City of Zagreb
City Office for Physical Planning, Construction, Communal Affairs and Traffic
Faculty of Architecture
University of Zagreb
Oris - House of Architecture
City of Zagreb
City Office for Culture, Education and Sport
Republic of Croatia
Ministry of Culture
The last three decades saw significant change across social, political, and environmental registers. The conjunction of capital flows, mass urbanization and increasingly interconnected cultural and financial networks have reshaped the way we understand, produce and discuss architecture resulting in a breathless cycle of formal and aesthetic transformations. This restless appearance of change conceals an increasing sense of inertia or perhaps even of confusion, in that an intellectual project has yet to accompany the overiding sense of technical virtuosity.
This cycle of competitions aims to hold a mirror to the discipline to reflect the changes of the last thirty years by re-visiting three competitions that radically transformed architectural culture: The Peak (1982), Yokohama Port Terminal (1994) and Blur Building (1999). All three winning entries emerged under unique conditions to take up critical positions on the predominant tendencies of their time. Though they have radically different ambitions, these three projects continue to reverberate throughout contemporary architectural culture in some way, introducing new attitudes to the ground, surface and atmosphere.
Any current condition lacks coherency and the task of this competition is not to assert one, but to begin the work of constructing a passage between the indistinct and the articulated. This competition cycle aims to discover new possibilities in the recent history of architecture by returning to these singular moments of disciplinary transformation, looking back in order to discern how far we have moved and in what direction.
With abbreviated versions of the original brief, all three competitions will launch simultaneously in April 27 and conclude in July 17 of 2012. Participating architects in the original competition will act as jury in the current competition: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher (The Peak), Alejandro Zaera-Polo (Yokohama Port Terminal) and Charles Renfro and Ricardo Scofidio (Blur Building). Each architect or team of architects will act as the juror for his or her respective competition, with assistance provided by the Think Space curator. The deliverables for the new competition cycle will match as closely as possible the original requirements for each competition. There is no limit to the number of competitions that can be entered.
At the end of the competition phase the winning architects will have their work exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City alongside the competitions panels for the original competition. A symposium at the conclusion of the cycle will bring together the winning architects from the original competition, as well as the winning architects from the new cycle in a conversation about the shifts and transformations evidenced across the different projects.
As with the previous ThinkSpace competition cycle in 2011, the emphasis within the 2012 cycle of competitions will be on conceptual innovation within the field of architecture.
Guest Curator of THINK SPACE 2012
The winning architect describes her design as Suprematist Geology. First, she proposes that the ground be leveled to the site's lowest point and then rebuilt from the excavated rock as a polished granite mountain. The building itself is composed of four beams , stacked atop one another in a splayed arrangement. Partially embeded, the two lowest layers contain 15 studio units and 20 apartments, forming a podium for the club facilities. A void approximately 42 feet high separates these strata from the two uppermost levels, which house the larger apartments and the developer's penthouse. Suspended within the void like hovering spaceships are the club elements, which extend back into the man-made mountain. The series of floating ramps and platforms that articulate this space are supported by two vertical members, an elevator, and a steel truss containing services. Two elevators linking the clubs to the upper residential zone provide additional support and a vertical counterpoint to the horizontal composition. Stress cables stabilize any other movement among the floating horizontal members of the void. The swimming pool rests in the roof of the second residential layer. Lateral changing rooms are hollow square beams in section, and act to stiffen the structure. The enire complex is constructed of steel and reinforced concrete. All volumes suspended in the club area are framed in lightweight alloys with aluminum or stone cladding. Although the jurors faulted the winning design for a ''certain lack of resolution in its details,'' they praised its concentration ''on the exploration'' of ideas... The sculptural nature of this solution,'' they averred ''promises to extend the imagination and symbolize the essence of a new building type in a unique location.
The Yokohama project was the origin of my practice. And the opportunity to crystallise a type of investigation that I believe involved a whole generation of architects, and to test it with reality. The hybridisation of infrastructure, landscape and architecture, the integration of computer-aided design into the practice of architecture, and maybe the exploration of a global practice were tested through this project into a real building. And of course, it was a huge personal experience.
World's Fair pavilions exist to showcase innovation. At the service of corporate, institutional or governmental entities, they typically foreground technological advancements or philanthropic largess. In the best of cases, they address both. Blur had neither and was the result of nothing: no program, no functional requirements, no size definition, no site mandates, no occupancy targets or public flow rates. The program was a series of words and phrases based in the counter culture of the 70s: love, me and the universe, altered states etc.
Similarly, our response was intent on delivering nothing. We gave the site back to itself disguised as architecture. In the 'cafe', visitors could drink the building (and thus the site) in the form of packaged water. Instead of a media rich, high definition visual environment, upon entering blur, one can see nothing and hear nothing. The sound of the building being perpetually remade through 30,000 high-pressure fog nozzles was dominant. Vision was foregrounded as the paramount sense through its repression.
It is too soon to know whether Blur was a barometer of early 21st Century sentiment or a neutral response to the conditions of the site. The lack of program allowed us to make our own which had nothing to do with a World's Fair and everything to do with our own practice. It allowed Diller and Scofidio to bridge the worlds of high art, installation art, and architecture, continue to research threads significant to the practice at the same time it presaged the change of the firm name from D+S to DS+R.
Adrian Lahoud is an architect, urban designer and researcher. Through private practice, teaching and writing he explores the disputed, conflicting and often paradoxical transformation of cities. In 2010 he guest-edited a special issue of AD titled Post-traumatic Urbanism, forthcoming is Project for the Mediterranean exploring research on scale and complexity through speculative infrastructure in North Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe. He forms one third of the curatorial collective ‘N’ and has been exhibited internationally most recently at the Gwanju Design Biennale.