Will this be the architecture of the future?
For years we have seen large furniture manufacturers and retail chains increasingly aligning their businesses with the new mobility of consumers. Gigantic building complexes were built near the motorway, in industrial parks or at the shopping centers on the outskirts – all without any architecture, without charm or character. Arrived in the 21st century, that should be the end. A rethink takes place, new concepts are launched.
Urban architecture: Use spaces sensibly
Ikea provides an example of the newly discovered architectural awareness of large corporations. In the future, the Swedish furniture brand will rely on the city center instead of the motorway exit, thereby exchanging mobility for public transport. In cooperation with the architecture firm Querkraft, a new building complex is being built at Vienna’s Westbahnhof – in the middle of the city. For the Ikea of the future, the classic concrete building seems to throw off its facade and thus allow a direct view inside. Without a facade, the building is reminiscent of an open shelving system, perhaps one of Ikea’s most successful products. A building as furniture for the city, as part of an urban open-air living room. With the City-Ikea, the Swedish furniture chain joins a new generation of building. Where there used to be a strict separation of exterior and interior, today the borders are blurring. Where does the outside end, where does the inside begin? The facade as a cut in space loses importance; and while the private seems to be disappearing, a new understanding of public space is emerging.
How young architects reject access barriers
The idea of the facadeless building is conquering the architectural scene worldwide. In Tehran, for example, the primate city of Iran, which, despite adverse conditions, is currently experiencing a new era. The wave of reconstruction and expansion is characterized by the initiative of a young generation of architects who are committed to a new and more open cityscape. The Iranian architecture firm FMZD by Farshad Mehdizadeh designed a concept for the renovation of the Tehran Eye, which had hardly been visited so far – a shopping center that stretches a little away from the turmoil over nine floors. In order to link the structures of the comparatively small-scale architecture of the surroundings with the massive view of the building, a curved shell is to be created around the Tehran Eye, which takes city life on a new level and ultimately leads it inside, piece by piece. Pedestrian paths, planted squares and parks, smaller shops and cafés are integrated into the facade cladding in such a way that they are reminiscent of the lively structure of an Arab bazaar.
❞ The facade as a cut in space loses importance; and while the private seems to be disappearing, a new understanding of public space is emerging. ❝
The concept of merging public and private spaces actually comes less from the European than from the Arab world. Because while the question of whether something is outside or inside has been answered quite clearly in the western world so far by walls and facades, there is a much more open understanding of spatial separation in Suk, the traditional Arab market. Instead of walls or doors, labyrinths separate private and public spaces. While the goods displayed in the narrow alleys seem accessible to everyone, the adjacent warehouse turns out to be a deep thicket of things; a labyrinth, at the end of which is usually the till or the family living room – protected from the confusion of the corridors. This means that the question of whether and how far someone can enter private space is not decided by partition walls, but instead is constantly renegotiated inside the labyrinth.
The new definition of public and private space
So far, the facadeless houses are only a symbol for the developments in society, for blurring boundaries between public and private space. The facade no longer functions as a partition, but forms its own room that is as large and deep as the building behind it. A new feeling of openness and accessibility arises, but at the same time a changed understanding of urban architecture. If we no longer experience cafes, restaurants and small shops on streets or public squares, but also as part of a house facade, it is only a matter of time before the facade also becomes a living space from the public space. The definition of space and city thus takes on a completely new dimension and may soon face the question of whether the facade will be better suited as a living space in the future than the actual building behind it.
Header image: © querkraft
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