Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tonight's strange urbanism pertains to public housing. Thanks to Oobject, which has posted a list of hellish social housing complex designed by famous architects, we see the unusual results that emerge when designers with good intentions encounter the limits of budgets, time and reality. My favorite examples include Hotel Iveria, originally a 5-star hotel in Tblisi, and Les Tours Nuages, designed by Emile Aillaud and located close to La Defence in Paris.

After Georgia's liberation from the Soviet Union, Iveria was transformed from a hotel into a temporary housing complex. Inhabitants transformed the individual rooms and amenity spaces into a collage of personal locales, most visible on the building's facade, somewhat reminiscent of Drago Ibler's apartment blocks in Zagreb, which reused the wooden formwork for the buidling's conrete for balcony infill. In 2004, the residents at Iveria were resettled by the Georgian government, and the hotel is now being renovated by Graft Architects. Les Tours Nuages includes 18 towers with a total of 1,607 apartments, as tall as 105 meters. Each tower has the same shape in plan, consisting of a blended superposition of cylinders, reminiscent of Aalto's glass vase.

Both housing examples embody a certain beauty that we as architects appreciate at a distance, one which separates us from their daily experience, which is most likely to be less than ideal, by the space of a framed view or the all-at-once effect of a complete composition. By its collective nature, housing has a certain beauty in its spatial diversity and accretion. But in the seams and junctures of that collective we see the success or failure of the collective's quality, typically determined by the affordance of the collective's opposite, an escape from the collage and the private recognition of a simple pattern that goes on, uninterrupted, at least within the confines of a single dwelling.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opulently I agree but I contemplate the list inform should have more info then it has.

December 27, 2009 at 4:39 PM  

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