Centraal Beheer Office Building Vertical Circulation

Auc Dorms Plan

a modular coordination array led to unprecedented, irregular patterns that represented freedom from deadening everyday routines and induced creativity. A similar political message was carried out by the interior partitions. Mass-produced through highly industrialized processes, or bricolaged', and even sometimes handcrafted, the partitions were placed into the modular infrastructure without a predetermined plan, as individual needs arose. Thus they constituted a lived-in demonstration of the 'right to speak' of the users as citizens.

The origins of the ideas embodied in the architecture of the Medical Faculty of Louvain can be traced back to the Enlightenment theoreticians of the French Revolution, to Karl Friedrich Schiller's dictum 'that the most perfect work of art is the building of political freedom'. They come close to Kroll's belief in using architecture as a means of developing a new cultural/political consciousness of openness. Rousseau. Condorcet and Kropotkin also come immediately to mind as providing many of the political organizational principles of the project. Closer to practice, during the post-war period André Lurpat had successfully introduced user participation into the design process in his pioneering work for Maubeuge in France in the late 1940s.

In addition, the appearance of the building, the organic' elements of the Interior, the 'disordered' elements of the facade (occasionally generated by drawing cards from a pack at random), the earth and the vegetation-like textures, the 'non-finito' configurations, are reminiscent of another architect with strong political commitment of the 1900s: Victor Horta. As Horta's famous Maison du Peuple

(1896-99) served at a given moment actual functional needs in an innovative political framework, so did Kroll's project. And as Horta's building transcended this actuality to emerge as a monument, an abstract invention embodying concrete events - alas Horta's exists only on paper today - so did Kroll's university complex. But unlike Horta who. soon after the general mood of society changed, lost his enthusiasm and the supporters for his avant-garde architecture, Kroll. twenty years after the completion of the Medical Library, has continued to evolve in the same direction and has succeeded in finding a great number of clients for his architecture. (See also pp. 92-95.)

Architectonburo Herman Hertzberger b.v. CENTRAAL BEHEER OFFICE BUILDING

(Apeldoorn. Holland) 1968-72

Architecture Participatory Housing

Despite their professed universality. Kroll's ideas about participatory architecture were mostly suited to residential facilities (pp. 44-47, 92-95). In his offices for the Centraal Beheer, an experienced and sophisticated insurance company, Herman Hertzberger focused on the problem of designing a workplace for white-collar workers of the post-Spring '68 era. He attempted to satisfy populist aspirations in an architecture that would serve the needs and aspirations of a younger generation, creating a new relationship between professionals and their clients, authorities and their subjects, managers and employees.

What Kroll did in de-institutionalizing a university facility (pp. 44-47), Hertzberger did with regard to the workplace: like Kroll, he was in search not only of a new building type, but also of a new design method. Like Kroll. he had to answer new questions about the hierarchi-zation of public/private realms for contemporary users of architecture. Hertzberger and Kroll also shared several precedents: the idea of a dual spatial system dividing the plan of a building into two standard types of units, 'servant' and served', which goes back to Louis Kahn.

The infrastructure of Centraal Beheer differs in many respects from that of the Medical Faculty of the University of Louvain. The servicing units are more multi-functional, coordinating support, duct and circulation functions. The Centraal Beheer is also more structured and more structuring of the functions and people it contains. The 'plastic' manipulation of the service elements in Louvain and their accommodation is absent here. Its U-shaped bearing elements are standard in shape, size and in their spacing, which is specified by a standard grid: their only freedom is in their orientation, the direction their open side faces. Vet a remarkably rich variety of patterns emerges out of the combinations of facing, each resulting in a flexible system of servicing. A similar 'combinatorics' of standard furniture arrangement within the working cells provides a very rich repertory for organizing equipment and individuals and associating them in space around common productive tasks.

(Top) Isometric section of the Centraal Beheer building

(Top) Isometric section of the Centraal Beheer building

(Above) View of the exterior

Auc Dorms Plan


Abo>e> Intornal light well and (right) fttaércate

Lightwell Public BuildingCentraal Beheer Parking Lot

The system is open' in the sense that there are no other dividing partitions besides the vertical servicing elements to interrupt the continuity of the plan, or to prevent the project from growing. The vertical elements are allocated accumulating cells of work space forming, by implication, a public 'street', like a spine, or like the spaces defined spontaneously by individual blocks of buildings in a Mediterranean vernacular landscape, as if without a strict geometrical ordering plan.

The idea of such a central space operating not only for circulation and lighting purposes, but also as a collective representation of identity and of community, has precedents. Best known is Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin Building (1904-05). But the 'de-institutional', improvised appearance of this space and the programmatic vision inspiring it is certainly a unique invention of Hertzberger's.

