Opening Evening (english version)
Salon Suisse 2016: Thursday, may 26
The play “The Hell of Reinforced Concrete” is performed by the Geneva based theatre company Emmet in the heart of Campo Sant’Agnese, in front of Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi. At the opening night, the audience is almost full of architects. This play, written by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy in 1964, gives a message: one has to built with local materials taking into account the country’s climate and context. A way to discover Salon Suisse’s theme.
Salonnière Gets On Stage
The content of the play is serious but the staging is playful, explains Leïla El-Wakil. A better architecture for tomorrow entails an alliance between architects, engineers, workers, film directors and artists. This will enable to address ecological, climate and homebuilding issues, and to keep the human as the central element of architecture.
Anna Heringer Warns
She is Hassan Fathy’s spiritual heir and shows the topicality of his precepts. Her constructions are found in Morocco, China, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. They are made with local materials and built by autochthons – no concrete in these examples. At the Biennale, she presents a good example of her philosophy with her colleague Martin Rauch and their students.
Martin Rauch and clay
What is clay, and what is it for? Martin Rauch urges to invest and built with clay instead of concrete. Like the salonnière Leïla El-Wakil, he refers to Hassan Fathy and quotes his words: “A single man cannot build a house, but ten men can build ten houses.”
Simòn Vélez Building
His creations are found everywhere, but mainly in the southern hemisphere. His architecture is not done only with bamboo, it is just one of the materials used. In the centre of the Biennale, a pavilion shows some of his constructions. Bamboo is an elastic, extremely resistant material – for Simòn Vélez, it is even a vegetal steel.
The Final Word
It is a call for a new look on architecture with a rediscovery of local techniques of building. The platform built in raw earth for the Salon Suisse by Terrabloc (Geneva) is on a human scale. Venetians, by appropriating the place, sitting down and discussing were not mistaken…
Leïla el-Wakil, Switzerland. Leïla el-Wakil was born in Cairo and currently lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland. Professor at the University of Geneva, Leïla el-Wakil has been trained both as an architect (EAUG) and as a historian of art (PhD in Humanities, Geneva University). Benefiting from these two-fold competencies, she has developed an original scientific competence in history of architecture, focusing on the 19th and 20th century constructions, heritage conservation, Egyptian and Arab, as well as vernacular architecture. She published plenty of articles and books on Swiss, European and Egyptian architecture, notably Hassan Fathy dans son temps (Gollion, Paris, InFolio, 2013). Besides her academic career, Leïla el-Wakil is actively engaged in the field of heritage conservation.
Anna Heringer, Germany: architect. At the age of 19 she travelled to Bangladesh and had the chance to learn that the most successful development strategy is to trust in the existing, readily available. Since then she focuses on the use of natural building materials. Her Handmade School in Rudrapur (Bangladesh), received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (2007), one of the many honors she received. Over the years, Heringer has realized further projects in Asia (Bangladesh, China), Africa (Zimbabwe, Morocco) and Europe and teaches in many schools and universities.
Three hostels for Baoxi. The project was part of the 2013 Longquan International Biennale in the village Baoxi for which 12 international architects were invited to show the potentiasl of bamboo in contemporary architecture. Studio Anna Heringer was commissioned for two hostels and one guest house. The structure of the hostels is formed out of a core made of stones at the ground level and two stories of rammed earth. Attached to the core that hosts all facility units are the sleeping units. Those are designed like tents or Chinese lamp shades that gloom in the night. Around that is an expressive structure out of woven bamboo. We tend to believe sustainability is about scarcity, about limitations. But if one builds with a material that grows every year to full size like bamboo - there is no harm in building lush structures. With these buildings I want to show that sustainability is about joy and celebration of nature`s vast recources. Within three years (11 - 13) China has consumed more cement than the United States within the last century. Most of those people who are living now in concrete housing blocks were before living in houses made of natural, local materials such mud, stone, timber, wood. This trend happens all over the world. Alternatives are needed to this strong tendency of replacing the natural building materials with those that produce CO2 and have a rather high input of embodied energy.This project aims to act as a statement for building poetically, simple, but effective, with a strong focus on the atmospheric power of the authenticity of natural local materials.
