Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

January 22, 2011

Housing Tower at Kripalu Center | Stockbridge, Mass. | Peter Rose + Partners

Located in the Berkshires, the new dormitory building at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is a study in wood, glass, and concrete. Cypress cladding runs the length of the façade, and matching strips are worked into manually operated window shades for each guest room.

Split by a central service core, the six-story building has two canted wings. On the east façade these volumes are carefully placed to minimize views of the existing brick buildings slightly to the north.

Staircases at either end of the building are enclosed by glass with concrete walls that contribute to the structure and thermal mass of the building.

Façade detailImage


Each guest room is a compact 9 feet 9 inches by 19 feet; those dimensions include space for an en-suite bathroom. Floors and ceilings are concrete (covered by resilient flooring and exposed, respectively) with embedded radiant heating and cooling. The movable cypress louver is still visible just outside the window.

Guest room

Ensuite bathroom

Visitors spend most of their time in the yoga studio and meeting room on the ground floor, which has a sprung wood floor.

The spartan character carries through to public spaces such as the main lobby.

Cypress cladding and movable louvers.




Designing an 80-room dormitory on a very low budget was not in itself a daunting prospect for Cambridge, Mass., architect Peter Rose, AIA. But the mission of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, a retreat devoted to holistic healing and meditation in the atmospheric Berkshires, elevated expectations. Rose’s challenge was to express the program’s intangible goals—integrity, authenticity, serenity, self-realization—in the building. In short, he had to grapple with matter to express spirit.

The sylvan context of the dorm, a tree-lined, meadowed site with a view of a sprawling lake, certainly helped. But the existing midcentury Jesuit seminary did not. Rose had to respond to the beauty of the Berkshires while negotiating what looked like an oversize roadside motel.

The dorm is only part of Rose’s larger commission to design a master plan—aimed at segmenting the main structure to achieve what Rose calls “demassification”—and he selected a site at the end of the former seminary, positioning the new building to avoid views of the old while capturing those of the lake out front and the forest in back. To fit the program on a footprint squeezed between the existing building and a perimeter road, Rose designed a six-story block divided by a vertical wedge-shaped service core, resulting in two unequal, angled wings. A double-loaded corridor, widened at one end, runs the length of the structure; the resulting geometries were determined based on careful curation of views.

Striating the façade with strips of cypress, Rose materially aligns the dorm to the wooded site rather than to the brick seminary; the building reads from a distance as wood against the woods. Manually operated sliding window screens allow guests to modify their views and sun exposure, and the randomness animates the façade.

Inside, the cellular rooms are monastic. The strict $450 per square foot budget kept rooms at 9 feet 9 inches by 19 feet. Rose wasn’t aiming at stylistic minimalism, but was simply calculating livable minima. “It was as lean as you can make it,” he says. As a result, structure doubled as surface: the floors and piers embedded in the demising walls are exposed concrete. But this exercise in economy ended up contributing to the experience of the space. The density of the concrete in the compact rooms creates a silent sense of contemplative isolation.

The four dormitory floors rest on a podium of public space, including the entry and a glass-enclosed walkway linking to the old seminary. Groups practice yoga in a large meeting room lined with sliding windows that ensure guests see only the sky, mountain ridges and trees from their mats on the floor; the windows also allow for cross-ventilation. The simplicity of the space is not stylistic but elemental. The sprung floors are wood; the walls and ceiling are exposed concrete, with plywood panels dropped from the ceiling to mask pipes. Color is natural and integral. Rose has always been a master of material collage, and the material honesty throughout the dormitory gives the space a sense of embodied authenticity. No simulacra, only the real thing, plus tight editing to eliminate the unnecessary.

Functionally, Rose used the concrete’s thermal mass for temperature control. Embedded plenums and micro-chases for radiant heating and cooling create a spatially efficient HVAC system, which allowed for the building’s tight 90-inch floor-to-floor heights. “We activated structure as a piece of the mechanism, and concrete is a perfect medium for sustainability,” he says. The integrated climate-control strategy resulted in a projected 40 percent less energy consumption than that of a typical forced-air system.

Without wearing karma on his sleeve, Rose achieved a strong but nuanced architectural presence appropriate for yoga instruction. He knew when to stop adding and when to quit subtracting, and achieved a design conducive to ambient serenity: The architecture supports, and even assists, but does not intrude. “The architecture, like yoga itself, is full of subtlety and layers of complexity that gently improve the structure’s performance,” he says. “Light, air, using minimal means to create a calm, healing environment—it’s all about fulfilling these almost intangible requirements.”

Project Credits

Project Housing Tower at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Stockbridge, Mass.
Client/Owner Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
Architect Peter Rose + Partners—Peter Rose, AIA (design principal); Peter Guggenheimer, AIA (managing principal); Erkin Ozay, William Bryant (project managers); Matthew Snyder, Amy Beckman, AIA, Jon Chase, Duong Bui, Van Wilkes Fowlkes, Louis Kraft (architects)
Mechanical Engineer Icor Associates
Structural Engineer Richmond So Engineers
Electrical Engineer Icor Associates
Civil Engineer SK Design Group
Construction Manager Barr & Barr Inc., Builders
Landscape Architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Lighting Designer Lam Partners
Climate Engineer Transsolar Klimaengineering
Size 34,000 square feet
Cost $15.3 million

Materials and Sources

Carpet Milliken Floor Covering
Ceilings Custom-fabricated metal ceiling panels
Concrete Exposed cast-in-place concrete
Flooring Wooden Kiwi Productions (yoga room); Forbo Group; Marmoleum (resilient sheet flooring, guest rooms)
Furniture Architect-designed and locally fabricated
Glass PPG Industries (exterior glazing, Solarban 60); Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (bathroom door glazing)
Lighting Litelab Corp. (track lighting); Edge Lighting (bedroom light sconce); RSA Lighting by Cooper Lighting (corridor recessed lighting, bathroom lighting)
Metal Shepard Steel (custom-fabricated metal window guards, exterior sliding cedar sunshade frames, and perforated-steel ceiling screen); Powerstrut (sliding track system)
Millwork Tibbetts Woodworking
Plumbing and Water System American Standard (guest room shower fixtures, sinks); Kohler
Roofing Sika Sarnafil (roofing membrane)
Structural System Cast-in-place concrete frame (primary structure) left exposed in guest room, lobby, and parts of the exterior
Windows, Curtainwalls, and Doors Wausau Window and Wall Systems (guest room sliding windows, curtainwall); Kawneer (entry doors, installed and fabricated by Chandler Architectural Products); Building Specialties (steel guest room doors installation and fabrication); Omnia Industries (bathroom door hardware)

