Within just a couple of years, nature is expected to claim the facade of this municipal water-purification plant near Basel, Switzerland. Sprayed in a mix of Shotcrete and local clay, the low-maintenance, adobe-like exterior will act as a coarse, porous substrate for moss and other vegetation, transforming the instant landmark into a curious verdant hillock on the boundary between a protected forest and an industrial park. The state-of-the-art water-purification equipment inside shapes the building’s expressive and crumpled form, seemingly vacuum-sealed around pipelines, filters and other apparatuses. In response to its setting, the architects’ baseline concept for the project was to combine the natural and industrial worlds by building with nature and not on top of it.
Project Muttenz Water Purification Plant Location Muttenz, Switzerland Firm Oppenheim Architecture Europe, Switzerland Team Chad Oppenheim with Beat Huesler Photo Aaron Kohler
Sitting at one of Richmond’s busiest intersections, on the edge of Virginia Commonwealth University’s downtown campus, Steven Holl’s massing of oblique cuboids into a 3,800-square-metre modern-art institute creates a new link between city and school. The shape is a metaphor for “forking time” and potential new directions in contemporary art. The faceted volumes, which incorporate exhibition galleries, a 240-seat performance space, classrooms, offices, a café and retail space, combine to make a landmark gateway to the campus. At night, white lighting is diffused through the ICA’s translucent glass, making some of the cubes’ facades glow. The intersection of these volumes at odd angles created exciting opportunities for the interior floor plan, which is more fluid than the edgy exterior.
Project Institute for Contemporary Art Location Richmond, Virginia, U.S. Firm Steven Holl Architects, U.S. Team Steven Holl and Chris McVoy with Dominik Sigg, Dimitra Tsachrelia, Garrick Ambrose, Rychiee Espinosa, Scott Fredricks, Gary He, Martin Kropac, JongSeo Lee, Yasmin Vobis, Christina Yessios, Charles Piper, Gilbane, Robert Silman Associates, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Arup, Ascent Engineering Group, Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, L’Observatoire International, Convergent Technologies Design Group, Theatre Projects Consultants and Sustainable Design Consulting