Thursday, May 24, 2007

bologna, i portici di san luca

*in the map at top, shading indicates the historic city center and red represents extant porticoes. The map below scales this information to include I Portici di San Luca. The church stands in the lower left (southwest) corner of the image, shaded in gray. Also shaded in gray are the soccer stadium and Bologna's major cemetery, the Certosa, which connect to a portico spur constructed under Mussolini.
Bologna’s porticos, like the ones pictured in the large photograph above, are the products of late-medieval municipal codes and interpretative compliance. The passageways are nearly continuous within the city walls, creating a communal space that is the sum total of individual contributions. Such porticos are a common enough phenomenon around the world, though rarely have I seen them executed with such continuity and creativity. What makes the phenomenon even more interesting is its 3.5 kilometer extension outside of the city fabric to the ancient shrine of S. Luca.

The image on the far left shows the portico’s mouth, just outside one of Bologna’s old city gates and what was once a peripheral canal. This portico—unlike those inside the city gate—was designed by a single architect. Only later did buildings grow onto it, plugging into its archways and matching their facades to its rhythm. The buildings and their portico host continue for awhile until, at a dramatic, curvilinear Baroque gateway (second image from the left), the passageway crosses the road and heads uphill, the road branching to run at its side. The road allows the portico to retain its characteristic one-sidedness. If the road passes through, as it does in the center image, then the portico simply reverses itself to accommodate the change. Landings and open-air chapels punctuate the walk’s meditative monotony until finally, after a damned healthy hike, the portico ramps up to a pavilion and doubles back to meet the entrance of S. Luca. The two images to the far right show the final rise and the view back over the city.

John Habraken says it best: "the same form, during successive centuries, passed under sequential control of different kinds of agents pursuing different objectives. Beginning in the collective imagination of inhabitants, it passed into the realm of bureaucratic regulation of an urban fabric, ultimately ending in a symbolic gesture professionally executed by a prestigious architect. The development took centuries to unfold. Thus the common gives rise to architecture."

*map at top scanned from Leonardo Benevolo's History of the City

Monday, May 21, 2007

milan, duomo

I wrote my undergraduate thesis about the Milan Cathedral’s developmental relationship with its host city and the investigation sparked my interest in urban projects. The cathedral also shares a piazza with the perhaps more germane Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II and, although one must buy a 4 euro ticket and ascend a few hundred steps to get to it, the cathedral’s broad roof, bounded by a filigree of spires and stonework, presents an intensely communal platform as bright as its vaulted hall is dark.

milan, rho fiero

The swooping glazed roof that carpets Massimiliano Fuksas’ exhibition corridor harmonizes the various building types deployed along its length while a raised walkway creates a continuous circulatory datum by which typological form and building access can be modulated. The building types contain program, the walkway coordinates their use, and the roof characterizes the communal space. Despite the project’s eccentric appearance, Fuksas restrains each element’s variation in order to evoke more deeply coherent compositional relationships among building types, walkway connections, and roofscape behavior. Immense exhibition halls lining the corridor define the project’s dimensional parameters.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

milan, galleria vittorio emmanuele II

The galleria connects the cathedral’s piazza to that of the opera house. It cuts a channel into the block’s mass, monumentalizes the newly exposed material, and glazes the operation’s abscess. Despite my weak anatomic metaphor (I'll work on it) the galleria is incredibly— monumentally –grand; on par with New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The singularity of its internal atmosphere becomes all the more apparent when one gazes down at it from atop the cathedral and notes the dispersion of its pedestrian-vantage coherence. Spines, antannea and a hodgepodge of parapets lend the passage’s external ironwork the air of a half-buried Buck Rogers spaceship.

florence, vasari corridor

Giorgio Vasari designed this corridor for Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1565 as a literal power trip: its purpose was to provide private passage for the Grand Duke and his family between the Pitti Palace to the south and the Palazzo Vecchio to the north. The product of voyeuristic autocracy and a symptom of popular political unease, the corridor strolls through the city center like a flamboyant chameleon on stilts. It is in turn monumentally expressed and dutifully repressed. The private hallway and its supporting apparatus reorganizes the city in some instances and conforms to contemporary conditions in others. It crashes out of the Palazzo Vecchio and allows the Uffizi breathing room before creating an outdoor enfilade along the Arno, pacing the Ponte Vecchio, sidling around Mannelli Tower, leaping across Via de’ Bardi, lending Santa Felicita a pious hand, and finally sliding into Palazzo Pitti’s flank via the Grotta del Buontelenti.

