- Classical Architecture: The Poetics of Order (The MIT Press)
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- Classical architecture: the poetics of order | UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI LIBRARY
RCR is based in Olot, a small town in the foothills of the Pyrenees about 70 kilometres inland from the northern Costa Brava close to the volcanic zone known as La Garrotxa. The local landscape is characterised by grassy slopes, terraces and strata of lava deposits. There are long views towards the mountains to the north.
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This is the chosen area of intervention of RCR which seeks to mend the landscape even while cutting into it with sharp abstract forms and repetitive rows of Corten steel blades holding back rubble and permitting the passage of air, rain and light for example, the Pedra Tosca Park or the winery at Bell Lloc.
The practice does not copy the landscape but abstracts it. In some of its projects the architect cuts into the earth while building upwards in stratifications of glass and steel so that long horizontals seem to float above the ground; in effect transforming an ancient Classical discipline — a tripartite order, of rusticated base, inhabited middle and overhanging cornice — into modern terms recalling the hovering cantilevers of Mies or de la Sota.
Stratification is a recurrent theme at all scales. These horizontals establish a sense of repose but they also engage with horizontal planes of water, whether artificial ponds, basins, swimming pools or the distant horizon of the sea. The bathing pavilion at Tussols just outside Olot was completed 20 years ago and was in effect a silent manifesto.
Lightly curved in plan, the pavilion hovers above the ground on a plinth that is matched by the overhanging roof. The middle zone serves as a bathing station and the supports are angled in plan while the wide openings frame the vertical saplings beyond the site. Tranquil in effect, the pavilion haunts the site and is set off against the shifting surfaces of the stream.
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Ten years later RCR designed the covered urban space at Ripoll as a large proscenium box of steel slats, with gaps affording views to the sky and crevices through which plants could grow. This structure of lattices recalls a pre-existing theatre called La Lira on the site while framing views in both directions from town to landscape and the reverse. The steel bridge linking the structure to the opposite bank is itself incised, so that as the pedestrian crosses there are glimpses of the water sliding beneath.
In both the bathing pavilion and the structure in Ripoll, architecture is used to heighten the spirit of each place and intensify the experience of water on the move. Les Cols pavilions, Olot, where RCR has created a meditative atmosphere infused with the play of light and shadow.
Water may be celebrated for its cooling effects, its agricultural role, its meditative aspects, its soothing sound. It may be controlled to emphasise reflection or refraction or both.
RCR also explores the meditative aspect of still surfaces of water which reflect the sky or else hint at activities revealed in the background. The water in this case carries a subjacent meaning related to nourishment, anticipating the polished surfaces of glass, stainless steel and lacquered metal within the restaurant. The pavilions constructed slightly later alongside Les Cols take the themes of flotation and reflection to almost hypnotic levels, as the water tanks and baths celebrate washing as a ritual activity.
The third structure at Les Cols, the transparent plastic marquee for weddings and banquets, carries this theme to the extreme in its slender, bowing transparent roof supported on slung steel poles that almost suggest bamboo. The double-skin roof and vertical slots for saplings are designed to receive and dramatise shadows from trees as a living tracery and also to receive the patter of rain and the flow of water into drainage channels. In the winery at Bell Lloc, RCR explored the idea of a procession through landscape which descends a slope before entering a realm of darkness where the barrels are stored and the wine is tasted in a latter-day grotto or cave.
Again the practice resorted to one of its favourite devices, the array of steel slats leaning sideways and backwards and holding back rubble. Perhaps inspired by the railway ties of mines, these slats continue on the interior below ground. Light and air creep in through gaps and crevices in the structure which functions as a filter of a kind.
The tapered skylights suggest funnels for liquid while the section supplies a metaphorical equivalent to the growth of the vines, with roots below, and branches above.
Classical Architecture: The Poetics of Order (The MIT Press)
The winery at Bell Lloc celebrates the very idea of growth and the fact that grapes require rain, earth and air for nourishment, and that wine relies upon a process that transforms and distils natural elements. When exploring and conceiving projects, RCR resorts to ink-wash sketches that suggest the energies of each site, even the passage of wind and the impact of rain.
Meanwhile its evocative computer-generated images suggest the dissolution of transparencies into thin air. In several of the house projects it has inserted water bodies between parallel oblongs and these surfaces seem to pull the distant landscape into the interior.
The covered swimming pool at Taradell lifts the water surface above the surrounding walkways so that it supplies a planar reflecting surface engaging with the landscape visible through the vertical slats of the structure. The building itself is set down in a trench slightly below the water level which is held back by a low wall. The superstructure is in this case formed from a sort of curtain of twisted vertical strips recalling the abstracted vegetation of the restaurant Les Cols. Warm brown, even rusty gold in colour, these strips reflect the light even in winter and suggest reflective metal although they are in fact made from concrete treated to appear like steel.
The long horizontal profile of the building and the pervasive horizontals of landscape and water introduce a sense of calm. In the case of the Hofheide Crematorium, water is exploited for its soothing, spiritual and mental effect. Ultimately, RCR is interested in transforming places in country and city through interventions which release the latent energies of sites to create atmospheric spaces which heighten experience.
The architects believe that one of the primary aims of architecture should be to enhance human existence, to add joy and pleasure to life, and to intensify a sense of belonging. This quest for a poetic re-foundation in landscape and the forces of nature embodies their own reaction against the rootless consumerism of a post-industrial society inundated with superficial virtual images.
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They hope to reveal features of the natural world through the mediation of architecture, and place modern technology at the service of this intention rather than letting it dominate. Similarly they treat the computer as an aid for realising their ideas, rather than as a substitute for invention, memory and culture. A metaphysical aspiration of this sort was already present in early Modernism with its new concepts of space, its skeletal structures in steel and its large areas of plate glass.
But is it trying to do too much? As the AR Emerging Architecture awards enter their 21st year, we remember past winners and commended projects. A curated selection of the best architectural ideas in the world to inspire your mind and feed your soul. With an emphasis on analysing and explaining the sensibility of poetics at work in designing and constructing architecture, this book features projects from architects around the world that demonstrate the principles of poetics come to life.
The rich illustration of two hundred colour images, including analytical diagrams, plans, sections, and photos, make this insightful guide a highly visual foray into a topic that has thus far remained more theoretical than practical. The text is matter-of-fact and concrete, yet remains richly connected to its forbears and the writings of William Lethaby, Gaston Bachelard, and Steen Eiler Rasmussen.
The perspective is contemporary in its examples and its connections to the evolving science of perception. An established seminar topic in theory classes around the world, poetics tends to rely heavily on classic philosophic texts — until now.
Practical Poetics in Architecture brings theory down to earth to show architects how to invoke poetics when designing real projects. Poetics — the accumulated experience of place, space, and culture — has become more critical in recent years as the atmospheric and experiential qualities of built spaces have become more elusive in the virtual age. Practical Poetics in Architecture provides real guidance for real projects, and brings poetics out of the mind and onto the plans. From his base in Melbourne, he has promoted local and international architectural culture through an influential practice-based research programme and the commissioning of innovative architecture.
Classical architecture: the poetics of order | UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI LIBRARY
His PhD programme at RMIT in architecture and design practice has become an important template for institutions worldwide; it has recently been awarded a several-million-Euro grant by the EU Marie Curie Actions Fund to extend its activities internationally by partnering with institutions in Europe. Undetected location. NO YES.