Featuring a cardboard filter that purifies the environment, the new version of the Tappo table by Lessmore takes advantage of the tunnels of corrugated cardboard whose structure makes it possible to channel air to be filtered by means of a fan. The treatment of the tunnels involves the use of chitosan (derived from crab shells), which blocks bacteria and prevents its spread, and titanium oxide lit by LEDs to function as a catalyst, oxidizing air pollutants. Created thanks to the collaboration between Giorgio Caporaso, designer of the Ecodesign Collection of Lessmore, and Alberto Cigada, professor of materials for design and innovation in materials and technologies at the Milan Polytechnic, Tappo thus becomes the ideal item for the home and for contract, for smoking rooms and retail facilities, in the version with environmental scent emission. For info: www.lessmore.it
From 16 different countries, 23 female designers are in the running for the arcVision Prize – Women and Architecture organized by Italcementi Group. The objective is to honor the contribution of women on the world architecture scene today. With a particular focus on originality, innovative solutions and sensitivity to the human and social context. The prize is assigned by a jury composed of outstanding women professionals in the fields of architecture, sociology and economics, meeting in Bergamo from 5 to 7 March. The results will be announced by the jury at a press conference on the evening of 7 March at the i.lab, the Group’s research and innovation center, to be publicized on 8 March, International Women’s Day. The projects and profiles of the finalists will be inserted in a special arcVision publication, a magazine published by Italcementi on the culture of business and architecture. For info: www.italcementi.it
During the FuoriSalone 2014, Simone Micheli presented Viareggio Design Net, an ethical project imagined with the main aim of generating quality for the urban system. The goal is to create a fertile network between public and private dimensions, to improve life, enrich the city and grant visibility to outstanding productive realities in an intelligent, interactive way, without wasting energy, generating a vehicle of communication. The idea is based on the involvement as partners of the city of Viareggio, which supports the initiative, of companies that produce quality, to donate “seat-works” to the city designed by the architect Simone Micheli. Viareggio Design Net represents a constructive design intervention that can become a manifesto of a new way of making works of urban renewal through exceptional design, with the important contribution of the world of industry.
“Just as with the economic crisis it has been said that a stop must be put to financial excesses, the time has come to also stop the excesses of architects […] too often, of late, architects have been called upon as maîtres patissiers to make the wedding cake for the master of the house, namely the client. Who sees the architect as a specialist who, at best, through a building, can publicize his name and his brand. This in itself is not a sin. But when Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the cupola of St. Peter’s it was, of course, an operation of ‘promotion’ of the papacy, but at the same time it was a renovatio urbis”. The statements of David Chipperfield, partially given explicit form in his Architecture Biennial, leave little room for doubt: it is time to go back to thinking about architecture as a complex discipline that comes to terms with history and memory, with the city and its citizens, like a work of “collective art”, as Aldo Rossi put it. The 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, with its multiple viewpoints, conveys this message without reducing the specific poetics and individual expressions of each architect, with an accent on discussion rather than professional promotion. Many different themes emerge in a visit to the exhibition, and some underline the initial intent: civil participation, reuse and sustainability, the presence of history, shared projects, the meaning and use of the city and its spaces, the value of the landscape as a strategic resource. But this is certainly not the celebration of the downfall of the myth of the starchitect. It is more a matter of identifying paths that connect architectural design to its urban meaning, also extending to a territorial scale (as in the project for architectural bridges in Stockholm, created by Jean Nouvel and Mia Hägg to connect the historical center of Gamla Stan to the island to the south of the city; or the futuristic Global Hub AIR+PORT by the studio BIG/ Bjarke Ingels Group, an experimental typological synthesis between a floating airport and a naval port, designed for the icy climate of Greenland, at Nuuk). In general, the exhibition conveys a sense of complexity, and this may make the message a bit more elusive. The darkroom of Norman Foster, Gateway, that welcomes visitors behind the entrance, functions as a sort of introductory manifesto, with the ‘story’ projected on the black floor in the form of drawings, names of protagonists of architectural culture, messages that face off with the historical and contemporary space of the collective gatherings offered by a fast pace of projected images that wrap the four walls above. Order and disorder to understand the use of architecture that at times appears ‘improper’, but at the same time also unstoppable and spontaneous. Like what happens in one of the contemporary architectural monuments of Hong Kong: the Bank of China by Foster himself, whose ground floor, conceived as a ‘public space’ of passage, is transformed every Sunday into a sort of meeting center of the Filipino community, fragmented into microspaces with temporary cardboard walls, activating an extraordinary and pacific variety of social activity. Elsewhere, the reclaiming of urban spaces is represented by the case of the Tower of David in Caracas, represented in an installation by Urban Think Tank (Leone d’Oro for the best project). An office tower that was left unfinished, and has become a vertical favela in the city center, symbol of the failure of free market ideology, and an emblem of self-empowerment of the poorer classes. Values of belonging