The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter
  NL | EN | FR | IT

May 2009

division of Archi-Europe Group


Culture and architecture

Each year the event “European Capitals of Culture” gives a European city a chance to present itself culturally. For over 25 years, many cities from Bergen to Bologna, Krakow to Lille and Cork have benefited from this opportunity. This year, Linz and Vilnius have a chance to distinguish themselves. A chance to get close to our contemporary architectural heritage. Particularly, the Lentos Art Museum (2003) designed by the architects Weber and Hofer, a building which stands out for its glass roof, is one of the largest of this type in Europe. Or the Ars Electronica Center (Treusch architecture) which we are presenting as project of the month. From there our glance falls on Schlossberg (Grazer architects HoG architectur) occupying the site of the south wing of the Linz castle which was destroyed by a fire. A transparent glass link joining the new cultural building to the central part seems to float over the castle like a glass bridge.
By applying different solar techniques the residential complex Solar City is an example of 90s European building on a framework programme of town planner Rolan Rainer in cooperation with Lord Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Thomas Herzog.  The sensitive renovation and modernisation of the historical fabric are also significant: buildings dating back to the 17 century transformed into residences, the Nordico museum or the central Upper Austria Library adapted to modern standards to guarantee their future. The works around the station make this zone the most modern in terms of architecture. The elliptical Wissensturm in glass metal (Franz Kneidinger & Heinz Stögmüller 2007), the new station designed by Wilhelm Holzbauer (2005) rated as the most beautiful Austrian station, the Terminal Tower of Holzbauer&Partner, the highest building in Linz or the Power Tower of architects Weber+Hofer, the first office tower built with the passive technique.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Between the station and the city centre, Terry Pawson's Musiktheater is to be ready by 2011. As well as the short term media success, one of the side effects of the "European Capital of Culture" is certainly the cultural and architectural development of the city that has been chosen.

The Archi-Europe Team

Portrait of the month

Peter Zumthor

Rigorous and secret, Peter Zumthor has been the Pritzker Laureate since 13 April. His work is remarkable in integrating craft work in buildings, museums or places of worship. And making function and aesthetic work together.

A “humble” work but without compromise, timeless structures integrated in full respect for the environment convinced the jury of the most prestigious prize in architecture. “His buildings have an imposing presence, showing us time and again that modesty in approach and audacity in result are not mutually exclusive", the jury emphasised. One of the jury members Carlos Jimenez adds "his work reminds us that there is a luxury in architecture which has nothing to do with extravagant budgets or unusual formal affectation."
Peter Zumthor was born in Bâle in 1943 and opened his agency just thirty years later after studying architecture in Switzerland then New York and working on building restoration projects on historical buildings in the canton of Grisons. At the end of 1996, completion of Vals Thermal Baths in Switzerland catapulted him into the foreground of architecture. Dedicated to the ritual of the Baths, this magical place made up of sensory experiences reflects the entire thought of Peter Zumthor. The architect has partially buried in the side of a hill a concrete structure and incrusted all the visible vertical surfaces with thousands of finely chiselled quartzite patches. Fitting the water rooms like caves, cut out in places against the majestic view of the mountains, the grassed roof building creates the illusion of spaces cut out in the mass. “Linked and sealed, the flags and the concrete of the walls form a huge and static construction, a composite work. Inspired by the old supporting walls of the mountain roads, this wall construction was specially developed for this building. There are no stone lining panels. The homogenous superimposition of stones, uninterrupted layers of stone, give the building a monolithic aspect. The elevation of the floors, the floor of the swimming pools, the ceilings, the stairs, stone banks and door openings obey the same principle of continuous superimposition."

