The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter
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November 2009

division of Archi-Europe Group


Textile Architecture
Construction to last

Stretch fabric structures are widely used for temporary exhibitions. They are light, luminous and flexible. Fabrics can be used for highly original architectural concepts. Remember Zaha Hadid’s luminescent flower shapes at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2007. Membrane structures are linked to the ephemeral, changeable environment of events, and have developed towards a definitive form over the last twenty years. This tendency is confirmed today with the rapid progress in research to improve fibres, thermal insulation and treatment against stains. Textile architecture now has its place in contemporary construction and extends to vast programmes: stadium coverings, sports buildings, museums, observatories, commercial centres and others. Symbolic of current architectural vocabulary, the Zenith of Strasbourg (architect Massimiliano Fuksas) is covered in a bright orange fabric. This translucent glass fibre skin coated in silicon is stretched over a metal frame in the form of four large off axis ellipses which give the building its particular form. The “paper lantern” lights up at night fall to cast Chinese shadows over everything. Fabric is durable, completely recyclable and renews the formal language available to designers as it authorises single and double curved geometries, the appearance of domes, a diabolo, a spiral or hyperbolic paraboloid. The students are not to be outdone. Last June, at the Techtextil (Frankfurt/Main), an international exhibition of technical textiles, the competition “Textile Structures for New Buildings) for the tenth time singled out innovative approaches and solutions relating to real possibilities of being applied in construction. Organised by TensiNet and Techtextil the competition recognised light structures created by the imagination of the students. While the principles of conventional architecture develop towards relational concepts that have rebounded onto the construction environment, fabric can also be reused and recycled. Textile structures for New Buildings / 1st Prize Macro Architecture: "Once upon a time" - Rocio Pina Isla (Spain) Inspired by Gulliver’s Travels among other things, this structure is designed to excite children’s imagination. It is cheap to build and easily reused.

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month

Art & Build
No Future without the Past

The book “A Humanistic Approach to Architecture” celebrates 20 years of the Belgian agency Art & Build, based in Brussels, Luxembourg, and Toulouse. A chance to retrace a route rich in projects and to discover a multifaceted desire for more sustainable architecture.

Born in 1989 from the association of the three architects Pierre, Lallemand, Marc Thil, Isidore Zielonka and the civil engineer Philip Van Halteren, Art & Build is based from the outset on a desire for opening out. The four founding members complement each other with their individual experience so that they can diversify their activities and fulfil all the functions connected with the multiple aspects of architecture. This multi disciplinary initiative is converted into numerous projects from town planning to engineering and product design. Talking about these transverse skills, the writer Pierre Loze* affirms that they “also create a dynamic of exchanges and promote the identity of the agency and the prospective dimension of the profession. (…) We never invent anything, everything is in the atmosphere that has to be felt, captured, anticipated, formulated, without going too far or getting stuck in ways, forms or technical solutions which society does not yet want to hear.

A building has to be functional but architects remember that the main driving force is aesthetic. The architectural feat is a result of characteristics determining the object’s reasonable cause. Observing a project’s cultural dimension, the collective identification ensures it a longer life. For the ULB Human Sciences Library (Brussels) with an area of 13000 m2 over 9 floors, it is obvious that it all starts from budgets, a plan and deadlines. It was created in 1994 to be a functional cultural tool. A symbolism of image craves expression. The choice of form (right angled triangle), horizontal lines and materials (white marble, aluminium and glass) which contrast with the existing building is really symbolic. The Museum of Medicine and its extension (1990-2000) integrate a symbolism that retraces history and allegorical elements connected to the practice of medicine. The main building is arranged around a large well of light and is covered in a metallic net masked by a veil of natural stone parted at the level of the entrance.

Hospital centres, the development of grouped residences, banks, tertiary buildings, renovation of cultural centres, casinos, schools, large company headquarters, nothing escapes the architect’s drawing board. In each project the expression of a sensitivity, preferably strong and individual is the simplest testimony to the personality of the various protagonists in Art & Build. But as well as the planning they are aware that their effort must give these projects permanence beyond the purpose they are intended for. Build without polluting materials, consider how to save energy, consider the comfort and health of the occupants, Art & Build takes a line that accounts for all these complex factors. So the Covent Garden complex (2000-20008) with its elliptical form is the first Brussels office building with a water purification unit to recycle water for sanitary, maintenance and watering. For the extensive renovation of Berlaymont seat of the European Commission (1996-2004), the architects commissioned for the concept and design have deliberately chosen the lowest energy consumption as the project’s guideline. The old curtain walls have been replaced by insulating glass facades, sheltered by an articulated heat absorbing glass system.

