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

July 2009

division of Archi-Europe Group


Facts and figures

Aside from the fact that the profession of architect includes multiple administrative, technical, regulatory, financial, economic, legal (not to mention judicial) hurdles, architecture remains a formidable means of expression for anyone embarking on this opportunity. So said architect Louis Paillard during his exhibition in Paris (Galerie d’Architecture). With his motto: “No risk, no fun!”,  he laments a programme often seen as banal, determined by those who “juggle between a combination of surfaces and spaces, all for a budget which is often drawn up as an afterthought on beermats by officials after several glasses of the local vino”. Isn’t architecture – which is, at the end of the day, what this is all about – generally seen as the fifth wheel? It all too often regurgitates the same old set forms, while at the same time arises from a constant demand. And yet… There are so many architects in this new Europe of 32 countries! There are around 483,000 professionals (37% of which are women) working in 69,800 architectural firms generating construction market estimated at 1650 billion euros. These are the findings, among others, of a major survey recently carried out in Europe at the request of the Architect’s Council of Europe (ACE). Out of 44,000 architects from 17 countries invited to respond, over 8000 people presented a set of reliable data, revealing an overall view of the profession. The main facts and figures in the final report* show a number of interesting facts about the economic situation of the architectural profession.
Europe” programme 2009 includes technical support for viable projects and investment aid for urban renewable energy. A significant budget amounting to over 96 million euros will doubtless enable investment to be accelerated in public and private building renovation projects. This programme from the European Union also aims to change behaviours, support sustainable development and contribute towards the protection of the environment.

The Archi-Europe Team

Portrait of the month

Mario Cucinella
More With Less

The Italian Mario Cucinella has always based his architectural process on a rigorous approach on themes linked to balancing natural resources. The interview he granted us at the University of Milan in April at the Interni Design Energies exhibition sheds light in his thought process, his choices and hi projects linked with sustainable development.

A former collaborator of Renzo Piano, Mario Cucinella (1960) founded his own agency in Paris in 1992, then in Bologna seven years later.  His major urban projects and his many completed projects across Italy and the world all share the same basic factor: their low environmental impact. Chief among these are the Regional Agency for the Protection of the Environment in Ferrara, the headquarters of iGuzzini Illuminazione in Recanati, SIEEB in Beijing ( a Sino-Italian centre for training and research for the protection of the environment and energy conservation. There is also obviously the “Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies” in Ningbo, China – a prizewinning project at MIPIM 2009 in the Ecological Construction category. The building envelope plays an essential role in Mario Cucinella’s environmental strategies to obtain an internal environment capable of minimising energy consumption. His research is very advanced in terms of technology and aesthetics. His credo “More with less” puts forward the idea of greater comfort with less energy, less waste and less pollution.

How do you define your architecture?
It’s difficult to say whether we’re talking about ecological architecture or architecture linked with sustainable development. It is, of course, a bit of both, but we’re also talking about striving for high-quality architecture. Beauty is combined with energy performance and sustainable development. From a historical point of view, architecture has always had close links with the climate, culture, materials and aesthetics. We have clearly lost this attitude – a way of thinking that has lasted for thousands of years. I don’t like the definition of a purely ecological architecture, because that risks confining us to a particular sector – as if architecture was made up of several different architectures. Good quality architecture can only be unique. And in new architecture, I believe the theme of sustainable development must be part of its DNA.

What is your involvement in sustainable development?
I have always been interested in this. I started working alone in Paris in 1992, and for many years I only worked on international competitions. My first job was for the United Nations, producing a social accommodation in developing countries (Egypt, to be precise). It was inconceivable to imagine that architects couldn’t supply a creative answer to social accommodation – something capable of moving away from the tradition corrugated iron shacks. Is that what we have as an example of extreme creativity in poor countries? It’s absurd. We now have much greater technological, linguistic and material expertise. We simply provided an answer with deep-rooted links to Egypt and to the history of the country. We believe considerations towards the environment, energy and the serious application of architecture began there. To my mind, it has always been like that. I come from a school of thought – that of Renzo Piano for whom I worked – where we weren’t just thinking about architectural quality, but also about the qualities of light and space. It was with him that I learnt these values. And what is more, I am a product of an Italian culture with a long tradition of both technical and environmental architecture.

What have been your major professional influences?
It’s difficult to say what influenced me the most. The time I spent with Renzo Piano was certainly very significant, because during the technology boom in which he played a part, he instituted changes that leant towards the organic – with closer links to the materials. I admired his ability not to limit himself to a single language – to be capable of interpreting… I’m still influenced by landscape drawings and by vernacular architecture.

