University Of Palermo Science Departments 205

The Italian architectural historian and critic Manfredo Tafuri has pointed out that Gregot-ti's architecture is the outcome of the reaction of his generation to the 'neo-realists' of the 1950s and 1960s. They were, predominantly. Ernesto Rogers. Lodovico Quaroni and Mario Ridolfi. The most prominent was Ernesto Rogers, the architect of, among others, the Torre Velasca in Milan; he was also editor of the influential architectural review Casabella Continuity. Rogers was particularly concerned with the relation between modern architecture and the historical and regional fabric of its context. He supported an architecture which stood for the physiognomic and the specific and which avoided abstraction and adherence to general systems.

At the opposite end of the scale. Gregotti, a designer, and currently editor of Casabella, has taken sides in the European debate about such issues against the emphasis on architectural 'memory'. In his book, II territorio dell' architettura (1965), he dismisses what he disparagingly refers to as 'neo-Proustean' attitudes. He argues, instead, for a highly abstract ideal of 'modernity' which is opposed to mimesis and memory. As is evident, on the other hand, in the University of Palermo, he is equally against an ad hoc. chaotic accumulation of spaces. In a manner, later followed by Paul Chemetov (see pp. 244-45), his project departs from a rigid minimalism or geometrical orthogonality - which slowly fills in with equally elementary, rigidly geometrical components. The result, in Gregotti's case, is measured and guarantees that it never falls short of a minimum quality of usage.

(Above) Isometric section showing the construction

(Above left) Detail of the facade

(Above) Interior view of corridors, connected to the floor below by staircases

(Right) Seating area in the open-air theatre

Architekt Dipl. Ing. Klaus Kada GLASMUSEUM

(Bärnbach, Austria) 1988

This design was the winning entry in a competition for an exhibition building on the theme of glass and coal on the site of the 1950s Bârnbach glass works. The building was then converted into a permanent glass museum and cultural centre. The use of glass as the most significant material for the building made the structure at once an exhibit and part of the display', Klaus Kada has stated.

What strikes the viewer is a sense of movement implicit in the design of the Glas-museum. There is one's own movement as one is drawn into the structure, presented with prospects and retrospects', and offered multiple vistas of all aspects of the building and its surroundings in a 'conquest of flatness'. There is also the implicit movement of the parts which make up the structure, as if they had all been arrested in the process of being taken apart. Another sense of movement comes from the light: the way it is caught by the intersecting surfaces as it penetrates the loosely defined volumes of the building through their wide-open seams.

What holds the building together and makes possible all such implicit interpénétrations, while explicitly the volume is sealed, is glass. But the building is also held together as a composition. There is rigour in its formal spatial organization despite its apparent lack. The design is anchored onto a steel skeleton, a remnant and testimony of the old factory, which Kada views as a welcome accident, an architectural objet trouvé. The composition unfolds spirally, reaching out to the limits of the site and acknowledging the major axis of the town. The wall of hand-made glass tiles, carried by a filigree structure, runs parallel to the railway and the river.

In similar terms, Kada sees basic components of the composition as shaped by urban determinants. He writes, a glass stele . . . creates the pivot to the street frontage, along the second town-development line. On this line, the closure of the hall is formed by a pure, self-supporting glass construction, which at the same time dissolves the materiality of this boundary; urban space penetrates a house and can be experienced from outside. A solid wall follows, as the faceted outline of the gridlike front of the "shelving" in spatial distance-a stratum which has moved into the space by detaching itself from the steel concrete framework.'

There is also a deeper logic which informs the building. It derives from the systematic breaking of one of the most fundamental structuring devices of classical architecture, what Vitruvius, following ancient Greek writings, referred to as taxis, the well-formed division of space into parts. Most often, this spatial rule system used an orthogonal grid as a basis for locating all architectural elements. It also prescribed that buildings and their parts must have clearly circumscribed limits and a perceptible beginning, middle and end. All that is carefully violated in Klaus Kada's Glasmu-seum. In its place we have the jagged outline of the plan, dissolved boundaries, a faceted front of the building, an uneven succession of 'floating' roofs of galvanized tin.

In this elaborate exercise in anti-classicism, the role of glass, as a necessary condition for it, is central. But glass, ultimately, is only the means towards an end. Kada's architecture, like that of a large number of his Austrian colleagues, Günther Domenig, Michael Szysz-kowitz and Karla Kowalski, Coop Himmelblau, Gustav Peichl, seems obsessed with the will to represent the unfolding of time through space.

(Left) Axonometrlc drawing of the Glasmuseum

(Opposite) Detail of the roof seen from inside the building

(Opposite, bottom row, left to right) The exterior; detail of the facade; the entrance

Hans Kollhoff

Greener Homes for You

Greener Homes for You

Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At Living Green. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Great Tips on Buying, Designing and Building an Eco-friendly Home.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment