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Filtering by Category: Conference

Continental Europe’s 5-8 May 2017 Conference: Treasures of the French Riviera

Fiona Mckay

Last October, the AIA Continental Chapter held its bi-annual conference in North Cyprus.  This May, it followed up the Mediterranean theme with a conference in the south of France – but, from the start, the country differences could not have been more evident.  Even the economy bus from Nice airport to Menton could not avoid the glamorous French coastline, teeming with residences and hotels of all sizes and styles from the merely functional to the Grimaldi inspired. Tourists thronged the streets of Monaco as it prepared for its upcoming Grand Prix.   The Mediterranean simply sparkled while millionaire yachts bobbed about and looked bemused by all the fuss. 

So what - amongst all this hustle and bustle - had Continental selected as its own particular take on “Treasures of the French Riviera”? Well, Menton itself for a start.  Nicknamed the "Pearl of France", it proved a quieter, gentler antidote to Monaco with  an historic old town reached by steep stairs and a long line of accessible beaches.  Its modern building of note - the Cocteau Museum (architect Rudy Ricciotti) – hosted the opening reception. 

Menton welcomes the AIA at the Cocteau Museum – Photo: Lorraine King, AIA

Menton welcomes the AIA at the Cocteau Museum – Photo: Lorraine King, AIA

The first full day of the conference was devoted to Cap Modern and Eileen Gray’s modern Villa E-1027 (familiar to followers of the UK Chapter’s movie nights from its showing of “Price of Desire” last year).  Attendees were lectured on the history, significance and renovation works at Cap Modern and given a private tour of Villa E-1027 plus Le Corbusier’s nearby “cabanon”, work hut and holiday cottages.   Despite the cold and wet weather (that promise of the sparkling Mediterranean not having held up overnight) the site with its memories of past personalities could not help but intrigue.    

I    nstead of exploring wet balconies and roof tops, the bad weather encouraged a closer look at Gray’s surprising interiors, furniture and artwork – Photos: Lorraine King, AIA and Michael Lischer, FAIA

Instead of exploring wet balconies and roof tops, the bad weather encouraged a closer look at Gray’s surprising interiors, furniture and artwork – Photos: Lorraine King, AIA and Michael Lischer, FAIA

A ray of sunshine got through for Corbusier’s colorful holiday cottages – Photo: Michael Lischer, FAIA

A ray of sunshine got through for Corbusier’s colorful holiday cottages – Photo: Michael Lischer, FAIA

As brilliant weather returned for the second day, the conference progressed to three extraordinary gardens of the Riviera – the Val Rahmeh Botanical Garden and the Serre de las Madone Gardens (landscape architect Laurence Johnston) both in Menton and the Hanbury Gardens across the border in Italy.  

The third day saw the departure from Menton and took the group to two further treasurers.  The Matisse Chapel was an unexpected delight – a little space of pure joy and light. The Fondation Maeght (architect Josep Louis Sert) housed an extensive modern art collection, but its prime charm was the building itself it its garden setting, including the renowned Labyrinth of Miró.

The Fondation Maeght and Labyrinth of Miró at– Photos: Lorraine King, AIA and Michael Lischer, FAIA

The Fondation Maeght and Labyrinth of Miró at– Photos: Lorraine King, AIA and Michael Lischer, FAIA

The list of personalities influencing the venues was long and strong – Architects Eileen Gray , Le Corbusier and Josep Louis Sert; English gardeners Sir Thomas Hanbury and Laurence Johnston; French artists and designers Jean Cocteau, Joan Miró and Henri Matisse – and gave the conference a feel for cultural as well as architectural treasures.

The Menton conference was organized by CE members Isabel Meinecke, Int’l Assoc AIA, and Ray Spano, AIA, with assistance from several other CE members.  There were 16-17 CEUs on offer, including 4-6 HSW units, enjoyed by the 5 AIA UK attendees.

