Construction/architecture: my 2016 retrospective
Pritzker prize 2016: Alejandro Aravena
A cat among the Pritzker pigeons! Alejandro Aravena, an outsider registered at the last minute through the determination of some enthusiastic supporters, was the 2016 winner of this prestigious prize. This believer in collaborative practice knows how to produce architecture that is full of strength. His constructions contribute to offering opportunities to the most disadvantaged, to mitigating the effects of natural catastrophes, to reducing the energy divide and providing welcoming public spaces. He shows us how architecture, at its best level, can improve people’s lives. Will the Pritzker prize make him fall into line?
2016 buzz words: Frugality & Requalification)
Pierre Rabhi talks about happy sobriety. We all understand what that means because it is possible to do a lot better with less. Building frugally does not mean building low-end, it means building more intelligently. This concept is making progress and today’s young builders are integrating it naturally.
The death of Zaha Hadid
Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid died suddenly on 31 March. When the sad news of her death was announced, nobody could believe it. After years of creation and efforts to impose her sumptuously curved buildings, she had become a key figure in the construction sector. Success came late to the only woman “starchitect”, whose death has left a large empty space. Will her work - qualified as “de-constructivist” - and above all her style survive her?
Roofer information: e-community
One to watch. Young roofers are communicating extensively on social networks, with pride and humour. They post their work. They talk about their working conditions, safety, tools and equipment, as well as their hobbies. Although working at high altitude is tough and risky, it also makes it possible to experience extraordinary moments in exceptional urban landscapes, or to observe magical sunrises.
The magazine ARCHI-CREE devoted an entire issue to this subject, which will also be the theme of a long-awaited exhibition at the cité de l’Architecture in Paris in 2017. These are just two of many examples confirming the evolution of the image and the role of the architect. Architectural stars are still well and truly present. They are necessary, just as the divas of haute couture are necessary to communicate on fashion. But new digital tools and new ways of designing, combined with the increasingly precise expectations of occupants are giving rise to a new generation of architects. The latter now have access to with major, sometimes international projects. This would not have been possible some years ago. This new context is an impetus for in-depth questioning of traditional practices in this profession of interfaces.
Inventing Greater Paris (kick-off meeting on the operation at the Halle Baltard in Nogent, in the suburbs of Paris)
In February Paris, the largest city in France with 7 million inhabitants and a high degree of entrepreneurial appeal, launched an international call for projects to develop the quality of urban life. The call was open to all players wishing to invent the city of the future: architects, urban planners, developers, investors, start-ups and even associations or civil society organisations. The challenge: to invent innovative new spaces, models for the sustainable, intelligent city. For the first time ever, mayors came together to simultaneously launch their smart city projects at various locations in Paris.
These mayors are providing 110 plots for which they manage the land, and which they will transfer to companies proposing the best projects, after deliberation by a jury of which they are members. These exceptional sites are being proposed in order to create new neighbourhoods around the stations that will punctuate the 200 extra kilometres of future metro lines currently being constructed around Paris. I will be keeping you up to date with progress on this ambitious project in my column throughout 2017!
An exceptional year, with highly contextual, pertinent projects. An attentive international jury and inspiring winners. Everything we needed to make the awards ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet a real architectural event.
Visit to the Vieille Montagne mine in Nenthead (UK)
Arriving in the middle of nowhere in the mist in the North of England, and hearing the memory of our company referred to with such emotion and passion, will remain one of the high points of 2016 for me. Over sixty years, La Vieille Montagne changed the life of this community by bringing it progress and prosperity. In 2017, in my Posts dedicated to the Vieille Montagne Saga, I will be talking about the positives traces left by our engineers throughout Europe.
Zhangjijie Grand Canyon glass bridge
Footbridges are very popular. They elegantly connect neighbourhoods, crossing over motorways and train tracks. They can even become events in themselves, sometimes rather excessively. As in Liège, for example, where the new footbridge over the Meuse pitched and almost collapsed under the weight of the huge numbers of visitors in attendance during its inauguration. A similar, even more spectacular, situation occurred over the Zhangjijie Grand Canyon, in the south of China. There were ten times more visitors than expected and visits had to be interrupted to reinforce the footbridge. Which proves that bridges are worth much more than just the crossing they allow. They are major feats, works of art that provide a new place from which to view the surrounding landscape.
Customisation > coloured zinc on request (photo Artibat Oct 2016)
The first step has been taken. After inventing Pigmento (coloured preweathered zinc), VMZINC now makes it possible for architects to choose the colour they want for their facade or roof. This customisation approach is also available in the perforated products range and opens the way for tailor-made production of panels and profiles for facade (motifs on request, pixelisation of images for overlapping panel or cassette systems, sun-screens or curtain walls).
COP 22 in Marrakech
An extension of the Paris agreements validated in December 2015 by parliaments in the majority of countries that participated in COP 21 (including China and the United States), COP 22, which took place in Morocco, aimed to drive home the agreements and confirm that it would never again be possible to turn back! Objective achieved.
Some VMZINC references from 2016!
- Collective housing building, MANCHESTER, UK
- US BANK Stadium, MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, USA
- RINKU Medical centre, OSAKA, JAPAN (Azengar)
- POUNDBURY neighbourhood, DORCHESTER, UK (ornaments)
- Monash University, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
- French-style Château, GUANZHOU, CHINA (ornaments)
Engineer - Architect
VMZINC Communication Director