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3. RIBA International Fellows 2013 Citations:
Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin, Russia
Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin are the best known as ‘Paper Architects’, a loose group who in the 1980s were reacting to Kruschev’s earlier diktat outlawing decoration and demanding standardization in buildings.
Brodsky and Utkin’s constructivist etchings provide a commentary on the loss of Moscow’s architectural heritage, depicting often impossible structures and cityscapes and published in the 1990 book Brodsky & Utkin. Their work has been described as, ‘a graphic form of architectural criticism, an escape into the realm of imagination that ended as a visual commentary on what was wrong with social and physical reality and how its ills might be remedied.’
Brodsky is probably best known in the West for his installations. In the ‘90s he transformed unused tracks on the New York subway into a Venetian lagoon with life-size gondolas and cut-out passengers.
Brodsky and Utkin worked in partnership as architects from 1978 to 1993. Their projects include the Alexander Grin Museum, Feodosiya; the Atrium Restaurant, Moscow; and the entrance portal of the European Ceramics Centre, Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.
In his own right Utkin has been concerned with trying to rescue Russia’s architectural heritage, and started with his country estate at Sosna, near Moscow; a mansion in Levshinsky Pereulok, Moscow; and another country estate at Zhukovka, just outside the Moscow region. He has also worked as an opera and ballet set designer and a photographer with exhibitions in Russia and the USA.
Much of Brodsky’s work is closer to the radicalism of the paper work. 95 Degrees, a restaurant near Moscow (2002), was built on tilts set at a 95 degree angle; others use found materials, such as the recycled window frames used to define the spaces of Apshu, a club hidden in a Moscow basement; or forming the structure of his Vodka Ceremony Pavilion. His projects often have an ephemeral quality, typified by another pavilion on the Klyazma Reservoir made – briefly - of ice cubes
Fabrizio Carola, Italy
Fabrizio Carola, like fellow RIBA International Fellow Abdel Wahed El-Wakil, is a disciple of the father of modern Egyptian architecture, Hassan Fathy. Up to half the world’s population lives in buildings made of unfired earth and Carola’s work in Africa eschews the use of cement, concrete and wood in favour of earth, either dried or baked in ovens that he himself set up with the villagers. His is an architecture that depends neither on the import of materials, nor the use of scarce resources in dry climates.
After training in Brussels and Naples, his first projects depended very much on the use of steel – typified by his 1966 Girder Building (significant enough to have featured in a 1972 book on urban structures of the future alongside Frei Otto and Buckminster Fuller). But his interest in a more humane, environmentally friendly architecture, led him to Mali to study local techniques and put them into practice using arches and vaults of unfired earth bricks to build a restaurant.
In his Hospital Kaedi in Mauritania, which won an Aga Khan Award in 1995, Carola applied the system outlined by Fathy in Building with the People of the dome-wall carrying vertical and horizontal structure in a continuous curve. Here the operating theatres are built with a double skin – two domes of terra cotta with an air gap between making helping to moderate the internal climate and reduce the risk of infection.
He went on to develop further the use of domes, cupolas and elliptical arcs in Bandiagara, where he built the Centre for Traditional Medicine and Hotel Kambary; in Mopti where he reinvented the central market and built the Technology Centre building; in Gao, where he erected a mosque and school; and in Bamako where he built the Creation of the Centre for Children. More recently, he has built around his home city of Naples, where the climate is not dissimilar to that of sub-Saharan countries.
Antón García-Abril, Spain
The work of Madrid born architect Antón García-Abril is a series of built research projects in which he uses exposed structures to explore the essence of materials and to create space.
He trained and is now associate professor at the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Madrid. In 2000 he established ENSAMBLE STUDIO, leading a team in search of architectural applications for conceptual and structural experimentation.
The Music Studies Centre and the SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela, completed in 2004 and set in a masterplan by Arata Isosaki, sets out three walls which confront one another: a monolithic stone wall of irregular ashlars of variable geometry and size which allow light to break into the building; a translucent glass wall facing the street; and an interior wall made up of CDs.
García-Abril describes his project, the Truffle, as ‘a piece of nature built with earth, full of air. A space within a stone that sits on the ground and blends with the territory.’ The project involved digging a hole and using the soil to form a dyke around it. This they filled with hay bales and poured concrete over it, topping it with the soil. Once hardened, the resulting shape was exhumed and sliced open, exposing the hay, which a cow spent a year eating, leaving the hardened shell to make a comfortable if quirky holiday home.
