Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Crusch Alba by Gus Wüstemann

For the renovation of his apartment in the historic Gotico area of Barcelona, architect Gus Wüstemann has installed a white, intersecting bathroom and kitchen in the shape of a cross.

The crusch alba (white cross) helps to provide illumination to the rear of the apartment where natural light is limited.

The kitchen fittings are hidden from view behind cabinets and the bath can be folded away to provide a lounge area in one of the children’s bedrooms.

Large sliding doors allow the rooms around the white cross to be individual bedrooms or extensions of the same living space.

The original, uneven condition of the stone walls, plastering and ceiling have been retained and protected by a layer of varnish.

Photos are by Bruno Helbling.

Here are more details from Gus Wüstemann

crusch alba (white cross), Barcelona 2009

The Project is our flat in Barcelona in the Gotico area, in the center of the historic part of Barcelona.

A challenge was the very heterogenic floor plan, which was interrupted by various light patios.

The other issue is little daylight in the old town of Barcelona, as the sun and the heat were considered rather a burden in the old times. There is one major façade facing the street banys nous, with big windows and balconies.

It was clear that we will have a big living space in this area. For the connection, organization (circulation) and lighting up the back part of the apartment we had to come up with an invention.

Crossing two programs = the white cross

The invention is to cross two programs: the kitchen and the bathroom, two brightly light up white spaces, forming a white cross.

The white cross we put between those medieval walls and created a bright center in the middle of these fragment spaces and light patios.

As the crusch alba (white cross) is a cross of two programs, there is no circulation, no matter where, you are either in the kitchen or in the bathroom.

The rest of the space, the walls and ceilings are left in it’s original state, raw stone walls, wall paintings and raw plaster finishes.

Intervention of layers – pictures of the old times

We implemented the white cross as a new volume in the existing space and created openings into this white space. We light up the periphery. the border between old an new.

In that respect, the layer outside of the white cross becomes the outer space, generating pictures of ‘the old times’ like looking outside a window into another landscape. By coincidence, real windows appear in these openings.

We left all the old surfaces in the original state, just varnished them: painted ceilings, painted wallpapers, raw old stone walls of the Gotico and even raw plaster of the new building interventions.

The overlay of layers of old and new with light in between emphasizes the lack of hierarchy of old and new. It’s the feeling of not finishing, keeping it urban and letting the process and time be visible that gives a feeling of freedom.

Space Machine – the spaces are not defined by walls floors or volumes

The apartment can be used as loft or as a three bedroom apartment. The white cross is physically and visually the center core of the back part of the apartment.

The actual bedrooms and the bathroom can be divided by big sliding doors and are not defined by the cross itself. So the master bedroom space is part of in the white cross and part of the remaining old space (old layers). So the actual rooms are urban spaces, as they are part of various elements.

There is a major structural wall separating the living area from the white cross and the private areas of the apartment. Two door size openings and a window to a light patio are the only connection to the living area, dividing the flat in two parts.

We dissolved the original wall into a sequence of elements, so that the openings become in between spaces of things touching rather than holes in wall. So the separating element becomes the connecting element, an attractor brought to life by light.

As there are numerous options of how many bedrooms and niches we can create as bedrooms, the kids have foldable mattresses, so they can choose where they want to sleep. The kids are ‘camping’ in the apartment, no fix bedroom.

urban space – horizon of light

The wooden volumes we implemented on top of the old structure, the historical stone structure of the Gotico. Between the old layer and the new implementation there is always a horizon of light, expanding the space where normally it is the end of a room (periphery, where walls and floor meet).

By creating the wooden objects we have no ‘floor surface’ but are walking on a wooden volume, there are no defined surfaces like walls and floors, but urban elements and volumes that we can use freely.

Program free architecture

As usual we implemented our tool of ‘program free architecture’, so the kitchen is not visible, but is part of the white cross. The children’s lounge in the bedroom is actually a bath, if you take off the top.

The main bathroom is hidden by a huge sliding wall and only appears when you need it, the shower is in a corner of the white cross.

