Fourth Door Review’s interdisciplinary palette includes an emphasis on the built environment. The review’s architecture section, Architexts focuses on a host of architecturally based relationships including; differing contemporary architectural genres, old and new sustainable materials, place and region in relation to sustainability, spatial and material interpretations of form, the built environment and new media installations, the emergence of contemporary timberbuild and the evolving influence of computers on architectural design.
Fourth Door Review 8’s Architextscentrepiece is an example of this breadth of range. A tale of two architectural regions is an almost seventy page special themed section on contemporary European regionalism. Its’ specific focus are the two neighbouring Alpine grassroots architectural communities of Graubünden and Vorarlberg. A tale of two regions begins with a set of overlapping questions; given their Alpine geographic proximity, what is architecturally similar about these two neighboring regions, what different, and why? How, why and when did these architectural cultures grow out of specific circumstances, locality and places, and what can be learnt – and specifically the relation between sustainability and regionalism - from their examples?
For many the highlight will be the in-depth interview with Peter Zumthor, arguably Europe’s leading architect, and Graubünden’s best-known international representative. Beyond this high-profile figure, the many other features bring new insight and thinking to those interested in both Vorarlberg and Graubünden and how small regional communities can produce dynamic architectural cultures. Graubünden’s Valerio Olgiati is profiled in his first major British based interview, as is the highly respected engineer Jürg Conzett. An in-depth feature on how Graubünden’s new generation are shaking up today’s established older architects sits alongside a related feature on digital architects, Gramazio & Kohler, who have pioneered the robotic façade construction and applied it to one of the latest buildings of Graubünden’s highly respected BearthDeplazes atelier.
Well-known across Europe as an exemplar of grassroots and participatory sustainable building culture, Vorarlberg, may be less known in Britain, although the Austrian region is also beginning to pick up increasing name recognition factor here. There are features pieces on the prolific Kaufmann family who have helped propel the countys’ wood culture to the forefront of Vorarlberg’s sustainability agenda, including an interview with Hermann Kaufmann. Vorarlberg’s leading architectural critic, Otto Kapfinger, writes on the newest generation’s leading practice, Marte-Marte, and a further contribution from Vorarlberg writer Robert Fabach looks at one of the latest sustainability projects by new generation architect, Christoph Kalb. The central role Vorarlberg has played in developing Passivehaus building culture is also explored. An overview essay, A river runs regionally, exploring regionalist issues and questions linking the two sections, completes the themed section.
To complement this architectural focus, the consciousness/mind section, Dream of Consciousness (DOC) contains an architectural theme, with the Independent’s resident architectural writer, Jay Merrick tackling the thorny relationship between media, celebrity and architectural significance. The interview with Finnish architectural theorist, Juhani Pallasmaa, deepens this discussion in an interview on the dominance of the eye in the built environment, and his call for an architecture of all the senses.
In Fourth Door Review 7, the architectural centrepiece is the Scenario cubed themed section, sub-titled Design with Care. The section explores the new and recent buildings of the Maggie Centres movement, featuring a Frank Gehry interview, Charles Jencks writing on the whole Maggies story, and the new Page and Park Maggies Highlands building, plus from Susan Francis, an overview of the related wider field of ongoing research being carried out in the healthcare design field, while Fionn Stevenson calls for architects to take on the sustainable argument for improvements in health being matched with healthy buildings. Not only this but issue 7’s Architexts continues its exploration of contemporary Timberbuild with an in-depth interview with Europe’s leading timber engineer, Julius Natterer.
The Timberbuild focus began seriously in FDR6, with A Timberbuild Renaissance for Europe. This piece explores the current generation of timberbuild sustainable architecture throughout the north of Europe, from Norway through to Finland, and examines its potential to influence both 21st century architectural culture across the whole of continental Europe, and stimulate a greater commitment to forestry as the primary sustainable building path for the future. The piece looks at some showcase cutting edge timber buildings and structures across the Nordic region including Norways sustainably designed Gardermoen Airport, Swedens Universeum science and environment centre and in Finland the Sibelius Concert Hall in Lahti, central Finland, and Oulu University’s Wood Town project. Along with this architectural perspective, the piece also explores the sustainability issues of the timber industry across the Boreal Forest, looking at both the industry.
A Timberbuild Renaissance is complemented by lively shorter pieces; on the first timber spaceframe Solar Canopy at the EarthCentre, Doncaster, and the University of Plymouth’s Cybrid smart building project, By way of contrast, the final two pieces, on the African beehive building tradition, and the famous Chilean Open City Rotique School of Architecture act as counterbalances to the northerly influences of the main piece. In the accompanying Wordwatch book reviews section, Susannah Hagan’s recent book, Taking Shape is reviewed in full.
FDR5 Architexts overviews the Weald and Downland Gridshell as is the 2001 book, The Beehive Metaphor by Juan Antonio Ramirez tracing one of the more significant influences on the emergence of Geodesic domes and particular strand in the inspiration of the Eden Projects biome domes, along with an interview with the engineer, Adriann Beukers, one of the key figures in the composites 'Lightness' materials revolution across building, materials and new media design, and author of Lightness, the Inevitable Renaissance of minimum structures.
FDR4 goes inside, and looks at light in interior architecture and design, discussing the place of ambient video, holography and fibre-optic light art. Brian Eno’s influential video work is explored by Kevin Eden, while the German Holographer, Dieter Jung’s work with interior built environment’s and Helena Hietanen’s fibre optic light art is also considered in terms of remaking the light environment of building interiors.
FDR 2/3 launched the Architexts section of the review with a feature piece on how music recording studio’s can be greened. It looks at the Real World studios, the Cornish Sawmills studio based in a tidal rivermill and the Greenpeace’s mobile alternative energy generator Cyrus. This piece also features at Unstructured. There are also pieces in issue 2/3 on Steve Johnson’s Forest House building concept, and the 1996 crossover acoustic ecology installation piece, Sound/Gallery, in Copenhagen’s Town Hall Sq.
Not green within the conventional framing of the word, Architexts reassembles how the future of a built and urban environment can look, moving it towards a different apprehension and consciousness of our environment, both built and natural.