The latest BOLLES+WILSON kindergarten is now, after a protracted incubation open for its 60 mini-customers.
It is beside a fire station and behind suburban villas in Frankfurt’s Bergen Enkheim district.
The `coat of many colours´ façade is wood, sustainable, a signal for the building’s `passive house´ status. Colourful sun awnings animate the south façade where the six group rooms open to the playground or to the first floor balcony (where stairs connect down to playground). Sliding white sunscreens on the East and West façades also give night time security for open windows.
The flat roof is planted for rainwater retention and for insect habitat.
The compact volume and upper level multi purpose room are consequence of the limited site and a ground level change 2,20m.
The interior circulation gallery is animated by an optimistic green/yellow wall with giant foot/hand prints. A thematicising of scale is endemic to a building whose customers are only 70 centimeters tall.
The original BOLLES+WILSON 2016 Masterplan for the center of Korça identified the Ligor Rembeci Quarter as a zone for careful insertion of new buildings in symbiosis with existing stone villas – this strategy – activating a block interior accessed by a network of passages – is now emerging with the recently completed Serenity Villas.
The task of the Patrimonial and Universal Library is the housing and protection of Cultural and Intellectual Texts – a foundation stone of the intellectual community. For the BnL a compact, energy efficient building volume houses a wide range of functional entities.
A transparent imposing, but at the same time inviting, facade fronts onto the Avenue John F. Kennedy. Internal functions unfold sequentially from this entrance gesture; Foyer +, Café (with upper level conference + seminar rooms), next the Reading Room – a landscape of terraced workstations and bookshelves. The principle building block is located deep within the building, a central and compact archive over five levels. This secure core is encased by public spaces and forms a plateau on top of which the largest bookshelf area and reading-deck is found.
The principle facade material is large format red pre-cast concrete panels – a patchwork due to a variety of surface treatments (water/sand-jeting, acid washing). The architectural intention is homogeneity, a material unity of the overall building volume, with an undercurrent of surface articulation. The archive plateau is encased in a bastion-like wrapping of stone-filled Gabion cages. Planning prioritized energy efficiency; technical installations take second place in favour of an activating of the buildings thermal mass to engender a sustainable interior climate.
On 12th sept. 2006 the office of Bolles+Wilson was awarded the first prize in the International Design Competition for Monteluce in Perugia.
The jury lead by Axel Sowa, director of „Architecture d‘ aujourd’hui“ commended the winning entry for its respect and sensitivity to the scale of Monteluce, its morphological compatibility with the historic structure of Perugia and its sympathetic relationship to the surrounding Umbrian landscape.
The Convento delle Clarisse of S. Maria di Monteluce originating in 1218 stands outside the Etruscan walls of Perugia, an outpost protecting one of the main access roads. Expansion outside the medieval walls reached Monteluce at the end of the nineteenth century. A concurrent appropriation of religious assets by the State instigated the opening of a gate to the Piazza Monteluce and between 1910 and 1923 the construction in the monastery garden of a series of hospital pavilions.
The Competition Program developed in close co-operation with the Commune di Perugia called for a total of 65,000 sqm – 43% of which is student and private housing and 25% subsidised housing. The new urban Quartier is networked in terms of a continuity of urban spaces and a rich programmatic mix including a maximum of 10% retail and 5% office use as well as hotel and conference facilities, local health offices, kindergarten and a new public park.
The Bolles+Wilson design developed and presented in 1:500 model format rejects authoritative geometry in favour of a sequencing of localised responses tailored to the dramatic topology and framed views out and across the luxurious Umbrian landscape. For economy and continuity many new structures occupy the footprint of redundant hospital buildings, a strategy that preserves the extensive terraced system of retaining walls and protected trees.
Bolles+Wilson describe their scheme as Urban Choreography, a sequence of public spaces unfolding from the S.Maria di Monteluce church in the west to the new Park d’Este. A first Piazza is framed by the Monestry portico and the one remaining Hospital Pavilion (Public Health Offices). To the north are offices and a submerged supermarket. To the south a Hotel and Conference Pavilion frame the view in the direction of Assisi. A second Conical Piazza is enclosed by a row of student housing buildings to the north and an opposing commercial/ restaurant Acropolis. Here deck- like upper terraces offer spectacular views of the historic skyline and Umbrian landscape.
The core of the new urban quarter became the (architectural) responsibility of BOLLES+WILSON (see siteplan). In realization it follows very closely the competition proposal of two Piazzas on the crest of the hill/ridge, underneath these two levels of carparking ensure car free public spaces (500 cars disappear underground). The strategic placement of these two Piazzas follows the typical Perugian trope of leaving one side of a space open for cooling winds and views out across the sensuous and gently rolling Umbrian landscape (views across the valley to Assisi).
The strategy of two piazzas introduces a spatial sequence resulting from the integration of the historic monastery and the12th century chapel – their arched entrance portal announces the entry to the first new Piazza, now named Piazza Cecilia Coppoli (1426-1500, poetess and humanist) and opened on 19th March 2015 by Catiusca Marini – President of the Region of Umbria. Signora Marini described the Monteluce spaces as ‚an investment in the culture of the city, also in the public patrimony of Perugia, an exemplary work and graceful urban transformation, one that experiments with a new contemporary urban architecture.‘
A church becomes a kindergarten.
Not heritage listed, already condemned, the St. Sebastian church built in 1962 and deconsecrated in 2008 has been revitalized with the most lively and positive function, i.e. with children.
The elegant elliptical form of the nave physically anchors its surrounding neighborhood. Two levels of kindergarten group rooms are housed within, the roofs of these become an all-weather play deck. Grass green impact-protection flooring and street lights give the play decks the ambience of an outdoor space.
A grid of 50 x 50 cm unglazed openings, the only originally glazed light source in the church, provide constant, natural ventilation. Cold in winter, comfortably temperate in summer, but always dry, this magical inside/outside space is flooded with light.
Adjacent to the kindergarten nave, a new street facing extension houses the main entrance, kitchen, offices, technical rooms and one multipurpose room. This is available for neighborhood events.
Transformative processes, particularly those relating to delicate fine-grained historic cities like Haarlem are complex and protracted. In the case of the Raaks project it took more than ten years to evolve from the considered Urban Masterplan (Donald Lambert – Kraaijvanger Urbis) through a sequence of workshops and program rethinks to the final ensemble, which opened in October 2011.
At the outset BOLLES+WILSON were given responsibility for the outermost block of this close packed, highly urban redevelopment precinct – which as it turns out (and as the masterplan prescribed) intertwines almost seamlessly with the adjacent small-scale urban fabric – a neighbourhood. The edge block must both shield (traffic) and invite (pedestrians), it must signal and respectfully take its place in the sequence of facades that define the historic limit of the medieval city. Initiating site workshops brought together neighbourhood representatives, city representatives, developers and architects – BOLLES+WILSON, Claus en Kaan, Jo Crepain and Kraaijvanger Urbis (who also had responsibility for the large format carpark below).
