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Casa Vogue Italia nr. 21, Ottobre 2004
“Namaste Corbu” Corbusier villas in Ahmadabad, India.Text Valerio Casali

Häuser nr. 5, May 2006
“Wie die Moderne verschwindet” Oscar Niemeyer’s International Fair,Tripoli, Lebanon. Text Fritz Binne

Casa Vogue Italia nr. 26, Maggio 2006
“Last Chance” Oscar Niemeyer’s International Fair,Tripoli, Lebanon. Text Fritz Binne

Zur 3. Triennale der Photographie finden in Hamburg ab Mitte April bis Mitte Juni mehr als 100 Austellungen unter dem Motto „Archiv der Gegenwart“ statt. In diesem Rahmen erstmals: design days hamburg vom 25. bis 29. Mai 2005, Hamburger Designer stellen aus.
Northpole zeigt vom 25. 5. bis 3. 6. 2005 “Breach Candy” Nachtaufnahmen aus Bombay von Fritz Binne. Öffnungszeiten: Mo-So 15 - 19 h. Eröffnung Dienstag, 24. Mai 19:00 h.

Design Days Hamburg 2005: May 25-29, 2005
Hamburg designers show their work.
Northpole shows “Breach Candy Mumbai” – night shots of Bombay
streets by photographer Fritz Binne
May 25 - June 6, 2005
Open daily: 15 - 19 h.
Opening Reception: Tuesday, May 24, 19 h.

Architektur Photographie
Aufnahmen der Villen von Corbusier in Ahmedabad, Indien: Villa Sarabhai, Shodan House, Mill owners association building, City Museum Ahmedabad

Aufnahmen des Instituts von Louis I. Khan in Ahmedabad, Indien 1963

Bombay Nite

Beirut Nite


Name Shodan
Street Kharawala road
District Gujarat
Place Ahmedabad
Country India
Built 1956
Designed 1955
Type villa
Condition good
Photos by T.Saariste

Villa Shodhan (Ahmedabad, India - 1954) is the result of Le Corbusier’s endeavors to progress his ideologies towards a way of life from the machine age polemic to a more primal relationship between man and his living space. It is one of the ultimate examples of the evolution of the free plan and the development of the free section.

The Villa, based on his earlier Maison Dom-ino, is a series of spaces that explore and challenge normative notions of spatial perception through varying degrees of opacity, transparency, overlap, adjacency, expansion and compression. The structural concrete frame allows an openness in both plan and section, creating spaces prescribed only by one’s movement through them via such connecting devices as the horizontally biased architectural promenade. Although the monolithic nature of an entirely concrete building suggests a static and somewhat mundane quality of space, the opposite is true. From the roughness and randomness of the imprinted wood formwork, to the complexity and infinite perceptions of spaces, Villa Shodhan is inherently and internally unique, tempting the creativity of its inhabitants to play within its vastness. The functions within the house are completely independent from its structure, leading to a collection of flexible, inter-woven spaces, serving whichever programmatic necessity the inhabitant wishes.

Through the absence of interior partitions, Le Corbusier was able to bring natural light into the certain spaces as an architectural material. This, along with the free passage of the warm Indian breeze created a tactile and ever-changing environment with a strong connection to the natural site. In effect, the Villa’s openness is its most tangible trait.

"The plans reveal an evident structural simplicity, but also, countering this, a wonderful plasticity in the handling of the rooms—in their form, their dimensions, in the shadows of the brise-soleiol on the façades and of the roof parasol, and moreover, in the hanging gardens swept by an orchestration of benificent air currents. This plan recalls the ingenuity of the Villa Savoye of 1929-1930 at Poissy, placed here in a tropical and Indian setting."

Villa Sarabhai
Name Sarabhai
Street 4 Shahibag
District Gujarat
Place Ahmedabad
Country India
Built 1956
Designed 1955
Type villa

Home > Article Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Corbu in Ahmadabad

Half a century after Le Corbusier built a villa for an Indian family, the house's architectural and artistic legacy is flourishing

Le Corbusier had reached the zenith of his career in the 1950s, when Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru invited him to design Punjab's state capital, Chandigarh. The textile merchants of Ahmadabad, an industrial city several hundred miles to the south, took advantage of the architect's relative proximity to commission two public buildings and two private ones. Among the latter was Villa Sarabhai, where Le Corbusier cultivated nature's elements to produce the mature fruit of a long career.

Villa Sarabhai's late owner conceived of it as a house without doors—symbolizing limitless hospitality—as well as a refuge from hot and hazy Ahmadabad. She also requested a house that could change with time, adapting and adjusting to the needs of guests and her young sons. Set among a dozen buildings in a verdant 20-acre park owned by her family, the villa was completed in 1955. Her son Anand Sarabhai has lived there ever since.

"Comfort is coolness. It is the current of air. It is the shade. And yet the sun must penetrate at the proper time in favorable seasons," Le Corbusier reportedly proclaimed during the project. After conducting careful research into local climate conditions—characterized by wide fluctuations of temperature and humidity—he settled on the vault as the villa's defining structure. The ground floor comprises 10 parallel brick vaults; four more vaults form the second floor. Temperature drops as one enters the villa, because the vaults direct the movement of air, and the floor's indigenous black stone holds coolness. Since the wind blows primarily from the southwest, the architect oriented the vaults in that direction. Doors built into the southwest end of seven of the vaults can shut out a monsoon or bring in a zephyr. Furthermore, each vault juts 10 to 15 feet beyond the house's cement facade to form a row of sunshades.

Inside, Le Corbusier fulfilled the original owner's desire for flexibility by separating the vaults with white cedar sliding doors. This allows spaces to expand laterally across multiple vaults or contract to create intimate, single-vault rooms. Stationary plaster walls, painted in red, yellow, and blue, punctuate diagonal views across the vaulted interior, bringing new rhythm to the continuity of the black stone, bare cement, and exposed brick. With a seemingly endless variety of perspectives—across solids and through voids—and the constant movement of sunlight, Villa Sarabhai is always in flux.

Furnishings and ornaments were not the work of Le Corbusier. "My mother chose many of the Indian pieces, and I selected much of the modern art," Sarabhai says. The first category includes antique brass religious objects and stone statues of Hindu divinities. Woodblock prints by Roy Lichtenstein and a print by Joan Miró belong to the second.

Name Millowners association building
Street Sri R.C. road
District Gujarat
Place Ahmedabad
Country India
Built 1954
Designed 1952
Type private club
Condition Still in use
MOA, Ahmedabad
Indien Das Gebäude wurde für eine Gruppe der grössten Baumwollspinnereien Indiens gebaut. Es beherbergt die Räume für die Zentralverwaltung und die Generalversammlung. Das Gebäude ist nach den dominierenden Winden ausgerichtet. Genau dem Breitengrad Ahmedabads und dem Sonnenlauf entsprechende Sonnenbrecher befinden sich an der West- und Ostfassade, während die Süd- und Nordfassade nahezu keine Öffnungen aufweisen. [43]

Mill Owners Association Building
This is the headquarters of a prominent association of Indian mill owners. The building is designed in such a way as to frame views of the surrounding landscape and neighbouring cultural events, both for the benefit of the staff in their daily work, and for night views from the stage of the assembly hall. It is oriented according to the prevailing winds, with the east and west facades having their brise-soleil calculated precisely to the appropriate latitude and the course of the sun. The south and north facades are nearly blind.

Materials used include thick brick walls panelled in wood for the assembly hall, unplastered brick for the north and south facades, and unfinished concrete for the east and west facades. The brise-soleil are clad in wood, and the walls in sheet metal. Two elevators serve all the floors, from the lowest level to the roof, and a long ramp provides pedestrian access from the main office floor to the parking lot.

City Museum Ahmedabad

Name City Museum
District Gujarat
Place Ahmedabad
Country India
Built 1956
Designed 1955
Type Museum
Still in use as City Museum.

Louis Khan Ahmedabad

St. Katharinen Hamburg

Steigenberger Hotel Hamburg

Universität Hamburg University

Hafen Livorno port

Oscar Niemeyer, International Fair, Tripoli, Lebanon

Last Chance. Wie die Moderne verschwindet.
Text und Fotos von Fritz Binne

Die International Fair inTripoli ist eines der wenigen verbliebenen Symbole der verschwindenden Moderne der 50er und 60er Jahre im Libanon. Nur wenige Auto-Minuten vom Zentrum entfernt erreicht man die kreisförmig angelegte Anlage. Entworfen von dem Brasilia-Architekten Oscar Niemeyer, wurde die Messe zwischen 1968 und 1974 realisiert, aber wegen des ausbrechenden Bürgerkriegs nie komplett fertiggestellt. Der Komplex umfasst den Eingangs Portico, den Internationalen Pavillon, den Libanesischen Pavillon, ein Experimental Theater, ein Freiluft Theater, ein Museum für kollektives Wohnen und weitere Gebäude wie Restaurant und Aussichtsplatform auf einem parkähnlichen Gelände, das bis zu 50000 Besucher aufnehmen sollte. Das vorherrschende Material, schlichter Stahlbeton, vereinheitlicht das Ensemble und prägt seinen archaischen Charakter. Niemeyer's Intension war es, alle Nationen, in dem, wie ein Boomerang geschwungenen Pavillon zu versammeln und gleichzeitig das gastgebende Land zu highlighten. Seine experimentellen, expressiven Konstruktionen manifestierten eine neue Formensprache die im Widerspruch zur vorhandenen, traditionellen Architektur stand. Sie sind Ausdruck der in diesen Jahren an vielen Stellen im Libanon aufbrechenden Moderne, die, wie hier in Tripoli auch von Seiten des Staates Unterstützung fand. In Beirut entstand beispielsweise das Pan American Building 1952-53, das Shams Building 1957 und die Aysha Bakkar Moschee 1968-71.
Diese Aufbruchsstimmung war Ausdruck eines Zeitgefühls, das nicht nur das Leben im Libanon beeinflusste, sondern in Wellen die gesamte arabische Welt. Für den Libanon stellt diese wichtige Phase einen Moment der Neudefinition und Selbstfindung dar. Ein neuer Charakter, eine neue Realität entstand. Die Gesellschaft war bereit sich zu öffnen, starre Verhaltensmuster aufzubrechen, um kulturelle Brüche und Transformation zuzulassen. Die Formensprache des Brasilianers Niemeyer drückte dies mit architektonischen Mitteln aus: Die Tripoli Fair stellte nicht nur Libanon's modernes Gesicht dar, es steht auch als ein Zeichen für den Schritt in eine neue progressive Gesellschaft.

