Category Archives: The Wave

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Paul-Klee Center in Bern built by architect Renzo Piano, opened in 2005

The Zentrum Paul Klee is a museum dedicated to the artist Paul Klee, located in BernSwitzerland and designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. It features about 40 percent of Paul Klee’s entire pictorial oeuvre.

 A preliminary project was elaborated in 2000. The building was completed in 2005. It takes the form of three undulations blending into the landscape like a big wave.

The museum was commissioned by the artist’s heirs and was the fruit of the generosity of arts patron Maurice E. Müller. Built to house over 4,000 of Paul Klee’s works of art under a single roof, the Zentrum is located in the eastern outskirts of Bern, an area marked on one side by the curve of a motorway and on the other by the distant profile of the Alps. One of the inspirations for the project’s design was the morphology of the region, its vast expanse of hills and waving fields.

The architecture of the Zentrum was conceived as a gentle wave contouring the land. It is barely visible from a distance, the curvature of the structure creating three artificial waves containing the exhibition space, a concert hall, a conference centre and a centre for the study, research and promotion of Klee’s works, as well as an interactive museum for children known as Creaviva, which also organises workshops on topics revolving around art. If the artistic themes encompassed by the museum reflect the multidisciplinary talent of the German-Swiss Klee – an artist and teacher with close ties to music and poetry -, the design of the building and the physiognomy of its space interpret his passion for harmony of form and the proportions of nature.

From a topographical point of view, the Zentrum project is an enlargement of the scale of the land, its space and peaceful silence. The tranquility here is not just acoustic, but visual as well, a fundamental goal of this structure.

The three rolling ‘waves’ are connected by a covered pathway that runs along the entire length of the western façade. Because of the complex geometric curvature of each piece of the undulating roof covering the structure, the steel beams were individually hand-welded. The resulting complex sculpture appears to sew the landscape together and flow alongside the cultivated fields that surround it. The steel and glass facade of the building faces west and is equipped with sushading devices in textile, partially fixed and partially motorized, which filter natural light into the interior. For Klee’s watercolours, canvases and drawings to be properly preserved, they require a luminosity of between 50 and 100 lux, so artificial light is filtered onto them through white screens.

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Cultural centre Heydar Aliyev Baku Azerbaïdjan – 2013 Zaha Hadid

The design of the Heydar Aliyev Center establishes a continuous, fluid relationship between its surrounding plaza and the building’s interior. The plaza, as the ground surface; accessible to all as part of Baku’s urban fabric, rises to envelop an equally public interior space and define a sequence of event spaces dedicated to the collective celebration of contemporary and traditional Azeri culture. Elaborate formations such as undulations, waves, bifurcations, folds, and inflections modify this plaza surface into an architectural landscape that performs a multitude of functions: welcoming, embracing, and directing visitors through different levels of the interior. With this gesture, the building blurs the conventional differentiation between architectural object and urban landscape, building envelope and urban plaza, figure and ground, interior and exterior.

In this architectural composition, if the surface is the music, then the seams between the panels are the rhythm. Numerous studies were carried out on the surface geometry to rationalize the panels while maintaining continuity throughout the building and landscape. The seams promote a greater understanding of the project’s scale. They emphasize the continual transformation and implied motion of its fluid geometry, offering a pragmatic solution to practical construction issues such as manufacturing, handling, transportation and assembly; and answering technical concerns such as accommodating movement due to deflection, external loads, temperature change, seismic activity and wind loading.