Although the internal organization of the building has been thought out in great detail, its external appearance seems to have been left to emerge spontaneously out of internal concerns. The building does not acknowledge its surroundings which, one has to admit, are characterless. As a result, the skyline of its volume and the profile of its facade are imageless. While every effort has been made to identify a hierarchy of intimacy inside the facility, there is no indication of a transition between public and private territory as one enters the building. There is no representation of an 'urban' face on the outside of the building, the result perhaps of a polemical attitude against institutional, traditional architecture that insists on a separation of domains, private versus public, rather than negligence. If Centraal Beheer, however, presents no notable icon of the emerging fabric, it does offer an evocative climax of the interior spaces, which, without using any of the characteristics of institutional corporation lobbies, succeeds in giving not only legitimacy but also joy to the abstract idea of 'street contact' as put into action in the workplace of 1972.

Centraal Beheer's open workplace arrangement was a short-lived prototype, characteristic of the May '68 social experiments. Yet it has had a lasting impact. Not only has it enriched the thesaurus of similar architectural precedents of workplace and collective space in general, it represents uniquely the desires and aspirations of a generation.

Centraal Beheer Apeldoorn
(Top) Plan of the third floor

(Above) Aerial view of the roof terraces

(Opposite) Looking down into the building's interior

Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura LA MURALLA ROJA

(Alicante, Spain) 1969-72

The Muralla Roja, or Red Wall, forms part of the large tourist complex on the Costa Blanca near Alicante, in Catalonia. Other buildings in the complex include Plexus, Xanadu and El Amphitheatro, all designed by Ricardo Bofill. In the latter cases, Bofill tried to incorporate regional elements, but in La Muralla Roja. he claimed to be 'breaking with the post-Renais-sance tradition of the separation of the private and public' divisions in living quarters and to be reviving the 'Mediterranean tradition of the Casbah'. There is, however, more to this project than such declared programmatic intentions, and this is what sets it apart from the rest of the complex and gives it special distinction.

This building expresses a strangeness that is perhaps subliminal, but nevertheless great and even perhaps ultimately subversive. Its effect is to increase one's awareness of the artificiality and, indeed, absurdity of architecture and, by extension, of the functions that take place within it. In the Muralla Roja, colour plays the most important role in creating this effect. Here, in contrast to those buildings which are inspired by 'popular, native' forms integrated into their context, Bofill applied bright shades of red to the exterior, thus accentuating its contrast with the landscape. He then used different mixtures of blue for the interior, such as indigo, violet and pink, because of the illusory fusion that they form with the sky. The route through the building was designed specifically to heighten the sense of unreality. As one walks through its patios, one has the additional 'sensation of crossing a labyrinth' - which is simply 'an assemblage of concave and convex volumes generated by a predetermined geometrical spatial structure'.

At the end of the 1960s, there was a tendency to de-institutionalize public space by de-aestheticizing it; Herman Hertzberger's

Centraal Beheer (1968-72, pp. 48-51) is an obvious example of this strategy applied to the workplace. At the Muralla Roja, Bofill aimed at the same objective but chose the extreme opposite design strategy - over-aestheticizing. Ornament, colour and spatial articulation are greatly emphasized, indeed exaggerated. In the same way that the film La Grande Bouffe (Marco Ferreri, 1973) offered a critique of consumer culture by presenting scenes of over-consumption, so in the Muralla Roja consumerist values are subverted by awakening in people a consciousness of their con-formism. Bofill comments on the seductive power of design objects by making them over-voluptuous.

Whatever its political message, the Muralla Roja is one of the rare, and certainly most successful, examples of the application of paint to architecture in Europe since the Second World War.

lOppoftito, above loft and rtgM) Gonoral plan end a typical floor plan

(Opposite, below left) Rooftop swimming pool (Below) Exterior view

(Bottom left and right) Interior court; detail of the composition of the facade

Studio Arquitectos PER (Ciotet & Tusquets) BELVEDERE GEORGINA

(Gerona, Spain) 1972

Misha Gordin

This small residence replicates a Renaissance belvedere, a look-out tower over a landscape. Disconcertingly, on its roof under a pergola stands a parked car. Unexpected combinations of different elements, each with its own references and evocative power, give it 3 dream-like, 'magical real' quality.

'It was hard for us to imagine a very small isolated house in this landscape,' these young j architects wrote at the time. 'Those little houses, with elements of great villas at a reduced scale, are usually a mess. We thought ] it would be more fruitful to use a different object whose proper scale could be maintained and to adapt it to the function of a house.

'We admired the agreeable way in which some historical architectures had fitted buildings with their own personality into the land scape without having to resort to a masquerade. The simple geometrical and round forms of pavilions, rotundas and belvederes were the best ones we could think of.

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