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Goh Chee Hou U30099 Dissertation 25.01.2013

A dissertation presented to the School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University in part fulfilment of the regulations for BA (Hons) in Architecture. Statement of Originality This dissertation is an original piece of work which is made available for copying with permission of the Head of the School of Architecture Signed ______________ Chee Hou Goh

-Definition of Starchitecture and Starchitect -Research Direction


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Chapter 1.1 Case Study. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Positive Side. Chapter 1.2 Case Study. Centre Georges Pompidou. Positive Side. Chapter 2.1 Case Study. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Negative Side. Chapter 2.2 Case Study. Centre Georges Pompidou. Positive Side. Conclusion Bibliography Images References

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.0: Centre Georges Pompidou 06 .Starchitecture… a very interesting term.. but what is Starchitecture? Figure 1.

it should then be understood as architecture specifically designed by a Starchitect.’ a new font that can be used by any architect who is making a building that has lots of glass or is curvy. 2011) 07 . she decided to create a new typeface.” Due to that request. The term has been widely used in design journalism in recent years: “Starchitect. or has some kind of skin of patterning or big type and/or logos sandblasted onto it or all of these features at once.” (Scher. Since Starchitecture is the derivative of Starchitect. This was how it was written in the magazine: “Introducing ‘Starchitecture. for its 30th anniversary issue. Pentagram’s first female principal Paula Scher was asked by Metropolis magazine. to explain a buzzword which was coined by journalists in the late 1990s in response to the “Bilbao Effect” from Frank Gehry. the word derives from a combination of “star” and “architect” referring to a film star who designed a house in 1940. to describe the boldness of these wealthy celebrity architects. In 2011. together with designer Drew Freeman.The Oxford dictionary defines a Starchitect as a famous or high-profile architect.

as time passes by. as the discussion and comments. more daring or conservative. while any architects’ works may actually become Starchitecture one day. I believe that Starchitecture should be treated as a trend of architecture. although each trend is unique.iconic. intensify. what has been understood as Starchitecture is a type of design which is iconic and always highly visible in its context. a trend is defined as a general tendency or direction in which something is developing or changing. Starchitecture could hence be compared to trends while the city or country would be the person. In this case. she does not state that Starchitecture must be the work of a Starchitect but implies instead that anyone can do it.From the statement of Scher. Starchitecture indeed suitably matches this definition: Through my research. Does it mean that the words “Starchitect” and “Starchitecture” are not firmly connected and related to each other? Can we say that the buildings designed by Starchitects may not necessarily become Starchitecture at the end. more complicated or simpler than the previous one. they still share the same objective which is to promote the person itself. However. Interestingly. Figure 2. many different fashion trends are created and each of them always has the surprising ability to be fresh. distinctive special.0: Starchitecture. a design statement. I have noticed that it always becomes representative of the city or country it is promoting. if they meet the requirements set out by Paula Scher or if they are iconic? It was meant to be tongue-incheek when the word Starchitecture was created. Figure 3.comparable with Starchitecture 08 . good or bad. Each season. It is comparable to fashion. and an essential landmark. its meaning seems to get stronger and. even the Starchitects themselves are beginning to worry about the way they should be addressed.0: Fashion.

while complying with structural limitations. is totally different: instead of experimenting. they are somehow able to brilliantly express their conceptual ideas through simple forms and shapes. while Santiago Calatrava has been pushing the limits of structural engineering by using mostly concrete for his curved skeletal designs. designed by architects who follow the general rules and principles of architecture. it seems like the former could be correlated to an experiment on architecture since Starchitects are very daring in the way they use materials for example. 09 . how the interior is connected to the exterior and so on. When comparing Starchitecture and canonic architecture. how the interior spaces are pleasantly linked to each other. This is what canonic architects do not do. Figure 4.0: Titanium Cladded Facets. Canonic architecture meanwhile. Zaha hadid or Santiago Calatrava do design very similarly for most of their buildings by using the same principle. same materials. Indeed. he focuses greatly on how people feel when they are in the building. Daniel Libeskind. Canonic architects do not usually go beyond what is necessary and do not have a fixed recognizable pattern/ style in their design. For example.0: Santiago Calatrava’s building. In contrast. Louis Kahn does not aim to maintain uniformity throughout his work instead. same colour and even same shape/ form throughout their creations. Figure 5.The opposite of Starchitecture is Canonic architecture. Frank Gehry is reknowned for his used of Titanium on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. the canonic architects make reasonable use of the materials available for their designs. Frank Gehry. Yet.

words of mouth through the international students or workers. Figure 7. reputation gained from achievements from many different fields like sports and so on. rather to explain that there must be some qualities missing in some Starchitecture which makes them fail to convince the general public to accept them as good architecture. Here I do not intend to celebrate these two buildings or to state that they are the perfect models of Starchitecture. Of course. However. in a short period of time. it is still considered as one of the most efficient ways to promote the city in the form of iconic landmarks. Some people who are very much impressed by extravagant shapes and forms might think that they are brilliant buildings. 10 . people who admire buildings which are beyond shapes and forms will find Starchitecture overwhelming and exaggerating.Figure 6. or as stunning as the Centre Georges Pompidou by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. In contrast. All Starchitecture. I decided to study Starchitecture in particular because I believe that it is something essential for a developing city or country hoping to attract more attention from people around the world. many different factors are to be taken into account to fulfill the same purpose: for instance the interaction among the countries. as tourism is growing rapidly due to people’s huge interest in travelling. however does not necessarily become a landmark as not all buildings are as beautifully constructed as the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry. .0: How good will it be?-Centre Georges Pompidou’s public space.0: Perfect model to be studied ?Guggenheim museum Bilbao night view.

