The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter - December 2013
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New image of the « Cité Ardente»

Beyond the arguments about each of its large-scale projects, about the feebleness of its inhabitants for today’s architecture, about the muted rivalries with Mons relating to cultural deployment, the City of Liège continues all in all its urban renovation. And seems to find the happy medium between heritage conservation and the urgent necessity to conciliate with today’s realities, whilst remembering the sacks of the St Lambert square and its never-ending construction site. Renowned as welcoming and dynamic despite the strong crisis of its industry, the former Prince-Bishop’s City with a prestigious past did not hesitate to continue the implementation of ambitious projects. A symbol of its architectural revival is the Guillemins Station built by the Spanish architect Calatrava, extending its enormous white concrete sails above the daily mobility. The Ron Arad easily recognizable imprint marks the dynamic Mediacity. Still more recently, the Royal Theatre, housing the Walloon Royal Opera, spoilt by the successive additions, has found again the image of the initial building erected in 1820 and deliberately chose a contemporary intervention with an aluminium superstructure enabling the creation of three extra levels. The new Liège Theatre, which has recently been inaugurated in the former Emulation building, dared to add a completely glazed volume hanging over the street, but of an absolute sobriety. These two renovations are at the height of the cultural ambitions of the City. The building of the new CIAC, International Center for Art and Culture, to replace the old Modern and Contemporary Art Museum in La Boverie, appears to be the main project for the coming months. In temporary association, two architecture practices - pHD-Hautecler from Liège and Rudy Ricciotti from France, designer of the European and Mediterranean Civilisations Museum in Marseilles - have imagined a new 60 m wing, built on piles and covered with a concrete net on two side façades. Risk a resolutely new architecture without altering the yesterday’s constructions and translate the architectural legacy: those are the challenges to be taken up once more by the architects.

* A2RC Architects, designers of the project in association with Architectes Associés, Origin and TGI

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month

1) Daniel Dethier

2) European Amphitheatres

3) Denis Ortmans Firm

4) Centre for Group Dynamics and Institutional Analysis

5) CHU, Esneux

6) Belvedere for the Bundesgartenschau

7) Kempart loft

8) Amphitheatres at Liège University
Daniel Dethier

Accumulating prizes and distinctions, the agency, Dethier Architecture in Liège manages to brilliantly master contemporary expression, technology, site integration and use of sustainable materials.

Founded in 1992 by Daniel Dethier, architect engineer and city planner, the design office Dethier & Associés becomes in 2010 Dethier Architecture. Advocating a very open concept, he favours contacts between architecture and city planning, landscape, engineering, botany, city agriculture, art, etc, thanks to a multidisciplinary approach. The agency developed its activities thanks to the calls for candidates for the medium-size European public tenders. Nowadays he is less active in this field as he regrets the present evolution of these public tenders towards less quality. First of all because the selection criteria for the participants are based more on the quantity of references instead of their quality. Secondly, the final decision, although this is not official, depends more and more on the fees level. Finally, most of the deals in the construction activity are made on the basis of public tenders, the prices proposed by the bidders being often lower than the market prices.

Daniel Dethier believes that the city planning regulations in Wallonia are generally obsolete, as they don’t take account of the technical evolution (insulation, double flux ventilation, green roofs, solar captors…) nor the societal changes (e.g. the increase of single-parent families needing different types of accommodation). Today it is impossible to get a permit without exemption, and the latter seem often to be arbitrarily granted by politicians or civil servants. Daniel Dethier wishes to have a regulatory system well adapted to the situation and the present needs. His work aims to a deep contextual anchoring. His projects want to respect the public spaces, the rural or urban environment and particularly the heritage. By doing this, he clashes with the « present system » described here above which he considers completely obsolete. And causing the impoverishment of the quality works and the development of non perennial and sustainable realizations.

