I bwid<ng in the ground. Another major technical sroWem was in the construction of the facade, t was like 'a tailor making a suit on someone »ho kept moving all the time*, according to I Paul Andreu. Spreckelsen's French collabor-[ Kor. who explained that this problem was solved by putting metal elements at precise [ po&tions in the concrete and then adding a yetabricated element of glass, weighing 3 lens, all at the same time. Certainly, this construction method is an engineering feat tut. from a technological point of view, the structure is not necessarily the best that could been achieved. A steel bearing system ; wth panelling would have been more efficient, and could have had the same visual effect. However, Spreckelsen would consider such a solution architecturally dishonest.

The financing of the building was not simple e:her. In 1986. President Mitterand lost the Sections and the new government of Jacques Chrac decided to put a stop to the project. According to Robert Uon. who was not only organizer of the competition, but also the main administrative planner of the project, the government told him. 'Please continue. Try to twld your Arche if you can. But give the government back the money" which it had »'ready paid. 'If you want to put a supermarket on the roof, it would be a good idea because it •cuid recoup our money', the minister suggested. Instead. Lion, who was also chairman of the Société d'Économie Mixte Nationale Tite Défense and director-general of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, the lead-ng institutional investor in France, created a soc>éié d'économie mixte, or joint company, »'h very low capital. Of this 45 per cent was provided by the state. 30 per cent by Lion's tank and the rest by public and private hswance companies. In other words, the j Vcne was paid for not only by the state, but also by private investors. It is. therefore, a •aWy privately funded project, very different Swn President Mitterand's other Grands Pro-/its. Furthermore, it is now an office building rather than an international communications centre, and only the roof belongs to the state.

Symbolically too the project was far from simple. The architect could have decided to design the building as a tower, the tradition for «nancial centres all over the world. Instead, he Ted a delicate balancing act between invention and precedent by opting for a modern t-. Mmg in the form of a traditional tnumphal «ch. This decision resulted in a new hybrid artifact and contributed to the ambiguity of its interpretation as a symbolic, urban object, determined by the site's context. Indeed, the îref called for a building which would terminate one of the most culturally loaded urban aes in the world, leading from the court of the louvre (where l.M. Pei's Pyramid now stands, see pp. 226-29). through to the adjacent Arc du Carrousel, from there to the Place de la Concorde and then to the Arc de Triomphe. Spreckelsen himself saw his new arch as a window on the world', offering a 'view into the future'.

But another reading was proposed that was equally and. perhaps, even more convincing. As the Spanish architectural historian Juan Antonio Ramirez has pointed out. this axis is also an allegorical representation of 'the political evolution of mankind from the absolutism of the monarchy ( Louvre) to the heroism of the Revolution (Concorde. Tuileries) then the grandeur of the empire and the 19th-century bourgeoisie (up the Champs Elysées). winding up at La Défense with the gradual silencing of the state and the triumph of capital'.

Seen from this perspective, the Arche appears as a monument symbolizing the culmination of a long path which, having linked a series of heroic historical events, leads nowhere, standing perhaps for the end of history, a self-deconstructing commentary on the Will to Progress. Such a teleological view of the axis implies a Hegelian belief in an inexorable historical march, although one that, alas, goes in the opposite direction from a progressive' one. The same Hegelian belief, when applied to the interpretation of the axis in terms of urban history, reveals the same kind of negative evolution. It suggests that the axis follows a descending path from the lost urban paradise of the past to the technocratic and bureaucratic hell of the present, reflecting the sad history of Paris's urban tissue, from an intricate web of functions and lifestyles, when the court of the Louvre was still occupied by houses and its rooms by workshops, to the highly segregated functional and social organization of La Défense.

Such highly critical interpretations have been triggered by the 'triumphal' associations

implied by an architectural type like the arch. But what if a different historical prototype had been chosen, less loaded with ideas of power and monumentality? What if the prototype, for example, had been the Place Royale, with its traditional harmonious integration of dwellings. workplaces, leisure areas, greenery and art? Then La Défense. no doubt, would have been a truly new way of exploiting the air rights of the Parisian sky. and the project would probably have been more appropriate as a link between the Pans of the past and the Paris of the future, inviting less heroic interpretations perhaps, but also less apocalyptic ones. It would indeed have been a window onto the future in the sense that it would have been a new kind of architecture. It might have been seen, if not as a prototype, then as a laboratory for experiments for a new urban type, leading to a redefinition of the city and urban life on a higher level, literally as well as conceptually and technologically. It would have been a truly daring new vision of an urban architecture, echoing such designs as those of Yona Friedman for Paris in the mid-1960s, expanding the city above the traditional rooftop level, combined with a post-1968 vision of a green, emancipated urbanity, in new. unprecedented, fantastic ways.

