The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter
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January 2011


Architecture vs Industrie

That industrial architecture is multifaceted is nothing new. From the old XIXth-century factories, now a part of our urban patrimony and meticulously renovated, to the « boxes » exhibiting a blatant lack of culture due to their formal gratuitousness… the spectrum is quite broad. And let us not forget all the random extensions sprouting up along motorways. As far as the industry is concerned, it is mostly a matter of procedure, building budgets, deadlines to be met, imperatives linked to lasting changes to the production apparatus, to environmental concerns, to noise control and building maintenance. Faced with these constraints, does the affirmation of an architectural desire necessarily result in a conflict of interests? Already in the 1980s, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers succeeding in giving plants a true architectural status. This phenomenon has now expanded to thousands of small projects. Not so long ago, such projects did not serve any aesthetic purpose, but the evolution of ecological culture – even the importance of a strong image – has changed all that. It is not unusual to find interpenetration of industrial and tertiary sites, with each element developing its own typology. Nevertheless, designers do have some sort of « controlled liberty », which is exciting and frustrating at the same time, because good intentions are often tempered by economic interests. When facing industrialists, regardless of the project’s scale and sensitivities, architects are no longer satisfied with decorating the production tool, but take up the challenge of making the functionalities fit the space. They study the circuits, anticipate any future extensions, showcase the entire building by means of lighting and integrate it in the landscape. As a result of this small revolution, creativity is now applied to the most unattractive sites, as evidenced by one of the two colourful projects presented in this edition.

The Archi-Europe Team

Portrait of the month

This French collective defines architecture as « an art committed to society, to the construction of man’s living environment, based on group work and shared knowledge. » However, it is extremely perilous to sum up in a couple of lines the work done by Architecture-Studio, in France, in China, in the Middle East and elsewhere, covering almost four decades.

Founded in 1973 by Martin Robain, the Paris-based firm Architecture Studio progressively expanded; it now includes architects, town planners, designers and interior architects of some twenty nationalities, centred on twelve partners (Martin Robain, Rodo Tisnado, Jean-François Bonne, Alain Bretagnolle, René-Henri Arnaud, Laurent-Marc Fischer, Marc Lehmann, Roueïda Ayache, Gaspard Joly, Marica Piot, Mariano Efron and Amar Sabeh El Leil). « The desire to forego individuality in favour of dialogue and confrontation transforms the combination of individual knowledge into a greater creative potential. » Indeed, with all its projects, Architecture-Studio displays a group concept where everyone discusses and presents arguments at important moments, even if the work is led by one or more partners.

All these projects are the result of a particular expression. Regardless of the scale or programme – master plans, large structures, tertiary or industrial buildings, housing, museums, educational buildings – they are in keeping with the economic, social and cultural fabrics of cities in order to stimulate their mutation. « Our architecture is some sort of enigma to the inhabitants and the city, i.e. stories which we allow them to unravel. » The European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Arab World Institute (in co-operation with Jean Nouvel) and the Church of Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant in Paris are some symbolic projects of the firm, which is currently restructuring the Maison de Radio France and the Jussieu Campus in the French capital. The firm is also active internationally, particularly in China. It has a Shanghai branch since 2003 and a more recent branch in Beijing and a Venice branch since 2009, where its formidable global presence is demonstrated by Ca’Asi, which is a laboratory for reflection and a meeting place at the same time. During the 2010 International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Ca’Asi opened its doors to emerging young architects or young architects from developing countries, for a different perspective on the Biennale’s theme. By doing so, Architecture Studio remains true to its founding principles, i.e. promoting architectural debate.

At times, it is a long-drawn-out work, as evidenced by the master plan for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai (started in 2001) or the design for the Mecca west entrance, a four-kilometre route which, despite its huge size, takes into consideration the human scale of this public space. The Middle East has a variety of projects : the Onassis Foundation Opera House in Athens which has just been completed, the tower of the Rotana Hotel Abdali in Amman (Jordan), the Souria Towers in Damascus (tow 260-metre-high towers featuring tertiary facilities, a hotel, shopping centre and gardens), the Mascate Cultural Centre in Oman, the National Theatre of Bahrain, town planning for the Caspian Pearl in Aktau (Kazakhstan). Farther east, the firm is proud of numerous projects in China, high-quality residential properties, the Tobacco Factory in Shanghai, the Jin Qiao Office Park, the Miloou Island hotel and the Taiyuan city project extolling the typologies. Although each building is subject to far-reaching formal variations, dictated by symbolism, the projects are anchored well in their context. With the help of sixty-odd collaborators, Architecture Studio thus refines its view on a constantly evolving Chinese territory and actively participates in the development of its new architectural landscape.