By:Joseph Giovannini

January 22, 2011

Housing For Residétapes | Barré Lambot Architectes

Housing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe Ruaultplan 01 plan 01plan 02 plan 02plan 03 plan 03

Architects: Barré Lambot Architectes + J. Béranger and S. Vincent
Location: Rue André Tardieu, 44200 
Collaborators: Florence MARTY, AREST, ISOCRATE
Project area: 4,400 sqm
Project year: 2007 – 2009
Photographs: Philippe Ruault

This housing complex takes place on the western limit of a block, facing the future business district. The location on the Loire basin contributes at the desire to provide housing multiple unobstructed views of the city. 137 housing units “studio type” of an area of 21 sqm each are organized on 11 levels and are served by two lifts and inner circulations with daylight. A meeting room is located in west front on the 11th floor. Residents get the benefit of a vast garden at first floor, designed by Florence Marty, landscape architect.

This mix of programs (office / residential) and the common structural principles formally identified the housing part:

– by a separate volume

– by a different the skin : the facades is made of champagne color aluminum panels,

– by the pattern of the façade including double height living rooms glazing

– by the ground treatment of the building facing the basin, as a glazed base containing a brasserie.

Each room’s benefit of two windows (floor to ceiling) assuring a good quality of use.


January 22, 2011

Red Boats. Argenteuil by Claude Monet

January 22, 2011

The Etang des Soeurs, Osny by Paul Cézanne

January 22, 2011

Building civilisation

Richard Rogers is celebrated for his many stunning buildings and his pioneering views on sustainable cities – not bad for a man who, as a child, was told he was lazy and stupid. At 72, and with two major new projects just opening, what has been his motto? Never take ‘no’ for an answer. By Geraldine Bedell

As a boy, Richard Rogers was dismissed as stupid and sent to a school for backward children. When he eventually escaped from formal education (having stayed much too long in an attempt to pass at least one exam), it was to become one of Britain’s best-loved and most-admired architects. Knighted in 1991, made a life peer in 1996, he has overcome his dyslexia to become the conscience of our public spaces, persuading the nation that the design of our cities is a symptom and predicator of our social health. He has done as much as anyone to promote the idea that by building well, we civilise ourselves, become culturally and emotionally enriched.

Last week saw the opening of the largest project ever undertaken by the Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP): a new terminal at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, more than one million square metres of buildings with a budget of €1bn. This teeming hub, punctuated by light-filled courtyards and topped with a soothing, seagull-wing bamboo roof, is a typical Rogers project: integrated into the urban fabric, preoccupied not just by the needs of the client, but by the city as a whole.

It has been a big week for the RRP, because the new Welsh Assembly building also opened for business (though it won’t be formally inaugurated by Prince Charles until St David’s Day, on 1 March). Originally commissioned in 1988, the Assembly building may have been a long time coming, but it has been worth waiting for. The steel, glass slate and timber structure overlooking the sea, with its transparency and public spaces, looks set to become one of Britain’s finest modern monuments.

You’d never guess from Lord Rogers’s schedule or, indeed, anything much else about him that he is in his seventies. He even speaks fast, the Italian-inflected words tumbling over one another in their urgency to get out of his head, presumably before he has to leave them behind and get on another plane. Each time I’ve seen him in the past few months, he’s been about to leave for somewhere else, mostly New York, where the RRP is building a convention centre ‘as wide as Central Park’ on the banks of the Hudson.

‘When we were in competition for the convention centre, they said, “If we give you this, you do realise we’ll expect you to be here 45 days without leave?” I said, “I’m much too important.”‘ He laughs, because this is a joke, although at another level, it obviously isn’t at all. ‘But Ruthie nudged me and whispered, “Come on, it’s New York!” So I agreed.’

So now he’s stuck with it, although he’s been staying with the fourth of his five sons, who lives in a downtown loft. And he does manage to sneak back to London from time to time. He’d spent the day before we talked advising Ken Livingstone, with whom he works closely. The day after, he was taking 130 people from the office to the Welsh Assembly for a celebratory ‘picnic’.

Working in New York has been an odd experience, Rogers says, because for pretty much the first time since the Pompidou Centre, he has been required to concentrate on just one thing. Most of the time, being chairman of the RRP involves being surrounded by a swirl of activity. There are big projects, like Madrid Airport, or Terminal Five at Heathrow, or the competition to redesign Darling Harbour, Sydney (they’re down to the last five); and there are small ones, like a £60,000 house (to prove that inexpensive housing can be other than Disneyfied), or a Maggie’s Centre, up the road from the office.

This last is particularly dear to Rogers’s heart. He knew Maggie Keswick Jencks, in whose name the centres are being built, before her early death from breast cancer. He was an admirer of her classic book on Chinese gardens and knows her husband, architecture critic Charles Jencks. ‘In fact,’ he says, looking around the River Cafe, ‘she had a wonderful dinner here when she was in remission.’

Maggie’s Centres offer all kinds of non-medical support for cancer patients; this one, in the grounds of Charing Cross Hospital, will be the first outside Scotland, where Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid have designed others. And it faces a particular problem of having to create a homely and unharassed space abutting the noisy, ugly Fulham Palace Road.

This is more of a problem for the RRP than it might be for many firms of architects, because if anything links Rogers’s multifarious, differently scaled projects, it is concern for the spaces between and around buildings.

Much of the design drive in the company nowadays, observers will tell you, comes from two younger partners, Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour. But Rogers himself continues to supply two crucial qualities: a flair for bringing talented people together and the presiding ethic of public space. Rogers tells me his 90-year-old mother-in-law likes to sit on the front steps of their house (actually two houses knocked together, where she has a flat in the basement) and watch the world go by. ‘We should all be able to sit on the stoop,’ he says. He is essentially a social being, a believer in the creative possibilities of spending time with other people. His wife, Ruthie, claims: ‘I have never heard Richard say, “I need more time alone”‘, and he tells me, laughing, that ‘our living room’s a piazza’.