The complex functional mix began with one large and seven smaller Cinemas on the upper levels, a subterranean Casino and below that a parking deck (for croupiers and gamblers). Even at this stage the two functions were divided by a bisecting passage leading from the visible and representative outside facade to the networked block interior. The question of scale and historic referencing of the windowless
The small ’signalising‘ pavilion re-focuses and re-orients the visitors entrance to the main Kaldewei production plant. The pavilion stands like a bookend in relation to the original 1930s Works Facade of the leading manufacturer of enamel steel bathtubs. It connects to new reception spaces within the existing structure and to a planned administration wing.
The mass of the stone-clad volume projects acrobatically. Structural dexterity is not the issue, mass is here co-opted as a silent, announcing presence. The lobby behind is carved out of the existing volume. Meeting rooms hover above the entrance, the white stone of the new facade extends inwards as lobby floor and wall material. A steel spiral stair stands centre-stage and backlit by a dematerialised ‚Light Wall‘. After the spatial expansion of the lobby, lower ceilings and an emphasized materiality of wood panels introduce a contrasting intimacy. The ‚Actor Stair‘ leads the visitor through a short but complex spatial sequence. The spatial and material language here is closely related to that of BOLLES+WILSONs first Kaldewei building. – the nearby KKC (Competence Centre) 2003–2005.
The anatomy of redundant bus and tram workshop/sheds was co-opted as the organising template for this 1999 premiated Quartier Masterplan. An east west piazza focusses the networked block interior.
The principles of the Masterplan were: The ‚loftising‘ of one workshop shed, a brick administration building which grows into penthouses and bus garage doors which envelope row-houses.
Southward from the piazza a spatial choreography of Office Slab and Housing Tower leads over a raised terrace with a second (zigzag) office facade, past a café/bar, down an Eisenstein stair to street and canal. This perspectival sequence – an opening and closing of large scale urban rooms – is homogenised by its rich and tactile material, a ‚Hamburg-solid turf-fired brick‘.
The New Luxor Theatre faces both the Maas River and Rijn Harbour – A multiple orientation, a single wrapping facade, a 360° building. An internalised ramp allows three 18 m long trucks to park directly besides the first floor stage. The ramp roof provides an architectural promenade in the foyer. The Luxor auditorium seats 1500, a giant scaled musical instrument, a surprisingly ‚intimate room‘. The Luxor facilitates with an appropriated spatial theatricality the well working of complex theatre logistics.
On the 11th of May 2011 Bolles + Wilson’s Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam celebrated its tenth anniversary with a spectacular Gala show.
The evening also marked the retirement of Luxor director Rob Wiegman – the great Rob Wiegman without whom this building, this resounding and on-going cultural event would not have happened. Tributes abounded, speeches – emotional Actors, Performers, Politicians, Rotterdamers – Architects.
BEIC – La Biblioteca Europea di Informazione e Cultura.
Despite the grand scale the building conjures a certain intimacy for individual users. It invents an entirely new constellation of the ‚house of knowledge‘, where digital ephemerality cohabits with our old friend the book. The emerging BEIC remains true to the concept that won the architectural competition. Within this architectural and organizational framework countless refinements have been invented (terracotta facade, the bar-chart- acoustically-absorptive interior panelling) and significant opportunities like the earthquake resistant wave-like ceilings have been identified and integrated.
Urban Concept – The site is linear, as is the remembered trajectory of the Stazione Vittoria. The BEIC’s two doors address the east (the centre of Milan, Viale Umbria) and the west (new subway exit, Viale Mugello and the new sport and recreation landscape beyond). An east-west pedestrian walkway runs not parallel to but through the BEIC – urban networking.
A 36 m high Urban Landmark – A vessel of culture and information, invitation, frame and enabler to multiple passages and trajectories. Entrance ramps fold surrounding pavements up to the +5.00 piazza, entrances and lobby. Reading arms extend out from the main volume.
Windows like that to the main elevator lobby on axis with the Via Vertoiba, tie through framed views the interior back into the urban context.
The terraces of the various departments frame a communicative forum, a landscape of knowledge. Reading salons nestled into the sidewalls of the frame or balcony edge desks offer a wide variety of working atmospheres. Warm acoustically absorptive materials provide the required library ambience.
Program – A 5 m high socle contains all functions outside the controlled library – Conference, Teaching Centre, Media Forum, Childrens Library with garden, carparks. The walkthrough Lobby gives a visual orientation to all departments galleried above. It flows into the entrance, general information and reference zones. Reading Rooms are on the north side, Users Own in the east arm, connecting to youth areas. Departments are on three upper balconies, with variable stores and connected via ramps in the reading arms – a flowing together. Workshops, offices and administration are in the 3 storey arm along the Via Monte Ortigara.
A house as a large family room suspended in the city.
A house with a child’s room suspended within.
A house with two legs and a usable roof.
A house glanced by a passing Ninja (Impressed Shadow Facade).
The Münster Library was Bolles+Wilson’s first major public commission. After more than ten years it remains near the top of Germany’s ‚library-user-ranking-list‘. A verification not only of functionality but also of the attention to detail, to spatial multiplicity and to the ambience and atmosphere within.
The complexities of the overall building form are derived from internal organisation and from a careful re-constitution of the fragmented context. A new pedestrian street on the axis of the nearby Lamberti Church divides the not inconsiderable mass of the Library. This fissure in the library volume is closed with folded screens (copper outside, acoustically absorbing perforated wood panels within).
A transparent entrance zone (café, newspaper salon) leads via an information supermarket to the main information desk on the connecting bridge. This in turn is adjacent to book stacks in the ship-like outer volume. The atmosphere is quiet, studious. Books line the outer curved wall, a dramatic stair leads down through a 22 m void to the basement media library, which connects in turn to the courtyard facing children’s library and back up to the entrance zone. Up to four thousand users enter the Münster Library on one day.
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Münster City Library – Update 2010
With a newly painted facade and new automatic check out and 24-hour return automat the Münster City Library in its 18th year remains near the top of the German public library ranking list.
Finished in late 2020 Frobenstraße 1 offers for renting 11 variously sized apartments and 2 commercial units in an area of fashionable shops and galleries (Potsdamer Straße), street prostitution, social housing and huge investor driven developments of owner occupied apartments.
Frobenstraße 1 is a chorus member. It is not a Primadonna that steps out to front stage. The choreography of urban choruses is the Großstadt-DNA of Berlin, Paris or Barcelona. It defines the street line and the eaves line. In Frobenstraße 1 the upper facade limit is articulated with a recessed shadow line, a modest but significant detail.
The well behaved chorus anticipates a fictive future block-perimeter conclusion to the south, where there is now a Kindergarten with luxurious trees. Here the pink side wall (fire wall) presents itself for the kids with its giant footprint graphic.
Unlike the Belle Etage of a Paris House the first floor here has the standard 3,10m room height, but its special relation to the street is prescribed by the delicate and continuous railing.
