Housing Units In Savignyletemple

(Ville Nouvelle de MelunSénart. France) 1982-86

(Loft) View of tho facado (Boiow) Sito plan (Opposite)

(Above) Exterior view of the comer of ths block

(Below left) An ontranco staircase

(Below right) Plans and elevations of onsof tho blocks

(Loft) View of tho facado (Boiow) Sito plan (Opposite)

(Above) Exterior view of the comer of ths block

(Below left) An ontranco staircase

(Below right) Plans and elevations of onsof tho blocks

In 1967 Alain Sarfati. together with fellow students Philippe Boudon and Bernard Hamburger. founded in Paris the architectural review Mouvement-Architecture Continuité. This became one of the most important cultural forums for architecture In Europe, and still remains so. long after the founding team has disbanded. From the start, the review's main interest was the relation between architecture and the city. The first issue contained a translation of Christopher Alexander's article 'A City is not a Tree': subsequent issues centred around Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Kevin Lynch's The Image of the City. Ironically, then, much of the search for a truly urban, urbane architecture in France at this time was strongly Influenced by American writers.

Almost twenty years later, not only the viewpoint but also the influence of American theorists of city planning is still evident in this housing project by Sarfati for a new district surrounding the city hall in the ville nouvelle of Melun Sénart. In the countryside on the edge of Paris. The concepts behind it are unmistakably. on the one hand. Venturi's 'complexity and contradiction' and. on the other. Lynch's 'street' and 'imaginability'.

'Emerging out of the station.' Sarfati writes of the finished project, "one gets the extraordinary impression of having set foot in the country, while at the same time an invisible line, an immaterial boundary, gives the distinct feeling that one is in a city.'

As opposed to those typically regimented, subsidized public-housing projects which are characterized by their simplified built form and reductive lifestyle, the Savigny-le-Temple housing is like an adventure playground in the individualization of the units, their entrances, their small-scale elements, the disrupted rhythms and contrasts usually associated with a historical street: smooth and rough, see-through and opaque, old and new. private and public, "dirty real' and fabulistic. regionalist and international.

The aim was. as Sarfati remarked in his article "The Exploded City", at a moment when 'the world has become a world of the interior', to provide 'an exterior, a public space which projects our ambitions'. The design of the street is his answer to this demand. The first building of the complex, with its strong gable element of concrete, is conceived as the beginning of a succession of widely divergent visual experiences, laid out along a route which ends in a corner made of white metal. The Intention of the architect is to make the buildings look like the gleaming sides of the prow of a ship, 'marching in the street' like objects of 'envies, passions, dreams*. Roland Barthes would say. as if 'the dream of a city (were] temporarily grounded but waiting to go forward."

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Weber, Brandt and Partners

NEW MEDICAL FACULTY, TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF AACHEN

(Aachen, Germany) 1968-86

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The hospital of the medical faculty of the University of Aachen, the largest in Europe, accommodates 1500 patients and 3000 students. It is conceived as 'nothing but organization: social, technical, economic, mental', in the words of Hannes Meyer ( 1928) whom the architect cites. The basic material infrastructure is a system of routes for the circulation of people, goods and messages, as well as air, light and water, all aimed at restoring health.

The scheme draws heavily on ideas developed during the early 1960s by Team X. particularly those of Shadrach Woods in the Free University of Berlin, and Giancarlo De Carlo's proposal for the University of Dublin. Serge Chermayeff and his collaborators in the USA. and Kenzo Tange in Japan. All those studies looked at buildings as general-purpose networks for information processing, mechanisms for sustaining human communication through a minimal structure of circulation and sen/ices within which individuals and groups would interact not only purposely but also playfully and randomly, as in the case of traditional city neighbourhoods.

