This project takes the traditional principle of the city block with its formal exterior and private garden courtyards and turns it inside out, so that the fronts face inwards and the rear elevations outwards.
Ordinarily it is the front that gets most of the architect s attention, the rear suffering as a result.
The history of architecture is a history of facades the buildings seem to have had no backs at all! Architects always searched for a formal order they preferred to ignore the other side of the coin, the bustle of everyday life. And this is still largely true today, even though the design of public housing has in the course of this century become a full-fledged branch of architecture. There is still that invisible and subconscious dividing line between architecture with a capital A and without.
The about-turn effected here means that the rear elevations are now exposed and all sides are consequently front facades, while the interior courtyard rejoins the public realm. The whole issue of inside and outside has become irrelevant.
The segments of circle comprising the plan consist of a hard immutable skin, like an arc of amphitheatre such as the examples in Arles and Lucca, built to last and able to receive less enduring infills.
Whereas the enfolding arcs can house the ever essential offices functions, the paunches were originally designed for a wide diversity of studios for various clients. It is this diversity that makes its mark on the outside world, while the uniformity of the office side faces inwards.
There were several versions made of this proposal, one of which allowed the internal space to be roofed with glass as an atrium. In that case, the result would have been uncomfortably close to a system of arcades and then the disadvantages would have been foregrounded. For in activating all the sides, backs as well as fronts, the dilemma arises of where to place the entrances.
This project looks ahead to the principle we applied in Düren and other urban planning reversals. There, however, the inner side of the block was unambiguously chosen as the street side with the entrances placed there, and a predominantly green area of private gardens enfolding the block.




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