His latest project, the Cervantes Theatre in Mexico City completed in 2001, is buried underground, marked only by a large metallic structure above ground. The excavated spaces are expressed as a sequence of theatre lobbies at different levels open to the sky and protected by the symbolic metal structure.
In 2009, García-Abril founded the Positive City Foundation to research ‘the urban phenomenon’. He has taught at MIT, Harvard, Cornell and Chicago; as well as Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Weimar and the AA.
Gurjit Singh Matharoo, India
Gurjit Singh Matharoo founded Matharoo Associates in Ahmadabad in 1992. The practice believes in a clear emphasis of functionality and services, in exercising an extreme restraint whenever designing and using natural exposed materials where sunlight becomes the only embellishment as it varies and changes through the day and across the seasons. The buildings are designed to be discovered; as one moves through them they unfold around the body to reveal their secrets and meanings over time and over spatial layers.
The office undertakes design work ranging from architecture, structural design and master-planning to product and automobile design. Interdisciplinary practice has become an important dimension of how the firm makes all its designs, which include commercial buildings, hospitals and schools as well as private houses.
An early work (2000) was the Prathma Blood Centre in Ahmadabad, aimed to
revolutionalize voluntary blood collection by removing the obviously clinical facilities and transforming it into an inviting public domain. The simple exterior disintegrates into sub-spaces as soon as the entrance ushers one into a four storey void. The glass wall disappears showcasing the complete process, with highlights like the blast freezer, conference room and a hangout balcony further accentuated by protruding them from the glass wall. The scheme was nominated for an Aga Khan Award in 2007.
The brief for Matharoo’s Net House called for a safe haven from mosquitoes and insects.. Centred on an all encompassing cabinet, the 12.2m x 12.2m column-less space thus formed is enveloped in delicate layers of sliding mosquito nets to protect from insects, roll up bamboo blinds to provide shade from the hot tropical sun and folding glass so the space can be air-conditioned.
The firm has won awards from the Architectural Review, World Architecture News and a student award for Matharoo himself from the RIBA.
Miller and Maranta, Switzerland
Quintus Miller and Paola Maranta set up their joint architecture office in Basel in 1994. Their latest projects include housing developments in Basel and Zurich, as well as the refurbishment of historical business and hotel estates in Zurich, one of the Grand Hotels in St. Moritz and an office building in Berlin.
They became well-known through their extension of the Altes Hospiz on top of the St. Gotthard Pass. The project involved keeping the shape of the gable and raising it by one storey, hollowing out the house and placing a new wooden structure containing fourteen rooms inside, and capping it off with a lead-covered roof.
Their earlier projects include: the Volta School Building in Basel (2000), the Schwarzpark Residential Building in Basel (2004), Villa Garbald in Castasegna (2004) and the Spirgarten Home for the Elderly in Zurich (2006).
Miller and Maranta’s Markthalle in Aarau, carefully hidden in the old part of the town, is a wooden construction that is as clever as it is beautiful. Formally and materially, it fits into and interacts with the existing urban structure. Wooden slats form both the structure and the facade, the density of slats giving the building a striking rhythm.
Since 2000 the two architects – both ETH Zurich graduates – have been teaching as guest lecturers at several universities. They are also members of various municipal committees (urban development and cultural heritage preservation). In 2009, Quintus Miller was appointed full professor at the Academia di Architettura in Mendrisio.
In 2012 Miller and Maranta contributed to the 13th Architecture Biennale in Venice, collaborating with two other Swiss practices on an exhibition in the Swiss Pavilion entitled “AND NOW THE ENSEMBLE!!!”This represented an appeal to architects, builders and local authorities to look on urban design and architecture as a collective work of art and to act accordingly. They put together images of their own buildings and projects to create a collage-style ensemble.
RCR Architects, Barcelona, Spain
The work of Spanish architectural practice RCR - Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta - is characterised by simple refined architectural language, born in response to the terrain of their local Catalan region of Olot and a sophisticated aesthetic sensibility. Their work occupies the fertile ground between architecture, landscape and sculpture.
