to reinstate his respect for tradition:
.
“Respect for tradition does not mean the complacent toleration of elements which have been a matter of fortuitous chance or of individual eccentricity; nor does it mean the acceptance of domination by bygone aesthetic forms. It means, […], the preservation of essentials in the process of striving to get at what lies at the back of all materials”16.
 
 
inés
 
Credit to:
Prof. C. Humer
Notes:
1 Walter Gropius. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Translated by P. Morton Shand and with an Introduction by Frank Pick. (Cambridge, MA:         The MIT Press, 1965, reprinted, 1974) 66
2 Ibid., 19
3 Ibid., 48
4 Ibid., 23
5 Ibid., 24
6 Ibid., 34
7 Ibid., 38
8 Ibid., 39
9 Ibid., 40
10 Ibid., 47
11 Ibid., 62
12 Ibid., 54
13 Ibid., 51
14 Ibid., 52
15 Ibid., 98
16 Ibid., 112
 
Bibliography
Gropius, Walter. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Translated by P. Morton Shand and with an Introduction by Frank Pick. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1965, reprinted, 1974.

Home, Office, …. Coworking



Haven’t you ever found yourself alone, working at home, ant with no one to talk to but your dog? Or the other situation when you are at Starbucks working and suddenly the internet starts giving trouble? Sure you all know what I am talking about. We all need distraction every once in a while, and we all want unlimited internet connection and comfortable chairs. But what we crave the most is, at least in my hones opinion, a motivating workplace.
I am lucky enough to live, in Chicago, near to a Starbucks (so far like everybody else), an Argo Tea (still nothing impossible), Intelligentsia, Bowtruss Company and Next Door Chicago (Amazing, right?). Each one better than the previous. But not enough for me to consider them my working space. 
Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those nice tables of Next Door for your own without having to wake up early in the morning to get a free spot, or to move to the cold Starbucks after 10pm because where you are working closes?
Well, it looks like our prayers have been heard. The most fancy co-working spaces i have heard of are in Amsterdam, as many other cool things, the amazing Dutch capital. Two of these spaces have been created by Frederique Keuning and Martijn Roordink, giving social attention to architecture (they hired the architect Sexil Peach to design the interior distribution) and furniture (you could find chairs and tables designed by Tom Dixon or Mies van der Rohe). The pictures of the different areas where you could relax, socialize, work by yourself or work among other people, really make me want to be in need of one of this spots.

 

However, there is no need to panic in case you do not live in Amsterdam, no need to move. In my two favourite cities (Chicago and Barcelona) there are plenty of these nice spots. 1871 or Coop Chicago are some examples you could check if interested. But, really, the places in Barcelona are amazing. Little, nice and cozy. Comunidadcoworking has spread different “offices” all over the city. These are open to all fields or specialized. 
 
It all depends on what you are looking for.


useful webpages
https://www.desktimeapp.com/
http://comunidadcoworking.es/
http://coworkchicago.com/
http://www.spaces.nl/

inés

ARCHITECTURE TO SERVE ART
Art market, in Paris, has been changing constantly since post world war II. It started in Manhattan, with the arrival of European artists running away from the turbulent political situation. The galleries started spreading all over the island and not only in the commercial district or the wealthy residential areas. Chelsea and East village were targeted by new emerging art dealers. Then, with the economic boom, art started getting paid little by little every time more, becoming more and more expensive; a Warhol was sold for $60m.
Therefore, nowadays, not only is art an expensive product, but also artists feel more encouraged to design and create pieces every time more singular, size, materials or cultural heritage become more radical. The problem, where are going these huge new works of art going to be exposed if not in a big-scale museum?
So, galleries in Paris have had to move from the centric boulevards to peripheries areas of the city, the same way manhattan’s galleries did in the 60’s. But not only the size of art has made art dealers to move. Real state economics, the new metro line planned to be built, and renaming the city from Paris, to the “Great Paris” has most certainly helped.

