The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter
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June 2011


Urban Nature

Previsions are that in 2050 there will be 11 billion inhabitants on our earth. More and more our planet is covered with sprawling towns and urban centres with a breathtaking density. Precisely, the temporary exhibition “La Ville Fertile “ (Fertile Cities) presently organized at the Cité de l'architecture & du patrimoine Palais de Chaillot in Paris explores the main questions relating to these problems. More particularly, the fundamental questions of maintaining a strong presence of nature in an environment built by Man. The urban model with the principal role given to the car has to be reconsidered. With this new approach the role of the landscape architect is strongly increased. Hanging fields, floating jungles, and urban forests now appear in the towns as new promises for the future; These hybrid landscapes, thanks to the human activity and the nature, become living environments. Changing and inventive, the nature creates new social and economic opportunities. Some international projects are real laboratories open on the future. Urbanists dream of town-forests where vegetal towers would stand up. From Chicago to Buenos-Aires the concept of urban fields is really in the heart of the city. These cities invite you to look with other eyes at the roof horizon hanging over the Halles de Paris or on top of the Rockfeller Centre in Manhattan. The rich carpet often covers a thin substrate produced by techniques recycling a district’s rainwater. Furthermore, the realization of the ecologic potential of urban wastelands transforms the abandonment in alternative urban agriculture covering many forgotten areas in the cities. From Manhattan to Barcelona, these redrawn wastelands are really new natural victories. Urban ecology studies unexpected alliances. The fertile town is a very modern society project based on a culture/nature pact. To live in this world in agreement with all forms of life and respect its functioning and balancing rules, one thought at one moment one could, wrongly, get rid of.

The ArchiWorld® Team

Portrait of the month

1. Eduardo Souto de Moura

2. House in “Bom Jesus”, Braga

3. Conversion of the Santa Maria do Bouro Convent into a State Inn, Amares

4. Burgo Tower, Porto

5. Burgo Project, Porto

6. House in Serra da Arrábida

7. Braga Stadium

8. Paula Rêgo Museum, Cascais

Eduardo Souto de Moura

Pritzker Prize 2011, the Portuguese architect was singled out by the jury for “his unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics — power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy —at the same time.”

After having worked for Alvaro Siza for five years, Eduardo Souto de Moura opens his own office in 1980. Already in his first works, his approach was consistent. He never adopted the trends of the moment. “As we look back today, says the Pritzker jury, the early buildings may seem ‘normal’, but we must remember how brave they really were back then.” This minimalism is the characteristic of his whole architectural production.

During the past three decades, the architect has produced numerous works with a contemporary feeling mixed with a close respect for the context related to land,time and function. These works mostly situated in his native Portugal, but also in Spain, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom and Switzerland, offer a great variety of typologies, scales and programs.Souto de Moura’s main concern is the coexistence of man and nature. It is why his private houses are fully integrating in the retaining walls. The house built in Bom Jesus (Braga) is very interesting because of its special concrete and exterior walls finishing.

“Because the site was a fairly steep hill overlooking the city of Braga, recalls the architect, we decided to place the construction on five terraces with retainer walls, with a specific function for each terrace - fruit trees on the lowest level, then a swimming pool, the main parts of the house, bedrooms and on the top, we planted a forest.”

Often described as an adept of Mies van der Rohe, Eduardo Souto de Moura has designed many residences with an outstanding simplicity, elegance and the use of unquestionable quality materials (local marble and wood, concrete, glass and metal). The beauty and authenticity of materials have always fascinated the architect. His knowledge of construction activity and his skill with materials are quite obvious.. The Cultural Center in Porto, for example, is a token of his ability to expressively combine materials: copper, stone, concrete or wood. By modifying pavements, textures, the streets and the public spaces for the Porto subway, he has granted a new importance to public spaces.