For the Bregenz Kunsthaus in Austria (1997), Peter Zumthor chose glass. Large polished glass scales cover the four faces making a diaphanous skin echoing the changing lights of reflections from the lake. The architect’s choice gives the building the appearance of a monolith protected by a fragile envelope.
Confronted with the profusion of high tech which flourished at the Hanover Expo for the whole summer of 2000 Peter Zumthor gave the Swiss pavilion an apparent simplicity. It is not a pavilion in the strict sense but an atmosphere amplifying sounds and music. “Above all I did not want to create a stand for the economic promotion of Switzerland or its tourism” Peter Zumthor said then. Remember the imposing 3000 m3 cube of wood, just piled up without nails or glue, a tie rod system keeping the nine metre beams together.
Dedicated to a XV century hermit, the Bruder Klaus chapel (2007) built in the middle of the fields to the south of Cologne, embodies the profound religious commitment of a local farmer. A strange and strong piece of work. To build it the architect assembled 12 m tree trunks into a giant tepee, covered it all in rough concrete made by hand on site and then burned the trunks. The result is striking. Inside the walls bear the trace of the blackened framework. The parallelogram shape terminates in an oculus onto the sky. Glass eyes are set in the props to provide the stained glass.
On the ruins of a gothic church destroyed during the Second World War, Peter Zumthor built the Kolumba museum to house the collection of the Cologne archdiocese art collection. Its very particular fitting of bricks and its “superimposed” frontal is spectacular. The brick work can be compared to a knitted work, a "brick pullover" according to Zumthor. The lighting and temperature conditions are perfect for protecting the art collections. The museum won the Wieneberger Brick Awards and pushes its spiritual strength into the natural light that bathes the rooms.
In his book Thinking Architecture, Peter Zumthor defends a poetics which goes beyond the form and construction of a building; the architect evokes a precise and sensual implementation of the materials. “It seems to be anchored in the ancient knowledge on how man used the material, but at the same time reveal the essence of the material that is free of any inherited meaning of a culture. In my work I try to use materials in a similar way, he adds. Architecture maintains a particularly physical relationship with life. According to my conception of it, it is not first of all a message, nor a sign, but an envelope, a background for life passing, a subtle receptacle for the rhythm of footsteps on the ground, concentration on work, peaceful sleep." Now, as before when his Vals Thermal Baths project had placed him in the rank of highest profile architects,  this carpenter’s son has never considered himself a star. His creations and his team remain on a small scale.

Project of the month

Ars Electronica Center, Linz
Treusch architecture

Linz, the 2009 European Capital of Culture, has been enriched with a new space entirely dedicated to computer arts. A complex architecture and 5100 m2 faced covered with LEDs.

A culture space to develop new procedures for the process of design, production and representation, the Ars Electronica centre has the most important archive of computer art over the last 25 years. Particularly on biotechnology, robotics, the future of design or the material of the Ars Electronica festival catalogues, founded in 1979 to underline the emerging computer revolution.  A new wing has just been created next to the first building opened in 1996 to give a useable area of 6500 m2. Generously sized, the exhibition spaces are located under the esplanade. This museum of the future now has a hall on two floors connecting the old and new parts of the museum. The extension is divided into three sectors: a main building in several floors, immediately next to the existing AEC, exhibition areas on the underground level, an open multifunctional area connected by a flight of stairs to the Ars Electronica Futurelab.

On the town planning level, the concept is based on the principle of dialogue with the environment to maintain a free view over the Danube and to try to preserve the historical town fabric. The guiding idea of the project was to include an architectural sculpture so that the two edifices are seen as a homogenous unit. To do this, the architects have united them in a structural steel and glass "shell." Everything seems askew. The different elements seem to separate and join at the same time. The structure is constantly unveiling new forms according to the viewpoint.

Surfaces, part in transparent and part in mat glass, can be back lit in the interstice between the wall and the shell. The structure is spectacular at night. The 5000 m2 façade is built with 1100 high power LED light bands (red, green, blue and white). Each of the 4400 channels is individually accessible and can be regulated between 0 and 100%. The result is striking, an echo of the architectural opposites of the Lentos museum of modern art, on the opposite bank of the river. This daring architectural relationship represents the culminating point of the Linz urban landscape.

Product of the month 1


Roof shingles are the ideal low budget roofing material for new buildings and renovated buildings alike. No matter what style the house owner selects, there is something to suit everyone in the wide range of colours and shapes IKO roof shingles and
accessories on offer.
Both independent European laboratories (e.g. Technische Universität München) and internal laboratories have affirmed the high quality time and again.