The first image on the left highlights the passage as it sky-bridges from the Palazzo Vecchio to the Uffizi, which Vasari also designed for the Medici family. The relationship between the Corridor and the Uffizi is curiously ambiguous, internally interlocked but externally offset. As you can see in the image, the Corridor attaches just behind the building’s articulated mass rather than incorporating into it.

The Corridor leaves the Uffizi in the next image to the right. The discernible connection is again absent but this time the gallery turns grandly autonomous as it crosses to the bank of the Arno and marches to the Ponte Vecchio. As it extends the length of the bridge, it paces the shops’ dimensions and uses their barnacle-like conglomeration to cement its connection to the older stone bridge below. At mid-span, the corridor’s pillars frame a view of over the Arno. Without this break in the line of storefronts, it would be difficult for a pedestrian to realize he wasn’t on solid ground. The corridor did not instill this capacity—shops have inhabited the Ponte Vecchio since the medieval era—but it did distinctly change its timbre. On account of foul transit odors, Cosimo I relocated the contemporary meat market (sited for waste disposal convenience) in exchange for the goldsmith shops that occupy the bridge today.

Not all of Cosimo’s edicts were so successful, however. The Mannelli family successfully opposed his call for their tower’s demolition and the next image, second from the right, shows Vasari’s resultant evasive maneuver. Here he cantilevers the corridor out on sporti, wooden struts anchored into stone corbels. This tectonic strategy had been typical in medieval Florence when towers such as the Mannelli’s provided protective cores that could blossom and even interconnect into fortress-like enclaves of related clans.

The corridor next arches across Via de’ Bardi with a Ponte Vecchio-like span (far right of the image second from right). Soon after alighting across the street, the Vasari Corridor passes before a church (image to far right) and disappears into a building development. With only the slightest tidying tweaks of its tectonic language (pietra serena column capitals and sail vaulting), the corridor presents itself as an ecclesiastic loggia. Above the public space thus created, the corridor punctures the façade to deposit a personal balcony over and behind the other participants’ heads. The Medici could thus observe any religious observances without being observed themselves.

*map at top scanned from Leonardo Benevolo's History of the City


Venice is rife with infrastructure and Venetians have about as many names for streets, plazas, and waterways as Eskimos have for snow. The variation is almost infinite, but the parameters seem exceptionally clear if one adheres to the typical tourist itinerary. Piazza San Marco is the best example. It essentializes Venice’s textural charm in spacious volume and monumental ornament. In many ways, the piazza is a singular infrastructural event--like the Arsenale, the train station, the Rialto, or the Grand Canal. However, unlike these other examples, Piazza San Marco organizes the city through emulation. Formally and organizationally, its components set the prototype by which the city’s political and social nodes develop.

The particularly Venetian concept of architectural emulation is visible within the piazza itself. In the plan of Piazza San Marco to the far left, the piazza proper opens to the cathedral’s face while the Palazzo Ducale courtyard (lower right on the plan) addresses the cathedral’s flank. The white chapel visible in the second image from the left compensates for orientation and scale. Neither space is a copy of the other but their similitude proclaims social and political affinity.

The easiest example of emulation outside of the piazza are the city’s bell towers, mostly derived as diminutions of San Marco’s brick behemoth. Several of these are visible in the second image from the top. More fundamental are the various social, economic, religious, and political institutions dotting the city. The Palazzo Ducale-- Venice’s governmental seat—acts as a touchstone for a particular network of social institutions, scuole, that played an essential role in maintaining the republic’s harmonic social stability. The scuole—part social club, part local government, part artistic patron, and part charitable organization—emulate the Palazzo Ducale’s administrative and architectural format.

The format is as rhetorical as it is structural and organizational. The Ducal Palace uses its striking white and pink façade—which only covers its two most visible sides—to promote a misleading external image. What appears as a massive, ornamented block from the piazza turns out to be a series of linear spaces bounding a substantial courtyard. Furthermore, this string of spaces is not continuous but made up of disparate wings erected in a series of campaigns. The wrapper façade deftly obviates the differences on the exterior. The second image from the right shows the space between two of the blocks. The facade’s characteristic stone lacework is visible against the sunlight streaming in.

The image to the far right shows one of my favorite scuole, that of S. Giovanni Evangelista. The scuola is highlighted in the map at top. While not a copy of the Palazzo Ducale, its architects use similar compositional, screening, and masking techniques to knit processional spatial sequences into grand organic coherence, with overt references to the Ducale’s grand meeting rooms and ceremonial stairways contained within.

