Posts Tagged ‘Serpentine Gallery’

Architecture | Álvaro Siza: Buildings as Sculpture

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Álvaro Siza
Complete Works 1952-2013
Philip Jodidio
Hardcover, 500 pages

Álvaro Siza tells a story about his first being impressed by architecture when, at the tender age of 10, he travelled with his family from their home town of Porto, Portugal, on a trip to Catalonia. In Barcelona one evening his brothers took him to Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, which frightened him. The following day, however, taken to see Gaudí’s Casa Milà, he observed that although the building seemed to him to be a sculpture, it had the same elements – doors, locks, windows – as any house. ‘It impressed me very much, how those normal things I knew in my house could be put together to make a something else.’

For his own architecture, Siza received a formidable number of awards, among them; the European Community’s Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1988 and the Praemium Imperiale in Japan in 1997, the 2009 RIBA Gold Medal, and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. His work is strongly rooted in the modern movement, nevertheless he has a subjective approach, and continually seeks out alternative interpretations of modernism. He is noted for approaching each project with sensitivity to context without relinquishing the autonomy and strength of the new construction. In designing the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2005, Siza sought to guarantee that the new building, while presenting a totally different architecture, established a dialogue with the Neo-classical gallery. While the resulting structure, based on a simple rectangular grid distorted to create a dynamic curvaceous form comprised of interlocking timber beams, mirrored the diminutive scale of the Serpentine building and made coherent use of the landscape between the two structures, it also achieved a contiguous relationship with the surrounding Park.

Siza studied at the University of Porto School of Architecture from 1949 until 1955, and opened his first practice in the city before completing his studies in 1954. Many of his best known works are in Porto: the Boa Nova Tea House (1963), Porto University’s School of Architecture (1987-1992), and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (1997). During the 1980s, he undertook increasingly larger institutional projects in Portugal, including The Teachers Training College at Setubal (1991). Siza designed the Santa Maria Church in Marco de Canavezes, Portugal (1997) and the Portuguese Pavilion at Expo ‘98 in Lisbon, (with Eduardo Souto de Moura). But he had started building abroad in 1983 with the Schlesisches Tor Apartments in Berlin, Germany. In 1994, he returned to Germany to build the Vitra factory at Weil-am-Rein, the same year he designed the Centro Galiziano (Museum of Modern Art) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Between 1995 and 2009, in collaboration with Rudolf Finsterwalder, he worked on an architecture museum on Hombroich island, near Düsseldorf, Germany.

There’s a very touching video on YouTube, shot in 2004, of an animated converation between a 71-year-old Siza and Oscar Niemeyer ‘the man who built Brasilia‘, 21 years his senior, who died in 2012. The film is without subtitles and the two giants of architecture are speaking the Portugese language common to both, but from the drawings and buildings each sketches in the air with fingers, hands and arm movements one senses that their understanding of one another and their subject is on a higher plane than the mere spoken word. Commissions to build whole cities from scratch are few and far between, and although Siza, now 80, internationally famous and with a glittering career behind him, has come closer than many – he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1992 for coordinating the renovation of the Chiado area of Lisbon that was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1988, and since the mid-1970s has produced numerous designs for public housing – he hasn’t been given that particular job yet. On a smaller scale, in 2000 Siza began coordinating the rehabilitation of the monuments and architectonic heritage of Cidade Velha founded by the Portugese in 1462, on Santiago, in the African Cape Verde islands archipelago, which is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

Taschen’s heavily-illustrated, large format monologue, Álvaro Siza: Complete Works 1952-2013, by prolific author Philip Jodido, is available via the publisher’s website at £99.99/ €99.99.

Images from top
Meteorological Center of the Olympic Village, Barcelona, Spain, 1992

Iberê Camargo Foundation Museum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2008

Santa Maria Church and Parish Center in Marco de Canaveses, Portugal, 1997

All photos ©Duccio Malagamba

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Photography | Laetitia Casta | Dominique Issermann

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Exhibition | Laetitia Casta par Dominique Issermann
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France
January 17th – March 25th, 2012
Book | Dominique
Issermann Laetitia Casta
Editions Xavier Barral. January 2012

In winter, high up in the Swiss mountains, the great slabs of roof over the spa at Hotel Therme Vals protect it from snow and ice. Come spring the frozen covering melts away to reveal roof sections that are a grassed-over, flower studded alpine meadow. 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize-winner, Peter Zumthor, incidentally the same architect who built the 2011 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, hortus conclusus (enclosed garden), in London’s Hyde Park, with Piet Oudolph’s lavish garden as it’s centrepiece, chose geology and mountainscape as his role models, designing the massive spa complex in local Valser gneiss stone to look as if it had been there forever. Inside it’s a sanctuary. The building’s precise yet simple composition and use of materials, the treatment of scale and the effect of light in the minimal series of spaces within are designed to emphasise sensory, contemplative and spiritual experience.

Doyene Paris-based photographer, Dominique Issermann, has shot Sonia Rykiel’s publicity campaigns for more than 10 years, lending the images a natural and spontaneous aesthetic quality. She has exhibited widely throughout the world and numerous books have been produced about her work. Haute Couture labels: Christian Dior, Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent have all found use for her unique skill. On Youtube you can look behind the scenes at Issermann’s recent Chanel No 5 advertising shoot, featuring Audrey Tautou. It’s a difficult task to decide which is the star of her series of rich, black and white, nude images of beautiful model Laetitia Casta, shot over three days at the Hotel Therme Spa that will be on show at Paris’s Maison Européenne de la Photographie from the middle of this month: the model, the photographer or the building.

Images, top, by ©Dominique Issermann. Four images above by Nico Schärer, courtesy Hotel Therme Spa

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