The tortoise: the tomb of Bigness Shields, barricades and public squares

April 14, 2014

The tortoise: the tomb of Bigness Shields, barricades and public squares. This eulogy to Bigness has since become a classic work, allowing an understanding of both the end of the Modern era – from Mies van der Rohe to Le Corbusier – and the dawn of vast projects bearing the names of a few major figures, including Rem Koolhaas himself.The structure is no longer what the Modernists referred to as a “human settlement”. Instead it is a temporary installation, an emergency shelter with a unique function (kitchen, bathroom, library, hospital, place of worship) but also a shared function: a refuge against the bitter cold and snow of the Ukrainian winter.The term “barricade” comes from the French word “barrique” (barrel), since these barricades were once made by rolling and stacking barrels to create a protective shield. These days, the barrels have been replaced by tyres, which are easy to roll, or by street furniture uprooted from areas where it hinders free movement through re-captured public spaces.Unlike the shields used by the Teutonic Knights or Samurais, the scutum was a piece of curved, stretched hide designed to protect the full length of the legionnaire’s body. As such, a standard size was adopted: 130 x 67 cm.When this military formation – known as the “tortoise” formation – descends a hill, it appears like the tiers of a theatre or a pleated shell.These new architects are rolling their sleeves up and getting really stuck in. Give them a shield, a shelter or a barricade and they will create a small project out of it, the manifesto for how architecture will be in years to come.

Design: BUREAU A. Leopold Banchini, Daniel Zamarbide (CH) With BURØ. Sergey Ferley (UA)
Photography: Sergey Ferley

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