He claims to be able to focus even when surrounded by people. ‘I concentrate well. I love working in cafes. When I was a child in Trieste, there was a little Austrian cafe opposite our apartment. An accountant used to arrive every day at 9am and they’d bring him a coffee and a telephone and there he would work all day. When I was about six, I thought that was the ideal life.’

Richard Rogers was born in Italy in 1933 to Anglo-Italian parents. His father was a doctor, his mother a potter and, as upper-middle-class continentals, they had Bauhaus furniture. His cousin was the leading Italian architect of the post-war period. He grew up, he says, ‘without the post-war English fear of the new’.

The family moved to England in 1939, an uncomfortable time to be Italian at prep school, even if you weren’t dyslexic. And Rogers was, profoundly. ‘The one advantage of being dyslexic,’ he says now, ‘is that you are never tempted to look back and idealise your childhood.’ He remembers having to learn English – ‘it was moderately painful and everyone would laugh’ – but this was nothing to the sense of being dismissed as stupid. ‘Dyslexia wasn’t recognised and so the assumption was that you were incapable of thinking. I lost confidence. It was very disabling for about 20 years of my life.’

Now that he is surrounded by people who can sort out his spelling and syntax, he says the only visible, troublesome remnant of his dyslexia is ‘occasional word blindness, especially if I’m talking to two or three people. Sometimes, if Ruthie’s there, she just fills in the word. But the curious thing is it doesn’t happen when I’m lecturing, or otherwise under pressure.’

He resists attributing too much to his Italian heritage, but sitting in his wife’s River Cafe restaurant, it is hard to ignore it. He loves food. His mother’s cooking influenced both Ruthie and Rose Gray, her partner in the River Cafe. He is beautifully dressed in a soft, lemon-coloured cashmere sweater, a shade with which few Englishmen would be entirely comfortable. And though he recalls being embarrassed by his mother’s bright clothes as a prep-school boy, he says now: ‘I don’t understand why everyone has to wear black, grey and white.’

He is Piazza Person, happy on the square and in the street, conversing, engaging with other people. And family is of profound importance to him, as is passion. The two collided when he met Ruthie. He was in his mid-thirties, she was a 19-year-old American liberal arts student on a gap year. He was married, to Su Brumwell, who also happened to be his business partner (they had started Team 4 with Norman Foster and his wife, Wendy) and they had three young children.

He seems somehow to have effected a compromise in which both passion and family retained their primacy. He mentions Su with gratitude a couple of times during the course of our conversation. He and Ruthie, meanwhile, remain close to all his five children and nine grandchildren. When I suggest that the primacy of family might be an Italian thing, too, he says: ‘I don’t know where that comes from. Ruthie is very similar to me in that and she is Jewish. There is a Jewish tradition of family, too, but then not all Italian or Jewish families are close. My mother was very family-oriented. And I do love being with my children.’

The office too, also, is not unlike a family. ‘We have Friday-night drinks and we do a lot of things like going to Wales tomorrow for our celebration. Practically no one ever leaves.’ Robert Booth, editor of Building Design, says: ‘Rogers’s technique is to create a magic inner circle that is a very attractive place to be, though if you’re not in it, it feels quite painful. If you were to draw a family tree of his connections – and some of it is literally a family tree – you’d have a very powerful network that extends across business and politics.’

Seeing little division between work, leisure and family, and constantly trying to erode those that exist, he will presumably go on working forever? ‘No. We have a constitution that stipulates that after the age of 70, the chairman has to renew his contract each year. So, at some point [his shiny eyes get twinklier], they will probably decide they’ve had enough of me. Part of my job is to prepare for that changeover. But I’d like to think I’ll continue to be able to do some work, even if I’m not chairman.’ There’s a question mark in the profession over whether the practice will continue to be successful without him, Booth claims – ‘not for lack of talent, which is undisputed, but because so much of the practice is based on power and networking across the globe.’

As well as having had the opportunity to build all over the world, one of the first generation of architects for whom this has been possible, and some achievement for someone who couldn’t get A-levels, he has become an important political voice, insisting in the face of greedy, unimaginative builders and incompetent planning that good design leads to social inclusion.

Last autumn, he published an updated Urban Task Force report, an essay by the government-appointed team he led six years ago. The brief then was to report on the state of the nation’s urban centres. The updated bulletin welcomes a new political focus on cities but warns against too much piecemeal, kitsch development, as well as low standards (‘we have the worst standards of contemporary housing in the whole of western Europe’), too many overlapping regeneration bodies, plus the lack of real city and regional power, and the continued trend towards monocultural enclaves. It was powerful stuff, with stinging political implications.

Some critics argue that he’s been beating the same drum for too long. But in the face of increasing suburban creep, of the Americanisation of cities, his belief in the city as big piazza bears reiterating. Of course, not everyone has always admired either his architecture or his views. Prince Charles was pretty hostile for a time. ‘He was an unfortunate influence. We definitely lost quite a lot of work as a direct result. But you become phlegmatic about these things. When we were doing the Pompidou Centre, we didn’t have a single piece of positive press in the entire six years, other than one very memorable piece in the New York Times. We were torn to pieces until the day the doors opened. Then overnight, the media changed. There’s a danger in taking too much to heart what people say about you – the good as well as the bad. Your assessment of what you do has to come from closer to home.

‘Nobody likes to be directly attacked. Ruthie tells me not to read bad press, but it’s hard not to. Dyslexia, though, made me realise that people who say “but you can’t do that” aren’t actually very important. I don’t take “no” too seriously.’

January 20, 2011


Milan, Italy

Render © Zaha Hadid Architects
Park, three office towers and retail buildings, 4 different sites for residential development, educational & social facilities and a museum.

CityLife Consortium – Milan

190 meter office tower of 43 storeys, totalling 65000 m² connected to a 3-storey retail galleria of 25000 m². Housing complex of 6 buildings ranging from 3 to14 stores totaling nearly 45000 m² and 300 units.

The high-rise as a building typology has traditionally been treated as a static, fixed strategy; the tower is reduced to a technocratic, engineering ‘solution’ governed by specific economic factors. Architects, in this role, have been left with the spire, exterior shell or, perhaps more significantly, the lobby interior. For the Fiera Milano, Zaha Hadid Architects have investigated the urban location of the tower as a portal, or gate into the Fiera along Viale Scarampo and Via Bartolomeo. Derivations of the passagio from the site into this gate gives shape to a certain torsion or vortex, and it is this movement, this dynamism that we are investigating.

