Presenting the results of the aac workshop at the Rainvilleterrasse campus
The autumn workshop of the Academy for Architectural Culture (aac) focused on a project that, in the 1930s, shortly before its implementation, failed due to the political conditions: a European Academy at the Côte d‘Azur that was to combine traditional architecture with the Modernist movement and promote international exchange. Led by Meinhard von Gerkan and Nikolaus Goetze, over a period of three-and-a-half weeks, the international scholarship students developed designs for a contemporary version of this highly topical idea.
Inspired by the Bauhaus that had been established in Weimar in 1919, the architect and artist trio consisting of Wijdeveld, Mendelsohn, and Ozenfant came up with the plan in the 1930s to establish the Académie Européenne Méditerranée at Cavalière on the Côte d’Azur. In contrast to the Bauhaus ideal of workshop-based design, the curriculum of the Académie Européenne Méditerranée was to focus on pan-European ideas and the legacy of classic architecture. Luminaries such as Einstein, Stravinsky, and Wright were appointed to the honorary committee; however, its implementation failed due to the political climate. Today, while anti-Europe stances are once again reviving in many European member states and exiting the EU is being discussed, the idea of a European interchange forum is again highly relevant. For this reason, with “Rethinking the Mediterranean Academy Project”, the aac workshop is reviving the historical idea of this academy as a design task in the present.
The seminar started with a three-day excursion to the Côte d’Azur. There, the participants were able to gain an impression of the historic site intended for the project, with its topography that drops steeply towards the coast. They could use watercolors and thorough site analyses to prepare for the task. Additional items on the agenda were visits to historic buildings, such as Villa Noailles and the Fondation Maeght. Back in Hamburg, work on the design started in earnest in the aac studios. Each of the four teams of four students was mentored by an experienced tutor. To complement the curriculum, guest lectures and critique sessions were held with visiting professionals Prof. Dr. Ita Heinze-Greenberg from Zurich Technical University (ETH), Níall McLaughlin of Níall McLaughlin Architects in London, Nuno Mateus of ARX Portugal Arquitectos from Lisbon, and PhD. Arch. Borja Ferrater of OAB (Office of Architecture in Barcelona).
The participants were asked to incorporate the original ideas and to also take into account the requirements of a 21st century academy. In the final presentation on September 27, 2018, the four groups presented their results, which are based on four completely different approaches. Group 1 designed the school as a village with an assembly of small-scale structures. Group 2 designed a monolithic cube with a hollow core that favors movement and enhances cross-vistas and the ingress of light. Group 3 created a topographically determined journey in accordance with the educational maxim that the journey is the destination. Group 4 elaborated on the idea of a roof that protects all individual functions.
The results are still on show until October 19th as an exhibition in the aac studios.