PS at Sheffield Beasts – The Arts Tower and Ontological Security

Without a doubt, Sheffield’s Arts Tower main attraction is the paternoster elevator. The longest paternoster still in service as mentioned here  It was a fascinating experience and I truly understand Tatjana Schneider’s  interest in it and the passion to write a whole book about the Arts Tower starting from this initial fascination (Schneider, T. (2008). This building should have some sort of distinctive shape. The story of the Arts Tower in Sheffield. Sheffield: PAR.).

Again I will not write anything very scientific or about some research that I did about the paternoster. I will write about my first impression of this experience and the way I experienced passing from floor to floor – like passing through successive dioramas. It challenged my ontological security. Continue reading

The Sheffield Beasts – The Arts Tower (Faces of the Arts Tower)

The Sheffield Beasts – The Arts Tower

The ivory tower. The architect’s perfect ivory tower if there ever was one physically built. This is the Arts Tower where the Sheffield School of Architecture occupies the last floors. It is the second tallest tower in Sheffield and from its height the architects watch down upon their domain, looking at where to build yet another spectacular object. “We look down at the city below and, at this distance, command it as an abstraction. The voices of people are lost; we just observe their functions. Buildings are reduced to form, roads to flows of traffic. Noises are measured, not listened to. Shapes are classified by type, not sensuously enjoyed. (…) And from below, the city looks back and sees us as remote figures of authority.” (Jeremy Till, Architecture Depends, pag.9) In fact, it’s not quite the case, Sheffield School of Architecture is one of the most socially conscious schools of architecture that I know about. Still, their building is a perfect example of isolation of the profession. Continue reading

The Sheffield Beasts – Park Hill Residence

There was a general belief in my school that pure modernism did not have an impact in the United Kingdom. My direct experience of the UK didn’t change substantially this perception. What did change is the fact that I now see that in spite of the relatively few examples of pure modernist residential buildings, the effort to impose modernism was higher than in continental Europe. After the 2nd World War, it was British architects which revived and tried to sustain CIAM (Congress International d’Architecture Moderne), especially through the MARS group. Soon after, the vanguard Alison and Peter Smithson alongside Aldo van Eyck, Giancarlo de Carlo and others, criticized modern architecture, but let’s not get so far ahead. I won’t jump to any easy conclusions regarding the reason for which in spite of the effort of a good number of British architects to impose modernism, there were relatively few examples of residential buildings inspired by this current. I think that the issue is extremly complex. Still, this is a reason in itslef to admire these few buildings: the rare monsters, currently endangered monsters.

Today: Park Hill Residence Continue reading

The Sheffield Beasts – Royal Hallamshire Hospital

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital is a slightly different beast. It is taller, but still as massive as they get. When looked upon from the Arts Tower (another beast to be described later) or from Crookes Valley Road, over Crooks Valley Park, it appears as a beast in its full splendour. When approaching it it starts to be less impressive as a mass, but still quite imposing as the pictures from the nearby streets show it.

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital was built in the 1970s, and, as wikipedia writes, it has been inaugurated by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. We all know his take on architecture so I guess it was an awful day for him to release this beast into the wild jungle of Sheffield Built Environment.

It is an impressive grey block of concrete, like a toy block for giant children. It is imposing in the environment made mainly out of 1 or 2 story housing. Continue reading

The Sheffield Beasts (Bestiarul Arhitectural al Sheffield-ului)

During the last 5 months I have been privileged to be a visiting researcher at the Sheffield School of Architecture. I will not talk here about the Sheffield School of Architecture, its differences from the Cluj Napoca School of architecture or from ENSACF (although I might at some future moment). I propose a 4 part photo journal in the town of Sheffield. I will not elaborate a theory regarding these buildings, but I will try to explain the name of the post. It is the first word that came in my mind when I saw these structures.