(Opposite, loft) Exterior view (Opposite, right) Plans (Above) Viow under the Arche

Pel Cobb Freed & Partners Architecte GRAND LOUVRE

(Paris. France) 1981-89

This was the winning entry in the internationa competition organized directly under tne French President François Mitterand. The com petition called for an underground expansion of the old Louvre Museum, which would measure well over 46.000 square metres, with a new main entrance to be placed in thecentreo! the preexisting U-shaped gallenes for more direct access to the museum collections. The final design has increased technical and support facilities and public amenities by 160 per cent and has nearly doubled the exhibition areas. Now. with almost 130.000 square metres of space, the new Grand Louvre is the largest museum in the world and welcomes more than three million visitors a year.

The project also includes a new circulation network for the Cour Carrée, the courtyard of the Louvre. Previously a car park for the Ministry of Finance, which occupied the nortn wing of the old Louvre, it has been resurfaced with a geometric parterre in which three smaller pyramids and seven triangular reflecting pools have been set. inspired by. according to Pei. and in keeping with the strict geometr cal spirit of the existing garden stretching from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde.

The pyramid, with a base of just over 35 metres, is the project's most significant feature. Serving as the top of the underground building and executed in glass, it is a very effective means of flooding the lower hall w tn light. At the same time, its inclined transparent walls, tapering to a peak just over 5 metres high, combine maximum visibility for the palace with minimum occupation of the famous Cour Carrée. In Pei's words, the structure has been designed for 'immateriality'. But there is more to it than unobtrusiveness.

The glass pyramid amalgamates the t*o disparate images of 'glass' and 'pyramid". The resulting new artifact brings together the t*o images, 'aggressively throwing into doubt'-to use the expression of Mark Turner about literary metaphor - what we believe we kno» about each: that weight, robustness and impe-netrability are indisputable properties of the pyramid, lightness, fragility and transparency those of glass. The amalgam is in fact a fopcs of classical poetics, an oxymoron that trans cends. manipulates and finally invalidates ou stereotypes about representation of knov

edge. Here, not only is there no conflict oetween glass and pyramid in the new super-category "glass pyramid', but we are handed ■hat Turner calls a 'passport through the gates of categorization', a call to use our minds to invent rather than to abide by stereotypes.

The pyramid is made of glass panels which consist of two 10 mm sheets of laminated glass sealed with structural silicone (its first architectural application in France). Each panel is set into an aluminium frame whose nmimal mullions. perfectly flush with the glazed surface, have been engineered to preserve the planarity of the crystalline prism. Guided solely by the search for the greatest possible structural lightness. Pei and his engineer from Quebec. Roger Nicolet, chose a fyper-static structure whose bars and members are exceptionally thin, but whose structural geometry is held to be unequalled in the world. All the bolts and articulations associated with 'high-tech' metal constructions nave been eliminated. The assembly is connected by handcrafted junctures, or nodes, »hich were cast by a 'lost-wax' process with a two-phase blasted finish in order to maximize streamlined smoothness. These fittings, like tie rods they connect, were produced by a Massachusetts firm that specializes in rigging 'o< America's Cup yachts, where lightness is all nportant. The glass is as 'white' as possible. The challenge lay in the production of glass in ■arge enough panes of such clarity and absolute flatness as to permit the facades of the louvre to be seen through them without distortion. The solution required two years of research and the revival of largely abandoned methods of glass production by the French company Saint Gobain. The successful result »as hailed as an engineering feat and a symbol of French-American collaboration.

iRight) The pyramid and main entrance seen through tho pre-existing building


(Above left) Ground floor plan

(Above right) Plan of reception and entrance lull level

(Centre) Sito soction

Below) Night view of the courtyard

During construction, the pyramid became the subject of much controversy in the press. But when one considers the great weight of the symbolic load borne by the location - perhaps one of the most culturally sensitive areas in Paris - the pyramid, the ultimate expression of 'corporate design" that has become synonymous with the anaesthetic environments of airport terminals and waiting lounges, has succeeded in gaining popular acceptance with remarkable speed. In fact, the pyramid proved to be a virtually flawless piece of public relations.