are also conveyed by the project in the form of a fantasy restaurant, Gran Horizonte (a meeting place along the Rope Walk) and the series of photographs by Iwan Baan that document moments of life of spontaneous communities. Participation and the drive for urban development ‘from below’ are also the focus of the research of Elke Krasny, Hands-On Urbanism 1850-2012, and the US pavilion with its “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good” (honorable mention), where a selection of projects by architects, designers, urban planners and ordinary citizens form a mosaic of ideas, proposals and achievements, ready to “expand the beauty, wellbeing, functional quality, security and sustainability of cities, where experimental, informal, alternative, spontaneous, improvised, participation, improvement are just some of the words used to describe this movement that is spreading fast on an international level”. But the place the slogan of Commun Ground is most clearly understood is in “Architecture possible here? Home-forall”, at the Japanese pavilion (curated by Toyo Ito, with installations by Akihisha Hirata, Sou Fujimoto, Kumiko Inui, Leone d’Oro for best national pavilion), in which collaboration and interaction with the population impacted by the tsunami has led to the creation of a new center of encounter with the local community, the first step of a program capable of generating the ‘desire for home’ in a region devastated by a national catastrophe. Between a look at history and the pursuit of interaction with the past in today’s terms (the tribute to the compositional magic of the English Baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, the fine exhibition Facecity by Fulvio Irace on the Milanese cityscape of the postwar era, the Pasticcio of Caruso St. John that retraces “a continuity between contemporary architecture and that prior to modernism”, the ‘portraits’ of the pavilions of the Biennale by Gabriele Basilico in the exhibit by Diener & Diener, the historical roots conveyed by part of the research on algorithmic form of Zaha Hadid), themes connected with sustainability and reuse emerge on several occasions. “Reduce/Reuse/Recycle – Architecture as Resource” is the title-program of Germany, openly stating that every construction is a resource with which to come to terms, abandoning late-modernist standardization bent on a cycle of demolition-designreconstruction; “according to the logic of Reduce/Reuse/Recycle, different strategies of restructuring can be classified on the basis of the relationship between the old and the new, between intensity of intervention and level of modification. Treating built architecture as a substantial and formal resource, a wide range of possibilities and approaches becomes available”. The idea of a new awareness of the urban landscape that surrounds us is also addressed by Switzerland, while Russia, with “i-city” curated by Sergei Tchoban (honorable mention for installation and theme), devotes its pavilion, clad in screen-printed metal panels displaying interactive QR codes used with tablets given to visitors at the entrance, focuses on the new landscape of the Skolkovo innovation center, seen in relation to the history of the country’s cities of science. Greenery, beyond any purely aesthetic dimension, becomes a symbolic factor in the fern forest of the Italian Pavilion by Luca Zevi, which underlines the value of architecture for production, while referring to the value of the territory and the need for its maintenance and management, as it is progressively abandoned also in relation to the reduction of agricultural activities. Other greenery (plantings of common reeds) becomes a tool of structural renovation in the first participation of Angola at the Biennale. “Beyond Entropy Angola”, curated by Stefano Rabolli Pansera and Paula Nascimento, approaches the case of the sprawling areas of Luanda, a high-density city, but one without multi-level buildings. In this exponential expansion of occupation of the land, without bsic infrastructures, the idea of planting the spaces between constructions with common reeds (Arundo Donax) makes it possible to transform the ‘green’, or the landscape, into a tool of short-term operative improvement: reeds grow fast and their roots filter dirty water in a natural way, while the rigid trunk absorbs large quantities of CO2. A sustainable urban planning model, capable of becoming an example for sub-Saharan countries. The Biennale also includes some ‘hot spots’, or outstanding features in terms of architectural and scenic presence, like Arum metal structure by Zaha Hadid, the Copycat installation by Cino Zucchi (honorable mention), a metaphor of an architectural compendium, but also a place of domestic memories, objects and images capable of producing effective links of scale, habits and uses. Near the Giardino delle Vergini stand to works of architecture by Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, the first in relation to the density of the Venetian urban habitat, the second to the landscape, framed by its openings and spatial relationships.
Gruppo Cosentino announces the eighth edition of the Cosentino Design Challenge. Projects can be submitted starting on 28 February until 1 June 2014, in digital form, at the website: www.cosentinodesignchallenge.org. Cosentino Design Challenge is for students currently enrolled for the school year 2013-2014 in any international advanced training program in design, architecture, interior design or related areas. For this edition, participants in the Design category are asked to focus on the theme “Cosentino and art”: freedom of choice of typologies or worksurfaces, but always with a focus on the relationship between art, space, vantage point and Cosentino products. In the Architecture category the work involves selecting a historical or emblematic building and changing its function, paying attention to its exterior image. In both cases, the goal is to encourage talented students, promoting research on different conceptual approaches to the configuration of spaces, the construction of materials and systems that define spaces, using the wide range of Cosentino products for the creation of the final projects. Info: www.cosentinodesignchallenge.org – email@example.com