A number of Spanish wineries have commissioned big name international architects to design ‘look-at-me’ buildings with no relationship to their locales. RCR’s winery Bell-lloc (Catalan for beautiful place), by comparison, all but disappears into the landscape. The structure, reminiscent of their earlier Pedra Tosca Park, is of retaining planks of corten steel which form a route through a series of spaces lit by the gaps between the sheets of steel. Visitors descend into the cellars where the rubble of the retaining walls is glimpsed between the steel.
The restrained black gateway building of the Centre for the Elderly and Library in the Sant Antoni district of Barcelona unifies the street and makes the urban setting more dynamic. The library is used as a gateway to the scheme. Light entering from the street via a garden is filtered into the reading rooms. The centre for the elderly shapes a public space between its walls and a rear courtyard, encouraging interaction between the children playing in the courtyard and the elderly people as they come and go. The garden is effectively an extension of the library's reading rooms. The scheme was one of five finalists in the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, the Mies van der Rohe Award 2009.
'Els Colors' Nursery School in Barcelona, Spain(2002) is designed as a simple box-like structure using steel vertical columns and concrete horizontal beams and has glazed laminated glass facades. The simple rooms are differentiated by the colours, with each class-room facing on to an inner courtyard.
Carme Pinós, Barcelona, Spain
Carme Pinós was born in Barcelona, graduated from the Barcelona School of Architecture in 1979 and formed a partnership with Enric Miralles in Barcelona which lasted until 1991. Their projects include the award-winning Igualada Cemetery Park and La Llauna School in Badalona.
In 1991 she set up her own studio, Estudio Carme Pinos, and transferred a number of projects from her previous office, including community centres and schools. Since then she has combined her practice with teaching, having been visiting professor at Columbia, Harvard, Lausanne, Mendrisio Switzerland, Illinois and Dusseldorf.
Her major projects include the Pedestrian Bridge in Petrer, Alicante; the Juan Aparicio Waterfront in Torrevieja, Alicante; La Serra High School in Mollerussa; the Cube Tower in Guadalajara, Mexico; and the Primary School in Castelldefels. Her latest projects are the Catalan Government Headquarters in Tortosa; the Museum of Transport and Metropolitan Park in Málaga; La Gardunya Square in the Historical District in Barcelona; a Department Building in the New Campus of the University of Economics in Vienna; the Caixaforum in Zaragoza and the Cube 2 Tower in Guadalajara.
Pinos's architecture is often praised for its complicity with its geographical setting. Marked by a poetic use of materials yielding forms that have a sculptural quality, Pinos's designs enliven those who experience them.
Her work has been exhibited at several galleries, museums and universities in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA, as well as in the Spanish Pavilion in the Venice Architecture Biennale (2006). Her model of the Cube Tower is part of the permanent collection of MOMA and the Pompidou Centre has acquired models of the three of her projects. Most recently the La Gardunya Square project was exhibited in the Central House of Artists in Moscow.
In 2011 she was made an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for, ‘promoting the aesthetic, scientific and practical efficiency of the profession.’
Jensen & Skodvin Architects, Norway
The practice was established in 1995 and projects range from furniture to urban planning, roads to churches, spas to metro stations, but with the emphasis on landscape interventions.
Three of their projects typify their work and all were nominated for Mies van der Rohe Awards. In their Tautra Maria Convent in Norway the nuns all sit at the same side of the refectory table, as in da Vinci’s Last Supper, looking silently through the glass wall towards the fjord. The original programme was reduced by 30 per cent by making most of the rooms act as corridors and circulation areas.
With their Viewing Platforms and Bridges at Gudbrandsjuvet, the large inward curve of the cantilevered platform allows the tourists to securely lean out over the deadly drop. At their Thermal Bath in Bad Gleichenberg, Austria the facilities are shaped around courtyards to give the patients the impression of waiting in a.
The 1997 Mountain Roads Stopping Point at Liasanden consists of a new 300 metre side ‘road’ weaving through the pine forest. A slight declivity in the forest was filled - like a riverbed - with gravel. All interventions were pure additions and no trees died in the process.
Jan Olav Jensen graduated in 1985 from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design and has been professor of Architecture there since 2004. In 1998 he received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Lepers’ Hospital in Lasur, India which he designed in 1983-84 with Per Christian Brynildsen while they were students. He was awarded the Swedish Prince Eugen Medal in 2006.
Børre Skodvin graduated from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in 1988. He is the current head of the School. He has been a lecturer and external critic at various Scandinavian universities and frequently lectures internationally.