A conversation with Xaveer De Geyter, XDGA, at Casa dell’Architettura in Rome

Interview with Federico De Matteis, curator of the “XDGA_160_expo”, about complexity in architectural practice.


Provinciehuis © XDGA

Provinciehuis © XDGA


Article by Federico De Matteis

The exhibition “XDGA_160_EXPO”, which was staged at the Casa dell’Architettura in Rome from February 18th to March 17th, 2015, is the third installment of the exhibition organized by XDGA and CIVA, previously hosted in Brussels and Tallinn. It is a show proposing a rather peculiar – albeit not radical – understanding of what making architecture can mean today. Starting by looking at some figures (which give us a precise, although limited, view of things, helping clear the fog), the Roman exhibition hosted 22 models: of these, three were of completed buildings, three of ongoing projects, two were research-based, theoretic projects, while the remaining 14 were competition entries, either not winning or winning entries which for some reason or another had been discontinued. The chronological extent covers from 2000 to 2013. Each project, as the exhibition itself and the book which serves as a catalog, is titled, to begin with, by a three-digit number, referring to the file folder on XDGA’s servers. To bring this number to the front means, in my opinion, to highlight the collective nature of architectural work, which does set out from the initials of Xaveer De Geyter’s name, but along the way turns to the plural, accepting the final “A” for Architects. This leads us back to the presence, contribution, and work of the around 50 staff members of the office, who come from 15 different countries. A diversified team, both culturally and professionally, capable of covering, with their expertise, the whole gamut of architectural practice: from the conceptual stage of design competitions – that which De Geyter calls “paper architecture” – to the building site. Along with these there are research-based works, such as the “extension” of Monaco, or the urban scenarios evoked by an older book such as After Sprawl, still today on the reading list of many young scholars of urban theory. (more…)

“EXPORT. Spanish Architecture Abroad” Thoughts on a global practice beyond national borders

The narrative used in this exhibition, curated by Edgar González, helps to translate a complex national situation into a series of powerful images and visually compelling diagrams.


© Museo ICO

© Miguel de Guzman /ImagenSubliminal


From February 24 to May 17, 2015 Museo ICO in Madrid will be showing EXPORT. Spanish Architecture Abroad, an exhibition on the Spanish practices taking place outside Spain. The exhibition attempts to describe Spain’s current situation of fleeting professionals under an analytical yet slightly optimistic point of view.


A glowing white philharmonic concert hall in Poland by Barozzi Veiga

The building takes formal inspiration from the traditional, picturesque architecture from Szczecin to build a massive, crystal-like auditorium for music and cultural events.


Szczecin Philharmonic Concert Hall by Barozzi Veiga © Simon Menges

Szczecin Philharmonic Concert Hall by Barozzi Veiga © Simon Menges


Continuing a series of reviews on recently announced Mies van der Rohe nominees, today we will visit Barozzi Veiga’s Philharmonic Concert Hall in Szczecin, a historical town in the north of Poland. The spanish-italian office have designed a large, massive building with a translucent glass façade, making it an iconic meeting point for the city.


“Jan Kaplický Drawings” exhibition in AA London

Jan Kaplický Drawings presents work by the Czech architect Jan Kaplický (1937-2009) – a visionary designer with a passion for drawing as a means of discovering, describing and constructing. Through drawing he presented beguiling architectural imagery of the highest order.

© Jan Kaplický Archive

House for a helicopter pilot, project 105 © Jan Kaplický Archive


On Saturday 28th February AA Membership will host a special Saturday Gallery talk in the AA Front Members’ Room of the exhibition Jan Kaplický Drawings , a collection of work by the infamous Czech architect, himself an AA Unit master between 1982 and 1988.

The talk will be led by British architect Amanda Levete & former wife of Kaplicky who was co-director of their practise Future Systems, responsible for award-winning and internationally recognised buildings including Selfridges department store in Birmingham and the media centre at Lord’s cricket ground which won the prestigious Stirling Prize. Levete’s current architectural practise, AL_A, have also designed the exhibition.


Sonneveld House² Intervention by Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse

Guest curator Petra Blaisse offers a totally new experience of Sonneveld House with one ingenious intervention, that responds to the three key principles of Dutch Functionalism: light, air and space.


© Johannes Schwartz

© Johannes Schwartz


Guest curator Petra Blaisse offers visitors a totally new experience of Sonneveld House, Rotterdam, with one ingenious intervention. Interior designer and landscape architect Blaisse explores the limits of architecture with her office Inside Outside by enhancing or temporarily transforming the unique qualities of buildings and their outdoor spaces. Blaisse is renowned for the soft yet compelling way she separates or envelops space with monumental curtains. But, this time, in an intervention that will remain open until September 13, Petra Blaisse and members of his studio Inside Outside have removed fabrics instead of installing them. They have stripped all draperies, carpets and rugs off the Sonneveld House. They have covered the ground with large mirrors. The result is “a house that reacts with visitors” they explain.