In this respect approach, the techniques are serving architecture by bringing more well-being, comfort and special emotions to the users. They are a tool and not an objective. That’s why they are discreet and sometimes even invisible. To develop an architecture representing the economical and social progress, Daniel Dethier thinks that the ultimate solution is the change of mentalities. And this, in the interest of looking at the future whilst preserving the heritage, but also by adding value to contemporary architecture, image of a modern, dynamic and creative society. His numerous works, mainly designed in Liège, are unanimously recognized at international level. Right from the beginning, his projects integrated the principle of sustainable development when considering the perennity of the constructions. This course of action is perceivable in his first houses but also in his more recent realisations implementing the most advanced technologies.

Covered with natural stone, the European Amphitheatres are installed in the Sart Tilman campus with two main perpendicular circulation axes. Open book just dropped on the greenery or enormous bird, the building’s shape results from the desire to limit the cost of the construction (reflection on the design’s general principle and the use of a great deal of similar components) and to answer the multipurpose need. By using the contemporary techniques (insulating glass, steel, green roofing, mechanical ventilation,), the firm Denis Ortmans proposes an alternative to the caricatures of traditional housing to offer an economical accommodation adapted to the present style of life and environment friendly.

This prefabricated building of 157 square meters was assembled on punctual foundations in the middle of an orchard, in complete symbiosis with the nature. The Centre for Group Dynamics and Institutional Analysis claims for a high - quality architecture respecting the great value wooded environment. To keep costs down, the various parts are fitted into a small volume with a curving roof that underlines the protective atmosphere within. Budgetary concerns also led to the innovative use of high-quality materials normally reserved for industrial use. The horticultural show, Bundesgartenshau in Coblence is a large - scale event and the belvedere is designed like a hollow triangle made of native wood species for the structure and the walkway, and of Corten steel for the structural elements.

The renovation and extension of the Centre of Excellence in Revalidation of the CHU in Esneux have given special attention to the integration of the building in the nature, with the supply of a great quantity of natural light. In the building’s transformation process, the architect Daniel Dethier has considered the ecological aspects, particularly with a green roof and a reinforced insulation of the façades and the roofing. Special techniques permit energy savings. Resulting from the meeting between Daniel Dethier and a customer passionate about precision engineering, the loft Kempart demonstrates how an industrial space – a disused bakery workshop - can be transformed into housing without becoming locked into stereotypes.

An open area of 154 square meters was structured by the introduction of a rounded modular unit. Recently the main challenge has been the creation of new installations for the Liège University: transform an obsolete movie theatre complex ideally situated in the city centre into a new appealing building. The building was adapted to the present norms regarding accessibility, security and energy savings whilst giving a new impetus to the neighbourhood. The community value of a project such as this one needed to be felt at an urban level. « By reintegrating the building in the urban fabric, we sought to present the new purpose of the building and the university’s presence in the area. We altered the visual dialogue with the exterior by adding two balconies and replacing the reflective windows with clear glass. »

When reading these buildings, clearly appears a concept without preconceived ideas. This approach underlines a critical vision permitting to bring innovative solutions in the city and countryside housing typology as well as giving an added value to the heritage, the cultural infrastructures or the arrangement of public spaces. In most of the projects, there is an underlying will to make one understand that advanced techniques are perfectly compatible with the respect of the environment.

1) Daniel Dethier
© Thomas Faes

2) European Amphitheatres, Liège (1996)
© Jean-Paul Legros

3) Denis Ortmans Firm, Verviers (2000)
© Jean-Paul Legros

4) Centre for Group Dynamics and Institutional Analysis, Liège (2004)
© Serge Brison

5) CHU, Esneux (2010)
© Serge Brison

6) Belvedere for the Bundesgartenschau, Coblence (2011)
© Thomas Faes

7) Kempart loft, Liège (2012)
© Serge Brison

8) Amphitheatres at Liège University (2013)
© Serge Brison
Project of the month

The Liège Theatre

Symbolic place in the heart of Liège, the neo-classical building of the Free Emulation Society has been given a new life. A long matured and perfectly accomplished rehabilitation signed by Pierre Hebbelinck & Pierre de Wit.