Moving from the ground datum of the Piazza Porta Fiera, the retail base of the tower slowly rises and twists, in provision of a pedestrian ramp, to a bifurcation along its length servicing a galleria/promenade. This line of torsion continues to the tower that releases its horizontal energy into a vertical, spiraling vector from the base to its crown that finally aligns with the snaking forms of the housing across the river. Congruent with this movement, the structure of the tower is conceived as a stack of equivalent, economically efficient floor slabs that incrementally twist about a vertical axis. This incremental twisting is algorithmically controlled so that each floor does not have the same angle, but has a fractional, relational angle to the floors above and below, further developing the dynamism of the tower. All lateral forces are absorbed into a conventional central core, while a radial display of columns support vertical load. The external skin of the tower is a system of sun-deflecting louvers flanked by a double layer of glazing, Furthermore, the surface of the glazing has a series of ventilating registers that draw outside air through the cavity of the exterior system, thus providing a highly energy-efficient environment for the offices behind. Finally, the views and panoramas provided along the height of this office tower will also move dynamically, sweeping from the Piazza Firenze to the Piazza Giovanni Amendola, while the exterior silhouette clearly demarcates an entry gate into a new, vital Fiera Milano.

The residential area has been designed with meandering lines across the park, one of buildings that transform the park into a series of intimate semi-public gardens for the use of the residents.


Render © Zaha Hadid Architects

Render © Zaha Hadid Architects

Render © Zaha Hadid Architects

Render © Zaha Hadid Architects

Render © Zaha Hadid Architects


Model Photography © Zaha Hadid Architects

Model Photography © Zaha Hadid Architects



Video © Courtesy of CityLife Consortium

DESIGN: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
TOWER DESIGN TEAM: Andrea Balducci Castè, Mario Mattia, Giuseppe Morando, Annarita Papeschi, Matteo Pierotti, Peter McCarthy, Line Rahbek, Arianna Russo, Carlos, Sebastian Martinez
RESIDENTIAL DESIGN TEAM: Vincenzo Barilari, Cristina Capanna,
Giacomo Sanna, Arianna Francioni, Fabio Ceci, Giuseppe Vultaggio, Serena Pietrantonj, Mario Mattia, Massimiliano Piccinini, Samuele Sordi,
Alessandra Belia
COMPETITION TEAM: Simon Kim, Yael Brosilovski, Adriano De Gioannis, Graham Modlen, Karim Muallem, Daniel Li, Yang Jingwen, Tiago Correia, Ana Cajiao, Daniel Baerlecken, Judith Reitz

STRUCTURAL: Adams Kara Taylor, Redesco, Cap Engineering
MSC/M&E: Max Fordham Partnership, Manens, MilanoProgetti
LIFT: Roger Preston
FIRE: Silvestre Mistretta
TRANSPORT: Systematica, Sudio Corda, Alpina

January 20, 2011


Jun 8th, 2007


Patrik Schumacher is a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects. A respected writer, teacher and theorist, Schumacher is also the key architect at the office beside Hadid herself. He sets the design direction for many of the projects and is often credited alongside Hadid as the co-architect.

Schumacher gave us an exclusive interview last week in which he talked about how new architectural ideas are generated, how the office has developed over the two decades he has worked there, and where he thinks Zaha Hadid Architects fit into the canon of architectural history.

How long have you been working with Zaha?

Eighteen years. Or nineteen, I don’t know.

Woody Yao said that when he joined thirteen years ago, there were only five people or so in the studio.

When I joined it was also five – it only increased from five to six in the first five years! Since 2000, it’s grown a lot.

So when, and how, did the office go from being a tiny studio to a major architectural practice?

It could have happened earlier – there was some bad luck with some large projects. Cardiff [Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales: Hadid won the design competition in 1994 but the project was subsequently cancelled] and Düsseldorf [Düsseldorf Art and Media Centre, 1992/93] before that. And then the nineties were very slow. We had these two moments of bad luck.

We went through a series of smaller projects and a series of competitions, where we pushed very far. So we had a series of losing competition entries that were quite extreme, but now five years later we are starting to win competitions with similar designs. One of the breakthrough moments was winning the Rome [the MAXXI Museum of Twenty-First Century Art] competition in 98 and winning Cincinnati [Contemporary Arts Center, below – photo Hélène Binet] around the same time, or in 99; and Wolfsburg [the Phaeno centre]. These three came within a space of 12 months.


But still these were just competitions, which were very stop and go. Then somehow the Mind Zone [at the Millennium Dome, which opened in 2000] – which was a very small project – was a kind of significant commission in terms of income. At the time we were maybe 30 or 40 people and then there was a steady increase.

How has the office developed both in the way you approach projects, and in architectural terms?

I think it’s been an evolution. There’s were lot of continuities deep into the eighties; the application of curvilinearity; dymanic form; the learning from natural systems and natural morphologies. It just has got upgraded and radicalised through the introduction of digital tools. It became more intricate, more complex, more continuous and also on an ever-larger scale.

And now we are looking at absolutely massive, intricate, three-dimensional field projects like the two Dubai projects: we won the two major competitions that were launched last year. One of them is in full swing with perhaps 30 people working on it – the Dancing Towers (below) plus all the retail on the ground – and the Dubai Opera House [which Hadid won last year; images have not yet been released] is on hold.


The Dancing Towers is 600,000 square metres: the extension onto the ground, the DFM next to it, the cultural centre; these kinds of projects are the apotheosis of what we have been developing. Or the Opera House: multiple parts, the whole island. And we’re doing the performing arts centre in Abu Dhabi (below).


What are your thoughts on what is happening in Abu Dhabi and Dubai?

They don’t have much yet. They are building city-scale populations and they need to be entertained. It’s really just last year that they woke up to the European avant garde; before that they were importing corporate America. And a retro-grade corporate America, so the projects that are now finishing are 15 years behind architectural developments. It’s tragic, but suddenly they’ve jumped into the contemporary.

Zaha is from the Middle East; but in a globalised world is the place you’re from of any relevance?

