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Temporary Architecture Now!

by Philip Jodidio

Taschen, 2011, pp. 416, $39.99

Beijing Dream Sphere

Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, "Dream Sphere," 2008, © Mark Fisher

By Carter B. Horsley

Increasingly, the notion that architecture is something built for the ages is problematic.

"Even a cursory examination of contemporary architecture reeals a rise in the number of vowedly tempoary structures completed in treentyeras.  One reaosn for this may be economic constrants that favor a solution that usually costs less than a solid building.  The other reason, perhaps more significant in the long run, is that there may be fewer clients who have the outright hubris to try to build something that will last 'for centuries.'  Ours is obviously a culture of rapid consumption and architecture does not escape the overall trends.  On a more positive note, rapidly conceived and executed structures may well permit architects to experiment and to invent the new forms that will accompany the way we will live tomorrow," notes Philip Jodidio in this introduction to this very interesting book, one of a long series that he has written and edited in recent years on world architecture for Taschen Books in a small but very ample format with lots of fine color photographs.
The most spectacular temporary structure of the year, of course, was the "Dream Sphere" at the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

This magical sphere rose out of the ground in the great "Fishbowl" stadium that had been designed by Herzog & de Meuron and began a large glowing sphere with 10 "rings" around which 60 performers could run, leap and somersault and, Mr. Jodidio tells us, "at the lower altitudes,...fly around the sphere upside down."  The sphere provided its own spellbinding light show and the mesmerizing spectacular of the performers defying gravity amd performing perpendicularly, apparently with the greatest of ease."  Overshadowed only by the "calligraphic dancing rug," the "Dream Sphere" was incredibly dramatic and surreal and inspiring.


Mikroskop, Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany, 2010, by Olafur Eliasson, Foto Jens Ziehe © Olafur Eliasson                                          

Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) was born in Copenhagen and works there and in Berlin.  "Mikroskop (Microscope" was the center of his 2010 solo exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin.  The artist installed walls of mirror foil up to the museum's central skylight,"generating a kaleidoscopic space that infinitely reflects the metal framework of the skylight and the sky above," Mr. Jodidio wrote adding that 'these mirror foil panels were attached to exposed scaffolding" and "collapsing inner space and the outside, "Mikroskop (Microscope) realized a central aspect of the exhibition which closely concerned itself with the relationship between  museum, the city, architecture, space, and perception."  It also was exquisitely beautiful and hynoptic.

Several of the major projects in the book were shown at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China in 2010.


UK Pavilion, Expo 2010, Shanghai, China, 2010, by Heatherwick Studio, © Mauricio Marcato Photographer

The book's caption for this picture states that "the irregular, hirsute image of the UK Pavilion as seen from the exterior immediately places it a category apart in contemporary architecture."  It could have added that it it appears to be a giant hedgehog's domicile or a new fuzzy-wuzzle fur ball.  "Using an area of no less than 60,000 slender transsparent fiber optic rods each 7.5 meters in length and each encasing one or more seeds at its tip, the designer has created what he calls  the Seed Cathedral."


Moderato Cantabile, Graz, Austria, 2008, by Raumlaborberlin, © Christian Richters

The architects intended this Moderato Cantabile building addition an empty baroque museum to have the effect of an "explosion" and its "bird's nest" form outdoes its African precessors of ritual nail figures by a fair margin.  The architects Raumlaborberlin state in the book that 'this extrusion, which certanly resembles a work of contemporary sculpture, was made with variousforms of 'trash, including chairs and laundry drying machines.'"  Now if only they would get to work on the American suburbs!  Who said deconstruction is dead?


Set design for "Medea" and "Oedipus at Colonus" at the Greek Theater in Syracuse by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, 2009 © Matthias Rick

The designers designed these 2009 sets based on their concept that "the idea of the lost horizon of events depicted in the performance of ancient plays is the past.  It has to do with the comcet of catharsis, and the landscape, place, actions and conscience of spectators, not in the preset, but in the past.  Rather than any attempt to reconstitute such landscapes or scenery, the architects have chosen to preseent the lost horizon with a concave blade that reflects the action and involves the public while inviting introspection.The very concept of architecture is reduced here to one of its purest and simplest forms," the book noted.

Spanish Pavilion

Spanish Pavilion, Expo 2010, Shanghai, China, 2010, by Miralles Tagliabue Embt © Christian Richters

This very complex and fascinatingly complex design relies on wicker forms and computer-aided designs to form a number of Chinese characers related to the concept of cutlural exchange. Miralles Tagliabue Embt was the architect.  Enric Miralles died in 2000 and Benedetta Tagliabue has carried on the firm's work.

Moderato Cantabile

Swiss Pavilion, Expo 2010, Shanghai,China, 2010, Buchner Brundler Architekten © Javier Callegas

Another stunning exhibit at Expo 2010 in Shanghai was the Swiss Pavilion designed by Buchner Brundler Architeten.  Mr. Jodidio observed that the "external net with LED lights gives the faade a particularly permeable presence, much more inviting to vistors than a more traditional closed cladding."  The shape of the pavilion follows the outlies of the boundaries of Switzerland.


Cloud Cities/Air-Port City, Planet Earth, work in progress, Tomás Saraceno, © Studio Saraceno courtesy by the artist and Andersen's Contemporary, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, pinksummer contemporary art

In the summer of 2012, the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was given over to a large installation by Tomás Saraceno.  "Cloud Cities/Air-Port City, Planet Earth, work in Progress" was an exhibition of his held at the Calder Ateliers in Saché, Frane in 2010.

Studio East Dining

Studio East Dining, Stratford City Westfield, London, UK, 2010, by Carmody Groarke © Christian Richters

Built on the roof of a construction site overlooking the 2012 Olympic Park in London, the Studio East Dining at Stratford City Westfield, London, U.K. 2010 was designed by Carmody Groarke and had a life-span of only three weeks.  The architects described the project as a series of "flying roofs, tilting toward key views forming a playful roofscape."


Pavilion 21 Mini Opera Space, Munich, Germany, 2008-2010, by Morphosis © Duccio Malagamba

Morphosis sought to "materialize music into architecture wilth its Pavilion 21 Mini Opera Space in Munich, Germany,  The temporary structure then moved to other locations and  the architects said they used the music of Jiimi Hendrix to generate exterior forms.

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