Grounds and Envelopes: Reshaping Architecture and the Built Environment

Michael U. Hensel, Jeffrey Turko

    Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored


    Providing a source of vision for the revitalisation of ground and envelope as spatial elements that can inform the search for embedded locally specific architectures, this book collects essays and projects that each contributes a particular element to what might constitute an integrated and richly nuanced approach to spatial organisation. Our aim was to explore alternatives to one of today’s pronounced yet unaddressed problems that we face as architects: [1] The unquestioned and rampant proliferation of discrete architecture. [2] Maintaining artificial dichotomies, that is primarily intended to stand out and is therefore intentional, explicitly and thoroughly detached from specific local settings The consequences that derive from this relentless and unquestioning stance: [1] Spatially impoverished architectures (disengaged objects). [2] Spatially impoverished cities (fast growing aggregates of disengaged objects that consume vast amounts of ground). Therefore in Grounds and Envelopes we seek to: Reignite spatial thinking, discourse and design in architecture, and more specifically, to search for identifiable traits of what may be called an architecture that is intensively embedded in its locally specific settings; in other words a non-discrete architecture that relinquishes the disengaged object as a primary aim for architectural design In order to tackle this problem we aimed at: Seeking out ways in which to overcome the current persistent lack of spatial interest by way of examining the potentials of the key architectural elements grounds and envelopes as the prime initiators of heterogeneous spatial, material and engendering arrangements that can intensely engage their specific local environment. In so doing we examine whether there are ways of spatially and materially articulating architectures that are not primarily predicated on the articulation of discrete architectural objects This book is organised into two sections. Part one consists of five chapters that collect theoretical reflections and discussions related to key concepts and potentials that begin to frame the suggested approaches to architectural design. Chapter 1 (Space) addresses questions of spatial organisation with emphasis on the role of sectional approaches and arrangements. Chapter 2 (Grounds) examines questions pertaining ground as well as the concepts of multiple and provisional grounds. Chapter 3 (Envelopes) focuses on the building envelope(s) and the transition between interior and exterior as extended thresholds. Chapter 4 (Environments) focuses on how grounds and envelopes can engage in the generation, provision and modulation of heterogeneous milieus and microclimates in order to deliver a wider scope of provisions for use and habitation in relation to local climate conditions. Chapter 5 (Locality) seeks to synthesize various aspects of the previous chapters towards what once again may be considered intensely local architectures. This involves a discussion of different approaches to articulating such architectures from a tectonic perspective and the related arrangement of local resources. Part two collects 30 built and un-built projects that span a half-century timeline and that are related to specific aspects discussed in part one; 15 projects on the topic of grounds and 15 projects on the topic of envelopes, with some projects addressing both aspects in particularly interesting ways. Projects include: Paulo Mendes da Rocha; Brazilian Pavilion, Osaka World Expo 1970, Osaka, Japan RCR Arquitectes: Marquee at Les Cols Restaurant, Olot, Girona, Spain Weiss / Manfredi; Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, Washington, USA Peter Eisenman; City of Culture of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, Spain Plasma Studio and Groundlab; Xi’an Horticultural Expo, Longgang, China Foreign Office Architects; Yokohama International Ferry Terminal, Yokohama, Japan Nekton Design; Turf City, Reykjavik, Iceland Alvaro Siza; Swimming Pool, Leça da Palmeira, Portugal Eduardo Souto de Moura; Braga Municipal Stadium, Braga Portugal MVRDV; Villa VPRO, Hilversum, Netherlands Bernard Tschumi; Le Fresnoy Art Centre, Tourcoing, France OCEAN; World Centre for Human Concerns, New York City, USA R&Sie(n); Spidernethewood, Nîmes, France Toyo Ito; Serpentine Pavilion, London, England Enric Miralles and Carme Pinós; Olympic Archery Range, Barcelona, Spain Kengo Kuma; GC Prostho Museum Research Centre, Aichi Prefecture, Japan Cloud 9; MediaTic, Barcelona, Spain Diller, Scofidio and Renfro; Blur Building, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, Swiss National Expo With an abundance of built and un-built key projects available, it is now possible to outline the contours of a new discourse. This book initiates a new beginning in this direction so that architecture can partake in the creation of heterogeneous space and culturally, socially and environmentally sustainable built environments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAbingdon
    PublisherRoutledge; Taylor & Francis
    Number of pages294
    ISBN (Print)9780415639170
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015


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