Architecture

7 Stories


NeueLoves: Luis Barragan

NeueJournal-NeueLoves-Barragan House, Mexico City, Mexico, 1948 -LUISBARRAGAN

Casa Barragan, Mexico City, 1948

Architecture: Luis Barragan

Prosaic Proximity

Kimmo Metsäranta's Helsinki

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Having a routine we abide by means we become used to seeing the same places and same faces daily. Because of the proximity we have with these habits, sometimes we fail to see things with different eyes or through a different perspective – and in a way the magic of these things becomes neglected, unless you make an active decision to see things through a different lens. For photographer Kimmo Metsäranta, his lens paved the way to see the 500 yard environment surrounding his apartment in Helsinki, Finland with a different mindset. “The spots are mundane views I notice every time I pass them, [which] I have reduced into formalist abstractions,” the photographer tells us, proving that the possibility of art lives even in the most prosaic of places.

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Kimmo Metsäranta_NeueJournal

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Photography: Kimmo Metsäranta, Notes on a Place Pt. II for NeueJournal

NeueLoves: Elasticospa

Country House by Elasticospa in Sacile, Italy (2011)

Country House in Sacile, Italy (2011)

Architecture: Elasticospa

NeueLoves: Manuel Irritier

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Urban Barcode

Photography: Manuel Irritier

Bauhaus

Enduring Influence

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The first Bauhaus school opened in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, under the commandership of Walter Gropius, igniting an architectural and design revolution. The establishment then moved two more times, first to Dessau, then to Berlin, before having to make a transatlantic move to Chicago due to the second World War. While the school has evolved into what is now the IIT Institute of Design, the three original buildings still stand, becoming landmarks for the history of perhaps the most influential design philosophy of the 20th century. With big windows, functional and aesthetic layouts, and minimalistic colors, the three structures set the stage for what the school would represent – which is further evidenced by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright¹s string of houses in Illinois and the slew of buildings erected by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. Magdalena Droste’s new book, Bauhaus, released via TASCHEN, compiles an array of important documents from The Bauhaus/Archiv Museum of Design in Berlin, and traces the history and power of the school, making a trail of the key places where Bauhaus lived and breathed.

 

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Bauhaus | Magdalena Droste

 

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Walter Gropius: Gropius’ house 1925/26 Copyright: Photo: Lucia Moholy, BHA/TASCHEN

 

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Bauhaus | Magdalena Droste

 

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The Bauhaus Building in Dessau, 1925-1926 Copyright: Photography Juergen Nogai, Santa Monica, CA/Private collection/TASCHEN

 

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A discussion of students’ work in the Preliminary Course taught by Josef Albers, 1928-1929, photo by Umbo | Copyright: Gallery Kicken Berlin/Phyllis Umbehr

 

Featured Image: LEFT: Bauhaus TASCHEN book cover | Magdalena Droste RIGHT: Gymnastics room in the sports teacher’s flat in Berlin, 1929, interior by Marcel Breuer and Gustav Hassenpflug 

MAGIC MAN

DAVID ADJAYE's flexibility with style

Artwork by David Adjaye | NeueJournal Issue 1

David Adjaye is one of the most sought after architects in the world. Maybe most known for projects like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, he’s also designed private homes for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Juergen Teller and Ewan McGregor. But part of what makes Adjaye such a celebrated architect is his flexibility with style and his chameleonic design sense. It seems that agenda never informs his work, and that allows him to adapt to any task, designing by reacting. For NeueJournal, Adjaye sat down with Danielle J. Powell to discuss his creative mentality and the ambitions behind his newest dream project.

 

DANIELLE J. POWELL: When speaking, writing, or debating David Adjaye, without fail, people point out that you do not have a design signature. Was this a purposeful choice?

 

DAVID ADJAYE: I think for my generation the idea of a signature feels a bit outdated, only because we believe in an architecture that is responsive. I believe that regional specificity can more effectively negotiate the contemporary needs of society. Every place is unique in its social, historical, and geographic forces. My designs start with these factors as inspiration in an effort to articulate a compelling sense of place and, above all, to have stronger social relevance by finding qualities that will resonate with the user.

 

DJP: What is the driving emotion behind your work?

 

DA: I would say the idea of emotional connection drives my work rather than any particular emotion. My favorite architectural works move me, but not necessarily in one direction. I may feel sad, or elated, or contemplative. All of these reactions equally signal a design’s success to me, because it means it has resonated deeply. I believe that architecture should fundamentally contribute to a social change agenda, and to do so it must connect with people and communities; it must provide for, or encourage, agency. Buildings can do nothing without the people who inhabit and respond to them. I believe this connection happens on the emotional level. If a design has captured something nuanced and powerful, it will evoke an emotional response.

 

DJP: In addition to major projects, you’ve also worked on smaller, community-based projects such as the Sugar Hill Development in Harlem, New York. What commitment do you have to these urban spaces and to the larger community?