An efficient and lasting envelope, this is still the case with the general building of the Council of Europe building in Strasbourg which has received many prizes. Under a large emblematic roof, six building blocks define among themselves the atria and gardens to add life and exchange areas to the work spaces. For buildings intended for the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and Health Care (EDQM), while reflecting the prestige of the institution, a technical language linked to the laboratory and office functions highlights comfort and quality of life. A project which won a competition in 2005 and is aimed at extending and reorganising the Toulouse CHU, the building on stilts is protected from the sun by a double skinned façade. Its external envelope in ornamented clay tile limits sunlight and provides natural air conditioning. The service floor and access bays for firemen define its very expressive external physiognomy.

Today, at the time of balances while realising their thoughts, desires and aspirations, architects are redefining their future objectives. A much more humanistic view of architecture beyond globalisation. Confronted with the new standards of a society in constant evolution they think in advance to stay ahead on the architectural scene. From now on innovative buildings will be in demand with the requirements of the HQE, LEED or BREAAM standards for the environmental performance of buildings. Knowing that these standards are essential for the future, Art & Build keeps to the “C2C in Architecture” manifesto. This quality charter ( also includes RAU architects (Netherlands), A00 architects (China, Canada) and Zahn Architektur (Germany). A united movement for buildings which carry the flag for the principles of the Cradle to Cradle industrial ecology, the manifesto has been approved by the founders of the C2C paradigm, Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough. Like Art & Build, C2C in Architecture has a decidedly positive vision, “celebrating the abundance of human creativity, of culture and productivity while rejecting the false dichotomy between human development and environmental health.” This is a real industrial revolution. Steven Beckers adds: “Let’s talk about growth and not decline! We are going to expand our working knowledge about construction materials and products. Take for example Desso who are already making use of the scraps form their carpets.”

In two decades Art & Build has developed (about a hundred collaborators, including fifteen partners) and diversified in terms of geography and types of projects. Town planning has a privileged position. Pierre Lallemend proclaims that “the town is the most wonderful invention of man. Both containers and places of true freedom, towns only have meaning through densification. These reflect what we create. It is certainly difficult to reinvent yourself all the time, it is a continual task, but also a pleasure and a raison d’être.”

*A humanistic approach to architecture, Images Publishing 2009 Partners : Pierre Lallemand - Marc Thill - Philippe Van Halteren - Isidore Zielonka - Steven Beckers – Luc Deleuze – Philippe Bultot – Alain Wouters – Charlotte Pijcke - Alexander de Haes – Bruno Caballé – Gilles Bourgeois - Kervyn da Silva Lucas – Christian Likassi – David Roulin.

Project of the month

Renovation of Wimbledon
Architect: Populous

For several months Wimbledon’s Centre Court has had a retractable roof so that play can go on in all weathers.

The oldest tennis tournament in the world (1877), Wimbledon is often considered the most prestigious. Some of its installations were obsolete and the Centre Court, where since 1922 only the stands were covered, had to stop play in the event of poor weather. Populous (architects Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum) were commissioned to develop the master plan and refurbish some parts. The redefinition of several courts and the creation of a new No. 2 Court with 4,000 spaces which architects have slightly lowered to reduce its visual impact. However, the most spectacular work remains without doubt the retractable Centre Court roof.
With a 65x75 m surface, the new moving roof is made up of a translucent PTFE roof which when closed preserves the natural lighting over the grass. This is important for players, spectators and for high quality television pictures. The 5200 m2 fabric is fixed on ten mobile trellis steel beams with a span of 77 m. When open, the beams are stowed at the north and south ends, on the fixed roof which covers the stands. The fabric is folded into a relatively compact storage area. Nothing will disturb the spectators’ view. To close it all and shelter the grass, the beams move along rails with the aid of a series of hydraulic jacks and the fabric unfolds over 16 metres above the ground to give room for high balls. It needs about ten minutes to put in place the 700 tonnes of roof.
Very light, solid, flexible and above all waterproof, the non toxic fluoro polymer Gore ™ Tenara ® architectural fabric was chosen for its capacity to filter natural light while protecting against the elements. It can also avoid the risk of any development of mildew when folded.

A key factor is the internal environment when the roof is closed. To ensure favourable conditions for play and to avoid condensation within the bubble a network of cooled water ducts and heating pipes through kilometres of steel cross pieces which support the retractable roof system has been installed. As soon as the roof starts closing, a Victaulic system starts to control the Centre Court climate. The articulated steel tubing must bear the structural deflection and heat deformation, and take the cooled and heating water round the complex. Thirty minutes after the roof is closed, the internal environment is stabilised and play can restart.

