Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

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Architecture Monday

July 24, 2017

A wonderful school project in Zambia.  Using locally sourced materials and careful study of the site, this is one great set of classrooms.  The roof is calculated to shade the structure just right from the hot hot sun, acting like a giant parasol that keeps things below cool.  The windows are placed both high and low to let in lots of light without causing glare.  The split design lets the spaces between classroom blocks be porticos, porches, and spaces to gather and teach.  And the space between the parasol and the buildings is used as additional, open-air, classrooms – which in turn is a further moment of delight in the perforated wall that frames the stair access.

That seemingly mundane concrete block that makes the perforated wall possible is almost invisible to our eyes, so jaded by the usual uses of concrete block in our everyday lives, by careful detailing and the application of a lusciously smooth plaster.  With a rhythm defined by the carefully placed windows, it stands proudly but not disruptively amongst the big skies and grasslands that surround it.

This is no big budget project.  It is, however, big on design.  Creativity transcends.  It takes what’s there and multiplies it, crafting delightful spaces that works better for more people, in turn acting as a force multiplier for the activities of the community.  Great work.

Chipakata Children’s Academy by Susan Rodriguez, Frank Lupo, Randy Antonia Lott, Fabian Bedolla, Hiroko Nakatani, Mehonaz Kazi

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Architecturally Chuffed

July 23, 2017

I received this in an email this from a client a couple of years after project completion and it is music to my architect ears:

“Your visit gave me a chance to reflect again on how happy I am with the way we designed the space. Along with all the technical requirements, it was important to me that it feel pleasant to work in, and indeed it does.”

A space that feels great and works well is what we strive for, and it is always wonderful to know when we hit that mark.

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Architecture Monday

July 17, 2017

I don’t think it’s a surprise at this point that I’m a fan of Snøhetta.  And this lovely cabin design is just another example why.

Check this out.  There’s a nice play at work here between a long rectangular bar and a playful roof whose base (but not ridge!) has been rotated in relation to that base bar.  This opens up a whole bunch of spatial magic.  Just from the outside, there’s something fun about it, with roof lines going this way and that, and every side looking different and intriguing.  I also like how the play of angles is reinforced by punctuating each end of the rectangular bar by a prominent and solid concrete box that does double duty to store wood or outdoor gear.

All of this really sings by the generous porch, where the interplay creates a deck that opens outward and upward towards the landscape beyond.  Inside, the windows reach all the way to the roof, bringing scads of light in and letting your view wander out.

All throughout the play of angles create little nifty moments and opportunities, from the small covered entry on the one side, and the expanding bedrooms on the other.

At its core, this is a very straightforward three bedroom cabin, designed for a multitude of locations.  With some equally straightforward but carefully considered design moves, Snøhetta has created a cabin far beyond the ordinary.  And, most excitingly, it’s also a prefab, so we can all get one!  Got a spot?  Call in an order and have it shipped your way…

Great, great work.  Gapahuk by Snøhetta.

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D23 Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: Architect’s View

July 15, 2017

Disney Imagineering and Disney Parks released a huge model yesterday of the upcoming Star Wars land at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World (to which the name has also potentially been leaked as Galaxy’s Edge).  And I do mean huge model – a full blown architectural model complete with silhouette people.  Quite frankly, it is crazy impressive, and it gives an amazing amount of insight into how the land will be designed (and how far they have to go to complete it, judging by looking at recent satellite imagery).  Seeing this model has me totally stoked – so much has been revealed!  Let’s do the architectural deep dive!

First and foremost, the baseline for all the buildings appears to be around 3-4 stories tall.  These are not small at all, and walking down the streets and alleys will feel very canyonlike.  The streets are also twist and kink.  Not only does this mean you won’t be able to see out of the area, thus cementing the magic and immersion, but it also, quite significantly, means that you also won’t be able to see most of the rest of the Star Wars area either.  Which in turns means you’ll never get a reference for scale which will make the park feel larger than it is as you walk and explore all over.  This is very different than many of the other areas at Disney.  Because you can’t see one street over, and you’ll rarely get a “down the street” look, coupled with the fact that there is so much detail and little alleyways and alcoves and they are probably littered with little interactive moments, this thing is going to feel huge.

