Irreplaceable Landscapes - Dorte Mandrup

left —
Icefjord Centre, Ilusulissat, Greenland to be completed in 2021

right —
model of Vadehavscentret / The Wadden Sea Center in Vester Vedsted completed in 2017

 

With the title Irreplaceable Landscapes, this major exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre starts with the new Icefjord visitor centre and research centre that overlooks the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier in Ilusulissat on the west coast of Greenland.

Then, in the main exhibition space at BLOX, are models and information panels for an astounding trilogy of buildings - the three new visitor centres designed by Dorte Mandrup in three different countries that overlook three of the distinct seascapes of Vadehavet / The Wadden Sea.

Vadehavscentret - The Wadden Sea Center - completed in 2017 - overlooks the marshland of Vester Vedsted in Denmark; the Vadehavscenter - Wadden Sea World Heritage Center - in Wilhelmshaven in Germany will incorporate the remains of a war-time bunker and Vadehavscenter - The Wadden Sea Center -  is on the tidal waters of Lauwersoog in the Netherlands.

Dramatically, the floor of the exhibition space has been kept open but has been overlaid with thatch - the material used for both the roof and the walls for the Danish buildings - and around the walls are projected images of the sea and sky and foreshore of the natural setting of these buildings.


So, this is an exhibition about our relationship with the natural landscape - wild and powerful, but threatened landscapes - and about striking modern buildings and their place in those landscapes.

On one information panels, there is an important quotation where Dorte Mandrup explains her belief:

 

that a building can enhance a landscape - increase the drama or underpin its beauty when placed correctly and when shaped aptly.”


 

Vadehavscentret / The Wadden Sea Center in Vester Vedsted completed in 2017

Vadehavscenter / Wadden Sea World Heritage Center, Wilhelmshaven in Germany with completion planned for 2020

Vadehavscenter / The Wadden Sea Center, Lauwersoog in the Netherlands with completion planned for 2021



The exhibition includes models and photographs and drawings from more than twenty building projects by the architect, completed over a period of twenty years, and including many distinct and well-known buildings in Copenhagen. Shape and form and the volume of a space are the starting point but, in a very Danish way, details matter.

What you see in all of these buildings is a strong awareness of place and context - a sensitivity to location - but with the confidence to use new materials or materials in an unconventional way and, although the buildings have to be practical and functional - most are schools or libraries or community centres - there is always a strong sense of human scale, but also a sense of architecture used to challenge people through an adventurous use of unconventional shapes or volumes inside or through the use of unconventional shapes or roof lines outside.

But this is definitely not architecture used to impose an ego … these are not bombastic buildings from a starchitect - even the word is awful - but buildings that do push boundaries to challenge the preconceptions of the viewer and the user.

Another quotation from Dorte Mandrup helps to explain this approach because the studio:

 

insist on clients that share our ambition and courage -
in the end, the extraordinary requires nerve
.”

 

On the architect's internet site, there is a video about the Icefjord Centre - that describes how the building was conceived and how it will function. It is an object-lesson in how to talk about modern buildings and about architectural spaces - buildings that appear to be simple but are realised through an incredibly sophisticated construction; have a complex set of functions and - particularly with the Icefjord Centre -buildings where, ultimately, the landscape rather than the building has to have precedence but where that building is a crucial vehicle through which the visitor is helped to access and understand and appreciate that landscape.

 

Irreplaceable Landscapes - by Dorte Mandrup continues at
Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen until 26 May 2019

Dorte Mandrup

 
 

 

above —
Fælleshuset / Community Centre, Robinievej, Herstedlund, Albertslund 2009

below —
Neighbourhood Centre, Christian Svendsens Gade, Copenhagen 2001

 

TRÆ, SAKS, PAPIR / Wood, paper, scissors

Karmstol, Stitched wood and a Skammel and Massive weaving

 

Knitted wood

Massive weaving and Folded wood

Knitted weaving and Folded wood

Knitted wood

An important exhibition of recent work by the furniture designer and architect Else-Rikke Bruun has just opened at the gallery of the Association of Danish Crafts and Designers in Bredgade .

There are several strong themes running through the works shown here but perhaps the most interesting and surprising idea is about not just defining space but also exploring shadow as a strong component as if it is itself a material element in the design.

Five screens in wood - the main works - define space but also occupy space and very considerable care was taken to set the lighting and to use the natural light of the gallery so strong shadows on the floor dissolve the sharp edge between the vertical of the screen and the horizontal surface of the floor and views through the screen and light coming through the screen from the other side change as you move round the space.

After completing her training as an architect Else-Rikke Bruun studied Arabian architecture for three years and here not just the fragmenting of light but also the use of precise geometric forms show the influence of Arabian architectural forms. Walking around the exhibition Else-Rikke explained that she is fascinated by patterns and the way we look for patterns and geometric pattern has a strong role in architecture of the Middle East, North Africa and southern Spain.

Influence from Japan is acknowledged both in the way the screens and the arrangement of faceted blocks of wood in the chair and in small panels reference the Japanese art of folding paper - two panels in wood are titled Origami panel - but also there is the sense of a Japanese aesthetic in the calm and measured division of space - a key feature of the way the pieces have been arranged in the gallery.

All the works shown are made with incredible precision so they also have the quality of fine engineering - particularly in the way separate pieces are linked or joined together or have different forms of hinge: all the screens can be articulated to adjust the angles of the parts or the alignment of the whole screen and Knitted wood folds back in on itself.

Another strong theme is inspiration from textile art and that is shown directly in the titles of three of the works … Stitched wood, Massive weaving and Knitted wood. This is not just about how elements interlock - Veneer has what are in fact giant warp and weft in cut plywood - but, as with woven textiles, the visual character from a distance is different from the complexity and subtlety that is revealed as you move closer.

Four of the works exploit the properties of laminated wood and develop different techniques for cutting to shape, bending, linking or interlocking plywood.

Use of colour is important but generally subtle … the screen titled Massive weaving uses spray paint so colour is strong on the cross-cut ends of the battens but fades out along the length. This work was developed with the colour artist Malene Bach. Generally subtle except that Knitted wood has a strong colour on one side that counterposes the shadow as you look through the interlocking curves.

The exhibition is the culmination of over a year of work specifically but actually develops and builds on themes that were first shown by Else-Rikke Bruun in the craft Biennials in 2015 and 2017.

Immediately  before the exhibition Else-Rikke Bruun had a residency at Statens Værksteder for Kunst / Danish Art Workshops in Copenhagen and in a longer review here both the development of the main ideas and themes of the exhibition and the role of the workshops in giving artists access to space and equipment to realise their work will be discussed.

Stools in Oregon pine were made by Anders Petersen Collection & Craft in Copenhagen.

Karmstol, the chair in the exhibition, took, as a starting point for its design, round-headed niches at each end of this gallery. It is not strictly site specific but does hint at just how carefully-considered this work is with strong references to the design of Classic Danish chairs while experimenting with both form and construction techniques. It is an important piece that blurs our artificial boundaries between art, craftsmanship and utility and will be the subject of a separate post.

Danske Kunsthåndværkere og Designere

Else-Rikke Bruun

 30 November 2018 - 20 December 2018
Officinet, Bredgade 66, Copenhagen

Jørn Utzon Horisont / Jørn Utzon Horizon - Dansk Arkitektur Center

 

 

A major new exhibition has just opened in the Golden Gallery – the lower exhibition space at the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen – to mark the centenary of the birth of the Danish architect Jørn Utzon who was born in April 1918 and who died in November 2008.

Under the title Horisont / Horizon, the exhibition makes extensive use of models, audio-visual presentations and the reproduction of many photographs taken by Utzon himself as he travelled widely and looked at traditional buildings in North Africa, Iran, Nepal, China and Africa and at the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright in America that all inspired his work or were, at least, used as a starting point for some of the most imaginative and most eclectic modern buildings of the second half of the 20th century.

 

8 November 2018 - 3 March 2019
Dansk Arkitektur Center / Danish Architecture Center

Poetic Pragmatism - POINT at Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri

 POINT was founded in 2013 by Laust Sørensen and Michael Droob who both studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture.

“Our ambition is to create endurable aesthetically pleasing solutions that evoke positive emotions and form the basis for creating memories. We believe this is possible by uniting a pragmatic approach with an elegant architectural solution that brings to life the inherent poetry and the unique attributes of the location and sparks an awareness in the beholder in this precise moment.

… we consider the social aspects to be the primary premise for developing the best possible society.”

