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Herzog and de Meuron Design Team’ Modern Architecture Research Paper


Introduction

The Swiss design team of Herzog and de Meuron do more than house families or shelter crowds or businesses. They frequently use architecture to convey an ironic message about the uses to which their projects are put. In their innovative surface treatments, their creation of visual puns, as well as their expansive and flexible view of the functionality of various elements of a structure, they add layers of meaning and implication to their buildings. Their work can be appreciated as art, even if they do not explicitly intend for it to be (Ursprung, 2005, pp. 1,2) (Riley, 1999). As Wilfried Wang puts it, “They are attempting to combine the primary physical dimension of architecture with its ability to express conceptual qualities.” 1 (Wang, 2000, p. 7) Their work invites and demands that viewers and users of their buildings consider them from what they regard as a phenomenological perspective.

World view

For the average homeowner, the source of inspiration for a structure may well be its function. In a private home, is there adequate closet space? In business, does the layout enhance sales? In a public space, is it comfortable and safe? For most users or even commissioners of architectural creations, they are experiencing phenomenology2Without thinking about it

To the Swiss duo, however, their phenomenological approach means that “their starting point is the intuitive and unconditional experience of phenomena as they present themselves “ (van den Bergen, 2005).m Their inspiration may include all sorts of items not ordinarily viewed as architectural 3such as shells, rocks, and other sources of shapes, colors and textures (van den Bergen, 2005). Fortunately, their designs usually seem to address most of the basic practicalities as well

Their earliest projects are described as adhering to the minimalist ideal represented by Mies van der Rohe and Corbusier (Wang, 2000, p. 7). Their projects for both very wealthy and the very modest have been of the utmost apparent simplicity (Ursprung, 2005, p. 3). This may be a reflection of their era’s knee-jerk revulsion of the Modernist school for decoration for decoration’s sake. They are clearly influenced by two major icons in contemporary design; Mobius and his flowing “blobs,” and Mies Van Der Rohe’ boxes (Riley, 1999, p. 30).

On the other hand, in some of their projects, they challenge doctrinaire consistency. As Mack asserts, “Minimalism and ornament, bareness and baroque exuberance, concrete box and field of vision, volume and surface – by combining elements that have long been deemed incompatible, the Eberswalde Library challenges the tradition of modernism” (Mack, 2002, p. 39)

However, it is also possible that their preference for simplicity reflects some early experiences, phenomena that have become, phenomenologically, part of their thinking (Ursprung, 2005, p. ibid). A possible example is the bleak-seeming tiny dwellings of the Seidlung Pilotengasse project in the Vienna area (Wang, 2000, p. 50). These are not vastly different from a substantially more pretentious home, the Koechlin House, in Riehen, Switzerland. The basic vocabulary of boxes remains (Wang, 2000, p. 118). Is this democratic approach an outgrowth of Switzerland’s historically democratic national identity?

Exemplary projects

Considering these two projects, the available original plans for the Seidlung (Housing) Pilotengasse (1987-1992) project suggest that the three models of houses reflected the new residential realities (Herzog and De Meuron, 2012). This shift in use, from combined functionality, sleep, cooking, reception, craft, and guest house, among others, to the sanctuary for two individuals, or even just one, has been evolving for decades, if not centuries. (Riley, 1999, pp. 11, and passim) The project’s lack of privacy expresses this trend.

The most striking feature to a current observer is the blithe disregard for disabled access. However, two models allow space for enterprise4. Pictures of the straggly, newly built structures do not imply commerce, but internet activities have changed the business landscape (Rice, 2004, p. 284). The third model locates all services off of a winding staircase, easing maintenance/repair. Windows are small, and stairways are utilitarian. The Herzog and de Meuron website devote as much attention to the proposed finishes as to layout, but these were abandoned anyway (Herzog and De Meuron, 2012). How crucial, one wonders, are surface treatments to a family needing such basic housing?