From now on, The Square Theatre changes name and scenery. The Emulation building, this cultural society well integrated in the city’s life since the end of the 18th century, was destroyed by fire in 1914 and rebuilt in 1939 by the architect Julien Koening. The renovation site starts in 2011 after nine years of studies, updating and 150 models. A real challenge for the Architectural Workshop Pierre Hebbelinck which received a complete mission including architecture, engineering, scenography and acoustics. « The project was given time to mature, admits Pierre de Wit. And being able to talk with the same people during such a long period was a real chance. It was important for the place to find again its historical and emotional background. »

Very dense, it is a completely built universe apart from a small 25 square meter courtyard. The building is designed on the reassignment of the existing building - the street façade, the roof, the great hall and the entrance staircase are classified - and on the place’s expansion after expropriation of a few neighbouring buildings. The new interventions are very discreet. Glass, concrete and wood, by their specific qualities, add value to the existing building. « In this small hybrid plot, we worked as in a theatre by unity (time, place) bringing the materials to their limits. » Adapting to the theatre’s needs, the total surface was extended to 8000 square meters. Kept identically as a reminder of its history, the main façade receives an extra entirely glazed volume integrating in particular the artists’ centre overhanging the public space.

The architects have multiplied the perspectives, banking of the permeability of the place to the city: perspective towards the August 20th square from the apparent concrete rehearsal hall thanks to a narrow opening or perspective from the street to the great hall when no event is taking place. By a look, the pedestrian feels close to this new available site. A special glazing, similar to the one used for photovoltaic panels, diffracts the light. « The play on the glass panels is in fact a light play. We wanted to change the look, says Pierre Hebbelink. » The complex has a great hall (557 seats) and a small one (145 seats), an exhibition space, a rehearsal room and new welcoming system (restaurant, bar, library). To be mentioned also, the choice of the Jean Prouvé furniture, produced by Vitra, and particularly well adapted.

The great hall is studied taking account of the strictest requirements for a theatre today (visibility curve, insulation and acoustic diffusion, spectators comfort) and of the respect of the place’s heritage legacy. As a result you have free tiers. In the shape of a hand strongly anchored to the stage, they liberate the vertical partitions and the classified balcony. A light oak slated back contrasts with the floor and the black walls. The architects underline the remarkable work done by the cabinetmakers, by all those who have participated to the different phases of the construction and also by the artist Patrick Corillon who has decorated the interior and exterior walls with beautiful texts relating to the theatrical environment. The letters play with all the materials, particularly with the glass on the façade, where the black letters appear and disappear depending on the angle of vision. With this new place, the theatre, which became in 2006 « European Centre for theatre and choreographic creation » supervised by Serge Rangoni, increases greatly its influence on the international cultural scene.

Products of the month

Epson's new architectural printer range

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Events in the spotlight

Ecobuild 2014, the world’s leading event for sustainable design, construction, energy and the built environment.

SEE the entire spectrum of sustainable construction products for new build and refurbishment of residential, commercial and industrial projects
NETWORK with industry professionals, clients and suppliers from around the world
GET INVOLVED in a more sustainable built environment with the leading industry voices in our thought provoking conference
LEARN from over 600 of the most innovative and influential practitioners with our seminar programme
MEET the people you want to meet before, during and after Ecobuild's via our online communities on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
BE SEEN and raise your profile, meet and network with the world's leading industry press

For more information visit
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MosBuild 2014 - 1-4 and 15-18 April 2014

MosBuild is the largest annual construction exhibition in Europe with 'UFI Approved Event' status and one of the five largest in the world.

In 2013, MosBuild brought together 2309 exhibitors from 43 countries and over 100,00 visitors from Russia and abroad in an area of 150,000m².

In April 2014, the exhibition will be staged for the 20th time.
MosBuild 2014 will comprise three major sectors:
* The Building & Interiors sector
* The Fenestration sector
* The Cersanex sector

For more information visit
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The fourth edition of INGLASS International Architecture Conference will take place in Warsaw on February 4, 2014. INGLASS is about glass and glass construction, architecture and engineering, facade systems, energy efficiency and sustainability.

