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Architecture Now!

Vol. 4

By Philip Jodidio, Taschen, 2nd abridged edition, 2006, pp. 576, $14.99

Eisenman memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe by Peter Eisenman in Berlin, Germany, 2004, ©Werner Huthmacher/artur

By Carter B. Horsley

This superb international survey of major architectural projects has excellent photography and short but informative texts by Philip Jodidio, the prolific architecture writer.

The texts are presented in English, French and German, but the font size is small and the English text is printed in a light blue that is not very easy to read for some people who need glasses. 

The book also includes the architects' addresses, phone numbers, e-mails and website addresses.

Among the projects highlighted are the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany, by Peter Eisenman, shown above, the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, by Moshe Safdie, Casa Equis in Canete, Peru by Barclay & Crousse, the Lianunig Musuem in Neuhas, Austria by Odile Decq, the Slit House in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, by Eastern Design, the Rucksack House in Leipzig/Cologne, Germany by Stefan Eberstadt, the New Milan Trade Fair in Pero-Tho, Milan, Italy, by Massimiliano Fuksas, the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany by Herzog & de Meuron, the Loisium Visitor Center and Hotel in Langeniois, Vienna, by Steven Holl, the Opera House in Copenhagen by Henning Larsen, and the Soundbarrier Houses in Diependaal, Hilversum, The Netherlands, by VHP.

While many of the projects selected were by famous architects such as Herzog & de Meuron, Peter Eisenman, Moshe Safdie and Steven Holl, many were works by lesser known firms, an encouraging sign.  

While many of the projects were traditional major developments such as an opera house, an arena and major memorials, many were relatively small developments, which is not surprising.

Without a question, the greatest project of the year was Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Euope in Berlin in 2004.  The somber, gray, coffin-like stones of varying heights create the appearance of a cemeteryand the catalogue correctly notes that "their weight is undeniable."  Interestingly, a similar scheme was presented to a competition for a Manhattan midtown plaza at the W. R. Grace building on the southeast corner of 43rd Street and the Avenue of the Americas several  years before but the concept then was not of a memorial but merely a variety of seating areas.

Mr. Eisenman's memorial is better than Daniel Liebeskind's great Holocaust Memorial and it is wonderful that both have found a home in Berlin and they reinforce each other rather than compete.  Eisenman's design was first submitted i 1997 as a collaborative effort with Richard Serra, the sculptor.  It uses 2,751 blocks of concrete of varying heights.

Safdie memorial

Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel, 2002-5, by Moshe Safdie, © Timothy Hursley

Moshe Safdie's design for the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem in Jersusalem, Israel, 2002-5 is a brilliant elongated focus in reinforced concrete in a triangular structure that is partly underground andopens at the north end and "bursts out of the outnain, cantilevering over the valley, to light, to the view of the Jerusalem hills, the vibrant tableau that is modern city of Jerusalm, the catalgoue notes, adding that "it is an affirmation of life after an experience of death."

All three memorials, Libeskind's, Eisenman's and Safdie's are great masterpieces of originality and drama and respect, a remarkable achievement given the banality of so many other memorials.


New Milan Trade Fair, Pero-Rho, Milan, Italy, by Massimiliano Fuksas 2002-5, © Fuksas Office

The New Milan Trade Fair facility at Pero-Rho in Milan, Italy, 2002-5, was hailed as the largest civilian construction in the world when it was built.  Its main feature is the very beautiful glass enclosed walkway "spine"  that units the facility's major major wings.  The spine recalls the skylights of Norman Foster but are of a vaster scale and considerably more intriguing in form.  Fuksas was the director of the 7th Architectural Biennale in Venice in 1998-2000 and his other major projects include the Mediathèque in Resé, the National Engineering School in Brest, the steel entrance for the caves at Liaux.

Loisium Visitor Center and Hotel, Langenois, Vienna, 2001-5 by Steen Holl, © Margherita Spiluttini

The Loisium Visitor Center and Hotel in Langenois, Vienna, was erected in 2005 and designed by Steven Holl (b. 1947).  A third of this 82-room hotel is underground and it is about 60 minutes west of Vienna in the heart of the largest wine-growing center in Austria.

Opera house

The Copenhagen Opera House, by Henning Larsen, 2001-4, © Adam Mark

The huge overhang of this cultural facility looks across the harbor to Amalienborg, the Royal Residence, the handsome facility houses six theaters.


Liaunig Mujseum, Newhaus, Austria, 2005-7, by Odile Decq, 

Odile Decq won an international competition to design this museum to house the collection of Austiran art formed by Herbert Bocki and Fritz Wotruba.  The architect maintains that sequential discovery depends on uncentered rooms and perspectives are tangential.  The museum and its grounds and spaces are very poetic.


Alliance Arena, Munich, Germany, 2002-5, by Herzog & de Meuron, © Duccio Malagamba

Built for the 2006 World Cup, this stadium has 66,000 seats and was designed by Herzog & de Meuron.  The light "cushions" can be programmed.


Soundbarrier Houses, Diependaal, Hiversum, The Netherlands, by VHP, 2001, © Ralph Richter/ architekturphoto

Soundbarrier Houses at Diependaal, Hiversum, in The Netherlands is a 2001 project design by VHP is descripted in by the book as 'Cyclopean and repetitive, the Soundbarrier Houses offer dignificeid  and unusualhomes whilethey solve noise problemsin an efficient way.  The project article,according to the book, was "MauriceNio,whoat thattime worked withthefirm VHP."  

As the writer Francois Thiry explains, "the book continued, 'the twelv ehouses form an integral part of a soundproof embankment along a secondary road fromDiependaal, an exclusive residential district in the woods of Hhilversum.  Despite this inhospital setting the clients' inital skepticsim, the futuristic not to say fantastic design of the houses attracted users who brought their home off the drawng board several years before delivery.....The considerable cantilevered area of the upper floor allows cars to be parked beneath the top level"


Rucksack House, Leipzig/Cologne, Germany, 2004-5, by Stefan Eberstadt, © Silke Koch

Stefan Eberstadt (b. 1961) describes this project as "reactivating the idea of the self-built anarchistic tree house."


Casa Equis in Canete, Penu, was completed in 2003 and designed by Barclay & Crousse, © Jean Pierre Crousse.

The roof top swimming pool of this beach house in Canete, Peru has one transparent side  that provides for surrealistic views.  The house is known as Casa Equis and was designed in 2003 by Barclay & Crousse.

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