Despite this success, which guarantees the project a good reception for decades to come, and despite the obvious historic associations of the figure of the pyramid, the question of monumentality still remains unanswered by the scheme. In its rigidity, the pragmatic minimalism of its form, the unalterable harshness of its materials, the work is an exclusively spatial object which excludes the sense or experience of time. This implies a fear of history and, to quote the critic Philip Rahv. suggests unintentionally, 'at bottom, the fear of the hazards of freedom".

(Above left) View of the pyramid's exterior with water pools

(Top left) Glass surfaco and construction dotall

(Opposito) Interior of the entrance hall and staircase

Aldo and Hannio van Eyck


(Noordwijk. Holland) 1986-89

(Lofl) Aorlal vlow

(Opposite, above) Detail of plan

(Opposite, below) Drawing showing construction system

(Lofl) Aorlal vlow

(Opposite, above) Detail of plan

(Opposite, below) Drawing showing construction system

ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre on the Dutch coast at Noordwijk. is Europe's equivalent of NASA. The van Eycks were commissioned to add to the original orthogonal building complex which houses ESTEC's direction and management a conference centre, a restaurant and a technical documentation centre (5000 square metres), together with a series of office towers (7560 square metres).

In its first phase. ESTEC included the biggest space simulator in the world, a vast, vortex-like black box with extremely low-temperature walls and, in its depths, an artificial sun producing extremely high temperatures. This most Impressive feat of engineering and creative fantasy Is housed, as if imprisoned, in a silent, grim, rectilinear, self-absorbed grid envelope that ignores the surrounding world, its geometry, colours and rhythms. In 1986. Massimo Trella. ESTEC's director, commissioned the van Eycks to free the 'imprisoned' organization and they, accordingly, performed a feat of architectural liberation.

As a result, between the swirling, swelling, tumultuous currents of the North Sea and the lone, stern colossus of the original ESTEC.

there sprawls today a fractal-like dragon created by the van Eycks. Indeed, the restaurant and documentation facility, on which we focus here, looks like 'the kind of joke nature plays on mathematicians', to quote Benoit Mandelbrot, the famous French mathematician. originator of fractal geometry. But. concealed in the seeming irregularity and contorted forms of this building, there is a method. Its seeming chaos is contained chaos, its apparent anarchy is based on rules. As in Aldo van Eyck's celebrated Municipal Orphanage in Amsterdam (1957-60). the rules are derived from the classical canon, albeit by systematically negating it! The particular aspect of the canon being negated is the most fundamental one. what Vitruvius called taxis: the rule system of spatial partitioning that clearly defines the beginning, middle and end of a composition and its constituent components. Taxis is the order that defines boundaries and governs the overall plan of the classical building - columns, piers, walls, doors, windows, down to the smallest ornament. Order also governs ESTEC. but one that in most key respects denies the order of classical taxis, by disrupting it locally.

(Top) Tho restaurant facade

(Above) Conceptual drawings of tho column*

These disruptions of the composition fall into three main categories. First, there are sudden additions to the classical, well-ordered outline which make it exceed its limits, for instance the horn-shaped appendix of the southwest side of the building; second, major elements are displaced, such as the entrance which is shifted at an angle of 4 5 degrees: and third, shape reversals. The latter is the most frequent type of disruption of taxis, both within the building and along its external boundary. Thus, convex is replaced by concave, angular by curved, even by odd. The resulting 'random tremas'. to use another term of Mandelbrot's, that is. voids, give rise to a confounding rippling effect of space and an anticipated, pleasant disorientation. Among the disrupting devices of the spatial composition, surely one of the most idiosyncratic inventions in recent architectural history, is the 'hendecagonic column', a composite column 'made out of eleven steel tubes in a ring contained between two steel discs'. This also contributes to the destabilization of the classical taxis by making alignments of walls and orthogonal intersections impossible. Thus the user is systematically taken by surprise by agreeable deviations from the expected alignments.

Many of the compositional strategies employed here are complete inventions. Many, on the other hand, are rooted in extraordinary memory and erudition. The dialectic of seeming chaos and underlying rigour encountered at every turn in ESTEC brings to mind the great Baroque masters of the art (and divination) of paradox. Guarino Guarim and Francesco Borro mini, the architectural space explorations of the 17th century and the intellectual investigations of fantastic chimerical 'monsters', to borrow Rudolf Wittkower's expression. But. as in its 17th-century predecessors, commodity is never neglected for the sake of the image.