Not real relevance. More relevance of marketing and promotion. It is on perhaps on the communication level – Zaha speaks the language and is able to get on well. But not in terms of the work or deeper cultural currents. The opera house for instance is a contemporary opera house; that’s what they want. The same with the opera house we’re doing in China [at Guangzhou, below], which is on site and going quite well, but it’s an international opera house, with standards that are global.


What is your role in the office?

I’m initiating the projects; developing the ideas, meeting the clients, trying to generate viable intuitions. Which is not just about form – it’s about gauging how complex, ambitious, important and so on and what kind of idea could fly.

Talk me through a real project you’ve been involved in. How do you start?

For instance BMW [BMW Central Building, Leipzig]: actually, like most of our projects, it starts with a competition. An RFQ [request for qualification] competition where you enter a shortlist, so we need to put together our track record, team and so on. It’s the boring part but we are virtually getting on every shortlist, so it’s a great starting point. We have to then compete and in this case it was a very tough line-up and a very tough programme with two phases. What we did was we set up a whole room and a whole group – nearly half the group I was teaching at the AA [Architectural Association School], the DRL [Design Research Lab], we brought this whole team in… [below: BMW Central Building; photo Werner Huthmacher]


So you hired the whole class then?

The whole class, more or less! And we went quite far in making it tangible in the competition stage; it was three-dimensionally modelled scheme which bears significant similarities to the final built form. And it was compelling so we went through to the next stage. Then we went out to the site, which was amazing, because it’s a huge plain that was flattened out. [below: BMW Central Building; photo Werner Huthmacher]


So you designed it before you went to the site?

Yes, quite often you don’t have the time or resource. We’re quite used to doing that. I don’t remember, maybe we sent one of the project architects out. Obviously once we get the project and meet with the client… it was a really viable scheme, it went through unadultered. Very robust principles and intuitions. So we then build a team, usually with people from that country leading. I was every week during the early period flying to [BMW headquarters in] Munich to develop the project. But as soon as the handover I then concentrate on new incoming projects. [below: BMW Central Building; photo Werner Huthmacher]


So this was a few years ago and now we don’t get to that stage… with hands on. It’s more initiate the concept, send the team, initial meetings and then just monitoring and steering at moments of crisis.

What are the main drivers of the design for a project like BMW? Response to programme or site; formal ideas you might already have; a quest for new forms?

It depends. In this case it was a very serious production facility [below, photo by Werner Huthmacher]; a central building that really has to tick with the overall production machinery, although it was engineering, administration, communications and circulation. So it’s always a kind of fusion of understanding programme and interpreting it with a very strong, robust formalism that carries the programme.


There is of course a lot of internal repertoire; we have project families. Arrays of lines, bundles of lines, or projects that are more volume-based; carving volumes; there’s a very large internal repertoire. So when we approach a new site and a new programme we have in the back of our minds this catalogue of options.

But then there’s also new formal research going on: Zaha sketching away without a project in mind, just to find new stimulating patterns. It’s a search for strangeness really, a lot of the time; continuously to build the repertoire or the formal universe. So that is also on the table as a series of options to select from. Then it’s really finding – if the repertoire is very large, then you look at the programme with the alertness of which diagram or spatial system could carry that. And you find the match.

Then we home in relatively quickly. Sometimes we explore two or three with parallel teams; but it comes to a point of clarity relatively fast, sometimes within a week or two. Then the rest of if is bringing it to perfection; honing; there’s an enormous amount of energy invested in the beauty and elegance, and absorbing the programme without compromising that.

So you’re simultaneously searching for strangeness and beauty. Do you push the strangeness first and then bring it back to beauty after?

It could sometimes be something odd and strange and ugly; it’s curious. Of course the aesthetic values one operates with are also shifting to a certain extent. That’s part of what the avant garde does: it allows us to re-evaluate our values; to re-adapt them to conditions – social conditions, programmatic conditions, urban conditions. So there is this fluidity but there are also a strong underlying, nearly universal principles, which I would term a sense of order and coherence, which are what I call “articulated complexityâ€?. You’re not used to seeing buildings like this, but the building you are creating is nearly nature-like: people accept these compositions, these spaces as elegant and beautiful, even though they haven’t seen architecture like this before.

Where do the formal ideas come from? Is there a source, or are they purely abstract, from the mind? Does Zaha sit and sketch leaves, for example?

No she doesn’t. They’re from the mind; and also we teach in various places and there is systematic research set up where we look at source domains for analogical transference like landscape formations, mountain ranges, dune-scapes, river beds; all on multiple scales. And then to draw out, try to model these on the computer, graphicsall abstract them. That is important and interesting. You find new sensations, new textures, patterns and so on. When you have a group of 15, 20 students you get a lot of material.

We did one [research project] with biological systems, organisms, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. So we have these kinds of inputs; then it stays in the repertoire. There’s also mathematics – new mathematics – topological patterns and also what is having a impact is new modelling tools and more recently parametric modelling, parametric fields and scripted fields, you get a new sensibility with respect to orders of iteration. It fits quite well but it still feels quite continuous with the earliest works. Looking through these new tools theres’s a kind of intricacy of overall arrangement with a very high degree of coherence. There’s a lot of internal laws of correlation; everything relates to everything else. It’s a continuous change but it all fits together. It’s not like a garbage heap. It’s not random or arbitrary.

And these new tools bring this to a new level on a new scale, and they give a certain… the trajectories push in a certain direction. That’s why we were able to enter the domain of urbanism under the heading of “parametric urbanism�. We’re creating whole fields of buildings and territories. We created an urban geometry of street patterns and a kind of morphology, urban morphology that is highly differentiated.

And we are quite strategic, going from primitive block types to slab types to towers to smaller particles, the whole range, its continuously connected and related and we can absorb context into it, like the Singapore project [the Science Hub masterplan, 2001], which is an open field with many different city patterns stopping, and we let all of them come into the territory and build up a seamless texture with these tools.

But if you go back to the earlier paintings, techniques of perspective distortions, fissure perspectives, which give this kind of overall force field, and hold-and-grab, organising urban fragments into something continuous like a flock of birds or a school of fish that was already there but obviously less flexible. There was a painting that was worked on for three to six months by five to ten people, which created one version; and now with the computer we can make a set up and within a week create 25 versions.

But the fundamental idea was in this early work. Now we can speak about it, articulate it and describe it in a theoretical language that at the time wasn’t there.

