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Archi-News 04/2015: The European Architect Newsletter


Transformation and creativity

Called «One building, how many lifes?», the great exhibition (in three phases) conceived and realised by 'La Cité de l'Architecture' in Paris, up to the end of September, proposes a reflection on the transformation of existing buildings. Reconquer the built heritage, reappropriate it, reuse it, this is probably the new 21st century experimentation. Renzo Piano with the Lingotto in Turin or Herzog & de Meuron with the Tate Modern in London have already given a brilliant demonstration of this approach. If it concerns a radical refurbishment or a soft change, the purpose here is not at all costs to keep a building, but to transform it. Either because the demand is not adapted to our time, either because it is urgent to reinvent the use. In both cases new typologies will emerge. For architecture, these transformations mean a new space for experimentation.The new program’s study is decisive to guarantee the operation’s success, more especially as the economical question is the key matter. When we are now in a period of planned obsolescence, raising the question of rescheduling is more newsworthy as ever. If looks are first turned to former industrial sites, the issues, much more complex, concern in fact all types of constructions: from a station to silos, from a church to a covered market, from a water tower to a postal sorting. The changes are sometimes quite spectacular. On the other hand, certain projects with the same opening objective are less demonstrative, taking advantage of the old structures to develop new programs. For some patrimonial buildings, the conservation seems quite obvious due to the fact that the impact of their presence in the architecture’s history, in their environment or in the urban life is so important. Whatever the type of operation would be, the room for manoeuvre is reduced for the architect, the issue being to establish a continuity which respects the spirit of the building, whilst developing another architectural vocabulary. Fu rther than the aesthetically pleasing approach, the reuse of the existing building stays the basis of the project’s design.

Archi-Europe team


Portrait of the month


1 Josep Lluís Mateo

2 AC Forum Hotel 2004 Barcelona (2004)

3 Convention Center Forum 2004 Barcelona (2004)


4 Bundesbank in Chemnitz, Germany (2004)


5 The Factory, office building, Boulogne-Billancourt, France (2010)


6 PGGM Headquarters, Zeist, The Netherlands (2011)

7 Filmoteca of Cataluna, Barcelona (2011)


8 New Access to the Prague National Gallery, Czech Republic (2012)

9 Castelo Branco Cultural Centre, Portugal (2013)


Josep Lluís Mateo, Barcelona
Mateo Arquitectura

Being at the same time designer, guest speaker and professor, Josep Lluís Mateo is one of the most prolific Spanish architects of this period, sought everywhere throughout Europe. Retrospective of his most important projects.

Graduated as architect from the Barcelona Superior Architecture Technical School (ETSAB 1974), Josep Lluís Mateo (born in 1949) becomes chief editor of the magazine Quaderns from 1981 to 1990. In 1991, he gets fully involved in his architectural activity and creates MAP Arquitectos with Marta Cervello. This office works today with a team of 30 refined professionals, coming from many European countries, and has specialized in many fields – city planning, residential and office buildings – with a great capacity to adapt to international environments. Combining his professional activity with his teaching at University (he obtained his Doctorate in 1994 from the Cataluna Polytechnic University), Josep Lluis Mateo is since 2002 an Associated Professor at the Federal Polytechnic School (EPF) in Zurich and since 2008 the President of BIArch (Barcelona Institute of Architecture). «Good architecture is generous, he likes to repeat.» He gives priority to research and opening and believes his role as an architect is to improve and not to destroy: «Any change has to be imagined in relation with the site’s history and spirit.» His office will therefore look for the alchemy with the site by setting a sensitive and intelligent relation with the environment with functional projects, at human scale, centered on the the connection interior/exterior and on the tensions between private and public spaces. From the Bundesbank building in Chemnitz (Germany), with a translucent façade revealing the old structure, to the multimodal Nice-Airport business district hub 'Grand Arénas' which imagines the town of tomorrow (Mateo is very present in France at Boulogne-Billancourt, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice,…), it is a long list of ambitious projects.

The architect felt that the Castelo Branco Cultural Centre in Devesa (Portugal) presented the challenge of addressing the great complexity of the public space and the various traffic and urban problems at the historic centre of Castelo Branco. The aim is furthermore to turn the old town into a cultural nerve centre for the city. The building with its wooden façade in contrast with the zinc-clad reinforced concrete of the suspended part, is also covered by a roof floating above the site opening on the exhibition hall with a great skylight. Available in 2012, the new access to the Prague National Gallery is situated between two existing palaces. The vertical limits being already fixed the architect has created horizontal limits to organize the space. «The ground emerges as a stratum which changes shape depending on the level differences whilst the roof is a continuous covering, he adds. This roof forms itself a courtyard which collects water and defines a green space. Structur ed that way, it underlines the site’s organic life. The interior space is open, flexible, multiple, complex, permanent but fragile, at the same time.» Situated near Utrecht (The Netherlands), the PGGM headquarters were transformed to create a visual and aesthetic harmony and integrate it to the existing building. «The extension’s reflective glass and steel give a gliding impression. Following the building’s outside morphology and its environment, we have proposed interior working spaces designed to create an homogeneous system: repetitive glazed buildings, wooden and corten steel coverings complete the glass abstraction».

In Barcelona, built for the Forum 2004 on an industrial zone close to the city, the AC Forum Hotel and the Office Tower are a solid piece, a sculptural volume with relatively small windows.The cut at the middle of its height and a certain shaping of the mass are reinforced by the different quality of its external surfaces. Whilst the International Convention Center shows a structure composed like a musical score. The climate, the light, the shade, the sound and the silence shaped the project said the architect. Also in Barcelona, conceiving Architecture as an art to intervene in the environment in order to improve it, the building of the Cataluna Filmoteca in the Raval, one of the most dilapidated places of the historical centre, meant an enormous responsibility. The building with varied façades is situated in the middle of other constructions with dilapidated walls. «The cinema, on which the project is centered, was put underground to reduce the building’s volume. Then, we have transformed the square into the integral ground floor of the construction. The technical constraints study started in 2005 and the building itself was initiated in 2007, after deciding to fix a vertical spatial axis in the centre of the construction to attract the light and the space in the movement.

As some excavation work was necessary, the construction was a very complicated process by setting the cinema underground, as the site was an ancient medieval lagoon... Our choice was to use special water resistant concrete. As an architect Josep Lluís Mateo likes the feeling of void and is keen to take the responsibility of creating the project. As an example, the organization of the Seguin Island at Boulogne Billancourt involves the construction of a new part of the city. The Factory, the office building and flagship project of this new district’s planning, was based on a new concept: the building’s façade is load-bearing. «The front door opens directly onto a green interior park which defines the small island‘s outskirts. With a system of openings, the façade seems to fold on itself to open up on the garden.
The concrete structure is completely metallic plated, except on the bottom of the construction where one discovers a part of the concrete, as if one wanted to show the real nature of the building, protected by the window frames and the steel. Just like the covering, the gables are made of zinc and are fitted as per traditional methods.»

In an essay named 'Identity and Modernity', Josep Lluís Mateo states that the present globalization context shows that the reasonings in favor of changes and modernization combine well with local, dense and strong logics. «On one side, we have the defense of specific characters, of local traditions, of landscapes, which vary constantly like the climate, of sometimes remote cultures and stories which continue to develop. Then, we have a modern version like a synonym of the abstraction, the generics, the global products...» The objective is to build a worldwide culture which is broken up and collective. «What’s permanent doesn’t interest me as much as what’s different.»

Indeed, from project to project Josep Lluís Mateo doesn’t repeat himself and the material is closely linked to the form... His main interest is the permanent tension between idea and material. The architect, never forgetting his ten year activity in an architecture magazine, keeps a critical eye on his own projects. «The real difference between the architect and the critic’s work is the distance, he adds, because the analysis requires this distance which the architect can’t have, as he is totally inside the project.» What’s most important is the process, the intellectual and artistic adventure and not the finished work, claims Josep Lluís Mateo. The construction of a building is always the expression of a sustainable intelligence and will, involving a precise site. «We must accompany it up to when the idea becomes space and material and starts to lead it’s own life. After that we disappear! The building doesn’t belong to us anymore!»


1 Josep Lluís Mateo © Jordi Belver
2 AC Forum Hotel 2004 Barcelona (2004) © Mateo Arquitectura
3 Convention Center Forum 2004 Barcelona (2004) © Infinite Light and Albert Masi
4 Bundesbank in Chemnitz, Germany (2004) © Jan Bitter
5 The Factory, office building, Boulogne-Billancourt, France (2010) © Adrià Goula
6 PGGM Headquarters, Zeist, The Netherlands (2011) © Adrià Goula
7 Filmoteca of Cataluna, Barcelona (2011) © Adrià Goula
8 New Access to the Prague National Gallery, Czech Republic (2012) © Adrià Goula
9 Castelo Branco Cultural Centre, Portugal (2013)
© Adrià Goula


Project of the month


'Centre Prouvé', Nancy
Architect: Atelier Marc Barani

Preserved and highlighted, the former postal sorting building has been refurbished in a new Congress Center, well integrated in the public space.

Situated right in the center of the city, the 'Centre Prouvé' welcomes since 2014 numerous congresses, seminars or exhibitions, participating to the city’s dynamism and influence at a national level. With two auditoriums (850 and 300 seats), its 1100 sqm meeting halls, its 3000 sqm exhibition spaces and a restaurant capacity up to 1200 persons, this complex meets all the requirements of big event organizers. This prestigious construction was not built ex nihilo, but was right from the beginning integrated in the railway system and the Postal Sorting created by Claude Prouvé in 1969. The future of this building was subject of a very passionate controversy in Nancy.

Let’s go back a few years. In February 2007, the Urban Community of 'Grand Nancy' launches an international architecture competition to realize this flagship element of a great urban planning. On the six architect teams selected, five reused the postal sorting for some quite important changes on the building, showing clearly Claude Prouvé’s intelligence in anticipating, when he conceived the building, its possible transformation. The team with Marc Barani and Christophe Presle was chosen as laureate. It’s a «didactic refurbishment project suggest the architects. The postal sorting transformations are moderate but radical. They want to make it sensitive, open towards the city, to reveal the real essence of its nature, with the powerful contrast between its structure and its envelop. The ground-floor opacities have been removed, releasing in this way a large fully glazed hall on the corner of the Boulevard Joffre and the Place de la République. The north façade and part of the west façade are replaced at each level by high windows, like a cross-section of the building and the new uses it is welcoming.» This extension project aims to construction rationality, compactness and reasonable limits. Recalling by its proportions the old vaults, the concrete base serves as support for the metallic crossbars which hold up the auditoriums.The spaces, liberated from all load-bearing points, gain more flexibility. Equipped with 1000 sqm of photovoltaic panels, the building is HQR (high environmental quality) as it is involved in a sustainable development approach.

If in a way the extension makes echo to the postal sorting, the whole project stands out with the new program. The entrance hall is installed as a direct extension of the public spaces up to the exhibition rooms. Its double height at the entrance extends up to the meeting place’s spectacular space and the «boxes» of the committee rooms, in a movement followed by the escalators. The floors' simple and linear circulations are accentuated by informal meeting areas which are spread out in the whole building. In its local anchoring, the concrete and glass ship catches the light and opens up on the city. You can read the building’s activity in depth as it proposes a range of belvederes on the city from the meeting spaces, the relaxing areas and the panoramic reception sites. «The postal sorting’s and its extension’s refurbishment constraints, have convinced us to propose an atypical look for the congress center, add the architects.» The voids liberated in the heart of the construc tion enable a good reading of the urban landscape. It is a way to integrate this project in Nancy and in its history.

Images © Grand Nancy

Product of the month

Bruynzeel Storage Systems – We organise your space

Bruynzeel Storage Systems develops innovative shelving solutions to optimise your storage space in offices, archives, libraries and museums.

Leader in the industry of metallic shelving for more than 60 years, inventor of the famous Compactus® mobile shelving system, Bruynzeel has developed smart storage solutions for your office environment.

Spacefulness® : your multifunctional space planning mobile solution

This concept is a revolution for office space planning. It allows to reduce drastically the office need for space by gathering several functionalities in an harmonious way.

This solutions is totally in line with the new trends in office space. Our ways of working are changing (flex’office, collaborative work) and office real estate costs have never been so high. With this concept, you will have an innovative solution for your office space planning.

Gain space

With this solution, you can rethink space planning. Static cabinets, which take a considerable space, are not useful any more. Storage areas and other functionalities are gathered in one centralized area. For a same storage capacity, the required floor space is twice less. The gained space can be used for other purposes, with a higher added-value than storage.


Our concept offers a high level of flexibility: all the elements are totally modular. Dimensions, finishes and interior design can be adapted to your specific needs.

More information:

Events in the spotlight

BAU Congress China enters round two - June 23 and 24 2015

The second edition of BAU Congress China is scheduled to take place in Beijing on June 23 and 24, 2015. The main themes this time are "Smart architecture and construction for China" and "Smart building technology”. Because of the great success of the first event in 2014, the location for the BAU Congress China 2015 will again be Beijing—at the China National Convention Center (CNCC).

Applications from prospective exhibitors are now being accepted at:
www.bauchina.com. The first big-name firms to have signed up so far include DORMA China Ltd., Unilux, Jansen and Geberit.

All information about BAU Congress China is available online and for download

For more information on BAU Congress China please refer to
www.bauchina.com and www.facebook.com/bau-muenchen

Cityscape Qatar 11 - 13 May 2015 - Doha Exhibition Center

Now in its fourth year, Cityscape Qatar 2015 will be the largest and most influential real estate investment and development exhibition ever held in Qatar. Bringing together investors, developers, real estate professionals and global industry leaders, there is no better place to find investment opportunities.

Why you need to be at Cityscape Qatar 2015:
1. Drive Sales
2. Source new products and services
3. Meet new contacts and build networks
4. Identify investment opportunities
5. Gain market knowledge
6. Find a new home

Who you will meet:
- Developers
- Brokers
- Investors
- Service Providers
- Government Authorities

Taking place alongside the exhibition, the Qatar Real Estate Summit is the ONLY platform in Qatar focusing solely on the real estate sector, bringing together the major players for candid debates, in-depth analysis and current trends. Featuring 40 speakers and over 150 delegates, the Summit is the most valuable learning and networking environment for Qatar’s real estate elite.

If you would like to participate in any of the above events please contact the Cityscape Qatar team on
info@cityscapeqatar.com or visit www.cityscapeqatar.com

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 21 - 23 April 2015 - Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre

Cityscape Abu Dhabi unites local, regional and international real estate professionals under one roof. The event will also give all attendees the opportunity to meet governmental authorities, developers, consultants, architects, designers, investors and other real estate professionals.

In addition to the exhibition, Cityscape Abu Dhabi will also host a series of networking events which will provide participants with the opportunity to network face-to-face, discuss issues of joint interest and create joint venture partnerships.

For more information about Cityscape Abu Dhabi:

Project Lebanon 2 - 5 June 2015 Biel - Beirut Lebanon

The Region’s Largest, Most Celebrated Construction Show The upcoming 20th International Trade Exhibition for Construction Materials & Equipment for Lebanon & the Middle East will be held in BIEL - Beirut.

“Project Lebanon” is part of a series of annual construction fairs organized by IFP (International Fairs & Promotions) in Iraq, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia; hosting more than five thousand enterprises, attracting over 100,000 visitors, and concluding hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of business deals.

The event is a successful international platform for local and international companies to access the entire region by meeting face-to-face with top businesspeople from Lebanon and the Middle East. It contributes a lot to the economic growth in Lebanon and the region by showcasing the latest and most advanced technologies in the construction and infrastructure industry from the biggest international names.

For more information about Project Lebanon:


Competitions in the spotlight

Bruynzeel - Storage Systems: International Design Competition: Shaping The Office

What will the office of the future look like? Over the next three months, designers and architects will get the chance to answer that question by taking part in an innovative online design challenge: shapingtheoffice.com. Bruynzeel Storage Systems has joined forces with renowned studio Jacob Jensen Design to give established professionals as well as young creatives the opportunity to reinvent smart office storage systems for a modern market.

Shapingtheoffice.com focuses on three categories: design, functionality and sustainability. Participants can present entries in different categories and the number of entries is not limited. They can also publish and share their views through the blog and forum on ShapingTheOffice.com.

The prize: Each category winner will receive a 7-day all inclusive trip to Shanghai where they will get the chance to work with Timothy Jacob Jensen to develop a final design concept from their ideas. The three winners will also be announced in press publications while the overall winning concept will be released as a signature line.

For more information about Bruynzeel:
Shaping The Office

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Результаты и перспективы

В Московской Торогово-промышленной палате состоялась презентация Конгресса при поддержке Правительства Москвы и Департамента экономической политики и развития города Москвы. 

Директор Агентства «Архитектор» Екатерина Чугунова основатель и организатор Международного Конгресса «Архитектура 2021» рассказала о результатах и перспективах инновационных проектов Агентства в практике конгрессно-выставочных мероприятий и международных образовательных программ и представила видео-сюжет Конгресса-2021, программу Конгресса-2021 TEAM-LAB «ЧЕЛОВЕК В ГОРОДЕ БУДУЩЕГО», перспективы летней программы в Италии «НЕДЕЛЯ В ЛОМБАРДИИ»

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