*the map at top was scanned from Leonardo Benevolo's The History of the City and the view of San Marco below it was scanned from an on-site postcard

rijeka, city nucleus

Rijeka was a bit of a disappointment after the glories of Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik but seeing it did help flesh out a few regional urban trends. In the left image is the “Stara Vrata” or Roman Gate. It served as the entryway to the original Roman outpost. Although I hunted it down imagining its potential pedigree parallels with Split, the gateway turned out to be no more than a weary band of stones taped together with concrete and strung across a neglected alleyway. Earthquakes and the need for rapid modernization have all but demolished Rijeka’s earlier iterations.

Just down the hill from the Stara Vrata is the site of the medieval gateway. The archway I’ve highlighted at center was installed in 1873 after a 1750 earthquake destroyed the original. The medieval version opened directly to the sea. As was the case with Split, the reclaimed strip is now the city’s primary pedestrian promenade. Apparently the Korzo hosts a pretty intense carnival earlier in the year. When I took this photograph, the only street entertainment was two Latin Americans dressed up as Indians and playing wooden flutes to heavy electronic accompaniment. I think I have seen these people in every city I’ve been to so far. Usually they either pipe Unchained Melody or some Paul Simon tune, but today I got treated to Last of the Mohicans, a personal favorite. With dramatic kneeling, a few flourishes, and a little rain dance they gather a crowd every time. The shopping center to the left of the gateway is a type I’ve seen repeated along the Korzo. Eschewing window-shopping potential to meet the street like an inert cinema, the interior is crammed with shop stalls of various sizes. It was an odd, claustrophobic experience to slalom escalators to the top although I would have felt completely comfortable doing the same in India.

Finally, the right image highlights the city’s medieval citadel. Neither Split nor Dubrovnik sought such high-ground protection but Hvar and several other Croatian cities I’ve passed through sport similar bastions. Due to the terrain they still stand aloof and will probably never be absorbed by their hosts like their Roman predecessors--and, to a lesser degree, their Renaissance progen--have been.

dubrovnik, city nucleus

Dubrovnik’s old nucleus nestles with ostensible security in its medieval walls. The historic core sustained extensive damage from warfare in the 90’s but has since been immaculately rebuilt. Despite slightly more breathing room than Split, most paving stones are still claimed by cafes and restaurants. In the midday heat, gobs of tourists following flag-toting commanders gobble up the rest.

In the left image, the city wall frames a few of its ward. Such a view was a rare find. The vast extent of the wall seemed massively intact, to be walked on rather than in. The wall was more container and vantage than spatial organizer. Buildings did abut the wall but only in a few cases did they absorb it, using the top of the wall as a terrace or breaking through to claim the rocky cliff face at its base. The wall may not have been as complex as I had hoped but it was still an incredible experience to circumnavigate the old city on high.

I took the photograph at right from the wall’s highest point; a watchtower at the northern corner. The wall marches toward the sea, widening to overlook the city’s main landside entrance, doglegging around a monastic cloister in the distance, and re-ascending to veil the city atop its sea-facing cliffs. The old city strikes a remarkably valley-like posture to be so close to the sea. The landside entrance—located in the middle-ground of the wall pictured here—is directly on axis and nearly level with the seaside entrance off-camera to the left.

hvar, the beach

I’m not going to apologize. A man has to take a vacation from his vacation sometimes, you know?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

split, diocletian's palace

*the roughly composited images above give a sense of the palace's development. The image to the left superimposes red (extant structure) over black (original structure). The image to the right superimposes black (original structure) over red (current structure).

Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus constructed his palace on the Adriatic Sea between 293 and 305 AD, in time for his planned abdication from the imperial throne. He chose the site under several considerations. The first was his political reform, the empire’s East-West division under a tetrarchical political format. [1] Spalatum, in the very center of the eastern coast of the Adriatic, had always been a natural boundary between West and East and from this vantage the Emperor would be able, even after his abdication, to follow the development of his political innovations. The second was a desire for proximity to Salonae, his birthplace. The site’s natural conditions were highly favorable. The deep south-facing inlet was sheltered form the north by the Dinaric mountains and from the south by central Dalmatia’s off-shore islands. Nearby were excellent limestone quarries. Finally, the sulphur springs, almost within the Palace itself, were famous for their medicinal properties and still manage to make the southwest corner reek of rotten eggs.