INGLASS 2014 is addressed to architects, engineers, glass producers, glass processors, equipment providers and end-users.

This year’s topic is "glass architecture and engineering".

INGLASS presents the latest applications of glass in architecture, examples of best practice and architectural projects that bring out the importance of glass.

Internationally renowned architects, awarded for their recent and most representative projects for the built environment and leading companies in the glass industry will present solutions, products and state-of-the-art technologies.

More about INGLASS Warsaw 2014:
Competitions in the spotlight


We are happy to announce you that Piscine Global and Archi-Europe launch the second edition of the international award for Pool & Spa architecture: Pool Vision.

private pools
public/hotel pools

For this edition we are inviting participants from the Middle East and Asia to participate actively as there will be a separate awarding ceremony for Abu Dhabi projects on the exhibition PME in April 2014.

Principle and aim:
Pool Vision 2014 will select and award prizes to outstanding swimming pool projects from around the world, judging them from the technical and aesthetic standpoints, water treatment, coverings, accessories, spas, etc...

Registration deadline Middle East: 28/02/2014
Registration deadline Asia & Pool Vision global: 31/07/2014

More about POOLVISION 2014:
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Archi-World® Academy 2013-2015

After the extraordinary success of the first edition 2011/1013 (Archi-World® Academy registered 1287 entries coming from all parts of the world!) and the magnificent awarding ceremony in Munich on 16 January 2013 with top architects, Archi-World Academy Awards 2 is now on track!

This second edition of the Archi-World® Academy Awards will again involve students in architecture and architecture schools from all over the world that will have the opportunity to upload their project in a new topic: Architecture for tomorrow! It will give to 12 winning students the chance to win a prestigious traineeship in top architecture practices!

Archi-World® Academy is proud to announce you the new jury members of this second edition: Roger Duffy (United States) - Philippe Samyn (Belgium) - Ibrahim Jaidah (Qatar) - Yves Besançon (Chile) - Thomas Herzog (Germany) - Mario Cucinella (Italy) - Andrey Asadov (Russia) - Paul de Ruiter (Netherlands) - Madhav Raman (India) - Fernando Romero (Mexico) - Peter Stutchbury (Austria) - Juan Manuel Herranz (Spain)

Registration deadline: 30 September 2014.

Click here to register!
Click here for more information about this competition
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A competition for young architects

MosBuild the international building and interiors event from Russia, is proud to introduce an international award for young architects and architectural students. The competition is organized by ITE Group together with the international community of architects Archi-Europe. The jury comprises renowned international and Russian architects, prominent public figures, and representatives of various communities and associations.

The competition has two categories:

Best architectural solution for creating an accessible environment
Best sustainable architecture project

Registration deadline: 7 March 2014

Click here to register!
Click here for more information about this competition
Face to Face
(23/09 – 9/12/2013) Berlin (DE)
Henry Van de Velde
(13/09/2013 – 12/01/2014) Brussels (BE)
(4 – 8/11/2013) Paris Nord Villepinte (FR)
SAIE 2013
(16 – 19/10/2012) Bologna (IT)
(04/02/2014) Warsaw (PL)
(7 – 10/11/2013) Istanbul (TR)
>> read more
IS ARCH Awards - 3rd Edition
Deadline: 04/11/2013
Generation Kingspan 2013
Deadline: 14/11/2013
SC2013 - International Architecture Competition
Deadline: 15/11/2013
>> read more

New Concepts in Museums
Jacobo Krauel

300 pages
€ 24.00
Links Books Barcelona
ISBN 978-84-92796-99-1
>> read more
Exhibition Halls

304 pages
€ 78.00
DOM publishers
German: ISBN 978-3-86922-175-5 English: ISBN 978-3-86922-184-7
>> read more
Architectures à l’essai
Architecture in the making
Marie-Hélène Contal, Jana Revedin

144 pages
€ 25.00
Editions Alternatives
French / English
ISBN 978-286227-739-4
>> read more

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

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