Zaha's Pivotal Moment To Digital Age

We have all heard about the devastated news yesterday, for a second I thought it was April fools. 

Since the first time I studied architecture, I wasn't really a big fan of her work. Fancy geometries, double curved surfaces, twisted lines, and many other in result to unnecessary complexity. I visited Guangzhou Opera House months after the project finished and looking at the finished product confirms my skepticism. It seems like her body of work reflects merely on her altruistic fetishism of form.

I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

 

From Fragmentation to Fluidity

Between Cincinnati's CAC to Rome's MAXXI

I didn't understand the context and the idea that she's trying to pursue. At the AA day, the critics were blown away by her drawings because an architecture intent has never been presented as such before. With The Peak competition, the proposal is trying to capture movement and seeming instability through fragmentation of building parts. And her fascination to understand the potential of fluid spaces through the exploration of fabric and network. There is though a common theme across since the very beginning, building as landscape. 

 
Fragmentation can be philosophical, too. It can be systematic and not merely chaotic or accidental. This can be seen in some of Malevich’s earlier paintings. Or, even if it is chaotic, it can reflect an existentialist edge, a risky form of play with disintegration as a prelude or even an impetus to a higher re-formation. As long as forms remain whole, unified, coherent, they cannot be transformed. Only when established forms are broken up are they susceptible to change.
— https://lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/zaha-hadids-drawings-2/
Fragments | The Peak Proposal

Fragments | The Peak Proposal

Fabric & Network | Onenorth Masterplan

Fabric & Network | Onenorth Masterplan

This system of drawing led to new ideas, such as layering drawings over one another – like a form of reverse archaeology – which led to literal translations in the buildings. Vitra Fire Station (1983) in Weil am Rhein, Germany, was key – the drawing became the project, when the lines became volumes.

It took me 20 years to convince people to draw everything in three dimensions, with an army of people trying to draw the most difficult perspectives. Now everyone does 3D on the computer, but I think we have lost some transparency in the process. Through painting and drawing, we can discover so much more than anticipated. It might take 10 years for a 2D sketch to evolve into a workable space, and into a building, but these are the journeys that I think are the most exciting, as they are not predictable.
— https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/zaha-hadid-ra-on-the-influence-of
 

Contemporary Arts Center / Cincinnati | OH US

v

MAXXI / Rome | IT

 

Zaha Hadid has a very broad range of building portfolio, a very fruitful 40+ years of career. As we all notice the firm departs from deconstructivism to parametricism. However, I am interested in her work at the end of 1990s when it became the pivotal moment for ZHA in terms of design aesthetic, Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinatti, and MAXXI in Rome.  

Painting for CAC in Cincinnati - Notice the distorted perspective effect as media of formal exercise.

Painting for CAC in Cincinnati - Notice the distorted perspective effect as media of formal exercise.

Painting for MAXXI in Rome - Notice the fluid lines and surfaces that meander through and weaved together.

Painting for MAXXI in Rome - Notice the fluid lines and surfaces that meander through and weaved together.

 

Exterior

CAC stacked boxes exterior.

CAC stacked boxes exterior.

MAXXI exterior carries the same massive and solid feeling.

MAXXI exterior carries the same massive and solid feeling.

Both projects are located in a dense urban setting. Yes, ZHA's projects are usually known for being stand out of its context and neglecting its surrounding. However, these two particular projects are well integrated into the urban fabric. 

 

CAC merges as part of the typical gridded US urban block.

 

More varied block shape in Rome urban setting allows more dynamic integration towards the context.

 

Interior

Both museums employs almost similar material palette but totally different spatial experience.

CAC is about vertical relationship of volumes and our sequential experience as we move up through the void space. 

MAXXI rather, with more fluid space allows us to meander diagonally inside and in between the gallery spaces. With opportunity to have larger atrium, the space allows the circulation to interweaves and transfer people from one level to another.

Sometimes the gallery space shoots out and you're suddenly hovering over the entry plaza of the building.

Sometimes the gallery space shoots out and you're suddenly hovering over the entry plaza of the building.

 

Trajectory to The Digital Space

Malevich and Suprematist movement, and Derrida's fragmentation to start off.

Fluidity of fabric and network to set trajectory to further explore three dimensional design process through digital technology.