but what are the factors which help them become well-known? Is it simply because Starchitects are all geniuses who have extraordinary design abilities? No. it has to be something special and interesting in terms of the form of the building. the use of materials and the facilities provided. To attract attention visually. it is definitely a ‘’No’’ as this can be explained with my research. As defined. the components sometimes serving little or no structural role. the order of spaces within it to inform the movement of visitors. These are the ideas: creative and innovative ideas that may divide architects into different levels: those who always display these qualities will slowly become the focus of the mass media. here is an interesting question: Architect + ? = Starchitect A logical answer to the question mark could be something to do with creativity and innovation. it is essential to understand what makes an architect a Starchitect. Frank Gehry who became famous only after the completion of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum. Starchitects mean famous or highprofile architects. a 20th century contemporary building renowned for its extraordinary curved cladding facets of titanium. Another example is the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in the style of high-tech architecture which reveals completely the structure of the building. They will gain fame mostly through their designs which will be built for instance. 11 . Starchitecture is about attracting people’s attention visually on the very first place.To begin with. Before going too far.

However. Concrete is a heavy material but he uses it in the opposite way: all the curved or skeletal buildings that he designs look unexpectedly light and as if they are about to fly. books. which is having a strong public relation. experimentation. All of them are designed out of fantastic and original ideas but most of them are of low detailing quality and craftsmanship. They have slowly drifted away from the very basic functional requirements as of a building. It is risky and time consuming as because a new and original idea will rarely have and most often does not have any precedent to refer to. However.Creative and Innovative ideas come from experimentation. it is done mostly on the use of material. Santiago Calatrava is one of the best examples of this as he is pushing the limit of architecture by using mostly concrete to build the world’s most daring structures. Figure 8. articles. Innovative and creative ideas. these are the keys to be a Starchitect. exhibition. risk taking or daring. there is another important element to make them all work. Today. Starchitecture is all about promoting works through all sorts of media e. especially businessmen and city leaders who are looking for something out of the ordinary to attract visitors. press conference. Experimentation itself can be in a large or small scale and Starchitects are always big fans of large scale experimentation for their iconic design.g. and so on to gain fame but they have to be extraordinary as mentioned earlier.0: Public Relation 12 . Undoubtedly. experimentation exposes architects to more opportunities of getting attention from influential people. what Starchitecture is more focusing on is the recognition of the public but not the architectural value as a service to serve people in the best possible way. a very biased reality. In architecture. in a way no one could ever think of.

e. 2. again. i. contains three goals: 1. Look at the positive and negative of Starchitecture.This dissertation. 3. Figure 9. To explore and form my own opinion on Starchitecture by using mainstream and alternative media. To find out what can improve Starchitecture. taking the benefits and learning from the detrimental effects.0: Image 13 . the benefits and detrimental effects Starchitecture has on cities around the world.

Figure 10. How is it that an architectural movement could receive nearly an equal number of compliments and criticisms? People tend to like a design when it is visually attractive and elegantly drawn or hate it if it is simply ugly at the first glance. I was exposed to a lot of different types of architecture.0: Stylish building that I admired. I am wondering why a person. Even a professional architecture critic could somehow be biased on his/her architectural preferences. I started to appreciate architectures with simple forms because they are able to bring certain necessary feelings to the users and avoid unnecessary design. futuristic. there is a phenomenon that makes me wonder and here it is what I am wondering. From a student’s perspective. Moreover. why should anyone have any preconceptions on those buildings which are not even being built yet? 14 . Their perception towards the same design might or might not change after having a better understanding of it through reading articles or architectural reviews by journalists or random bloggers. And this Starchitecture has caused the strongest response both positives and negatives from people such as architecture critics. There was a phenomenon that would make me wonder and confused until now. I am surrounded by many people who have their own very logical and sometimes even emotional opinions toward a certain type of architecture. colour and material so that it doesn’t lose its aesthetical quality. journalists. since I joined the university. However. architecture critic. architects and students. The problem here is that those articles and reviews could be very subjective and not all of them are reliable. As I mentioned before. architect or student would have such an emotional response to Starchitecture by judging the buildings simply through photos or renders and information provided by the journalists.There are an infinite number of issues about architecture in this 21st century but why did I choose “Starchitecture” as my dissertation topic? I was like many other students who admired cool. unlike those stylish buildings that I used to love. They impressed me a lot: indeed I think it is the hardest thing to achieve to design a very simple building in terms of shape. funky buildings simply because they had the “spaceship-like” shape and form. whether a journalist.

academics. the museum was the building most frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980. unconventional and visually attractive. and the general public were all completely united about something. Starchitecture buildings are somehow very expensive and each of the Starchitects has their very own style. Starchitecture are normally being built to aim to be used as landmarks to promote an unpopular city to attract more visitors from foreign countries. on Starchitecture. a lot of criticisms are now being made on Gehry’s other designs of a very similar style. His Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is known as one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture and the building has even been greeted as a “signal moment in the architectural culture”. They are efficient in achieving these two main goals because they are iconic. For the private sector. for the government. Here is a question. is it because they have been influenced by others’ opinions? Or. However. Figure 11. these are the two main reasons why some people hate them so much. in a very unconventional way?” Is it due to people getting bored with his designs because they always look the same? Or. Nevertheless. Frank Gehry is a very good example to illustrate this situation. 15 . mainly to improve the economy. to generate income or improve the economy of certain places. 2010) In the 2010 World Architecture Survey among architecture experts. because it represents “one of those rare moments when critics. Starchitecture is well-known in publicizing their name or brand to the whole world. it cannot be denied that Starchitecture has become too present almost everywhere in the world. The functions of the building itself are usually coming second to how the building looks like in these matters. too overwhelming.Certainly.”(Tyrnauer. do they hate it just simply because they feel they will never have the talent to design like him? There are so many possibilities that will lead to the wrong judgments on these designs. From what I have understood and observed as a student.0: Frank Gehry’s work are all as similar as this.” Why are Gehry’s other buildings not being celebrated as much as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao since they were all designed using a similar methodology. How is it that even a single opinion on a building becomes very important as it will somehow affect others’ perception on that building too. Many developers from the private sector or from the government tend to hire Starchitects to design their buildings because of their high reputation but also because they know that their very elegantly designed and iconic buildings are the best tools.

