Madrid 2007


DATE : 2007

TYPE : Architectural web magazine

TITLE : "Vincent Callebaut Architecte de la semaine"

Editor : Ryan McClain


Vincent Callebaut Architectures

This weeks architecte de la semaine is Vincent Callebaut Architectures, of France/Belgium. A 2000 graduate from the Institut Supérieur d’Architecture Intercommunale Victor Horta, Bruxelles, Vincent was the winner of his class’ Grand Prix d’Architecture René Serrure [thesis award]. Since his graduation he has worked on [and won] several competitions, both on his own and through collaborations with architects such as Joël Claisse Architectures and [more notably] Massimiliano Fuksas.

The first featured project is the 150 ha Masterplan for the Vatnsmyri Airfield Site, in Reykjavik, Iceland [2007]. The project is very masterplanning meets architecture meets giant sea monster attacking a Japanese city - à la Walking City by Archigram, or the Godzilla Tower by Michael Sorkin. So we here at MNP [obviously] love it.

Rather than your typical masterplan - extending the existing urban fabric over the newly appropriated terrain - Callebaut creates an amorphous, organic structure that seems to grow from the pre-existing airfield and extend feelers and arms out to make connections with the rest of the city - while maintaining [it appears] many of the air field’s lines.

The project is reminiscent of Koolhaas’ idea of BIGNESS - in that it appears to disregard its context completely [’f@*k context’ is, I believe, how Rem put it], on an aesthetic level. Here the architecture and the masterplan are one and the same, sprawling across a large landscape and justifying its [their?] appearance through shear force of will - establishing a presence that is both alien to the context and interconnected to it at the same time.

This type of sprawling, organic, futuristic city design seems to be becoming increasingly popular - as seen in recent projects such as the Metropol Parasol [which is actually being constructed, with some help from Arup, I believe]. They seem to carry with them an egalitarian, even utopian, vision of the future of our cities - one interconnected form ‘growing’ from the context to accommodate growth in the city itself. While these new forms may the future of the city’s expansion, what I wonder now is if the city as we know it will be overrun - such as with Somnath Ray’s Para-City- or if the pre-existing cities will fall by the wayside, becoming large scale slums as seen in Frank Miller’s vision of a future New York in Ronin.

Unfortunately, outside of commenting on the beauty of Callebaut’s images, thats all I can say - as there’s damn near no information available about the project at all. If I find anything more, perhaps some program?, I’ll be sure to let you know, my ninjas.

Callebaut Architectures : Geneva 2020

For our second installment of Vincent Callebaut’s work, we bring you his Geneva 2020 masterplan - the ‘Landscript’ project. The masterplan is for a [roughly] 220 hectares[about 2.2 square kilometers] area on the outskirts of the city that is currently used for industrial purposes - and therefore is in need of a green shift.

The goal of the project is described by Callebaut as ‘a minimum of free spaces for a maximum of dual spaces’, in the hopes of creating as many multi purpose spaces as possible - in order to reduce building footprints/impact on the surrounding environment. This newly created landscape, which would house 100,000 new city dwellers, ’superimposes’ itself over the preexisting industrial infrastructure [trains, roads, etc] - further diminishing it’s impact.

The general planning relies heavily upon the history of the site - alluvial plains and moraines from glacial movement in the area - and recreates the rolling hills, steams, and lagoons. The actual construction is broken into two types; one being ‘egg’ shaped, and seen as similar to our current building practices, seems to be used as the transitional building type between the existing city and the ‘Landscript’ plan. The second building type on the site works to rebuild the hill landscape, and contains a mixture of every program needed by the residents - schools, daycares, universities, theaters, museums, shopping malls - in order to create a self sufficient community. Conceptually, theses ‘hill’ structures are meant to show a final merging of man’s construction and nature.

The project builds on the idea of self sufficient and ‘natural’ urban environments by copying natural processes to meet the needs of the program and inhabitants. The buildings produce their own energy through biogas, photovoltaic cells and wind turbine energy, recycle their waste by means of bio burning and bacterial beds, and use natural filtration & purification stations and lagoons to purify their own waste water.

These bulbous living structures allow for the park-like ground plain to pass right beneath them - even leaving the core of the building open [where have we seen this before?] to the sky, as if these buildings themselves are a man made forest of housing units.

The red baobab : entry for the new czech national library

Future systems may have won the competition for the new Czech national library in Prague, but this entry by Vincent Callebaut, our architecte de la semaine, is definitely worth checking out.

Callebaut Architectures : Fields in Fields, Estonia

‘Fields in Fields’, Vincent Callebaut’s entry into the 2006 competition for the Estonian National Museum Building Complex, is another example of his ability to make big moves in his designs. He follows similar strategies to those in his masterplans for this museum project, creating a constructed landscape that not only encompasses the Raadi Manor Complex [an example of Estonian Manor & Garden design from medieval times], but that also bridges over part of the city’s lake!

Here Callebaut plays with the concept of ‘building as landscape’ once again, creating two undulating plains. One seems to hover above the ground, folding downwards to make contact with the ground plane once on each side of the building. The second plain is raised above the first, emulating the surrounding Estonian landscape. The resulting interstitial space holds volumes that contain the actual museum program [seen above and below].

Callebaut’s Mexican Eco Tower

I’m sure many of you thought that we here at MNP were done talking about the work of Vincent Callebaut [MNP architecte de la semaine a few weeks ago]…but you were wrong! I just came across the latest addition to his online portfolio, showcasing his work on the ECO-MIC project [Ecological and Metropolitan Infographic Center)] - a sustainable office tower at the Place of Three Cultures in Mexico City.

As for the projects being ‘green’ - Callebaut’s website doesn’t give that many details. But, the images showing wind turbines along the building’s undulating sides, along with trees / greenery planted vertically along the structure, hint at an ecological sensibility in the project.


PHONE : 0033.
Vincent Callebaut Architectures
7, place Félix Eboué
75012 Paris


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