Cambridge, the unique IKO roof shingle
IKO constantly innovates its production techniques, products and services.
One of these IKO innovations is the 2-layered laminated Cambridge roof shingle with a high-class modern aesthetic finish and great wind- and weather resistance.

Exceptional strength and durability
Cambridge roof shingles provide exceptional strength and durability, guaranteed by the CE label: the strong glass fibre inlay is soaked in bitumen and makes the roof shingles water resistant for example. Consequently shingle roofing is extremely weather resistant, particularly during heavy precipitation and storms.

Your benefits when using Cambridge roof shingles:
- Cambridge looks like a classic wooden slate roof because of its colours and its three-dimensional look; available at very reasonable prices;
- Cambridge roof shingles are available in 7 very natural, modern colours, that create dynamic tones of light and dark on the roof;
- The roof shingle surface is made of coloured ceramic granules (privately quarried), that protect the shingle’s bitumen layer against UV radiation (at both tropical and polar temperatures);
- Cambridge roof shingles are suitable for inclinations from 15°, even for curved roofs

Product of the month 2


Scrigno REMIX is a development of Scrigno Base and Scrigno Grancluce An innovative framing system that can contain a pair of parallel glass shutters which can slide into a very thin wall.  It can be used in a normal 8cm brick wall and usually gives a finished wall thickness of 10.5 cm. The panels are 10 mm thick. This solution was devised to cater for living space needs (a single box that doubles the opening space) and for design requirements (architects are increasingly using glass for interiors).  

The special characteristics of Scrigno REMIX make this screen particularly suitable for adjacent rooms, joining them when necessary and keeping them separate at other times.

Scrigno Remix is a available in a SIMPLE version for coating with
- overall opening widths of 120/140/160 cm and
- with standard opening heights of 200/210 cm and non standard heights

Competition in the spotlight

SAIE Selection '09

BolognaFiere and Archi-Europe jointly organize a special contest "SAIE Selection 09" in order to select 24 projects and concepts (12 for young architects and 12 for students) presenting Low cost and Low energy sustainable housing.

These 24 projects (concepts) will be presented in a special dedicated exhibition 'Cuore Mostra Saie 2009' in the framework of the SAIE International Building Exhibition taking place in Bologna (Italy) from October 28 to October 31, 2009.

The contest is open to Young architects (under 45) and to Students in architecture.
Deadline for receipt of entries is 31 July 2009.


Joe Colombo. Inventing the Future
(3/04 – 28/06/2009) - Leipzig (DE)
Architect @ Work
(4-5/06/2009) - Liège (BE)
Europe of energy : How to avoid the crisis ?
(11-12/06/2009) - Nice (FR)
(9-11/06/2009) - Bilbao (ES)
200 years Prix de Rome
(> 21/06/2009) - Rotterdam (NL)
Jean Prouvé
(10/03 – 21/06/2009) - Vienna (AT)
Biennale di Venezia
(7/06 – 22/11/2009) - Venice (IT)
(9 - 19/07/2009) - London (UK)
>> read more


Aluminium in Renovation Award 2009
Candidatures : 01/06/2009
Touch of Glass: Interior Design Contest
Candidatures : 29/06/2009
The Biennial International Prize for Architecture “Barbara Cappochin”
Candidatures : 30/06/2009
The Earth Awards
Candidatures : 9/12/2009
>> read more


1. Ideal interior designs for optimal acoustics
A handbook for the acoustic design of interior spaces

Eckard Mommertz
112 pages | 34.50 €
Editions Detail
ISBN 978-3-920034-23-2

>> read more

2. Infill - New houses for urban sites
Annabel Biles & Adam Mornement
240 pages | 29.03 €
Editions Laurence King

ISBN 9781856695589
>> read more
3. Vegetal City
Luc Schuiten & Anne-Catherine Labrique
144 pages | 29.00


ISBN 9782804700126
>> read more


Copyright 2009 Archi-Europe Group nv/sa
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard | Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

Not yet a member of Archi-Europe? Subscribe here! For unsubcription of Archi-News, click here.