1. Architecture Studio, the 12 partners.

2. Church of the Ark of the C
ovenant, Paris (1986 -1998)
Integrated in the neighbourhood, the cube-shaped wooden church symbolising the Ark of the Covenant is supported by 12 pillars, featuring the 12 Apostles. A metal mesh around the church ensures the transition with the urban environment.

3. European Parliament, Strasb
ourg (1991-1999)
As a project symbolising the firm, this complex is readily spotted and identifiable, taking into consideration the morphology of the environment and the city in Europe. Its architecture expresses the foundations of Western civilisation.

4. Metz National School of Engineering – EN
IM (2005 - 2009)
The building’s overall envelope or “velum” ensures a young and contemporary image, related to the school’s dynamic nature. Doubling as a facade and roof, the veil is suspended in the landscape and unites technological and academic training under its curved shape.

5. Rotana hote
l, Amman (2005 - 2012)
This tower in the form of a curved cylinder consists of a central core with a load-bearing mesh in front. A first skin, consisting of a glazed curtain wall, is protected by shading made of aluminium sheets.

6. Onassis Foundation, Ath
ens (2002 – 2010)
Behind its minimalist glass and white marble envelope, the new centre showcases its monumental properties, featuring a 18,000 m² complex, with a 1,000-seat opera house as the centrepiece.

7. Qiao Office Park, S
hanghai (2006 – 2010)
Partly elevated on the street side to protect it against noise, the U-shaped building opens up on its south side and surrounds the garden on three sides. Its planted roof extends the surrounding landscape.

8. National Theatre, Al-Manama, Bahra
in (2007 – 2012)
The building is laid out like an Arabian palace, around a majestic space featuring the grand theatre, like a jewel in its setting. Water elements, shadow and light are an integral part of the project.

9. Mascate, Oma
n (2008 -)
Emerging from a palm tree-filled landscape, this international award-winning project covers a 40,000m² surface and was commissioned by the National Archives, the National Library and the National Theatre of Oman and built on the main access road into Mascate. A canopy of moucharabiehs will partly cover it, to filter out any burning sunlight.

10. Tibet Natural Science M
useum, Lhasa (2009 -)
Surround by mountains, the museum covers 446 ha, of which 32,000 m² is built up. It is integrated in the environment and inspired by traditional carpets. The different thicknesses of the facade motifs allow sunlight to be filtered, thus controlling the interior lighting and temperature.


Project of the month

Two colourful industrial projects

In Navarre, architects Vaíllo, Irigaray and Galar came up with a urban waste treatment centre, conceived as an organic, particularly uncommon type of architecture. In Azerbaiijan, an innovative plant of the Turkish firm Toca convinced the jury of the Barcelona World Festival with its pioneering concept.

CRRSU - Central de Recogida de Residuos Urbanos (Ripagaina, Spain)
Architects: Vaíllo & Irigaray + Galar

A waste-processing plant can be considered a gigantic digestive system, swallowing, classifying and compacting waste before transporting it with lorries to different treatment and recycling plants. Accommodating very large mechanical equipment (turbines, filters, compactors, etc.), the building must nevertheless meet the functional requirements related to its purpose. Consequently, with its particular layout, the plant shows its innards by means of two large rectangular glazed bays which allow the process engineering to be seen. Its design aesthetics enable the building to coexist with its environment.

It is not a building that needs to be hidden, like so many other industrial buildings which are « blind » or insensitive to the environment. The designers opted for organic architecture, boasting some biomorphous properties which highlight its personality. Because of the noisy activities inside, the envelope consists of several layers of acoustic insulation. The roof and façades are covered with large recycled aluminium sheets (2.5 x1.5m), painted aniseed yellow. The corrugating aluminium sheets create a bloated shell-like effect, as a humorous reference to the internal production of gas involved in any digestion!

Yevlakh Seed Industry Campus (Yevlakh, Azerbaijan)
Architects: Toca, Istanbul & Baku

As one of the winning projects at WAF in November 2010, this vibrantly coloured 70,000 m² plant is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to produce 250,000 tonnes of hybrid seeds. The entire structure is divided into four sections : seed treatment, packing, storage areas and categorisation. The production unit is identified by the machinery’s aesthetics in the structural design. Each production process defines the architectural shape of the spaces and their layout on site.

The use of vivid symbolic colours ensures a unique result, in keeping with the building’s purpose. For instance, the warehouses where the sow-ready hybrid seeds are stored feature a roof solution with two sloping sections made of coloured galvanised sheets, letting in fresh air and natural light. With this solution, a complex ventilation system is not needed. The T-shaped office building with its light prefab steel structure can be seen from anywhere at the site.