The window composition to the street describes the internal layout where three apartments break out of the standard, but generous room height to 4,80m and 6,50m. The grey facade has therefore aspirations to be read as a palazzo, with the projecting penthouse window playing the classic attica.
The garden facade is more domestic, balconies meandering out for afternoon sun and individual planting.
For the interior communal stair and lift black and white tiles dignify homecoming.
Young creative digital natives arriving at Cologne’s Central Station need now only to duck around the corner to spend time in URBAN LOFT – a new brand by Althoff Hotels. BOLLES+WILSON’s responsibility was the form + language of the building – a textile like street façade (Eigelstein) of warm vertical brick. The former brewery site in one of Cologne’s most traditional neighbourhoods is squashed up against railway tracks. Sound proof windows gaze at the cathedral spires + into the posterior of the station – trains rush past, only 1m from the rear façade. Also at the rear (Am Salzmagazin) stacked apartments watch this urban opera. Following a planners incentive a neighbourhood networking is achieved with a passage passing internal terraces + squeezing out in the atmospheric underpass.
On September 20th the new BP Lingen ‚Lighthouse Project‘ officially opened. Such a fast track project with six months planning and one year construction time required focussed and co-ordinated teamwork from architects and contractors (Hofschröer/Mainka, Lingen).
The new building at a safe distance from the refinery (technicians cycle back and forth) is nestled in a pine forrest and houses administration, laboratories, workshops and a BP fire station (with training tower).
The BOLLES+WILSON design manifests BP’s ‚One Team‘ philosophy. Open plan offices on three levels surround a spectacular light filled atrium. Animated by ‚team oriented break-out spaces‘, this communicative heart of the complex is crowned by a pyramid of triangular pneumatic pillows. An illuminated lighthouse that hovers above treetops, in dialogue with the nearby refinery.
Vertical sun louvers across the office and fire station facade echo BP logo colours as does the colourful and dynamic interior landscape.
Re-scripting Korca’s theatre:
The theatre in Korca was initially a present from Moscow prior to Albanian Communism’s falling out with Post-Stalinist Russia.
Its Soviet classicism was then stripped back to a sort of Balkan Art Deco (Illus 1).
The large triangular Theatre Square, big enough for nationalistic parades, became a subject for re-formatting when in 2009 BOLLES+WILSON won the international planning competition for the historic centre of Korca. The main axis of the now almost fully implemented masterplan is the Bulevard Shën Gjergji (St George), the new hub of the city, a pedestrian promenade (Illus 2) culminating in the Theater Square (now anchored by BOLLES+WILSON’s ‚2014 Red Bar in the Sky‘ – a campanile that became a political scandal in Albania. Prime Minister Edi Rama retorted in parliament to a critical opposition that it was ‚the first time that he had heard an aesthetic opinion from them‘.)
The next intervention was the theatre itself – quite literally given a new face (or lots of new faces). Seating capacity was increased by converting a two-tier auditorium to a large raked plane (Illus 3 +4).
The design method as with all BOLLES+WILSON Albanian projects involved Peter Wilson’s hand drawn concept (Illus 5) interpreted by a local facilitating office (in this case DEA Studio). A methodology that baits ‚lost in translation‘ misinterpretations (as was the case here when the contractors were found scratching their heads at a book of ‚Albanian Bling Renderings‘ but no details, a problem solved by Peter Wilson further sketching, this time 1:1 details direct on the wall).
Comic and a Tragic masks belong to theatre iconography, here they are joined by 140 smaller masks – the audience, hand crafted in terra cotta by the local potter Vasillaq Kolevica (illus 6+7 +8). The 80 cm high individualized masks each occupy a grid square of the Art Deco Facade. The black Tragic mask is convex, the white Comic mask is concave – the construction principles for these were again hand sketched.
The Comic mask is on a side annex (that now houses an internal grand stair), a cube clad in black basalt (Illus 9+10). The perimeter of the mask is defined by a stainless steel profile inside of which the white plaster indentation is recessed. The ominous black silhouette of the Tragic mask is built up of polystyrene insulation blocks (Illus 11+12+13). Edge radii were sketched but ultimately a 1:1 demonstration with a bread knife was necessary to communicate the idea to he builders. The surface here is again plastered to resemble a giant Japanese ‚No‘ mask.
The 2017 football stadium in the northern Albanian city of Shkodra was a fast-track project – Albania had to host the ritual skirmish with Serbia. To marshal Riotous Serbian fans corral-like platforms were built – each restrains 500 fans within the heavy steel perimeter rail. These raked platforms were as naked concrete an illustration of Louis Kahn’s statement (that a buildings sculptural essence is only visible while under construction or as a ruin). The colours of the Shkodra team are a manly pink and light blue. Finished the pink reverse side of the stadium corrals offer a dramatic backdrop for informal urban life. The new main stadium with V.I.P. deck + press box is lit from up lights reflecting on white circles (see sketch). Existing stadiums were upgraded with a wind animated screen.
The building for the Korça Icon Museum was originally a structure of columns and floor slabs (Maison Domino) abandoned when communism collapsed in Albania.
The Albanian office DEA Studio were comissioned to design facades and BOLLES+WILSON were then asked by the municipality of Korça to design and develop an interior exhibition design and sequence for the 300 Orthodox icons.
The heavy walls on the exterior with their small windows were intended to give an appropriate medieval reading.
The small windows from the inside did give an appropriate mysterious atmosphere but in terms of viewing Icons they were too bright and needed some interior masking to avoid too much contrast between a small area of bright outside light and the surrounding.
As the museum neared completion the albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama visited, and thinking the facades were too prison-like asked BOLLES+WILSON to extend their interior language to the entrance facade. Black painted plaster was added framing and respecting the DEA window composition. BOLLES+WILSON also added ‚Barnett Newman colours‘ to the existing communist fountain.
The given three levels subdivide well into Basement Archive with ground level laboritories/administration. The Exhibition spaces belong on the entrance level and the 1st floor – here the interior concept proposes a specific circulation route for visitors and an absolute division between public spaces and ‘back-of- house’. This is necessary for reasons of security (the public must not have the possibility to enter rooms where Icons are being worked on).
The floor between entrance level and 1st floor has been removed over the entire left hand exhibition room. This allows a new stair facilitating a simple and spectacular visitors circulation route. The new stair gives panorama views of a 9.5 metre high golden wall – for this wall the Petersburg hanging system was chosen – a close packing of Icons, a tapestry of images covering the entire wall, impressing visitors with the size of the Korça collection.
A SEQUENCE OF ROOMS
The interior concept develops zones of strong individual character defined by colour: gold on the left, black matt and gloss black in the central ‘Black Labyrinth‘ zone and Red for the Iconastas (Altar screen) on the right. The Sequential Rooms are carefully choreographed for the most dramatic effect:
(a) Entrance Lobby – an abstract collage of shelves for merchandising, postcards, posters, local handcrafts and even small Icons painted by Korça artists (a new local industry) are displayed and sold.