The next CE Conference will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, 5 – 9 October 2017.  This conference will be a larger event held in conjunction with the International Region and attendance is expected to reach capacity early.  If you are interested in attending, you are advised to register as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Written by: Lorraine King, AIA

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AIA Continental Europe Conference - Girne, North Cyprus

Fiona Mckay

AIA Continental Europe held its latest bi-annual conference in Girne, North Cyprus, from 29 Sep to 2 Oct 2016.  Whereas this latest CE event generally followed the traditional conference format – a series of tours, seminars and lectures interspersed with lunches, dinners and networking opportunities – the Girne Conference also added a new, parallel event to the format, while North Cyprus lent its own particular flavour to the mix. 

Student Charrette - The CE Chapter held its first Student Design Charrette during the Girne Conference at the nearby Girne American University.  The students and faculty came locally from the American University, Cyprus International University and other invited schools of architecture in Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary.  Some of the students attending these universities came from even more diverse locations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, insuring a multicultural atmosphere.

The 4-day Charrette focused on the adaptive reuse of the Old Bazaar in the centre of Girne. Selected conference attendees mentored the students over the 4 days, and all conference attendees were able to interact with them during evening sessions and the jury presentations. This allowed students and attendees alike to benefit from this alternative method of exploring Cypriot culture. 

The Student Charrette was sponsored locally by the Girne American University, the Cyprus International University and Girne Municipality, with support from Graphisoft.  As part of its mandate to promote education, additional financial support came from Laufen, which – along with the London Roca Gallery – also sponsors the UK Student Charrette held this October. 

North Cyprus – Girne is a city with a long and fascinating history.   Perhaps better known by its English name, Kyrenia, the Mediterranean harbour town has been home successively to ancient Egyptians, Hittites, Persians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Lusignans, Genevans, Venetians, Ottomans and most recently the British.  It is certainly a good place to observe the effect of different cultures on the built environment over time; however, the current divide between the two halves of Cyprus also rendered a special poignancy to universal cultural identity issues. 

Antiphonitis Monastary, part 12th , part 15th Century Byzantine Monastary, in the remote Karpaz Peninsula, North Cyprus

Since the civil strife and mass relocations of citizens in the 1970s, the island of Cyprus has been partitioned between the Turkish speaking populations in the north and the Greek speaking populations in the south. South Cyprus (the Republic of Cyprus) is predominately Greek Orthodox, and is part of the EU; however, North Cyprus (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) is Muslim, and is recognised internationally only by Turkey.  

Although there is positive talk of reconciliation and reunification, the current relationship with South Cyprus remains unresolved.  In the context of the volatile eastern Mediterranean, peaceful North Cyprus has a vague feeling of remoteness, even isolation, but this can be misleading. As the welcome and participation of the local government and institutions in the conferenced demonstrated, the country is energetic, well-educated and keen to encourage visitors and cross communication. For whatever reason, the attendance at this year’s conference was a little less than for previous ones.  Those that did not attend missed a compelling experience.

Seen positively, the smaller group gave an intimacy to the conference that was well appreciated.  Most of the group stayed in one hotel – a large, well-run resort hotel complete with a Mediterranean beach, multiple pools, a casino, a conference centre, etc. – and were able to eat together, learn together, and chill out together while tightening bonds of friendship. Without a doubt, the feel good factor, nurtured by Turkish hospitality was high. 

AIA UK Board Directors, Chris Musangi, AIA, and Lorraine King, AIA, relax in the Cyprus sunshine.

Two lectures on historical architecture familiarised the conference with local heritage.  A panel of speakers from both sides of the divided city of Nicosia, spoke on the difficulties and challenges of town planning in a city split down its centre by a barricaded, international border - the Green Line - and called for reinforcement of their bi-communal, team work recommendations.

Local lecturers and guides were supplemented by Continental Europe AIA members speaking of their own experiences on universal topics such as adaptive reuse of buildings, sustainability, rural architecture and decay, acoustic environments, public spaces and floating bridges.  As is customary with CE Conferences, two chapter sponsors – Graphisoft and Swiss Pearl – gave short talks. See HERE for full Conference programme and other details. 