The exhibition is tightly or even formally arranged with projects by POINT shown with a single image and below, set on a cube, a 3D printed model. These models emphasise the mass or form of the buildings but also  show the topography of the site - printed as thin layers from map contours so giving the models a slightly detached feel that is curiously remote from anything organic like rock or mud.

Perhaps, the main problem is that this way of presenting the buildings removes any clear idea of materials or surface texture or even colour on the buildings. Although external form is easy to appreciate, for most projects there is little idea of the plan of these buildings or function or organisation and sequence or an impression of the experience of moving through the internal space.

Several of the projects, particularly those for buildings or monuments in gardens, including a proposal for a raised pond at Mindelunden, the war memorial in Hellerup, have a stunning and elegant simplicity and a design for Hellerenhus, a museum site in a gorge at Jøssing fjord in Norway, is both appropriately simple but starkly dramatic.

The POINT studio is in the former drawing offices of the old Burmeister & Wain shipyard at Refshaleøen in Copenhagen.

  

the exhibition is at Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri until 29 November 2018

POINT

 

POINT … 3D printing for architectural models

Järva, Stockholm 2010

Betania Hjemmet, Frederiksberg 2013

Poetic Pragmatism - an exhibition at the Danish Architecture Center that shows the work of the Copenhagen architects Laust Sørensen and Michael Droob and their studio POINT - is interesting because they use recent technology extensively in the presentation of their projects.

Rather than photographs, the images in the exhibition are digital and rendered although the use of CAD is now so well established that is hardly worth commenting on but their graphics team have developed consistent and distinct styles to reflect the character of the studio and that is interesting. 

All the building projects shown in the exhibition include printed 3D models and a working printer is set up in the exhibition so 3D printing is still enough of a novelty to be worth demonstrating.

This use of 3D printed models raises some wider or general concerns that are not unique to POINT but simply the number of models shown together here means that it is possible to see how 3D modelling can be used through a wide range of projects.

Printed models here are of a high quality and show fine detail and the printer has been used to lay down topography by following map contour lines - so making good use of digital data that is now available. These models show clearly how the different parts of the buildings relate to each other in terms of levels or alignment - if they are parts of a complex group - and show distinct mass or form well but here, as is usual, all are a standard off-white colour and look, if anything, ethereal with little indication of the character of the building materials and no indication of colour in those materials.

There is also an odd sense of scale or rather a lack of a sense of scale - so for most of the models it is a matter of trying to judge possible floor heights or use a doorway or in some models a human figure to work out possible dimensions. This is obviously not a problem that is specific to POINT … just that in this exhibition every project was shown with a model but not at a consistent scale because that is determined by the size of the printer although some models were built up from a series of parts so were larger.

Of course, the irony is that to produce any digital drawing from a printer or any model from a 3D printer then you have to key in a scale but it is rare to see that displayed on models or at least rare in exhibitions.

One model is of the gallery here at the Danish Architecture Center with the arrangement for this exhibition and that does show well the amazing advantage of being able to make relatively cheap and extremely accurate models.

The space of this gallery is complicated and almost impossible to imagine from just a written description until you get well into a large number of words so if a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the going rate for a printed 3D model?

However, and it is a big however, although 3D printed models, like virtual reality, rendered CG and digital maps, all have a significant role in architectural presentations and although I know that I'm probably showing I'm a bit staid - I'm old enough to have been taught to draw on a drawing board with parallel motion using a scale rule and still prefer paper maps than trying to work out where I am from a screen 75mm by 50mm - and I do accept that if people do not work as designers or architects or engineers then they can find plans and elevation drawings and isometrics difficult to use when they try to imagine a finished building.

The problem is that without those 'old' skills it is difficult to judge scale and context for a proposed building and even easier to be beguiled by what we are presented with by an architect or a developer. My argument has always been that no architect, if he wanted to be paid, draws the building with all it's warts and problems and maybe it is even easier to make people judge the presentation rather than see through that to what might be the problems of its built reality when it is CGI or a 3D printed model.

Obviously I'm not suggesting that that is what POINT are doing with their models but simply that the presentation of their projects with a consistent use of printed models got me thinking and that is one function of an exhibition like this … to present work to an audience who then want to know more about why and how?

