On a side, there are metropolises on this planet that draws archistars as neon-traps actract moths… On the other side there is Krumbach, a picturesque village in the Vorarlberg region in Austria, that invited seven estabilished architecture practices to join the quite unique BUS:STOP cultural project: designing stunning Buswartehüsle (bus shelters) engaging in an intensive dialogue with local tradition, architecture and craftmanship. http://www.kulturkrumbach.at
The selected international offices that joined the BUS:STOP project are: Alexander Brodsky (Russia), RintalaEggertsson Architects (Norway), Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu ( Belgium), Ensamble Studio, Antón García-Abril / Débora Mesa (Spain), Smiljan Radic (Chile), Amateur Architecture Studio, Wang Shu / Ly Wenyu (China) and Sou Fujimoto (Japan).
Ensamble Studio (Spain) were fascinated by the elementary quality of rough oak planks that are stacked to dry. The challenge was to make this into a spatial situation where rough planks layers were arranged and positioned in way that produced a space that was both protected and open. The architects wanted that the oak planks should remain untreated so that their smell and the process of ageing makes the place somewhere specific. “We explored the appropriation of a local technique –used to stack wood planks in the drying barns in the region – and translate it into an architectural space” comment Ensemble studio. www.ensamble.info
Pritzker prizewinners Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu from Hangzhou (China) addressed the special location of this BUS:STOP with an unobstructed view. They designed a camera obscura, a conical space that opens to the street and frames the visual axis to the mountains. In this way they created a space with a focused perception of the landscape, which in all their projects is always more important than the buildings themselves. “Our bust stop is like a 120 SLR folding camera built by local wood and craft that people can sit in. The lens focuses on the scenery whislt sunlight illuminates the interior as gentle breezes filter through it” Comment Wang Shu.
In Sou Fujimoto (Japan) philsophy architecture mesh with nature. Here architecture should rather ensure for nature the space it deserves. The result is a wood of thin steel rods. In this open structure a staircase winds upwards. Ok, this BUS:STOP offers no protection against the weather, but it opens up new dimensions in the perception of place, space and nature. “Our intention is to design a BUS:STOP where people can meet, enjoy the views, and that, furthermore, functions as a landmark in Krumbach. A transparent forest of columns can create interesting scenery in a site surrounded by nature”, comment Sou Fujimoto. www.sou-fujimoto.net
Alexander Brodsky (Russia) was confronted with a small left-over area at the edge of a site occupied by a neat single-family house stands. The studio responded radically with this restriction by placing a simple built wooden tower with a striking archaic quality. On ground floor with its small unglazed windows a table and bench keep company in case the bus should happen to be late. www.brod.it
Smiljan Radic (Chile) was inspired by Bregenzerwald hand-cratmanship and transfered the local house intimacy to the exposed situation of a bus stop. A cut-out piece of “parlour” with rural wooden chairs is placed in the landscape and disengaged from the context of the interior thanks to a detailed glass pavilion with a coffered ceiling of black concrete. A bird-house provides a playful aspect that both attracts and distracts at the same time. “We have taken the mould of a piece of a Stube and reproduced its beautiful height, its ceiling figures, and transformed its materiality to create a feeling of familiar estrangement“.
Crossing alpine passes on their way back from Milan, Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu (Belgium) were quite impressed by a picture on a wall that reminded them of Sol Lewitt art-work. Their BUS:STOP features an acute- angled situation, where three directions meet developing a narrative about the place, about Sol Lewitt and the Alps. www.architectendvvt.com
RintalaEggertsson Architects (Norway) moved along the boundaries between architecture, design and art, and responded by creating a tennis-court site narrative. Indeed, the result had an additional social function working as both a shelter for people waiting for the bus and a small, metaphorical, yet entirely functional, spectator stand for the tennis courts. “The bus stop site has the immediate quality of directionality, where one does not want to turn one’s back on anything. That’s why the structure became the sum of different viewing activities. Its architecture is a clad with wood shingles allowing the local high quality craftsmanship in wood to be showcased“. www.ri-eg.com
Vorarlberg has an international reputation as a region for architecture. Each year thousands of architecture tourists visit the “little province” and enjoy the landscape, culture and way of life there. “The small form presents architecture with the greatest challenge. Only the best manage to achieve something great at a small scale.” Comment Dietmar Steiner, curator of the BUS:STOP project.
Photos: courtesy of Kultur Kumbrach.