Split has been an odd jumble of domestic, military, religious, and urban design from its imperial inception. Initially, it served not only as a retirement home to the abdicated Diocletian but also as a temple to his deity status, cared for and protected by the provided urban population. The complex’s typological ambiguities have played out across the centuries.

After Diocletian’s death, the palace passed through successive imperial hands largely intact. In the 7th century, the palace’s transformation to its present state began when the Avars and Slavs destroyed Salonae, compelling a considerable faction of the city’s surviving citizens to take refuge within the palace walls. This wave of inhabitation provided the kernel for a new city—Split—which grew through adaptation and alteration as well as through outgrowths and satellite constructions.

The Venetian Republic engulfed Split from 1420 until the republic’s abolition in 1797, building trade facilities and intensifying fortifications. From Venice, Split passed to Austria and then, from 1806 to 1813, to Napoleon. The French altered the interior, demolished much of the Venetian city wall, and regularized the embankment and park system. The fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy bequeathed Split to what became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and, finally, Split was linked with the continental European centers by railway in 1925, hastening its belated modernization.

This is the very railway I arrived on and, for the past few days, I have been exploring the palace, which is currently under Croatian control. I followed up a string of festivals by rolling in during Sudamja, the feast of St. Dominius. Ceremonies began in Diocletian’s mausoleum, the core of his emperor cult which was later re-named for the city’s patron saint and elevated to cathedral status.[2]

The Feast of St. Domnius, held each year on May 7, remains Split’s grandest celebration day and is comprised of mass, a procession, a feast, a grand game of bingo, and fireworks. The procession begins in the peristyle pictured at center and exits the palace through the eastern gate along the decumanus that divided the palace in twain. Originally, the southern half belonged to the imperial suites and cult and the northern half to servants and a defensive garrison. During the medieval era this same road facilitated urban growth beyond the western wall’s protective boundary. Perhaps for this reason the eastern stretch of road remains wider and its gate left bare, the better to process through. The proud citizenry then rounds the wall south and strides west along the waterfront. With too expansive a population to squeeze within the palace’s modest confines, mass and most festivities now take place by the sea.

The image to the right shows Split’s southern, sea-facing wall from along the recently revamped Riva, or promenade. I’ve highlighted the visible remnants of the original palace wall and, in the distance, the reconstructed medieval bell tower that marks the city center.

In the image to the left, a gentleman enjoys a smoke from the scant remnant of an original northern aperture. The northern and eastern walls remain more clean-shaven than their southern counterpart, while the western wall is all but engulfed by the city’s early outgrowths.

The center image shows the city’s central outdoor space, the Peristyle, as people gather for early morning ceremonies. The belltower and cathedral stand just to the left and what were once Diocletian’s apartments lie beyond the prothyron straight ahead.[3] I've logged this entry from the image’s right side. The cafe that took over the ground floor of the Renaissance palace that took over the side of Diocletian's arcade just happened to have wireless access. Originally, the Peristyle gave access to the imperial apartments, the mausoleum, and the temples. It also brought order to the complex relationship of varied levels and provided a transmissive link between north and south.

In its coordinating role, the Peristyle acts as an urban manifold. Like Grand Central Terminal, it appears as an elegantly articulated void placed upon a carefully coordinated, sectionally significant groundplane. As in other examples, we see here the primacy of the floorplane and the spatial utility of the screen. The space feels regular and symmetrical without actually being so. The steps, flanking arcades, grand façade smoothly synthesize the various ground levels. The space is an odd, uncanny inversion of interior and exterior, akin to the intimate enclosure of Barcelona’s Plaça Reial but reserving the hierarchical disposition of Paris’ Place des Vosges. The central ceremonial space serves as a cognitive constant to coordinate and relate the surrounding site’s varied spatial experiences.

Split supports special scrutiny for several reasons. First, compared to Venice’s impacted opacity or Tokyo’s hyper-commercialized cacophony, Split’s chronological coherence seems sufficiently digestible as to occasionally appear downright diagrammatic.[4] Second, Split walks an absurd line between domestic design and city planning.[5] The “urban design” I am pursuing with this fellowship falls somewhere between these two extremes.

