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Archi-News 11/2012: The European Architecture Newsletter


The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter - Nov/Dec 2012

NL | EN | FR | IT



Architecture and colour

During many years, the rule was sobriety coming from a monochrome architecture. Big white volumes, rough concrete, steel and glass dominate, rejecting all colours. Naturally there are some exceptions. Often considered as original or downright crazy, if one refers to the Reversible Destiny lofts (Tokyo). In 2005, Shusaku Arakawa and Madeleine Gins designed an incredible building with an accumulation of forms alternatively square and round, like game boxes with bright colours. With more caution, designers discover colour as a great asset for architecture. In the public buildings, it will create an identity, a location and an aesthetic concept. Those who choose colour obviously want to make a strong and voluntary impact. It is a full part of the building’s identity. It redraws the forms. Playing with the light, colour increases contrasts underlining strongly the unusual and asymmetrical volumes. Warning however! The architect Marie-Pierre Servantie, author of the book &lsq uo;Chromo-Architecture’, objects the use of colours if it forgets taking into consideration the natural and built environment with their challenges. If a historical town is at stake, integration is made smoothly, like the winning project of the WAN AWARDS Colour in Architecture 2011, an Oxford University building with glass strips in thirty-six sophisticated purple and orange colours (arch. Hawkins/Brown). Furthermore, the Australian Elenberg studio explores the sensory effects of colour in the A’Beckett apartment tower in Melbourne, which is covered with a multicoloured patchwork of sunshading louvres. In Saint-Etienne, for the « Business City », Manuelle Gaudrand chooses to differentiate the high performance façades by lighting up the skin with silvered and transparent scales, with a bright luminous yellow colour. These projects, and especially the brilliant architecture of the duos Sauerbruch Hutton and Jakob + MacFarlane, show a strong libe rty of thinking, acting and expressing opinions.

The Archi-Europe team


Portrait of the month

1. Louisa Hutton and Matthias Sauerbruch

2. Photonic Centre

3. GSW

4. Federal Environmental Agency

5. Brandhorst Museum

6. Oval Offices

7. KwF Westarkade

8. BSU building

9. M9 Museum Venice-Mestre

Sauerbruch Hutton

From now on, famous for its mastering of buildings’ polychrome treatment, the German architecture studio defines colour as an essential material of architecture, but shows a strong ecological commitment, underlining a technological know-how combined with an intelligent use of the existing resources.

Sauerbruch Hutton was founded in 1989 by the association of the architect Louisa Hutton with the engineer architect Matthias Sauerbruch, both having studied at the London Architectural Association. Refraining from being influenced by previous historical experiences, (notably Bruno Taut), the architects confess having developed the colour theme unconsciously. This interest came partly from the necessity, at the beginning of their career, to create great architectural impacts on some low-budget buildings like the L-House (1990), the H-House (1995) or the N-House (1999). This approach extends to the city level if one refers to the GSW building in Berlin (1990-1999). In this precise case, the façade with an intense orange red colour (to receive the after-noon sun light) has completely changed the atmosphere of a entirely uninteresting environment. The colour offered it a new identity. Since then, colour has become a recurrent theme.

By using different colours and contrasts, it is possible to reassess the spatial situations. This skilful mixing of design and colour can be noticed on double skin or sun-shading façades. And if the envelope’s top priority is to underline the natural ventilation, the insulation and the solar protection, it also enables through the use of colours a better impact and integration in the landscape: « The shades allow to create spaces and separate different forms. Colour is mainly emotion. »

Colour may also be helpful to identify an enterprise: like the yellow shades peculiar to ADAC (Munich 2011) or through a range of colours for the Photonic Center (Berlin 1998), a light research centre. Colour also helps communication. It also develops a very physical relation with the building by a façade movement and mainly by the colour effects. The Sheffield University building is coloured inside and outside. The exterior skin of the zero energy office building in Copenhagen has a functional dimension: it works like a climatic interface offering a group of technical equipments (ventilation devices, sun-shading protections, etc.). Colour always plays an important role. « The red or yellow colour range, or any other colour’s range, has however more to do with the natural or built context like the sky, for instance. The GSW Berlin headquarters get their colour from the surrounding roofs, but also the existing contrasts with the blue or grey sky. » The polychromatic treatment of their buildings created over the past twenty years allow to concentrate the colours, forms and energies of the contemporary city and disappear the complex technical reality behind a powerful aesthetic experience.