What is the common factor between the Bologna City Hall and the SIEB in Beijing?
Both buildings are ultimately about the same things: in both Bologna and Beijing, the main factor isn’t so much environmental aspects, but moreso the ability to generate a public space. In Bologna, people immediately embraced this space as being their own. In Beijing, the same thing happened. Our overriding concern was to create an open building you could walk through, with a garden, water – all the things that make a building part of the fabric of a city. Successful architecture produces an echo. It generates quality in public spaces. You also have to think about the shape of the building in relation to technology. I found the idea of the intelligent integration of solar cells in a building very attractive. In this case, these were protruding balconies. Bologna proved to be the more difficult of the two, as it was important to create a very dense urban construction and to visually “break up” the image of all the office blocks.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies in Ningbo, China, received an award at MIPIM 2009. In your opinion, what set it above the other nominated projects? Put another way, what did the jury find particularly attractive about your building?
The difference, in relation to the other projects, which were also of the highest standard – might be found in the idea that ecological architecture isn’t just about producing a sustainable building with no excessive thirst for energy, but also in revelling in its beauty.

Is China seeking high-quality environmental architecture?
Yes, but it is a difficult country. If a country is undergoing rapid expansion, as is the case with China, it is possible to get “distracted” because you are moving too fast. However, China has tremendous technological skill thanks to its scientists, professors and students who are all fully aware of the fact that the future is closely linked to energy and environmental factors. China represents very fertile ground, but it is also true that these are markets pushed forward by the momentum of enormous speculation. Environmental concerns are difficult to spread, but we have always felt that we have a lot of common feeling.

How do you see the future of architecture in Europe?
In relation to other countries across the world, Europe has always been at the forefront in terms of culture and diversity. This is also the card we have to play in China, in South America and in Africa. We European architects can be compared to family doctors – giving out good advice, bringing our own DNA to the construction of towns and cities.


1. Mario Cucinella
2. iGuzzini Headquarters, Recanato 1997
Solar protection and natural ventilation thanks to a light covering of slats ensuring maximum environmental comfort and minimising energy consumption.  This is the guiding light that shone through the design for this four-level building. The use of continuous façades and shade screens features strongly in this building. A central atrium allows light to filter through and opens out onto a garden, which helps change the image of the place (an industrial environment) and to underscore the connection between architecture and nature.
3. SIEB - Sino Italian Ecological Building, Beijing 2003-2006
Born out of a close collaboration between the architect and Italian researchers and engineers, this building, located on the campus of Tsinghua University, uses a complex system of single or double skin glass façades and solar panels. The optimal shape of the building envelope, the extreme transparency of the façade, the sunlight control and the concentration of seeking light and brightness were fundamental to ensuring that this ecological building gains maximum heat in winter and a dispersal of heat in summer.
4. New Bologna City Hall 2003-2008
This project groups together previously dispersed offices in a single complex. A huge maze of aluminium tubes contrasting with dark glass on buildings linked into three blocks of 12, 10 and 8 floors reveals itself as a huge ladder of geometric glass shapes. The covering acts as a shade screen sheltering the building from the sun, giving a certain cohesion to the complex. The more exposed façades were produced with slightly inclined silkscreen glass. Inside, radiant-heating floors maintain a constant temperature without radiators or a heating system.
5. Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies, Ningbo, China 2006-2008
This project shows off the research arising from international collaboration for sustainability. Inspired in its design by Chinese lantern and traditional wooden screens, the building is conceived as a sustainable beacon whose 22 m high twisting tower will be visible from all around the campus, creating many different façades diversifying its appearance from day to night. It is covered by a double-skin of glass, playing a key role in environmental control strategies. The structure is completely closed off on the northern side, and partially open on the three other sides in order to provide sufficient daylight in order to supply a transversal ventilation system. A large rooftop opening brings natural light to all floors of the building, simultaneously creating a flue effect to promote efficient natural ventilation. 
6. Una casa per sognare
Presented at the Interni Design Energies exhibition in Milan, the “A house to dream” project – a 100m² house priced at 100,000 euros with zero CO2 emissions – represents the new link between architecture and energy consumption. The concept includes solar panels, solar collectors, good air circulation and other passive environmental strategies that make for a bioclimatic residence. The low cost comes from light, modular prefabricated construction systems and removable partitions for internal separations.

Project of the month

Interni Design Energies

Talented architects and designers have brought some remarkable installations to the Interni Design Energies exhibition – one of the main features of Milan Design Week 2009. Using personal projects – eco-construction, ecodesign, a mixture of natural materials and high-technology products – they all relate to the challenge of environmental responsibility. This is a small selection of images of projects arising from a week in the central hall at the University of Milan.

1. Untitled
Rudy Ricciotti with Romain Ricciotti and Guillaume Lamoureux

Designed and developed for a villa in France, these Ductal® roofing elements (ultra-high performance Lafarge concrete) allow an overhang of 7.8m, 3cm thick at the balcony edge. An architectural gesture and a structural challenge. A civil engineer used to working on bridges and pathways, Romain Ricciotti planed the forms and dimensions with his meticulous work. Each 9.25m long, 2.35 wide panel is made up of a plate of constant thickness bordered by two gradual inertia side girders, higher than the supports and thinning down to join the thickness of the end of the plate. The minimalist aesthetics make for reduced energy and materials consumption – setting it apart from standard new architecture.