Professor George Arbid, von der American University in Beirut, der seit langem die Moderne im Libanon erforscht, warnte wiederholt davor, diese Denkmäler der jüngeren libanesischen Geschichte auszulöschen. Zusammen mit anderen libanesischen Intellektuellen versucht er durch öffentliche Lesungen, Poster Kampagnen und Artikel, ein öffentliches Bewusstsein für die Bauten der 50er und 60er Jahre zu schaffen. "Today," schrieb er, "the Fair is subjected to the same disarray that touches architecture in Lebanon, namely a widespread pastiche of tradition and a misapprehension on architectural identity. A design released recently threatens to totally transform the nature of the Fair Grounds. It became clear that an awareness campaign is necessary to preserve the original scheme and buildings, while promoting the use of the Fair Grounds in an appropriate way, before it is too late." Das von Arbid angesprochene Design ist ein geplantes Investment auf dem Gelände der Tripoli Fair in Form eines Freizeitkomplexes mit Amusement Park, Wasserpark und einem Einkaufszentrum. Die Planung orientiert sich an traditionellen Motiven, die dem kulturellen Erbe Libanons verpflichtet sind, dabei aber in Kauf nimmt, dass eben solche signifikanten Beispiele der Geschichte des Landes, wie die Fair, komplett entstellt werden oder sogar ganz verschwinden.

Die Kräfte, die den ambitionierten Rekonstruktionsplan im Libanon seit mehr als 10 Jahren vorantreiben, zeigen wenig Verständnis für diese Zeugnisse der Vergangenheit, sondern versuchen, die Rolle als bedeutendes Tourismuszentrum im östlichen Mittelmeer wieder zu erlangen. Dabei favorisieren sie einen Formenkanon, der sich vornehmlich an einer nostalgischen, pseudo-traditionellen Ersatzoptik orientiert. Nur wenige Architekten, wie z.B. der junge Bernard Khouri, schaffen es, den Faden der Geschichte wieder aufzunehmen und mit mutigen und zeitgemässen Projekten zu punkten.
Letztlich wird auch hier zwischen dem Denkmalwert der Anlage und den wirtschaftlichen Interessen abgewogen werden, wobei die Chancen für den Erhalt von Oscar Niemeyer's International Fair nicht sehr rosig sind. Ein kleiner Lichtblick: Das Ensemble wurde auf die World Monument Watch List der 100 most endangered Sites für 2006 gesetzt.

Dall’ alto in senso orario.

The Experimental Theatre, designed as a flexible theatre layout, has a circular rotating scene. It is covered by a concrete shell cupola. At the southeast side, a staircase leads to the main entrance and to the atrium of the theatre, which is located at the basement level. The atrium is open to the upper floor. The number of seats was planned for approximately 1000.

The portico’s pavilion is divided into two floors, an upper level and an intermediate level. Both levels are based on an open plan layout. The upper level was supposed to house the service center for exhibitions, buyers, and visitors. The lower level was planned as a rest area with toilets, lockers, and writing desks. All external finishes are in fair-faced concrete. Finishes inside the pavilion are mainly white marble on the upper floor, terrazzo for the lower floor and white emulsion paint for the ceilings. Fenestration frames are in aluminum.

The arch and the ramp leading to the open-air theatre along the water tower with rooftop restaurant.

The Lebanese pavilion represents a modern interpretation of Lebanese architecture. Consisting of an inner court defined by screens of light arches and a main core of glass. The entire structure is located in the middle of a reflective pool surrounded by green areas.

View from ramp towards pool and Lebanese pavilion along platform with staircase.

37degree | northpole | eye03| fritzbinne