Casa Kalman

Antonio Cruz Villalon Antonio Ortiz Garcia HOUSING BLOCK ON DONA MARIA CORONEL STREET

(Seville, Spain) 1974-76

Neither the geometry of its curved internal court nor any of the decorative elements of the facade is borrowed from the regional architectural tradition of Seville. Yet this building by these two young architects at the beginning of their career does exude a strong sense of the city. At a time when the spread of unchecked urban development was threatening what was left of the long-neglected, declining structure of the historical centre of Seville as a place of encounter and identity, this project was one of the first carried out in what we have identified as the critical regionalist spirit' - a call for 'placeness' and community, much like Rafael Moneo's Bankinter building (1976, pp. 78-79) and. a little later, Alvaro Siza's Boupa Housing (1977. pp. 90-91). Such regionalism has nothing to do with tourist folklorism or chauvinistic sentimentalism. Selecting a few but key memories of local, artifacted space, divorced from nostalgia and escapism, regionalist architecture provides a critique against mounting, flattening technocracy and bureaucracy.

This housing block is in the historical centre of Seville, built on an irregularly shaped site, about 500 square metres in surface. Each apartment had to measure approximately 110 square metres. According to planning regulations, 25 per cent of the space of the site had to remain unoccupied as a means of controlling the high density of this area of the city. Given these constraints, the architects chose to concentrate all the free space into one collective patio, a reference to the traditional Sevillian house, but they were required to accommodate it to the irregular lot by making it kidney shaped. This unusual form became a feature which both referred to the traditional patio and preserved a critical distance from it, while at the same time maintaining the deeper social, communal values inherent in the patio space. This was rightly seen as an act of faith in traditional forms of urban life and as a critical statement about the choking of the old city centre by wanton development, on one hand, and by a tawdry, inane, folkloristic regionalism, on the other.

(Opposite, far left) The housing block seen from the street

(Far left and left) Two views of the kidney-shaped internal courtyard

(Below) Plans of the roof (left) and ground floor (right)

Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers


(Paris, France) 1971-77

The Pompidou project is. in terms of its references, an amalgam of the architectural visions of the Russian Constructivists, Buck-minster Fuller. Vona Friedman, Serge Cher-mayeff and, to a lesser degree, Louis and Albert Kahn, Marshall McLuhan and Archi-gram. It is the first implementation in a long tradition of significant, but previously not fully realized, conceptual inventions on the construction and operation of buildings. A feat of what is called 'architectural syncretism' - the deliberate and conscious bringing together of different elements and styles to create a new type of building - it is the chef d'oeuvreol two young but experienced architects. It can also be seen as a wholehearted act of faith in the Enlightenment ideals of development and progress, technique and emancipation. Its spatial organization can be traced to various planning ideas of Serge Chermayeff; the zoning, at least partly, to Louis Kahn; and the general space concept to Albert Kahn. Archi-gram's influence provides the inspiration for its gigantic, visceral exhibitionism, and Yona Friedman's the vision of total flexibility. To Fuller and to the Constructivists one can credit its technological spirit and to Marshall McLuhan the belief that information is ultimately the building block of any product, including buildings. Finally, the Enlightenment encyclopaedists could be said to have provided inspiration for its commitment to knowledge, democratic values, unity between the arts and techniques, and exhilarating optimism. The exceptional invention of this work lies in the way such ideas have been brought together into a synthesis.

The programme for the Centre was extremely ambitious, requiring a building which, within its 93,000 square metres, would accommodate a museum of modern art, a reference library, a centre for industrial design and a centre for acoustic research and music, as well as bookshops, cinemas, restaurants, a children's centre, administrative offices and parking. Behind this programme lay a multitude of other ambitions: to try to recapture for Paris its status, lost since the Second World War. as the centre of the international avant-garde art community; to try to use such regained territory as a springboard in a bid to achieve superiority in other fields, such as fashion, publishing, mass-media and culture in general, areas in which France had fallen behind. Paris had to compete, at the beginning of the 1970s, with other European capitals as the predominant cultural, commercial and banking centre of the European Community. This was the moment to assert its predominance after a long period of economic growth had produced significant capital. Furthermore, the French establishment, after the shock of Spring '68, had to prove that it was not as culturally sclerotic as the young students claimed and that it was the leader of the field in creativity and innovation.

