Herzog & de Mueron won the architecture profession’s highest honor, the Pritzker, in 2001; last summer their iconic “Bird’s Nest” stadium was beamed into a billion homes during the Beijing Olympics. But unlike other starchitects they haven’t been recycling old ideas (Frank Gehry, that’s you). They just keep getting better. Witness a new museum/library/community center they just unveiled in Tenerife, Spain. Instead of settling just for architecture porn, let’s break down how the design works.
The big, bold statement is a triangular plaza. Simple enough, but the way it’s framed by windows and sky allows myriad, complex geometries to crop up. That’s a big accomplishment, when you consider the overwrought designs of people like Zaha Hadid and Daniel Liebeskind—the H&deM plan allows maximum impact with minimal fuss:
The oblique angles in the plan create dramatic perspectives inside:
Meanwhile, H&deM show off their calling card: Creating a broad palette of textures and surface treatments that are bold but never cheesy. Check out the facade’s 1200 openings, in 720 shapes, which create an interesting experience on the sidewalk while simultaneouly creating a recurring textural theme inside:
The floors of the galleries and the sparkling pendant lights are likewise rich without being loud (note the repeated window motif):
Finally, they break up the building’s austere overall geometry with a curvey staircase and ramp: