스티븐홀, 마이클 마르 자노 바겐, 톰베인 그리고 리차드 마이어
미국을 대표하는 현대건축가, 그리고 그들이 사용하는 현대적인 건축재료에 대한 연구.
이러한 연구는 건설업계와의 긴밀한 협조관계속에서 발전하며
보다 복잡하고 섬세한 공간적 효과로 승화된다.
오늘 그들이 고민하고 투영하는 건축 그리고 그것을 표현하는 건축적 재료에 대하여 알아보자.
reviewed by SJ
A study of contemporary building materials used by four US architects — Steven Holl, Michael Maltzan, Thom Mayne and Richard Meier — reveals complex techniques and nuanced spatial effects, which are achieved through close collaboration with construction industries. Within these practices, the material library is superseded by the material laboratory.
Disillusioned by the redundancy that characterises the wares of building and construction industry fairs, we decided to look at the material libraries of four us architects — Steven Holl, Michael Maltzan, Thom Mayne and Richard Meier — to understand the materiality of their architecture. To our surprise some of these architects had no material library at all, and those who did barely use them. While typical buildings are often agglomerates of prefabricated building products, the architects we spoke with utilise the building industries’ techniques and resources towards the realisation of unique construction elements. These industrially crafted solutions are conceived within the specific spatial, organisational and perceptual effects of the architectural intention. Indeed, the libraries we were seeking only house old solutions, which are unsuited to the specific circumstances of new projects.
The construction approach varies widely from architect to architect. Holl uses site and circumstance to generate unique architectural inventions. Maltzan employs material to create a dynamic perception of spatial limits, making thin surfaces oscillate or appear deep. Mayne strives for “biological randomness”, constructing non-repetitive and “brute” forms. With a long career behind him, Meier is evolving a white, highly durable, rectilinear grid panelling system. Among the differences, however, we also found moments of convergence. The architects we consulted share a general interest in maximising surface depth and capturing environmental variables. Their methods for doing so differ greatly and include building layered, reflective and translucent surfaces. More importantly, these architects aren’t interested in the building industry’s prefabricated products, so much as its capacity to function as a laboratory, offering processes, raw materials and technical expertise for the realisation of project-specific solutions. If the building industry were to take heed, their fairs might appear less like showrooms and more like the offices of the architects we visited.
The rich and varied elements of Steven Holl’s architecture reflect his intense interest in continual experimentation. “If I were a chef, I would use every kind of food that I could. I wouldn’t just cook the same pasta every day.” His project descriptions reveal details that resemble the ingredients of a fine recipe: patinated copper, slumped glass, liquid terrazzo, Shotcrete, airentrained aluminium, Cabreuva Vermelha. Senior partner Chris McVoy explains that the “experiential aim” of the office “often demands a yet-to-be-made material assembly, initiating the hard work of finding out how it can be realised technically”. With light as the office’s “primary material”, matter is acted upon in order to control the desired effects of light and how it resonates with atmosphere. For instance, at the Maggie Centre in London, the goal is “to embed colour deep within a translucent exterior wall” to achieve “a blurred ice-light quality”. This led the office and Okalux to a new method of colour printing in an etched-glass assembly with capillary insulation. Other examples include “staining concrete for sheen and hue”; rough-sanding aluminium to “pull the sky-scape across its surface”; and “air-entraining molten recycled aluminium to give a bubbled texture and varied sheen”.
In many cases, by focusing on the specific history of a site and programme, the office arrives at unique architectural inventions that resonate with the context. At the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, the site’s history of textiles, Arte Povera and Piero Manzoni led to forming a concrete structure with truck tarps, gently wrinkling the concrete like a piece of fabric. At a site on the Palisades — a dramatic line of steep wooded cliffs on the Hudson River — Holl is projecting the dark striations of the rock faces into the formwork of a new house, resulting in a striated, black concrete structure. For Holl, material is absolutely integral to an architectural idea. At the recently completed Daeyang Gallery and House in Korea, Holl sought a red patinated copper with the right depth and shade. Getting the copper to the exact hue was crucial to the overall design, so he encouraged the client to have the metal fabricated overseas by Zahner in Kansas, USA, where the desired result could be assured. It came at a high cost but, as he states, “Materiality is part of the art of architecture... Can you imagine Richard Serra doing his sculptures without solid metal all the way through?... I’m ready to lose a project for a material.”
Holl also empirically tests and handles materials at his house in Upstate New York. For 12 years, he observed how air-entrained aluminium panels weather over time. Years later, having been assured of how they weather and interact with light, he is planning to use them for a new library in Queens, NY, across the river from the FDR Memorial by Louis Kahn.
Holl and McVoy show that working on a material at a small scale can also serve as an analogue to larger ideas at the scale of a building. Recently invited to make sculptures out of large blocks of stone from Lecce, Italy, Holl used the quarry’s five-axis cutter to carve in ways that cannot be achieved by hand. The mass-void relation of the carving has since led to ideas of carving space at the scale of a building. The office intends to use similarly carved Lecce stone for a new building at Princeton University. But before they do, the stone needs to be tested to see how it performs in the freeze-thaw cycle of the East Coast climate. Currently 6,000 pounds of Lecce stone sculptures are sitting outside Holl’s house in Upstate New York, showing no signs of misbehaviour.
Michael Maltzan is suspicious of the role that materials play in a building. For him the material on the exterior of a form is the definition of a spatial perimeter, not an expression of the material itself. He is deeply concerned with the perceptual effect of that spatial limit, and it varies greatly between his buildings. Some of the effects he seeks are achieved with walls built in layers: perforated panels over contrasting planes of solid material create optical fluctuation, and muralist-painting techniques create depth in thin surfaces. Sceptical of “pre-animated materials”, Maltzan’s interests lie in how materials are animated by their contexts and the physical effect of their forms.
His layered and perceptual approach is perhaps most bluntly visible on the blue facade of the 2002 MoMA QNS building. The Swingline Staple Factory that previously occupied the site was clad in blue glazed brick, which had become a neighbourhood landmark. Maltzan chose to pay homage to the original building with his own façade of painted blue stucco. But this was no simple paint job: several blues in varying sequential layers were tested to find a saturation that was adequate against the New York City sky. The final tone was achieved with a single layer of blue applied over a layer of white, a combination that allowed light to emanate from the topcoat. As a young architect, Maltzan gained respect for the techniques of muralist painters: “Very often when they were trying to get black, they would paint red first, and then they would paint blue, and then on top of that they would paint black.”
The façade of Maltzan’s Ovitz residence, built in 2009 in Beverly Hills, is clad in two sets of combined materials that carry strong spatial effects. Panels of stainless steel are perforated with diamond-shaped holes, which themselves form larger diamond patterns. One variation is polished to a mirror finish and protects and reveals sheets of soft, green waterproofing insulation that rest four inches beneath. In a second variation, the exterior perforated panel is painted white and the sub-panel is polished stainless steel. The perforated patterns on the outer plates are visible from afar, and the closer one gets the more the inner sheets of green insulation or polished stainless steel show through the perforations. This creates a high degree of visual movement, and causes the viewer’s perception of the wall to fluctuate at different distances.
The search for improved efficiency and performance drives many of the material choices at Morphosis
The more we speak about materials the more uncomfortable Maltzan grows: “Materials are one of the last things I think about. I need to build the intellectual foundation of the project, and then the material comes as a way of reinforcing that.” In Maltzan’s vocabulary, small, incremental adjustments to existing materials have a strong impact. He speaks of making minor tweaks to the composition of glass, to achieve the right balance between reflectivity and transparency so that the glass almost seems to disappear, but not quite. “Through small, calibrated changes you create a completely new effect, something that people haven’t seen yet.” It is precisely in the interaction with this new effect that Maltzan’s subjects discover his architecture: “Iteratively changing materials creates a radical effect, and one that continues to be puzzling in a really productive way. The material is similar enough, but you can’t quite figure out why it’s different. And that’s a really interesting question that puts the viewer into the equation.
In Thom Mayne’s view, generic materials give prominence to the organisational strategies of a building and reinforce his belief in egalitarian spaces. While Mayne prefers everyday materials — concrete, steel, glass and un-exotic wood — he goes to great lengths to depart from their ordinary use: “We want to use zero from the normative environment. I’m interested in the invention of new products that are specific to the intentionality in front of us.” There is no material library at Morphosis, where Mayne is principle, because of a studio-wide refusal to solve new challenges with ready-made solutions. The search for improved efficiency and performance drives many of the material choices at Morphosis. The San Francisco Federal Building, the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in Los Angeles and the Cooper Union in New York City all employ skins of perforated metal that give these structures natural climate control and maximise their energy efficiency. Morphosis’s website states “The Federal Building is the first office tower in the us to forgo air conditioning in favour of natural ventilation.” In both the Federal Building and Caltrans District 7, the façades are kinetic and respond to the light, closing to create shade and protect the building from heat by day and opening at dusk. The perforated semi-transparent double skin of the Cooper Union provides environmental control while allowing views of the school’s interior from the outside. Each of these systems was uniquely fabricated for their respective buildings.