Keen to place the human being and his personality at the center of their projects, the two architects and their team don’t see sustainability simply as energy savings but also in the perception of a building where it is pleasant to live. Three recent achievements - the KfW Westarkade office building in Frankfurt, the Brandhorst museum in Munich, and the Cologne Oval Offices in Cologne - have as common denominator that they take into consideration the big sustainability principles at each stage from the first studies to the delivery. If the buildings with sensual swayings and colour variations are characteristic of the Sauerbruch Hutton agency, one must emphasize their pioneer approach in sustainable development. Indeed their work in this field is essential, in relation with energy, consumption, cultural and social dimension, as well as the site and the place’s memory.

1. Louisa Hutton and Matthias Sauerbruch

2. Photonic Centre, Berlin (1998)
The coloured volumes and the soft forms of these two buildings create a strong identity in a straight context, whilst respecting the site’s coherence.

3. GSW, Berlin (1999)
Being part of the extension works of an office tower, built during Berlin’s reconstruction in the 1950 years, the complex combines five distinct volumes. This variety of elements enables to give an answer to the context’s different typological conditions.

4. Federal Environmental Agency, Dessau (2005)
The main building consists of a reinforced concrete skeleton construction with an external facade divided in horizontal strips of wood and colour areas (red/yellow on the city’s face and green/blue on the garden’s face). It combines a compact volume and a high degree of thermal insulation with intelligent services engineering and the use of renewable energy sources.

5. Brandhorst Museum, Munich (2009)
This long building with many interconnected volumes is covered with a multicoloured skin composed of 36000 vertical enamelled ceramic sticks in 23 colours. A second layer includes a horizontally folded metal film. These two layers and the polychromic treatment give the building its personality: what looks homogeneous from far away appears lively and three-dimensional.

6. Oval Offices, Cologne (2010)
The polychrome façade characterizes these two twin buildings, thanks to their 5000 vertical blades in silkscreen shaded red and green printed glass, with changing intensity depending on the climatic conditions and the daily light. The building has been given the European «Green Building » label.

7. KwF Westarkade, Francfort (2010)
It is an exemplary building for its eco-responsible and sustainable conception. Colour does not hide the building’s volume but enriches it. With its aerodynamic form this 14-story tower is fully complying with the energy performance objectives: double flow natural ventilation, geothermic systems, computer residual heat recuperation, lighting with sensory detectors, etc.

8. BSU building (Office for Development and Environment), Hamburg (competition 2009 – completion 2013)
Architecture helps to define a previously neglected multicultural area. The building has two wings composed of seven « houses » along an interior street and linked by a tower. To reduce energy consumption different measures were taken: choice of a compact construction, a transparent façade to increase natural lighting, reinforced thermal insulation, sun protection, transverse natural ventilation, etc.

9. M9 Museum Venice-Mestre (competition 2010 – completion 2015)



Project of the month

Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design, Paris
Architecture: Jakob + MacFarlane

The former Paris harbour industrial warehouse built in 1907 is completely refurbished in a living place dedicated to contemporary creation, today entirely operational. Its façade along the Seine presents an audacious structure whilst revealing the original concrete’s structure.

Real concentrated creation, this new Parisian location generating a multidisciplinary programming is inspired by the water flow and the flow of walkers along the river banks. Dominique Jacob and Brendan MacFarlane decided to respect the original building – the first construction in Paris with a reinforced concrete structure – and keep this structure to implement and influence the renovation. Called « plug-over », a new envelop made of a faceted skin opens up from the existing frame like a tree with a new branch. The idea is to protect at the same time the concrete structure and produce a new thickness sheltering a continuous and fluid public space. This skin is composed of glass, a metallic structure and green faceted roofing with a wooden floor and a vegetal complex. The structural system supporting it results from the systematic distortion of the building’s frame. It is important to notice the site’s enlighting system made by Yann Kersal& eacute;, the landscape work by Michel Desvigne and the signage by Nicolas Vrignaud.

