Wednesday 31 October 2012


Herzog & de Meuron's 1111 Lincoln Road car park

and Dan Graham pavilion outside Herzog & de Meuron's parking lot

architects' statement:
Herzog & de Meuron
1111 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Project 2005-2008, realization 2008-2010

The mixed use development called 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach comprises four different parcels. An existing building, the former Suntrust building, is renewed since the bank has left the building to be accommodated around the corner. A mixed use structure for parking, retail and a private residence becomes attached to the Suntrust building. A two-story building with the relocated bank on the ground floor and four residences on the upper floor faces Alton Road, with a landscaped alley and surface parking lot behind it.

A car park is a public facility, like a train station or an airport, where people change from one mode of transportation to another. Lincoln Road Mall is a very alive, urban experience, a pedestrian shopping street where small-scale restaurants and bars serve their customers day and night, all year round, under lush trees and stars. 1111 is a new place for people to leave their cars so they can hang out on Lincoln Road Mall, go see a movie or have a swim in the ocean. To create another standard parking structure on a retail base, with a façade that hides the ugliness of what is being stored inside, and a recessed penthouse on top would not have answered the urban requirements of this place. Seeing the potential of the project, Miami Beach authorities courageously approved more height on this corner, but not more FAR. The additional height granted is used for higher ceilings, more air, panoramic views and better looks at the structure.

The nature of Lincoln Road was the one source of inspiration for the architecture of the car park, its being connected to the massive, closed Suntrust office building the other. The garage is a fully open concrete structure. Ceiling heights vary between standard parking height and double or even triple height, in order to accommodate other programs, permanently as well as temporarily. A retail unit and a private residence are located on the upper levels, and the structure can be used for parties, photo or film shoots, fashion shows, concerts or other social or commercial activities, offering amazing views as the backdrop for the stage. An unenclosed, sculptural stair in the centre of the building makes pedestrian circulation in the garage a panoramic, ceremonial experience, as is moving through the building in a car. The private residence that is nested on a mezzanine of the top floor of the car park spills out to terraces; it is folded into the structure yet screened by excessive landscaping. The terraces also bridge across to the roof of the existing building.

The structure is the architecture. The car park is an organism made up of a family of concrete slabs, deployed as floor plates, columns and ramps. The location and form of these elements result from a series of forces acting upon each other, a complex overlapping of site and building code requirements, combined with program choices and the aspiration to both integrate with Lincoln Road Mall and to formulate its beginning at the corner of Alton Road.

1111 includes the transformation of the massive Suntrust Bank building from the 1970s into a publicly accessible place. The lowest floor plate of the car park cuts away a large part of the ground floor of this building, creating a fully glazed, kinked storefront all along Lincoln Road. The new structure slips under and opens up the heavy concrete building for 16 tenants who bring new brands to Lincoln Road Mall, from Y3 to Osklen to Taschen to Nespresso, from clothes to books to coffee and so forth. A new entry and an open, lit staircase in one of the existing corner towers of the Suntrust building indicate the new rooftop restaurant, which offers exquisite views over the Art Deco District and the Miami Beach skyline alongside the Atlantic Ocean.

The new Suntrust Bank is a kind of “architecture with no architects”- it tries not to make an architectural statement towards Alton Road, next to the rather expressive car park. It is a two-story stucco building with the bank on the ground floor and four identical, introverted houses on the upper floor. As the site has no views to offer, the scenery for the apartments is created by two carefully landscaped courtyards, and the façade expresses nothing more than the stairs behind a white ornamental lattice.

Finally, Lincoln Road Mall itself has been redesigned between 1111 and the cinema across the street. Before the transformation, this last block was still open for automobile traffic. The full width of the street is paved in black and white stripes of natural stone, from façade to façade, creating a generous common plaza with groups of trees of substantial age and size. Restaurants are limited in number in order to keep a large area of “commerce free” public space - instead of chairs and tables there are benches and water features inviting visitors to sit down and relax. A glass pavilion by Dan Graham raises the status of the plaza to yet another level.