Do you see yourself as working within any particular genre? People always talk about Zaha’s references, particularly the Constructivists and early Modernists; but are you Modernists? Are you Deconstructivists? Is there a label that describes what you do?

Well I don’t know. I wouldn’t say [any of] that. To a certain extent it is an extension, an expansion, of certain aspects of Modernism. It just depends whether you want to emphasise continuities or to emphasise contrasts. There’s a lot of contrasts between classical Modernism and what we’re doing now. Classical Modernism was quite happy to give as much repetition to the system – pure repetition, isotropic repetition. There’s a contrast with that [in our work].

But where I would say there’s a continuity is “radical openness�, which came through the infusion, the infiltration of abstract art: blank canvas, the pure invention of structure. That architecture is about space. Those very abstractions are an unbelievable liberation: it’s not about palaces and churches and hospitals; building types that are complete entities with programme, propriety, look, tectonics all the way to proportion. This was thrown out by early modernists; people like Malevich, the Constructivists, Lissitzky and so on; De Stijl. They opened up this kind of freedom of creation. They went quite far at the time, introducing curves, abstract Noam Gabo structures, the space lying in the hanging mobiles.

In [our] case it’s an extension of this dimension of Modernism; not the one that is interested in rationalising, standarising, pre-fabricating and so on. But I think there is still something new to the current work which is this kind of super-fluidity and intricacy. And this already went quite far; even if you compare a space of two or three years ago, you will see the line of progression. We truly follow our intuitions and visions to the extreme with the Abu Dhabi [Performing Arts Centre – below] project, because Tom Krens [director of Guggenheim Museums Worldwide and the advisor to the client] was pushing us to do something new, something radical. We feel we don’t have to tone down, we can go full on.


These projects outshine… it’s a bit like seeing a seris of car models from the seventies onwards. You can see that the latest generation follows similar tendencies and pushes them further: the way the headlights are; all the subtleties of convex, concave… it’s not the composition of Platonic elements next to each other; there’s always inflexion.

You can drive that quite far. The tools are ever more developed; our models are ever more virtuoso. So I think there is… in a sense it’s been an amazing trajectory where you see last year’s projects are definitely last year’s projects. In a way I would say that for the whole of Zaha’s work over 20 years there’s quite a continuity. In the early 90s, mid 90s there’s a slight break and re-gearing, where a lot of the sharp angles and intersections are given up for smoother transitions and things that are more intricate.

But since then, since the mid 90s, we know what we want, and it’s just taking that through all the details: the surfaces, the way things are tessellated, the structure, functions, materials. There are these research cycles, cycles of innovation. It’s really a new tradition.

You mentioned before about being part of the avant garde. Do you feel the need to always stay ahead? Do you monitor what other architects are doing, and adjust what you do when ideas you have pioneered enter the mainstream?

There’s a little bit of that. Of course we’re watching closely and there’s a lot of things going on, and sometimes it’s humbling because we’re not the only ones. There are powerful firms doing strong things. You can feel there’s a lot of influence from this office onto others; sometimes we are smiling because we see visualisations of things that are even more outrageous than what we are doing, but we also know that it cannot be done; if they attempt it it will be very crude and tacky. So we don’t have to worry too much.

But some things do get a little bit sated. For instance twisted towers. In particular because we haven’t found a really good reason why… the twist does certain works perhaps: mediating the interface of the shaft with the ground like we’re doing in Milan [a twisting office tower on the site of the old Fiera showground]. There was an argument for this. I think it makes sense; we have this whole discourse of interfacing towers with the ground plane, rather than severing them with a podium. And this links back to navigation to the tower, so we have a thesis and topic. And then if a certain means in this… is abused elsewhere, you don’t want to take it on. You shelve it from you own repertoire. Which is a shame, but it’s been overused.

So you have to watch out. What you do in the context of stylistic currents you have to be aware of this. But I’m always the one who wants to analyse why – why I don’t like that any more.

I would say there is still a big difference between what is going on in architecture and fashion. We have a kind of solid 15 years of a single research programme, which I tend to not call it parametricism in retrospect. The whole history of the DRL, the Design Research Lab that I’ve been teaching since 96; I recently reflected back how continuous and coherent this is. The latest projects are just a kind of fulfilment of the promise of the earlier work.

You can look back at the Modernist period of the 1920s – that’s also a decade, which established Modernism, from the first intuitions to a full blown… but our paradigm I think will go on. I mean, you never know, I feel now this could go on for the rest of our careers, staying within the research programme of parametric design.

You just compared what you are doing to the work of the early Modernists; what is Zaha Hadid Architects giving to architecture? If people look back in future, what would you hope architectural historians would say you have achieved?

It’s a good question. I sometimes look back at 5,000 years of architecture and try to see what… from found spaces like caves, to the first moments of architecture – the introduction of geometry, in Egypt, in Greece. And it crystallises. Then you go on to Rome. In Greece and Egypt they established a single geometric significant piece: a collonade, a certain crystal. And in Rome you have a typology that develops into multiple organs of a complex system, and they introduced one more technique, which is vaulting. And then there is not much else until the renaissance, until Baroque; curvilinearity.

Actually the baroque is interesting because it brings continuity between pieces. The renaissance was pushing platonic bodies into a proportioned ensemble, but each of them was an autonomous piece with its own symmetry. The baroque for the first time breaks the symmetry of the original piece and they become radicals, so you build up a kind of global complexity. So they become larger complexes that are drawn together and unified.

This is interesting but then there’s not much going on really until Modernism. Eclecticism and Historicism are just kind of trying to cope with the new complexities in an unconvincing, uncompelling way, an artificial way. To kind of… you suddenly have the Modernist period, which works on the notion of space. Composition comes into its own; before it was just about redesigning a given type – a palace, a villa. Even if you use it for other things, it’s a certain organism. You are not bringing things together; you are not trying out random arrangements.

So composition is something very late; and we still do that. Looking back on history shows you that the game of what it is to design changes radically. Before it was just reproducing a type; then suddenly you can compose, which is quite outside the previous thinking. And we have these kind of breaks in the 20th century. For instance It’s very important this idea that you’re not only composing elements in an arrangement to make a composition.

There are two things: one is the interpenetration of the elements; you compose a site, then you compose it again in this layered way. You build up intricacies. This is radical, this is unheard of. It’s a major thing. Zaha was involved at the beginning. This is something that you could say is a strong and new paradigm in the late 20th century.

