sabato, novembre 10, 2007

Welt - Bmw Palace in Munchen

Welt, the BMW Palace in Munchen, designed by Wolf Prix

giovedì, novembre 08, 2007

Armani Tower in Tokio (designed by Fuksas)

Armani Tower in Ginza - Tokio (designed by Fuksas)

venerdì, novembre 02, 2007

The New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum: A dialogue with antiquity
ATHENS: No sane architect, one can assume, would want to invite comparisons between his building and the Parthenon. So it comes as little surprise that the New Acropolis Museum, which stands at the foot of one of the great achievements of human history, is a quiet work, especially by the standards of its flamboyant Swiss-born architect, Bernard Tschumi.
But in mastering his ego, Tschumi pulled off an impressive accomplishment: a building that is both an enlightening meditation on the Parthenon and a mesmerizing work in its own right. I can't remember seeing a design that is so eloquent about another work of architecture.
When this museum in Athens opens next year, hundreds of marble sculptures from the old Acropolis museum alongside the Parthenon will finally reside in a place that can properly care for them. Missing, however, will be more than half of the surviving Parthenon sculptures, the Elgin Marbles, so called since they were carted off to London by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.
Britain's government maintains that they legally belong to the British Museum and insists that they will never be returned. The Greeks naturally argue that they belong in Athens.
Until now my sympathies tended to lie with the British. Most of the world's great museum collections have some kind of dubious deals in their pasts. Why bother untangling thousands of years of imperialist history? Wise men avert their eyes and move on.

But by fusing sculpture, architecture and the ancient landscape into a forceful visual narrative, the New Acropolis Museum delivers a revelation that trumps the tired arguments and incessant flag waving by both sides. It's impossible to stand in the top-floor galleries, in full view of the Parthenon's ravaged, sun-bleached frame, without craving the marbles' return.
The museum's rhetorical power may surprise people who have followed the project over the last six years. Tschumi won the competition with a design that seemed chaste and austere by comparison with the flamboyant confabulations that are now common in contemporary museum design.
The museum had to respond to more than 100 lawsuits before construction could begin, including disputes over its location and whether the sculptures could be moved without putting them at risk.
(Local preservationists are now fighting to block plans to demolish two landmark buildings - an Art Deco gem and a lesser neo-Classical structure - that block the sightlines from the museum to an ancient amphitheater at the base of the Acropolis.)
But the end result is a remarkably taut and subtle building. When I first glimpsed it on the approach from Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, a pedestrian avenue, it seemed to fade into the dense grid of the city. Its facade, heavy bands of glass atop a concrete base punctured by narrow windows, seemed calm and unobtrusive.
Yet as I drew closer, the forms grew more precarious. To preserve the ruins of an ancient village that was discovered at the site during construction, the entire building has been raised on huge columns. A wildly overscale concrete canopy juts over the main entry plaza. Just above, the museum's top floor seems to shift slightly, its corners cantilevering over the edge of the story below as if it is sliding off the top of the building.
This instability sets in motion a carefully paced narrative, guiding you through centuries of Greek history and allowing you to see the Parthenon with fresh eyes. An elliptical cutout in the plaza floor offers a view of the archaeological ruins below. From there you head into a low, dusky lobby and turn onto a vast ramp that leads to the main galleries.
Sunlight spills down through a concrete-and-glass grid several stories above; the floor of the ramp is a grid with fritted glass panels that allow additional glimpses of the subterranean ruins. As you walk upward, you pass a series of chiseled figures on gray marble pedestals before arriving at an Archaic limestone pediment at the top of the ramp. The procession echoes the climb to the Parthenon, which culminates when you pause before the stark columns of the Propylaea, or entrance.
Yet only as you turn the corner and enter the main gallery do you begin to grasp the significance of the journey. This vast space, now empty, will soon be filled with sculptures of gods and other mythological figures dating from the Mycenaean period to the early fifth century B.C. A fragment of a marble pediment that depicts Athena wrestling with giants will anchor the gallery's far end. From there you loop around to more escalators and stairs, leading to a mezzanine restaurant and a small gallery that will house a balustrade from the Temple of Athens depicting the goddess flanked by winged Nikes.

