Landscape of Infrastructure

written by:
March 22, 2010

Though museums and skyscrapers are often the comissions that catapult contemporary architects into the design stratosphere, increasingly we're seeing what was once the demesne of engineers (bridges, tram stations, airport terminals) taken up by architects. And The Landscape of Contemporary Infrastructure by Kelly Shannon and Marcel Smets (professors of urbanism at University of Leuven in Belgium) from the Dutch house NAi Publishers makes the case for architects continuing to work on everything from bike parking, to ferry terminals, to subterranean tunnels. The book certainly offers a glimpse at what starchitects like Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, and OMA have done for modern infrastructure, but takes wider questions about landscape, mobility, energy, and delight into account. All told, it's a fine addition to any design-lovers coffee table, especially if you've had enough Fallingwater. The Landscape of Contemporary Infrastructure is due out March 31st in the US.

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  The Landscape of Contemporary Infrastructure is due out on March 31st in the US and was written by Kelly Shannon and Marcel Smets, both professors in the Department of Architecture, Urbanism, and Planning at the University of Leuven in the Netherlands.
    The Landscape of Contemporary Infrastructure is due out on March 31st in the US and was written by Kelly Shannon and Marcel Smets, both professors in the Department of Architecture, Urbanism, and Planning at the University of Leuven in the Netherlands.
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  The Barajas Airport extension in Madrid by architect Richard Rogers is perhaps the architect's greatest addition to Spanish design. The undulating roof is supported by branching concrete columns.
    The Barajas Airport extension in Madrid by architect Richard Rogers is perhaps the architect's greatest addition to Spanish design. The undulating roof is supported by branching concrete columns.
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  On this spread Shannon and Smets take up the notion of the megastructure, a term coined by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki in 1964, using the ICE train station that snakes its way into the vast Frankfurt airport in Germany.
    On this spread Shannon and Smets take up the notion of the megastructure, a term coined by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki in 1964, using the ICE train station that snakes its way into the vast Frankfurt airport in Germany.
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  This spread shows how a piece of infrastructure (in this case the Nanterre A4 highway in France) can be integrated into another (a highway control center) by architects Odile Decq and Benoit Cornette.
    This spread shows how a piece of infrastructure (in this case the Nanterre A4 highway in France) can be integrated into another (a highway control center) by architects Odile Decq and Benoit Cornette.
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  Amongst the most famous of airport terminals is Eero Saarinen's TWA terminal at JFK Airport in New York City. The swooping curves were all glamor and movement in their 1960's heyday.
    Amongst the most famous of airport terminals is Eero Saarinen's TWA terminal at JFK Airport in New York City. The swooping curves were all glamor and movement in their 1960's heyday.
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  I'm stunned and thrilled each time I come across this project which was completed in 2000. It's a staircase meant to help move tourists from a parking lot up the hill to the historic old city of Toledo, Spain. Imagined as a like of slash zigzagging up the hillside, Martinez-Lapena-Torres Arquitectes series of stairs and escalators shows how inspired a potentially-dull bit of design can be.
    I'm stunned and thrilled each time I come across this project which was completed in 2000. It's a staircase meant to help move tourists from a parking lot up the hill to the historic old city of Toledo, Spain. Imagined as a like of slash zigzagging up the hillside, Martinez-Lapena-Torres Arquitectes series of stairs and escalators shows how inspired a potentially-dull bit of design can be.
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  This drawing, first published by Georg Fritz in 1939, imagines all the sinewy velocity of the coming highway. Like a streak, the modern new road would cut through the countryside allowing the free movement of citizen. The artist? Adolf Hitler.
    This drawing, first published by Georg Fritz in 1939, imagines all the sinewy velocity of the coming highway. Like a streak, the modern new road would cut through the countryside allowing the free movement of citizen. The artist? Adolf Hitler.
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  Zaha Hadid's Henheim-Nord Terminus station in Strasbourg, France was completed in 2001. A glorified park 'n ride, the terminus is meant to induce those living on the city's periphery to take the tram into town instead of driving. A number of artists and architects have been asked to design key points in the city's tram system.
    Zaha Hadid's Henheim-Nord Terminus station in Strasbourg, France was completed in 2001. A glorified park 'n ride, the terminus is meant to induce those living on the city's periphery to take the tram into town instead of driving. A number of artists and architects have been asked to design key points in the city's tram system.

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