POINT

Kronetronen
Project for Frederiksberg have - the Frederiksberg Gardens

 

the 3D printer (above) at work in the gallery and the 3D model by POINT of the gallery space at BLOX and showing here the sweep of fabric they have at the lowest gallery level for their virtual reality programme.

This model of the gallery is a good example to show where modelling in 3D is an extremely useful way of showing complex space or, as here, a very complex space.

There are three levels to the gallery with a wall of glass on one side and on the other side a steep narrow staircase that rises up from the book shop at the bottom to a large landing but with small intermediate landings giving access to each level of the gallery. From the large top landing a staircase and an elevator, parallel and set close together, return back over the gallery for access to the main upper exhibition area.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a good 3D model of a complicated space should be worth a fair few more.

 

WE architecture at Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri

 

"The name WE Architecture is based on the philosophy that architecture is not the result of only one person's stroke of genius" … but  "believe that the best results occur through teamwork and transdisciplinary networks."

 

Jagtvej 69

WE architecture was established in Copenhagen in 2009 by Marc Jay and Julie Schmidt-Nielsen.

Much of their work takes, as a starting point, an exploration of how people and the community respond to and use architecture … what they describe as understanding how physical surroundings "inspire people to create new relationships or to cultivate existing relationships" … exploring the "potential for innovating the framework of communities."

This raises interesting questions because it implies that there can be an enlightened and well-defined relationship of trust between the architect and the end user as well as with the commissioning client. This is not the place to discuss the issue of politics and economics in social architecture, in the broadest sense, in Denmark but possibly a place to raise this important subject.

One project, shown here through a number of models, is a new and ongoing development for Jagtvej 69 in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen with temporary housing for homeless people and community gardens. This is now an empty plot but was the site of a community centre, Ungdomshuset, which was cleared and demolished in 2007 precipitating street riots … cobbles thrown in the riots are one of 30 objects chosen for an exhibition at the National Museum - Din Ting - to represent key events or movements of the first years of this century. This is precisely what makes Danish architecture so important … designs that responds to the changing needs of society with an awareness of and a sensitivity to broader political issues.

Certainly, looking at the work of the studio over the last ten years it is good to see that so much of their work is in housing, education and culture and all these projects have a strong relationship with their landscape or townscape setting. Models - so massing of elements and overall form - are clearly important as different options for sites are explored through making many models at the initial stages.

The Dreyers gallery has three main levels alongside a steep staircase down from the main exhibition area and WE Architecture have exploited this by stacking up timber boxes to break down the sudden transition from each level to the next. This provides platforms and surfaces for displaying models and photographs of the projects undertaken by the team but they have also incorporated work stations where, for the period of the exhibition, staff will work but are available to discuss their buildings and answer questions.

WE architecture 

the exhibition continues until 2 November
in the Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri at the Danish Architecture Centre

 

ELEMENTAL at Louisiana

 
 

A dramatic exhibition and one of a series at Louisiana under an overall title Arkitekturens Værksteder / Architecture Workshops - ELEMENTAL profiles the work and the approach to architecture of the office in Santiago of Alejandro Aravena.

The process of design is here a main focus of the exhibition that begins with a display of sketch books - a primary stage in their design process. With excellent visuals, on small screens around the edge of the display, you can select a sketch book and explore the contents by swiping through the pages that include both notes and detailed drawings.

In conjunction with this are films running across three large images on a nearby wall that turn through sketchbooks page by page. 

The design process for this exhibition space - from initial ideas through to the construction of the final display - was treated like a specific design project by ELEMENTAL to explain their work process and philosophy. A series of large panels on a lower level of the galleries trace through the whole development of the exhibition from the first letter from Louisiana proposing the exhibition through to the construction in the space. It is rare, as a visitor to an exhibition, to be able to track in such detail the work involved in producing an exhibition on this scale and of this complexity.

There are separate areas with photographs forming a time line for projects and models showing the primary volumes and forms of major buildings. There is a sequence of photographs and drawings of the now famous social housing - half fitted out in the initial construction and half to be completed by the families at a later stage and a sequence of prototypes showing the development of the design of Silla Chair - an open source design. Under a huge suspended box, there is a film of the projects from a drone.

 

ELEMENTAL 11 October 2018 - 28 February 2019
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Fortællinger om et sted / Stories of a place

 

Arkitektens fotokonkurrence 2018 / The Architect's Photo Contest 2018

Following a competition by the Association of architects, these are the five winning portfolios, each with five photographs to present a building or a single architectural project.