There was also a need to revitalize prime areas of real estate in decline, such as Le Marais, where the Centre was finally located. Implanting such a major magnet project into

(Opposite) Section (Below) Front facade

this area was seen as a good way of activating it. The Centre, with the Concorde and the new business centre of La Défense, was meant to proclaim the new French self-confidence. No wonder it was Robert Bordaz, the man who had negotiated the French withdrawal from Vietnam and ex-director of the French radio and television systems, who was appointed administrator of the project, directly accountable to President Pompidou and in charge of a staff of about 150.

Bordaz's style of administration was that of an enlightened head of a multi-national corporation. The programme for the international competition for the Centre was visionary, the staging and organization clear, the committee excellent, headed by Jean Prouvé, Oscar Nie-meyer and Philip Johnson, among others. A total of 681 entries were received from all over the world and the final choice, announced on 15 July 1971. was a stunning 'anti-monument', a 'spaceship', an object that captured both in its radical populist content and its science-fiction form the wildest dreams of the May '68 generation.

Interpreting the programme and the mood of the times, Piano and Rogers submitted an entry in which they saw the opportunity to create not just a major cultural facility, in the traditional sense, but, in the spirit of Spring '68, a 'dynamic communications machine', a people's centre, a university of the street reflecting the constantly changing needs of users', mobilizing the most up-to-date technology for putting together and running the building, open to constant change and development.

Once the winners of the competition had been chosen, many complex negotiations between client, technical specialists and architects followed. These resulted in several serious modifications to the original plan. For instance, the proposed virtually complete flexibility of the interior and an amazing, architecturally de-materialized screen-facade - an idea prefigured in the J.W.E Buijs and J.B. Lursen building for 'De Volharding' in The Hague - did not survive. Yet, much to the amazement of the international public, this ultra-radical first prize was completed and delivered as scheduled, on time and under budget, in January 1977, with most of its original ideas triumphant. It has since func tioned with great success, at a running cost of one hundred million dollars, with an average attendance of approximately seven million people a year.

More than a decade after its opening, despite some serious difficulties in its ope ration and several changes in the programme and in the interior (carried out by Gae Aulenti). the complex is still enormously popular - too popular, many might say - and still maintains its aura of youthfulness, still continues to amaze, despite major shifts in sensibility and world outlook, and still retains its identity.

This extraordinary success was a result of the programme's vision and inventiveness, and was also due to the rigour with which technology was applied to realize that vision. The building occupied only half the site provided; the rest was turned into a public square in order to enhance the project's civic character and to encourage the urban piazza activities meant to take place in it. This space

(Opposite) Section of Piano and Rogers' original design

(Right) Site plan

(Below) Ground floor plan

Lucien Kroll Particular

(Opposite) Section of Piano and Rogers' original design

(Right) Site plan

(Below) Ground floor plan lation and services. The west, facing the square, accommodates vertical and horizontal circulation systems, lifts, walkways, escape stairs and, hanging on the outside of the zone, a 150-metre-long escalator system moving 3000 people an hour and feeding all levels. The system overlooks the activities in the square and the surrounding facades, and provides a splendid view of Paris.

Seen from the piazza's amphitheatre, the structure and movement, equipment and service paraphernalia - pipes, cables, decks, stairs, towers, moving stairs and landings, something like a cross between an ocean liner and a space ship - provide a genuine late-20th-century alternative to the late-16th-century Italian architect Serlio's urban piazza backdrop. Interestingly, these elements rise in great accord with the classical facades of the surrounding buildings from previous centuries, a harmony achieved thanks to the colour of the building, its horizontally, its unexpected respect for the height of its neighbouring structures and, most importantly, thanks to an aura of an underlying common spirit of rigour was paved and sloped, like an amphitheatre, and the three roads bordering it closed to traffic. The piazza became one of the most captivating open spaces in Paris.

The simplicity of the building's spatial scheme is brilliantly conceived. It is divided into several discrete zones. The entrance-level zone accommodates information services, shops and a large internal piazza which complements the one outside. The core zone consists of the floors conceived as open platforms to contain exhibitions, temporary shows and administrative services, with minimum permanent subdivision structure, to be constantly adapted to new needs. (This extreme concept and the initial allocation of functions on each level were later modified.) The top floor is devoted to evening activities, including a restaurant offering a panorama of the city. Two parallel, vertical zones at the front and back of the building, 7 metres wide and 50 metres apart, contain the vertical structure, a series of spun-steel hollow columns 800 mm in diameter, each holding six 10-ton gerber-ettes. These flanking zones also contain circu and robustness which exists between the Centre and the historical structures of Le Marais. The east zone holds all the mechanical services. As one approaches the building by car along the rue de Renard, the multi-coloured contraptions give the motorist a fascinating surprise - but this is not the case if one walks down the less-than-delightful street abutting its front. Finally, the roof zone contains air handling plant rooms (for air processing and ventilation), cooling towers and other such mechanical sen/ices.

