n the Context of Place: Universities and Regional Localities
However tied universities might be with a heritage zuilding, an iconic establishment, a place or a nation, the very word is actually founded on the notion of an ever-evolving, shifting and moving, expanding and contracting, association of individuals who are incorporated into a body of shared aspirations and function. The university is, first and foremost, a set of values and an endeavor of the exploration of knowledge, appealing to those who are apt to take on the shared burden of the task.
By this definition universities transcend the limitations of place and space. They also act as a social condenser, turning diversity into community. By necessity though, this activity is bound to happen somewhere. It is also likely to invest this “somewhere” with appeal that extends further than mere geography. Likewise, the crowd that is attracted to that “somewhere” now comes from all over the world, in physical or digital space. Seen as a generator of such interest, the locality of the university amounts to a capital that establishes value on a wider scale. Campuses, cities, even nations, achieve even mythical appeal because of this activity, which is not only limited to cultural production but extending also to an actual economic impact on the place. Architecture comes in at the gap between function and place, reinstating spatial qualities as the foremost property of an otherwise utilitarian endeavor. It responds to the requirements of the site, it negotiates the terms of accessibility of and to the attached community, it decides the level of integration or distinction to the existing natural landscape or urban fabric. Finally it communicates the university’s aims and values, or it can act as a pedagogical tool by using its own formal and functional language to convey ideas, ignite the imagination, or foster creativity.
The selection of the case studies for this article was made in order to showcase the idea of building for the university, in the context of a regional or local condition. written by Angelos Psilopoulos
Addition and Subtraction
In renovating old buildings and adapting them to new uses the question of what to keep, what to remove and how to go about adding new elements is key. These five buildings all tackle this issue, some very subtly, with one or two simple moves which transform the entire building and the way it works, others intervene more boldly to effect their changes. mlzd’s Janus building in Rapperswil-Jona in Switzerland, Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s Harvard Art Museums, Manuelle Gautrand Architecture’s Comedie de Bethune - National Drama Theater in Locon, France, Flores & Prats and Duch-Piza’s Casal Balaguer Cultural Center in Palma de Mallorca and noAarchitecten’s Hasselt University illustrate some of the challenges of renovations and offer a range of approaches to tackling them. written by Alison Killing