But also this idea of going from composition, which involves a number of parts, to a field, which is made up of particles, none of which has a name or a number or an identity. It’s only the field effects and qualities that matter; the particles are just fragments of a global mass. This is a totally different attitude, a different way of handling things; it’s not about composition, because we don’t care about any of [the individual elements]. It’s just a drift; the distribution, the directionality, the intensities you have; there’s a looseness. And so that’s something we’ve been involved in pushing.

Also the lawfulness of a composition, where you just make sure that the line, the hand, has a law and a trajectory, but it doesn’t give you a shape; it doesn’t have a front and back. It’s a new ontology of what you consider to be an environment. And then you realise it’s nature-like. These are major breakthroughs. This notion of field – like our Rome museum – it not something you have an image of. It’s not something you hold onto like an object but something you immerse yourself into and you follow certain laws of proliferation. You’re drawn through it.

These are major contributions that you can then bring to urbanism. So you can now give an order to an urban area that isn’t like the kind like the gods’ top view with a clear boundary and three parts, but a field logic.

This is a fundamentally new type of thinking I think which pertains to urbanism and large buildings. It has a lot to do with the late 20th century, where cities totally grow out of that comprehensible thing, where you can grasp and know whether you’re in front, in the middle or behind. So these new sensibilities have a lot to do with new social processes and the way life operates on the planet.

I was going to ask – does what you are doing relate to what is happening in society, to developments in other disciplines?

Absolutely. Well not so much other disciplines; although there is inspiration, these are coincidences perhaps. But there’s a profundity, a historical profundity about this, I would argue. There’s something about the way we handled the contemporary art museum in Rome, the way it sits in an urban fabric, the way it complements existing structures, the way it has no signature face but only a signature character; these are to do with an urban life process that has multiple intersecting audiences, which has social territories intersecting and bleeding into each other… I think there is a profound relationship to the social era and the way it operates.

Is that deliberate, or accidental?

It becomes deliberate once you’ve understood and reflected upon it. But initially it doesn’t have to be; for instance, people like Coop Himmelb[l]au; they are working from their guts, but they are faced with sensibilities. Historic centres are being reinhabited because people are drawn to them; why are they drawn to them? Because there is more need for communicating. Because there is a new era where everything is in flux. It’s no longer everybody in their place getting on with their life career. There’s no longer the repetition of Fordism.

So they come together, they have to inhabit now… you cannot solve that, you cannot live that if somebody wants to clean everything up. Then you go outside, you go back to the suburbs. But there you run out of resources. Because the real stage of civilisation is the inner cities. It becomes a collage, a violent juxtaposition. You take that on, you see beauty where vitality is. And then you change the sensibilities. And this is an intuitive process. You recognise that you want to be in a place like this, you like the freshness and the rawness. And with Himmelb[l]au you have these violent compositions, these infestations, these viral metaphors and so on. It seems perhaps initially wilful but there is some underlying truth or profundity. That’s the way I see it. That goes for a lot of what we are doing now.

And that’s my criticism of a minimalist sensibility; although it has a role in certain smaller domains, but this will to simplify and reduce the complexity of an institution to some kind of pristine simplicity is fallacy. It shows in the sense that there is a kind of misplaced sensibility that will hinder your participation in the dynamics of contemporary life. And in particular if this goes from a small environment where it is perfectly viable, to a kind of minimalist urbanism, then it becomes a kind of nightmare. You can see that the larger the project, the more maladapted the approach.


January 20, 2011

Systems of Multiplicities | Rocker-Lange

Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities prototypesSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities Courtesy of Rocker-LangeSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities matrix render 01Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities matrix render 02Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities plan matrixSerial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities iso 01Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities iso 02Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities elevation 01Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities elevation 02Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities elevation 03Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities elevation 04Serial Architecture - Systems of Multiplicities elevation 05Rocker-Lange architects shared with us the release of their research project, Serial Architecture – Systems of Multiplicities, which was also part of the exhibit “Quotidian Architectures” in the  Pavillion at the Venice Biennale 2010. The project, accompanied by a 400+ book, rethinks quotidian architecture in , a city with an average density of over 6,300 people per square kilometer. More images and architect’s description after the break.

As one of the most compact cities in the world,  is a diverse and complex place where topographical constraints and unique historical circumstances have created extreme urban forms for the basic needs of city life.  housing is predominantly based on the typology of the tower. While this configuration allows for many different interpretations, the common approach to this design task is based on repetitive, reductive and profit driven ideas.Serial Architecture – Systems of Multiplicities investigates the potential for innovating the organization of ’s tower typology. The project interrogates the design, building and living circumstances in  investigating possible alternative design techniques that can result in a series of tower configurations that vary and possibly produce unique living conditions.With the introduction of digital media and digital manufacturing processes, the conception of modularized architecture constructed out of nearly identical industrially mass-produced components has been challenged. Today, with the use of the computer and various open software packages, architecture can instead be realized as varying prototypes of a series. Within each series a variety of design versions can be realized. Each of these design versions is unique and yet also part of the series. Rather than having a fixed form, this approach offers the ability to develop models that describe a flexible space that is based on a set of relationships of discrete elements. Hence, the designer is able to constantly redefine and alter the model, capable of producing many possible versions based on varying input data.The project is in-formed through several interrelated parameters that generate infinite tower-versions within the a priori defined framework of operation. 125 Tower Versions were generated by one and the same algorithm. Five matrixes, each consisting of 25 towers were generated displaying different tower-families. Each has 60 floors, versions of one and another, as much as of the basis floor plan that was developed in reference to ’s existing Tower Typology. While the principles of the highly space and material efficient plans were maintained, a lid semi-public zone between elevator-core and apartments was introduced. The size of the apartments varies, and so does the size of the semi-public zone, which – depending on its size – may take on different programs. The flexing of the tower footprint allows the model to adapt to changing social and programmatic as much as to changing environmental and urban requirements.

While the project suggests a model for the use of contemporary digital design techniques in architecture it is at the same time a critical commentary on the excess of the same.