Movement, change and flexibility were the top priorities of the Centre's programme, according to the architects. This dictated the displaying of all the building's movement systems, whether of people or works of art, all along the two facades. Even potential movement is allowed for in that most divisions, whether vertical or horizontal, can be taken apart and reassembled with ease; even the facades of the building can be disconnected from the columns. And the partitions of the structural movement are themselves movable, of dry construction. 'All [components] are movable and express their movability', was the credo of the architects, a cry reminiscent of the Futurists and the Constructivists.

Perhaps even more significant than the appearance of the building is its programme, projecting a new way of life. And from this point of view, it can be considered as the last building that reflects the optimism of the Enlightenment. Few can dispute the Centre's architectural consistency in the execution of its programme. What is beyond argument is that its uniqueness does not lie in disembodied ideas about design and construction, but in the way that these ideas serve with great consistency, imagination and vigour a given programme. And in this, the Centre achieves what a grand monument is supposed to do.

(Above) Construction details (Opposite) The rear facade

Alvaro Siza


(Porto, Portugal) 1973-77

In a country where social housing standards had always been inadequate, the Bouga hous ' ing development, when it was completed in 1977, offered, despite its modest standards of quality, an image of lightness, colour and j one might say alegria, something which had J been suppressed in Portugal for a long time.

This urban infill project was commissioned by the residential housing associations set up by the state in the wake of the Portuguese revolution of April 1974. It was intended to accommodate the slum dwellers of Porto who had been victims, in Siza's words, of 'rem racketeering, illegal housing, overcrowding and lack of sanitary facilities'.

Like Bruno Taut's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' housing project for workers (1926-31) and Alvar Aalto's at Paimio (1929-33) and Sunila (1936-39), which Siza explicitly cites as his prototypes, the original design of the Bou^a scheme is extremely simple and direct. A spine wall screened the scheme from the adjoining railway embankment. Perpendicular to this, four linear terraces of double maisonettes formed long courtyards. At the end of each row, facing the existing urban context, there were public facilities such as a laundry, a library and shops. Each unit was provided with every i possible comfort, within the restricted budget without catering to any exceptional demands. While alluding to the local tradition of vernacu lar architecture, Bouga Housing is stripped of any nationalist or scenographic elements. The rows of houses with the spine wall are intended to 'celebrate the communal values which the revolution had brought to the surface.'

The project was meant as more than a mere facility or a shelter; it was to be perceived as a cultural statement. It carried within its fabrica i commentary on contemporary architecture, life and society. It was a protest against the destruction of community, the splitting of ! human associations, the dissolution of human contact. It was thus one of the most powerft* j expressions of the critical regionalist move ment in Europe of the 1970s. Despite its lean, almost poverty-stricken character, its message had a tremendous appeal. Many of its formal aspects were echoed in Europe and around the world for more than a decade, j especially in Spain. But it was mainly the implied aura of the scheme that inspired othe'

architects and that elevated Siza and his colleagues of Porto to the status of a school.

Offering an optimistic message, directness and honesty of expression, this project's regio-nalist populism brings to mind an equivalent tendency that lasted briefly during the late 1950s in Europe. One of its most eloquent and enthusiastic representatives was James Stirling; his Preston Infill Housing (1957-59) adhered to the 1920s and '30s image of modern architecture as an upholder of social democracy without succumbing to its formalist intellectualism.

Bouga brought back the air of social change in which architecture was a significant partner -but with an innocence which failed to foresee the upheavals of the subsequent stormy years. To the outsider. Siza made it seem for a moment as if the technocratic and bureaucratic developments which had occurred between the 1920s and the 1970s had never existed, and that the purity of the dream of avant-garde architecture remained untarnished. Unfortunately, and ironically, only two short sections of the planned four rows of houses were actually completed because of the lack of sustained political support.

