The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter - July 2013
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Looking towards Japan

The recognition won by Toyo Ito when receiving the Pritzker Architecture Prize in March of last year gives again a strong light on Japan. After Kenzo Tange in 1987, considered as the father of Japanese contemporary architecture when participating actively to the Metabolism Foundation, last positive utopia of the modern movement, one of Fuhimiko Maki’s pupils also receives the famous Prize in 1993. It is also the case for the autodidact Tadao Ando two years later, world famous for his geometrical style largely using concrete and glass to create interesting light effects and of Sanaa in 2010, the practice of Sejiman Kazuyo and Nishizawa Ryue, architects of the New York New Museum of Contemporay Art and the Lens Louvre in France. Many have reached recognition far beyond the borders, from Arata Isozaki to Kengo Kuma, from Shigeru Ban to Hitoshi Abe who worked with Coop Himmelb(l)au before creating his own office. All major architects with a personal style, advocating light and sustainable architecture by using non conventional materials. We are moved by their sensitivity and their desire to see the human being live in harmony with his environment. Like in many other fields, Japan was able to show the rest of the world their capacity to adapt and innovate. The constraints tied to a specific environment – the unpredictable natural elements or a small size individual home will oblige architects to imagine new solutions – the permanent desire to experiment or the extreme attention given to small details characterize Japanese architecture. Letting the built areas express themselves, very often giving up the mega-structures, it seduces by its minimalism, the space modularity and the successful merger between interior and exterior. Young talented architects now make their entrance. New ideas to face new challenges!

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month

1) Toyo Ito

2) White U

3) Silver Hut

4) Tower of Winds

5) Musée Municipal Yatsushiro

6) Sendai Mediatheque

7) Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre

8) Meiso no Mori Municipal Funeral Hall

9) The Taichung Metropolitan Opera House

10) Stade National de Kaohsiung

11) Toyo Ito Architecture Museum
Toyo Ito

Since many decades Toyo Ito is an « avant-garde » Japanese architect. His recent nomination to the 2013 Pritzker Prize confirms the worldwide interest for his work, at the crossing of modernism, tradition and ultimate construction techniques.

Close to the Kazuo Shinoara approach, which developed the idea of a metaphysical architecture, Toyo Ito (born in 1941) uses technological materials whilst reflecting the essence of the collective Japanese culture. If most of the architectural works tend inherently towards form, Toyo Ito’s is different by its way to open up, merge and shade off limits.

After studying at the Tokyo University (1965) and a first experience with the architect Kiyonori Kikutake, he opens his own agency in 1971 named URBOT (Urban Robot) and changed to Toyo Ito & Associates in 1979. It is the period of small dwellings projects. Right from the beginning, his constructions aim to capture the light whilst playing with it. Without any opening towards the street, the house White U is turned towards a patio without any vegetation. The white walls are seen as screens with light and shade games. Later the architect tests fine structures. During this period the architect dematerializes the form. The Silver Hut (1948) he is proposing for himself is deconstructed but its steel structure becomes visible offering its fragile aspect.

The third period is dominated by the concept of «Electronic Flees Garden » as Toyo Ito named it himself. On this occasion he develops all the opportunities offered by Electronics, namely the Yokohama Tower of Winds (1986), his first public building project. Serving as a ventilation tower for an underground commercial centre, the structure uses photosensitive glass reacting to the wind’s speed and direction. He likes buildings with particular attention given to sensory fragility of the « built skin »

In the years 1990, his interest goes to the study of new systems to create fluid environments and also about what could be called «intelligent skin ». In the Matsuyama ITM or the Aoyama F building (small office buildings with mainly large outside glazed surfaces), some essential parts of the construction –such as the technical elements and the structure- become actors to a multi-size game of surfaces and spaces. The walls, floors, ceilings dematerialize themselves as soon as the glass and the materials composing the openings or the screens give birth to an unbelievable range of reflects. « Architecture as such, the physical architecture is not very important. We need new transparencies he said some time ago. »

The fleetingness concepts, which appeared in the use of the materials, remind in a certain way of High Tech. However, it concerns the interest for the skin concept as a separation between a person and the outside world. The Pao concept (literally « wrapped » to serve as basis to the Silver Hut) is also in connection with the Yatsushiro and Nagano museums. Later, aware of the city changes, he abandons Pao.

His most famous project is certainly the Sendai Mediatheque, built after winning a contest in 1995. The Mediatheque is composed of three elements: a flat concrete slab with six square paving stones, « pipes »- thirteen elements looking like trees vertically penetrating in these paving stones – and a « skin » separating the inside from the outside of the building. This symbolic project, which took six years to materialize, is a turning point in his architectural approach. Conceptual more than formalist, the main proposal is to break the ideas received from the archetypal museum. Let’s note that the building resisted remarkably to the earthquake causing the Fukushima tsunami.