Simón Vélez, Colombia: architect. Born in Manizales, Simón Vélez is a prize-winning architect from Colombia. Over the course of his over forty-year career, Vélez has emerged as one of the most eminent proponents of bamboo as a sustainable building material. He has created joinery systems that utilize bamboo as a permanent structure element for residential, commercial and institutional constructions. To date, Simón Vélez has designed buildings in Germany, France, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, China, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and India. He was recipient of the Principal Prince Claus Award in 2009.
Nomadic Museum. To house the traveling exhibition “Ashes and Snow” by artist Gregory Colbert, Simon Vélez designed a monumental 5,000 m2 bamboo structure. The design comprised of a roof and four ruled surfaces formed by an array of bamboo tubes along a sine curve at the base and a straight line on top. Sporadic protrusion of steel shipping containers puncture the curved wall and give hints of the interior spaces and exhibition inside. To ensure the stability of the light-weight roof, Velez chose to weigh down the structure with bunches of Guadua culms whose rhizomes form a garland at the top. The building’s reference to the hypostyle hall is at once understood and simultaneously challenged, as the columns are not anchored in the earth but rather, they hang from the trusses and are suspended from the ground.
Martin Rauch, Austria: ceramist, architect. The Austrian ceramist and architect first encountered his favorite material, clay, through his training as a ceramist at the University of Applied Arts (Vienna). He realized the building potential of earth after aid volunteering in Africa and has never stopped using it ever since. He founded the firm Lehm – Ton – Erde (1999) first in Austria and then in Switzerland (2012). In 2010, he became UNESCO Honorary Professor in the Chair of Earthen Architecture. Since 2014, he is a guest lecturer at the Department of Architecture ETH Zurich, together with Anna Heringer.
House Rauch. The site for the residential house oversees the village of Schlins in Vorarlberg, Austria, on a steep south slanted hill. The house which was finished in 2008 reacts in its position and in its character directly to the topographic gradient of the slim plot and its genuine landscape context: A monolithic structure becomes a sculptural bloc, an abstract and artificial nature pressed upward from the underlying earth. Through this process the technique of solid rammed earth walls results in the wish to build a house exclusively with ecological materials. The construction shows, because of the planning cooperation with Roger Boltshauser and the resulting construction of the house through the constructor and earthen structure craftsman Martin Rauch, a consistently experimental approach. Martin Rauchs experiences and self-contained knowledge in the course of his works, led to subsequent fine tuning on the building process.
Redaktion: Axel Simon (Hochparterre), Andres Herzog (Hochparterre)
Produktion: Roderick Hönig (Hochparterre), Urs Honegger (Hochparterre)
Porträt Anna Heringer: Rachele Maistrello
Porträt Martin Rauch: Frank Stolle
Porträt Leïla el-Wakil: Pro Helvetia
Copyright: Pro Helvetia & Hochparterre 2016
Hochparterre dokumentiert den «Salon Suisse» 2016. Als offizieller Medienpartner begleiten wir die Veranstaltungsreihe mit Hintergrundinformationen, Zusammenfassungen, Audiostatements, Bildern und Livestreamings. Der «Salon Suisse» ist das Begleitprogramm des Schweizer Auftritts an der 15. Internationalen Architekturbiennale – La Biennale di Venezia. Der «Salon Suisse» ist eine Initiative der Schweizer Kulturstiftung Pro Helvetia.
Hochparterre documente en exclusivité le «Salon Suisse» 2016. Le partenaire média officiel du salon suit la série d’événements au travers d’articles de fond, de résumés, d’enregistrements audios, d’images et de retransmissions en direct. Le «Salon Suisse» est le programme parallèle de la présence suisse à la 15e Biennale internationale d’architecture – La Biennale di Venezia. Le «Salon Suisse» est une initiative de la Fondation suisse pour la culture Pro Helvetia.
Hochparterre exclusively documents the «Salon Suisse» 2016 starting 1st june 2016. As official media partner Hochparterre provides multimedia background information with written articles, audiostatements, visuals and free live streaming of part of the «Salon Suisse» talks. «Salon Suisse» is a talks and event programme complementing Switzerland’s national participation at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. It is initiated by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.