CITÉ DE LA MUSIQUE 191
of scale: the building, despite its size, avoids inspiring those feelings of claustrophobia and vertigo so common to 'grand structure' projects. Secondly, there is a functional requirement: a facility so devoted to the contemplation of sound structures and the production of 'noise' needs powerful insulation devices. In housing each musical event in distinct volumes or sub-groups of spaces, de Portzamparc found an efficient and effective way of solving the problem of acoustical protection. A third benefit from this individualization of parts is the urban-friendly quality of the building: natural light and long views, and diverse outdoor 'in-between* locations provide public areas for socializing at the same size and frequency as in traditional, historical city centres.
This project makes use of Corbusier's 'bricolage' manner of composition and has a strong aura of his work: the shell covering the concert hall is a replica of the Chandigarh Assembly Hall and of the church of Firminy; the western facade emulates the curved and rhythmical portico of the Palace of the Assembly of Chandigarh; the rounded walls are a hallmark of any number of Corbusier's designs; and the undulating roof can be traced back to Corbusier's Utopian and never-completed project at La Sainte-Baume. When all the sources of inspiration are identified and the 'intertextual' interpretation of the citations is carried out in this project's rich memory labyrinth, one may feel overpowered by a sense of wonder at the brilliance of the original bricoleur.
(Above) View from the court (Opposite) East facade
Hans Hollein NEUES HAAS HAUS
(Vienna, Austria) 1985-90
The Neues Haas Haus stands on the site of earlier Roman fortifications, in the heart of the historic First District of Vienna, opposite St Stephen's Cathedral. But it also lies inside a territory defined very much by Hollein's own mental world; three decades of stage design, exhibitions, Industrial design, artifacts, furniture, the radiant Retti candle shop ( 1964 ), the florid Chista Metek boutique (1967), the precious Schullin Jewelry Shop (1972, pp. 72-73). The Neues Haas Haus is an ambitious commercial project of eight storeys: four sales floors facing onto a glassed-in courtyard, three office floors and a restaurant on top. As in most buildings by Hans Hollein, functionally the organization of the project is an ordinary response to the needs of the programme. The extraordinary aspects of the project relate mainly to the treatment of the facade and to the reading it invites.
There is an aura of Richard Strauss in the building: contrast, paradox, irony, a delicate balance between classical and anti-classical views of spatial composition. In short, it is characterized by what have been called oxy-moric poetics', and it is these that make it one of the most intriguing works of Hollein's career.
At first glance, the eye is caught by an apparently strange sight. A graceful, classical.
(Above) General plan and ground floor plan
(Opposite, above) Exterior view
(Opposite, below) Interior view from the glassed-in courtyard
belvedere-like temple stands at the top of the massive volume of the building, where it dominates the structure. It is as if the build-ing'sonly reason for existing were to serve as a foundation for this delicate pavilion.
Another strange aspect emerges when one looks at the facades of the building. It is encased in two stone walls which remain open at the corner, their place being taken by an imposing wall of curved glass. The Roman baroque like stone walls, with their solidly mounted and sombre convex forms, rise up as if to refortify the city on this very site of its ancient walls; then they suddenly disappear, to expose a radiant, all-glass turret. There is a contextual explanation for this highly contrasted manner of treating a facade: according toHollein himself, the periphery of the building varies in response to changing conditions of the site around it. Thus we find 'stone towards the Graben and the Goldschiedgasse' and glass 'where the view is more open', that is. overlooking the main square which faces the corner of the building. The idea of contextual interpretation is reinforced by the fact that the building's curved outline follows the contour of the Roman fortification.
But there is probably another way of reading the project, more complex and more in line with
Hollein's idea of architecture - his preoccupation with creating 'fiction* through buildings and giving birth to "salient worlds of design", as in the case of the Schullin Jewelry Shop (pp. 72-73). The building in its design narrates, in an urban-theatrical and highly abstract manner, the act of stripping, the state of undress acted out architecturally by the exposure of the sparkling epidermis of the curtain wall. The 'plot' of the suggestive stripping away of the fabric of the perforated stone wall offers a 'commercial' image par excellence. This is a fitting image for a super-emporium trying to revive the lifestyle of a bygone, typically Viennese pre-war department store.
But ultimately there is a bitter-sweet moral allegory within this image of the built and unbuilt, the covered and revealed, which ties the project to the high and low art tradition of ffn-de-sidcle Vienna - also an obsessive theme present in most of Hollein's prolific works. The cracking of the stone wall can be interpreted simultaneously as covering as well as stripping, as revealing nudity as well as laceration, as the coupling of libido and abstinence, as eros and thanatos. More abstractly, this ambiguous architectural pattern can be seen as representing the cognitive acts of spatial composition and decomposition.
Aldo van Eyck HUBERTUS
(Amsterdam, Holland) 1982-87
Aldo van Eyck's views first came into prominence in 1946 when, as an employee of the Office of Public Works In Amsterdam under the direction of Cornells van Eesteren, he took a dissenting position against the massive projects of urban reconstruction typical of the post-war, militant 'progressive' approach that advocated the 'total' rebuilding of European cities. Van Eyck proposed, instead, small-scale 'infill' interventions, to be inserted in the voids of the bombed or abandoned urban fabric, which would spontaneously accommodate urgent needs in a focused, flexible and humane way. Three decades later, when most of such anti-planning, so-called 'incremental' ideas about urban intervention had become standard thinking in the architectural profession at large, and van Eyck himself had gone in different directions, he returned to the idea of designing an infill project consistent with his life-long vision of a socially committed architecture. The result was Hubertus, a home for single mothers (now for single parents of either sex) and their children.
The commission came from the Hubertus Association, a Christian charity that had moved away from its original 19th-century paternalistic character. The building houses around 16 parents and a total of 73 children. Each family unit stays for about six months, during which time the single working parents are helped with their problems by 65 qualified professionals. The institutional principles are inspired by Carl Rogers' client centred' therapy and his ideals of a 'therapeutic', but also 'democratic' community.
This building stands in one of the most interesting parts of Amsterdam. It is inserted into a row of typical bourgeois, parallelepiped town houses in Plantage, an area associated with the Amsterdam Zoo, Berlage's Diamond Workers Union and theatres such as the Hollandse Schouwburg, which is just across the street from Hubertus. The site of the project itself was once occupied by the Talmud Thora Synagogue. Besides being an infill, Hubertus is partly a re-utilization of an existing adjacent building.
Van Eyck had to invent a new spatial organization for the new institution and he did this by introducing existing principles of the rule system of composition, colour and con struction, all of which were put to work in the service of the building's programme; but they
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