I like this, a building ‘rescued’ from it’s intended undifferentiated glass box origins, taking the raw concrete frame and building something that is more in tune with its context and the environment in which it sits. With colour, pattern, and plenty of greenery, it is at once nicer to look at, nicer to be in, and nicer to the planet.
The whole idea is quite clever in a rather logical way. The side of the building that sees the most sun in this hot and humid environment houses the stair core and other utility elements, creating a buffer to keep heat and glare out. The other two sunny sides are surrounded by open-air balconies, two of which are encased in a colorful set of scrim, shifting in geometric patterns to create openings out of which plants poke their leaves towards the sun. The other two levels are protected by the overhang and more potted plants.
Heat and glare are kept out, and you’re working next to a little garden oasis. Even more so when you open the sliding doors and let the breeze flow through. As a supreme bonus, check out the little reading nook, nestled into the walls throughout!
Sweet work. A building that could have been a pillbox that instead found life as a nifty object that’s lush and creates a wonderful space inside, all while needing less energy to run. That’s what it’s all about.
MGB Headquarters by Spacefiction Studio
What do you do when an old building in a dense urban area finds itself ready for new tenants? Especially when that building is now surrounded by much taller and larger buildings, and there is a premium on developing new space? As much as I love adaptive reuse, sometimes the pressure to densify argues to do something more. An “easy” solution is to incorporate the existing building – or at least the existing façade – into the new one, often as a base for a new high-rise.
And then there’s the opportunity to do something much more radical.
The above project is, alas, only a concept piece and the land owners aren’t gong forward with it… but what a concept! Beyond just making more commercial space, this idea was to take the over-a-century-old building and turn it into a cultural and art facility, doubling its floor area by literally mirroring it. The result would have been this double-take inducing, water-like, reflection of the building hovering over the existing one.
What a mind trip!
Though, not a complete mind trip, as there would have been an additional new element added to the rear to house further facilities and, nicely, another stage facing an adjacent park. So from certain angles that would have ‘broken’ the illusion. But who cares, from so many other angles, even if you caught a glimpse of the rooftop canopy shell the illusion of the inverted building would’ve remained strong and kept all its ‘woah’ factor.
Again, alas, not to be, but one damn cool idea.
Station C Queen West Art Centre by Paul Raff Studio
A play of light and shadow, a patter of falling rain, a breeze that flows throughout, and a house that organizes itself around a covered courtyard pool, with geometric perforated concrete panels that lets all the above happen.
And geometric boldness pretty much rules the day all throughout the house. There’s lots of cool stuff going on, as the house pulls and stretches this way and that to catch the light or a breeze. Or to catch a tree, embracing a towering royal palm tree that becomes another courtyard.
The great hall, no surprise, is really the centerpiece, opening without barrier to the pool with the three skylights (two angled to catch the morning sun, the other to catch the evening) being just the beginning as the concrete screen above the pool further lets the light dance about. As a bonus, the cross-ventilation from this open screen above the pool, plus those on the front and back of the house, keeps it cool and pleasant and lets everyone be late into the evening before any lights need to be turned on.
Great designs embrace their context, and this house does so in spades. Great work, and looks like a very fun place to live.
Casa Delpín by Nataniel Fúster
Ah, here’s another cool project (this one for a small coffee shop in Japan) that inhabits the space underneath a railroad bridge/trestle. Nestled under one of its many repeating arches, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. Patinaed concrete, rich exposed brick, and a double curve of the arched ceiling and concave back wall.
Nifty, and a nice complement to the Arches Project and to the Vans complex (both in the UK) which also inhabit under-rail spaces.
Blue Bottle Coffee Chiyoda City by Schemata Architects
National Art Gallery in Ottawa, Canada
Architecture by Safdie Architects, garden by Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
(by Tadao Ando, though I’m not sure where; if you know the building, please comment below!)
It’s funny, I’ve just been musing about a little backyard studio, and this one pops up on my radar out of nowhere . I don’t have as large a property… or a hill… so it wouldn’t work as a template for my place, but there’s plenty to enjoy in this whimsical little addition.
It pretty much speaks for itself, with its arched windows and scalloped railing for the nice little roof deck to give it a ‘secret garden’ vibe. The ceiling within curving upwards to meet a large linear skylight is unexpected and noteworthy however, bringing ample light to suffuse the interior in a powerful glow.
Pandemic WFH office, art or writing studio, or just a fanciful little retreat, nice and simple but anything but boring. Cool stuff.
Stiff Peaks by Byben & Skeens
Oh this is neat! A new trio of apartments to be added atop an existing building – but rather than just make the new units and call it a day, this project goes above (kinda literally) and beyond to create a new trio of public yards for everyone in the complex to use: a play area, a couple of decks, and a grassy knoll. And while that last one might seem like a joke, it is not! Even further, it is crowned by an outlook to survey the city all around.
Very nifty, a cool addition to a dense Copenhagen neighborhood.
Hedonistic Rooftop Penthouses by… A ha! Designed by the same firm who did the iceberg apartments I visited (and posted photos from here) while in Denmark, JDS.
So while looking at the subject of last week’s post, I noticed this:
“What,” I asked myself, “In heck is that honkin’ cantilevered thing?” So I looked more, and, yeah, wow, that is one big cantilever – 178 feet or 54m!
Attached to a performing arts centre, the prominent protuberance is known as the Endless Bridge and is used as a gallery, event space, and observatory.
The rest of the building is pretty spiff as well, an assemblage of bold forms upon which subtle (less so at night) images have been printed right onto the panels.
The main theatre is pretty cool too, with an asymmetrical thrust stage and hyper colourful seating:
Nifty and expressive, and a cool contrast to the old silos of the Mill Center. Very cool!
The Guthrie Theatre by Ateliers Jean Nouvel (who also did these two projects  )
An old flour mill on your industrial waterfront, dormant for 25 years, catches fire and partially collapses. You could knock that hulk down and wipe your hands of the affair. Or… you could stabilize the ruins and do some adaptive reuse magic to turn it into the forecourt of a new museum!
As you can guess, that’s exactly what happened with the Mill City Museum.
And that forecourt is indeed some magic. Ruins often manage to be compelling in some ways that is hard to pin down (I’d venture it’s a combination of the roughness, the randomness, and the precariousness, in conjunction with the perfection that is our imagination that completes what is missing), and here the shell acts like the outer concourse of the Coliseum. The slick glass and steel addition contrasts beautifully with it, and all that glass lets it be a part of the museum experience within so that the history you’re learning about is ever present.
Best of all, the forecourt makes one heck of a backdrop for all sorts of events! Beyond just being a museum, it creates a whole plethora of possibilities for a reinvented waterfront district.
Given how much I love adaptive reuse, and the rich texture of old brick and rough and tumble buildings in particular, it’s no surprise that I totally dig this. Great work!
Mill City Museum by Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle.