Information Based Architecture (IBA), is an office co-founded by the architect Mark Hemel together with his partner, Barbara Kuit in 1998, while they were still in London. The office is called “information based” in order to clearly break with the common state of architecture at that time. In 2003 they moved their office to Amsterdam, while they focus their work currently on Europe, China and Africa. They have won several high-profile competitions, the most important being the design for the 600 metres (2,000 ft) tall Canton Tower which has been opened to the public.
The background of both Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit are linked to the graduation of Delft University. Mark Hemel, after his post graduate studies at the Architectural Association in London, began teaching at the AA. From 1999 to 2008 he taught as Unit-master at the Architectural Association in London since 1999 and later in the post-graduate Environment and Energy program. His partner has also been part of the renowned Architectural Association in London, as a visiting critic, between 1999-2007. The first years IBA was based in London, but since 2003 they operate from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The architectural approach of Mark Hemel is best stated in the following statement:
Architecture should be valued only after the physical form of architecture has come into being, and we should get away of valuing architecture on the basis of conceptual text, sexy images. Architecture cannot fully be photographed, not fully be described in text, and not fully be captured in an image.
“We have to focus on making our work more “information based” or we might get side-lined and more and more irrelevant”. (Mark Hemel)
The approach towards information based architecture is best described in the design of the Canton Tower, developed alongside with ARUP engineering firm. The shape is created by a rotation between lower and upper level floor plates, characterized by a twist and narrowing elliptical waist of only about 22m. Maybe the most important part of the design task is that the location required that the tower would withstand earthquakes and typhoons.
The design emphasizes the outdoor and physical experience for visitors. The waist of the tower contains an open-air skywalk. There are outdoor gardens set within the structure, and a large open-air observation landscape opens up magnificent views over the city of Guangzhou, China.
Spatially, the tower appears as a series of mini buildings hung within the superstructure. The roofs of these buildings are used as sky gardens, where visitors can feel weather variations at different heights. After sunset the tower appears as a luminous icon on Guangzhou’s skyline. LED fixtures which are integrated into the structure illuminate from within.
The book, the movie, the reality
Maybe an article or a testimony does not suffice to grasp the true insight of what the construction of a 610 meter, one of the world’s tallest building looks like. The movie, ‘Reaching for the Sky’ shows to the public the harshness of working at an international commission, where modifications are made to the original design, without the architect to be aware of them.
Reaching for the Sky candidly shows the personal and professional dilemmas of young architect Mark Hemel who, together with his wife, architect Barbara Kuit, seems to achieve his highest ambition with his first assignment. (documentary by Bert Oosterveld & Peter Franken)
Hemel is the author of a book entitled ‘Supermodel, the making of the world’s tallest TV tower (2011)’. One of the stories of the book relates to the problem of the lack of legislation and working methods to satisfy a building of this size and height. The chosen methodology, which was developed while construction proceeded, can be cited as an example of how to handle new projects of this scale. Supermodel reports at length on the project’s origins, history, design and construction as well as the work situation in China, which seems increasingly to act as an incubator for experimental architecture.
The 20th edition of SHARE FORUM in Bucharest
SHARE Bucharest 2019 International Architecture and Engineering Forum will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel and will gather over 350 architects, landscape, designers, lightning designers, engineers, urbanists, real estate developers and from public institutions, architecture and design students, companies with innovative solutions in the construction field, other professionals related to architecture filed.
The 20th edition of SHARE Bucharest will have 3 panels: Official Plenary Session, Facades, and Special Guest Presentation. Special Guest Wolf D. Prix, Co-founder Design Principal and CEO at COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, will hold a special presentation and debate.
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