Young Architects Vie for Borromini Award
Recently, Normalgroup completed the renovation of Thread Waxing Space, a nonprofit gallery in New York founded in the late 1960s. It is a type of independent event space that is disappearing in what used to be the artist's domain in Soho; today the area is turning into a shopping mall in a historical setting.
The gallery curators wanted a new home for Thread Waxing Space but decided instead on a low-cost renovation of the existing gallery. The program called for new curatorial work space, a new project room, workshop and storage areas, and interventions in the main gallery space.
The architects' tactic was to create "an inviting gallery space, open to the public, out of fragmented bits of the gallery floor" and to give the second-floor gallery a presence on the street, from the staircase and the elevator entry.
The entrance wall is a combination of translucent corrugated fiberglass panels and recycled paper board. On entering the gallery, the visitor sees activities in the office projected in shadow-like movements. Through the large pivot windows, the line of light signals the presence of the gallery from turbulence of Broadway street below.
Springing from the Landscape
Japanese architect Shuhei Endo has created "Springtecture H," a facility in a small park one hour by bullet train from Osaka, in the mountains of Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The facility defies expression of any regional character.
Sandwiched by newly built school buildings, the building is a simple structure for public restrooms. Endo describes his work as "Halftecture" (half + architecture), because it is characterized simultaneously by the openness required by convenience and the "closedness" required for security.
Openness is provided by passage in three directions, with no clearly defined entrance, suggesting the possibility of entrance from almost anywhere.
On the other hand, closedness as a spatial attribute is created by the use of corrugated sheet metal roofs, walls, and floors. The structure is in the form of an independent spiral of these sheets, with gate-shaped auxiliary materials partially inserted.
Endo's goal was to form a linkage between openness and closedness through continuity of the corrugated steel sheets. He explains: "The interior and exterior form a linkage of changes, challenging architectural norms expected by the observer, and suggesting a new, heterogeneous architectural form.
"The facility is also a small attempt towards a new architecture realized by continuous interplay between the interior and the exterior and the interactive effect of partial sharing of roofs, floors, and walls."
A Church for the People
Architect Jae Cha designed a church in Urubo, a village near Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The small church, 1250 square feet (113 square meters) in area, is made with local wood and translucent polycarbonate sheets which provide patterns of light and shadow and a daylit glow within.
Planning took 8 months, but the church was built in only ten days by congregation members, local skilled workers, and volunteers from the United States. The structure can also function as daycare center, vaccination center, or public market.
Cha observes: "Well planned public spaces that meet the needs of a community are often overlooked as potential means to fight poverty. Charitable contributions may reduce need, but ending poverty requires developing sustainable methods and encouraging a web of community interaction."
She believes that flexible public spaces like this church can provide the physical foundation for economically diverse, self-supported, and self-guided communities. "We emphasize independence, rather than dependence, by seeking to create public spaces that offer direct paths to community empowerment and vitality."
House on the Edge
The firm UdA is made up of Walter Camagna, Massimiliano Camoletto, and Andrea Marcante, all from Turin. Since 1992, they have dealt with issues of living, the image of commercial and public spaces, adaptive reuse, and restoration. In collaboration with architect Davide Volpe, they designed the Levis house in Vandorno-Biella, Italy.
To replace a small dairy barn, the house was designed with two stories connected by an exterior stairway. A nearby orchard and open view to the Alps led to their configuring the house as a sequence of filters. These create a sequence from the closed, introverted spaces of the original building to the open spaces of the landscape.
The architectural language was inspired by the assembly of vertical and horizontal planes, re-composed by a structure with vertical wooden strips to evoke traditional balconies and structures open to the exterior.
A Walk on the Riverfront
French architects Jean-Philippe Lanoire and Sophie Courrian were nominated for their "Renovation of Shed 14" for a large exhibition hall in the City of Bordeaux, completed in 1999. This 75,000-square-foot (6,750-square-meter) renovation represents the first step towards rehabilitating 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of unused riverfront for public space.
The original sheds, say the architects, were part of Bordeaux's sentimental
and historical heritage. "Our intention was to respect the existing structure and image, conferring on them the status of a public building, having it open the city towards the river."
The building's coarse and industrial aspect was preserved, and movement was given to the front of the facade with the use of eight emergency stairways in galvanized steel. They are placed within a large deck offering a view over the Garonne and the city.
This facade is made entirely of glass and, at night,appears luminescent from the opposite river bank. "This constitutes on one hand the symbol of the entrance into the building," the architects explain, "while also the building's identifying sign and mark in the city."
The Francesco Borromini International Award for Architecture is held under the auspices of the European Parliament, the Republic of Italy, and UNESCO.