The exclusive architecture trips organised each year for members of the Architecture Lounge offer unique approaches to planning and building activity in the particular city or region visited.
Participants are offered more than visits to urban development projects; the trips also include numerous lectures by competent local experts, developers, architects or representative of the authorities. Alongside new architectural projects exciting insider tips also form a part of the programme.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has ambitious goals: “She wants France to breathe again” (Georg Blume, Die Zeit, Feb. 24, 2021). Place de la Bastille, Place de la Nation, Place de la République… traffic deserts are being turned into planted green spaces throughout the city, often through the active participation of local residents – gardening together and “experiencing” Paris on foot or by bike is the new motto. And the plans are already showing initial successes: in recent years, car traffic in Paris has fallen by 6%, and experiencing the Champs-Elysee as an “avenue of Elysian fields” is within reach. Paris is a pioneer in many respects, reason enough to organize the Architecture Lounge trip 2022 to Paris. In addition to visiting new urban development areas, such as Clichy Batignolles or Chapelle Charbon, we met Carlos Moreno, known for his model of the 15-minute city and advisor to Hidalgo, talked to representatives of important architecture firms such as Encore Heureux, one of the initiators of the Circular Economy movement, Sophie Delhay, who pursues new approaches with her residential buildings and was awarded the prestigious Schelling Architecture Prize 2022 this year, and Grand Huit, whose Ferme du Rail is a finalist for the current Mies van der Rohe Award. But the program also included architectural icons of modernism such as Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, museums and Paris’ banlieues with a visit to the Etoiles d’Ivry housing complex by Renée Gailhoustet and Jean Renaudie.
“Every decade has its countries that the architectural world looks to in particular. … so in the tens it is above all Flemish Belgium. Architects like De Vylder Vinck Tailleu from Ghent combine brittle wit, constructive inventiveness and Belgian surrealism. The Rotor collective works with constructive recycling and is thus more sustainable than many an eco-label,” writes Maik Novotny in Der Standard.
Reason enough to organise our 2021 Architecture Lounge trip to Belgium and get to know this exciting architectural region on site. We started in Ghent, where we visited the Mies van der Rohe Award-winning Market Hall by Robbrecht & Daem and Marie-José van Hee, as well as the De Krook City Library by Pritzker Prize winners RCR Arquitectes and the Ballet Theatre C de la B by De Vylder Vinck Tailleu. The tour continued to Melle, where the architectural trio planned a cleverly thought-out conversion in the existing building instead of demolition with their vertical open space PC Caritas. They left much as it was and did without a complete renovation. The roof remained open, as did the windows and doors, so that inside and outside merge. The users in the context of youth psychiatry have the possibility to withdraw or to play in the rooms together.
Our trip to the European capital Brussels was also exciting, where we visited the collective Rotor, founded in 2005, in their Deconstruction Head Quarter with an exhibition space for recyclable materials, storage, reprocessing plants, etc. Rotor are pioneers in the field of urban construction. Rotor are pioneers in urban mining and circular society and address the use, nature and production relationships of materials in the built environment in architectural practice and research.
The Belgian architecture firm 51N4E, on the other hand, is intensively involved in the revitalisation of post-war modernist buildings and is currently working on the renovation of the WTC in Brussels’ North Quarter, which we visited together with the project manager.
The Canal Quarter and its banks are lined with numerous studios and other cultural institutions. Here, in a former Citroën building, the new museum Kanal Centre Pompidou and the CIVA Foundation will open by 2023/2024. The international competition was won by the joint entry of noAarchitecten, EM2N and Sergison Bates Architects. The Tour & Taxis urban development area is also located directly on the canal bank and is a former gigantic industrial site that has now been converted into event, gastronomy and commercial space. A meeting with Brussels Bouwmeester Kristiaan Borret and his lecture provided insights into the methods of building quality assurance in Belgium and Brussels. There are a total of three bouwmeesters in Belgium (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) who are also in dialogue with private building owners for good practice.
The proximity to art and fashion also characterises the architecture in the cultural metropolis of Antwerp. Highlights here included the MAS museum (Museum aan de Stroom) by Neutelings Riedijk Architects, the fashion museum MoMu (renovation by Marie-José Van Hee in the 2000s and 2021 by B-Architects) and the Palace of Justice by Richard Rogers, who architecturally formulates the claim to his court colossus as follows: “Monumentality on a human scale”.
