Steven Holl, sketch 'Nanjing Museum for Architecture (North elevation)', 16 September, 2003. Water color reprint.
October 2008 | Ten reprints of watercolors by Steven Holl have been added to the Sanders collection, which is managed by the NAI. Most of these are design sketches for the Nanjing Museum in China and some for the ‘Linked Hybrid’ apartment complex in Beijing. Both buildings will be completed later this year. For Steven Holl, drawing is an important phase in the design process.
View a series of watercolors by Steven Holl in the right-hand column of this page
Actually, the Sanders collection is something of an ‘odd man out’ in the NAI collection. As curator of a National Collection, the NAI’s task is to collect the work of Dutch architects and urban designers. Work by architects from other countries does not fit the remit. Art collector Piet Sanders, who was closely involved in the conception of the NAI, always thought that the institute should also collect international work. In fact, to drive this home, he regularly donated wonderful architectural objects from his own collection to the NAI.
For the most part, the Sanders Collection contains models made by John Hejduk, Peter Eisenman, Asymptote, Lebbeus Woods and others. These are all objects with a major sculptural eloquence: Sanders regarded them as art objects rather than reflections of reality. He bought Steven Holl’s sketches at a New York gallery, which had just exhibited them at an art fair in Beijing a few months before. Two copies of the reprint series have been made.
Steven Holl started using watercolors thirty years ago. In his view, there was something missing in the detailed pencil drawings that he had made up until then. Though figurative, the images depicted in the watercolors are disassociated from everyday reality. They form the start of the design process, and although inherently still undefined and exploratory, they already reflect the essence of the later design.
The first sketches of the Nanjing Museum are still only vaguely consistent with the models that were made later for the same project. These later sketches show a great resemblance to the final design as it is now being built. When he draws, Holl imposes no restrictions on himself, except that his sketchbook has to measure 5 by 7 inches. That is a size that fits on the fold-down tables in aeroplanes so he can take it with him on international trips. For Holl, sketching is a way of encouraging free, unfettered thought and combining the objective with the subjective, in a style that bears his own distinctive signature.
Nanjing Museum is one of four major projects in China on which Steven Holl is currently working and that are all set for completion between 2008 and 2010. Besides Nanjing, these are 'Linked Hybrid’ (Beijing), Vanke Center (Shenzhen) and Sliced Porosity Block (Chengdu). The museum is located in sumptuous green surroundings on the outskirts of Nanjing. The typical use of perspective in Chinese painting – the juxtaposition of various perspectives in a single image – is reflected in the spatial design which plays with shifting viewpoints. The straight passageways on the ground floor gradually merge into twisted parts that make up the top layers. The colours black and white refer to Chinese pen drawings, but also form the backdrop against which the colours and textures of the art on display come into their own.
The exhibition ‘Dutchville' offers a peek into the future of Dutch architecture: inside you will find many different ideas concerning the future of the Netherlands. The designs are on show in the NAI, but are also collected on this page.
> Read more...
The leading Catalan architect and urban planner Joan Busquets received the Erasmus Prize on November 9. On the eve of the ceremony, Joan Busquets gave a lecture on his design practice in the NAI.
> Read more...
Look at a selection from the travel sketches and studies by M.F. Duintjer
> Read more...
to re-use a vacant school building in the heart of Istanbul? Which role can
architecture play in reprogramming a monument? And how can a vacant building
become a reference point for the once significant Greek minority? In
collaboration with the Galata Greek School Foundation, the NAI
will host the presentation of proposals for reuse of the Galata Greek School by Dutch and Turkish
architects on 19 December 2012.
> Read more...