And today. And what did we do? We believe. religion is so strong and important. anything. the origin of architecture as a service to the people will never change. we should retain a neutral perspective on a building before we understand it fully. no one has ever proved which religion is the right one to follow. I will begin my research by keeping such a neutral perspective as part of my methodology. It is like the “faith” in religions. Hence. No matter how different architecture has become compared to that of the past or how it is going to evolve in the future.You. we must find a way to work out rationally on how it is going to work and think on behalf of the users. 16 . humans tend to live in a world of irrational “beliefs” where unless they have proved it wrong. is right. reader and I have no difference as we are both humans. No judgments should be made on any building or in other words. Architecture is different. we should never just “believe” how well a building is going to work instead.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao .1 17 Case Study.C HAPTER 1. Positive Side.

The only difference between the two is that Gehry received the prize before he designed the museum while Piano and Rogers received it afterward. and the natural light piercing through the stained-glass windows. Through my research. I am not supporting or going against Starchitecture. One of them is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao which was designed by the 1989 Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry. these were Johnson’s very own feelings. Once they close their eyes and start praying.audaciously designated it as “the greatest building of our time. Even if God does not exist the cathedral is able to deliver the message. subjective perceptions and opinions as a visitor who experienced this unique space. stood in the atrium of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and gestured up to the twisted pillars supporting the glass-and steel ceiling. This building has been mentioned twice earlier on as it seems like a key element to be explored and studied as a successful example of Starchitecture.” Breaking into heavy sobs. very far but comforting. he added. I will begin with the positives and follow with the negatives in the next. Philip Johnson. 18 . I have chosen two buildings as examples of Starchitectures that have been highly complimented. In this chapter. The other one is the Centre Georges Pompidou which was also designed by Pritzker Prize winners. In February 1998. Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers who were honored in year 1998 and 2007 respectively. “I get the same feeling in the Chartres Cathedral. It is similar to the impression one gets when entering a sacred space. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao had just opened its doors and Johnson. up to the very details of its facade. instead.Starchitecture is not a very new topic but is still highly perplexing. To begin with. The cathedral has indeed singularly been preserved in its original state. starting from the dramatic exterior and following with the discovery of the beautifully crafted walls and ceiling of the nave. in order to define a clearer picture of how well Starchitecture may work. I am interested in looking at both aspects of this trend: the positives and the negatives. the principal apostle of the two most influential architecture movements in of the 20th century-Modernism and Postmodernism. He declared: “Architecture is not about words.” He went as far as calling Gehry “the greatest architect we have today. I am hoping that it will later allow me to form a fair opinion about it. It’s about tears.” The atmosphere of the ostentatious museum touched Johnson so profoundly that he ventured into comparing it to what is regarded as one of the greatest achievements in the history of architecture.” However. relaxed and closer to God. His comparison between the Museum and the Cathedral asserted our belief that the Starchitecture of Frank Gehry presents an analogous feeling to the users: grand. at the age of 91. the believers feel calm. the first-ever winner of the Pritzkers Prize known as the godfather of Modern Architecture .

. and you will absorb all its audacity. visitors should expect to get confused at first when looking at the random shapes of the structure. According to Ballard’s portrayal of the museum. And its infantilising charm. In its interview to the Guardian.”(Ballard.0: Guggenheim Museum titanium facets When looking at the Guggenheim Museum and to illustrate how it sits in its surroundings it can be useful to refer to descriptions made by the visitors: “The one thing that someone visiting the Bilbao Guggenheim can forget about is any thought of actually entering the building. and 19 .G. J. soon however these will begin to make sense as their eyes get accustomed to a new kind of language .Gehry’s language a Starchitect’s language. magic. at a distance of about one hundred yard. an English novelist and shortstory writer famous for his work Crash (1973) and the semi-autobiographical Empire of the Sun (1984) beautifully described here the enchanting power of the museum. he added.Figure 12. Gehry’s innovative and creative style turned the Museum into a revolution in the world of architecture. and you will see the Bilbao Guggenheim in all its gilded magnificence. good humour and genius. Stay outside it. 2007) Ballard. “Stop when you have crossed the Nervión. its immense and slightly baggy volumes reflected in the river and the ornamental pools of the plaza that separates the museum from the water’s edge” describing how Gehry made use of the adjacent river Nervión.