Then, Toyo Ito became an architect with an international reputation, leading projects at the beginning of the years 2000 in Asia, Europe, North and South America. One of those is the National Stadium in Kaoshiung (Taiwan) built for the 2009 World Games. Almost all the structures are covered with solar panels. Its open extremity and its inclination let the summer wind cool down the stadium. By computerized software the shaded areas were chosen to efficiently protect the spectators against the sun. Other projects follow throughout the world but it is mainly in his country that he continues his work.

After the March 11th 2011 earthquake, he develops with a group of other Japanese architects the « Home-for-All » concept, emergency service with a little more humanity than the classic shelters. At that moment he reconsiders the fundamental architecture principals by his social responsibility approach. Recently Toyo Ito also thought of his legacy, with the architecture museum bearing his name on the small island of Omishima. Opened in 2011, the museum presents his work and is used by young architects as a workshop: the main building « Hut Steel » and the « Silver Hut », reproducing the architect’s old house built in 1984 in Tokyo.

Toyo Ito, who in his youth wanted to be a baseball champion, finally found the right direction - and what a career !- even if he thinks that he chose architecture because he had no other option « as it was the only direction open to me in view of my poor results at school »

1) Toyo Ito, Pritzker Architecture Prize 2013
Photo © Yoshiaki Tsutsui

2) White U (1975-76), Nakano-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Photo © Koji Taki

3) Silver Hut (1982-1984), (rebuilt 2006-2011 for the Toyo Ito museum) Nakano-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Photo © Tomio Ohashi

4) Tower of Winds (1986), Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, Japan
Photo © Tomio Ohashi

5) Musée Municipal Yatsushiro (1988-1991), Kumamoto, Japan
Photo © Tomio Ohashi

6) Sendai Mediatheque (1995-2001), Miyagi, Japan
Photo © Nacasa & Partners Inc.

7) Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre (2000—2004), Nagano, Japan
Photo © Hiroshi Ueda

8) Meiso no Mori Municipal Funeral Hall (2004—2006), Kakamigahara-shi, Japan

9) The Taichung Metropolitan Opera House (2005), Taichung, Taiwan R.O.C.

10) Stade National de Kaohsiung (2006—2009), Taiwan
Photo © Fu Tsu Construction Co., Ltd.

11) Toyo Ito Architecture Museum (2006—2011), Imabari-shi, Ehime, Japan
Photo © Daici Ano
Project of the month

Frac Marseille
Architect : Kengo Kuma & Associates

With its perspective plays, its visibility between inside and outside and its façade in pixellized glass, this museum recently inaugurated during the « Marseille 2013 cultural capital » year has no equivalent in Europe.

Like a figurehead, the museum has become a real urban signal. In fact it is a living building participating to and revealing the area’s activity. Its transparency is total to invite people to enter freely. Kengo Kuma wanted to free himself from the box museal concept in favour of the street concept, with its exchanges and its complex activity. « The street in 3D is the expression of multiple functions. Furthermore, the plot’s shape interested me. It was quite suitable for the building of a narrow construction. » To implement the concept of open street in volumes, the architect wants to find again the light of the Mediterranean street, remembering the discovery of the « Cité Le Corbusier » in Marseilles, thirty years ago.

He tries to continue this approach. He noted that a big glazed façade did absolutely not reproduce this light, after making many tests. And finally at the beginning of 2006, he found a solution with the glass specialist Emmanuel Barrois. The façade is organized like a vertical geometry, composed of non-tinted glass elements with white variations and different opacity degrees, all together reacting to the sun’s movements. The architect got involved in a very detailed work to give the right sizes to the 1500 glass elements like a haute couture work, whilst keeping the image of a light and sparkling architecture.

The obligation of conformity to standards and the respect of the HQE rules have slightly transformed the building’s image. It has become more substantial: the volume plays, the program’s expression are reinforced, unified and underlined by a particularly well designed envelop. Pascal Neveux, manager of the FRAC* Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur speaks of a total dichotomy between the outside perception of the façade and the inside volumes. The latter are very important and the heights under the exhibition halls ceilings considerable; the passage between the different spaces is sometimes reduced. No levels look alike. With 4 exhibition spaces, a documentation centre and a pedagogic zone, the complex brings together 920 works from 426 international artists. This museum is permanently in movement due to the interactivity with the public.

* FRAC : Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain (Contemporary Art Regional Fund)

Products of the month

No-Ha 2.0 Slide

The No-Ha 2.0 Slide is a door handle that recedes into the door panel and can be used on all sliding doors that slide into the wall or in front of it.

The handle has the same look as the No-Ha 2.0 for revolving doors. The No-Ha cover plate is not part of the mechanism so that it can be made to match the finish of the door panel.

The No-Ha cover plate is available as an accessory in MDF and in brushed stainless steel.