Lisbon & Porto 2019
Three Pritzker Prize winners in four days. If you go to Lisbon and Porto, you can’t get past the grandmaster of Portuguese modernism, Álvaro Siza and his student Eduardo Souto de Moura. And on top of that there is the Brazilian prizewinner Paulo Mendes da Rocha…
Numerous earthquakes have left their mark on Lisbon’s cityscape, the worst of which occurred in 1755 and sealed the city’s economic decline. However, the city has shrunk massively in recent years; many people have moved into the surrounding countryside and cannot afford the apartments in the city centre, despite the better economic situation. The dilapidated housing stock in the old town is being successively renovated, but mainly for tourist purposes.
Lisbon, built on seven hills, lies directly at the mouth of the river Tejo. Improved access to water is right at the top of the urban planning agenda. South of the Alfama, the new terminal building for the cruise ship port was recently opened by architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça. The Praca do Comércio and the waterfront promenade were redesigned, and a cycle path leads directly to Belém. The carriage museum by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and the MAAT by Amanda Levete are also located there. We got an overview of the new urban development areas in the Centro de Informação Urbana de Lisboa, the visit to the architecture office of Aires Mateus, the Thaliatheater of Gonçalo Byrne and Barbas Lopes architects and the redesign of the Convento do Carmo by Álvaro Siza were among the highlights in Lisbon. A must at the end, the visit of the largest urban transformation in Lisbon, the Expo area of 1998, before the journey continued to Porto.
In Porto, we immersed ourselves in the architectural world of Álvaro Siza: his converted parental home in the Casa Roberto Ivens, the Quinta da Conceição Swimming Pool, the enchanting Boa Nova Teahouse, the Faculty of Architecture and the Carlos Ramos Pavilion, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves as well as his social housing programme SAAL, which he developed in the 1970s to offer the working class adequate accommodation. We were always accompanied by Eduardo Souto de Moura’s projects, such as the Casa das Artes, the Cantareira building or the Torre Burgo. In the course of the renovation of the main avenue Avenida dos Aliados, which he carried out together with Álvaro Siza in 2006, the two also designed the underground city railway stations of Porto.
The highlight at the end of the journey was the Casa da Música by Rem Koolhaas, OMA, in whose huge glass windows Porto itself becomes an exhibit.
Marseille & Lyon 2018
Marseille attracts with numerous new buildings, the Euroméditerranée urban development project and the cosmopolitan, rough charm of the Mediterranean. Marseille is considered the oldest, second largest and poorest city in France with massive economic problems and high (youth) unemployment. At the same time, the cultural wealth of the city is fascinating. Under the influence of the Capital of Culture year 2013, Norman Foster’s Vieux Port was redesigned and several new cultural buildings such as the MuCEM (Rudy Ricciotti), the Villa Méditerranée (Stefano Boeri), the FRAC (Kengo Kuma) and the expansion of La Friche Belle de Mai, which are now the city’s flagship projects, were built. These projects surround the large-scale Euroméditerranée urban renewal project, which, under Yves Lion’s plans, has been redeveloping large former port and inner-city areas for 25 years now to create new cultural, commercial and residential space, while at the same time attracting the most disadvantaged parts of the city.
In addition to the large urban development areas, Le Corbusier’s two projects were the special highlights of this trip: the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille and Sainte Marie de la Tourette in Lyon, the monastery that is considered one of the central buildings of Brutalism. Lyon, where the second part of our tour took us, also scored well with a new 150-hectare urban development area at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, which is being built in two phases (Master Plan 1: François Grether; Master Plan 2: Herzog & de Meuron) and with the participation of many prominent international architectural firms. Formerly characterised by a prison, port and industry, it will provide space for 25,000 jobs and 12,000 residents when completed. The Musée de Confluence by Coop Himmelb(l)au is also located here at the confluence of the two rivers.
An absolute must-see in Lyon is the Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine, built in the 1970s by Bernard Zehrfuss, which completely withdraws to the outside and disappears into the hill, but offers a unique spatial experience to the inside.