it went into a difficult transition to high-service industries. a former wine warehouse into a cultural facility. The reason behind this commission was complex. Ballard even declared. we should also take a step back to discuss whether it has efficiently overcome the problems existing in Bilbao before its construction. Guggenheim Foundation was sponsoring the project. the Basque Administration decided to convert the Alhóndiga.000 square meters along Bilbao’s Alameda de Relcalde. in the faces of recession and with the shipbuilding production being moved to Asia. As a result.0: Alhóndiga Figure 14. The Alhóndiga was constructed in the early 20th century and was one of the first cast-concrete structures built in Spain. Financial resources had been allocated toward its reconstruction and the Solomon R. An intermodal passenger station handled by the firm of James Stirling. but in the late 20th century. Bilbao was determined to finding solutions and put up a holistic plan in which major resources were devoted to urban renewal. the city suffered an extremely high unemployment rate of up to 25 percent. Michael Wilford and Figure 13.” Aside from analysing the design of the building through the words of Philip Johnson. James Graham Ballard and other influential people. it covered an area of 28. Bilbao had been hosting a vibrant mercantile and industrial community since the latter part of the 19th century. “In some ways the building is the larval stage of a new kind of architecture that will emerge from its chrysalis and finally take wing a hundred years from now. as well as pollution and violent attacks from the extremist Basque separatists known as the ETA. The city created a new subway line designed by the architect Sir Norman Foster.0: Nervión River 20 . severe traffic congestion caused by busy river port and a poor public transport system. and traditional industries became obsolete. running toward the Nervión River. Other problems included urban deterioration. In early 1991.set him apart from the other Starchitects. the city was actually facing some serious problems. a new airport terminal and a suspension bridge crossing the Nervión River designed by Santiago Calatrava.

The selection committee found more interesting the Starchitecture-style proposals of both the American and the Viennese architects. the fabric of that particular area of the city would be affected if the exterior was to be torn down. Prix and Helmut Swiczinky. 21 . Gehry recalled. Gehry’s choice of site for the Guggenheim Museum indirectly determined the fate of Bilbao and its future development. The Basque population was very enthusiastic at the thought of converting the abandoned Alhóndiga into a contemporary art exhibition space to upgrade their city. However. Isozaki’s architectural proposal for the museum was rather monolithic and hardly connected to the Puente de la Salve.” […] “Coop Himmelblau had done a very sensitive job…. Krens recalls. This is where the collaboration with the Guggenheim Foundation became profitable. He felt that the Alhóndiga was not suitable to be restored into a museum as he believed both tearing down and preserving the exterior would create problems. prior to winning this unique commission. the skin seemed to be eliminated. but because of the glow at night. However.Wright. in an interview in 1995.You walked into spaces of different shapes. “It was not immediate that it was going to be Frank. while away from the urban centre the town actively developed waterfronts. “The aim of the selection committee was to choose a building that would be greater than sum of its parts and with a strong iconic identity of its own so that people would want to visit the building for itself. nor did they have the expertise to run an important museum.Associates was created. while preserving the exterior would cause contradiction in terms of scale and style.” Figure 15. new drainage and water/ventilation systems. an important requirement of the program.The rectilinear shapes were actually going to be translated and suspended inside the grid….” when he was invited by Thomas Krens. Gehry had to compete with another two architects: the Japanese Isozaki and the Viennese team of Wolf D.0: Guggenheim Museum by Frank L. public plazas. This was a very interesting idea. Still they did not have an internationally renowned art collection to display. 1997) In comparison with Coop Himmelblau and Gehry’s architectural proposals. new offices. the director of the Guggenheim Foundation. Namely. industrial and technology parks and a seaport. residential and leisure complexes were built in the city.”(Bruggen. while being respectful of the art to be shown in it: The inescapable analogy was Wright’s Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue. In the end he chose the site by the river because it was going through a redevelopment and because of its interesting location under the bridge. known as Coop Himmelblau. “My advice was to move the Museum somewhere else.

from across the river and from the City hall Bridge. the Basque Country had generated added value and wealth in its economy amounting to more than 481 million euros in just three years and two and a half months. extended their stay in order to visit it. highway tools. It was followed by shopping. More impressively. He dedicated an important part of the design to creating harmonious relationship between the building and its context. Spending of accommodation was 140 million euros. Gehry won the commission. the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao began to carry out a survey to look at its contribution to the transformation of the Basque Autonomous Region. his proposal also allowed a wide range of artworks to be exhibited: from small paintings to huge thought-provoking installations. as part 22 . I mentioned earlier the problems that Bilbao was facing before the museum was built. the number of jobs maintained had gone up to 4. The direct spending by these visitors amounted to more than 600 million euros. I now intend to look at how Starchitecture helped in tackling them. I have demonstrated why a Guggenheim Museum was needed in the city of Bilbao. To conclude. which was an average spending of 173. how Gehry got involved in this project. an annual average of 4. Besides that.000 jobs had been maintained due to the generation of wealth and activities generated by the existence of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.or fourth-tier city. In 1998. having come for different reasons. significantly reduced according to the data above. 157 million euros in shops and stores.893 and in 2007. its tourism industry and its economy in general. because his proposal had a stronger connection to the city. Company Tax and Income Tax for the Basque Treasury Departments. the amount of direct expenditure. he wanted strong visual connections from three places: the Museo de Bellas Artes.80 euros per person. In the years following the opening of the Museum this trend continued.In the end however. before the construction of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. bars and cafeterias. The troubles that the Bilbao had been facing. etc. In the report of the summarized results of the survey for the period from October 1997 to 31st December 2000 a few main results emerged. catering had benefited the most from the trade generated by the Museum. with 212 million euros spent in restaurants. the Museum had a total of 3. In this period of time. Among all the sectors. transport benefited by 35 million euros spent on gasoline. the waterfront. In other words. GDP generated and treasury revenue was the highest since 1997. in 2005. What of the 25 percent unemployment rate? GMB has created and maintained more than enough job opportunities for this third. why this specific site was chosen and finally how the American genius won over the architecture committee. This additional economic activity had further created more than 90 million euros of additional revenue. in the form of VAT. How did it help the traditional industries that were becoming obsolete? They could be restored and opened to the visitors who are attracted by the GMB.6 million visitors with 83% coming to Bilbao exclusively to see the Museum or.

because of its declining support in recent years. higher attention from other countries and a more systematic development of the city was seen as a big threat to the ETA and may even have contributed to ETA’s decision to disband the group in November 2012. Was there an impact on the violence from the extremist Basque separatists (ETA)? The additional income of an average 20 million euros each year. Figure 16. poor public transport system and pollution in the city? The excellent responses from the visitors from both outside and inside the country would definitely give more confidence to the Basque Country to give priority to the development of Bilbao.0: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao next to the waterfront. 23 .of the increase tourism to Bilbao. severe traffic congestion caused by the busy riverport. What of the other problems such as urban deterioration. after fighting a 45-year campaign for Basque independence. in order to enhance the high tourism opportunity in the surroundings of GMB.

