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Wolf D. Prix
Highly regarded as both an academic and practitioner, Wolf Prix is an architect's architect. He's also a Guinness World Record holder. (The Busan Cinema Center boasts the world's longest cantilever roof). We sat down with the Austrian architect and learned that not only does he welcome the unforeseeable results of rule-breaking, but he also borrows models of strategy and organization from soccer:
"Of course nowadays the architect as a single genius is over. I think we have to learn how to communicate and work in a team. Therefore, I just rearranged the organization of our office along the idea of the football team, FC Barcelona. Barcelona plays a beautiful game, very clever and very intelligent—they always play in a triangle system and then Messi or Xavi breaks the rules and plays street football with unforeseeable rules. This is the way we work in our office and this is the way that we design."
He founded COOP HIMMELB(L)AU in 1968 (with Helmut Swiczinsky) and in 1980 the office published "Architecture Must Burn!" a manifesto which extolled the virtues of an architecture "that bleeds, exhausts, that turns and even breaks." From its inception the office has pushed the boundaries of practice through its use of complex forms, communicated using a variety of media and materials. Their projects represent an embrace of imbalance, disquiet, distortion, fragmentation and chaos.
The title of one of his latest lectures ("In two days tomorrow will be yesterday") aptly encapsulates Prix's approach to time and space.
He gained international recognition when his firm's work was featured in the 1988 MoMA show "Deconstructivist Architecture." The show marked what curator Philip Johnson described as the "pleasures of unease" and highlighted the work of six other architects in addition to COOP HIMMELB(L)AU— Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenmann, Bernard Tschumi and Daniel Libeskind. The curators brought together this diverse group of architects to showcase the commonalities between projects that harnessed previously unexplored potentials of the modern movement.
"We always wanted to get through with our radical ideas. No compromising on one hand; on the other hand, if you build large projects you have to think in real terms as well."
In February 2017, the CCA and SCI-Arc organized a discussion on the origins of the digital in architecture, as part of the CCA's ongoing Archaeology of the Digital research program and for the launch of the book When Is the Digital in Architecture? Greg Lynn, Wolf Prix, Peter Testa, and Devyn Weiser addressed the ways they integrated digital tools into their practices for specific projects. The conversation was moderated by Andrew Goodhouse (Editor, CCA Publications).
En février 2017, le CCA et SCI-Arc ont organisé une conversation sur des origines du numérique en architecture, dans le cadre du programme de recherche Archéologie du numérique du CCA et du lancement du livre Quand le numérique marque-t-il l'architecture? Greg Lynn, Wolf Prix, Peter Testa et Devyn Weiser ont parlé des conditions qui les ont poussé à intégrer des outils numériques à leur pratique pour des projets spécifiques. La conversation a été animée par Andrew Goodhouse (rédacteur, Publications CCA).
Wolf Prix: The HIMMELB(L)AU Project - Life, projects, philosophy 14 November 2017 B117 Theatre, Melbourne School of Design
The Melbourne School of Design and FPPV Architecture proudly present a special public lecture by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU featuring Mr. Wolf D. Prix. Born in 1942 in Vienna, Wolf D. Prix is co-founder, design principal and CEO of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. He studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology, the Architectural Association of London as well as at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles.
Wolf D. Prix has taught at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Harvard Graduate School of Design, Columbia University, UCLA University of California and Yale School of Architecture. From 2003-2012 he was a Vice-Rector and Head of the Institute of Architecture at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Wolf D. Prix is counted among the originators of the deconstructivist architecture movement. COOP HIMMELB(L)AU had its international breakthrough with the invitation to the exhibition “Deconstructivist Architecture” at MoMA New York in 1988. Wolf D. Prix/COOP HIMMELB(L)AU has been recognised with numerous international architecture awards.
Wolf Prix talks with students on his work, interests and approach to architecture. He discusses the importance of "building the sketch." He discusses is place in architectural discourse and history, and stresses the importance of doing the "wrong thing" intentionally. He responds to questions about social issues and the implied context on his design work in the United States and Europe. The general discussion is followed by footage of smaller group conversations in the lecture space.
Jeffrey Kipnis begins the fourth of the Fecundity of a Mossy Climate conversations with a survey of Marcelo Spina’s work, from the 2002 Busan Tower to the 2014 entry by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S in the competition for two new museums in Budapest. Spina and Tom Wiscombe and Wolf Prix join Kipnis, and discuss Spina’s work, the concept of elegance, the exploitation of architects via competitions, the significance of tools, strategies, and career trajectories.
Wolf Prix is introduced Michael Rotondi, discussing his office, Coop Himmelb(l)au, based in Vienna, and engaging the discipline of architecture on a range of scales.
Wolf Prix proposes the theme "open architecture", based on intuition, consciousness and open-mindedness. He argues for a reconsideration of familiar terms used by architects, comparing facades to "third skins" and variations in form as "mutations". He discusses the process of conceptual development as a subconscious human procedure. He stresses the importance of the sketch as guide to design and construction.
Prix presents a series of projects in various stages of development, from a small residential project from 1983 to an urban-scale master plan for Melun-Senart outside Paris, and the redevelopment of the docks in Hamburg .
Richard Weinstein moderates a conversation between Eric Moss and Wolf Prix on the current role of the architecture school, teacher, and student. The three discuss architectural ideas such as, movement, the part to whole relationships, architectural meaning, urban planning, and symbolism. They begin and end with images intended to depict their accomplishments and design methodologies.
Eric Owen Moss asks Wolf Prix about architecture as a universal language, and influences such as Keith Richards and Los Angeles, and The Open House project. Prix describes his Dynamic Raumplan installation at the SCI-Arc Gallery in terms of his desire to get away from the discourse of energy-saving buildings and explore the possibilities of energy-producing buildings.
Lecture date: 1998-05-14
Wolf Prix discusses his view of the changing architecture of urban development which he compares with patches of clouds - they form and transform themselves through the complex interactions of changing situations and are symbols for conditions that change rapidly. Prix suggests that there is no fixed solution for the city - the strategies of urban planning operate on a matrix of diverging impossibilities and the architect has to simply choose one and take responsibility for it; the white noise of urban strategy is the cry of suburb and periphery which will mould and determine the image of cities and the quality they have to offer. Notions of centre, axis and spatial sequence will be replaced by tangent, vector and sequence of images and Prix would not regret the loss of public space, but reinterpret it as a fluctuating networked media event which acts more like a semi-conductor than a sequence of spaces.
Wolf Prix founded Coop Himmelb(l)au with Helmut Swiczinsky in Vienna in 1968.