Parametricism, the outcome of a decade of exploration on the potential of digital technology with Patrik Schumacher.

 

Zaha Hadid is no doubt one of the most important profile in our contemporary society. Her talent has excel the field of architecture itself, academia, fashion, product design, along with digital technology, and digital fabrication. Beyond, her background and profile has proven to the world as a female architect and a muslim. Both combined, plus the pro-men context of post-WW II, she is indeed a very strong and inspiring individual.

Her 40 years career was very fruitful but sadly it was too short.

RESPECT!

Fragmentation sets trajectory of Zaha's career.

Fragmentation sets trajectory of Zaha's career.

Fluidity as trajectory to the digital space.

Fluidity as trajectory to the digital space.

#RIPZahaHadid

Weekend Travel: Antwerp | BE

Last weekend, I head over to Antwerp, north and more Dutch area of Belgium, just 2 hours bus ride from Amsterdam. I took the earliest bus available to maximize my time in Belgium. However, I found out that the bus station was 15 km away. Well, just gotta bike like the dutch..

Original terminus building by Louis Delacenserie

Original terminus building by Louis Delacenserie

The first building I noticed in Antwerp is this gorgeous Antwerp central station, arguably the best station in the entire Belgium. Did I say I got here by bus?

The original station building was constructed between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement for the original terminus of the Brussels-Mechelen-Antwerp Railway. The stone clad terminus buildings, with a vast dome above the waiting room hall were designed by Louis Delacenserie and the vast (185 metres long and 44 metres high) iron and glass trainshed by Clement van Bogaert.
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antwerpen-Centraal_railway_station
Ceiling of the original  terminus building by Louis Delacenserie.

Ceiling of the original terminus building by Louis Delacenserie.

Flash mob scene at the station from Rodgers and Hammerstein musical

Flash mob scene at the station from Rodgers and Hammerstein musical

The beauty of this station made it to the movie stage for the musical The Sound of Music, featuring the song "do-re-mi". The space where the scene was performed is almost 4-5 stories tall, very grand and such an eclectic way to celebrate the experience of departure or arrival back in the day.

Antwerp central station expansion with iron and glass structure.

Antwerp central station expansion with iron and glass structure.

Wide span iron structure by Clement van Bogaert

Wide span iron structure by Clement van Bogaert

Enormous scale of the station captures a glimpse of the city as the background.

Enormous scale of the station captures a glimpse of the city as the background.

Belgium is situated in a bit peculiar location in Western Europe. It was once part of the kingdom of Netherlands; it lies in the border of Netherland, Germany, and France. And no wonder that there are three official languages corresponding to its location; on top of that, most of the Belgians speak proper English. Kudos to the bus driver who had been trying to make a point on this matter out to a group of Asian backpackers along our super early bus ride from Amsterdam. 

That kind of cultural mashup is super interesting to me although it might be normal for European to have this condition.  The cultural influence is reflected in cities in Belgium in accordance to its proximity to the neighboring country, and Antwerp to me isa Dutch-influenced port city with a good amount of French ingredients.

 

Europe's Second Largest Sea Ports

Port of Antwerp is just north of the central station and it is considerably one of the biggest and busiest in Central Europe. The history of the city itself was built upon the progression of the port. 

Antwerp’s potential was recognized by Napoleon Bonaparte and he ordered the construction of Antwerp’s first lock and dock in 1811. Called the Bonaparte Dock, it was joined by a second dock - called the Willem Dock after the Dutch King - in 1813...

...The British, and Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, in particular were well aware of the Port of Antwerp’s strategic importance, so much so that Churchill arrived in Antwerp on 4 October 1914 to take charge of the defense of the city and its port...
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Antwerp

The port area is pretty intense and industrialized, reminds me of Rotterdam. The scene of the port was so cool and happened to be such a perfect setting for shooting car commercials. I stumbled upon these two which happen to be 'staged' and ready for some actions.

Citroen C5 Wagon: all road, all terrain.

Citroen C5 Wagon: all road, all terrain.

VW Passat  diesel - almost as environmental friendly as biking

VW Passat  diesel - almost as environmental friendly as biking

Port of Antwerp is undergoing a major improvement initiated in 2010 for the span of 15 years. A portion of the land was bought from General Motors which no longer has its factory in Antwerp. One of the most significant development is to revitalize the old fire brigade building.