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Positive Side.C HAPTER 1. Centre Georges Pompidou .2 25 Case Study.

and is 20 years older than the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Before looking at the analyses of the economic impact of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s activities and its long term contribution to the city.Figure 17. In the 1960s.Human activities at public space. 26 .the Centre Georges Pompidou. Before exploring the possible negative side of Starchitecture. which mainly created fame for the city and architect. French government planners decided to move a food market from Les Halles located in the 1st arrondissement to the outskirts of Rungis. Starchitecture was for me only an iconic building in a city.0: Centre Georges Pompidou. But now. it is important to look at another Starchitecture which was built in 1997. I have developed an understanding of the very important reasons behind building Starchitecture.

as Paris lacked any large. generalpurpose library. Georges Pompidou. a proposal was made suggesting that they be occupied by Paris’ poor cultural institutions. free. the “mixed-use library-plus-arts-centre concept” for Beaubourg was born after the president decided to include some better spaces for the National Modern Art Museum by putting both a library and a center for the contemporary arts in the same building. which meant that the level of success would be fully depend on the level of public involvement. totalling 1 million sq ft for an approximate cost (in 1973) of 280 million French francs. with the brief of designing “A cultural centre to consist of four major specialist activities: Museum of Modern Art. together with supporting services such as car park restaurant etc.This decision caused controversy over the future of the market structures. there was a demand for an adequate public library. 2012)The design scheme’s proposal by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers was chosen as the winner. Piano and Rogers had chosen to expand the given brief by not ignoring specialist needs. Out of the 681 entries.. for the construction of a new library. by a jury team made up of 10 people: Jean Prouve (president). castiron and glass pavilions designed by a 19th century architect named Victor Baltard. 1994)Due to their important historical value. 27 . Further to these. These structures were a collection of fine. a reference library. ducts and conduits. Philip Johnson. Wilhelm Sandberg. Sir Frank Francis. Although the focus was to save Baltard’s structure in Les Halles. the idea of having a library had received widespread support and led to the announcement of a new site. to be completed by December 1976. a centre of industrial design. Gaetan Picon (vice-president). Figure 18. Herman Liebaers and Henri Pierre Maillard. Emile Aillaud. which was to design a centre not just for the tourists but also for the people who lived in the neighbourhood. Michel Laclotte. for cultural activities. In December 1969. Another suggestion was to have the structures used for a proper modern art museum rather than the Musée National d’Art Moderne (National Modern Art Museum) with the aim of restoring Paris as a visual arts centre.”(Banham and Partridge.0: Centre Georges PompidouColoured pipes. This library was then adopted by the new president. and a centre for music and acoustic research. They aimed to create a truly dynamic and well-serviced meeting space where activities overlapped and that they did not want a centre divided into four water tight departments. (Silver. Oscar Niemeyer.

The research into the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has shown it has had very positive economic impact on Bilbao and it is still doing so now.“Oil Refinery” Figure 20. In the previous explanation of how one could become a Starchitect.0: Centre Georges Pompidou . makes it.0: Oil Refinery 28 . A comprehensive programme. Studying both buildings allowed me to understand the needs of a city for a Starchitecture in a different time and place. from housewives to professionals. There was a lot of opposition from people who hated the idea of having a building which they said looks like an oil refinery in a historic district and an outcry arose against the construction of the glass and metal building located in Figure 19. become more interesting and approachable to a wider range of visitor from children to the elderly.The Centre Georges Pompidou was celebrated as “the most avant-garde building in the world” when it first established in the 1970s. Therefore. as it refers to a building which is experimental or innovative. I mentioned that being innovative and experimental in designing a building is one of the few major keys to achieve that. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Centre Georges Pompidou are both Starchitecture but they were built in two different centuries and separated by a gap of two decades. This is why Centre Georges Pompidou is grouped under Starchitecture even though the word “Starchitecture” had not been used to describe a building such as Centre Georges Pompidou in 1970s. museums had created a very strong impression in the community that they belonged in a conservative and traditional building that was until the Centre Georges Pompidou was built. Its existence has radically changed the paradigm of a museum as an urban monument with its strong high-tech language which was in complete contrast to the surrounding buildings. This avant-gardist novelty is one very important quality in making a building a Starchitecture. this was part of the scheme in the architects’ proposal. what about Paris? What are the contributions of Centre Georges Pompidou to the city as a Starchitecture? In 1970s and earlier. a supposed-solemn building.