I admit I didn’t know much about Sheffield when I came here apart from the School of Architecture, Sheffield steel, and Sheffield Wednesday football club. So, the first thing I did was to explore this new territory. I was strolling innocently through the city center when suddenly there it was Continue reading

Și câștigătorul este …

Romulus Zamfir. Iar concursul este cel pentru ocuparea funcției de decan în cadrul Facultății de Arhitectură de la Cluj-Napoca. Poziția de decan al unei școli de arhitectură este una foarte importantă, poate mai importantă decât aceea de a fi decan la o altă facultate. Să ne gândim la Rem Koolhaas (Harvard și mai nou Strelka), Mohsen Mostafavi (AA, Harvard), Eric Owen Moss (SciARC) etc. Rolul decanilor în aceste cazuri nu a fost cel de a administra o școală, ci de a crea o identitate a acesteia, de a transmite un suflu unitar, pornind de la propria lor viziune asupra arhitecturii. De ce este acest lucru important? Pentru că arhitectura rămâne încă unul dintre puținele domenii care nu se bucură de o definiție unitară, prin urmare nu se poate bucura nici de o autonomie a domeniului. Prinși între inginerie, științe sociale, filozofie, design urban, meșteșug, arhitectura e definită de cel care o practică, iar, în cazul școlilor de arhitectură, este definită de cele mai multe ori de decan. În cazul în care acesta nu dă o direcție școlii, fiecare profesor și student își urmează propria direcție, iar, de cele mai multe ori, aceste direcții intră în conflict.

Dar să revenim la noul decan al școlii de arhitectură de la Cluj-Napoca. Continue reading

And the Pritzker goes to …

Wang Shu

I want to say only two things about this year’s Pritzker laureate:

1. the fact that Wang Shu won the 2012 Pritzker Prize tends to confirm the alternative practices in Chinese archtiecture. Glossy architecture magazines made us believe that Chinese architecture (or, better said, architecture that is built nowadays in Chine) is parametric, commercial, steel and glass, done by starchitects, iconic etc. I saw these alternative practices at the 2010 Venice Biennale at the New CHinese Archtiectural Practices Exhibition. Lots of projects with local roots (and I’m not talking only about traditions), great sensibility to the site, socially involved, are emerging all over China, but are not as flashy and magazine material as the others.

2. As SOuto Moura before him, Wang Shu represents a very classic architectural practice> function, site, local image. Not saying that this is wrong!!! I just want to say that giving Wang Shu the prize is another way of trying to affirm the autonomy of architecture as a domain … isolated, elitist and a little autistical

Despre fotografie si participare

Opera de arta este de cele mai multe ori subiectul unui mesaj unidirectional de la artist catre receptor. Eventualele deturnari ale sensului se petrec mai tarziu sau in timp. Dar cum ar fi ca opera de arta sa se nasca din dialog si negociere intre receptor si artist? Ar depasi fara indoiala ideea de estetica relationala (asa cum o vedea Nicolas Bourriaud), care pana la urma ia nastere din contextul relatiilor sociale existente intr-un loc, fiind mai degraba o perspectiva macro. Cand negocierea este directa, interactiunea este micro, rezultatul e mai apropiat de ambii. Ei bine, acest lucru il fac cei care au pus bazele proiectului in.Dia. Ne ofera sansa unica de a negocia produsul artistic direct cu artistii. Ne ofera sansa sa obtinem fotografii de arta care sa fie apropriabile imediat, caci se nasc si din inspiratia noastra, a fiecarui individ.


200 de idei pentru in.Dia


Doua luni. Doi fotografi. Doua mii de experiente.

Unde? Hampi, sudul Indiei

Cand? 20 decembrie 2010-20februarie 2011

De ce? Pentru ca vrem sa va aratam India asa cum nu ati mai vazut-o: in culori sau in alb-negru, in noapte sau in zi, intre ruine sau in aglomeratie, in zeci de povesti diferite.

Haideti cu noi in In.Dia, in bazarul imaginilor pe care le vom crea. Vindem fotografii personalizate cu 10 euro, le expunem la intoarcere si va dam ca amintire imaginea printata din cadrul expozitiei.

Fie ca ne spuneti  ce ati vrea sa surprindem in imaginea voastra sau ne lasati pe noi sa va alegem momentul fotografic, fiecare dintre voi va primi o dovada a trecerii noastre prin Hampi. Avem nevoie de 200 de idei pentru ca in.Dia sa prinda viata!

Fiti partasi ai proiectului nostru si va vom returna fragmente in.Dia.

Avem nevoie de 200 de idei pentru ca in.Dia sa prinda viata!


Fotograf: Cristina Voinea

Fotograf: Andrei Mosloc