Tile Award Symposium 2013. Standard versus custom-made
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Tile Award Symposium 2013. Standard versus custom-made

Scritto da Redazione The Plan -
With the theme “standard versus custom-made”, the conference examined the possibilities and challenges of standard products and individual solutions in architecture. A substantial part of the day was devoted to pecha kucha presentations by young and innovative architects. Aside from discussions and informal dialogues, the keynote speech delivered by the internationally renowned architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo was a highlight, contributing valuable aspects and insights.

Standard versus custom-made
While the conference title deliberately constructed an opposition between standard and custom-made, many presentations and the discussion highlighted the fact that the border between standard and custom-made is hardly ever a clear one. The conference moderator Hans Ibelings opened the Symposium by emphasising the ambiguous definition of standard and custom-made. Depending on the context and language, standard can have a somewhat negative connotation, as the opposite of individuality, or a positive one in the sense of setting benchmarks. Conversely, while custom-made is often perceived as a sign of high quality, by drawing a comparison between orthopaedic shoes and fashion footwear he suggested that custom-made could, at least aesthetically, be perceived as a less than perfect compromise. Many of the pecha kucha presentations also questioned the oppositional nature of the two terms and illustrated how close custom-made and standard are to each other in many instances, and how all kinds of overlaps exist. Moreover, some pecha kucha presenters convincingly showed how standard products could be used creatively to design individual solutions, while others demonstrated how projects based on standard solutions could be enhanced and supplemented by individual products. As one of the pecha kucha speakers, Stephanie Still (Design in Architektur, Germany) summarises her impressions: "It was interesting to see how other colleagues approach this subject in order to distinguish themselves by using individualised standards, for example, and of course with the aim of saving money.” Another statement was given by Milos Mirosavic (im architektur, Serbia), who also acted as a pecha kucha speaker: “The attitude towards architecture and expectations of a design process from the perspective of people used buying and customising industrial products like sneakers or cars through easy-to-use online tools was also an interesting aspect.”

Winning pecha kucha presentations
The pecha kucha is an innovative type of concise presentation developed in Japan, which limits each lecture to 20 images which are shown for 20 seconds each. These short presentations of less then seven minutes are a challenge for the speakers as well as the competent jury judging the presentations and made up of the following professional experts:
- Manuelle Gautrand (Manuelle Gautrand Architecture, France),
- Ushi Tamborriello (Ushi Tamboriello Innenarchitektur & Szenenbild, Switzerland),
- Sabine Krumrey (b-k-i brandherm + krumrey interior architecture, Germany)
- Kristina Bacht (Ges. für Knowhow-transfer in Architektur und Bauwesen, Germany) Using creativity, content and style of the presentations as criteria, the jury chose the following winners of the pecha kucha contest:
- Albuquerque Goinhas (Embaixada arquitectura, Portugal)
for his original artistic approach
- Chris Precht (Penda, Austria/China)
for his architectural-conceptual stringency
- Agata Wo?niczka (BudCud, Poland)
for her successful combination of philosophy and architecture

Balancing act between ambitious architecture and costs
In his keynote speech, Alejandro Zaera-Polo shared his insights on the conference's theme by focussing on a series of recent projects that reveal a variety of approaches to combining standard and bespoke solutions. By concen-trating on facade designs, he eloquently managed to convey how digital design and fabrication make it possible to define “standard” in a totally different way, as a mass customisation of building elements. In his exciting presentation, he shared his architectural philosophy in which standard and individual products coexist harmoniously. Alejandro Zaera-Polo exercises this balancing act in many different ways and interprets this mission individually for each of his projects which have an extensive bandwidth: his outstanding building activities encompass all types of housing as well as hotels, museums, theatres, universities or transport and infrastructure facilities and special projects such as the Spanish Pavilion at the International Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan. He advocates a pragmatic compre-hensive approach stressing that there is no silver bullet when it comes to realising the “perfect project” or working with building owners. In his opinion as an architect, it is not enough to force across one’s own intention and taste, but one must instead convince or rather fascinate the relevant individuals and groups. This aspect also represented the conclusion of the subsequent discussion between the keynote speaker and the young creative architects who eagerly took advantage of this opportunity.

Dialogue between creative minds and producers is essential

What are the architects’ expectations of the manufacturers of building materials and vice versa? This question was explored in the panel discussion with
- Alejandro Zaera-Polo
- Robert Hofmann (technical advice and training at Agrob Buchtal) and the current pecha kucha jury members
- Manuelle Gautrand
- Sabine Krumrey
- Kristina Bacht
One of the results of this debate was that qualified exchanges before projects start are absolutely indispensable for both sides. Architects are extremely interested in how the products they use are manufactured, in order to understand and discover new possibilities and to move boundaries. As Manuelle Gautrand said: “Dialogues and events such as this one are incredibly important. As architects, we want to be asked and we are delighted to have the opportunity to get involved in design.” This was underlined by the many questions and ideas arising during the tour of the Buchtal plant. In line with the title of the Symposium, all participants visited two areas of the plant: the efficient manufacturing of standard products and project-specific production in the customised manufacturing centre.

www.agrob-buchtal.de
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