Building Data Car Park Structure:
Site Area: 2,510sqm / 27,000sqft
Building Footprint: 2,125sqm / 26,486sqft
Building Dimensions: Length 51.5m / 169ft, Width 49.5m / 162ft, Height 37.8m / 124ft
Gross Floor Area: 22,575sqm / 243,000sqft
Number of levels: 7 levels, 1 mezzanine

Building Data Existing Building:
Site Area: 1,950sqm / 20,990sqft
Building Footprint: 1,620sqm / 17,433sqft
Building Dimensions: Length 45.7m / 150ft, Width 45.7m / 150ft, Height 41m / 135ft
Gross Floor Area: 12,635sqm / 136,000sqft
Number of levels: 7 levels, 1 mezzanine

Building Data Suntrust Building:
Site Area: 1,115sqm / 12,000sqft
Building Footprint: 980sqm / 10,548sqft
Building Dimensions: Length 46m / 150ft, Width 24m / 80ft, Height 10m / 32ft
Gross Floor Area: 1,980sqm / 21,306sqft
Number of levels: 2 levels

- Car Park: 300-space multilevel parking facility
- Retail Concept Stores: Car park structure (ground floor and level 5): Total Area: 3,716sqm / 40,000sqft.
- Office Space:
Existing building: Total Area: 10,220sqm / 110,000sqft.
Suntrust building: Total Area: 1,115sqm / 12,000sqft
- Residencies:
Suntrust building: 4 apartments (approx. 220sqm / 2,400sqft per unit)
Car park structure: 1 roof house and garden (approx. 490sqm / 5,300sqft)
- Restaurants
- Event Space: Level 7: 2,360sqm / 25,400sqft including circulation
- Promenade and Public Plaza: Mature cypress and oak trees, black and white pavement pattern composed of pedra portugesa stones
- Glass pavilion by artist Dan Graham

Monday 29 October 2012


Jaime Gili, Repetition
including a conversation withPablo León de la Barra
Editors: Yvan Martinez and Joshua Trees
Design: Hyunho Choi

Who is afraid of CMY?
Jaime Gili in conversation withPablo León de la Barra

We are on the train back from Newcastle, where we attended the opening of your installation as part of the ¡Vamos! Festival, which, as a curator, I invited you to do. You worked on 80 columns in the Victorian train station, making a colour field. In the morning we went to visit Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbarn in the University of Newcastle, and I think these artworks are an interesting starting point for our interview, as they stand at the crossroads between Art and Architecture.

Jaime Gili: It is wonderful to be able to see the Merzbarn here. It is a 3D mural/painting, different to the installations done by those painters who stop thinking as painters when faced with the challenge. It has something of a parallel, organic, unending kind of work.

Pablo Leon de la Barra: In recent years, with the arrival of computers as tools for architectural design, there is a certain way of making architecture and thinking about it as something somehow “over-technologized”. Architecture has perhaps lost its more artistic side. During this time a parallel phenomenon has also happened: more and more artists are now making artistic projects that are almost architecture. Someone told me once that artists make “bad” architecture, but I replied that perhaps this “bad” architecture should cross-pollinate with that made by the architects and thus reclaim its artistic side.

JG: That sounds good to me! From my specific point of view as an artist, the process becomes much slower when working with architecture. From the moment a project is discussed up to its finalisation, a lot of time passes.

PLB: You have to deal with budgeting, schedules, construction. Architecture is less immediate than art.

JG: And also the creative rhythm is affected. Now, for example, I am starting to have clients who can afford to let me work with more durable materials like metal or tiles, and not any more directly painting on the wall. It gets even slower!

PLB: That’s interesting. How did it all start? What was your first art/architecture intervention?

JG: The first commissioned mural I made was in Caracas in 2006 for collector Sagrario Pérez-Soto in Caracas. It came just after the exhibition “Las Tres Calaveras” in Periférico Caracas, a space with three mobile walls. On each I painted a mural and each had a huge painting leaning against it. A tall wall in the back was covered with posters, as a background to it all. After seeing it, she immediately wanted a mural in her house.