Tschumi aims to create a montage of visual experiences. The roaming viewer stands in for the camera, collecting and reassembling images along the way. Only when you reach your destination do they fuse into a coherent vision.
The sense of anticipation reaches its full pitch as you enter the museum's top-floor galleries. They echo the layout of the Parthenon itself, with a colonnade set around a sacred inner temple chamber. The temple friezes will be mounted in an unbroken sequence along a central core so that you will be able to follow the narrative without interruption. The panels lost to antiquity will be left blank; those that remain in the British Museum will be reproduced in plaster yet covered by a diaphanous veil to make clear that they're fakes. The entire floor is wrapped in glass so that you can gaze at the surrounding city.
The genius lies in how the room snaps disparate sculptural and architectural fragments into their proper context. You first enter the south side of the gallery, where the museum's friezes and metopes will be seen against the chalky backdrop of the rooftops of Athens. As you turn a corner, the Parthenon comes into full view; the ancient temple hovers through huge windows to your right. The eastern facade of the Parthenon and the sculptures that once adorned it unite in your imagination, allowing you to picture the temple as it was in Periclean Athens.
It's a magical experience. Rather than replicating or simply echoing the Classical past, Tschumi engages in a dialogue that reaches across centuries.
I carried these thoughts with me as I boarded an evening flight to London shortly after touring the museum. The next morning I walked from my hotel to the British Museum to visit the Elgin Marbles. Inside the long, narrow Duveen Gallery I felt an immediate twinge of pain.
The marbles were stunning, but they looked homesick.
To give visitors some sense of where they were in the Parthenon, the curators have hung the friezes along two facing walls, with the pediments set at each end of the gallery. Even so, you read them as individual works of art, not as part of a composition.
A panel depicting the receding tail of one horse and the advancing head of another with an expanse of blank stone in between is breathtaking. But it's hard to picture how it originally fit into the Parthenon. The lack of context is only reinforced by Lord Elgin's decision two centuries ago to cut the works out of the huge blocks of stone into which they were originally carved, a cruel act of vandalism intended to make them easier to ship.
In dismantling the ruins of one of the glories of Western civilization, Lord Elgin robbed them of their meaning. The profound connection of the marbles to the civilization that produced them is lost.
Tschumi's great accomplishment is to express this truth in architectural form. Without pomp or histrionics, his building makes the argument for the marbles' return

mercoledì, ottobre 31, 2007

martedì, ottobre 30, 2007

Madrid, the new Wing of Prado Museum

Madrid, the new Wing of Prado Museum

The extension of Madrid's great museum, which opens today, involved rebuilding a 16th-century cloister, reports Ellis Woodman
Over the past 30 years, almost every one of the world's foremost metropolitan art galleries has been extended to create extra exhibition space while providing the art-going public with all the education rooms, restaurants and retail opportunities that it increasingly expects.
One notable latecomer to this party has been the gallery that many consider to be the greatest of them all, Madrid's Prado. It has not been for want of trying.
In 1995, it staged an architectural competition to find a design for an extension. More than 700 schemes were submitted, but the jury ultimately had to concede that there simply wasn't enough land available to accommodate its brief satisfactorily. The competition was declared void and the gallery set about trying to secure more space. There weren't many possibilities.
The Prado presents a 650ft frontage to one of Madrid's most heavily trafficked avenues and is book-ended by an essential entrance courtyard at one end and by the sacrosanct Royal Botanical Gardens at the other. The only real opportunity to grow, therefore, was to the rear. The gallery owned a sliver of land between its building and the road that runs along its rear face, but it wasn't enough.
The only way to accommodate all the facilities that were required was to tunnel under the road, making a connection to a new building that would stand on the far side.
There was one obvious place where this could be done – on a plot owned by the neighbouring monastery of San Jerónimo el Real. The gallery reached an agreement that it would buy the land and rehouse the displaced monks in a new building to be constructed alongside.
There was just one problem: a large part of the site was occupied by a 16th-century cloister. It was in an extremely dilapidated state but, none the less, it was a listed monument.
The gallery held a second competition with the stipulation that the cloister would have to be incorporated within the new building. It was won by the grand old man of Spanish architecture, 70-year-old Rafael Moneo. Today, 12 years after the Prado first embarked on the project of building an extension, his scheme is to be opened by the King and Queen of Spain.
The challenge faced by Moneo was significantly compounded by the fact that the steeply sloping ground at the back of the gallery had led to the cloister being constructed on a massive platform built into the hill.
His scheme has involved the radical measure of temporarily dismantling the cloister so that the platform could be demolished and the new building constructed in its place. The cloister was then meticulously reconstructed in exactly its original location and the new building extended upwards to engulf it on two sides.
From the street, therefore, the cloister is entirely hidden from view. What we see is the new structure, built from the unusually small bricks with pencil-thin mortar joints that are so characteristic of Madrid's architecture. The building has something of the appearance of a small palazzo, boasting a windowless, almost fortified lower level and an expansive glazed loggia above.
Moneo's first proposal was for a much more abstract treatment with none of the classical overtones of the final design, but the idea of building next to the 16th-century church proved extremely contentious and the change of approach served as something of a concession to those who opposed it.
The new building houses a suite of temporary galleries beneath the cloister and ranges conservation facilities, offices and print rooms around it. By decanting these facilities from the old building it has been possible to return a significant area to its original use as exhibition space. The first exhibition to be staged in the temporary galleries is a show of the 19th-century art that has always been displayed in a separate institution, but which can now be integrated with the Prado's holdings.
Ultimately, the project might not rank among its architect's most spectacular works, but it answers an extraordinarily taxing set of requirements very persuasively and promises to have a transformative effect on the gallery. Most impressively, perhaps, there is very little about the finished building that suggests what a battle it has been to get it built.