For Architects, Landscape Architects, and Planners
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Bernard Tschumi On Competitions
Interview with Stanley Collyer
COMPETITIONS: You grew up in an architectural environment; so was this always going to be your future, or did you speculate about doing anything else?
BERNARD TSCHUMI: My father was an architect, and I believe a very good one. But at first my inclination was more in the literary and philosophical realms. But then, living in cities, experiencing cities had a great fascination for me. And that’s how I became an architect.
COMPETITIONS: I was in Parc de la Villette in Paris shortly after it was completed. Winning that competition must have been a game changer for you.
BT: It was a real game changer, because, until then, I had never entered a real competition. I had pursued rather theoretical research for almost ten years, and I decided it was time to test some of the conceptual ideas in a real project. Clients don’t just appear out of the blue; so like many young architects I entered an anonymous competition with a lot of entries. By an incredible set of circumstances, out of 476 entries, I won it. In a way, it was really an attempt to translate and transpose certain ideas and concepts that had been explored prior to the competition and through the competition.
The Earth as an Affordable Housing Alternative
Ghana’s Mud House Design Competition
For years, the earth has long been the basic construction material for houses in rural Ghana. Although 98% of the houses in the Abetenim area of Ashanti province—typical of warm, humid climate conditions—are made of earth, stereotypes about this building type persist because of eroding which takes place from poor construction and water damage. This has resulted in a stigma associated with mud architecture and the local perception that mud architecture is only for the poor. Instead of earth, metal and cement block have become the material of choice—at a considerable expense.
In light of this problem, the Nka Foundation, a non-profit organization dealing with art and design in Africa, staged the Mud House Design Competition—to encourage designers, architects and builders to use their creativity to come up with innovative designs for modest, affordable homes that can be built locally. The focus of the design was to aim at creating a single family and semi-urban house type that would be a place to live, a place to rest, store modest belongings, and feel safe.
From Icon to Functionality
Northwestern University's Medical Research Center Competition
by Dan Madryga
Northwestern University is getting a major architectural facelift. Over the past few years, the university has staged several invited design competitions for large-scale building projects on its Chicago and Evanston campuses. A new 152,000 square foot building for the Bienen School of Music and Communication, designed by Goettsch Partners, is currently under construction and slated to open later this year. Meanwhile the 410,000 square foot Kellogg School of Business—for which Toronto firm KPMB beat out Kohn Pedersen Fox, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, and Pelli, Clark & Pelli for the commission—is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2016. As large as these projects are, Northwestern’s most recent invited competition dwarves them both in scale, budget, and ambition: a brand new Medical Research Center for the Feinberg School of Medicine.
An Academic Cluster Pointing to the Future
The Vienna School of Economics Campus Plan
By Stanley Collyer
At the turn of the 21st Century, the Vienna School of Economics (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien), the largest of its kind in Europe, was bursting at the seams. Over 23,000 students were scattered throughout different locatons in the city. When it became obvious that it would be necessary to consolidate the programs at a central location, the decision was made to select an area near the Prater for the new campus—the site of the World Exhibition Area and Fairgrounds. The building program was ambitious, with a number of facilities planned to accommodate all the programs, and the strategy was typically European, as student dormitories were not envisaged as an integral part of the overall campus plan.
To begin with, a local Viennese firm, BUSarchitektur, was engaged to complete a masterplan for the site, and aÂ number of renowned architects were then commissioned to design the various facilities: No.MAD Arquitectos, CRABstudio Architects, Estudio Carme Pinós, Atelier Hitoshi Abe, and BUSarchitektur, the latter local firm being the author of the masterplan.
Science Fiction Museum, Washington, DC
By Stanley Collyer
The recently completed Science and Fiction Museum competition in Washington, DC is not unusual, in that it contemplates the marriage of literature and architecture in one location, as do libraries. It is different in that it deals with a very specialized theme, much as the Poetry Museum in Chicago. Still, Science Fiction is a relatively recent phenomenon in literature, but has rapidly gained a large audience. Although there is already such a facility in Seattle, it was time that an institution focusing on this subject to be located in our nation’s capital—a primary destination for tourists.
To start, this emerging non-profit has been seeking a site in Washington, DC, and, until that occurs, is planning an easily accessible temporary structure, which can be moved from one location to another—the subject of this 2014 design competition.
The competition drew 121 entries from all over the world, with the first- and second-place winners residing in the U.S. The entries were adjudicated by a largely local jury from the Washington, DC area. And the competition was ably administered by local architect, Jerry Vanek.