giving transparency and movement to the building when viewing it from outside in. In addition to that recent research(Banham and Partridge. it brought the sense of novelty to the people in the city with cheerful colours. the elevator motor rooms were painted orange and lastly. visitors who are using the plaza or the performers to have visual interaction with the activities that are going on in the building. Corridors. or an easier path for the public to learn about each other’s culture by providing this plaza for cultural activities. Yes. it had also effectively encouraged local performers to show their impressive performances to the public. enormously enlarged.” (Barranha. Apart from being a new kind of building in the city. or a wireless when the back panel has been taken off. any elements in the building that allow movement were painted red.” (Silver. columns and bracing. Besides that. 2009) Piano and Rogers had purposefully used only half of the given site for the Museum and another half is utilised as public space for the interaction of people because there were not many public spaces available at that time. This huge success in being attractive to the visitors would be mostly due to the uniqueness of the Museum with it being inside out. are exposed on the outside”. it was a new experience. including street performance. In spite of the fact that this structure has overwhelmingly contrasted with the surrounding historic buildings. 2012) states that “all vertical connections are run along the east and west sides of the building. and has been welcoming over 25. On the other side of the building is the Rue du Renard road with busy traffic and this leaves the plaza as a quiet public space. fire stairs. lifts. ducts.its originally designed visitors’ capacity. it became an instant success. escalators. which normally interrupt floor spaces. instead of 5000 visitors per day. without even needed them being inside the building. when the museum opened in December 1977. the electrical elements were painted yellow. especially to those visitors from all over the world. the whole Centre was located on the eastern edge to block out the noise from the traffic. even the architectural historian Mark Girouard made fun of it by describing the Rue de Renard side of the building as “a little like the back of a refrigerator. Moreover.the centre of Beaubourg neighbourhood. it has created more opportunities. which complete the institutional programme with various leisure and cultural activities. 1994) However. This technique of blocking traffic noise had been 29 . “The layout of the centre highlighted the importance of the external spaces. ventilation was painted blue. the structure and largest ventilation components were painted white.000 visitors per day. This intelligent decision by the architects not only fulfilled the requirements for various leisure and cultural activities as part of the design brief. These qualities allow passers-by. Piano and Rogers had brilliantly avoided the construction difficulty by moving all the components outside the building and yet were able to show their architectural expression through the coloured components: stairs and elevator structures were painted silver grey. Centre Georges Pompidou has also played an important role in bringing the public together.

that crosses the main façade. 30 . a centre of industrial design and a centre for music and acoustic research: these are the facilities provided by the Centre as requested by The Ministries for Cultural Affairs. it was not only about bringing the world’s attention to Paris and attracting visitors. ( Banham and Partridge.quite popular in the 1970s which had already been applied by Alison and Peter Smithson in the Robin Hood Gardens to create a quiet zone within it and the Erskine team in backing up their Byker brick ‘wall’ in Newcastle against the threat of traffic noise. Finance and Education. a reference library. designed with a transparent tube as the enclosure. followed by the view of the buildings in the surroundings. However. 2012) However. the Centre Georges Pompidou does not destroy the street view with its blind side as it is made up of interestingly coloured standing pipes. By having the escalator. unlike Byker. Centre Georges Pompidou was not only about providing all of these. introducing the theme of the museum as belvedere. A Museum of Modern Art. the visitors areable to enjoy 3 different views when they are moving up from the bottom to the top of the building: a view towards the spatial public space. and finally the panoramic view over the city of Paris. ducts and conduits. it was actually also about bringing different views of Paris into the local community.

the positive attitude displayed by Gehry the Starchitect: always accommodating with its clients and. innovative in his designs made an ideal partner to Thomas Krens and a highly regarded architect to the Basques’ government. It brings people of different backgrounds together for cultural interaction or leisure even if they are not visiting the Museum. on a street view. its existence is actually very modest hiding behind neighbouring buildings. the minimum requirement would be to be iconic and able to achieve its main improve the economy of Bilbao and the Centre Georges Pompidou . From what I have discovered. Although the building looks like an “oil refinery” surrounded by historic buildings and would possibly affect the neighbourhood. Moreover. Aside to bring the public together. In conclusion.Conclusion: Chapter 1 In the research presented above about two of most iconic Starchitecture buildings: the Guggenheim and the Centre Georges Pompidou. the Centre Georges Pompidou is greatly successful. with exposed colourful pipes. These two goals were for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao . with half of the site being used as a public space for various cultural activities such as street performances. Piano and Renzo’s astounding courage in designing an inside-out building. I chose to explore on one hand how the museum’s iconic image contributed positively to the cultural aura of Bilbao in the world. and on the other hand. conduits and ducts in representing different functions for the building. has transformed the image of a museum as being a dull and historic building. A study of the Guggenheim’s economic impact on Bilbao made me realise how powerful an iconic design can be in generating a great part of the city’s income by attracting countless visitors. I brought to light a very interesting situation in which both mainstream media and alternative publications were focusing on similar aspects of each building. 31 . to be a good Starchitecture. how the Centre Georges Pompidou successfully sit in its context. A smart government leader who can spot the right partner and architect is also an asset.

32 .

1 33 Case Study.C HAPTER 2. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao . Negative Side.

” In a similar manner I have discussed.. This lead me to believe that Starchitecture are may be/is? a great innovation. the architect who de-signed the museum. I will begin with the Museum and follow with the Centre Georges Pompidou. the negative impact of these two buildings. I would like to refer to the fabulist Aesop. the human activities outside the building are equally as important and should not be overlooked. human activity in and around his buildings. many important considerations are still being ignored. Other than gazing at the undulating skin of building.”(Kent. Nevertheless. missing a significant opportunity to celebrate and support the cultural and community life that is pulsating throughout the city. has succeeded in drawing huge attention to the city of Bilbao and creating excellent economic repercussions to the whole Basque Country. who wisely remarked. or even acknowledge. and to deliver the artists’ visions to the visitors. the project fails miserably as a public space. representing Starchitecture.inefficient outdoor space. Figure 21. there is nothing much to do outside. Anselm Kiefer and Francesco Clemente from Europe 34 .” Indeed. The Guggenheim Museum. it is as well to look at both.. the Museum lacks an effective public space to allow for an essential interaction among the visitors and to encourage cultural activities from the local community. In spite of these positive outcomes. From an architectural perspective. it is necessary to explore the other side of the argument. a museum is meant to provide appropriate spaces to showcase various types of artworks in the best possible way.To begin with this chapter. by using the same re-search sequence applied earlier. before we commit ourselves to either.. with a growing number of visitors coming from all over the world. 2003) As a rule. Clyfford. Kent (2003) remarks that “. appears afraid to support. with its spectacularly beautiful and iconic image. “Every truth has two sides. unlike the Centre Georges Pompidou. The Guggenheim strived in bringing in artworks by numerous American artists such as Jenny Holzer. Mark Rothko (he emigrated from Russia to America). essential in today’s world.0: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. the positive side of Starchitecture by examining the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Centre Georges Pompidou. “Frank Gehry. Hence.