Two of the most prestigious art galleries in Paris, Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, have recently opened the doors of their new exhibit spaces. The first one has occupied an old hangar near to the airport, targeting buyers who fly with their private jets; the second one has chosen an abandoned heating factory. Both allow these dealers to provide artists with a place where to exhibit their oversized pieces of art. (ROPAC GALLERY)

So important is to them these pieces, that for their opening both these galleries chose the same artist to exhibit his work for the opening ceremony, Anselm Kiefer, a german painter and sculptor whose work is, many times, oversized. Moreover, his depressive, destructive style contrast very much with the atmosphere this new galleries have. White boxes which try to interfere as less as possible with art. (GAGOSIAN GALLERY)

(ANSELM KIEFER)

This evolution in art galleries is no longer only just about art, but also about urban planning, spreading all over the city; and about architecture. The place where art has to be placed in order to be seen has to be suitable for the artists. If the spaces available in the cities are insufficient, new spaces must be fetched. Art should not be restricted by how wide, tall o deep a exhibition room is. And this subject is something that the magazine ArtForum in a previous issues tries to fins out. Does architecture help art, or, on the contrary, does it impose how the art has to be exposed. 
It is admirable this brave gesture these two big dealers have done. Going to a non easy place to go only for the sake of art, only to promote these new artists unable to expose their undiscovered art.

inés
ARCHITECTURE FOR DOGS by Kenya Hara
During my Christmas flight back from Chicago, IL to my home town, Barcelona, I alternated my reading list from Steve Job’s biography to the ARTForum magazine and to Wallpaper* Magazine. Certainly a twelve hour journey fives you plenty time to switch from one to another comfortably.
But, while reading the London-based publication, Wallpaper’s December issue, I could not help feeling both shocked and hilarious to read a recent project that Kenya Hara, japanese graphic designer and curator, has developed, Architecture for Dogs.
Even if it sounds unbearable, the project’s organizers have been ale to convince thirteen worldwide known architects to design and develop doghouses for thirteen specific breads. Some breads were randomly paired to the architects, but, other, on the contrary, were specifically requested by the future doghouse designer, such is the case of Toyo Ito and Kasuyo Sejima.
Despite the interest these architects shown, the collaborators of Kenya Hara were conscious of the little time that their studios have to spare, and therefore, provided them with the specific requests each bread has such as physical characteristics, temperament and health concerns. Sound crazy. But, not everything was for the dogs; these designs had to be “easy for everyone to assemble with ordinary household tools and materials”, as the blueprints of the resulting projects are online for everyone to access the information for free.
As always, wether the initial intention is an easy-building design or not, some, such as Kuma’s structural kennel design for a pug does no seem easy at all to me, interesting and aesthetically attractive yes; household makable, no.
Is this last part the one I find the most interesting, the free online database for normal people (or dog lovers) to access the construction voucher. Of course it is funny picturing Shigeru Ban or Hiroshi Naito concerning wether a dog will like the design or not, but that is not life changing. It is the trouble Hara has got himself into when it comes to the display in the webpage of the outcome of his peculiar idea or the design of the webpage itself. Revolutionary. Do you imagine yourself ever having the possibility of building a Kasuyo Sejima’s house from blueprints online? No, right? Well, if your best companion happens to be a Bichon Frise, you could. And you will be able, as my favourite spanish cook, David de Jorge, always repeats, to add your own touch and making it yours. 
The experience tough, does not end here. Once you have finished building your own atelier Bow-Wow’s kennel and your dogs enjoys it, you can, if wanted, upload pictures adn be part of what aims to be a “catalyst for architectural invention”.
I myself would enjoy watching my dog looking at me with their face twisted like asking: what on earth are you doing? But it turns out that none of these thirteen architects have thought about Rottweillers or Great Danes. So my dogs will have to keep on lying on the floor for a while longer.

MVRDV + Beagle , Kazuyo Sejima + Bichon Frise, Sou Fujimoto + Boston Terrier, Atelier Bow-Wow + Daschund Smooth, Torafu Architectects + Jack Russel Terrier, Shigeru Ban + Papillon, Kengo Kuma + Pug, Hiroshi Naito + Spitz, Konstantin Grcic + Toy Poodle, Hara Design Institute + Japanese Terrier, Kenya Hara + Tea Cup Poodle
architecturefordogs.com #AforD
inés