March 7, 2011
Last week we took a look at Le Corbusier’s first internationally recognized work, the Pavilion de L’Esprit Nouveau from 1925. The Pavillion was notable, mainly, for its groundbreaking open plan and distribution of domestic space. But outwardly, it was instantly recognizable for the perfect circle punched through its pancake roof, making room for a tree to grow through the central void of the home. Another project we looked at last week — the Limmatplatz Tramway Station by Baumann Roserens Architekten – also paid its architectural dues to the much older, leafier tenants preexisting on its site.
Spring is definitely on its way here in New York, so in the name of what will hopefully be a verdant month (and as part if our ongoing meme-based topic posts) here’s a follow-up:
L’Esprit Nouveau Pavilion, Le Corbusier, 1925, Paris, France.
Let’s go chronologically on this one. First off, a project many people mistake for something much more contemporary: Norwegian master Sverre Fehn (who died in 2009) designed the 1962 Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale to accommodate existing tree growth on the site. The rest of the project was meant to bring “Nordic light” (that much ballyhooed phenomenon) to Venice by way of a series of wooden louvers that would refract the Italian sunlight into something more limited and angularly severe.
Sverre Fehn, Nordic Pavilion, Venice, Italy, 1958-62.
A more contemporaneous project added to Architzer last week was simply too relevant not to mention: Christian Pottgiesser‘s small executive office space for brands PONS and HOUT. The space is a kind of bespoke interior garden tailored to the shape of eight Ficus Panda trees, with milled tabletops fitted to accommodate the tree growth.
The offices are built inside of a turn-of-the-century steel factory building that was — so mysteriously — rumored to have been designed by Gustav Eiffel himself. The steel frames had decayed to the point where a major renovation was necessary, so in addition to the interior topography, a restoration if the structure was a major element of the project.
Writes the architect: “The project consists of an insertion of a wooden unit in solid oak 1,7 m high, 22 m long and 14 m wide. The entire programme is embodied therein. Each individual workplace is incised into the wooden upper surface and covered by a “telephone’-dome in Plexiglas. The four lateral surfaces contain archives, cloakrooms and the kitchen. Completely embedded in the body are the meeting room, and the the recreational room and the restrooms.”