In ESTEC. as in their previous works, the van Eycks are concerned with spatial rule making and rule breaking, a delicate balance between rationality and chaos (see pp. 196-97). But ESTEC appears still richer than their other buildings in its results, in the richness of form one finds in organic objects. This is probably because of the finer, more intricate methods of composition employed here. The geometric, spatial effect is enhanced by the colour and the material they have used: phantasmagon-cally copper clad, 'dragon'-llke in its scaly skin of Brazilian oroco wooO, shimmering and iridescent in the sun. glaucous and green-tinged in the rain. The complex is. for our time, a rare comment on the poetics of nature and of architecture, a reflection on the structure of the world and the cognitive strategies the human mind uses to understand it. It tries to tame the monstrosity of apparent chaos by resorting to memory and invention, and in its physicality it represents the effort to tame through inquiry.

(Top) Tho restaurant facade

(Above) Conceptual drawings of tho column*

(Opposite, above) Construction system of tb« columns

(Opposito) Intorlor vlow and ono of the Inner courts

Héctor Fernàndez Martin/Votgos tu i Mediterrània, Arquitoctos PRODUCTION CENTRE FOR VALENCIAN TELEVISION

(Valencia. Spam) 1986-89

On the plains of Burjassot. close to Valencia's trade fair centre and the university campus, rises the Production Centre of Valencian Television. It is a striking project born on a site typical of the Mediterranean urban periphery, demonstrating negligence, avarice and poverty of ideas, accentuated here by the presence of an exceptional physiognomy of the natural setting.

The complex covers 15.000 square metres and accommodates management and administration facilities, recording studios and a transmission tower. Its programme was determined by the requirements of high technology, as well as the demands of insulation, safety and security. Nevertheless, the Centre is notable for its inventiveness in overcoming conflicts related to meaning and culture, despite the constraints of its programme.

In the midst of scrap heaps and spoilage, the building succeeds in emerging as a memorable image. The coherence of its figure results to a great extent from the robust geometrical primitives employed: the triangle for the floor plan, the curve and the colossal arch counterpoised by the cylindrical glass vortex of the tower encased in a perforated prism. The unique achievement of the Centre is the reappropriation of the fragments of the landscape and their reconstitution into a coherent image through the way the elements of the abstract volumetric composition - triangle, curve, cylinder, parallelepipedes - fit into the sweeps and inflections of the site.

The effect is strengthened by the manner in which the complex of the building and its intricate relation with the contours of the site are recognized through the opportune placement of the elementary, purist volumes that make up the composition. As one approaches gradually from the highway and road, the volumes signal from afar, giving clues for a possible recognition of a well-formed spatial schema developed within severe site constraints. As one enters, the different elements of the building come together to form a unity that confirms this initial perception of a volumetric whole. This sense of unity is further emphasized by the building's detailing.

The composition is in many respects a typical functionalist assemblage, its articulated geometrical organization representing

(Below) Volumetric plan (Opposlto)

(Top right) The wall, the arch and tho scrooned round tower

(Below right) The screened tower

(Below left) View through the screens

(Above loft) Beneath the arch of the wall, looking towards the scroenod tower the functional organization contained in the complex. Its spatial structure hints at the paradigm of the Russian Constructivist Ivan Leonidov in the way in which horizontal and vertical components interpenetrate. Yet the building is not a formalistic. nostalgic replay. The basic difference lies in its conjunction with its context. Not only are the deformations of the profile of the site in constant dialogue with the allocation of the regular parts of the building, as In some later paintings by Lucas Samaras (Pace Gallery. November 1991), but the building's construction reflects the deeper character of its surroundings, distinguished by the misery of opportunistic interventions in the Mediterranean landscape. Thus the use of materials, rough industrial elements and the very processes of construction in their harshness do not attempt to obviate and beautify the damage done. They represent it critically, giving to the project a characteristic aura of 'dirty realism".

Matthias Sauerbruch and Ellas Zonghells (OMA) APARTMENT HOUSE AT CHECKPOINT CHARLIE

(Berlin, Germany) 1983-90

Checkpoint Chartie Housing in Berlin is located on what used to be the American-Sector side of the border-crossing between East and West Europe on Friedrichstrasse. an important section of historical Berlin, which was torn apart by the building of the Wall in 1961. The consequences of the Wall for this location were, on the one hand, an urbanistic trauma and a mutilated city anatomy, and. on the other, a deeper functional pathology: that of a way of life involving Berlin's very special border activity' - separations, escapes, shoot ings. the trading of secrets, blackmailing and. last but not least, authoritarian policing, customs and debriefing. This project was intended to facilitate such bureaucratic functions. Historians one day will give an account of to what extent other types of 'border activities' went on in the building itself.