If a space is not used for a specific program, it always available as living space or for what you want it to be.

The flat is like an continuation of the urban space of the Gotico of Barcelona, with some space machine, the white cross, added on.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blok 1 by GROUP A


Rotterdam architecture studio GROUP A have completed a tower block in Arnhem, the Netherlands, to be used for student housing.

The building, called Blok 1, contains nine floors of dormitories and a communal roof terrace.

The façade comprises a patchwork of brown panelling and windows, which aim to maximise the natural light in each dormitory.

Blok 1 is part of the redevelopment of the Presikhaaf area in Arnhem, with plans to demolish the post-war architecture currently found in the neighbourhood and replace it with more upmarket housing.

Photos are by Daria Scagliola and Stijn Brakkee.

Here are some more details from GROUP A:

Project information:

Student housing tower Blok 1 serves as a landmark and a visual beacon of change and renewal for the Presikhaaf area.

The buiding is part of a larger redevelopment scheme, which forsees in the partial demolition of post-war housing estates in the neighbourhood making way for new, more upmarket, housing developements.

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Additionally, student housing is included in the scheme, as the presence of students will lead to differentiation and rejuvenation of the neighbourhood. Thus, the tower provides Presikhaaf with a much needed social impulse.

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The ten story building is situated on an isolated site, surrounded by nature. Its solitary character is enhanced by the buildings all-round orientation and facade, which is punctuated by a large number of windows, making the building look bigger than it actually is.

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This particular fenestration makes sure no two dorms are the same. The facade will be covered in paneling with a slightly differing finish, creating a subtle pattern. The dark brown colour gives the building a natural feel, and makes it fit into the surrounding ecological area.

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The ground floor comprises support facilities for the students, technical areas and commercial units. Each of the nine upper floors is laid out with ten dorms. The top floor will be used as a communal roof terrace. Within the restricted budget, GROUP A has been able to create a number of high quality solutions, like the large windows on the corners and the roofterrace with its nice views.

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Project: Blok 1 Presikhaaf
Type: Student housing
Task description: Preliminary design, final design, technical design and specification,
supervision, aesthetic monitoring
Team GROUP A: Adam Visser, Folkert van Hagen, Maarten van Bremen, Birgitta Rottmann,
Mike von Tiesenhausen, Fatima El-bouyahyaoui, Jos Overmars, David
Moreno Romero, Paulo Moreno, Nolly Vos, Edwin Larkens, Daniël Gijsbers,
Niclas Frenning
Location: Arnhem
Country: the Netherlands
Start design: June 2005
Final acceptance: August 2009
Dimensions: 3.000 m2
Building costs: € 3.500.000,00
Client: Vivare Projecten BV

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kunsthaus Zurich Extension by David Chipperfield Architects

David Chipperfield Architects have released new images of their design for an extension to the Kunsthaus Zurich in Switzerland.

Having won a competition to design the extension in December 2008, the architects have now altered the design according to the jury’s feedback.

The building will have two main entrances and two side entrances, making it accessible from all sides and improving access to the main hall.

The overall size of the structure has been reduced and outdoor exhibition spaces increased.

See all our stories about David Chipperfield Architects in our special category.

All images © David Chipperfield Architects.

Here’s some more information from David Chipperfield Architects:

Winning project for the Kunsthaus Zürich extension optimized

David Chipperfield’s winning design for the Kunsthaus extension has been optimized in line with the jury’s recommendations for its function within the fabric of the city as a whole, and with regard to its internal organization.

The revision comprises a managed reduction of the building’s volume, a more precise location on Heimplatz, greater openness to the extension’s surroundings on all four sides, and an improved art garden.

During the first half of 2009, the ascetic elegance of the design submitted by David Chipperfield Architects, which had been chosen by the jury as the winner of the competition for the Kunsthaus extension in December of 2008, was optimized in line with that body’s recommendations.

The project has now been revised with respect to its volume and the extension’s inclusion in its surroundings, and has seen the accessibility of its central hall improved, along with the conception, topography and design of the art garden. At the same time, the revision process has also clearly vindicated the jury’s choice, with the winning proposal’s basic architectural concept remaining intact.

