Aquatecture – Buildings on Water

Water Architecture, Contemporary Aquatic Design, Buildings

Aquatecture : Buildings on Water

Aquatic Architectural Design around the world – article by Matthias Neumann

26 Mar 2013

Water works

Article for e-architect by Matthias Neumann

The German philosopher Schelling has been quoted many times over with the notion that architecture was to resemble frozen music. However, it was in fact a lucky stroke of questionable translation by Schelling’s contemporary Henry Crabb Robinson who – reporting on Schellings thoughts to the English speaking world – translated what would be in a more faithful translation “petrified music” with the implicitly more liquid attribute “frozen”. The deed was done and the metaphor still chimes today, though possibly for different reasons than it did during the 19th century. Today, years into the proliferation of complex geometries through easily accessible computer programs, the qualities of fluid space and form, frozen in time, have gained a literal resemblance in geometric form as if Schellings architecture had thawed for a while only to be fixed in its liquid state. This metaphor may be particularly potent when the architecture itself deals with water as element.

Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Art Centre, China
Design: Zaha Hadid Architects
Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Art Centre Building
image courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid’s recently unveiled design for the Meixihu International Culture & Art Centre proposes a large cultural complex situated in and along the lake side of Lake Meixi in Changsha, a city in Southern China of 7 Million. Three buildings, a theatre, a museum for contemporary art and a multipurpose hall, are loosely grouped together and connected by a network of paths, streets and plazas. While each building retains a recognizable individuality, the whole complex seems in a liquid state of uninterrupted flow from the water surface to the most magnificent as well as to the most intimate interior spaces.

Florida Pool House Building, FL, USA
Design: NL Architects
Pool House Building Florida
picture from architect

On a more modest scale, but no less ambitious, the Dutch firm NL Architects has conducted a series of studies for a Pool House in Del Ray Beach, Florida, in which the term “pool house” is being taken quite literally. The design strategy was not to design a house with a pool, but rather to create a hybrid mash-up of both programs in one single structure where the pool becomes the defining element to organize the space and volume. The three variations on this theme quite poignantly illustrate the potentials and formal possibilities of unexpected mash-up of program as generator for architectural form.

The Blue Planet, Copenhagen, Denmark – building news
Architects: 3XN
The Blue Planet Copenhagen
photo from architect

Last week the city of Copenhagen added its own version of a water inspired building to the tally of free form contemporary architecture by inaugurating Northern Europe’s largest aquarium building, called Den Blå Planet, The Blue Planet Aquarium. Designed by 3XN architects, the building resembles in plan a whirl pool spiraling into a central point of gravity off of which the various exhibition galleries are organized. The building volume gradually emerges from the landscape and its surrounding water surfaces in a continuous movement. The facade is clad in aluminum mimicking the reflection and color of the surrounding sea, and allowing the water metaphor to reemerge yet again and again and again in multiple (and beautiful) ways.

Matthias Neumann

Matthias Neumann New York
photo of the architect

Matthias Neumann is principal of normaldesign, an award-winning design firm in Brooklyn, New York. His work as designer, educator and curator has been recognized in the US and abroad. He has recently curated the exhibition “Made in USA – German Architects in New York” for the General Consulate of Germany in New York, and has taught architecture in various institutions. He has been involved with Global Studio (www.theglobalstudio.com) since 2007 as faculty and mentor.

Article for e-architect by Matthias Neumann


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.

Another architectural article for e-architect by Matthias Neumann:

Contemporary Residential Architecture

New York Architecture Walking Tours

Waterside Architecture

New York Architecture News
Signature Center New York
image courtesy Gehry Partners

New York Architecture

Waterside Architecture

Holman House, New South Wales, Australia
Durbach Block Architects
Sydney Waterfront House
photograph © Brett Boardman

Sydney Waterfront House

Loch Tay Boat House, Highlands, Scotland
McKenzie Strickland Associates
Highlands house
photograph : Keith Hunter
Scottish Boat House

Tigh na Dobhran, Arduaine, Scotland
Architects: studioKAP
Arduaine house
photo : Keith Hunter
Beach House Scotland

Darling Harbour Redevelopment, Sydney, Australia
Design: OMA
Darling Harbour Redevelopment
image : OMA

Darling Harbour Redevelopment

Cove 3, Western Cape, South Africa
SAOTA Architects
Western Cape Waterfront House
photo : Micky Hoyle COURTESY OF VISI

Western Cape Waterfront House

Leaf House, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Undercurrent Architects
Waterfront House Sydney
photo : Hugh Rutherford

Waterfront House Sydney

New York Architects

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