Yes, I know I should be praising Norman Foster for his Dymaxion Car, which, of course.
But instead, I will be grateful for the deftness of Lord Foster's humblebraggadocio in the essay he wrote for his wife's show/book in Madrid on Jean Prouvé.
[Best line hands down: "He reviewed the drawings in silence. then said, simply: 'You don't need me - it's perfect as it is.'"]
In discussing his firm's work at the Free University of Berlin, which included the extensive renovation of the Rostlaube, or "Rustbucket," the affectionate name given to Prouvé's innovative-but-decaying CorTen-clad library:
Our approach from the start was not to ask 'How can we match what Prouvé did?', but to try to imagine how he would have responded, given the same challenge. So instead we asked: 'How can we do what Prouvé would do now?'Which is what happened, eventually, I'm sure. But when it was done, the library looked as awesomely, hilariously shiny as a new Pfennig.
We could have used Corten steel in much thicker sections, which technically would have been correct. But if Prouvé had known that the material needed to be sized differently, and that was his starting point, then the result would have been very different too. Most likely he would have looked at the alternatives and chosen a material that could be detailed finely and would stand the test of time; and so that's what we did. We replaced the corroded panels and framing with new elements made from bronze, which as it weathers and acquires a patina is gradually taking on the colour tones of the original.
Do they still have Pfennig? I guess they will soon enough.
Foster on Prouvé [blueprintmagazine.co.uk, image via busse]
Unrelated, unmentioned, and most probably not WPWD: Foster & Partners' cuh-razy Library of Philology at Free University Berlin [fosterandpartners]