In order to embed the Kunsthaus extension more satisfactorily into its environs, both its footprint and its above-ground volume have been reduced by some 6%, the latter to a total of 79,000 m3. The planned breadth of the building has also been reduced, in this case by 2.8 m; and the corresponding enlargement of the walkways running along its sides has eased pressure on the structure’s exterior space, in particular along Kantonsschulstrasse and Rämistrasse.

A shift of 1.4 m to the north and the abridgement of the structure’s length by the same amount, furthermore, has made it possible to extend the area immediately outside its main entrance on Heimplatz, while the location’s excellent definition has been preserved, along with the spatial tension between the planned building and the existing Kunsthaus. The plan now includes two main entrances and two generously proportioned side entrances. The building is to be open and conveniently accessible on all four sides. The central hall has been reduced to its essential scope: now asymmetrically laid out and with increased permeability, it will better serve its function as a site for encounters between art and the public.

While the building’s planned exhibition space has been only slightly reduced, its workshops for art appreciation have been significantly re-dimensioned. The space available for exhibitions, meanwhile, and the dimensions of the banquet hall remain virtually untouched. The proportion of the façade reserved for windows has increased, and the vertical reach of those windows, deliberately extended beyond the horizontal bands comprised by its façade, gives the building a more abstract, less historicizing look. Its size and positioning will allow the structure to enter into dialogue with other prominent buildings along Rämistrasse.

A lower location for the delivery area has allowed the garden level to be sunk. A single-run stairway now suffices to connect the garden to the hall, and to enhance the optical dialogue between inside and outside – on the side facing the cantonal school as well as that turned toward the existing Kunsthaus. The new design will make it possible to integrate the inventoried grounds of the old cantonal school in the green space planned for the Kunsthaus extensio

The garden thus takes on the function of a hub, organically connecting the Niederdorf neighbourhood and Heimplatz itself with the university district further up the slope.The revision addresses all of the recommendations made by the jury.

The partners and future principals of the Kunsthaus extension – the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, the city of Zurich and the Stiftung Zürcher Kunsthaus – have now been presented with a better project, greener and more open: in a word, feasible. At the end of October the partners will establish a project corporation.

At the political level, the next steps in the project process are to raise the extension’s development loan, planned for this legislative period; to elaborate a design plan for approval by the parliament; and, provisionally scheduled for 2010/2011, to put a credit facility to the vote by the electorate of the city of Zurich. The total projected cost, adjusted for the rise in building costs and including municipal reserves, is estimated at CHF 180 million (based on the construction cost index for April 2008).

Financing, in the form of a public-private partnership, includes the CHF 75 million already pledged by the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft. Until the extension is ready for use (the goal is 2015), the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft will continue to raise funds among private sponsors, foundations and corporations. For the city of Zurich, the intention to expand is consistent with the overriding political and cultural interests of its urban development department. The project, which is on the agenda for the current legislative session, meets the objectives of the 2000-Watt Society, while the Kunsthaus notes that the revised design fulfills its core requirements for use of the structure.

The building is to be devoted to the exhibition of art created since the 1960s, and will make possible a range of shows – of new media, prints and drawings, and photography, as well as pictures, installations and sculptures – and thus offer an exciting contrast with the classical format of the galleries intended for the private Bührle Collection. When the Bührle Collection is installed in its new home, finally, the Kunsthaus will see its collection of classical modernism complemented by a new speciality: French painting and Impressionism. The project’s aims and progress, the latter updated continuously, can be reviewed at, where links provide access to background information, including the experts’ report and the outcome of the requested revision. New renderings, current floor plans and blueprints can be downloaded from the press page. By the end of the year, ‘The Idea’, a brochure published in 2008 setting out the extension’s intended use, will be supplemented by ‘The Form’, an illustrated guide to the exterior look of the new building and to its internal organization. The new brochure will be available at the Kunsthaus.

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