PLB: The way you decide to install your paintings has always interested me about your work (and this again relates to the Merzbarn). In your exhibitions, the paintings always have a physical presence in the space, a spatial presence - although they are not three-dimensional, they create spaces and are in dialogue with the surroundings. Paintings are sometimes perpendicular or leaning diagonally against the walls. You took painting out of the canvas first, and then also paintings out of the wall. How did this happen?

JG: I always work from painting itself, from the two-dimensional. Playing with the plans is probably the only way I know of trying to understand the three-dimensional space. I admire how my mother, a wonderful seamstress, perfectly understands how a piece of fabric will wrap, fall and cover a body. That’s mastering 3D in a way I really can’t do.

PLB: And yet in some of your paintings one can see geometric explosions. It is not only geometry made two-dimensional again, on the canvas, but there is an intention in the geometry, in the shapes and the colour, to also come out of the canvas. 

JG: And to me they are still plans! A layer is succeeded by another and another, creating depth.

PLB: Do you sketch your paintings beforehand, or do you go straight to the canvas?

JG: There is rarely a plan, a specific project. I imagine how it might end up, but I don´t plan or sketch or measure. I am more the type of artist to work by trial and error than by project-and-try-to-copy. In painting everything happens very quickly. My canvases are composed of hundreds of rapidly executed small projects.

PLB: I think this is an important point: when you make a painting in the studio as part of a daily process, even if there are no sketches, the painting is the plan. Nonetheless when you work in architecture, there is not much room for change.

JG: From the moment a project is approved, up until the moment it is realised, not many changes can happen, and that is as annoying as it is necessary. But there are different cases: the mural for Sagrario Pérez-Soto is exemplary in this because she had something in mind but she wouldn´t tell me. When I went to visit her house she let me roam around and I chose a space. She said “well, this is not where I wanted it, but you can do it here as well.” So I painted two murals.

PLB: You reach a point where painting becomes architecture. Plans create another kind of space. There are two sides to painting; it can be a decorative thing, but also a spatial, phenomenological experience.

JG: I think that not everyone has a complete experience when experiencing painting.

PLB: You are right there. For example, I arrived at art from architecture, so the first works I was interested in at eighteen were by artists related to architecture and the space. The last artform I approached was painting, I believed that it had exhausted itself and that it didn´t have much to say anymore. I was only able to rediscover it later, in 2002, when I met artist Federico Herrero from Costa Rica, he opened my eyes to the expressive capabilities of painting. A lot of the reason for this was because Federico also takes the painting out of the canvas. I think it is interesting when you say that not everyone can see painting, maybe we need to take painting out of the canvas so people can experience painting again and from there be able to go back to seeing it on canvas. This is why I think your painting has a lot to do with the act of seeing and re-seeing.

JG: I agree, although it seems a bit didactic to see it like this: just as how in some interventions I highlight architectural elements and people look more closely at them, perhaps the same happens with painting: by installing canvasses in a certain way in the space, I am making the colour on the canvas more evident, considering its spatiality, and the depth that it may have within.

PLB: In Venezuela, where you come from, as in Mexico, where I come from, there is an enormous tradition of integrating the arts. The relationship between art and architecture - in which buildings incorporated other arts, particularly painting - becomes one of integrated projects. How did this tradition influence your work?

JG: In Caracas there is a great awareness of this tradition. In my first exhibition there, viewers understood this perfectly in the murals. Jesús Fuenmayor, the curator, has his raison d´étre as a curator in the “synthesis” or integration of the arts, and of which the architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva is the best example in Venezuela. For some time we Venezuelans were the pioneers of this in the fifties, but then it all evolved into “cinetismo” (kinetic, optical art) becoming the official art for all architecture. In the seventies there was an oil bonanza, and on a corporate and state level, optical artists took almost all of the commissions. We are still living the low tide of this phenomenon. With the subsequent saturation, no one wanted to hear any more about art integrated with architecture or public art until many years later. One could say there is a renewed interest nowadays.

PLB: Something similar happened in Mexico with the “muralismo”: it became the official art, patronising, doctrine-filled. From the sixties and the “Generación de la Ruptura”, people didn´t want to hear about “muralismo” anymore. Not only that, but art with a certain social and political aim was not saying anything to people anymore. They had already absorbed the codes. On the other hand, patronising and indoctrinating ideologies were no longer interesting.

