Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category


Architecture Monday

October 16, 2017

I just got back from the Monterrey Design Conference this past weekend, filled with lectures that not only wowed architecturally or artistically, but also got me examining things and thinking in new ways, which is always very cool.  There are a number of projects to share, but tonight I’ll start with this one, because while I may think there are some design aspects that are not quite fully resolved, I really like how it takes the necessities and plays with them hard, springboarding from the constraints to create a multiple series of wins.

The brief for the project by the city was a for a gymnasium, with a community centre.  There were requirements for the size and height of the gym, and a max height for the property.  The retail/supermarket on the first floor may have been part of the brief (I can’t remember), but other than that, the developers were allowed to add in whatever they chose.  Now, for a gym, you need some deep trusses to support the roof (as having columns in the middle of your playing surface is just a drag for everyone).  And so the first of the various nifty bits in this project came in coming up with the idea to use the height of those deep trusses and nestle some residential apartments in between them.    The space between the trusses would otherwise have been “wasted” – now instead you’ve got 12 new housing units for the city.

The units themselves are quite nicely done, with a courtyard in the middle, a tall living area, and a small loft that opens onto a deck.  I especially like how the countertop becomes the landing for the staircase, and even more so how the huge windows at the end of each unit is angled to provide a vista down the street, rather than looking straight into the building across the way.

This sawtooth edge also is used to good effect in the gym, providing indirect natural light in a way that prevents glare and also protects the windows from errant sports balls.  The community room nicely sets out from the building slightly as a glass box, and is attached to the gym via a grand staircase & bleachers, letting it be both separate and part of the gym as needed.

Overall the whole design does a lot of its work vertically, nestling and stacking its functions in and around themselves and the structure until everyone wins:  a grocery store, a community space and gym, and apartments with plenty of light, interest, and a view onto the world.  Good stuff.

Sundbyoster Hall II by Dorte Mandrup Artkitekter


Architecture Monday

October 9, 2017

Ok, I can’t help but love this store as, during school, I designed a laundromat that prominently featured/used copper piping throughout, not only for the conveying of water but becoming lights, seats, and reading nooks.  It’s not used quite as much here, but the piping that feeds the central island – which also becomes a light fixture – is still a prominent enough element within the design.

Beyond those copper pipes, the rich, slick, red display cases and countertops (inspired by the red colour from cut bonito flakes (the store specializes in ingredients for dashi, the Japanese soup stock) are wonderful offsets to the rough and very raw concrete that forms the structure for this impossibly narrow building in Tokyo.  It’s a very focused store, with a very focused space within.

by Schemata Architects



Architecture Monday

October 2, 2017

Coffee anyone?  (Or tea?)  If we’re stopping here, yes please.

There’s something really cool going on in the main coffee pavilion.  It’s an open space, but yet, at the same time, not really.  Though the sides of the seating area lacks walls, the walls of the courtyard in which it sit are really close by, with the height of the wall nearly the same as the height  of the open part of the seating area.  And so while the lofty pavilion walls themselves do not reach the ground, there is still the feeling of enclosure.  This further helped by the continuity in colour.  That is one great space to be in.

The window at the end is another finely crafted experience.  It looks almost otherworldly, a vibrance of colour and twisty forms against the blacks and greys and strong lines of the pavilion itself.  Playing with perspective, the walls end to hide behind the window supports, as though this is a picture or portal into another realm.  That the table continues beyond the window, to tweak the experience even further,  just makes it even sweeter.

At the opposite end of the mini coffee complex, a small garden of trees borders an indoor coffee area that is a wonderful contrast to the main pavilion, with compressed headspace.  The whole area is filled with stones much like a rock garden, and bordered throughout by the inky black walls.

I really like what’s going on here.  There’s much keen awareness of how to use the interplay between all the parts to create a composition of delightful experiences.  Even the “your order is ready” notification is seamlessly woven in.  It’s not a coffee house because it’s just a place that serves coffee, but it’s a place that starts with what a coffee break is all about, and builds out from there:  to pause, to reflect, to see, to socialize, and to delight.

The Yellow Submarine Coffee Tank, by Secondfloor Architects.

Bonus!  Have a rooster:


Architecture Monday

September 25, 2017

Some eye candy tonight of a very nice adaptive reuse from Montreal!  This one’s filled with delicious contrasts and intersections:  rugged brickwork with slick and smooth walls, deep tones with vibrant colours, old materials kissing new ones, deep windows with flush lighting, and some great shadow play.  As a bonus, this is an old railway station….

Lightspeed Offices by ACDF Architecture


Architecture Monday

September 18, 2017

There’s something hiding at the heart of this Kindergarten in Japan:  the wood.  It doesn’t look like it’s hiding, because the buildings are nothing if all wood, detailed together with joinery finery.  What’s more hidden is that all the wood comes from trees that were killed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and, even more at their heart, is that each of these trees were also planted after a tsunami in 1611, a round 400 years prior.  From one tsunami to the next, the trees remain to provide shelter in the community.

Even beyond this remarkable history, there’s much to like about the building.  Built onto the side of a hill, it manages to evoke both traditional Japanese woodwork while also channeling Smokey the Bear-type North American national forest pavilions.  And, not unintended I’m sure, a treehouse, all the more perfect for its young inhabitants.

Inside the wood continues to take centre stage, from floor to furniture to wall to ceiling, the latter of which is cast aglow by windows that reach up deep between the roof beams.  Odd as it may seem, the bare bulbs that hang to provide artificial light feels nice, the pinpoints of light creating another plane overhead.  (I do hope those are LEDs…)

Nice and solid work.  The Asahi Kindergarten by Tezuka Architects.


Architecture Monday

September 11, 2017

Looking more than a little like a giant plane about to take flight, there’s a lot I like about this cancer center in Manchester.

Starting with the continuous, repetitious, and very nifty wood truss system that forms the building’s long spine.  Carefully crafted from wood, they are playful and expressive, and provide a flexibility that allows the outer walls to jut in, and out, then back in again to meet the needs of the rooms as they unfold down the length of the building.  It also creates a continuous covered porch that encircles the whole affair.

There’s also this great mezzanine, a quiet refuge to read, to talk, to work, and even just to watch the sky, or the stars, go by.

The pièce de résistance is, no doubt, the greenhouse.  Located prominently in the building’s prow, the geodesic-like structure feels at once both comforting and playful, a space full of life – literally, with the plants, but also the experience of the spatial qualities itself.  Perfect vibrancy for recovery.

And how the table that can roll itself outdoors… lovely detail.

Maggie’s Centre, by Foster + Partners.



Architecture Monday

September 4, 2017

This one’s not completed or open for “business” yet (I say that in quotes as it’s a library and so not really a business) so we can’t see inside, but I do like what I see with the exterior!  Take the corners, pull them up, and insert glass.  Nice.  A straightforward move that, pardon the pun, reads well and really projects the public space within outward to the community it serves.

Not every corner need be pulled up to the same height;  I’m guessing this corner is the children’s wing, and they get their own right-sized windows.

I really dig the black panels that ring the structure.  Ribbed and folded, from a distance they read (again, sorry) like the pages in a book.  It also really contrasts nicely with both the vibrant green of the entry and, even better, the planted roof that’ll help keep the building cool in several senses of the word.

Best of all, check out how the leafy shadows from nearby trees plays across those irregular folds.  Two sets of textures that combine for double richness.

Great stuff.  Kew Gardens Hills Library by WORKac.  Photos by Field Condition.