Zenghelis believes that 'the programme Is the generator of architecture', it 'provides architecture with its visual aesthetic the action of its plan and section . . . and subsequently with the sensuous materiality of its finish." Thus, in the midst of a 'void' in a 'landscape of hoardings, sheds, viewing towers, car movement and manning posts'. Zenghelis. with the single-mindedness and diligence of a cool dirty realist, designed an anti-monumental border facility' with no inten tion of beautifying or displaying any moralist* message. The whole 'frontier' universe is on ground level: a tarmac, bus concourse, control booth, with all the backstage paraphernalia.

Once above the first level of the complex, the drama and the special services of the building

Opposite, loft) The elevation on Frlodrlchstrasse

¡Opposite, right) Interior view of the ground floor

(Above) Rear elevation with gardens might) Typical unit plan (Par right) Ground floor plan lB«low right) Section

Opposite, loft) The elevation on Frlodrlchstrasse

¡Opposite, right) Interior view of the ground floor

(Above) Rear elevation with gardens might) Typical unit plan (Par right) Ground floor plan lB«low right) Section are over. The rest of the project accommodates normal life': housing of mixed type in accordance with the city's range of urban dwelling standards. This residential part grows vertically above Checkpoint Charlie, set back from the street and away from the view of the Wall, forming a kind of roof above and beyond its policing functions.

The iconography of the project at ground level transfers American-born, 'Truman-era' roadside structures to an urban setting and reflects the fact that the bare function of the facility, stripped of its political and social connotations, is ultimately to channel vehicles in and out. Given this fact, the choice of image was easy: 'U.S. Route 1\ the only original iconography of highway architecture, which, thanks to Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is properly codified, at least among architects. It is expressed here in the neon-art 'synthetic night sky' and the arrows pointing to the route to be followed by vehicles, the corrugated aluminium stand and the hovering metal roof clad in polished alloy.

In an ironic vein, Zenghelis conceived that once the cold war ended, 'when the city is no longer divided and the wall is replaced by a leisure zone', the facility would become a supermarket, the memory of the site and its history dissolved and reabsorbed into the market-driven vigour of the new life.

Amado-Domonoch Arquitectos BARRIO DEL CANYERET

Canyeret is a district of the old historic centre of the Catalonian hill town of Lerida. nestled between the Gothic cathedral and the walled citadel above, and the 19th-century districts along the river Segre below. After decades of abandonment and neglect, deprived of any sort of facilities. Canyeret had become a virtually vacant zone known for drug dealing and delinquency, an impassable barrier isolating the hilltop from the rest of the city.

In 1980. after the fall of Franco and after many years of private speculation, the town found a public-sector client, the Ministry of Justice, whose total contribution to the redevelopment plan so far has been no less that one thousand million pesetas. A competition was organized to rehabilitate the district. Twelve years later, the outcome is one of the most memorable urban experiences of the last two decades in Europe.

The winning design was by a team composed of Domenech. Ramon Puig and Joan Busquets. Over ten years, the team has see^ some changes, most notably the departure o< Joan Busquets to replace Onol Bohigas as the director of urbanism for the city of Barcelona.

A remarkable feature of the Canyeret rede velopment is that the court house is the primary focus for the revitalization scheme-a workplace rather than a housing scheme, it is intended to serve as a focus for other new buildings such as the prestigious Collegio de los Arquitectos. a school and housing units. The scheme is strongly inspired by the Italian restoration policies developed during the 1950s for the centro storico of the northern

(Opposite, above) Distant view of the Canyeret development

(Opposite, below) The elevator tower and bridge

(Left) Urban plan

(Above) View of the roof top parallel to the promenade, with the elevator tower and bridge in the background

(Below) Entrance floor plan and typical unit floor plan

(Loft) Dotnil of tho fncndo boneath «ho promonado and cathedral

(Opposite) Tho main facado

(Bolow) Elovation

(Loft) Dotnil of tho fncndo boneath «ho promonado and cathedral

(Opposite) Tho main facado

(Bolow) Elovation

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