Iconic Building – Architecture and Market v.1, STAR studio at AAS Tilburg

December 21, 2007

The final presentation of the studio Architecture & Market took place on December 21, at the AAS in Tilburg. Beatriz Ramo taught the first edition of this research studio. The course focused on the current phenomenon of the star system in architecture, and the role of iconic building within the city and society.

Tilburg Academie voor Architectuur en Stedenbouw
Architectuur en Markt v.1 – Architecture & Market v.1: Iconic Building
Guest Teacher
Research Course
Tilburg, the Netherlands
November 2 – December 21, 2007

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Today, in the Architecture and Urban Planning discipline, we see how a new phenomenon has emerged. Market powers shape, as never before, the cities and influence their identity.
This has created a kind of architecture that is driven by commercial forces and desperately seeking uniqueness. Throughout history, architectural grandeur addressed many different forces: veneration of gods, celebration of Empire, religious worship, authoritarian representations…etc.
Nowadays, not just public institutions, but private clients as well, are commissioning buildings that create the image of the city (e.g. Allianz Arena stadium built by Herzog & de Meuron in Munich, the Swiss Re Tower by Norman Foster in London or all the recently opened Prada stores in New York, LA or Tokyo, by OMA and Herzog & de Meuron). Architecture addresses the media and architects themselves. Architecture has become a product of quick consumption. Architects’ names are the brand for buildings just as Prada or Tiffany’s are the brand names for clothes and jewellery. We are reaching the point when the established brands are starting to interact: the established brands of products seek out the established “brands” of architecture. E.g. OMA designs the image of Prada or Gehry the jewels for Tiffany’s. Since the day that important information began to be publicized in newspapers, on television and through the internet, architecture has been freed from communicating and rather just “represents”.
This way, it can assume whatever shape the architect sees fit: a wave, a flower, an eye…

On the other hand, we witness how some great projects never were realised and how other – not so great – projects made it to the level of an icon. Why?
The aim of the course is – from our position as architects and urban planners – to understand in general the forces that are shaping architecture.
The necessity to understand the relationship between Architecture and the Market has encouraged the flourishing of think tanks, research laboratories, etc in our profession. This opens up another field to explore for architects and planners.
The architectural explosion of today cannot be solely understood by the architecture itself. Sociologists, economists, historians, and political experts join architects to explain the phenomenon.

Telma van Gestel
Jiri van Gijsel
Bart de Groof
Dennis van de Rijdt
Maikel Sterk
Gijs Verhagen
Maarten van Vroonhoven

Next editions of this studio deal with the Shopping Phenomena (second edition) and with the need of reinventing the model of International Exhibitions (third edition), both taking Rotterdam as case study.

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