When he built the Braga stadium, one of his major works, he extracted from the site more than one million cubic meters of granite which were crushed and incorporated in the concrete used for building the stadium. A cut-out section of the mountain even helped to create a granite wall of 30 meters high to close one end of the stadium.The Pritzker jury citation calls this work, “a monumental project very well integrated in its landscape.” Another one of his projects, the Burgo Tower, completed in 2007 in Porto opens on a large square surrounded by two buildings, one vertical and the other horizontal. The main interest of these two buildings designed with simple shapes is their skin made of one single module creating at the same time a glass and an opaque façade. The Paulo Regio Museum shows a grouping of volumes scattered in the trees on the Cascais site. As usual all the Souto de Moura’s buildings with their apparent formal simplicity web close links with the landscape. The architect says: “I proposed a set of volumes of different heights. The game between the nature and what’s artificial helped to create the red color used for the concrete. Two large pyramids along the entrance axis prevent the project from being a neutral sum of boxes.” The restoration of the Santa Maria Do Bouro Monastery originally built in the 12th century and its rehabilitation into a hotel created new spaces that are compatible with their history and of a quite modern conception. The Eduardo Souto de Moura’s architecture is intelligent and serious. “His work requires an intense encounter not a quick glance, says the Jury. And like poetry, it is able to communicate emotionally to those who take the time to listen.”

1. Eduardo Souto de Moura

2. House in “Bom Jesus”, Braga (1989-94)

© Luis Ferreira Alves

3. Conversion of the Santa Maria do Bouro Convent into a State Inn, Amares, (1989-97)
© Luis Ferreira Alves

4. Burgo Tower, Porto (1991-2007)
© Christian Richters

5. Burgo Project, Porto (1991-2007) - detail
© Luis Ferreira Alves

6. House in Serra da Arrábida (1994-2002)
© Luis Ferreira Alves

7. Braga Stadium (2000-2003)
© Luis Ferreira Alves

8. Paula Rêgo Museum, Cascais (2005-2009)
© Luis Ferreira Alves

Project of the month

High Line, New York
Design team: James Corner Field Operations with Diller-Scofidio + Renfro, Olafur Eliasson, Piet Oudolf and Buro Happold.

The green ways developed on an abandoned elevated railroad in Manhattan are almost completed. Organic and building materials are combined to change the proportions relating to the wild and cultivated nature as well as the social relations.

An unusual 1.45 miles long elevated railway spanned 22 city blocks along the West side of Manhattan. Its construction started in 1930 to address the huge congestion of the 10th Street. Along the Hudson River, the railway goes through some buildings and directly serves warehouses. Decommissioned in 1980, the line becomes an industrial wasteland invaded by weeds. The destruction seemed inevitable. But in 1999, the association "Friends of the High Line" saved the structure from demolition and made plans to redesign a suspended urban park and in 2004, obtained funding from the city.

The winning design team selected after an international competition wanted to create a mixture between the original structure and the modern additions to better integrate this historic line to the city. By changing the rules between plant life and pedestrians needs, the strategy is to preserve the character of The High Line. Despite the desolate state of the surface, the base of the line is healthy: the riveted steel structure is then cleaned, repaired and repainted; the tracks and the old concrete slabs are dismantled. To allow access to the public, the design team creates many stairs, ramps and elevators at regular intervals. Besides planting areas, benches, tables and terraces are found everywhere. A glazed gazebo overlooks the intersection of 10th Avenue and 17th Street.

So the project establishes an urban corridor for habitat, wildlife and people. Through a strategy of “agri-tecture” – part agriculture, part architecture – the High Line surface is digitized into discrete paving and planting units with a variety of gradations going from mineral to vegetal. The paving system consists of individual prefabricated concrete planks with open joints to facilitate the growing of wild grass through the cracks in the footpathes. The result is a landscape where the public can wander freely. Two years after opening the first sector, the new Section 2 will double the size of the public park and greatly increase opportunities for artists to work in situ. The High Line becomes both an escape from the swarming streets and a gateway to the city.

Pictures © James Corner Field Operations with Diller-Scofidio + Renfro

Product of the month

Discover with Recticel Insulation the perfect outer wall insulation system with Powerwall®.

Good insulation is important. For the environment, but also for the energy costs. Insulating roofs and walls, will save up to 60% energy. Enough reason to choose for the best insulation. Besides efficient insulation solutions for roofs (Powerroof®) and cavity walls (Eurowall®), Recticel Insulation offers the ideal insulation for outer wall systems with Powerwall®

Powerwall® offers a sustainable, efficient and continuous insulation shield around the building and can be combined with a wide range of façade finishings. Furthermore, thanks to the unique tonge and groove system, it is installed in no time, it is suitable for new buildings or refurbishments and it ensures an outstanding thermal performance. Like all Recticel insulation products also Powerwall® is certified with the Keymark.

