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— urbantick

Book – Move – Who Said Architecture is static?

Architecture is the creation of space for people to move in. All the most things can be moved within the spaces and rooms, definitely not the rooms themselves.

But wait, wasn’t there this house in Paris, by this french guy, you know the …. Jean Nouvel, you know the Institut du Monde Arabe with its moving facade. Elements of high-tech photosensitive mechanical devices are used to control light levels and transparency. It opens and closed mechanically in the fashion of shutters used in photo cameras.

Villa Il Girasole
Image taken from obviousmag / 3D section of the rotation tower and view from the balcony. To move this 5000 m3 and 1500 tons mass, the architect Invernizzi conceived an artful system of 3 circular rails connected to the cover of the basis-building, where a bunch of 15 “roller skates” were sliding mutually with the superior building. The energy was provided by two diesel motors that afforded the displacement at a speed of 4mm per second, allowing a complete rotation in 9 hours and 20 minutes. It’s more than the necessary time to follow the sun movement.

Oh and there is the version of the rotating restaurant just like the one on the Schilthorn, Switzerland, you remember the scene in this James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ? These sort of restaurants were the big hit in the seventies and eighties. There is one on the top of the BT tower here in London. It has been closed since the 1980ies and was used as a call centre by BT. Plans for a reopening were handed around in the past two years, but its gone all quite now.

Keeping it rotating there is the Dynamic Architecture project pursued by Dr. Fisher, the rotating tower in Dubay, we have all seen renderings of.

Dynamic Tower

And yes, let me give one more example, the Villa ‘il girasole’ near Verona, Italy. It was built by Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuoli, with the help of their artist, sculptor, designer and architect friends. Only recently it was completely restored by his daughter. See the trailer of the film ‘Il Girasole: A House Near Verona’ by Marcel Meili and Christoph Schaub. Goes HERE for a flight to the location of the house on Google Earth.

There are quite some examples and architecture does move, in parts. You can probably think of a few yourselve, please pop them in the comments. In fact some of the very important developments in architecture actually have to do with motion. Maybe the wheel could be one, to transport the building material, then the elevator by Elisha Otis was definitely an important development in the 1850ies boosting the hight of the buildings and then in modern buildings there is so much technology reliant on movement, such as sun shading, ventilation, escalators, doors and windows and so on.

The Birkhauser publication ‘Move: Architecture in Motion: Dynamic Components and Elements‘ brings these mobility aspects in architecture together. However it is not just a listing of curiosities, it is also a design manual as it documents in detail how each example works, is designed and built. This includes photographs text, but also detail drawings.

The structure of the book follows an ordering principe of the actual motion the architecture does. This is interesting as it provides a degree of abstraction, very useful to compare and asses the different examples. The list is as follows swivel, rotate, flap, slide, fold, expand and contract, gather and roll up, pneumatic.

Villa Il Girasole
Image taken from yatzer.com / The residential building negates the usual distinctions between inside and outside, public and private. Passers-by can look inside and see what they would normally expect to find in the outdoors: a rocky area. The private spaces are suspended above. The building unites art and architecture. The art created here is integral to the house, but also autonomous. This increases the communicative power of the house. Living Room speaks to the people and the things around it – and awaits response.

The examples are great, especial since they are discussed in such detail. You get the usual suspects, but then the discoveries of gems you haven’t thought of for a long time or never known of before.
Flipping through as a selection: ‘Quadracci Pavillion‘ in Milwaukee, USA by Santiago Calatrava, ‘Sliding House‘ in Suffolk, United Kingdom, by dRMM Architects, ‘Living Room‘ in Gelmhausen, Germany, by Seifert.Stoeckmann@formalhaut, ‘Erika Mann Primary School‘ in Berlin, Germany, by Susanne Hofmann Architekten and the Baupiloten, ‘Rolling Bridge‘ in London, United Kingdom by Heatherwick Studio, ‘Houses on Hohenbuehlstrasse‘ in Zuerich, Switzerland, by AGPS.architecture.

This is however, only the second part of the book, there is a first half to it. Here the authors discuss the different aspects of movement in architecture. This ranges from a chapter on energy evaluating the different technologies for solar gain (Institute du Monde Arabe as above), ventilation and heating and so on, to the movement as an activity using examples of video theater an film as well as the discussions around smart materials and smart structures.

This is really a hands on book, in the sense that it discusses the topic from beginning to end, not linearly but in ordered fashion. Moreover it is not just a showcase but a discussion and definitely a book that belong in every architects library, things are moving and architecture does too. You just have to plan it in the right way and it can be a dream come true.

Villa Il Girasole
Image taken from library du moniteur / Move: Architecture in Motion book cover.

Schumacher, M., 2010. Move: Architecture in Motion: Dynamic Components and Elements, Basel: Birkhäuser.