yet the artists themselves are left behind.” Last but not least. Most pieces came in reality from the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. “What if I wish to go there for a stroll along the Nervión River nearby?” My answer would be to recommend. So how does the Museum promote its local culture? If it really was the aim set out by the Guggenheim Foundation. through my research. the Guggenheim Museum has we know is great in terms of its unconventional and innovative form. I believe that the Starchitect Gehry should have tailored the design brief to the Basques’ artworks. the opportunity for artworks from Basques’ artists to be exhibited to the public is very well as a few Basques’ artists.”(Kent. 2003) Gehry’s interest in crazy forms has indirectly created blank walls that contribute to nothing but a space with high crime rate. the general manager of Bilbao Metropoli-30. “We later told police about it. “a stroll along the river next to the Zubizuri Footbridge by Santiago Calatrava instead. Moreover. Then one might asks. behind the reflective titanium walls. But this is not al-ways true my study of the Guggenheim shows “’There’s no art market in Bilbao.” said Javier Gimeno Martiñez-Sapiña. but not in terms of security. If someone is not particularly interested in the artworks exhibited in the Museum. in other words. (Kent. 2007) A general opinion might be that a museum will undoubtedly develop people’s interest in art and create plenty of opportunities for local artists. who owns a 20 year-old photo gallery. as an engineering student.” said Alfonso Martinez Cearra. I have realised that Gehry’s arrogant design has given a wrong impression to the community. ““Our local culture still hasn’t integrated with the Guggenheim. They have to go to Madrid or Barcelona.” This astoundingly huge structure offering no other activities than its internal exhibitions has forgotten the local community.”’ (Lee. This may have helped introducing the vibrant culture of this town or even the whole Country to the many foreign visitors. Ikel admits: “I’ve never been to the Guggenheim. “This is still an industrial city.” […] “It’s for tourists. then he/she would have no other reason to go there.”” (Lee. he witnessed mugging of two young men on an old couple outside the Museum. It’s still very hard for local artists to sell art here. According to Kent’s experience mentioned earlier in his article. “I don’t think the Guggenheim has helped. a public-private partnership that is guiding the city’s revitalization. 2003) It is the Starchitect’s responsibility to avoid this situation from happening by keeping in mind safety regulations. and they told us that there are muggings in that same location very frequently. 35 . 2007) This disconcerting reality is made worst by the fact the museum has actually created many jobs for the residents.

“I 36 .

Negative Side.C HAPTER 2.2 37 Case Study. Centre Georges Pompidou .

When Piano and Rogers were building the Centre Georges Pompidou after they won the competition in 1971. in a totally different environment and designing approach. although the restaurant provides beautiful panoramic views of the city at this level. The restaurant on the fifth floor of the Centre Georges Pompidou is an obvious example that has been facing management shortcoming due to the careless design. This couple of young architects had successfully or I should say “courageously” got the Centre built without many compromises as Banham and Partridge (2012) in their recent article stated “The existence of the great model of the final design shows how final that design already was by late 1972. (Silver. However. has eventually created problems. the Centre Georges Pompidou. book stacks. it is pretty easy to fit in offices. At Beaubourg. with a twenty years gap. even though they are both Starchitecture. the administrators of the building made the situation even worse by franchising the restaurant to an autoroute catering operator. They were not totally trusted by the client at the very beginning. the earlier models show how little has changed conceptually from the first competition design. 1994) Hence. after it was constructed and opened to the public. 1994) This is true as many problems have to be dealt with by the restaurant being on the floor and outdoors such as: food deliveries. And it seems that Centre Georges Pompidou had much less criticism from the media or the public since its opening. maintaining reasonable acoustics. but they still made it through at the end. it is still definitely more practical to have put Figure 22. And the problems mostly fall under the management of the building.(Silver. the flexibility principle of the building is pushed to the extreme test by having a restaurant on the top floor. 38 .top floor restaurant. Centre Georges Pompidou is however a very different type of building to look at when considering its negative side. But.0: Centre Georges Pompidou. Besides that. (Banham and Partridge.”. It was their right to have insisted on their design proposal so they could even claim that they got the design right in the first place. they were both aged below 40.Compare to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. which is to provide as much open flexible space in the interior as possible. it will be very interesting to know how different the shortcomings of the Centre were from the Guggenheim. exhibition spaces. and seating areas due to the principle of Renzo and Piano. 2012) A design such as. ventilation and a dining atmosphere for the diners. with minimal compromises from the architects. but they should have agreed to some reasonable changes in a period when the design was far less complex.