Simultaneously, Split also renders an effective critique of such a golden mean. Like many of the urban phenomena I have observed thus far, Split’s contemporary democratic appeal actually originates in an initial authoritarian imposition. In this case, a town was founded to sustain and worship a single man. The relationship between shared space and its political underwriting is not always a comfortable one. Finally, the city is sobering in its operative obsolescence. Dwarfed by the metropolis it figureheads, the palace now reserves only symbolic and touristic roles within the larger urban milieu.[6] Even at the core, the old city’s busiest sectors are relegated outside its walls--a market to the east, a promenade to the south, and pedestrian arteries to the west. Most of the palace’s open space has been rationed to café’s and bars—not necessarily a negative, but requiring commitment to a chair and some Kuna (Croatia’s national currency) for inhabitation.

[1] The tetrarchy established two Emperors who would in their own lifetime withdraw from the throne to be replaced by two vice-emperors. Diocletian re-located to Split in 305 AD after abdicating from the throne in Nicomedia, from where he had continued to rule the eastern part of the empire after its division.

[2] St. Dominius was martyred under Diocletian’s Christian persecution. Hence, Split’s cathedral registers the paradigmatic power shift from persecutor to persecuted at the close of the Roman Empire.

[3] The prothyron’s entablature rises above an arch between central columns. In antique architecture a prothyrum marked the transition from the outside to the inner door of a house.

[4] It is also well documented, having been drawn and measured by notable architects and authors since Palladio. These include Fischer von Erlach in the 18th century, Robert Adam and Charles Clerisseau in 1757, C.F. Cassas in 1780 (published in a 1802 book by J. Lavallee), Georg Niemann in 1910, Ernst Hebrard and Jacques Zeiller 1912, Msgr. Frane Bulic and Ljubo Karaman in 1927, and Cvito Fiskovic and Tomislav Marasovic in recent decades.

[5] In terms of urban development, Split’s disposition invites comparison with other towns of Roman origin such as Florence. The initial logic is similar—the castrum plan with cardo and decumanus—but Split is smaller and, with the palace’s exterior walls left extant, more hermetic. Florence’s division of political and religious centers is inverted in Split. While Florence’s cathedral was established outside the original Roman settlement and the Palazzo Vecchio built within it, Split reused the Roman religious center (originally also the political center) and then developed its own political center outside, to the west.

[6] In Recombinant Urbanism, David Graham Shane charges that, “European cities have intervened to recondition and rehabilitate their central squares as new public life-worlds, living rooms where individuals can be made comfortable. Previously, individuals had been merged into the mass for formal political demonstrations or protest rallies, military or state-controlled parades in the Cine Citta; now they are herded together to enjoy the spectacular repackaging of their cultural heritage as historically themed places where they can (ultimately) spend money.” (Shane 194)

*composited structural plan and developmental sequence images scanned from J. Marasović's Diocletian's Palace and photographed from on-site signage

Saturday, May 5, 2007

vienna, looshaus

Not quite on-topic, but today I saw the Goldman and Salatsch building by Adolf Loos, pictured on the right facing the imperial palace. Its austerity in 1909 was downright controversial. Looking at the building's neighbors one can see why...and at the same time one can see how cleverly Loos toned down the surrounding ostentation. The thickly veined marble that makes up the lower facing has since been applied ad nauseum throughout the city. The plain, punched fenestration for the floors above has been applied ad nauseum throughout the world. The crowds, tents, and stage in the plaza are for Vienna's StadtFest. Significantly more demure than Amsterdam's Queens Day, it was nonetheless a lively smattering of concerts, foodstands, and performances.

vienna, museumsquartier

The Museum Moderner Kunst (right) shares a sheltered plaza with the Leopold Museum (left). Enclosed in their courtyard, neither building enjoys the urban command of Stuttgart's Kunstmuseum. However, their urban design strategies are remarkably similar. All three announce themselves as hermetic prisms while extending programmatically under the public domain. This can be seen in the giftshop/cafe-cum-public stairs attached to both volumes. Upon ascending these stairs one reaches more intimate spaces (that of the Museum Moderner Kunst is pictured at center) before vaulting up through an older building's roof to a series of artist-in-residence studios. In Stuttgart the significant grade change was an obvious topographic factor. In the Museum Quarter, surrounding buildings shield the city's natural slope. The vaulting stair absurdly puncturing the center image's red roof actually reconnects with the next street at grade.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

rotterdam, kunsthal

In Rotterdam I visited another OMA project, the Kunthal. Its stretched stair corridor (pictured on the right) caught my attention from a few hundred yards away. What makes it pertinent to my study is the way in which the ramp in the center image cuts straight through the building; very similar to the Staatsgalerie passage in Stuttgart. Another road cuts perpendicularly under the top of the ramp, while the auditorium in the image on the left ramps in the opposite direction, crossing at the entrance. Not related to my fellowship but also interesting is anther similarity to the Staatsgalerie: both designs take remarkably Mannerist stances, riffing with glee on established architectural canons. Le Corbusier is omnipresent in both. For the Staatsgalerie the architect's other source is primarily Italianate Renaissance. For the Kunsthal, Mies van der Rohe is a point of departure to which Koolhaas returns repeatedly; jazzing, ramping, and revamping.

