Arches and the Zeitgeist

A team comprising Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Australian firm Hassell has won the high-profile competition to redesign Melbourne’s iconic railway station at Flinders Street.

Joel Lamere’s fabrications, exhibited at the Makers in the Making Exhibition at NADAAA, are a contemporary take on the hypostyle arcade.

Just as we were beginning to doubt our cultural relevance as a result of our arch-centric solution to the Long Island Index innovative parking garage design challenge (see the more retrograde interpretation of the project below), we ran across two super-contemporary projects that make it clear that arches are back – and with a vengeance (Elizabeth found the recent H&dM project while doing some recent hunting/gathering). We worked closely with Joel Lamere (project above) on the geometry and modeling of the Boston Harbor Island Pavilion. This accidental convergence means that we need to get Joel involved with the LIRR garage project, if it moves to the next stages. BTW – we have already been working closely with Buro Happold in New York on the structural concept.

The first floor structure of our proposed parking garage prototype for the Long Island Railroad

-Tim

One thought on “Arches and the Zeitgeist

  1. Hurray for arches! I can’t think of another built form as ‘civic’ as the arch. It is embracive, friendly, structural, sheltering, and creative. Looking back to the creation and first implications of the arch by ancient Romans one can see how these ideals were carried through in built form. The arch was used to create The Aqueduct Claudius, Constantine’s Triumphant Arch, the Theater of Marcellus, the Coliseum, and The Baths of Caracalla (well technically the baths are compised of a vaulting system, but close enough). All of these structures utilize the arch to create architecture of civic importance. Built for the people.
    To jump ahead a few thousand years, Modern architects utilized and adapted the arch to be congruent with modern theories. This can be seen in Khan’s infamous quote ‘What do you want, Brick?’ And Brick says to you, ‘I like an Arch’. Antonio Gaudi manipulated arches at Park Guell to crate an incredibly unique and playful arcade. And of course, one of the most fantastic implementation of the arch in a modern civic building: the Marin County Civic Center by Frank Lloyd Wright. Through their own interpretations, these architects modernized the arch to create civic structures of the new age.
    In our contemporary age it’s going to be interesting to see what the arch becomes. Following your statement of “Just as we were beginning to doubt our cultural relevance as a result of our arch-centric solution to the Long Island Index innovative parking garage design challenge (see the more retrograde interpretation of the project below), we ran across two super-contemporary projects that make it clear that arches are back – and with a vengeance” I began reflecting on the lack of arches in current architecture. I tested a few of my studio-mates to see if they could come up with a contemporary structure that utilized arches. They couldn’t. To suggest that arches are making a comeback is a little odd because they didn’t really go anywhere. But maybe, and I hope, they increasingly being applied to future designs. I completely agree with your statement that arches are “a highly pragmatic way to pierce a solid wall”. Creating a utilitarian structure such as a parking garage to be more than what it needs to be is an ambitious goal that I wish more firms would embrace. We as architects and designers hold a responsibility for making our built habitat safe, comfortable, and effective. A parking garage can host civic activist such as a meeting place or a public market. It can be used for more and, as you said, eventfully become something entirely different. But, as designed, it will always be civic, functional, and welcoming. Our design should keep in mind what the project can become in one hundred years, and not just cater to our immediate needs.

    Great Work! I’m really exciting dot see how this project develops. Thanks for sharing and sparking my curiosity. Long live ARCHitecture!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s