The milling in the door panel is the same as with the No-Ha 2.0 revolving doors.
An extra piece must be fitted on the top of sliding doors that slide into the wall so that the door can be drawn out of the wall.


⇒ opening:
87mm x 45mm
⇒ cover plate:
85.5mm x 43.5mm
⇒ note:
the cover plate is made to match the surface finish of the door panel and is NOT part of the door handle mechanism.
___________________________ __________________________________________________

SIGNA - limitless facad-possibilities

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Signa consists of a weather-resistant Rock panel® onto which a composition - designed by the architect - of Vandersanden brick slips is adhesively bonded. In this way projects are given a unique and striking look. The architect can now play like a virtuoso with relief, colour, format and brickwork bond - and this even in projects where a brick finishing may have initially appeared to be unfeasible.

The Signa-panel knows different mounting options. The most well-known techniques are the mounting on aluminium profiles or wood constructions. These constructions can be mounted on different substrates.

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Events in the spotlight

Cityscape Global - 8-10 October 2013

For more than a decade, Cityscape Global has been the annual meeting point for key real estate investors, developers, regional and city investment promotion authorities, architects, designers and other real estate professionals to drive growth in real estate investment and development across emerging markets globally.

With over 25,000 participants, Cityscape is the annual opportunity to build and maintain your presence across Middle East real estate markets.

The exhibition will be complimented by high level conferences discussing those key issues affecting business decisions and profitability, a series of round table discussions, business matching services, networking cocktail party and awards ceremony honoring those, who have contributed to outstanding urban development and architecture.

Click here to download the show report 2012
Click here for registration

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SAIE 2013

Each year thousands of highly qualified Italian and international professionals meet at SAIE to develop their network of relationships, share knowledge and discover innovative products and new market trends.

SAIE has always given extensive coverage to training and technical information. Last year’s show hosted talks by more than 500 industry experts at 130 conferences, technical and commercial meetings and training courses.

Over its 49 editions, SAIE has been focusing on construction sites and technology with special attention to topical issues such as seismic safety, rehabilitation and sustainability, renewable energy and energy efficiency and providing an overview of innovative software and hardware tools.
Competitions in the spotlight

Blue Stone Awards - International competition in architecture
for students, architects, landscape architects and interior designers

Carrières du Hainaut – founded in 1888 and currently one of the leading companies in the blue stone sector – together with Archi-Europe are launching the first edition of the Blue Stone Awards, a competition rewarding best architectural projects highlighting the use of blue stone in many fields/applications.

Projects can be uploaded in in the following categories:

• Compositions: assembling shapes and finishings
• Boldness: present your most surprising projects!
• Harmonies: matching blue stone with other colors
• Confrontations: blue stone compared to other materials
• Elements: Blue stone among water, air, fire, light
• Landscape: how to integrate blue stone into a site

Click here to register! - Deadline 09 September 2013!

For more information:
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Armstrong Green Buildings Award

Armstrong Ceilings and Archi-Europe are very proud to announce the launch of the first international competition for ideas open to students in architecture worldwide.

Ceiling systems are becoming a key element of energy conservation. Designing spaces with materials that can be endlessly recycled and reused contributes to the flexibility and longevity of buildings, and ceiling systems with their high recycled content, recyclability and use of rapidly renewable materials make a significant contribution to effective resource utilization through a full cradle to cradle approach.

Click here to register! - Deadline 07 October 2013!
(24 – 27/08/2013) Francfort/Main (DE)
(10 – 12/09/2013) Brussels (BE)
(6 – 10/09/2013) Paris Nord Villepinte (FR)
Maximilian of Mexico: The dream of imperial rule
(> 18/08/2013) Vienna (AT)
SAIE 2013
(16 – 19/10/2012) Bologna (IT)
(12 – 15/09/2013) - Prague
>> read more
d3 Natural Systems international architectural design competition
Deadline: 01/07/2013
OTTO LINNE AWARD 2013 Hamburg Horn - By Far: Green!
Deadline: 16/09/2013
Blue Stone Awards 2013
Deadline: 09/09/2013
Armstrong Green Buildings Award 2013
Deadline: 07/10/2013
>> read more

Building Images. Photography Focusing on Swiss Architecture
With texts by Hubertus Adam and Elena Kossovskaja

190 pages
SFr 29.00 / € 24.00
Christoph Merian Verlag
ISBN: 978-3-85616-582-6
>> read more
Creative Engineering, Architecture, and Technology
Ralph Hammann

352 pages
€ 78.00
DOM Publishers
ISBN 978-3-86922-181-6
>> read more
Simon Vélez, architect - Mastering bamboo
Pierre Frey

256 pages
€ 39.00
Actes Sud
ISBN 978-2-330-01237-3
>> read more

© 2013 Archi-Europe
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard
Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

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