Product of the month 1

Introducing Armstrong® TECH ZONE from Armstrong.
A clever solution for intelligent ceilings

Armstrong® TECH ZONE is an innovative solution that allows full integration of service elements to create more flexible, homogeneous ceilings.

Exclusive to Armstrong®, TECH ZONE is a partnership with market leading manufactures of lighting fixtures, air diffusers, chilled beams and sprinkler systems. Partners include Rapidrop, Regent lighting, Trox and Zumtobel. Through the guaranteed integration of market leading service elements, Armstrong® TECH ZONE offers a novel solution to the challenges that come with the design of aesthetic, technical zones with standard elements. Monolithic ceiling solutions with minimal grid visibility as well as linear technical zones for service integration can now be achieved with Armstrong® TECH ZONE.
High sound absorbing products and linear technical zones can be used in open spaces and offices, whilst effective lighting solutions and invisible speakers will meet the aesthetic needs of retail buildings. Armstrong® TECH ZONE is easy to both specify and install. It is compatible with popular building modules, and Armstrong can customise solutions to meet your individual needs. The combinations of suspension systems, tiles and technical elements are virtually unlimited.
A dedicated website as well as images and downloadable brochures are available online. The Armstrong® TECH ZONE brochure includes performance solutions, product combinations as well interesting case studies. A more detailed Technical Guide, with 20+ building module drawings, CAD details, and partner product sheets is also available.

for further information www.armstrong‐

Product of the month 2

SIDIM 2009 Montréal

SIDIM (Salon du Design d'Intérieur de Montréal [Montreal interior design salon]) is a chance to approach a varied offer of products and services connected to architecture and design. A few pictures from 2009.

  • Maax : Exposé
    Enclosed by a thick glass wall the large walk in shower in acrylic combines fashionable elements: wood accessories, low threshold base and unique square flush drain.

  • Octopus
    Some examples of a specialist in decorative wood, metal and resin surfaces which increases the creative side of interior improvements.

  • Aquanovo : Ovopur
    New experience in filtering drinking water, the recipient is made from natural materials and combines aesthetics with respect for the environment.

  • Extension concepts
    Creative integration of the properties of stretchable fabrics in architecture, design, and museography.

  • Canühome
    Using best environmental practices in construction, this project is to raise people’s awareness and help them decrease energy costs, improve air quality and protect the environment.

Event in the spotlight

Batimat & Saie 2009

We warmly thank all the architects, students in architecture and partners that came visit us on our stand during the Saie building fair in Bologna (28-31 October) and Batimat  in Paris(2-7 November).

To see or download the pictures of these two events, please click here.


(13 - 16/01/2010) - Francfort/Main (DE)
(14 16/01/2010) Ghent (BE)
(27 30/11/2009) Namur (BE)
(2 - 4/12/2009) - Paris (FR)
(1 4/12//2009) - Paris (FR)
Open City: Designing Coexistence - 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam
(> 10/01/2010) - Rotterdam (NL)
Vienna Design Week 2009
(1/10/2009 – 10/01/2010) – Vienna (AT)
Art Fall 09 Ferrara contemporánea
(> 10/01/2010) - Ferrara (IT)
CUBEOpen 09
(5/11 17/12/2009) Manchester (UK)
>> read more


Renaat Braem 1910-2010 ideeënwedstrijd
Deadline : 30/11/2009
The Earth Awards
Deadline : 9/12/2009
Win een 'eco makeover' ter waarde van € 20.000!
Deadline : 31/12/2009
Tiananmen Square Landscape Architecture Competition 2010
Deadline : 06/01/2010

The Schindler Award
Deadline : 30/04/2010

World Habitat Awards
Deadline : 01/06/2010
>> read more


1. Alexandre Chemetoff - Visite
Alexandre Chemetoff, Dominique Alba, Jean-Louis Cohen, Christophe Girot, Alain Léveillé, Sébastien Marot, Michel Velly
440 pages | € 44.00
Editions Archibooks
French / English (2 versies)
ISBN 9782357330542

>> read more

2. Timber in Contemporary Architecture: a Designer’s Guide
Peter Ross, Giles Downes, Andrew Lawrence
192 pages | € 49.40
Editions Trada Technology Ltd

ISBN 978-1900510660
>> read more

3. Art & Build – A holistic approach to architecture
Eckard Feddersen, Insa
360 pages |
Images Publishing Group

ISBN 9783764388713
>> read more


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

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