With Powerwall® you can create a continuous insulation shield from the basement to the roof, which means that there will be no interruption in the insulation. In combination with the Powerroof® system for pitched roofs you create a continuous insulation shield up to the ridge of the roof and you can join it perfectly to the floor using Eurofloor® floor insulation (by using an insulating brick).

The new insulation system for outer walls, Isofinish™, is an effective combination of Powerwall® insulation panels, adjustable screws and a choice of façade finishes. Powerwall® insulates your home in a sustainable, effective and continuous way and goes together with a wide range of aesthetic façade finishes such as wood, sidings, cladding, slates, tiles, fibre cement panels, zinc, plaster etc.

for more information: and


Competitions in the spotlight
Archi-World® Academy

The first worldwide architecture contest for students in architecture Archi-World® Academy Award (AWA) 2011/2013: "Energy-saving projects and ideas for the future of architecture and urbanism".

Win a top class traineeship in a leading architecture practice by one of the 12 star architects: Zaha Hadid, Françoise-Hélène Jourda, Bjarke Ingels, J-M Jaspers, Francine Houben, Daniel Libeskind, Kengo Kuma, Mario Cucinella, Christoph Ingenhoven, Jain Bijoy, Ma Yansong, Andrey Bokov.

Click here to register!

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Saie Selection 2011

and Archi-Europe jointly organize a special contest "SAIESelection" in order to select 24 projects and concepts (12 for young architects and 12 for students) on the theme “Innovating, Integrating, Building Highly innovative and sustainable buildings".

All 24 projects and/or concepts will be presented in a special dedicated exhibition ‘Cuore Mostra Saie 2011’ in the framework of the SAIE International Building Exhibition taking place in Bologna (Italy) from October 5 to October 8, 2011.

Click here to register!

Event in the spotlight


MEGABUILD 8-11 september 2011

MEGABUILD Eurasia Building Materials Fair is organised by CNR Trade Fairs and IMSAD (Association of Turkish Building Material Producers) at CNR Expo Istanbul on September 8 -11, 2011. MEGABUILD Fair, with an area of 120.000 square meters and with the participation of more than 1000 exhibitor companies, aims to become one of the top 3 fairs of the world. MEGABUILD Eurasia Building Materials Fair aims to bring the sector’s professionals from around the world to Istanbul CNR Expo.

For more information:
World Architecture Festival
2-4 november 2011, CCIB, Barcelona

World Architecture Festival is the world's largest, live, truly inclusive and interactive global architectural awards programme. It is a unique meeting point for architects, suppliers and clients, attracting hundreds of entries and visitors from all over the world.

For more information:


(22 - 23/06/2011) - Nuremberg (DE)
51N4E. Double or nothing
(01/06 - 04/09/2011) - Brussels (BE)
(09 - 13/09/2011) - Paris (FR)
(30/06 - 01/07/2011) - Merano (IT)
ManMade Environment
(11/02 - 21/11/2011) - Copenhagen (DK)
(> 30/06/2011) - Porto (PT)
Contemporary Norwegian Architecture #7
(> 21/08/2011) - Oslo (NO)
>> read more
Rio 2016 Olympic Park Competition
Deadline: 30/06/2011

SC2011 International Competition
Deadline: 30/06/2011
Towards a rural city
Deadline: 15/07/2011
>> read more

Architectures, Wallonie-Bruxelles
Sous la direction de Maurizio Cohen et de Chantal Dassonville

272 pages | € 27.00
Editions WBA
ISBN 978-2-9600878-5-7
>> read more
The Other Architecture
Ralph W Liebing

428 pages
€ 64.00
Editions Springer
ISBN 978-3-7091-0262-6

>> read more
Towards Zero-Energy Architecture: New Solar Design

206 pages
£ 28.00 / € 48.00
Editions Laurence King
ISBN 978-1-85669-678-4
>> read more
DETAIL Development: ‘Innovative Design + Construction’

112 pages
€ 39.90
ISBN 978-3-920034-33-1
>> read more

Copyright 2011 Archi-Europe Group nv/sa
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard
Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

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