 

Zaha Hadid, Port House

Construction start early September 2011, Port House, Zaha Hadid's building in Antwerp. Some say the design is endearing, some say its irritating and disrespectful.  Anyhow I must admit that I was amazed by the sheer boldness of its structure. To define what's happening here, the new building is a steel post and beam slab structure almost two times bigger than the original building sitting on stilts over the old historical firehouse. Yeah, over the old building...

Zaha's Porthouse, upon completion. Topped up and working on putting the cladding.

Zaha's Porthouse, upon completion. Topped up and working on putting the cladding.

Will Alsop's OCAD in Toronto

Will Alsop's OCAD in Toronto

This design gesture reminds me of Alsop's Ontario College of Art & Design, a massive floating box in Toronto. Similar approach, except Alsop has certain intention to shade the space below the box to provide public space in order to animate the street life of the city. In Port house project however, the floating volume has nothing to do to provide shaded space underneath as most of the space is taken away by the massive super-column. 

Triangular panels façade, reminds me of   Guangzhou Opera House   façade which was finished in early 2011.  

Triangular panels façade, reminds me of Guangzhou Opera House façade which was finished in early 2011.  

Triangulated facade starts to undulates as it goes towards the back of the building.

Triangulated facade starts to undulates as it goes towards the back of the building.

What I found pretty interesting of this project apart from the structure is the facade. It starts with flat triangulated panels from the front of the building to resemble a sleek pointy crystalline form and gradually undulates back and forth as it goes to the back of the building. This gesture adds another layer of geometrical complexity to the surface of the facade, creating shimmering effect as one glance by the facade.

Here to find detailed coverage on the earlier construction phase.

Port house sits on its context.

Port house sits on its context.

 

Museum Aan de Stroom

Not far from the new Port House project, another interesting building is MAS, Museum aan de Stroom by Neutelings Riedijk Architects. As you might notice from the curved glass, Neutelings Riedijk is one of the prominent one among the first generation of baby Rem Koolhaas. Yes the curved glass indeed remind me of OMA's Casa de Musica in Porto, yet another great project that I have not visit.  

The delicate glass facade versus massive stone-cladded boxes.

The delicate glass facade versus massive stone-cladded boxes.

As I was approaching the building, I noticed something unusual of what I thought was a lighting element of the facade. Unexpectedly it is an iron cast piece of a right hand. Yes, it does sound really random. Why hand???

According to folklore, notably celebrated by a statue in front of the town hall, the city got its name from a legend about a giant called Antigoon who lived near the Scheldt river. He exacted a toll from passing boatmen, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. Eventually the giant was killed by a young hero named Silvius Brabo, who cut off the giant’s own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen, akin to Old English hand and wearpan (to throw), which has evolved to today’s warp.
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antwerp
Notice the detail on how the curved glass meet the ground gracefully.

Notice the detail on how the curved glass meet the ground gracefully.

Curved transparent surface slightly distort the panoramic view of the city.

Curved transparent surface slightly distort the panoramic view of the city.

Fellow weekend traveler.

Fellow weekend traveler.

 

Antwerp New Court

Entrance with the iconic south-oriented pitched roof to capture maximum sun exposure.

Entrance with the iconic south-oriented pitched roof to capture maximum sun exposure.

I set out to the south area of the city to check one of Richard Roger's masterpiece with its iconic sails-like roof. The project is really well engineered throughout, I can feel the desire of Pompidou-esque obsession to design every building elements. I am in favor for the neon yellow accent painted on steel beams. The project suddenly does not feel too cold and robotic anymore. It is subtle but it gives an element of color or freshness to the atmosphere of the space. Unfortunately, apart from the entry not much to check further, the building is closed, and I am guessing not open to public.

Admiring Roger's work on the New Court House building.

Admiring Roger's work on the New Court House building.

 

 

Buildings Around Downtown

Converted storage facilities for commercial use.

Converted storage facilities for commercial use.

Converted storage facilities for commercial use.

Converted storage facilities for commercial use.

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Amazing interior space of Antwerp cathedral.

Overlooking the city from Antwerpen port

Overlooking the city from Antwerpen port

Dag Antwerp! Heading to Brussels, lets go!