(Opposite) Conceptual sketch

(Left) Model of the original design, showing the screen wall with four housing blocks projecting from It

(Below) Plans and section

(Bottom) Front facade (left) and rear facade (Hght)

(Opposite) Conceptual sketch

(Left) Model of the original design, showing the screen wall with four housing blocks projecting from It

(Below) Plans and section

(Bottom) Front facade (left) and rear facade (Hght)

Atelier d'urbanisme, d'architecture et d'informatique Lucien Kroll ZUP PERSEIGNE

ZUP (zone à urbaniser en priorité) is a typical, state-subsidized, moderate-income, mega-residential project constructed using industrialized techniques between 1958 and 1969, at the end of the post-war wave of massive prefabricated construction in France. This particular one provided 2300 units for 6500 inhabitants. Within the first year of completion, 15 per cent of the constructed units showed signs of malfunction. As early as 1971, the ZUP Perseigne had become the object of specialized behavioural research which diagnosed that social life was suppressed by the empty, monotonous and alien spaces spawned by the architecture. As a result of the sociologists' recommendation, a therapeutic reconstruction of the ZUP was proposed and Lucien Kroll, on the basis of his design for 'La Même' in Louvain (1968-72, pp. 44-47), was called to carry it out.

Consistent with his principles, Kroll refused to operate on the old 'pathological' plan as an outsider and to rebuild the project according to a preconceived normative plan. He chose instead to try and 'rehabilitate', or restore it to health, in accordance with what the users of the project felt was wrong with it. The first phase of the design consisted therefore in listening, like a doctor and an ethnographer: 'listening to the history of the neighbourhood, listening to the inhabitants, individually and collectively.' Once the period of diagnostic consulting was over, Kroll and his collaborators continued to pursue a participatory approach in implementing the new programmatic directives architecturally.

They inserted new units, planted trees, grew vines, paved paths, added outdoor furniture and lighting fixtures. A haphazard series of two-storey units appeared, creating the impression of a village street. New accesses, balconies, roofs, exterior surfaces, started to grow all over the old ZUP. Finally, and more importantly, changes were also carried out inside a limited number of units-not without a struggle with the local housing authorities - by knocking down walls, thus expanding the unit sizes.

Superficially, Kroll's 'interventions' looked like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa. This is how a bird's-eye view of his generated chaos', insertions of units, services and vege-

(Opposite) Urban plan

(Right) Kroll's new buildings seen against a background of the earlier development

In addition to inserting completely new houses, Kroll also made changes to existing buildings

(Below right and far right) A modification to an earlier construction; a rehabilitated facade

(Above) Isometric drawing of part of ZUP Perseigne, showing Kroll's modifications to the existing fabric

(Bottom) Typical roof and floor plans

Facades Houses

(Above) Isometric drawing of part of ZUP Perseigne, showing Kroll's modifications to the existing fabric

(Bottom) Typical roof and floor plans tation, might look appear to a hasty observer flying overhead. A clear juxtaposition was created between the Roman-like, rational, orthogonal parallelepiped layout of the original project and the 'Gallic', Asterix-like zigzag, pointed, multi-directional, exploding, carnavalesque geometry of the new anti-plan. Like Rabelais' vision of the 'world turned upside down', Kroll's re-design had unmistakable shock value, combatting, at least symbolically, the deadening impact of the bureaucratic, technocratic routines. As such, it was a 'critical' project. The way in which Kroll chose to create a critical consciousness, upholding a solution which respected local constraints as opposed to universal ones, makes it close in spirit to a critical regionalist project. However, Kroll's re-designed Perseigne is not like a Constructive or Surrealist work, a negative intellectual critique of an academic approach. Rather, the revised ZUP Perseigne is a positive intervention. The seemingly disorderly paths and volumes, the new openings and obstacles, are mostly there to redeem disfunctioning built

Meme Lucien Kroll Floor PlanMedical Lucien Kroll

patterns, especially as they affected social operations and generated a pathology of human relations. The result is a restoration of social life, invented and inserted in the midst of severe constraints and scarce resources, accommodating residential, recreational and communal needs previously impoverished by conformist, reductive, arbitrary ideas. The intricacy of the new project, its organic pictur esqueness. are not only meant to represent untamable nature: it results from building intelligently within it. If forms appear traditional, the thinking behind them is forward looking. And it is not only the political philosophy. the design methodology, that are forward looking; the very instruments of implementing them are at the cutting edge of invention. Kroll and his collaborators believe that it is through computer technology that we can achieve ultimately the best results to satisfy the emancipatory programme of what he calls 'ethnological' architecture.

Three stages in the transformation of a typical facade

(Top) The original version

(Middle) An early design stage of Kroll's intervention

(Bottom) The facade after his modifications

Neave Brown

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