The gridiron street-avenue circulation system of Manhattan has been repeatedly cited as a paradigm for the general plan layout of many types of building complexes, especially universities. Manhattan's layout as a guiding precedent is apparent in the medical faculty's east-west street pattern which intersects the avenue-like mega-corridors of the hospital. In the words of the architects, the hospital was with its service towers and. at different levels, green courtyards, 'nothing less than a mini-town .. . being blueprinted, even if it was a somewhat specialized one.' Within this overwhelming structure, a gigantic global organization was to be housed, "everything in any way relevant to the process of regaining health under a single roof. Assembling under the same roof a large number of apparatuses and services had obvious benefits of accessibility and what managers call economies of scale. But the architect also had other reasons in mind. Fitting such a diversity of specialists and technicians under a common shelter was intended, for reasons beyond efficiency and effectiveness, to create a sense of common purpose and solidarity through the use of a complete transparency of means for total awareness of the 'intercom nected factors involved in restoring health.

Its Manhattan-like organization allowed the project to be flexible and open to growth h stages. Thus, consistent with the ideas of the British Archigram group, and in many respects resembling the Piano and Rogers Pompidoj Centre (pp. 84-89 - the Aachen hospital*as in fact conceived shortly before), the project exposes its mechanical and structure systems 'deliberately and shamelessly'. Co< our is also used to foreground their identity and there is no overwhelming framework inside which all these diverse contraptions are inscribed, other than the grid. As a result, its individual components are free of any formal« tic presuppositions. Given, however, iheejpb sion of new technological, electronic means of information processing, of simulation ao3 uses of artificial intelligence, one wonders e the very technology which created this efficiert and sublime cathedral of health will not soo^ make it obsolete in its gigantism by relocating much of it onto the family doctor's desk

Opposite) Perspective soction showing construction and services of the New Medical Faculty of the Technical University of Aachen ifelow) Isomotric drawing of the building and

Its interior

Right) The facade at the rear of the building

Opposite) Perspective soction showing construction and services of the New Medical Faculty of the Technical University of Aachen ifelow) Isomotric drawing of the building and

Its interior

Right) The facade at the rear of the building

Adrien Fainsilber

CITÉ DES SCIENCES ET DE L'INDUSTRIE, PARC DE LA VILLETTE

(Paris. France) 1980-86

Like the New Medical Faculty of the Technical University of Aachen by Weber. 8randt and Partners (1968-86. pp. 168-71), the Cite des Sciences et de I'lndustrie manifests the megaphiliac and technophiliac as well as universalist spirit of the 1960s, bent on assembling everything under one roof. And as in the case of Piano and Rogers" Centre Pompidou (1971-77. pp. 84-89). the global nature of its programme, the size of the structure and the lack of formalist pre-concep-tions create a festive, circus like mood. Yet neither overcrowding nor the roar that accompanies its holiday atmosphere prevent this building from fulfilling its aim: the communication of the Joy to be derived from science, technology and invention.

The largest science museum in the world, it occupies an area of 165.000 square metres. A permanent exhibition area covers 40.000 square metres. To accommodate the many activities it hosts, it has a convention centre with a main auditorium for 1000. a multimedia library, temporary exhibition spaces, a 'discovery' area for children's science clubs, restaurants, and so on.

The museum building reused a large auction hall (270 metres long by 110 metres wide) which had been begun on the site in the 1960s and never completed. This was accomplished by removing existing construction elements from the original building structure, which consisted of 20 hollow, concrete towers, each 40 metres high, until their foundations 13 metres below ground level were exposed. As a result, the entire facade now receives daylight. Similarly, the 16 steel trusses, with a 65-metre span, have been exposed and painted deep cobalt blue, to contrast with the granite-clad concrete towers.

The museum's objective of celebrating technology within Its walls Is furthered by the building itself. Three aspects contribute significantly to this: the natural lighting devices: the bio-climatic greenhouses: and the mirroring surface of the G6odc globe.

The provision of natural light was a key concern of the architect. The original multi-layered volume was gutted and a huge. open, central light well was carved out of the roof. Two domes 26 metres in diameter and equipped with robot-operated mirrors bring light deep into the building. The rotating cupolas were coated with stretched teflon.

