Courtesy of designboom.
Tag Archive for Architecture
Yesterday, we saw a courthouse extension with randomly distributed, punched-out windows across its golden facade. Today, we have a project with a different kind of random window arrangement. The project is the RAKE showroom designed by a workshop of students, RAKE visningsrom. The workshop focused on the life cycle of materials, and the raw materials for the project came from an office building nearby that was scheduled for demolition. Even though the roof is made of doors and the floor of wooden cubes, the interior is a pretty simple white box to display works by artists and architects. Many projects reuse materials, and it’s always nice to see a project where the reuse is done simply and well.
The folks at Snøhetta are always up to something interesting, whether it’s a gigantic opera house or simply a place to watch the reindeer pass by. Located in the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park in Norway, this small pavilion beautifully frames the idyllic mountain view. I think the best part has to be the materials themselves, these giant wooden beams that have been sculpted to look like natural rock formations. The formations curve around to the inside of the structure and act as tiered seating, a perfect place to take in the view. What’s also kind of interesting though is that if you look at the structure from the other side it’s a super minimal glass box, which is also beautiful, but it feels like the exact opposite of the front of the pavilion.
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It’s not out of the ordinary to hear architects talk about the urban fabric that gives rise to a project. It’s an evocative analogy to talk about the city as a kind of woven, knitted or quilted blanket– these analogies work because they suggest methods of their assembly, continuity and/or cohesion. The trouble is that blankets don’t bring much action to a picnic: they mostly cover things, and sometimes trap heat to help us fall asleep. Urban fabric? Snoozeville.
A better analogy, and one I couldn’t stop imaging looking at these paintings is of an urban tissue. Not facial or toilet tissue, but the kind we have in our bodies: the groups of cells that work together to serve some function. The advantage over fabric analogies is that tissue analogies suggest some compositional make up, a morphology and most importantly: function. Our cities and towns don’t just blanket over natural features but are vibrant and responsive organisms that can be injured by natural or man-made disaster and atrophy (Detroit), recover (New Orleans) or grow (Austin). And like humans our cities can develop cancer (suburbs).
In all honesty, these pantings are simply fantastic. Yes, the paintings above remind me of Muscle, Nervous and Connective tissue, but it isn’t necessary to play semantic tug-of-war with blankets to appreciate the imagination and skill that went into their creation.
Here’s a video of Amy talking about her work without ever mentioning blankets or tissue.
Ok, I know it looks like a church but bear with me. It’s not actually a church, but an art project called Reading between the lines by Gijs Van Vaerenbergh. Gijs Van Vaarenbergh is not a person, but two young persons collaborating on architectural in Belgium. Previously, the two worked inside a church to install a stunning, upside-down dome made from chain. Outside, this rural and petit church is made from horizontal slices of steel that are welded together with small steel blocks at irregular intervals. The small scale of the project and its exposure to the elements make clear that this is not interested in the traditional role of a church even if it takes the traditional form of a church. The architects say “ because the church does not fulfill its classical function, it can be read as a heritage related reflection on the present vacancy of churches in the area (and their potential artistic reuse).”
The architect of this project, Kazuyo Sejima, makes up half of the celebrated Japense firm Sanaa. When she’s not alongside architect Ryue Nishizawa leading Sanaa, one of the most influential firms practicing today , she’s leading her own firm to realize projects just as compelling, but on a smaller scale. Shibaura House, the project above, is such a project from her office.
It’s hard to tell from the exterior (although there is at least one hint: the slender, curving staircase) but the otherwise blocky and transparent building is softened by geometries that snake through the project’s white steel skeleton. The curves create a variety of spaces that you can see in the fantastic line drawing at the top. I’m usually not a big fan of curves, but these really help this project. Of course, in less capable or less resolute hands, these curves could be conceived and executed terribly. So what makes Sejima so good? I once met a tall and sturdy-looking employee of Sanaa who described Sejima as being “ballsy.” I thought he meant her projects were daring, but when I asked him what he meant, he said “Sejima has bigger balls than I do.”
Lebbeus Woods posted these kind, articulate words to commemorate the passing of Lauretta Vinciarelli. Vinciarelli was an Italian architect-turned-artist whose technical skill in portraying and a cognitive prowess in conceiving architectural spaces leave a vacuum in her absence. Woods points out that the spaces she creates are quite different than the “self-aggrandizing, egoistic” spaces that dominate much of contemporary architectural production. When students and practitioners become bored with creating flamboyant one-liners, these paintings of ordered and serene spaces are ripe with inspiration.