In a World that seems to be dominated by rather superficial Instagram images this is an important exhibition because instead of a quick glance and a swipe right the photographs are presented for careful consideration … it really is difficult to capture for the record the qualities and the character of a building in a few images and one function of these photographs is to slow down that process of looking. 

These photographs are about trying to record what is essential about the style and the form and the materials and the setting of an individual building.

It was interesting to see that three of the photographers chose to use the traditional format of black and white images for recording buildings.  

On graduating, I worked for what was then probably the most established academic architectural photo library in the World and by far the majority of images then were black and white - in part for archive reasons as colour prints were assumed to be fugitive - in fact the black and white negative and not the print was considered to be the archive - but also because black and white images seem to take out some of the distractions and give the images a stronger emphasis for texture and line and form. 

One major exception was a collection of colour images of buildings from the archives of the magazine Country Life and as colour became more reliable then it was used for recording museum and gallery pieces. Then colour moved on from what was for me the rather odd distortion of Kodachrome and colour printing became cheaper, sharper and more reliable and colour photographs moved from being the luxury of a single front plate to what everyone expected for everything.

Shadows in black and white images tend to be darker and deeper and pick out and define edges of buildings and sculpture but in colour images, as a gross generalisation, shadows soften and obscure. Road signs, people and planting are less obvious in black and white but perhaps, for that very reason, can seem less realistic and curiously that detachment can make the images less obviously identifiable or less immediately recognisable.

Photographs here of a crematorium were given a strong sense of form and drama by using dark shadow in the black and white images that suggest the gloom and the power of the building even if that obscures the actual form and extent of the buildings and their setting.

On the other hand, here, in the exhibition, it was interesting to see that colour photographs for one project, with a swimming pool, was used to introduce a stronger emphasis on social element - including people - and with a clever sense of narrative by including the splash but not the person who had caused the splash fractions of a second earlier by jumping or diving from a diving board or the side of the pool. 

The other project that used colour used a softened and dulled colour (rather than sharp bright colour in sunlight) to suggest mood and emphasise the importance and the character of the natural landscape setting.

It was also interesting to see different approaches to presentation so, although the overall size was stipulated in the competition rules, one set of prints was taken to the edge - bled off - as we now expect in most books and for larger images in magazines - but another set was presented with a small white border - as they came from the inkjet printer - and another group of five was presented as smaller images carefully set within larger areas of blank space as they would appear in a high-quality art book.

Certainly worth a visit if you want to think about and improve the photographs that you take of buildings.

the exhibition was open as part of the Day of Architecture on 1 October
but continues through to the 12 October

Arkitektforeningen
Åbenrå 34
1124 Copenhagen K


winners of the competition:

all the images and information about the five projects and the five architects have been published by the on-line magazine ARKITEKTEN.DK

Links below each of the images will take you to the appropriate page on that site

 

Boliger til Folket / Housing for the people

 

Immediately after the War there was clearly a shortage of housing but also cities realised that poorly-built housing - particularly the dark and tightly-packed housing that had been built in courtyards - had to be demolished and replaced with appropriate homes of a much higher standard

The exhibitions at Arkitektforeningen for the Day of Architecture is an opportunity to see here again the exhibition Boliger til Folket / Housing for the people about social housing in Denmark after the Second World War, so through the1940s and 1950s.

This was shown first in Copenhagen in the central library in March 2017 and was reviewed here

This is a second chance if you missed the exhibition the first time round but it is well worth a second look with profiles of several major housing schemes and includes comments by residents from interviews some remembering what the apartments were like when they were new. 

One aim of the exhibition was to re-establish the merits of these apartment blocks by focusing on the quality of the design and the high quality of the initial building work but it also emphasises the reasons for good and sympathetic restoration work to ensure that these buildings not only survive but that they have an ongoing role as good and desirable housing.

BIG Art at Kunsthal Charlottenborg

 

An impressive and entertaining exhibition at Kunsthal Charlottenborg with large-scale works created by artists working with the architectural studio of BIG and primarily for major new buildings or for public spaces.

Each work has a video presentation by Bjarke Ingels and this confirms that he is one of the most articulate proponents of modern architecture and planning.

the exhibition continues until 13 January 2019

Kunsthal Charlottenborg