Conference tours were taken to see the Old Bazaar and historical harbour of Girne and the vernacular buildings in the nearby Karmi Village. In Nicosia, a walking tour explored architectural highlights in North Nicosia, before crossing the Green Line into South Nicosia, to experience the different architecture and atmosphere between the North and South sides of the city

Tower 25 / White Walls by Atelier Jean Nouvel, South Nicosia

Special reference should be made to the Conference Committee, including, Ali Yapicioglu, AIA, (Chair) and Bari Wetmore Salathe, AIA, with help from Sandra Zettersten, AIA.  The Student Charrette Coordinator was Dr Balkiz Yapicioglu.  All in all, the conference generated a grand total of 19.75 (+ 4 for Monday extension) CEUs along with many memories of good friends, brilliant weather and a brilliant programme. 

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Fiona Mckay

Continental Europe’s long history of holding bi-annual conferences in different host cities started in Paris in 1996, when the International PIA and the CE Chapter met for a weekend series of tours, seminars and lectures interspersed with lunches, dinners and other networking opportunities. Thanks in large part to the event organiser – Françoise Vonier, the architectural journalist and “activist” – the Paris Conference was a tremendous success.

The second CE Chapter conference was held in 1997 in Barcelona, where that successful mix of edifying educational and amicable social events was perfected into a pattern that – with adaptations and variations - has held to this day. What better way is there to earn Continuing Education Units than by visiting in-depth a beautiful, historic city with good friends and local historians, planners and architects as cultural chaperones?

Over the 14-18 April 2016 weekend, the Continental Europe Chapter conference was again held in Barcelona - its forty-first conference since 1997. As well as catering to CE Chapter members, the opportunity to re-visit Barcelona and see how it has evolved was also taken up by multiple US-based friends of Continental Europe - including Robert Ivy FAIA, Chief Executive Officer, and Tom Vonier FAIA, President Elect, of AIA National.

Several UK Chapter members also attended and were able to strengthen bonds with Continental Europe. Lester Korsilius FAIA, International Region Secretary, and Robert Rhodes AIA, IR Zone Representative, were also able to liaise with the International Director, Steven Miller FAIA.

P    ast AIA UK Chapter Presidents - Lester Korsilius FAIA (with Heather Korsilius); Lorraine King AIA; Robert Rhodes AIA (with Maria Jose); and Liz Waters AIA - attend the Barcelona Conference

Past AIA UK Chapter Presidents - Lester Korsilius FAIA (with Heather Korsilius); Lorraine King AIA; Robert Rhodes AIA (with Maria Jose); and Liz Waters AIA - attend the Barcelona Conference

The programme included several overview lectures with tantalizing titles such as “A Sectional Palimpsest of Barcelona”, and “Architecture Remembrance and Transformation.” Architect Benedetta Tagilabue’s lecture - rather prosaically entitled as “Social Urban Regeneration” - was in fact a highly spirited account of her work with partner Enric Miralles, touching briefly on the Scottish Parliament, but – at its best - describing the background and rational for Barcelona’s Mercat de Santa Caterina, with its vegetable inspired roof colours.

Benedetta Tagilabue’s and Enrico Miralles’ Mercat de Santa Caterina

Benedetta Tagilabue’s and Enrico Miralles’ Mercat de Santa Caterina

Other lectures were given by local Architects involved in specific projects in different parts of the city that were then followed by building or site tours. These lecture/tours included new-build projects at major developments in Plaça Gloiries and District 22@, plus small scale interventions in older neighbourhoods. After a technical explanation of the Barcelona Roca Gallery’s unique glass wall, a cocktail break was hosted by AIA Continental Europe sponsor, Laufen – which is also an AIA UK sponsor.

The Canopia Urbana at the Plaça Glories Flea Market (left) and the glass wall of the Barcelona Roca Gallery (right)

The Canopia Urbana at the Plaça Glories Flea Market (left) and the glass wall of the Barcelona Roca Gallery (right)

Historic preservation and renovation work were investigated at the Museu Maritim and Born Market. The recently renovated hospital complex of Sant Pau was the magnificent venue for the Saturday morning lectures, garden tour and lunch.