Milan & Turin 2017
Since the 1930s Milan, the largest city in northern Italy, has been a key arena for developments in national and international architecture. The 1950s to the 1970s were characterised by a distinct, local modern architecture in what is known as Milan-style. At the end of the 20th century the transformation process began for former industrial ruins, to create the pulsating new urban development zones that were on the itinerary of our Architecture Lounge excursion, which included Porta Nuova with the highly publicised Bosco Verticale by Stefano Boeri, the less well-known Portello District, or even the new fashion and culture mile in the Tortona District with the Fondazione Prada by Rem Koolhaas. A journey back in time was also scheduled, to modern architecture like the Pirelli Tower, Corso Italia or the Torre Velasca, as well as housing by Giuseppe Terragni and the undeservedly lesser known Luigi Caccia Dominioni
Particularly impressive in Turin were the projects by Pier Luigi Nervi, whose work is regarded as a crossover between architecture and civil engineering. Alongside the Torino Esposizioni complex, we were granted exclusive access to the Palazzo del Lavoro. Nervi’s ability to develop sensual and poetic spaces from the logic of the construction and his intense engagement with concrete as a raw material make his work exemplary to this day. Every visit to Turin has to follow the trail of Fiat, whether on the legendary Lingotto or in Parco Dora, where an industrial ruin is scheduled to become a skaters’ paradise. The largest current urban transformation began with the Olympic Games 2006: the hyper-modern station and several current sites under transformation along the Spina, as it is called.
The Architecture Lounge excursion for 2016 took us to Madrid. Architecture and the culture of building are in the DNA of this only about 500 year-old city. Every epoch since the founding of the capital by Philip II in 1561 has left its striking “interventions” in the urban structure of the city: the impressive historical buildings of Plaza Mayor, Plaza Santa An, Paseo del Prado and Granvía bear testimony to this. The architecture of today rests upon this rich foundation. On the agenda were, among other places, the Ensanche de Madrid, Madrid’s Northern expansion, San Chinarro as an example of the most recent urban expansion and, of course, the Parque Madrid Río, one of the most ambitious greening projects in Europe.
In 2015 the Architecture Lounge took us on an excursion to London, probably the most exciting architecture metropolis in the world. New neighbourhoods and skyscrapers growing skywards, a rich cultural past meets a lively, modern present — a city of contrasts. Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the LSE, London School of Economics and Political Science, provided an initial introductory overview of London. In addition, the following architects’ offices gave us insights into their working and architectural worlds: Allies and Morrison, Sergison Bates, as well as Foster + Partners. Tour destinations included projects such as: Saw Swee Hock Student Centre by the Irish office of O’Donnell + Tuomey, Bridport House by Karakusevic Carson Architects, Tate Britain by Caruso St John Architects, Southwark and the City of London, the Barbican Centre by Chamberlin, Powell + Bon, but also the Docklands, Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park. Members of the Architecture Lounge were given a guided tour with expertise provided by Ken Allinson, Architectural Dialogue, with insider tips from Victor Callister from the City of London Department of the Built Environment.
“The better Switzerland” is how Christian Seiler describes the Bregenzerwald. “Happy residents, flourishing crafts and first class architecture”. But also because Dietmar Steiner was partially responsible for the fact that seven world class architects have designed seven bus stations in Krumbach and so unexpectedly generated world-wide media interest in the region. Alongside the Wartehüsle (bus-stops), we pay a visit to the Islamic Cemetery by Bernado Bader, which has already been awarded several prizes, the Vorarlberg Museum completed in 2012 by Cukrowicz Nachbaur Architekten as well as the Life Cycle Tower by Hermann Kaufmann. Dietmar Eberle in person gives a guided tour of his 2226 office building, and in his carpentry workshop Markus Faisst teaches us respect for wood as a raw material. We use the return journey to also visit, among other projects, the Mehr als Wohnen housing project in Zurich North. The latter having been initiated to mark 100 years of municipal housing policy in the City of Zurich and the Zurich Wohnbaugenossenschaften.
Helsinki & Talinn 2013
The buildings of Alvar Aalto accompanied us on every step of our Architecture Lounge excursion to Helsinki in 2013: the Enso-Gutzeit Building, Otaniemi Campus, Paimio Sanatorium as well as Aalto House and Studio. Alongside these, we visited the new urban development zones close to the city, such as Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama, as well as Vuosaari and Viikki in the east, the area that is helping the city to grow into a metropolis with new urban flair. Chief architect Mikko Aho from the Helsinki planning authorities shed light on the growth process as well as the Wood City project in West Harbour. A day trip to Tallinn brought us closer to the Soviet Modernist heritage: Linnahall Cultural Center, the Culture Factory, the Olympic Sailing Centre in Pirita, Flower Pavilion and Song Festival Stage as well as the satelllite towns of Mustamäe and Väike-Õismäe.