One of your projects interests me a lot: an intervention with abstract/painterly/objects in the Petare neighbourhood in Caracas, in which the use of an abstract language seems to hold more social and political content than in a revolutionary realistic mural.

JG: The work in Petare is in a way, I think, an answer to this art-architecture relationship as a tradition in Caracas. It includes the awkward knowledge that the piece will not be able to effectively and immediately address the problems that the neighbourhood has. Even if the work superficially seems to have the form of something that may have existed before, it is made to be easily repaired, neighbours themselves are the ones who have the duty to keep it and restore it. We worked with the community so that that would happen. The rules are now very different to how they were thirty years ago.

PLB: How did the idea or invitation to work in Petare happen?

JG: It was also through Jesús Fuenmayor and the mayor of Sucre, with the first lady Mariana Ocaríz. Their plan was to use artists´ interventions in public areas that had been created in recuperated areas. This park, for example, was made in a hole left by the construction of the Metro system; subsequently I was called to make an intervention there. It is in a very busy square with thousands of buses passing daily and the Metro running through it, it is a gate to the barrio. We made several visits and worked with the local inhabitants. Various proposals were made, and they saw the plan before work started. The construction was also local, and in the installation and restoration the neighbourhood took part. The work consists of enormous triangular metal plaques painted in flat colours which look like they’ve fallen from the sky. Each one is unique and at the same time they visually unite the barrio.

PLB: What would be the difference between the artist working today, particularly your works of public art, as opposed to the art done in the fifties in the University of Caracas building, or the works of Cruz Diez and others? There is an obvious influence, but I imagine there are also differences.

JG: I relate more to the more painterly work of Otero than to the work of Cruz Diez or Soto. Otero even painted two industrial storage tanks like the ones I am doing in Maine. Of course, the results of the research of colour done by Cruz Diez are crucial, but I am not influenced by his more scientific side. On the other hand I think it is important to understand a change that I see happening - we are seeing less permanent public artworks and more temporary interventions than in the past. Here in England we are used to it. This is more dynamic, gives more control, gives work to more people, it doesn´t leave marks and has similar effects socially. For example the intervention in Tynemouth Station is going to be there for two months and is going to be part of more than one festivity, but then it will be taken down.

PLB: But what would be the function of public art today? For example, I was thinking about a work I was involved in and which you know - Chemi Rosado´s work in Puerto Rico in 2002 in Barrio Naranjito – in which he painted the whole village in different shades of green. I don’t know if this had any influence or resonance with you. The interesting thing there was Chemi´s interaction with the community in painting the houses. Beyond land art or public art, it was also a way of activating a community. I don´t know if you had a similar experience in Petare.

JG: Chemi´s work is pioneering in many aspects. I definitely remembered it when negotiating with the neighbours in Petare. To be honest, all my trips to Puerto Rico were very important as I was coming back to Venezuela after a decade in Europe, and their sense of belonging to the Caribbean and their way of understanding the social contrasts made a huge impact on me. But what would be the function of public art today? I think there should be more of it, sure, but its function…?

PLB: In Latin America there is still the possibility that art has a social function. The Petare project is as if you have taken art to a community, which is wonderful, and it is something I have been thinking about with relation to the work in Tynemouth. These site-specific interventions create temporary, outdoor museums, specifically for social groups which don’t have a museum nearby, or for whom the architecture or the idea and structure of a museum seem intimidating. I think these kinds of interventions are something that some artists can do but maybe we don´t encourage enough.

JG: I agree, but we must consider that a social function can happen equally on both sides, even if the tangible needs in Latin America seem greater in general - things like the collection of rubbish, water service, insecurity. Not being able to improve all this and instead installing an artwork may seem pointless, but it is not. The benefits are intangible. As an artist I will perhaps always feel I’ve fallen short with such big calls. The work in Petare is like an arch, a gate: it envelopes you, welcomes you home. Nowadays there are always kids playing there, I think psychologically all this creates a feeling of pride that improves the quality of life for people.

