3 letter from the president
4 Karl Otto Ellefsen in transition
12 Mirei Yoshida changes of leadership in scandinavia
20 Ole Bouman why the new nai?
30 Mirko Zardini a project for two buildings
36 Ulf Grønvold architecture at the pompidou
46 Christine Garnaut icamaustralasia
52 Rebecca Bailey icam15
54 Mariet Willinge secretary general’s report
56 Inge Wolf, Ursula Kleefisch-Jobst, Eva-Maria Barkhofen icam16
Monika Platzer, editor
In 2009 icam celebrated 30 years since its founding. Although there were only a modest number of early members, membership has increased dramatically since then, showing that the subject of architecture has become a fixture on the cultural establishment’s agenda. Almost all architecture museums were founded in the 20th century and based on modern or postmodern concepts that stemed from a period which has itself become museum material. The 21st century requires a re-evaluation of the role of architecture institutions, not only because of the financial crisis but because the framework and conditions of production for architecture are fundamentally different now, they have become more heterogeneous.
In his contribution ‘In transition. Three notes on the situation for architectural practice in Europe’, Karl Otto Ellefsen addresses these changes in architecture production. At the same time, the political context has altered, too. In Holland, for instance, the decades’ old Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment has been abolished and fused with the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management to form a new Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, while public housing has moved to the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The fusing of architecture museums with, for example, design institutions, or their incorporation into larger structures, has been an everyday occurrence in recent years, especially in Scandinavia. The ushering-in of a new approach to the subject of architecture and design is signalled by the interviews with Lena Rahoult (Stockholm), Juulia Kauste (Helsinki) and Nina Berre (Olso), all museum directors who are increasingly engaged in the reinterpretation of their tasks. The previous century was based on the notions of growth and development towards an audience- and public-centred museum bound to the market and neoliberalism. The Art Newspaper annual visitor statistics for blockbuster exhibitions published in April feed the desire for ever-expanding audiences. Top of the list of the Top 10 in Architecture and Design for the past two years have been the MoMA with its exhibition on Ron Arad held in 2009 (347,995 visitors), and Bauhaus 1919–33 held in 2010 (397,101 visitors). The interview with Jean Dethier, the first architecture curator at the Centre Pompidou, is to be read in this context—taking us back to the early days of the blockbuster exhibition.
The idea of providing an architecture platform for almost all strata of the population is to be found in almost every member of icam’s mission statement. Making the numbers of visitors the sole criterion for quality in a context of the question of the future of architecture museums seems wholly inadequate. One ought instead to concentrate on the questions of the socially relevant roles that can be played by architecture institutions in the broader public realm and how the direction of the content can accommodate the new situation. Two architecture institutions provide innovative examples in this context: the CCA, Canadian Center of Architecture and the NAi, Netherlands Architecture Institute. The founding of icamAustralasia is to be welcomed, and we look forward to the new input. The flagships under the art institutions like the Tate are already reacting to the new situation with a new approach based on becoming more “open, diverse, global, entrepreneurial and sustainable”. A key issue will be the question of how local expertise can acquire new significance in the face of globalisation.
In conclusion, I should like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of the contributing authors as well as to the icamprint editorial board.
letter from the president
Dietmar Steiner, president
When in August 2009 icam held its 30th jubilee in Helsinki with a look back and a look forward at prospects for the future, the current worldwide economic crisis was still restricted to a property crisis and peculiar financial products. In the meantime almost all of the institutions in icam have either undergone dramatic cuts to their budgets or had their budgets frozen. So we are all challenged to respond to the new situation with a reflective cultural programme. However many of the contributions in this issue of icamprint show that the current programmes on offer by architecture institutions had already begun to change independently from and before the crisis. Many elucidate on their departure from the monographic marketing exhibitions by star architects that had been standard fare in the past (Zardini, Bouman, Dethier). What is happening is a return to thematic exhibitions that connect with the reality of people’s lives or that explore the production and impact of architecture itself.
The background to and reasons for this are manifested in a development in architecture that has been apparent for about ten years now. The global inflation of individualistic egomaniacal designs has already led to an extensive loss of authorship —accelerated by ever-improving rendering programmes—and is, in the meantime, increasingly also beleaguering truly high quality architecture in buildings and projects. So the air has been slowly but steadily seeping from this ‘iconic bubble’. This was articulated in two events held in 2010 that could be described as manifestos for a paradigmatic shift in architecture. The first was the architecture biennial in Venice by Kazujo Seijma, who did not organise the usual parade of stars for the first time in the Biennale’s history and evoked the atmospheric content of architecture instead. This was followed a few weeks later at the MoMA by the exhibition Small Scale, Big Change—New Architectures of Social Engagement, whose subject matter was blazoned in the title. And when key marketplaces for contemporary architecture like the architecture biennial in Venice and the MoMA show such similar programmatic exhibitions in terms of content in the same year, then one would certainly be justified in talking about the start of a new architecture debate.
It is now a key challenge for the institutions of icam to take-up and to develop accordingly with the content of their programmes, to engage with this new status quo. After the big party of interchangeable icons, it is simply a matter of being aware of the original purpose of architecture museums. The substance and power of the archives and collections lies in their capacity to activate the memory of architecture as the yardstick for quality. So that an identity for the culture of building can be created beyond racy lifestyle sensations, one which has to be communicated to a broad public. With an easy mind, we can concur with the last sentence in ‘Jonathan Glancey’s passport to the planet’, the author’s final article after 15 years as architecture critic for the British newspaper The Guardian: “It’s time to aim for a world of intelligent, crafted architecture—one that projects a sense of true worth— and to leave the era of limitless aspiration behind.” With its exciting programme developed by our German hosts, the upcoming icam16 conference is providing an opportunity to reflect on the core functions of our ‘architectural memory bank’ and a lively exchange at this new beginning of architecture.
© Az W