The Hospital Sant Pau

The Hospital Sant Pau

Special features of the Continental Europe Conferences are the sponsorship lectures and presentations, particularly those of local sponsors. The Collegi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya – the local architectural professional organisation - opened its archives for a special viewing of original Catalan architectural drawings. In her lecture “Places and Horizontal Surfaces of Barcelona”, architect Mariona Aguilera from Escofet, highlighted Barcelona’s unique paving tiles and her company’s current and historical work in architectural concrete and stone.

The Saturday night Gala Dinner is the highlight of any CE conference. This year’s dinner was held in Mies van der Rohe’s original - but relocated - Barcelona Pavilion from the 1929 World Exposition. The Pavilion has lost nothing of its modernist allure in the intervening 87 years and provided a spectacular backdrop for the AIA dinner.

Photo credit: AIA Gala Dinner at the Barcelona Pavilion, 16 Apr 2016, Rebecca Ryburn

Photo credit: AIA Gala Dinner at the Barcelona Pavilion, 16 Apr 2016, Rebecca Ryburn

Special reference should be made to the conference organiser, Sophia Gruzdys AIA NCARB (with help from Dominique Tomasov Blinder AIA and Thomas Valentine Groner). All in all, the conference generated a grand total of 18 CEUs along with many memories of good friends, brilliant weather and fantastic architecture.

The next CE conference – to which AIA UK Chapter members are granted reciprocal CE membership rates – will be held from 29 September to 2 October 2016 in Girne, North Cyprus.

Author: Lorraine King AIA

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AIA Grassroots Conference, Detroit

Fiona Mckay

The 2016 AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference was held in Detroit, bringing the annual meeting “closer to the action” and highlighting the important work going on in cities across the United States, and especially in Detroit. The conference took place at the famous Renaissance Center, home of General Motors, over the last week of February.

Grassroots is an opportunity for the executive members from chapters around the world to discuss issues, improve leadership skills and enhance their individual chapter’s development through workshops, presentations and education. Typical there is also a legislative component including meeting with Representatives to Congress in DC, but this year they switched things around. Politicians were invited to talk to us about the important role architects play in the development of cities. Architects are critical thinkers and problem solvers, and the issues facing cities today need the creative approach of architects. The role of architects in city planning was explored through a panel discussion between William Bell, mayor of Birmingham and Bob Buckhorn, mayor of Tampa, and the current Planning Director for Detroit, Maurice Cox, FAIA along with several other well-known architects including Mickey Jacob, FAIA.

The conference reached a climax during the final keynote address by the former Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. She inspired and enlightened attendees to need of every city to hear the voice of architects. As a profession, we do an injustice when we avoid speaking up on matters of city development, growth and planning. As architects, we must look beyond the daily grind of our jobs and see a vision for the future.

Candidates for AIA National positions were given a chance to address the conference in a series of panel discussions. There are a number of members running for Secretary and First Vice President. For more information on the candidates, please contact the AIA UK executive. The election will take place at the 2016 National Convention in Philadelphia. The 43rd annual Grassroots Conference will return to Washington D.C. in 2017.

Author: Frederick Grier AIA

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Fiona Mckay

On 3rd Oct 2015 at the Continental Europe (“CE”) Vienna Conference, Continental Europe’s Design Award for Environmental Design was received by Kevin Flanagan, AIA, for PLP Architecture’s Amsterdam project, the Edge.   Kevin is a partner at PLP Architecture and long-time AIA UK Chapter Director and past President in 2007. 

Edge – developed by OVG Real Estate as the headquarters for Deloitte – was designed in collaboration with Ron Bakker, the PLP founding partner, and PLP key designers Natalia Kafassis and, Nicki Faratouri, along with Arianne Barendregt from OeverZaaijer Architectuur NL.   

The building has been described as the world’s most wired, connected and collaborative working environment given its potential to integrate with emerging technology.  The media company, Bloomberg, has gone so far as to rate the Edge as “officially the greenest office building in the world” having been certified with a BREEAM NL “Outstanding” score of 98.4%. Click here to see the full video.