The new urban development projects in Copenhagen (Ørestad, Nordhavn and Sydhavn) and Malmö (Westhavn) were on the agenda for the ARCHITECTURE LOUNGE 2012 excursion. Visits to the architecture offices of Henning Larsen Architects and BIG Architects as well as the lecture by the urbanist Tina Saaby revealed current trends in the pulsating city of Copenhagen. A stroll in the Copenhagen inner-city districts with site-seeing at a number of buildings by key proponents of early modern Danish architecture allowed participants to view more recent architecture informed by the background specific to 20th century Danish architecture history: formal reduction, allusions to traditional craftsmanship, sensitivity towards materials and light, architecture as a player in the Scandanavian state welfare model. The highpoint of the day’s excursion to North Zealand were the buildings by Jørn Utzon and, of course, by Arne Jacobsen.
In 2011 the Architecture Lounge travelled to Basel, where a tight schedule took in current urban development projects from Pro Volta to the harbour development in the north of Basel. The highpoint of the trip was a visit to the office of Herzog & de Meuron, with a very personal one-hour project presentation by Jacques Herzog, but also the tour of the Novartis Campus with Vittorio Lampugnani.
In 2010 the Architecture Lounge excursion took us to Moscow, where local expert Sergey Nikitin acquainted us with the rich diversity and contrast of his hometown: Moscow Constructivism (Melnikov, Ginzburg, Le Corbusier et al.), the district of OSTOZHENKA, where almost every contemporary Russian architect has already completed a project and where the most expensive apartment building in Moscow, built by the architects Project Meganom, is situated, MARYINO, the most densely populated district in Moscow with Soviet Union-style social housing, or SOKOL, the 1920s garden city. Visits to a range of architects’ offices were, of course, also on the agenda, including Project Meganom and Mossine & Partners, but also to the Moscow must-sees like the Kremlin, the Tretjakov Gallery or the Winzavod — Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art.
The highpoints of the Architecture Lounge trip to Beijing in September 2009 were the Olympic Village with the National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron, the visit by the developers Modern Group and their two housing projects by Baumschlager & Eberle, and to Linked Hybrid by Steven Holl as well as the model homes at the Commune by the Great Wall by developers Soho, Caochangdi Village by Ai Weiwei and an invitation to visit Pei Zhu’s studio.
As the result of strong internal migration, Istanbul has grown into a metropolis with a population of almost 17 million (figures range between 12 and 17 million) since the 1970s. The city is continuing to grow very spontaneously, provisionally and informally despite a series of master plans designed to control urban development. The rebuilding follows the pattern of European cities, with a typical tendency towards increasing social polarisation and spatial segregation. The social and economic historian Orhan Esen showed the historical development of the city very clearly during the 2008 Architecture Lounge excursion from Yesilköy via the Dolapdere and Kagithane valleys up to Göktürk in the north.
Manchester & Liverpool 2007
The urban development zones of Manchester & Liverpool were on the travel agenda in 2007. The line-up ranged from the Civil Justice Centre by Denton Corker Marshall and Connell Mott MacDonald to British developer Urban Splash’s innovative housing projects, and evening drinks in Manchester’s new landmark, the Beetham Tower by Ian Simpson.
The main attractions of the architecture excursion to Chicago in 2006 included a trip to the offices of SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP), a personal invitation from Donald Powell of Powell/Kleinschmidt to his home in the Lake Shore Drive Apartment High-Rise Building by Mies van der Rohe, the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Hyatt Center, where we met Martha Thorne, Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize. Equally unforgettable was the architecture River Cruise tour along the Chicago River in blazing sunshine.
Highlights of the tour to Barcelona in 2005 were without doubt the Sport Complex of Ribera Serrallo de Cornella de Llobregat by Alvaro Siza, the project for the expansion of the trade fair by Toyo Ito, the Torre Agbar by Jean Nouvel, or the apartment building by Benedetta Tagliabue.