For the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Mayne decided to work with concrete. While the material is typical in the Dallas landscape, its brutal characteristics are rarely made visible. Excited by Corbusier’s béton brut, but restricted by budgetary limitations, Mayne defined an interesting challenge for his studio: “We wanted to work with poured-in-place concrete, but we couldn’t afford it, so we decided to work with precast, but give it those brutal qualities of poured-in-place béton brut.” The building’s undulating façade is constructed with a non-repeating pattern of precast concrete panels, which were each made with a highly complex, yet surprisingly simple tooling system. Over 50 variations of uniquely sculpted 8 by 30 foot concrete panels were made in 12 silicon moulds, which could be masked in 1 of 4 ways, and pressed into contoured frames when curved panels were desired. The repetition and manipulation of the moulds was materially cost-efficient, and allowed for the “biological randomness” that Mayne sought for the façade. This system was designed by Morphosis using Gehry Technologies’ Digital Project software, and was developed through intense collaboration with Gate Precast Co. Mayne was pleased that the smooth texture of the silicon moulds gave the concrete an opalescent quality: “The surface reflects light in such a way that it can be mistaken for a metallic material, and the colours change as the day changes.”
Though he is passionate about new processes, Mayne’s approach doesn’t discriminate against old or simple methods. At times even common painted sheetrock is useful: “If it’s white it’s nothing, a non-material; it’s abstract. When Eisenman built in white he was not interested in material at all; it was the pure conceptualisation of an idea. If we want a building material with no reading of material we use sheetrock.” Material is always at the service of the larger, organisational aims of the project.
Richard Meier has had a consistent vocabulary throughout his career that has allowed him to evolve a rigorous mode of expression and construction. His interest in pure white and the three-dimensional structural grid led him to be one of the first to develop an architectural language from the metal panel system. The office’s small materials library, with many neutral colours and shades of white, reflects this focused vocabulary.
As performance criteria, Meier typically seeks materials with surfaces that are highly reflective, pure white, resistant to weathering, and will “look just as good 50 years from now as when the building is completed”. Over his career, panel materials have changed from porcelain-enamelled steel to aluminium and painted metal, and most recently to Corian. “I love Corian because it is always going to look good. If there is air pollution, you just hose it down a little bit.” He also notes that “with some of the newer projects, the water drains behind the panel”, minimising water stains.
Another material that meets Meier’s performance standards is “pure-white concrete”, otherwise known as self-cleaning concrete. “We didn’t invent this material. Actually Nervi used it at the Olympic Stadium years ago but it went out of use. No one used it and we were interested in re-establishing a new way to do it.” When the sunlight hits the surface of self-cleaning concrete, photocatalysis occurs, neutralising pollutants that would otherwise result in discoloured surfaces. Staying clean, white and pure, this material is exemplary of Meier’s architecture. He recently completed the research and development centre for one of its producers, Italcementi.
Whether metal, Corian or concrete, panelling has enabled Meier to express the three-dimensional grid organising his architecture. Large elements are broken down into panels and the joints between them become opportunities to register the grid. This grid registering creates a sense of abstract space while giving it a human scale. In the Bronx Developmental Center, Meier articulated a comprehensive panel language by reinventing a crude industrial system used for warehouses. It included stamped windows louvres and curved panels. “The manufacturing was very important to how the design developed.” Later at the Jubilee Church in Rome, Meier used 12-ton precast panels that marked a major development. “It’s a panel where the exterior finish and the interior finish is the same.” The symmetry between inside and outside raises the wall to a higher level of abstraction, signifying a geometrical plane in space rather than a conventional inside and outside.
Meier’s highly evolved standard vocabulary is known for subtle differences in material and colour, like a neutralised version of his vibrant collages
Meier’s highly evolved standard vocabulary is known for subtle differences in material and colour, like a neutralised version of his vibrant collages. Sometimes this vocabulary is manipulated to create a dialogue with the urban and historical context. At the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Meier wanted to connect the architecture to the hillside site. Flying over the Grand Canyon and viewing the scale of stone, Meier decided to place “a dozen or so giant, irregular-shaped stones... to change the scale and give an accent to a place” (from Kenneth Frampton, Richard Meier, Electa, Milan 2002). Beyond such moves, the white reflective surface has been the way to establish a dialogue with the context. “For me,” says Meier in Frampton’s book, “white encompasses all colours. It most effectively reflects the passing colours of nature: the green grass, the blue sky, the autumn leaves. It is in that sense then that white is all colours. It is an expanding colour, not a limiting one.” Andrew Ferentinos, architect and writer, and Jonathan Olivares, industrial designer and writer
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