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Programme | 10 June 2021

Keynote: Simón Vélez
Simón Vélez | Colombia

Learn more about the prize winning Colombian architect Simón Vélez who is famous for his innovative use of bamboo, the so called "natural steel", as an essential building component.

Lecture: Tropical Design - Crafting Buildings

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Keynote: Marina Tabassum
Marina Tabassum Architects | Bangladesh

The work of the award-winning architect Marina Tabassum is characterized by a strong connection to the country's culture and history as well as the use of traditional building materials that are adapted to the regional climate.

Lecture: Architecture Beyond Architecture

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ACO On Site: Fragment
David Černý & Marcel Soural | Prague | Czech Republic

Artist David Černý and Developer Marcel Soural have teamed up to create courageous architecture that is shaping Prague in a new modern way. They will give us personal insights to how they approach the challenges and opportunities of these times together.

Fragment | Rental Housing in Karlín

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Keynote: Marina Tabassum | MTA
Bangladesh | Dhaka

Lecture: "Architecture Beyond Archtecture"

Marina Tabassum was born in 1969 in Dhaka, Bangladesh and studied architecture at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, where she graduated with distinction in 1995. She gained her first professional experience in the office of Uttam Kumar Saha, Nandan Architects. It was during this time that she developed her attitude of wanting to pursue a more sustainable concept of architecture. In 1995, Tabassum co-founded Urbana Architecture in Dhaka with Kashef Chowdhury where she was partner for 10 years. In 2005, she ended the partnership and founded her own practice, Marina Tabassum Architects.

As a visiting professor, Tabassum has taught at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the University of Texas, BRAC University in Dhaka and TU Delft. Since 2015, she has headed the Academic Programme of the Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements. In 2017, while teaching at Harvard, she worked with students and local artisans to develop houses for residents of the Ganges Delta, which is subject to frequent flooding, each costing just $2,000. In 2018, she was part of the exhibition "Freespace" at the Architketurbiennale in Venice." In 2020 Technical University of Munich conferred her with an Honorary Doctorate for her contribution in architecture practice, research and academics.

Tabassum was listed among the top ten thinkers of the world in 2020 by the Prospect Magazine UK. She won the Jameel Prize in 2018 and was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016 for designing the Baitur Rauf Jame Mosque in Dhaka, which was realised on a minimal budget over a period of twelve years and completed in 2012.

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Project impressions

Keynote: Simón Vélez
Colombia | Bogotá

Lecture: "Tropical Design - Crafting Buildings"

Born in Manizales, Colombia in 1949, Simón Vélez is the son and grandson of architects. Almost 35 years ago, Simon discovered a very simple construction technique that revolutionized the way we can build with bamboo. This technique, consisting of injecting cement mortar in the empty chambers of bamboo where there are structural unions, allows for the bamboo to be utilized for the first time as a true “vegetal steel”. While the architecture of Simón Vélez has a strong reference to vernacular traditions, he has pushed the limits of bamboo construction to achieve more modern and contemporary structural and architectural expressions - large spans, voluminous spaces with impressive heights, elliptical domes and cupula structures, etc…

Simón's basic theory is that architecture must be more vegetarian. He believes that there is an overdose of minerals (concrete, steel and glass) in the construction industry, especially in third world countries. He argues for a more balanced and mix-material/mixed-structure approach to building and design, and the incorporation of more natural material elements in construction. To date, Vélez has designed and constructed over 200 buildings (not only in bamboo) in Germany, France, USA, Brazil, Mexico, China, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and India. His most notable works are the bamboo pavilion in Expo Hannover (2000), Nomadic Museum in Zocalo Square in Mexico City for the photographer, Gregory Colbert (2008), Crosswaters Ecolodge in the forests of Nankun Shan Reserve (Guangzhou, China 2003). As of 2014, he has been working together with his design partner and wife, New York born designer Stefana Simic, in their studio based in Bogotá, Colombia.

The work of Simón Vélez has been honored with numerous prestigious international awards. He has been part of a lot of exhibitions, juries an international symposia. Simón Vélez and Stefana Simic have built a bamboo 'majlis' that will be on view during the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale.

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Project impressions

ACO on site
The Fragment - a residential building conceived as a work of art

About the project

The Fragment groundbreaking premium rental housing project is emerging in the vibrant neighborhood of Karlín, one of the most popular neighborhoods in Prague.

Investor, developer, and builder of the project is the Trigema Group. Its final appearance is the result of Trigema’s collaboration with the architects David Wittassek and Jiří Řezák from the prestigious Qarta architektura studio and well-known artist David Černý whose giant sculptures will give Fragment a distinctive character. The reclining figure of a soldier made of stainless steel as a fragment of Invalidovna’s history, when it was used to house and care war invalids until the 1930s, builds an imaginary bridge between history and the present.

“Our ambition was to bring the creative connection between quality architecture and contemporary art into the Fragment project in order to return Prague to the forefront of modern construction. We enjoy working on buildings that reflect our bold visions of the future. We want to construct something beautiful, functional, and useful, but a little bit provocative as well. We don’t have time to “just” make money by constructing the same buildings over and over again. We want to discover non-traditional concepts that are funny, effectively serve their purpose, yet forge a connection between everyday life and art. The exceptional location of the Rohanské Embankment directly across the Invalidovna historic building deserves to be treated differently and creatively,” says Marcel Soural, Chairman of the Board at Trigema.

The fragmentation of matter, its splitting into repeating modules, will result in a unique building that from afar seems to be made of broken up pieces, but up close is clearly a logically arranged whole. The abbreviated name of the project, “FRGMNT,” underscores the fragmentation concept. Fragment is the first bold project that will hopefully be one of many that have the potential to enliven Prague’s contemporary urban architecture.

Fragment will feature rental housing, shops, and services. It will offer 140 distinctively designed and fully furnished apartments for rent with layouts from studios to spacious duplex penthouse units with rooftop terraces and views of the Prague Castle. The building’s technical facilities include heat pumps, a system of ceiling heating and cooling, green roofs, automatic window shading, charging stations for electric cars, a photovoltaic power station, and a smart home control system in each unit. Fragment will therefore be an economical and energy-efficient building. Final approval and the grand opening of the building will take place in the second half of 2022.