The Philippe Rotthier European Prize for Architecture
For 25 years, architect Philippe Rotthier has searched throughout Europe for new architecture which respect the spirit of a place, acknowledges today's demand for comfort and respects ecology ; buildings which are part of the town or countryside without damaging them, buildings which waste neiher land nor energy ; buildings which establish a dialogue with history and the past.
This quest has led Philippe Rotthier to set up a prize for architecture. The works are selected by juries composed of not only architects but also writers, journalists, artists, art historians and politicians. They have included Matali Crasset, Bruno Foucart, Sergio Frau, Charles Jencks, Françoise Lalande, François Loyer, Dimitri Porphytios, Oscar Tusquets, David Watkins, amongst others.
The selected choices always tend towards works of architecture often unknown outside the small circles of the initiated. The jury for the seventh session of the Philippe Rothier Europeaen Prize for Architecture for Town and City Reconstruction met in Brussels on 10th and 11th june, 2005. The jury considered 68 dossiers from 15 European countries, Tunisia, Morocco and Mali.
A prize of 30.000 euros was awarded to Emir Kusturica for the construction of the village of Küstendorf in Serbia. The jury rewarded the filmmaker and musician for creating a village using the original architecture of his country to bring about reconciliation and peace and to boost and encourage the tourist industry of the region. Emir Kusturica had this traditional village built on the site of the film set for Life is a miracle, southwest of Belgrade, near Višegrad, not far from the Bosnian border and the town of Sarajevo. It has restored to use several kilometers of railway lines built for the film.
All the information on the foundation and the Philippe Rotthier Prize : www.fondationpourlarchitecture.be.
Opening of the exhibition - 21 & 22 october 2005
Deeply moved when he was to give the prize to Emir Kusturica, Philippe Rotthier pronounced a very beautiful speech on his hopes toward a new form of architecture, in respect of the places and the men.
"Incredible but true", Emir Kusturica said he was particularly touched by the reward of this Prize : "The last place I would have imagined myself recieving a prize is here, in a foundation of architecture ; cinema is composed of images that don't stop moving, when architecture is composed of freezed images ; but the work of an architect and the one of a filmmaker are finally very close in the way where reception of the work by the public is the same, and the emotion you feel in front of a building or a movie can be very close. Küstendorf was built with no plan, no mathematics ; it's the fantasy of a director... Some 1000 years ago, religion was imposed as a destiny, today it's globalization that is imposed to us as a new destiny. Küstendorf is a place that is erected against globalization, in human proportions. "
The attaché to the Serbia & Monenegro ambassy of Belgium then gave the Prize to Emir Kusturica.
The ceremony ended with the traditional ribbon to cut, and the journalists could admire the beautiful views of Küstendorf, taken during summer 2005 by Michel de Schaetzen, during the cinema workshop.
Suggesting to bring Emir Kusturica to his hotel in his van, Charley Case (artist participating to the Alter Architecture achibition) had to ask the assistance to members of the Foundation to help him pushing the old engine in the street. A funny scene on which both artists could certainly laugh all the way...
Member of the jury that rewarded the prize to Küstendorf, French architect Rudy Ricciotti wrote a very strong text on Küstendorf. Having the reputation saying what he thinks, Rudy Ricciotti is like his buildings : direct, without concession, facing the polemics that seem to converge against such an original and radical person, regarding his words, his ideas and his plans.
In the presence of Emir Kusturica, Rudy Ricciotti made a conference on his work before the Philippe Rotthier Prize ceremony. Emir Kusturica seems to have met an alter-ego in architecture, since both men found common points in their work and their way of conceiving gigantic projects regardless of the usual conventions.
Amongst his most well known projects let's mention the Stadium of Vitrolles (a sort of suburban bunker in black concrete), the Concert Hall of Postdam, the Villa Lyprendi in Toulon, the new Palais of Festivals in Venice, as well as the new section of Islamic Arts in the French museum Le Louvre.
"After war as a means of making films with the US landing in Mogadiscio, after film as a means of making war with Apocalypse Now, after architecture as a means of making war with the work of architect Zaha Hadid, after architecture as a means of making cinema with the annual Archilab exhibition, here, finally, is cinema as a means of making architecture with Life is a miracle by Emir Kusturica with the village of Küstendorf
When the cinema, an ephemeral discipline that lasts the time it takes to shoot a film, produces lasting scenes and forms and combats precariousness to produce a social activity, one has entered the magical world of Merlin. The filmmaker tackles the theme of the perennial by building a village under the theoretical angle of non-intervention while unashamedly and remorselessly imitating the ancient. The houses are there : beautiful, solid and expertly built houses based on the memory and writings on the technology of a site. Without any architect or town planner, without demagogic consultation, without a learning process, the filmmaker constructor produces the effective and instils poetry into everyday lives. It is also a culture of efficiency that, paradoxically, is born of a fleeting need during the time it takes to shoot a film.
But ultimately, the constructive tradition is an example of a cultural act waged with convition. Responsible but not guily, Kusturica explodes any remaining cultural beliefs that would still suggest that modernity is the Jean Valjean of Les Miserables. The adventure is illuminating ; it is a victory over cynism, defeatism and cretinism. Recycled, the cinema village sees the cinema as a way of making architecture. Curtains for the promoters, the banks, bureaucracy and all the rest. In Küstendorf, the village is a miracle ; it wages war on mediocrity. The true prophecy of the Tarabić brothers is this, that which one no longer believed to be possible : to have a radical romantic project to transform a reality that is not real at all. The refusal of the utopian so as to place oneself at risk in oder to improve the world. The belief that poetry is an art in flesh and blood. Küstendorf is as tender as rock culture !"
On the theme "Here, elsewhere & differently", the Alter-Architecture exhibition runs from 23 october 2005 to 26 march 2006 at the Fondation pour l'Architecture, 55 rue de l'Ermitage, Brussels.
Here : Beside Küstendorf, this part of the exhibition evokes 25 years of an european contemporary architecture written in the city and the landscape, through works rewarded by the Rotthier Prize since its creation up to the 2005 session.
Elsewhere : A world tour, discovering other architectures that link tradition and invention, qualified handcraft and hi-technology. Here, ancestral mimetism, exotism, regionalism join the universal in constructions made of stone, paper, bamboo, earth, woodchops, living trees... The exhibition gathers an exceptionnal set of images taken by specialists in Europe, Asia, South and North America, Africa, Groenland, etc.
Differently : Like alter mondialism, alter architecture sees a different way of conceiving the constructions by taking care of the constraints of our society, but also the need to protect the environment. At the time of globalisation, it consists in thinking on a new way where architecture, in the city or the countryside, can stand before its programme and the possible alternatives in front of a uniformization that is not adapted to the needs of the men and the planet.