A New Babylon: The Singapore Gardens by the Bay

A New Babylon

The Singapore Gardens by the Bay

by Stanley Collyer

All photos by Olha Romaniuk

In 2006, Singapore staged a competition for a new park on the bay spanning 250 acres. At the edge of the city’s downtown, it was intended to become Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space and a national icon. In essence, what the client was looking for was a botanical garden with an element of adventure added to the mix.

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Slovenian Architects Dominate the International Ljubljana Library Competition

Slovenian Architects Dominate the International

Ljubljana Library Competition

by Stanley Collyer
Winning entry by Bevk Perović Arhitekti d.o.o.

Locating the new National and University Library NUKI II in the heart of historic downtown Ljubljana on a highly visible corner site was itself a major challenge for architects entering this competition. Of the 120 entries from throughout the world received, 116 were admitted for adjudication. Almost half of the designs submitted were of Slovenian origin, with foreign submissions heavily represented by entries from other European countries. One might have assumed that such a high profile international competition would have attracted even more entries. However, the stipulation that a physical model be part of the package must have given many architects pause. Such a requirement may not have been viewed as a serious obstacle for architects residing in the European Community. But, for those living outside of the EU, mailing costs and concerns about getting such a package through Slovenian customs on time undoubtedly reduced participation.

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Interview: Spela Videcnik of OFIS (Summer 2012)

Farewell Chapel – All photos by Tomaz Gregoric

COMPETITIONS: How did you come to study architecture?

Spela Videcnik: Originally I wanted to be a fashion designer. Already at the age of ten I was already starting to do clothes by myself. Then my mother said, there isn’t much of a future in that. So I decided to study architecture. And there I met Rok, who came from an architecture background.

COMPETITIONS: After Slovenia separated from Yugoslavia over 20 years ago; this must have had an effect on the architecture profession.

SV: For the architects who were in the old system with big firms, they had to start from scratch—like everybody else. In some ways it was more difficult for them as they were not used to dealing with budgets under the previous regime; others took care of contracts. For the older architects, it was probably quite hard; for us, we managed to somehow learn. As a result, I think we were in the same position.

Before the breakup of the old state, Yugoslavia was a larger market; and there were some good architects from Serbia and the other Yugoslavian states. Back then, the Yugoslavian market was closed to Europe, and the rest of Europe wasn’t that open to us.

COMPETITIONS: After Slovenian independence, did architects here look first to Austria?

SV: No, mainly to Holland. For those who could afford it, Holland was the place to go. And, of course, there was the AA and even LA for those who could afford it. But most of us went there to study, for things were going so well here that we came back soon afterwards. For a while, we were building three large projects a year. Of course, that hasn’t been the case the past three years.

COMPETITIONS: What was your first successful competition?

SV: Housing Block 6 (Lakeside Apartments) in Ljubljana was our first building when we first started our practice, and this was after winning the competition. The competition took place in 1997, and the project was completed in 2000.

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Housing Block 6 (Lakeside Apartments)

Initially we entered a lot of competitions; most were open, and there was no requirement of any financial guarantees. The state was sponsoring these competitions, and, since there were no restrictions on participation, we were doing a lot of them. In 1998 we won two more competitions, one a housing competition, the other for a stadium in Maribor, the latter taking ten years to complete.

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The New Bauhaus Museum of Weimar

Weimar’s New Bauhaus Museum:

Shedding New Light on a Storied Architectural Tradition

by Dan Madryga
Winning entry by Heike Hanada with Benedict Tonon

Is a museum collection only as good as the architecture that houses it? With the glut of contemporary museum design producing world-class buildings for even the most mundane of collections, that seems to be the consensus of the age. Yet there is no doubt that when a museum collection is distinguished enough, it can benefit from a well-designed container.

The Bauhaus Museum in Weimar, Germany boasts just the sort of outstanding collection in need of a better home. Since 1995, the museum has been housed in an art museum on Theaterplatz that incorporates Clemens Wenzeslaus Coudray’s 19th century classicist Kulissenhaus. As a piece of architecture it is not a bad building, but it is certainly a laughably incongruent style for one of the most influential modernist schools of the 20th century. Fortunately, this mish-mashed arrangement was always intended to be temporary, and this summer, an intriguing museum design was selected as a permanent home through the New Bauhaus Museum Competition.

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