The Koechlin house is more dramatic. Multiple open-air spaces flow into one another and outside (Wang, 2000, p. 118). These may welcome the sort of daydreaming envisioned by Bachelard (Bachelard, 1994, p. 6). The ubiquitous glass eliminates personal privacy, evoking an increasingly childless demographic5. The designers are also perhaps trying in this, as they have in other projects (for example, the Eberswalde Library), to connect the indoors and outdoors (Goetz, 1998, p. 14).

The Prada Tokyo store’s quilted glass walls transmit light (Chow, 2003) and echo Chanel’s signature leatherwork. The layout creates a welcoming plaza in the neighborhood. The tower is jewel-like in shape and refraction (Glynn & Glynn, 2005)6 7.

Conclusion

Herzog and de Meuron address far more than mere shelter in their use of materials and space. They employ all sorts of experiences to inspire and inform their personal and corporate projects. Although not uniformly practical, their work pushes thinking about architecture close to its limits.

References

Bachelard, G., 1994. The Poetics of SPace: From Cellar to Garret:The Significance of The Hut. Boston: Beacon Press.

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Official Website, 2008. Night View. Web.

Chow, P., 2003. FASHION STORE, TOKYO, JAPAN. Architectural Review.

Glynn, S. & Glynn, S., 2005. . Web.

Goetz, S., 1998. Herzog and de Meuron: (Werkdokumente / Kunsthaus Bregenz, Archiv Kunst Architektur). Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Publishers.

Herzog and De Meuron, 2012. . Web.

Mack, G., 2002. Building with Images: Library at Eberswalde. Baden: Lars Muller.

Rice, C., 2004. Rethinking Histories of the Interior. Journal of Architecture, Autumn.pp. 275-287.

Riley, T., 1999. The Un-Private House. New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2012. . Web.

Ursprung, P., 2005. Natural History. Baden: Lars Muller.

van den Bergen, M., 2005. . Web.

Wang, W., 2000. Jacques Pierre – Herzog & Demeuron. Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili.

Footnotes

Bachelard, G., 1994. The Poetics of SPace: From Cellar to Garret:The Significance of The Hut. Boston: Beacon Press.

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Official Website, 2008. Night View. Web.

Chow, P., 2003. FASHION STORE, TOKYO, JAPAN. Architectural Review.

Glynn, S. & Glynn, S., 2005. Prada Store. Web.

Goetz, S., 1998. Herzog and de Meuron: (Werkdokumente / Kunsthaus Bregenz, Archiv Kunst Architektur). Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Publishers.

Herzog and De Meuron, 2012. Seidlung Pilotengasse. Web.

Mack, G., 2002. Building with Images: Library at Eberswalde. Baden: Lars Muller.

Rice, C., 2004. Rethinking Histories of the Interior. Journal of Architecture, Autumn.pp. 275-287.

Riley, T., 1999. The Un-Private House. New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2012. Phenomenology. Web.

Ursprung, P., 2005. Natural History. Baden: Lars Muller.

van den Bergen, M., 2005. An architecture of the senses. Web.

Wang, W., 2000. Jacques Pierre – Herzog & Demeuron. Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 27). Herzog and de Meuron Design Team' Modern Architecture. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/herzog-and-de-meuron-design-team-modern-architecture/

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"Herzog and de Meuron Design Team' Modern Architecture." IvyPanda, 27 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/herzog-and-de-meuron-design-team-modern-architecture/.

1. IvyPanda. "Herzog and de Meuron Design Team' Modern Architecture." May 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/herzog-and-de-meuron-design-team-modern-architecture/.


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IvyPanda. "Herzog and de Meuron Design Team' Modern Architecture." May 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/herzog-and-de-meuron-design-team-modern-architecture/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Herzog and de Meuron Design Team' Modern Architecture." May 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/herzog-and-de-meuron-design-team-modern-architecture/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Herzog and de Meuron Design Team' Modern Architecture'. 27 May.

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