Arquitectura Viva
Sunday, October 25, 2020

Arquitectura Viva 57


Foster, Ingenhoven, Koolhaas, MVRDV, Piano, Tschumi
XI-XII 1997
Europa, Europa. The approaching hour of European union is the pretext for undertaking a panoramic view, a possible continental portrait that we have tried to present here by combining bird's eye images of three cities with architectural close-ups of three countries. If the cities are London, Rome and Lisbon, capitals which are taking great pains to transform themselves for the coming millennium by modernizing their urban structures and cultural offers, the countries are Germany, France and the Netherlands, which exhibit the European leadership arising from their centrality through six recent buildings.   Anatxu Zabalbeascoa
A Grand Feast
London Millennium
Alfonso Muñoz
Urban Jubilee
Rome Past and Future
Adela García-Herrera
Eve of a Fair
Lisbon and Expo 98
Buildings: Projects and Realizations
  Art / Culture
German Techniques. Skyscrapers in Frankfurt and Essen symbolize the economic muscle of the financial Europe, but also illustrate German interest in the ecological dimension of high tech architecture.   Norman Foster
Commerzbank, Frankfurt
Ingenhoven, Overdiek, Kahlen
RWE Tower, Essen
French Arts. A small Parisian museum and a center of art on the Belgian border, both designed by foreign architects, show how France conserves its cultural vigor and its traditional cosmopolitan openness.   Renzo Piano
Atelier Brancusi,Paris
Bernard Tschumi
Arts Center, Tourcoing
Dutch Avant-Gardes. The headquarters of a radio and television network in Hilversum and a university building in Utrecht represent Holland's innovative attitude and inventive capacity to build new landscapes.   MVRDV
Villa VPRO, Hilversum
Rem Koolhaas/OMA
Educatorium II, Utrecht
Books, Exhibitions, Personalities
  Art / Culture
Recapitulations. Numerous anthologies in 1998 will celebrate Aalto's centenary and revise his legacy; similar revisionist objectives characterize two exhibitions dedicated to the cultural relations between Madrid and Barcelona.   María Teresa Valcarce
Aaltian Visions
Xavier Costa
Barcelona-Madrid, Round Trip
Polemic Shows. The Guggenheim Foundation has brought some of its artworks to Bilbao for the opening of Frank Gehry's museum, while London's Royal Academy presents the young British artists of the Saatchi collection.   Francisco Javier San Martín
The Guggenheim Inside
Guillermo Solana
'Sensation', the Art of Scandal
Rising Repertoires. As they rush to sum up Spanish architecture of the closing century through guides and handbooks, publishers are equally determined to increase their stocks of historical and contemporary monographs.   Focho's Cartoon
Aldo van Eyck
Various Authors
Interiors, Design, Construction
  Technique / Style
The Swiss Quota. The prosperous Alpine country of Switzerland, voluntarily removed from the process of European integration, is currently producing one of the world's most influential architectures. The three sport complexes featured here possess the abstract quality, geometric rigor and material intensity that are seducing onlookers in the old continent as well as in other latitudes.   Gigon & Guyer
Sport Center, Davos
Herzog & De Meuron
Pfaffenholz Center, St. Louis
Livio Vacchini
Gymnasium, Losone
To close, an analysis of products and systems having to do with fenestration, a sector concerned as much with novelty as with the improvement of traditional materials and techniques; and a commentary about the work of Koolhaas displayed at Kassel. Luis Fernández-Galiano discusses the Dutch architect's disconcerting admiration for the urban miracle of Southeast Asia.

English Summary
Europa, Europa
Asian Fever

Luis Fernández-Galiano

Europa, Europa

On the threshold of the euro, Europeans feel like passengers of an uncertain ship. Just as Elia Kazan's immigrants spelled out fear and hope in their repeated invocation of the American continent, so do we reiterate our common destiny through a spirited but skeptical chant: Europa, Europa. Faced with the challenges of the global economy, many are pessimistic about the future of this small peninsula of Asia, yet in view of the social calamities afflicting much of humanity, it is hard not to feel lucky to be living in this region of the planet, and the dramatic fate of African wet-backs in the Strait of Gibraltar regularly reminds us of this privilege.

It is difficult to sum up the variety and ambiguity of Europe, but here we have tried to describe the current state of the continent with buildings and articles covering three countries and three cities. Germany and France are the two central pillars of European construction and the Netherlands constitutes the efficient hinge of that nucleus, while London of the Millennium, Rome of the Jubilee and Lisbon of Expo 98 throw light on EU members now peripheral, whether on account of an insular condition and Atlantic outlook like the United Kingdom, of political instability and economic indiscipline like Italy, or of geographic marginality and small dimensions like Portugal.

The three core countries are represented by six recent works. Germany boasts two new skyscrapers which symbolize the financial muscle of an economic Europe that will have Frankfurt as its physical ceiling and monetary heart through the continent's tallest building and new central bank. France's cultural and cosmopolitan vigor is illustrated by two art containers: a museum in Paris designed by an Italian to house the sculptural legacy of a brilliant Rumanian, and an experimental center put up near the Belgian border by a Swiss who lives in New York. Finally, the risk-taking inventiveness of the artificial landscape of the Netherlands is manifested by two buildings in the fields of academic and social communications: a university facility and a television network headquarters.

This continental picture made up of fragments has a tinge of the caricature and inevitably brings to mind the extravagantly jocular character of Arcimboldo's motley heads. In the depiction of Europe, buildings and cities take the place of the painter's fruits and vegetables, and semblance is achieved through arbitrary or ingenious collaging. But such a composition of highlighted shapes dims the greater part of the dilemmas and uncertainties plaguing the European Union, still perceived as an amalgam of juxtaposed nations embarked on an undefined and hazardous voyage, in which no mantra-like repetition of a shared destination will guarantee a happy landing at a port of call.
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