2014 Tile of Spain Award Winners

The jury decided to award the first prize in the Architecture category to the project “House in Principe Real” (Lisbon ) by portuguese office CAMARIM Arquitectos, highlighting the project’s “brilliant interpretation of the use of ceramics in the historic centre of Lisbon. The five-storey house is presented to the street like a traditional ceramic plane, reinterpreted to display different textures”.


"Casa no Príncipe Real" by CAMARIM Arquitectos. Photos by Nelson Garrido.

“Casa no Príncipe Real” by CAMARIM Arquitectos. Photos by Nelson Garrido.


The 2014 Tile of Spain Awards were delivered on February 10, 2015 in CEVISAMA (Castellón) after the jury’s meeting, held last November, to make a verdict on the thirteenth edition of these acclaimed Spanish architecture awards.  The jury lead by Emilio Tuñón -winner of the English category of the 2013 BigMat Award– was made ​​up of six other architects of international success: Cino Zucchi , executive director of the Pritzker Prize and juror of the 2015 BigMat International Architecture Award; Anupama Kundoo, José María Sánchez , Martha Thorne, Fernando Márquez Cecilia and Ramón Monfort .



“DETAILS, architecture seen in section” opening at Politecnico di Milano

The exhibition will feature over 200 details from fifty renown international architectural firms, each contributing a selection of detail section drawings from their projects. The exhibition is the result of a wider research on current trends in construction.


 © “Details. Architecture seen in section” Research project.


The exhibition “DETAILS, architecture seen in section” opened last Wednesday at the Guido Nardi exhibition space, at the School of Architecture and Society of Milan Politecnico. DETAILS will stay open until February 27. Three international guests, Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell, Peter Maerkli, and Christian Schittich (editor in chief of the DETAIL journal) were invited to the inauguration.


Assisted pedestrian path from Baixa to Castelo de S. Jorge, Lisbon, by São Jorge / Falcão de Campos

The present intervention aims to be a natural extension of the urban environment, intended to invite users to bridge the gap between Baixa Pombalina and the Castelo de S. Jorge’s hill.


© José Manuel Rodrigues

© José Manuel Rodrigues


From the architect:

The Assisted pedestrian path from Baixa to Castelo de S. Jorge’ is a global project intergrating different interventions such as:

Rua da Vitoria,  urban requalification, the lower level path’s main axis, from Rua do Crucifixo to Rua dos Fanqueiros; The Public Lifts Building which is the reconversion of the whole building of Rua dos Fanqueiros, 170-178; and the ground floor and basement of Rua da Madalena 147-155 to integrate the public lifts which assist the transition to the path’s upper level.



Three “Mysterious Objects” by Gio Ponti, the new inhabitants of Milano Malpensa

Porta di Milano, a recently inaugurated art showroom in Malpensa Airport, displays three works by the Italian architect and designer until the 31st of March. Passengers will be able to visit these works in an unusual way -as part of a non-contemplative, travelling experience.

Gio Ponti, flooring design for the  Salzburger Nachrichten. © Gio Ponti Archives

Gio Ponti, flooring design for the Salzburger Nachrichten. © Gio Ponti Archives


“Porta di Milano”, in Malpensa Airport, Terminal 1, is hosting an exhibition on Gio Ponti until the 31st of March. Inaugurated last October, the exhibition shows three works by the renowned Italian architect and designer: the Espressioni installation for the Ideal Standard Showroom in Milan (1966), the Cathedral of Los Angeles (1967), and  the flooring design for the Salzburger Nachrichten in Salzburg (1976) – considered by some as the ideas that over time led to masterpieces such as the Cathedral of Taranto or the Museum in Denver.



“In a Dawn all Charms Decay” by Isidoro Valcárcel Medina at Musac León

The varied and heterogeneous graphic materials compiled are displayed alongside the plans drawn by the artist in 1991. Both the former exhibition at Tráfico de Arte Gallery in 1991 as well as the new show at MUSAC lay bare, among other issues, the pressing need to create critical spaces from where to think and rethink community life, the uses of public space and the urban development.


In a Dawn All Charms Decay. Courtesy by MUSAC

In a Dawn All Charms Decay. Courtesy of MUSAC


The National Prize of Plastic Arts 2007 , has created for the MUSAC in León, Spain, a project called “In a Dawn all Charms Decay”, a sort of “premature urbanization” comprising a series of drawings and documents created over twenty years ago. Made in collaboration with “Agencia de desmontaje”, the work is based on “Sugerencias de un forastero al plan general de León” (An outsider’s suggestions for León’s urban plan), which was presented in 1991 at an art gallery, “Tráfico de Arte”.

“At that moment I imagined the land where the Musac is right now as an amusement park and a wind museum, with a platform-fan so that visitors’ clothes were lifted, as the famous Marilyn Monroe image. I also devised a football field with transparent screens in the football locker for players and television equipped rooms where the referee’s whistle the game.”

On the “before” and “after” he says: “It’s the change of all the cities we know, set in virgin or clearly improbable locations, but then the political or private interests enter and … everything changes for the worse.” Valcárcel Medina proposes new types of distribution or receipt for his art, as happened a century ago with Dada, micromedia in which the spectator is also the protagonist. “This is teasing you and forcing you to become a bit coauthor”. (more…)