PLB: It is difficult to change the perception that sometimes even the very inhabitants of a place themselves have of it, such as areas full of poverty. Your projects contribute to changing that image. Other works you have done, like the industrial tanks in Maine, relate to the landscape we are now passing on the train, picturesque landscapes of the countryside, that in reality contain thermoelectric plants and factories. One sees only grey and green. Your interventions go beyond embellishing the industry and the landscape.

JG: Intervening to change the daily experience of passing through a place.

PLB: In works like the one in Tynemouth there was a certain economy of means; you managed to intelligently occupy all the enormous space with a reduced budget, covering the columns with the posters. You created a colour field with the reflections of the colour, inviting the viewer to walk amongst the columns and experience a kind of “chromosaturation”.

JG: Although the columns have very little surface, using such “pure” colours made the reflected colour important. The glass surface was too large to cover with vinyl, which was one of the options, particularly due to the costs of access and installation.

PLB: And it is interesting that you used CMY, the basic printing colours.

JG: Cyan, magenta and yellow, to which I added the original colours of the columns, the Victorian dark green and white, found at the metal intersections. Magenta was the first colour to appear in the design because it had the highest visual contrast with the dark Victorian green. Yesterday we mentioned “Who´s afraid of Red Yellow and Blue?” by Barnett Newmann; here we should say “Who´s afraid of CMYK?” which is also relevant for this interview because although they are the ubiquitous printing colours, we may not use them as we are experimenting with alternative ways of making a book.

PLB: And finally a question that Hans Ulrich Obrist always likes to ask at the end. What projects would you like to make?

JG: In Venezuela there are certain spaces that are nowadays controlled by the government, and in order to start looking at them I am simply waiting for a change in the country´s situation.

One of them is the horse racing track of “La Rinconada” –its garden was designed by Burle Marx. Another one that I know I will invade one day is the gallery of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism in the Central University in Caracas.

PLB: And in Britain, anywhere where you would like to make a new work?

JG: There is this place that a British abstract painter created in the middle of a council estate up in the north. I can´t remember his name now, but it is a wonderful concrete structure that was abandoned for many years, hated for many years…

PLB: Of course! It is Victor Pasmore´s Apollo Pavilion, which is here in a council estate in Peterlee, near Durham. We have just passed Durham! We must go there soon! I was just thinking that these future projects are a perfect way of ending our conversation about the relationships between art and architecture and all the echoes that this relationship may bring in the future!

Jaime Gili: Repetition offers a conceptualist approach to the formalist genre of the artist monograph. Designed during a workshop about the book as a curatorial space, readers can experience Gili's work from different angles as the paintings transform and travel across consecutive pages.
The book contains an interview between Jaime Gili and Pablo León de la Barra. During the course of discussion, ideas are exchanged about the integration of art and architecture in relation to Gili's evolution and international recognition, including a recent commission for one of the world's largest murals painted on industrial storage tanks in Portland, Maine.

Edition of 500
84 pages
135 x 190mm (5.31 x 7.48 inches)
English and Spanish
ISBN 978-0-9573509-0-8

Editors: Yvan Martinez and Joshua Trees
Design: Hyunho Choi

read an interview with the editors at the Walker Art Centre's Blog here
more on books from the future here
Jaime Gili's website here:

and some other posts in this blog about Jaime's work, here, here and here.

Thursday 25 October 2012


La Loge, an ex-masonic temple

La Loge's eye icon

entrance to La Loge

Sophie Nys, Parque do Flamengo, 2012, HDV film, 45 min.