2. South face
Massimo Iosa Ghini with architect Maurizio Corrado and Riccardo Rigolli
A bit of pure architecture – a wall made of Ductal® concrete sections extended by a wooden ground piece used as a support for spectacular vegetation. The green façade is a real vertical garden, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

3. Boo-tech – BambooEcoDome
Mauricio Cardenas with Giammichele Melis and Beppino Ortile
The main material used here – bamboo – is used with contemporary technology and idiom. Creating a geodesic dome with complex geometry, this fast-growing material shows off its qualities of lightness and flexibility, combining with standard components of steel and glass, creating façades and roofing.

4. Hot Spot
Marc Sadler
Functioning as a closed circuit, the aim of this installation is to show that it is possible to use water and energy to their best advantage. Water, sent from a circular recuperation tray in a circuit of fifteen solar collectors grouped together in the shape of a sail, is heated and routed into the tank. After being filtered, it is pumped to the top, where it comes down in a waterfall.

5. Limitless colour tower
Marco Piva
Coming from research into light, the air, space and wellbeing, the architecture of Piva comes through in two stages. The exterior protective skin reacts to the environment and is made up of 160 polished steel plates. The sensitive, tactile and coloured interior skin is characterised by polycarbonate mirrors and iridescent panels illuminated with LED systems and Murano glass.

6. T-Energy
Luca Trazzi
This project aims to demonstrate how solar panels and structural and decorative elements can combine to become essential elements within a building.
The energy generated during the daytime is used at night to light up the luminous panels, creating shade ad light patterns.

Product of the month

Recticel Insulation: ready for the future, with the Massive Passive House concept

The concept of a Massive Passive house from Recticel Insulation is the ideal solution for insulating a home. An innovator in insulation products, Recticel Insulation has developed futuristic solutions to meet demanding insulation regulations.

The quality and durability of insulation is of huge importance when constructing a Passive house. This is why Recticel Insulation is the favoured partner for building construction, first and foremost for Massive Passive house construction. When you decide to insulate your home, you’re not just thinking about your comfort and environmental responsibilities, but you’re also doing it because the law says you have to. Choose top quality solution from Recticel Insulation, which offer flawless insulation and which are extremely long-lasting. Good insulation doesn’t necessarily mean using thick materials: in spite of their thinness, lightness and ease of use, the excellent level insulation provided by Recticel insulation plates guarantees the best possible results.

Recticel Insulation, the insulation specialist for homes, with solutions for everybody. Recticel Insulation insulates each home, from cellar to attic, even you don’t opt for the Passive Home option. Whether it’s for a new-build or a renovation, a “low energy” home or a passive home, Recticel Insulation offers the best insulation products whatever type of home you live in.

Here are five leading products from Recticel Insulation for residential properties:

  • Eurowall, the thinnest cavity wall insulation
  • Powerroof, insulation for sloping roofs
  • Eurofloor, the comfort of insulated flooring
  • Eurothane Bi-3, long-lasting insulation for flat roofs
  • Eurothane G, the perfect interior insulation

With Recticel Insulation products, you build your own Passive Home – which will also be a “low energy” home and a home that meets PEB regulations. Furthermore, insulation for PUR and PIR homes is of the highest quality and future-proof. Finally, Recticel Insulation, as the sole manufacturer of rigid insulation panels, bears the Keymark quality label. This means you can be sure that Recticel Insulation meet the most stringent European quality standards.

To find out more about the Massive Passive home concept, visit the website and blog:

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 28 August 2009.


Neues Licht
(22/07/2009 7PM) - Berlin (DE)
(30/08 - 02/09/2009) - Brussels (BE)
Planète métisse
(> 19/07/2009) - Paris (FR)
Brazil Contemporary
(> 23/08/2009) - Rotterdam (NL)
Deadline Today!
(> 10/07/2009) - Vienna (AT)
(4-7/09/2009) - Venice (IT)
Foster + Partners. Working with history
(> 30/08/2009) - Copenhagen (DK)
>> read more


RomaEuropa Fake Factory
Deadline: 31/07/2009
The Earth Awards
Deadine: 9/12/2009
>> read more


1. Hadid, Complete Works 19792009
Philip Jodidio
600 pages | € 100.00
Editions Tashen
multilingual (English/French/German)
ISBN 978-3-8365-0294-8

>> read more

2. Le Grand Pari(s)
Michèle Leloup, Marion Bertone, Christophe Barbier
240 pages | € 21.50
Editions Archibooks

ISBN 978-2-35733-055-9
>> read more
3. Brazil Contemporary
Paul Meurs, Frits Gierstberg, Jaap Guldemond & Bregje van Woensel, Ineke Holtwijk, Luciano Figueredo
320 pages |

ISBN 978-90-5662-677-8
>> 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.