Tradition and innovation are often seen as opposites. Even in architecture, we’re commonly divided into two camps: those in favor of innovative, modern projects, and those who are staunch supporters of preserving existing buildings and their centuries-old traditions.
If you look a little deeper into the issue, however, you’ll see that every architectural project presupposes some comparison with tradition, be it a building that’s still in good structural condition, a ruin, or simply a piece of land. From this perspective, even a conservative restoration can be seen as a project that, by altering existing conditions, innovates the existing structure and changes its appearance.
Of course, innovation can also mean updating the architectural or urban composition of an area to meet the changing needs of its community. This doesn’t necessarily mean brushing aside the history of the place, but can involve enriching it with new functions with an eye to the future.
Some examples of projects poised between innovation and tradition were outlined by the speakers invited by THE PLAN to take part in Perspective Virtual Northern Europe.
With the Loop of Wisdom project in China, Stefan Prins, partner of the Powerhouse Company, showed us an example of modern yet timeless architecture. In his lecture, “We Create the History of the Future,” and a selection of evocative projects, Christian Bergmann, partner and head of architecture at Hadi Teherani, examined different ways of creating architecture: from scratch, reinterpretation, coexistence, insertion, and interpretation. Finally, Robert Konieczny, founder of KWK Promes, focused on the Dialogue Center Przełomy project to explain how it’s possible to dialogue with existing architecture.
In view of the success of the event in terms of both the subjects discussed and participation, we’ll be reexamining this inexhaustible topic at Perspective Virtual UK and North America, to which we’re inviting some well-known international architectural firms, including the Rockwell Group, THDP and Henley Halebrown.
An example of a strong relationship between innovation and tradition can be found in the Kimpton Shinjuku Hotel project, which we looked at in Contract #002. This interior design project explores the past and future of the Eastern capital through the eclecticism of custom-built furnishings, materials, and colors. Okaeri is a Japanese term that Americans translate as “Welcome home.” At the Kimpton Hotel in Tokyo, designed by the New York–based Rockwell Group, two cultures come together in a dynamic fusion of styles and motifs. The five-star, 160-room hotel opened its doors last fall in Shinjuku, the high-rise district and nerve center of Tokyo’s economy.
The Hackney Primary School project, which we looked at in THE PLAN 128, is an example of tradition that’s in love with change and experimentation. The tradition, a London one, has very precise rules that are both to be followed and departed from – but just enough to trigger changes that become innovations. London studio Henley Halebrown did just this with this project in the middle of the 19th century borough of Hackney, once owned by the De Beauvoir family and today a heritage listed area.
We’ll be talking about this and much more at the panel discussion “Tradion and innovation” to be held as part of the Perspective Virtual UK and North America Forum, scheduled for June 29–30, 2021.
Read more about all the scheduled panel discussions and keep up-to-date by following us on social media. We’ll soon be revealing the names of the speakers and much more.
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