Celebrating invention and authenticity, the AR presents a snapshot of work in progress from around the world
In another of the AR’s periodic glimpses into the near future, this issue considers a series of upcoming projects from around the world. Intended not as an exhaustive survey, but rather as a snapshot of current architectural preoccupations, the selected schemes encompass a wide range of programmes, scales and locales, from South Africa’s Great Karoo Desert to downtown Osaka.
Unlike the format of earlier Previews, projects are not ordered by building type. Instead, they are more loosely grouped together through the exploration of common formal or contextual concerns. This creates strange yet fascinating bedfellows. For instance, a proposal for the re-landscaping of a beachfront near Athens by Doxiadis+ sits with Edouard François’s latest apartment block, a 17-storey tower in Nantes engulfed in a corona of hardy alpine plants anchored in tubes attached to the facade.
Another grouping considers a series of low-rise buildings set in different terrains exploring the relationship between nature and artifice. Sou Fujimoto’s art museum and park at Aix-en-Provence, France, is perhaps the most extreme example, with each work of art housed in a micro-building. Serie Architects’ Calligraphy Musuem, in Shandong Province draws on a lineage of buildings dedicated to contemplation, such as monasteries and the traditional Chinese scholars’ garden, in order to choreograph an evocative dialogue with its surroundings.
In the UK, a number of projects explore vernacular archetypes, abstracting and reworking forms rooted in centuries of function and tradition. Adam Richards’ renovation of the Ditchling Museum in Sussex on the site of the craftsmen’s community founded by typographer Eric Gill, alludes to the agricultural buildings that once occupied the site. Níall McLaughlin’s chapel for Oxford’s Ripon College resembles a ship’s hull, gathering worshippers protectively within its precincts. And Peter Salter’s scheme for a quartet of houses in London’s Notting Hill channels the pueblo dwellings of the Anasazi people.
Previews are by definition short and tantalising, and the necessarily abbreviated means of presentation, temporarily deviating from the AR’s usual thoroughness, might be thought to foster a sense of insubstantiality. Yet within this array of projects, there are clearly serious issues at work, such as the role of patronage, the appropriate use of technology, how to cultivate social and environmental responsibility, and how to respond to legacy of the past.
In the heart of Granada, Spain, Juan Domingo Santos draws on archaeological remains to craft the physical and experiential forms of a set of new houses. In doing so, he adds another layer to an already rich urban palimpsest. McCullough Mulvin’s mortuary in suburban parkland in Dublin is built around an intimate garden, offering privacy and tranquility for the bereaved, but the building also relates to the wider historic landscape.
Anna Heringer will be familiar to readers as a recent winner of the AR Awards for Emerging Architecture (AR December 2008). Her latest project, a new training centre for sustainable design in a suburb of Marrakesh shows how traditional Moroccan forms and construction can be reworked in a meaningful way for the modern era, reigniting the potential of techniques rooted in local culture. This mix of invention and authenticity gives hope that architecture can rise above the formulaic and the derivative to truly engage with society. Many schemes shown here give similar cause for optimism, but as the world confronts current and future ecological and economic crises, these qualities will be severely tested.