Aug '08 - May '09
Beginning any kind of research for a paper has always been the hardest part for me, I spend a long time amassing stacks of books and articles that might be interesting for my topic but then leave them unopened. I discuss the issues with other people, spend a while constructing the opening paragraph and setting up the argument, then finally, when the right amount of panic has set in (holy crap this thing is due in three days sort of panic) I will finally crack the books and skim them wildly in succession, generally writing the paper in one sitting the night before (or too often a week of two after it is due).
Needless to say, I'd like to turn over a new leaf with my thesis research and writing, easier said than done. So I decide a change of scenery will do the trick, a kind of intensive thesis retreat, and I drag a big bag of books and my laptop over to stay with a friend in Rotterdam for a week.
It is a city of very little distractions, so theoretically I will have nothing to do but work. Berlin is a terrible city for this, it's too beautiful and too rich, offering such a relaxed and easy lifestyle that the panic to work never comes. Rotterdam, fortunately or unfortunately, as many of you probably know, is really none of those things.
So here I am, and day one I spend hung-over from the ubiquitous Berlin night before and getting up at 5am for my flight. But after a few hours napping, I made it to two events, that I like to think pertain to my research.
Club Watt, foto_CH
entrance hall lights, foto_CH
#1. The opening of Club Watt, the first "Sustainable Dance Club" in the former Nighttown location. My former office Doll - Atelier voor Bouwkunst has been developing this concept for years, and most recently with a team of different offices and organization, such as Enviu "Innovators in Sustainability" to put on Sustainable Dance Club events and workshops. Now, my interest, or how it pertains to my thesis, has very little to do with either sustainability, at least in the way they mean it, or Dance Clubs, because it's just not my kind of scene. But what does interest me is the renovation of the existing Nighttown structure, the insertion of new into old, and the approach to preserving both a material history, a bricks and mortar history as well as a cultural history, albeit a history of local club culture, by retaining graffiti and art from the old club, etc.
sustainable dancefloor, foto_CH
early prototype from TUDelft Industrial Design, foto_CH
If you're interested in how exactly the club is sustainable you can read about it here and come to your own conclusions. Meanwhile, I'll highlight three of the best architectural moments.
The bathroom sink connects the men's and women's room, you could crawl under it and pass from one side to the other, or hold hands above it without seeing the other persons face. The signage sort of supports the ambiguity.
The treatment of the new openings in the brick walls was materially convincing, though I think they could have played with the scale of the openings more, the chunky wood frames and how they were set into the wall was one of the more seamless interventions. As opposed to the coat check which I found a bit disjointed from the rest of the space, kind of a one-off.
And last, the bottle walls that create the railing in the upper floor of the cafe/restaurant, creates a glittering light effect and acts as a huge chandelier in an otherwise deep and low-ceilinged space. I think the bottle wall could have used a bit more finesse, its perhaps too clean and monochrome and could have provided a contrast to the stark whiteness of this space. NY based artist Jean Shin has dome some great bottle walls that might evoke more of the grit from the neighboring entrance hall at Watt.
restaurant counter, foto_CH
bottle wall, foto_CH
Finally, it was really great to see my old co-workers, I forgot what a good time I had there and how nice everyone was, and I realized that it was really this past summer working in Berlin that provoked my Internships... experience or exploitation... blog post.
The Watt Girls in action, foto_CH
So the blog is getting long, but there's one more event to talk about... #2 Roman Delugan's lecture at the Netherlands Architecture Institute, part of a series of lectures on "Craft". Delugan gave an amazingly romantic and expressionistic presentation, his passion and enthusiasm for his work was clear. Unfortunately, like many talented creative people, he is perhaps not in the best position to explain his own work. I've felt this before, attending talks of my favourite artists. They are just too inside the work, and end up talking about it in the same way many others talk about their work, unable to really understand or discuss what makes their work stand out, the essence of things. He was supposed to lecture only about the new Porche Museum in Stuttgart, but thankfully also showed a few houses, the Vienna Airport and an unrealized panoramic elevator. He had to be taken off stage with a hook in the end, after extensive and generous answers to some questions. Overall, good work, very slick and very stylish, an irrepressible personality, but perhaps not the most inspiring lecture.
delugan meissl architects model
delugan meissl architects rendering