Then you put centrally all the system of feeding the building. even though the intention of the management was to control the crowds entering the building. That was because they have contradicting themselves by allowing flexible use of the spaces in the building but would not compromise and come up with better spaces for certain usse.0: Centre Georges Pompidou. it doesn’t only mean to put the column. I don’t know. the administrators will have no choice but to apply the flexible principle by closing all the other doors apart from the main entrance for extra rooms for display. They decided that there should not be a main entrance at all so that people would be allowed to cross through the building from any direction they wanted to.” (Silver. principle or low cost? But what made me to say so? An uninterrupted floor span of 48m with each storey being 7m high without even putting in a single column? It is understandable that the design team was trying to maximise the floor area to accommodate four types of facilities within the same building. 1994) This question posed by Silver leaves the architect with two important choices. (Silver. the whole design concept was reversed by the management from circulation to infiltration. when the exhibition spaces in the building are insufficient. its value. However. Then it becomes perfectly logical. 39 .8m spanning truss girder on the ground floor instead. By relating this to the flexible principle and the uncompromised attitude of the architects during the early designing stage. in terms of management convenience and efficiency. 1994) And now. was that really necessary? Would not be adding a row of columns down the centre with the 44.Uninterrupted floors. is in its extremity. I strongly believe that the architects should be responsible for this management failure. In the initial plan. 1994) So. what do you think? Figure 23. our building’s quality. Piano says. there is also a management failure at the ground floor. Unfortunately. “Once you put the column in the center. the cross-circulation plan that was prepared by the design team has gone. without any extra exhibition rooms being available. Other than the restaurant. but at least I know that the architects had chosen to be uncompromising and they were happy to have maintained clear principles. leaving one tiny entrance on the piazza side. the north and south doors were all blocked to create more rooms for display. But in a sense. Hence.85m deeps being half of its depth a better option to save cost? I do not know which one would be better. “Was Beaubourg’s particular design intention of uninterrupted space too uncompromising?” (Silver. This other building may be fantastic. In other words. eleven entrances were designed by the team to allow access from all four sides of the Centre Georges Pompidou.

People going there to visit the Museum are not interested in Bilbao. However. It is a beautiful museum. In spite of these the facts that these two buildings have achieved the goals that were set for them. Nevertheless. part of the management in the Centre has gone against the architects’ principle. In short. but it doesn’t work with Bilbao. Compared to the Guggenheim Museum. the research showed that the Guggenheim Museum does not work well with the community in promoting the “real Bilbao”. for example. chapter 2has discussed most of the shortcomings of both the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Centre Georges Pompidou. in chapter 2. We have seen how effectively the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is in boosting the economy of Bilbao in terms of a richer government and better quality of life for the community as many jobs opportunity have been created as discussed in chapter 1. It sounds that the administrators of the Centre are using the building in the wrong way. 2012) What he says has accurately described the Guggenheim Museum and matches with my research outcomes. it will be very hard to convince the major community to accept it to be built everywhere. their shortcomings in operation as buildings should not be ignored in order to arrive at a solution to make Starchitecture a better architecture. but it is the uncompromising attitude of the architects that has caused it. It is like architecture is becoming just like a religion or pure aesthetics…” (Mascheroni.Conclusion: Chapter 2 A complete opposite to chapter 1. 40 . “…Look at photos of the Guggenheim Bilbao. the Centre Georges Pompidou has worked very successfully with the community as the provided facilities and public space have been very useful and beneficial for the community. A Swiss architect Miroslav Sik says. with the existence of these critical shortcomings in Starchitecture. The Guggenheim is like a Reich cathedral.

C ONCLUSION Possible Improvements for Starchitecture 41 .

such as cultural activities. Why people first? Because every aspects I looked at was in some way related to people. We should never forget that the culture of each city is what makes them unique. being iconic. three very important elements must be taken into account. public space. from what I have learnt through my study. then it would not be known as Starchitecture anymore. For these reasons. I only knew that they were both highly regarded by the critique. The next element that follows is culture. the Centre too has its own problems. the architecture must first satisfy their needs. The Centre Georges Pompidou in comparison received much less criticisms than the Museum after opening: simply because it fulfils its basic requirements. but I now feel that even the “greatest” building has his flaws. Taking the benefits and learning from the detrimental effects of each building. Nonetheless. my opinion changed throughout my research: I do not know the precise aspects Johnson was referring to when giving such a compliment. However. it works perfectly in terms of tourism but not with the cultural identity of the city. However. I concluded that: to create good Starchitecture. These are the following: people. In the case of the Guggenheim Museum. They all work toward the same thing. a Starchitecture building can still promote the culture through a dedicated space for example. Whether it is the visitors or the users of the public space or even the passers-by. very iconic and had become the landmark of their respective city. Starchitecture is always iconic in an unconventional way. Why not city? Many people might think that Starchitecture has to do with promoting the city. Philip Johnson. No. If Starchitecture is going to fit into the culture. better security etc. However.people. it terms of administration. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. again. as mentioned in earlier chapter. one of the most respected architects of the 20/21st century even described the Guggenheim Museum as “the greatest building of our time”. This is because. I picked them as case studies to illustrate “successful” examples of Starchitecture. it is almost impossible for Starchitecture to represent the culture of any particular city. I believe this is wrong. This audacious statement comforted me in my choice of building to exemplify the perfect model of Starchitecture. fails in this respect because it offers limited opportunities for local artists to exhibit their work while the Centre Georges Pompidou is surrounded by public spaces for 42 . culture and city.In the early stages of my study of the Guggenheim Museum and the Centre Georges Pompidou.

In conclusion. 43 . This is the main reason why up to now. In most cases in Starchitecture. the inhabitants of this lively city are still not very proud of it. This is a critical aspect as Starchitecture is meant to promote the name of a city to the whole world. while there may be many aspects to be considered when designing a Starchitecture building. culture and city are the most important: they are indissociable. visitors are flocking to Bilbao for the museum itself but not many of them are interested in the city. because each would have its own requirements.cultural activities. universal to any type of Starchitecture. I believe that these three elements of people. City comes last. such as with the Guggenheim Museum. and therefore inform new solutions for future evolution.

44 .


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The End 51 .