(b) The Gold Room – a two floor high gold screen (one that also wraps the sidewalls and tames natural light from slit windows). The screen is packed with Icons. Visitors promenade freely and then step up to the stair landing where an information handrail tells them what they are looking at.
(c) The White Balcony – overlooking the Gold Room – has a heavy Black handrail and a white (conventional museum) rear wall for a row of small Icons. These lead to an opening on the right.
(d) The Black Labyrinth – the central zone of the museum is particularly dark and mysterious with individually lit Icons floating in the penumbra. Walls are painted in a collage of matt and gloss black and grey to enhance the collage effect. Side alcoves with lower ceilings and wooden floors bring individually hung Icons intimately close to viewers.
(e) The Red Salon – from the Black Labyrinth visitors emerge into a sensual space where all surfaces are red. The central zone is defined by a 10cm high platform on which stands the iconastas (Altar screen).
(f) The final exhibition room is white with an illuminated ceiling – an ethereal space. The room displays the two most valuable icons from the 14h century.
Möbelum furniture outlet – a new facade for an existing industrial building/furniture showroom.
The stacked casettes of the display facade integrate existing office windows.
In 2009 BOLLES+WILSON won the 1st prize for housing and a kindergarten on the site of the 1960ies St Sebastian Church. It was expected that the emblematic oval form of the church be demolished. Instead the kindergarten colonized the nave. It was opened in 2013 – a much published reuse with interior green weather protected play decks.
Now phase 2 is complete, a peripheral frame of housing protecting the kindergarten from a noisy street and giving a precise edge to the adjacent park.
Market realities are clearly visible in the differentiation of the social (subsidized) housing with its bright white and pink plaster facade to Hammer Str. and the owner-occupied flats with their noble dark brick facade facing the mature trees in the park.
One corner tree is explicitly embraced by the projecting white sheet of the street facade.
Only kitchen and bathroom windows are allowed to receive traffic noise; living rooms and balkonies turn inwards to the quiet green space surrounding the kindergarten.
Unexpected colour animates the lift and stair tower and the setback roof apartments. This polychrome trope also animates the skyline of the park elevation. Here big white frames give a grand order, a vertical hierarchy. But ultimately it is the grandeur of the existing trees that claim the status of leading actors in the spatial choreography.
The Cinnamon tower was conceived as freestanding campanile – a pin on a piazza was the concept behind the premiated competition design by BOLLES+WILSON for the existing 19th century Harbour Masters Building.
A tower was not anticipated in the competition programme, but the jury agreed that a tower anchors the public functions around the only remaining historical building to survive between the megablocks of the ‚Overseas Quarter‘ master plan. The historic building will also be more autonomous.
Slenderness is essential for a campanile. Over the course of its 8-year gestation this was respected – even while its function mutated from stacked restaurants to housing. The 13 x 16 m floor plan tapers towards the top. With a height of 56 meters the tower is 4-times higher than it is wide.
How can such a thin chap be efficient?
The efficient answer is duplex apartments. Originally the concept foresaw seven apartments, each on 2 floors, a panoramic living deck on the upper level and bedrooms with punched windows below. Precise market analysis led to a variation of this formula: one triplex apartment at the top and some 1-floor apartments at lower levels. Built were ten apartments, four with 130 sqm, five with 185 sqm and one with 300 sqm. The tower has a gross floor area of 4.300 sqm and a volume of 16.000 cubic metres. At the ground level, the piazza level is a commercial area of around 300 sqm.
Strict high-rise regulations demanded an escape route from every floor via secured escape stair. The possibility to clean every window from the inside was also a criterion to be met. The spectacular view of the New Elbphilharmonie should not be blurred by dirty windows. Room-high windows on three sides of the living room also allow the tracking of incoming cruise ships.
Facade panels of anodized aluminium sheets in different gradations of dark red correspond to the patchwork of BOLLES+WILSON’s pavilion from 2008. This was the first realized component of the Harbour Masters ensemble. In sunlight these aluminium panels take on colourful nuances while on cloudy days they assume a darker, more serious Paul-Klee like appearance. This is a building that changes its character according to the incidence of light, a new figure on Hamburg’s skyline.
In time for Christmas 2014 the city of Korça in Albania realized BOLLES+WILSON’s design for a campanile – the Red Bar in the Sky. It focuses the Theatre Square, the concluding phase of the B+W 2009 masterplan (International Competition 1st prize). The campanile which functions as a lookout tower for Korcians to appreciate the delicate grain of their city is located at the end of the central pedestrian boulevard ‚Shën Gjergji‘ (landscaping by B+W) . Opened in winter the Red Bar in the Sky was accompanied by an ice skating rink installed by Greek skating specialists.
Masterplan Korça City Centre
2009 1st prize
The 1992 Kita 102 in Frankfurt – Griesheim was one of BOLLES+WILSON’s first buildings in Germany. 22 years later it has been extended. What does it mean to revisit an early work? To measure if it has stood the test of time? Or even if the architectural themes of that time are still pertinent today?
What is immediately obvious is that a generous two floor, curvaceous and somewhat expressive sculpted volume is no longer feasible under today’s stringent budget restrictions (the political promise to deliver a kindergarten place for every child). The new extension is single storey, docking on to and sloping down from, an original 7 m high sport and sleeping hall.
The 3 original ground floor classrooms were for conventional pre-school kindergarten use, and the upper 2 rooms after-school homework facilities for older kids. The 3 new ground level classrooms extend kindergarten functions, kids can run out directly from group to garden.
The original building expands in width and height, a conical volume explained at the time as a metaphor for growing – spaces expand and contract as kids run from one end to another. A narrative scenario that extended to details like 2.10m high doors for teachers beside 1.50 m doors only for kids. Draconian budgets preclude such whimsical game playing in the new extension, perhaps it is also no longer the time for architecture to reflect on its syntactical potential. In the original Kita four windows conspired to inscribe a giant letter K across the facade. A readable building for children who are learning to read. Today it is left to colour to signify. A thematized May-Green has been here co-opted (as in almost every second contemporary Kindergarten) to signal a fresh, playful optimism. It is the only internal colour. Also a green horizontal beam/gutter above a south facing glass facade benevolently grows extended sun-blinds (also May green) to wrap the sunny side in a Mediterranean-like slab of shade. Window articulation is no longer expressive, a tough neighbourhood requires defensive measures if night cooling is to be activated.
What was in 1993 described, as an east-west slab turning its back to the noise of a nearby autobahn is now a very long east west slab, still turning its back and opening southward to an extended linear play-ground.
After a dialogic planning process in 2013, the two competing planning teams around kister scheithauser gross (Cologne) and BOLLES+WILSON have teamed up for the next planning stage. The development of Mülheim’s harbour district is still an on-going process integrating various interests and disciplines. The masterplan for this 52 ha harbour area preserves various grand industrial spaces to create a new district with a unique character and atmosphere.