the hague, souterrain

A view of OMA's tram tunnel in The Hague. To reach the platform from the surface one must first descend (rather dramatically) through two levels of parking. With rambunctious sectional play and compositionally savvy materials, the souterrain is one of the most experiential underground experiences I've experienced (and, as a world traveler, that's talking from experience).

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

expense list, page 7

amsterdam, queens day

Sometimes you get lucky. Ever since I looked at European cities during the last world cup I have been intrigued by cities' potential to activate themselves; to turn on and pull the stops out in celebration. But it's a difficult thing to time one's travels to the international festival calender. So I gave myself a little grin when I happened to stumble into Amsterdam's biggest celebration of the year. Really, I didn't mean to, I swear. I came to look at the canals....I just didn't realize that they would be choked with d.j.'ed party barges lobbing techno beats at one other. The left and middle images try to do justice to the phenomenon. The left image is also interesting because the hubbub behind the party-goers is actually for a post-WWII independence celebration later on in the week. I watched military boats tug in a series of floating bridge sections to establish an amphitheater on the canal. The yellow crane in the background has comandeered a bridge to coordinate a substantial stage raising. The right image depicts the street situation around the city center. Amsterdam streets are fairly wide but judiciously portioned into pedestrian, bicycle, automobile, and tram lanes. In festival mode the pedestrian mass swells to absorb the entire cross-section. And anyone can set up a stall (almost) wherever he wants to sell (damn near) whatever he pleases. Hence, the city erupts into a collective garage sale punctuated by dance venues and canals of carousers. The Netherlands' flag is red white and blue--you can see it flying in the middle image--but everybody gets a liberal self-dousing in orange to honor the Queen Mother, a member of the House of Orange.

essen, zeche zollverein

Zollverein School of Management and Design by SANAA is the first new building to be built on Zollverein's grounds. Three cores coordinate open floor plans of varying heights that are in turn wrapped by a facade of graphically graded fenestration.

essen, zeche zollverein

Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), which authored the site's masterplan, instlled a visitor center in the former coal washing plant opposite the main gate. The image to the left shows the plant and its iconic hoisting rig from the so-called "court of honor." The image at center shows the five-story escalator corridor that (quite harmoniously) plugs into the plant and carries visitors to the reception desk. I took the image to the right looking down the lit railing of an orange stair inhabiting the cavernous space between museum shop / cafe and exhibition space.

essen, zeche zollverein

Foster + Associates installed the Red Dot Design Museum, Zeche Zollverein's first new tenant, in the former boiler house. Cogently cognizant of the original construction, the architects string catwalks and displays both vertically and horizontally. The museum recognizes state-of-the-art industrial, furniture, and product design.

essen, zeche zollverein

Vast defunct coal-mining complexes litter the Ruhr regional landscape. One of the most substantial is Zeche Zollverein, the 2001 recipient of a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation and a flagship for industrial re-use strategies. These images show the former coke processing plant, largely unsanitized but for a small out-building to one end. The plant is a mammoth exemplar of muscular machine aesthetic and calibrated volumetric drama. The image to the right, taken from the out-building cafe, peers out down a thin pond between widely spaced rails; these are the tracks along which the indecipherable apparatus in the center image used to trundle. In the winter, the pond serves as an ice-skating rink. The image to the left returns to the steel-frame-and-brick-infill model that marks most of the rest of the Zeche Zollverein complex, replete with absurd proportions and diagonal connection corridors perched upon spindly canted struts.

düsseldorf, hafen

In Germany's Ruhr Valley I have focused on designer-intensive attempts to tranform former industrial zones into cultural lodestones. One type of urban structure under treatment is the "hafen", or port. This example, photographed from the massive TV tower that every German city seems to sport, is newly completed (see the 1997 Gehry project blooming in the foreground) and other efforts in Hamburg and Duisburg are gradually reaching fruition. Harboring offices, apartments, galleries, and chic spots-to-be, the new hafen ushers the (upscale) city back to its original lifeblood.