Situated at the exit of Osaka’s main train station in an area teeming with tall glass buildings, Fukoku Tower designed by French superstar architect Dominique Perrault for a Japanese insurance firm might seem inconspicuous at first. Just one out of many. When approaching from street level, however, you will see it slowly dissolving into fragments smaller and smaller still, like a giant tree taking its roots.
By Martin Søberg
Dominique Perrault's place-making effort sprouts from sets of actions that indicate links between conceptual thinking and material manipulation: to accompany, add, extend, generate, metamorphose, subtract, or unite. Applying such rules connects Perrault's mesmerizing architecture with the investigations and aesthetic expressions of Minimal and Land Art.
Leading French architect Dominique Perrault (b. 1953) designs environments for contemporary living and working. Buildings, which shelter from climatic effects but also frame, mirror and thus reinterpret our bodies in new spatial relations. To Perrault, architecture is less targeted at staging historical references and overly formal symbolic signification. It is moreover a matter of adapting to and challenging physical conditions, to transform the existing urban tissue. No clear lines of division are drawn between nature and culture. All environments to which human beings relate are perceived as artificial and adaptable for construction.
From its offices in Paris, Geneva, and Madrid, Dominique Perrault Architecture designs buildings, infrastructure, urban planning schemes, and furniture. Projects, in which materials such as glass, steel, and concrete are combined and transformed into architectural visions of a contemporary world. The metallic mesh is a signature material element in Dominique Perrault Architecture's practice and research. It epitomizes a design philosophy in which architecture is conceived as a weaving process: concurrently repetitive and hard, flexible and responsive to its surroundings.
The process of generating architectural designs is often integrated in the final results. While many of Dominique Perrault's projects have simple geometric shapes as a starting point, in particular the box, this doesn't imply that the buildings appear as dull or cause indifference. Rather the contrary, Perrault's architecture displays how emotional impact may stem from the simplest confrontations between forms, materials, ideas, and contexts.
Dominique Perrault Architecture has won international acclaim with such significant projects as the French National Library in Paris (1989-95), the Velodrome and Olympic Swimming Pool in Berlin (1992-97/98), and the EWHA Womans University in Séoul (2004-8). Perrault was awarded the French National Grand Prize for Architecture in 1993, the Mies van der Rohe prize in 1997, the Grande Médaille d'or d'Architecture from the Académie d'Architecture in 2010, and became an Officer of the French Legion of Honour in 2013.
Visit Dominique Perrault Architecture's website here.
Forming a major element in the new urban strategy for the city named "Madrid Rio", the Arganzuela Footbridge is already called "the jewel of the Rio" by the residents.
The Olympic Tennis Center is located in a former slum housing area in the middle of a busy motorway and train network.
Dominique Perrault and his team won the international competition to design the new building for the Mariinsky Theater; the first major work of modern architecture to be built in the imperial capital.
"The grands projects of President of the Republic, François Mitterrand, are all closely associated with a site and history; in short, a place with a name."
This project is bound up with the reunification of the two Germanies. It is related to the wish of a city, Berlin, about to become the capital, to be nominated for the Olympic Games of the year 2000.
The complexity of the site, through its relationship to the greater campus and the city of Shinchon, demanded a "larger than site" response, an urban response, a global landscaped solution, weaving together the tissue of the EWHA campus with that of the city.