Interesting combination of programmes all around the same theme: fashion and design, this place brings together eclectic universes crossing, meeting and linking each other together. The building welcomes notably an important events space, the French Fashion Institute, shops, a bookshop, cafés and restaurants. Public walks overhanging the Seine up to a great panoramic terrace extend this space, integrating the building into the urban context. It is a fact, the audacious architectural compound imagined by Jakob + MacFarlane is really a strong signal of a destination with a good future and its role to become the motor of the city redeployment.

Photos © Jakob+MacFarlane - Nicolas Borel



Product of the month

Under-Cover Doorframes - THE ART OF LESS

Under-Cover Doorframes from KTM-Bod’or can simply be faded out of the design, the frames vanishing into the wall without a trace.

All that remains visible on the wall is a flush mount door leaf. This makes it possible to expand a puristic concept on the highest level to include door solutions as well.

A wide range of options
Thanks to their flush mount installation in the wall, Under-Cover Doorframes can be integrated into any design style. Depending on the choice of door leaf, they allow the door to perfectly blend in so the room can speak for itself. Or they can make bold accents even bolder – with no distracting frame, puristic door leaves that stand out from the wall in their colour and design become striking eye-catchers. Whether playing defence or offence, Under-Cover Doorframes emphasise all the desired features of a room and offer planners and builders a wealth of design options for creating truly minimalist architecture.


Closes seamlessly
The lock plate and magnet lock ensure that the door closes almost seamlessly. This is possible because the lock plate is fitted directly into the frame instead of onto it.

Cushioning sealing profile
The circumferential sealing profile enables the doors to slide into the lock smoothly and almost silently. The door leaf rests seamlessly against the frame, preventing cracks of light entering the adjacent room, ensuring that nothing distracts from its puristic aesthetics.

Easy installation
In order to make installing the door frame in the wall as simple as possible, it is mitred and equipped with an extra assembly bracket. The door frame material consists of a special under-cover-composite, which has the same elasticity coefficient as plaster board and is suited to the proper types of plaster.



Competitions in the spotlight

The first worldwide architecture contest for students in architecture Archi-World® Academy Award (AWA) 2011/2013: "Energy-saving projects and ideas for the future of architecture and urbanism".

The awarding ceremony will take place on Wednesday 16th of January 2013 in Munich - Forum C2, Hall C2/309 at 15.30 - during the construction fair BAU 2013.

Click here to see the invitation for the Ceremony



MosBuild (2-5 and 16-19 April 2013) is proud to launch the second edition of this international contest for architects and students in architecture in order to select the best projects in two categories:

• Best architectural solutions for a barrier-free environment
• Best sustainable architecture projects

Click here to register!



Event in the spotlight

Do not miss the opportunity to come to Munich when BAU 2013 – the World's Leading Trade Fair for Architecture, Materials and Systems – opens its gates to the world of the building industry from 14 to 19 January 2013.

Come and visit Archi-Europe hall C2 stand 515




BAU 2013
(14 – 19/01/2013) Munich (DE)

Toegepast 17
(17/11/2012 – 17/02/2013) Hasselt (BE)

(8 – 16/12/2012) Paris (FR)

Arik Levy – “Experimental Growth”
(8/11 – 21/12/2012) Montecchio Maggiore (IT)

Danish Design Award 2012
(> 31/12/2012) Copenhagen (DK)

(05 – 07/03/2013) London (UK)

>> read more

2013 Mock Firms International Skyscraper Competition
Deadline: 11/01/2013

d3 Housing Tomorrow 2013
Deadline: 15/01/2013

eVolo 2013 Skyscraper Competition
Deadline: 15/01/2013

>> read more





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