The masterplan required two towers to mark the entrance to the Garden Show and Building exhibition. The big-brother of the pair, the giant, striped (Jacobs-coat) Sauerbruch and Hutton building, a new hive for Hamburg’s Planning Department (BSU) was not, according to the competition brief, to be upstaged by its neighbour. Already at the outset the bumpy road forward was in evidence when the black facade (no competition for polychromy) of the premiated BOLLES+WILSON entry was rejected by the developers of the railway-track side of the same block – not the right statement for their housing for the elderly. The facade mutated to green. „No green“, said the same developer, green is the colour of their chairman’s football team’s archrivals. The architects insisted that football allegiances is not a credible basis for urban planning decisions, and supported by the ubiquitous director of planning, the corner tower remained green. To get planning approval the developers were caused to sign a commitment that the green ceramic facade, a thematicised official entry to the Garden Show, would not be compromised during planning and construction. A wise requirement as fast track planning was necessitated by delays due to wobbly project financing around 2011. Further down the track a rapid rethink of the green facade was again necessitated by ‚just-in-time‘ scheduling. The planed gluing of the rippled ceramic tile stripes would have to happen in winter (sub zero temperatures render glues impotent). A dry system of hung ceramic panels was at the last minute chosen and the respectfully stepping facade arrived as the IBA building exhibition opened.
The 9-floor tower is a medical centre, highly installed individual doctors rooms. Apartments and duplex penthouses with sculptural cut-out balconies occupy the top three floors. A darkening of the green ceramic facade signals a separate function for the four-floor wing to the south. This is the InselAkademie promoting sport for teenagers – not only from the surrounding Wilhelmsburg dockland district, characterised by social housing, immigration and unemployment. The upper floors of the InselAkadamie are group apartments for sporting youth and the lower two floors seminar and the temporary administration rooms of the IBA (International Building Exhibition). This building is in fact the hub of the IBA and also post IBA activities.
Small is beautiful (+ energy efficient) – compact 140 sqm private house with outstanding ’sustainability credentials‘.
Plastered monolithic insulating ‚Poroton‘ brick walls , triple glazing and a deep bore heat exchange pump lead to a non-fossil fuel energy classification (KFW 70) – 30 per cent below the current energy regulation.
LOCKED IN SERVITUDE THE DRAMA OF A BUILDING’S MAKING REMAINS HIDDEN: (Louis Kahn)
There is today an enormous potential in the re-scripting of grand industrial spaces, survivors from an epoch that had less trouble expressing itself and its mechanical or technical potency than our current mean and exploitative ‚global shopping-centre-culture‘.
One thinks of São Paulo’s Fábrica da Pompéia by Lina Bo Bardi, London’s Tate Bankside, or the Zollverein Coal Mine in Essen, Germany.
This was our first reaction as our client drove his black Porsche into the rusting cathedral of Hannover’s ‚U-boat Hall‘. Was it a panic reaction at the end of WW II to build a submarine production space so far from the North Sea? The structure of the hall had in fact been originally designed for a U-boat production site of a naval dockyard in Wilhelmshaven. As it turned out the enigmatically named ‚U-boat Hall‘ was only finished in 1944 and was thus not used for armament production.
Now sliced like salami the ‚Industrial Heritage Structure‘ is to house various commercial outlets – a mega Bicycle Emporium where racing bikes can be tested in the shop or this landscape of coloured furniture.
This is in fact two shops; RS (wholesome wood) and Yellow (sub-designer). BOLLES+WILSON have already realized their flagship store in Münster and the HQ Building, a rooftop lake above a ‚big box‘ two-floor warehouse/distribution centre.
For the ‚U-boat Hall‘ the rent was based on the square meters of the hall’s floor. The architectural question was how to maximize this floor area with a selling landscape and a back of house warehouse for customers to pick up their new sofa / table / lamp.
The magnificent scale of rusting columns, elevated crane track and skylight box, resist the invasion of domestic equipment, relegating it to the status of ‚a carpet of coloured pixels‘ spread across the selling decks.
Like most Dutch cities Helmond is busy reinventing itself. The new City Library, which officially opens in October 2010, is the first component of a comprehensive new inner city shopping zone (masterplan: Prof. Joan Busquets). Directly adjacent to the new library are the 1970’s Tree Houses and Theatre by Piet Blom. Here the new library facade is moulded and sloped in dialogue with its dramatic neighbour. A between space, a block internal café terrace, a comfortable and dramatic extension of the existing enclosed Theatre Square is the result of this spatial symbiosis.
The outer, street-facing facade is the representative face and entrance of the new library. Upper level projections mark the extremities, brackets (ears) carrying large-format ‚Bibliotheek‘ letters. A horizontal facade articulation differentiates ground level shops from glazed and setback first floor (Children’s Library) and the brick surface of the upper office level.
A careful detailing and material choice for external surfaces provides a ‚tactility‘ fitting to the historic Helmond city centre. Rough dark brown and unusually horizontal bricks (Hilversum format 50 x 290 mm) on upper levels have open vertical joints and a beige horizontal mortar joint, stressing the layered grain of the brickwork. In contrast the base is in a flat beige brick (in 3 different heights – 50, 100, 140 mm). These are not laid in mortar, but glued together – resulting in a stone-like solidity and homogeneity.
The internal spaces of the library are developed as an unfolding spatial sequence. Much of the ground floor is given over to retail. Entry is from both sides – via a generous double height entrance hall to the street side and via the more intimate café and event corner facing the Theatre Court. The upward sequence is announced by a grand stair, which arrives at a first floor exhibition deck and the ‚piano nobile‘ of the library. Here information stations, bookshelves and children / teenager zones are arranged around a central media Hot Spot: precisely circular, a Chinese-red sandwich. The Hot Spot offers the digital latest. The route continues upward concluding in the light-filled upper level with a long working bench integrated in the long ‚tree house-facing‘ window.
BOLLES+WILSON’s commission also included furniture and lighting elements, the choreographing of atmosphere and character. Lanterns in the foyer, a newspaper reading table, a striped and upholstered café bench seat with Scandinavian lighting, information counters and a group study room with fragments of a 1950’s mural mounted on the wall, are among the long list of localised detail. The philosophy is one of multiplicity, a user-friendly comfort already much appreciated by librarians and reading Helmonders.
An eight floor building axially adjacent to the University ensemble – the axial focus of Tirana’s 1930’s Italian Masterplan.
Mass is emphasized, balconies internalized as loggias. Materials are reduced to those fitting historical precedent and the current possibilities of construction in Tirana. The particular ‚haptic‘ of the base is achieved with wide mortar joints and intentionally irregular layers of broken (reject) tile fragments.
On Thursday 16 July 2009 the mayor and international jury pronounced BOLLES+WILSON winner of the competition for the new Korça City Centre Masterplan. The international two-stage competition was decided in favour of the Muenster based office for its concept of ‚Scenographic Urbanism‘, a choreographing of new buildings and public spaces which pays close attention to the existing grains and potentials of this small but spatially complex city.