Product of the month

Compact Epson Stylus Pro 4900 offers outstanding precision

This compact, 17-inch printer sets new standards in colour precision. Every print has a professional finish with precise and consistent colour reproduction. This results from the printer’s first-class colour matching capabilities, coupled with Epson’s 11-colour UltraChrome HDR inks and Advanced-TFP print head for superior dot quality. These inks and technologies are identical to those used in Epson’s larger format production printers up to 44 inches.

The Epson Stylus Pro 4900 represents a big boost in productivity, with a production speed of 30m2/hour and minimal maintenance requirements. Its high capacity front-loading cassette makes inserting paper easy, and automated paper changing means no time is wasted switching between cut sheet and roll paper. The printer also switches automatically between photo and matte black inks, with both installed to avoid stopping the print run. All inks come in high capacity cartridges for less frequent changes and better value.

The Epson Stylus Pro 4900 creates high-quality prints on a wide range of media up to 1.5mm thick, including thick photo or presentation matte board, canvas and fine art paper. Users can select a paper path that best fits their needs from a choice of cassette, top and front manual board feed or roll.

For more information:

Events in the spotlight

CityBuild Abu Dhabi

CityBuild Abu Dhabi is the leading building and construction event of the year. The construction boom has slowed down in the UAE as it has elsewhere but there are still 1,600 projects worth over US$560 billion in execution or about to start construction. CityBuild will once again be co-located with the 5th edition of Cityscape Abu Dhabi – a winning formula that offers the unique and unrivalled benefit of a guaranteed audience of decision makers from the real estate industry.

Abu Dhabi, which boasts the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, continues to forge ahead with long-term initiatives for continued real estate and infrastructure development. CityBuild Abu Dhabi 2011 will certainly be the powerful emirates premier offering for building and construction.

Come and visit Archi-Europe at CityBuild!

Click here to attend the exhibition for free. Please pre-register and you will receive an URN number, print this page and bring it with you to the exhibition and you will be allowed entry.

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Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2011

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2011, now moving into its 5th year, provides THE best arena for the real estate industry to showcase projects and services, network with key investors and developers from around the world and participate in content driven discussions with industry leaders.

Once again from 17 – 20 April 2011, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Cityscape Abu Dhabi will bring together real estate investors, developers, consultants, architects and all other senior-level real estate professionals from the region and abroad to network, create joint venture partnerships and discuss the opportunities and challenges the current and future market will bring.

Click here to attend the exhibition for free. Please pre-register and you will receive an URN number, print this page and bring it with you to the exhibition and you will be allowed entry.

Competition in the spotlight
Archi-World® Academy Website Now Online!

The first w
orldwide 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".

The launch of the contest will take place on Wednesday 19th of January at 5 p.m in forum 'Future of building' in hall 2 stand 309, during the International Building Fair Bau 2011, Messe München in Munich, who is also co-organizer. The project already has the full support of the European Commission. The award will give students in architecture coming from the entire world the chance to present their best projects or concepts in the field of energy savings.


BAU 2011
(17 - 22/01/2011) - Munich (DE)
(30/01/2011 - 02/02/2011) - Ghent (BE)
(15 - 18/02/2011) - Lyon (FR)
(08 – 11/02/2011) - Valencia (ES)
(17 – 20/02/2011) - Vienna (AT)
(17 – 20/02/2011) - Verona (IT)
(7 – 12/02/2011) - Utrecht (NL)
(01 - 03/03/2011) - London (UK)
>> read more


2011 SEGD Design Awards Program
Deadline : 31/01/2011
Living City Design Competition
Deadline : 01/02/2011
Lamp Lighting Solutions Awards
Deadline: 25/02/2011
Holcim Awards For Sustainable Construction
Deadline : 23/03/2011
BA AWARD 2011 (Biological Architecture Foundation -Futuristic Water and the bioreef diversity theory - City design Competition)
Deadline : 15/05/2011
>> read more


1. Bois et panneaux à base de bois
Critères de qualité dans la construction et l'aménagement intérieur
Hans Banholzer – Christoph Fuhrmann
144 pages | € 52.15
Presses Polytechniques et Universitaires Romandes (PPUR)
ISBN : 9782880748975

>> read more

2. Architetture per un territorio sostenibile
Balzani Marcello, Marzot Nicola

288 pages | € 49,00

ISBN 978-8857207377
>> read more

3. Rafael Moneo: Remarks on 21 Works
Rafael Moneo

660 pages |
£ 50,00/€ 66.50
Thames & Hudson
ISBN 9780500288832

>> read more


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