Less Hadid, More Giant Women

The Architecture Foundation recently announced that they’ve called off plans for construction of a permanent London address. Program development will continue, but due to the current economic slump, their new Zaha Hadid-designed home was scrapped — and Life Without Buildings couldn’t be happier. Nothing against the AF or Ms. Hadid, but the aggressive design left us wanting, and paled in comparison to the sexy simplicity of Lacaton Vassal’s proposal.

Yes, it’s another Giant Woman Friday.

Continue reading “Less Hadid, More Giant Women”

More Giant Statues…

More Goodness from the Architecture Foundation. I’d like to present Lacaton Vassal’s submission for the Foundation’s new building, a competition won by Ms. Hadid almost a year ago (above). Yep. That’s a giant lady in her undewear knickers. I haven’t written much about them lately, but for obvious (and not so obvious) reasons, Lacaton Vassal are my favorite firm in practice right now. (Although Adjaye & Associates are a close 2nd) Their solution is an elegant, versatile construction of simple materials – concrete slabs and a steel frame.

The building is easy to use, robust and adaptable, efficient and economic, and quite ordinary in its envelope: transparent, light, open, easy to access, changing. It is made exceptional by a giant statue of a woman rising through its floors, which will be perceived in fragments. The statue represents a contemporary ideal of beauty, and radically reinterprets the traditional interrelation of sculpture and architecture.

Emphasis mine. Two things I love: Lacaton Vassal and GIANT STATUES. These guys just get it. The statue works in so many ways. It would not only “represent a contemporary idea of beauty,” but also the basis for the historic understanding of beauty in Western Art. It abstracts the human body, presenting it at an unfamiliar scale in order to create a more human-scale experience while simultaneously making us aware of the spaces and forms of our own bodies. Perhaps a bit of a wink at Corbu’s Modulor?

The friction between the appearance of the architecture – direct, efficient, rigorous – and the statue – strange in the context, poetic – disturbs and transforms normality. The exceptional is not in the architectural form; the architecture is in the capacity of the building to gather realism and the imaginary, to transpose the ordinary, to take in different uses generously and create the unforeseen.

In all of the work I’ve seen, Lacaton and Vassall have stayed true to their ideas of comfort, generosity, poetry, and – above all – quality of life. Is it wrong to wish that Zaha would’ve lost this competition too?

If you’re not familiar with their work, check out this article from ICON and this article from BD