 

DA: I certainly believe that architecture can be an emancipatory form, and with that comes a certain responsibility to politics that have to do with bringing people up; the politics of progression, of the progression of people. That is really the core of my work. When it doesn’t have that, I don’t really do it, or I’m just not interested. So, in the particular case of Sugar Hill, it was about rethinking the way we design social housing so we can move past the limitations of modernist typologies that largely proved isolating and damaging for communities. It was about empowering a community by responding to their actual needs and providing the types of spaces they wanted, rather than following an outdated and prescriptive template.

 

DJP: You’ve described the design choice to have the MAAHC covered in a bronze mesh in terms of narrative, being based on the story of African-Americans being ironworkers in the South during the 1800s. Does narrative often seep into your design process?

 

DA: Narrative is essential to my design process. This is part of a building’s relevance and emotional resonance. My materiality and programmatic choices are distinct; they are efforts to layer multiple histories together to emerge something significant about a place or to project the narrative of place into the future. In the case of the MAAHC, this was about showing how a migration of a people has infused American culture with an African sensibility, and that one needs this conceptual lens to fully understand that context. Drawing these connections is about combining different access to paint a full portrait. So the bronze references the ironworkers, while the form of the building references West African art.

 

DJP: You’ve described the MAAHC commission as your “dream” opportunity—why?

 

DA: For one, it’s an enormous honor to work on a monumental site and a monumental project; it has taken nearly 200 years to get to this place. This project is also about a history that’s very close to me and very dear to me. But also, it is a building that is able to express very directly a deep emotional and intellectual idea about making a century museum that is dedicated to African-American people and people of African descent. And we are able to build my dream and it will be built on the Mall, and that is still something that I pinch myself over.

 

Illustration: David Adjaye for NeueJournal 

 

SOFT AS STEEL

Scrapyards & architectural icons

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Like all artists, Daniel Turner’s upbringing influences his creative output. But maybe a bit more than most, Turner’s development backdrop — he grew up in the industrial city of Portsmouth, Virginia — feels somehow directly present in his work, as if both Turner and his art alike are, as they say, products of their environment. He sat down with Editor in Chief of MAKER Magazine, Alyse Archer-Coité to discuss his childhood and settling down in New York City, and the way each of those phases of his life have effected his process. 

 

ALYSE ARCHER-COITÉ: You grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, a city with miles of waterfront and shipyards and a rich industrial history. How much influence did the industrial environment have on your childhood?

 

DANIEL TURNER: As a child I was always fascinated with the scale of the surrounding industry, particularly with the shipyards, although the entire area seems to carry an invisible weight—in particular, the Jamestown Settlement, which was America’s first English colony.

 

AAC: I read that you used to help your father, a scrap metal merchant, in the city’s industrial dockyards, picking up a lot of trash and recycling materials. This offered you the opportunity to interact with objects that most people might consider disposable. Can you tell me about any memorable objects you encountered in the dockyards? Have any resurfaced in your practice?

 

DT: The most memorable objects for me were the burn barrels. Early on, I incorporated the barrels in true Rauschenberg-like form.

 

AAC: What effect has moving to New York City had on your work?

 

DT: Since I moved to New York in 2008, the city has made me pay more attention to architectural nuances, the way the body navigates an object or an environment. That’s something I paid little attention to prior to living here. Formally speaking, it’s cleaned up my work.

 

AAC: You live in South Street Seaport and your studio is in Greenpoint. Are there any parallels between the town you grew up in and these neighborhoods? Do you think that you have either consciously or unconsciously chosen these areas in search of familiarity?

 

DT: You know, I’ve never thought of that. It was an unconscious decision on my part.

 

AAC: Your show at Team Gallery last year was titled “PM.” What do the night hours mean to you or your practice?

 

DT: It’s simply easier to work at night, as there are fewer distractions and fewer demands. I think a great deal of artists work this way.

 

AAC: What’s your process for choosing materials?

 

DT: I have a piece of pipe and faucet lying on the floor in my studio that I had been really frustrated with. Then I applied some chemicals and pressure, pulled back the stainless steel exterior and uncovered a gilded inside. Materials surprise me daily.

 

AAC: What is it about a sterile and neutral aesthetic that interests you?

 

DT: Clarity.

 

AAC: I know you’ve mentioned in the past that the rubbed steel wool works were inspired by your time as a guard at the New Museum, where leaning against the wall (which was prohibited) would inevitably leave a mark. Have other jobs directly influenced a piece?

 

DT: Yes. I’ve worked as a roofer, which led me to use roofing cement in a series of wall-based works, titled “5150.” The key is to explore environments that your work has led you to. This way, a continuous rotation occurs.

 

AAC: I read a book in college called Wanderlust about how the best ideas in history have come to their creators while on a walk. Walking has been considered the greatest conduit for creative energy and manifestation. You also have a similar relationship to walking. You’ve said that you could walk around the city for six months dwelling on an idea. Where do you walk?

 

DT: I’ve walked from my studio in Greenpoint all the way to Bridgehampton, and to Dia Beacon. I walk all over New York when I’m developing an idea.

 

AAC: One final thought—stone house in the woods or glass house on the beach?

 

DT: Stone house in the woods.

 

Artwork: Daniel Turner