Surrounded by dramatic mountains and a wide arcadian valley Korca focuses a region of 360,000 inhabitants. Its urbane morphology reflects the wealth and ambitions of returning emigrants as well as historically strong trade relations with central Europe. Many Novecento and Art Nouveau villas are now restored, many are still crumbling. The aim of the competition was to find a clear concept, which integrates a traffic and pedestrian rational with the qualitative and development needs of the city – a commercial strategy, administrative facilities and residential development. The competition brief also emphasised that the scale of the new Korca should be respectful and appropriate to the historic scale.
BOLLES+WILSON identified five zones for the revitalisation of the 197,000 sqm city centre. Each zone possessing its own unique character, together they add up to a network of urbane public spaces. At one end of the centre the Cathedral of ‚Christus Resurrection‘ anchors, at the other end a Commercial Anchor is added. These are connected by the Boulevard Shen Gjergji – now transformed into a ‚Cultural Promenade‘. Reduction in expansive communist road widths allows an extension of the Cathedral Square. This square is planned three steps above the street and framed by café pergolas, an optical filter between traffic and event space. A large stage left of the cathedral and a smaller stage to the right facilitate a wide variety of events. Curved paving stripes echo the Cathedral geometry and serve to discipline market stands.
New figure on the Korca skyline and counterpoint to the Cathedral, a ‚Vertical Mall‘ occupies and marshals the parade-ground scaled Theatre Square. A new commercial strip extends from here to the Bazaar via new shopping/housing blocks and a new Bus Station Roof – a Farmers-market platform.
This – the second of the five zones – creates a new commercial hub in downtown Korca.
The third zone is rescripted as a ‚Cultural promenade‘, a semi-pedestrian connection between Cathedral and downtown Mall. Here a number of significant buildings such as the ‚Education Museum‘ are extended out into the tree-lined, shady and café-filled Promenade as a carpet-like patterned paving, a choreographed sequence of ‚Patterned Squares – Urban Living Rooms‘.
The fourth zone revitalises a villa zone with carefully placed new development. In order not to overwhelm the delicate historic scale of Korca a ‚Patchwork Strategy‘ is invented – new buildings are paired with restored existing villas to form ‚Development Islands‘ (shared economic benefit) and thereby create a network of active block-internal passages.
The final zone of the Masterplan is the ‚Enlarged Park‘ (‚green heart‘). Here a new triangular-block frames the park edge and by the sale of public land for private development finances the upgrading of the park itself.
RED BAR IN THE SKY
Theatre Square, Korça, 2014
When is a warehouse a lake? – in Münster.
This is the third BOLLES+WILSON building for the German-wide furniture chain RS+Yellow, an extension of the homebase storage and distribution centre by 7,000 sqm. The new rectangular building volume stands adjacent to the original 1992 corrugated aluminium warehouse.
The 60 x 66 m two stores ‚Big-Box‘ is (as is usual for industrial architecture) reduced to a regular grid of pre-cast columns and widespan floor slabs. Facades are a standard lightweight concrete system. Verticality is emphasised with pyjama colour stripes interspersed with zinc coated grid stripes. These absorb all windows and necessary smoke outlets into an uninterrupted colour curtain.
This warehouse and even perhaps the 1,500 sqm of offices above the delivery bays are precisely realised but relatively conventional. The big surprise comes on arriving at the rooftop meeting rooms and executive offices. Through the intervention of the fire brigade (choreographed alarm) the roof of the building has been flooded – a 45 x 65 m reflecting pool.
The edge detail, laser levelled into invisibility, increases the metaphysical unreality of this sky reflector. Underwater compartments eliviate the risk of mini-tsunamis. Spillage is collected in edge channels and channelled to an internal cistern.
A wooden boardwalk fronts the large format sliding glass facade. A pier extends out to the centre of the water world. Here one can sit surrounded by geometric groves of bamboo. From here the south facing glass front of the roof pavilion reflects again the rippling expanse of water. The facade itself is shaded by a projecting steel pergola and a curtain of louvers descending at the press of a button from its outer edge.
This choreographed overlap of inside and outside, of natural and artificial, of direct and reflected light, create a unique atmosphere which could be described as an industrial scaled Japanese Tea-House.
The raked tower silhouette terminates the wide street axis for those exiting London westward. At its base the tower extends horizontally, a Fitness Arm (window to pool) frames the Tesco Plaza. The E Form begins at the third floor concourse, above existing carpark decks. The south elevation is glazed (winter gardens); the east and west are dark rippled ceramic.
Community Use: The inclusion of an additional swimming pool for the sole use of the local community has increased the Gross Internal Area of the community facility by some 30%. A Community Trust will be established to manage the pool and associated facilities.
The Eemcentrum is a new cultural, leisure and residential quartier directly adjacent to the historic city centre. Cinema, housing and commercial components in combination with new city library, art school and pop podium face a conical and sloped square/garden which expands perspectively over its 200 m length. This scenographic choreography developed by BOLLES+WILSON constitutes the aesthetic and legal masterplan for the individual building commissions. Peter Wilson was also planning supervisor monitoring and coordinating the architectural development of the urban ensemble.
Eemblock – O‘Donnell + Tuomey
Row Houses – Drost + van Veen
Cinema – Kees Rijnboutt
Shopping/Housing/Offices – Mecannoo
Library/Art School/Pop Podium – Neutelings Riedijk
Landscaping – Sant en Co
The Spuimarkt is a permeable block, it hosts the life of the city (tides and eddies of shoppers), it leads Bioscoop and other leisure seekers dramatically upward, and perches them in grand foyers, outlook windows, privileged vantages. The Pathé cinema foyer is a Piranesian space, its stairs flow dramatically upward, they cross, they hover. Just arriving at one of the nine cinemas (2,270 seats) is a cinematic experience – along the way some of the best views in Den Haag.
A richly textured brick facade gives unity and dignity to the whole block; the tactility of the rotated and projecting bricks is comparable to a tweed jacket, its hand-made quality both abstract and traditional. Spuimarkt’s sculptured corporal autonomy is carefully dovetailed into the wider context, mediating between the Bijenkorf and the City Hall to form a trilogy of major urban statements. The building’s varying scales respond to the surrounding context, the grand Grote Marktstraat facade steps down behind to the more intimate street scale of Gedempte Gracht. The lower Pathé cinema entrance reflects the height of the traditional houses it faces.
The sinuous roof silhouette, moulded around the cinema within, is like a topographic landform; an anchoring that gives measure and scale to the complex Den Haag skyline.
The former embarkation point for emigration to the New World – a ‚Holland/America‘ theme. Two landscapes (intimate Dutch gardens and a prairie-like American event- space) are divided by a conceptual border. Large scale text (like a Steinberg drawing) is inlayed in the pavement. To date the Dutch side including the Hotel Terrace, Maaskant Pavilion, vent Funnels, playground and intimate Dutch gardens is complete. despite regular dockings of American warships the narrative landscape on the American side of the Dutch-Amerika border remains unexecuted.
Like its big brothers in Rotterdam, Hamburg, London or Genoa, Münsters canal harbour (released from servitude) is in the process of becoming – but what – a new urban quartier, bar and café mile, victim of city-event culture or melancholic post- industrial hangout for artists and architects.
