6 feb 2011

Recent iconic buildings, Ep.5

Coop Himmelb(l)au Office rooftop Vienna

Wolf Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky's desire to capture a feeling or emotion regarding a project through their blind sketches raises more questions than providing answers. One can see that the sketch on the previous page is similar to the view on this page. But why? What is to determine the sketch's translation? In this case the sketch influenced, strangely enough, a view of the structure from the building across the street; a view from below is virtually impossible, merely a few pieces of structure peek over the existing parapet. The intuitive nature of the sketch is a given, but its translation as either plan, section, perspective or any other convention suggests that arbitrariness plays a great part, and their role as artists is greater than with most architects.

Notions of scale, program, and material do not enter into the design process as early as with other, more conventional, practices. Instead the firm ever-increasingly complex models to find structural and design solutions that extend the feeling, and appearance, of their initial sketches.

With most, if not all, of Coop Himmelb(l)au's built work, structure plays an extremely important role. With their deconstructivist leanings new structural solutions must be found to achieve the desired end results: post and beam, or similar, structure will not work. In the rooftop office addition an arching spine, held in tension, defines the line of the glassroof construction. The majority of the steel is small members connected, directly or indirectly, to this spine. The effect is both complex and sensual, and is easily one of my favorite structures, even with the questions that arise from their design process.

Text written by archidose

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