The north and south facades of the building are among the most important features of the project, not so much as conscious spatial compositions, but rather as artifacts that perform significant processes. The singular feature of the south facade is its three green houses of a monumental scale. 32 metres 6y 32 metres In surface and 8 metres deep. The» act as bio-climatic fronts, buffer areas to collect daylight and store solar energy wti»c" they redistribute according to the needs of w facility. The glasshouse details were designed in collaboration with Peter Rice of the engineer ing firm Ove Arup & Partners. What makes' special Is the original way in which the panes are mounted and suspended. The design for this enormous glass surface, so sensitive to pressure and depression, was tested i carefully in a wind tunnel before construction. | Meticulous investigations were also earned out to ensure that the envelope was weatherproof. as well as being rigid.

The creation of this structure, with itsquak-1 ties of extreme lightness combined with espe cial stability (most notably to withstand wndl I constitutes a true technological feat. But« addition, it demonstrates that the amazing technology developed in our time - muchcU I employed in Fainsilber's building - can De I used in an architecture that celebrates tne very idea of technology.

The north facade is divided by a horizorull safety walkway linking the terraces on the east I and west sides. Its upper part is made 4 stainless steel, while the lower is glazed. Tv I effect of transparency and reflection *f*3 I

(Opposite, loft) Tho facado with greenhouses

(Opposito, right) Natural light floods the interior

(This page, centra) Site section

(Top and bottom) The Géode, with plans and section

(Opposite, loft) Tho facado with greenhouses

(Opposito, right) Natural light floods the interior

(This page, centra) Site section

(Top and bottom) The Géode, with plans and section dominates the composition is enhanced by the reflecting pool around the building.

in front of the south facade, born from a pool of water and centred on the main entrance hall, rises the Géode, a geodesic dome in stainless steel with a brilliant mirror finish, which houses a onema. The architect saw in It a symbolic representation of knowledge, expressed both through its mirroring of the sky. water and earth in its spherical form, and in its placement asa beacon' in the overall plan. Inside, people are transported between the surrounding sunken sitting area and the auditorium by four escalators. They enter a world within a world of sound and image. The Géode contains a highly sophisticated audio visual system, the Omni-ma*. with a 180-degree projection capability onto a hemispherical screen of over 1000 square metres, suspended under the dome. If the visitor standing outside has the feeling mat the universe is contracting onto the sphere, once inside, the 370 spectators have the opposite feeling, that their perception of pie universe reaches out to its infinity.

Joan Nouvol, Gilbert Lezönes, Pierre Soria, Architecture Studio INSTITUT DU MONDE ARABE

(Paris. France) 1983-87

The site of the Institut du Monde Arabe was notorious for its bad location. Used for a long time as a car park, it is immediately adjacent to the university campus of Paris Jussieu, which is a typical, unfriendly project of the 1960s. The site is also on the fringe of Paris's periphery, near the Gare d'Austerlitz and the Salp6tri6re Hospital, an area strewn with the languishing carcasses of great architectural monuments of the past, such as the Menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes. Moreover, it stands at the very point where the street along the Left Bank now turns into a super-highway; this has destroyed the possibility of the site coming into contact with the river, a luxury that still survives in the older parts of Paris. Although so close to the centre of Paris, such developments as the Institut have created a Manhattan-like condition of isolation which characterized this site of the urban periphery.

The Institut du Monde Arabe responded to this 'dirty real' environment in a lyrical way, foregrounding its harshness rather than trying to cover it up or prettify it. The cinematic coolness of its glass and metal surfaces are highly charged with the kind of poetic references and beauty found in French films noirs. Ultimately, however, its aesthetics are more inclined to the cool and minimal. The metallic textures of the interiors are reminiscent, for

(Bolow) Sito plan

(Right) Plana of the ground floor and baeomont

(Opposite) Sunscreen panels operate by means of automatic photosensitive diaphragms

(Opposite) Sunscreen panels operate by means of automatic photosensitive diaphragms

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