Sophie Nys, Parque do Flamengo, film stills

Untitled, 1867
Cecropia, Theophrasta imperialis Gleniou, Cecropia
Courtesy of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium

Parque do Flamengo, Plano Geral, 1:1000, 91 x 450 cm, print
Courtesy of the Escritório Burle Marx

Drawing for the Aterro da Gloria Garden in Parque do Flamengo
Reproduction of a drawing by Roberto Burle Marx
from the book ‘The Tropical gardens of Burle Marx’ by P.M. Bardi, p. 146, illustration 209

Sophie Nys, La dormance des graines, 2012, Series of photograms

Sophie Nys, The (turtles at Lina's) glass house, 2011, 8 mm film transferred to dvd, 3 min. (loop)

Parque do Flamengo
By Sophie Nys
7 September – 3 November 2012

Drawn by her interest in history and architecture and by the ambiguity emerging from modernist utopias, Belgian artist Sophie Nys travelled to Rio de Janeiro in January 2012 to shoot the film Parque do Flamengo, a semi-documentary whose protagonist is the park of the title, and particularly the work of Brazilian landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx. At once a painter, a sculptor, a poet and a botanist, Roberto Burle Marx is known as one of the finest landscape architects of the twentieth century. His work combines the knowledge of tradition and a modernist relation to composition with a sensual and plastic approach to nature.

The Parque do Flamengo was designed between 1954-59. It is seven kilometres long, with a total area of 1.200.000 m2. It unfolds as a complex composition, providing space for expressways, an artificial beach, benches, overpasses, tunnels, museums, monuments, recreation and above all, more than 1000 plants and trees. According to Rossana Vaccarino, Burle Marx believed that the collection, identification, propagation, and re-composition of Brazil’s flora in urban parks in such large numbers and striking compositions would eventually help turn the wilderness of Brazil’s endangered environment into an intimate experience that everybody could understand, value, and, therefore, possibly also protect.

Sophie Nys’ Parque do Flamengo, which has its Belgian premiere at La Loge, is a 45-minute long uncut travelling shot which captures the whole of the park as an isolated entity. The camera crosses the space from end to end at a walking pace, the stroll’s route following the park’s curving and sensual lines. The film is a physical and plastic portrait of the place, a recording of a living, breathing space where culture and nature merge. Musician Arto Lindsay composed the soundtrack for the film using the list of plants featured in the park as the starting point for the score.

A selection of these same plants are also featured in the show (basement of La Loge), but in their most minimal form: in the photograms of the seeds. The seeds of tropical plants Sophie Nys used are in fact from the collection of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. Commonly known as Meise’s ‘plantentuin’, the National Botanic Garden of Belgium benefits from an extraordinary collection that, surprisingly, has a Brazilian focus. If this is so, it is because the Belgian government acquired, in 1871, the noted Herbarium Martii, which contained about 300 000 specimens. Von Martius, who started the herbarium, was an illustrious botanist and the greatest contributor to the gigantic Flora Brasiliensis.
Sophie Nys produced the photograms of the seeds in the darkroom of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. Next to the vitrines displaying the photograms, one can see a video of turtles strolling around the space of The Glass House, the house of Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi she designed in Saõ Paulo.

Faithful to her artistic practice, Sophie Nys develops a project that, under a minimalist conceptual rigour, succeeds in capturing the poetry and the absurdity of nature in a frame. Never objective but always precise, Sophie Nys’ work discards historical and scientific linearity in favour of an approach based on intuitive research and free associations. As a whole, the exhibition Parque do Flamengo appears as a non-exhaustive constellation of forms and materials, explored through plural lenses: the sculptural, the narrative and the historical. 

Sophie Nys (b. 1974, Antwerp), lives and works in Brussels and Zurich.

This exhibition was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium and the Escritório Burle Marx.

Special thanks to Duvel Moortgat, Hugues d’Oultremont Ferronnerie d’Art and Stefantiek for their generous support.

Complementary program:
A series of events bringing the issues inherent to Sophie Nys’ project into perspective will be held over the course of the exhibition. The series will feature a concert by composer and musician Arto Lindsay, a lecture by architect Kersten Geers, a lecture by independent curator Pablo Leon de La Barra and a lecture by historian and researcher Denis Diagre, of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium.
you can see links to the live streams of the talks at la loge's webpage.

Lyrics for Arto Lindsay, 2011, 250 copies, 12 €

Limited edition:
Sophie Nys, Speciosa, 2012, Photogram
On the occasion of this exhibition, a limited edition of 10 photograms by Sophie Nys is available for sale. Although part of a series, each photogram is unique.

la Loge
rue de l’Ermitage 86
1050 Brussels, Belgium