Location: Groningen, The Netherlands

Architect:
Bernard Tschumi Architects

Design and Construction Period: 1990

Design Team: Bernard Tschumi, Mark Haukos, Robert Young

Our search for a building began with a list produced by the course coordinator, Mike Donn. After perusing this list to establish which buildings struck us as interesting, we delved into the depths of the Architecture School library to ascertain how much information was available on each of our prospective choices. We eventually decided upon Bernard Tschumi's Glass Video Gallery. The predominantly glass construction posed interesting questions about the light rendering process which we thought would be challenging to explore. This has certainly proved to be the case, with many an unexpected issue arising during both the modeling and rendering processes.

The text below is an edited version of Bernard Tschumi's vision of the Gallery, found on the website of Bernard Tschumi Architects.

 
 


The appearance of permanence (buildings are solid: they are made of concrete, steel, brick etc) is increasingly challenged by the immaterial representation of abstract systems - especially television and electronic images.

Bernard Tschumi Architects chose to use the invitation extended by the city of Groningen to design a special environment for viewing pop music videos as an opportunity to challenge preconceived ideas about television viewing and about privacy. The building reverses popular expectations by avoiding the usual cinema architectural type by bringing the event of viewing out into the street and public scrutiny.

Instead of an enclosed and private space, the architects proposed its opposite: a glass video gallery as an inclined, transparent glass structure.

The gallery contains a series of interlocking spaces defined by only by horizontal and vertical glass fins, and by the points of metal clip connections. Located within are six banks of monitors used for screening videos.

The dimensions of the gallery are 3.6 x 2.6 x 21.6 metres.

 
 

Situated in the centre of a busy roundabout, the gallery merges with and extends the street condition, except that within the "main drag" of the building borders become indiscernible: monitors provide unstable facades, glass reflections create mirages and unlimited space is suggested.

In mimicry of the street, the gallery contains both video objects on display and objects for displaying. The objects encompass monitor walls viewed through television dealership windows on the street while exhibiting events like those seen in the sex-video galleries of urban red light districts.

In this new video plaza, one watches and is watched simultaneously.

Note: Unlike many "glass houses", the removal of the glass from the Glass Video Gallery will result in the total failure of the building - as horizontal beams, vertical supports, the top and the sides are all made of identical structural glass.
The sloping floor also challenges our perceptions of spatial stability. At night, the endless reflections of the video screens off the parallel glass surfaces reverse all expectations of what is architecture and what is event, of what is wall and what is electronic image, of what defines and of what activates.