Hafenweg No. 14 and No. 16 like their warehouse predecessors are ambivalent as to exactly what goods or activities they host. Deep (22m) loft plans facilitate a multitude of layouts. Facades on the other hand are specific, material and character giving.
No. 14, a sharply sculptured orange end building turns out on close inspection to be a stack of bricks close-packed in North-South direction (heads to harbour and street, sides to the end walls), an overt tactility eclipsed by flush mounted sun blinds. Seen from afar the overall volume has photoshop-like graphic quality, a designed lack of depth.
A ballet of sun-louvers also animates the South harbour-facing and predominately glass facade of No. 16. A stepped curtain creating (on sunny days) an intermediate zone between inside and out. Without the obligation of transparency (harbour panorama) or sun protection (North) the street facade of No. 16 conjures a tapestry of muted anodised colour, generous glass squares and 3D projections.
Morse code: The attentive viewer will also discover a 3 cm high ‘dot-dash’ inscription on the lower verge of each balcony, the work of the Dutch artist Milou van Ham. Old Barge Captains and ‘persevering school classes’ will decipher the text:
good day! you are (now) reading a building (2005- ) by Bolles+Wilson (1980- ). you are (now) reading an artwork (2005- ) by milou van ham (1964- ). you are (now) reading morse-code (1837–2000) by samuel morse (1791–1872). you are (now) in he harbour (1898-2005- ) of muenster (793- ). End
Entering the city from the north the straight road rises slightly, not a dramatic topography but enough to awaken expectation – ‚up there I will be in the city‘. The sculpted silhouette of the Wohn + Stadtbau building enhances this topographic drama.
Its crest location is critical. The structured plaster facades of the two building volumes (tonal variations of White, Grey and Yellow) give a second reading a surface articulation.
The building front steps back from the heavily trafficked street to a transparent foyer. The ground floor lobby facilitates intensive visitor traffic, waiting spaces extend into the internal court and to first floor meeting rooms. The Wohn + Stadtbau occupy the ground and first floor, the above floors contain a rich functional mix – offices, medical, fitness and apartments.
Scenographic urbanism on the flood plain of the Lower Rhine as it curves through Arnhem. Occupying the high ground Hide-Housing nestles safely inside protective dikes, which do not resist but encourage annual flooding. To the west Panorama Apartments with Paternoster Parking Towers to the east a sculptural city-facing Hotel hovers, its extended boardwalk terrace defining a ‚city-landscape‘ axis.
‚A staging of shopping‘. The widespan shop outlet typology usually situated on the periphery is here reconstituted as an urban facade, city near and addressing the city bound / city exiting traffic. Three stores (RS, Yellow, Brands) with an overall shop area of 5.000 m2 cluster with warehouse and delivery bays, around an internal parking piazza. An advertising tower erupts on one corner, a supersign, a new actor in the quartier’s tower landscape (Trinity Church and Fire Station Tower).
A theatrically proportioned roof frames the pedestrian/car entrance. This transition space is a constructed perspective (rejecting any ideal viewing point), a reciprocal scenographic framing of inner and outer world. The hovering roof grows out of and connects the two larger shops. Logistics are critical – 18 m long lorries cross the piazza and disappear into the building.
The exaggerated scale of the wooden window frames in RS (which sells wooden furniture) are stacked like boxes (These 35 cm wide frames sidestep a local building regulation that prohibits wooden facades on retail structures). A dialogue between contained and container that continues in the interior detailing. Both structure (prefabricated concrete) and the materiality (fibre-cement panels) of the facades respond with an economic and systemized appropriateness to the ‚outlet‘ building type.
The entrance to Schlosspark Neersen is framed by the parallel sides of the Schloss / City Hall and the new building for the City Hall technical Departments.
With its wide span-cantilevered canopy and transparent facade the new addition presents its functions like a building scale vitrine.
The enclosing back wall is in a discrete and modest industrial brick, in keeping with the suburban surrounds and at the same time a reference to the nearby Mies van der Rohe Haus Lange and Haus Esters.
The extensive Square of Germany’s oldest Gothic Cathedral is framed to the east and north by Neo-Baroque (post-war reconstructed) Parliament and Chancellery for the state of Sachsen-Anhalt. The enclosure of the square is completed with these two new blocks housing a bank (Nord LB), Chamber of Commerce, offices, shops and restaurants.
The wider urban context is noble but battered and heterogeneous in the extreme. Only occasional fragments of the medieval or 19th century Prussian Administration city remain, marooned between socialist system built housing slabs. With German Reunification and the subsequent building boom Magdeburg like most east German cities was the recipient of a number of inner city shopping blocks and speculative offices competing in the free market rush with an explosion of out-of-town shopping and office boxes. In the subsequent economically depressed atmosphere the two new ‚Domplatz‘ blocks represent foundation stones for a considered qualitative and long term investment in the culture of the city.
Two blocks are divided into three (three users) by the introduction of the ‚Bankgasse‘ which bisects and animates the larger block, extends a Domplatz tree Allee and focuses on the neighbouring St. Sebastian. A compositional strategy of scenographic sequences (external and internal), and significant details (serpentine corners), rigorous geometries and poetic moments.
Volumetric stringency (a rigorous facade height of 20 metres and paired windows), are ameliorated by the patchwork texture and colour variations of the blue/grey stone facade (Brazilian Azul Macaubas). A haptic richness not unlike the irregular weathering of the 800 year old cathedral stones. Glazed and canopied Roof Pavilions set up above the rigorous parapet line a sequence of cross city vector relationships.
Systematized Office Interiors are interrupted by a larger sequence of movement spaces with light walls and material elaboration (Banking Hall, Atrium, Entrance Lobbies, Rooftop Restaurant).
The visitor’s image of Australia is of huge skies, bleaching light and wide horizons. The planning model for this new Sydney quartier involved dense urban blocks with six to nine story street fronts and towers with views to their downtown big brothers. Surprisingly photos of the first two of the four blocks satisfy both expectations. One thinks of Brasilia or the suburbs of Milan in the 1950s. This ex-industrial site has in its transitional state the appearance of landscape becoming city in one heroic eruption.
Sydney is growing rapidly, due in part to an exodus from country towns, to immigration and to a cunning ‚down-under‘ financial regulation that only allows foreign investors to buy into new buildings. To meet this quantitative demand a radical systematising of the building process into a ‘house of cards’ stacking of prefabricated concrete panels and standard repetitive apartment layouts has emerged. This basic logic of the ESP Block and of the ‘FORM’ Block is subsequently enhanced by balcony variations. These are essential for climatic reasons, shade and outdoor living space. (As a substitute for the suburban back yard balconies in Australia are often equipped with gas outlets for high-rise barbecuing.) Compositional juxtapositions and articulations of balconies hung outside the repetitive and regular apartment grid also reverses the modernist dictum of outside expressing interior functions. Here the heterogeneous surface instigates variations in apartment types.
2001 Four Block Masterplan
2004 ESP Block completed,
2005 Block 301 („FORM“) completed,
2005 Blocks 303 and 305 in planning.
A building that inserts a new square in the plan of the City, in a zone of transition between monumental 19th century administration buildings and smaller scale row houses. Bisected by a commuter bicycle route, the ‚U‘-formed office frames the ramped square. Bicycles punch a grand portal through the office facade. A laminated wood and glass facade gives the strict office layout a lightness and transparence.
The principle which animates this convention bound site and program is that of careful detail and a choreographing of necessity into an unfolding spatial sequence – entrance, movement spaces, meeting rooms. The whole adds up to a clear and precise urban insert, sculptural in its form, both object and container.
The Brink Centre co-opts the inertia of 15,000 sqm of shopping to instigate major surgery on the city plan of Hengelo. A pervading pragmatism is first evidenced in the relentless 7.8 m column grid of the below ground parking deck. An invisible logic which determines the geometry of the individual buildings above.
At street level the ensemble frames an urban choreography, a routing and a tying together of the overall morphological tissue. A different scale of urbanity to the modest post-war surrounds. A speckled ‚brick-mix‘ gives a rich texture to the precise sculptural form of the housing.
The sloping silver trapezoid of the department store roof recalls through its semi-industrial character the factory around which Hengelo grew. This great aluminium umbrella is a 50 cm architectural wrapping of the neutral space of shopping. A folding down of the tectonic skin produces deep beams supporting extensive corner overhangs.
The 44 m Electronic Campanile is a sandwich of mass (white pre-cast concrete panels) between light and ‚light-emitting‘ top and base (LED clock, video pavilion). Concrete is here also information carrier. The name Brink serialised and cast into its surface induces a controlled weathering, a planned staining, text dissolving into texture.
A knitting together of street lines and block interior in a modest scaled residential district. The theme is more Vitruvius‘ comoditas than grand or explicit architectural narrative. Street lines, precise boundaries between public and private realms are anchored with a solid dark, oil-fired, almost industrial and implicitly north German brick plinth. In contrast the upper floors in white plaster transcend this intentional massivity through their material and geometric abstraction. The two layers dovetailed together framing private terraces and necessary setbacks.
The 26 apartments are vertically ordered. Small units suitable for elderly occupants or studio apartments with garden below, the larger first floor apartments have generous balconies while the upper two floors are organised as maisonettes. An urbane facilitating of daily life is in the interiors and layout achieved with a reduced material palette – wood, stone, plaster.
Room 214 (Hotel New York) also has a central column and the letters V E N T I L A T O R stencilled in white on the mouse-grey wall. From here one saw the tower of the Erasmus Bridge float upstream (D) and take its place above the vaulted roofs of the Cruise Terminal. Next to the bridge platform a second platform was in the process of appearing – the BOLLES+WILSON Landing Quay – a table on precast piles. Here a basalt ramp negotiates, carpet-like, the 1.5 m drop from street to quay, then, in folding over the quay edge, it forms a beam spanning the underwater subway tunnel. An elevated walkway stands crane-like between street and quay, a hovering and framing urban edge, lifting visitors to a privileged panoramic vantage.
The quay terminates with another viewing machine. The Bridgewatchers’ House lifts choreographers of river traffic to a height of 12 meters (ship captains’ eye height) where they sit, backs to the Erasmus panorama, studying a digital harbour on radar screens.
Below the Bridgewatcher’s House stainless steel numbers are set into the quay surface: height below sea level (all important in Holland); a number puzzle (answer always 15); the abandoned and strewn about numbers of this decommissioned (shipless) quay. The permanence of this Garden of Enduring Numbers is answered at the opposite end of the quay by the Tower of Moving Numbers. These five LED boxes (time, ‘0’, temperature, random numbers, world population); caged cyber birds, useful and useless numbers, signal the dynamism of the new urban quartier on the Kop Van Zuid. After some years of enigmatic signalling, Renzo Piano was invited to build Europe’s biggest media facade immediately behind the Tower of Numbers. Soon after, either from modesty, shame or digital Alzheimer’s the LED boxes one by one slipped into glitch mode or dropped out of service completely. Although now regularly revived by diligent IT doctors the intended didacticism of this narrative landscape, a media-mass juxtaposition, has not lost its poignancy. In the meantime the five electronic rocks placed on the quay edge are regularly co-opted by ship-watching kids, also for wedding photos.
A branch of the Open University Hagen and a Women’s Retraining Centre – shared conference and seminar facilities. Anchor box plus geometric extensions. The alien conference element cantilevers acrobatically. Strict plan geometries evolve a three dimensional language of interlocking materials.
The reflective surface of the ‚dark-green-glazed‘ brick animates a monolithic self-focusing form. An ambiguous surface alternating between the reflected brilliance of the sky or the depths of black shadow. Mass is also the subject, a single building block in the urban fabric. A block further animated by the vectorial trajectory of the adjacent railway which instigates a facade curve and lean. A relatively simple slippage whose justification lies not in its formal but its tectonic resolution. Each brick course slips out one cm from the one supporting it. For the train traveller the WLV building is an event of a few seconds, its deflection perhaps only the effect of speed, its roof perhaps only temporarily hovering.
The three floors and 7.000 sqm of offices house a branch of local government that deals with the administration of psychiatric services. Shops on the ground and rooftop canteen-restaurant complete the sandwich. A specified planning module of 1.625 m results in a deep precast concrete fin on each axis, visible structure in unpainted concrete defining a window zone for heating, cable canals and glare blinds. From inside window frames disappear behind fins, to the south sun screens extend the internal ceiling line beyond the window. Systematised cellular offices are animated by contextual deflexions in the overall plan form, resulting in serpentine office strips, floating service islands, the ‚elastic plan‘. Not high but low-tech is here and in the entire building thematized, the simple, the well made, the durable.
A minor conversion, a correction to an elegant 1960s modernist Atrium House.
The principal element a Blue Glazed Brick Wall corrects a disastrous alteration and also breaks the tyranny of uniform ceiling height.
The second added element, a Zinc Clad Studio Box stands adjacent the Blue Wall. The two set up an external and internal play – geometric volumes – the abstract language of the plan respected and developed.
A very modest commission, careful details with the potential of enhancing the everyday lives of their users.
No grand statement rather a series of practical opportunities. First the restructuring of the row of rundown Mews Houses into a new white box. A large window breaks through the white façade, the view is not good, the glass is opaque, blinded.
Ground floor office, a two floor apartment housing, a collection; Barry Flanagan (hare), Scott Burton (chair), Andy Warhol (portrait), Bruce McLean (table), Ron Arad (table), Jasper Morrison (sofa). Interior details are added to this list – supporting column and cantilevered balcony in steel, a vitrine, a floating boat – seat – handrail – individual narratives in a limited range of materials.
The upper floor with its 14 m skylight-wall functions as gallery, the lower lobby as chair hall. Sitting on the central barge seat the visitor has reached the vortex of the composition hovering like the house itself, not quite part of London.