The Portuguese city of Porto was European Cultural Capital in 2001, and one of the projects that spawned was the Casa da Música by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA. It took longer than expected – it didn’t open until 2005 – and it went way over budget, from 31 million euro’s to 111 million. But the result is spectacular, combining hard materials like concrete, glass and aluminium with soft surfaces like the Noridc pine wallsof the main hall with goldleaf motifs and the lovely wavy glass wall around it. One thing did surprise me: the Soviet-style furniture along the walls. Watch my vlog and judge for yourself!
The Belgian capital of Brussels has upped its cultural offerings with Kanal Brussel, a new contemporary arts center in collaboration with Centre Pompidou in Paris. Kanal is housed in an enormous former Citroen garage, I spoke with director Yves Goldstein about how kanal showcases Belgian art and asked him: what’s in it for the Pompidou? He also showed the winning entry by architects NOA/EM2N/SERGISON BATES, the result of an international competiton, for the renovation of the 38,000-square-meter ‘glass cathedral’ Art Deco building.
For the first time ever, the Vatican was represented at the 2018 Venice Architecture bienniale. On the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, an oasis of tranquillity just one vaporetto stop from San Marco square, ten architects from various countries were invited to build their idea of what a modern-day chapel could be.
Dutch designer Joris Laarman has gained international fame with his designs in which he uses innovative technology to create objects of great beauty: functional esthetics. His newest project is a 3D printed bridge of steel, a technique he invented himself, for one of Amsterdam’s medieval canals. I went to talk to him and see the bridge under construction in his workplace at the former NDSM-shipyard in the north of the city.
The Dutch pavilion at this year’s Architecture biennale in Venice was designed by The New Institute to look like a locker room, with bright orange doors that you could open to discover the secrets within. The theme was the future of work, now that everything, even sex, is being automated. In the main exhibition hall, Crimson created a thoughtful and attractive exhibition about the impact of migration on cities.
For its entry to this year’s Architecture biennale in Venice, citizens of Tirana lent their doors – a symbol of the country’s hope that the EU will open its doors to Albania. I spoke to Tirana’s mayor, the fireball Erion Veliaj, about his plans for the city and the role he sees for contemporary architecture in making the city more liveable.