Recently in domus: Kengo Kuma in Kawatana, PREVI, CIPEA, Torre Confinanzas and Waffle Urbanism

In Kengo Kuma: New Organic, Salavator-John A. Liotta reviews Kengo Kuma’s new building in Kawatana, a spa town in search of revival. The building is designed for a number of different functions including exhibit and events spaces, a museum of traditional culture and folklore and a tourist information center.

In his essay Mr. Liotta writes “Kuma proposes a building that is similar to a quarry, which organically follows the contours of the land on which it rests and mimics the profile of the mountains that stand out on the landscape embracing the city.

The buildings follow the organic development of the land and mimic the profile of the mountains embrace the city. (Photo by Salvator-John A. Liotta)

Justin McGuirk traveled to PREVI: the Metabolists Utopia, an experimental district collectively designed by a generation of radical avant-garde architects who converged on Lima (Peru) in the late 1960s. All the architects involved were selected for their participation in the most interesting experiments in social housing in the early ’60s.

Unlike the master-planned and controlled, Modernists housing projects of that era PREVI’s approach is more along the lines of contemporary work such as Elemantal’s Quinta Monroy project or my friend Quilian Riano’s Harvard GSD mARCH thesis project. As McGuirk writes;

The original houses are encrusted with geological layers: extra floors, pitched roofs, balconies, external staircases, faux-marble facades, terracotta roof tiles and bright coats of paint. It’s like a form of archaeology, mentally scraping away these accretions. That was the genius of PREVI: it was designed as a platform for change. The houses were not the end but the beginning, a framework for expansion.

By Iwan Baan

Sam Jacob of FAT in Lift-off reviews Steven Holl’s latest effort, the soaring Contemporary Art & Architecture Museum in Nanjing. The museum is but one part of a larger project being developed by CIPEA—China International Practical Exhibition of Architecture-which when completed will consist of a resort hotel surrounded by an orbit of satellite villas.

Even though the building is elevated it doesn’t use that formal move as a way to focus on the landscape, as Jacob writes; “Strangely, even though we’ve come up so high, the views outside are heavily rationed by slivers of glass set into the polycarbonate skin, allowing us only fleeting glimpses. Even the balcony—where the view over the whole complex is at last thrown wide open—is controlled, set behind a solid core. It is as though the idea of being elevated is prioritised over the physical sensation.

In The Tower of David Jesús Fuenmayor interviews two Venezuelan artists, Ángela Bonadies and Juan José Olavarría, who have documented the story of a contemporary heterotopia, the Torre Confinanzas. The Torre Confinanzas was dreamed up twenty years ago by Venezuelan financier David Brillembourg but never finished the 45 story skyscraper is now the tallest squat in the world.

Section of Torre Confinanzas. by Ángela Bonadies and Juan José Olavarría (?)

In Waffle urbanism, Ethel Baraona Pohl reports from Jürgen Mayer H.’s Metropol Parasol, one of the most daring and controversial urban interventions to be completed in Europe in recent years. Pohl uses the frame of the megastructure and argues that the project has successfully re-enlivened the historic Plaza de la Encarnación which for many years was used solely as a car-park. Pohl notes that since it’s opening the project has engendered much criticism and dialogue even though when initially proposed it was praised by the architectural community-press. Reflecting on the current fascination with projects by Archizooom, Archigram and Superstudio and relating it to the current arguments surround the Metropol Parasol she writes; “Could it be that the fascination we feel today for the utopias and radical architecture of the 1960s and ’70s stems from the fact that they are precisely that, unrealised utopias?

In order not to spoil a Roman archaeological site, the waffle frame of the new complex, built in reinforced, concrete, wood laminate and steel, touches the ground at only six points. (Photos by Pedro Kok)

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