Page C2.1 . 21 July 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Screens to Infinity

by Erwin Hauer

In the 1950s, Austrian-born sculptor Erwin Hauer designed and built architectural screens and walls whose complex and intriguing geometry attracted much admiration at the time. But they have been largely forgotten, and some have even been destroyed. Here are his thoughts on one example of this extraordinary work. Editor

Continuity and potential infinity have been at the very center of my sculpture from early on. I derived the notion of a continuous surface primarily from my studies of biomorphic form. This was greatly reinforced by my first encounter with the works of Henry Moore, who combined the dominant continuity of surface with an unprecedented cultivation of interior spaces within his sculpture.

The combination of these two factors inevitably led to the emergence of saddle surfaces, so named because they resemble a horse saddle, fusing convex and concave curvature. This kind of surface, while present in organic nature and in sculpture derived from it, has never received much attention in art, except in medieval armor and, beginning in the 1940s, in the works of Moore, Naum Gabo, and Antoine Pevsner.

More recently, sculptors with topological interests have been enjoying the marvelous opportunities that the saddle (or, as they call it, the anticlastic) surface offers. In architecture, saddle-type roofs also emerged. They were pioneered by Felix Candela with his thin-shell concrete structures and by Frei Otto with his hghi-tech tent structures.   >>>

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This article is excerpted from Erwin Hauer: Continua Architectural Screens and Walls by Erwin Hauer, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press, Inc.

 

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"Design 1" by Erwin Hauer is a sculptural screen installed in a Knoll International showroom in Mexico City.
Photo: Erwin Hauer

ArchWeek Image

The screen apertures subtly change shape as we perceive them from different angles.
Photo: Erwin Hauer

 

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