Design and Concept: Christian J. Lange, Ingeborg M. Rocker
Core Team: Hiroshi Jacobs, Matthew Waxman
Team: Mo Lee, Lesley McTague, Wes Thomas, Ho Kan Wong
Additional Support: Ricardo Solar
Photos:  Architects, Anita Kan, Photo Kan, Cambridge MA, USA

January 20, 2011

Central St. Giles Court | Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects

Central St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW ph. Maurits van der StaayCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © Hufton & Crow, Courtesy L&G and MECCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © Hufton & Crow, Courtesy L&G and MECCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW ph. Maurits van der StaayCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW ph. Maurits van der StaayCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW ph. Maurits van der StaayCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW ph. Maurits van der StaayCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW ph. Maurits van der StaayCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © Michel DenanceCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © Michel DenanceCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © Michel DenanceCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBWCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBWCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBWCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBWCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBWCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBWCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW ph. Joost MoolhuijzenCentral St. Giles Court / Renzo Piano & Fletcher Priest Architects © RPBW

The proposed concept for the site was to transform a single-use office building into a genuinely mixed use development incorporating office, retail, restaurant and residential use; seeking to create a new destination integrated within the local area.

The architects chose to situate the buildings around a new courtyard in the center of the site, which is connected by a publicly accessible route and ground floor public uses to the surrounding streets and spaces.

The key elements of the scheme were to introduce activity into the area, provide a mix of uses particularly retail, restaurants and housing introducing daytime and night time surveillance, and creating a properly managed and controlled environment which is reflected in the urban design approach to the layout of retail units, spaces and pedestrian routes.

Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Fletcher Priest Architects

Design team: J.Moolhuijzen, M.van der Staay (partner and associate in charge), N.Mecattaf (associate) with L.Battaglia, S.Becchi, A.Belvedere, G.Carravieri, E.Chen, D.Colas, P.Colonna, W.Matthews, G.Mezzanotte, S.Mikou, Ph.Molter, Y.Pagès, M.Pare, L.Piazza, M.Reale, J.Rousseau, S.Singer Bayrle, R.Stampton and M.Aloisini, R.Biavati, M.Pierce, L.Voiland; O.Auber, C.Colson, Y.Kyrkos (models)
Structure: Ove Arup & Partners
Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon
Pre-Construction Advice: Bovis Lend Lease
Facades: Emmer Pfenninger & Partners
Lighting: P.Castiglioni / G.Bianchi
Fit-out for Affordable Residential: PRP
Landscaping: Charles Funke Associates
Client: Legal & General with Mitsubishi Estate Corporation Stanhope PLC
Project Year: 2002-2010
Drawings and Photographs: Courtesy of RPBW, Courtesy of L&G and MEC, Michel Denance, Hufton & Crow, Joost Moolhuijzen, Maurits van der Staay

Located in Camden, the project is part of a complex urban patchwork of medieval streets, modern buildings and traditional urban blocks. This environment had a dramatic impact on the design of the project.

The scheme is composed of complex volumes, which are characterically chiselled fragmented and reduced in scale to match the surrounding buildings. These chiselled volumes mad St-G an impressive architectural sculpture characterized by a combination of shimmering facets.



January 20, 2011

Giant Group Campus | Morphosis

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Morphosis Architects is currently completing a massive project in : The Headquarters and offices for Giant Group, including residence for the chairman & all Giant Group employees, hotel, training center and clubhouse, with a total of 258,300 sqf (23,996 sqm).

Thom Mayne’s architecture has pushed building techniques in order to take his organics form to reality, and I think that the best way to understand his projects is not through renders or even drawings, but by watching the structure and the construction progress.

The Giant Campus project is a compact village that accommodates diverse functions in a flexible framework of forms that move in and out of a folded landscape plane. Situated amid existing canals and a new man made lake, the undulating office building interacts with an augmented ground plane, joining architecture to landscape and environment to site. The East Campus office building contains three zones: open, non-hierarchical office space; private offices, and executive suites, which cantilever dramatically over the lake. Additional program is integrated into the lifted landscape, including a library, an auditorium, an exhibition space, and a café on the east campus. On the West Campus, additional program space-submerged below an expansive, undulating green roof- includes a pool, a multi-purpose sports court, and additional relaxation and fitness spaces for employees. The landform culminates to the west at a company guest hotel where glass-floored private bedroom suites project over a wildlife pond.

Several plazas, carved from the landscape, provide outdoor break and recreational spaces for employees. At the south edge of the campus, a pedestrian plaza steps down to the water’s edge in a continuous outdoor walkway that provides pedestrian access to the lake. The main circulation spine, an enclosed walkway located outboard of the office building, bridges over the street connecting the east and west campuses.

A range of features on the project maximize both energy efficiency and occupant comfort. The West Campus’s landscaped green roof provides thermal mass that limits the heat gain and reduces cooling expenditures. The façade’s double skin and insulated glass curtain wall minimize solar heat gain and improve overall efficiency. The central circulation spine, along with the recreational amenities and plazas provide opportunities for chance encounters and places for employees to gather without the confines of cubicles or unnecessary divisions. The narrow profile of the office building combined with a system of skylights ensure that employees have continuous access to natural daylight.


Project Manager:
Tim Christ
Paul Gonzales

Project Architect:
Hann-Shiuh Chen
Mario Cipresso
Ted Kane

Project Designer:
Leonore Daum

Project Team: Patrick Dunn-Baker
Andrew Batay-Csorba
Marty Doscher
Graham Ferrier
Chris Herring
Debbie Lin
Kristina Loock
Yichen Lu
Scott Severson
Mohamed Sharif
Suzanne Tanascaux
Chris Warren

Project Assistant:
Adam Bressler
Soohyun Chang
Guiomar Contreras
Laura Foxman
Joe Justus
Michelle Siu Lee
Hugo Martinez
Mark McPhie
Kyle Coburn
Brock Hinze
Sunnie Lau
Greg Neudorf
Christin To
Jose Vargas
Dana Viquez
Mike Patterson
Nutthawut Piriyaprakob
Aleksander Tamm-Seitz

Structural Engineer: Bao Ye, MAA Engineers, Thornton Tomasetti Group, Inc.
Design Institute: Moh and Associates Inc
Electrical Engineer: IBE Consulting Engineers, MAA Engineers
Mechanical Engineer: IBE Consulting Engineers, MAA Engineers
Interior Design: Morphosis
Landscape Designer: SWA Group
General Contractor:  Construction Third Engineering Bureau
Local Architect: SURV