In addition to its carbon neutral credentials and progressive implementation of environmental technologies, CE’s jury described the Edge as “forward looking inside and out,” and praised its “very dramatic and comfortable interiors”.  The Edge is a shining example of UK based, US led design.

The AIA Continental Europe Chapter inaugurated its “Honors & Awards Program” in 2015 in line with its 20th anniversary.  Its aim was to recognise CE’s positon as part of the “global village on one hand, and promoting site specific projects on the other.”  The Awards Committee – led by Chair Yael S Kinsky, FAIA, and including Sandra Zettersten, AIA; Alireza Razavi, AIA; Rada Doytcheva, AIA; Sergio Accatino, Int’l Assoc AIA; and Marie Jeanne van Engelen, Prof Affiliate AIA – deserve particular recognition for setting up the Awards after years of inactivity on the subject.  In particular, the range of winning projects – from Montana to Azerbaijan – fulfils the Committee’s global village ambitions.

Unlike the UK Chapter’s Design Awards, which are based simply on Design Excellence alone, Continental Europe’s Awards were submitted in specific categories.

The winner of the Architectural Design Award was Tabanlioglu Architects for the Loft Gardens in Istanbul, designed by Melkan Gursel and Murat Tabanlioglu Ihsan, Int’l Assoc AIA.  The jury described the project as a “wonderful development of the loft concept into a different building form with … patios, creating a very successful new urban form”.  


There were three Honorary Mentions in the Architectural Design category:

  • Cigler Marani Architects - Marani Vincent, AIA for the Villa Dolni Brezany in the Czech Republic.  
  • Bitner Architects - Thomas Bitnar, FAIA, for the complete renovation of a 1904 mansion and contemporary addition in Montana, USA.
  • Pickard Chilton Architects – Jon Pickard, FAIA; Willian Chilton, FAIA, RIBA; Anthony Markese, AIA, RIBA, for Eaton House in Ireland.

An Honorary Mention was also awarded in the Unbuilt category to Tabanlioglu Architects for their Astana Train Station planned for Azarbijan.

ŞANALarc with the designers Murat Sanal, AIA, Alexis Sanal, AIA, was the winner of both the Urban Design Award for its Şişhane Park project in Beyoglu, Istanbul and the Interior Design Award for its SALT Research Centre, Istanbul.

Whereas the AIA UK Chapter Design Awards are open to all architects anywhere in the world for projects in the UK and to all UK-located architects for projects anywhere in the world, Continental Europe’s Awards are for AIA members only but they are for projects built anywhere in the world.  However, all AIA members outside of Continental Europe are eligible for projects built in Continental Europe’s jurisdiction.  For the record, CE’s jurisdiction includes the following countries (not all of which are in Europe), but excludes the UK:

Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldavia, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

AIA UK Members should check their eligibility and be on the lookout for next year’s Continental Chapter Honor & Awards Programme.  

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Fiona Mckay

The AIA Continental Europe chapter held their bi-annual meeting/conference in Vienna from 1-4 October and approximately 70 people attended.  The conference was excellently organised by CE’s Les Jordan, AIA who said that the London Conference had set a very high bar!

Highlights of the trip included a guided tour of Otto Wagner’s Postsparkasse, a talk and tour of Vienna University that included buildings by Peter Cook, Zaha Hadid, and the surprisingly good lecture building by Laura Spinadel/BUSarchitektur.  There were also interesting presentations by 3XN Architects, and by the very talented Thomas Pucher of his eponymous firm.

There was also a walking tour of historic Vienna to give some balance to the modernist weekend. On our free night, Heather and I visited the Spanish Riding School to see a combination concert of the Vienna Boys Choir and a show of the Lipizzaner horses – magic! – While others managed to get tickets to the renowned Vienna opera.

The weekend was friendly and fun.  For those that haven’t gone on a CE tour – try one! Upcoming conferences are in Barcelona (Spring ’16) and Cypress (Autumn ’16).

Author: Lester Korzilius AIA RIBA

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