The only area where you have a straight sightline will be the Resistance (though I’ll call it Rebel area, I’m oldschool) camp.  This in of itself is an unexpected twist, a forested area that’s separate from the starport area.  We’re getting two new themed lands in one!

Back to the buildings, making them so tall also means they have plenty of room for second or even third floors.  I’d wager most of this will be taken up for “backstage” areas – one of the most exciting things about this new Star Wars land is that there will be no Disney castmembers within it, or, more precisely, every single castmember will be “in costume”.  It is a 100% role playing area, and so if you go to buy a drink, you’re not buying it from a Disney uniformed member in some themed restaurant, you are buying it from Grubarsh the Jenet from their cantina.  It’s all RP, all the time, and they are going to need a lot of backstage areas for members to costume up, rest, and travel to and fro without being seen “out of character”.  That said, there’s a lot of second story area, and they could potentially put some attractions up there and grow the amount of content in the land without growing its footprint.

The next most interesting thing for me is all that rock.  Hiding the large rides – Battle Escape and the Millennium Falcon ride – behind rock faces is a great way to keep what amount to very large buildings from breaking up the ramshackle small-scale feel of all the rest of the starport buildings.  It also creates a very strong edge that’ll help in the feeling of a cramped starport, nestled up as much as it can to a natural boundary.

And then there are all those spires – if the scale of everything within that model is accurate, those are some very tall spires, tall enough they’ll likely match the Matterhorn and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, out rivaling the height of the castle.  From outside the land those spires will be very visible.  While Galaxy’s Edge is very well designed to be isolated visually (and thematically) from within the rest of the park (and, as noted above, vice-versa), these rock spires break that isolation enough to be a calling card.

There’s so many fun details to explore in this model, which bodes well for the real thing.  This is going to be a blast to be in, totally immersive, with so much to discover.  Plus they’re talking about tracking visitors real time through “Galaxy Credits”, so that your actions on rides (such as how well you pilot the Millennium Falcon) and interactions with the denizens of the starport and the Resistance base will influence how your subsequent interactions will go.  This sounds amazing (and a bit creepy!), and will mark a very different park going experience, one of being a participant and character rather than an idle spectator.  Very cool.

Now all we have to do is wait two years for it to open.

 

Photos sourced from the following, check them out for additional coverage including videos of the model!

blogmicky.com

Mercury News

DSNY Newscast

And the official Disney Parks Blog

 

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Architecture Monday

July 10, 2017

Sometimes, even architecture has to go to the toilet.

And I think these are great toilets.  They’re for a park in Austin, TX, so they’re more of an outhouse for hikers and cyclists than a traditional toilet, but that I think helps make them so nice.  Check out how the two buildings look like they could nestle into each other, and how though they’ve been pulled apart they’re still talking to each other.  They’ve got a nice muscular feel, something primal, and I really like how the angled forms of thick, rusting steel both reflects the light with glints of metallic vigour or becomes rich and textured, depending on the time of day.  Plus the way the shadows of the trees dance across.  You could pass at the same time each day and yet it would never be exactly the same experience.

Inside things are rough and rugged, and oh my did you look up?  How’s that for a surreal and yet great bathroom break view?  Yes, that tree is coming into your restroom.  Take a multi-meaning nature break to recharge… this has to be one of the top toilet experiences out there.

These are fun.  A word not normally associated with toilets to be sure, but that playfulness is what makes ’em even neater.  Intriguing, airy, and a view to the trees and the skies beyond, all while you do your business.

The Lady Bird Loo, by Mell Lawrence Architects.

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Architecture Monday

July 3, 2017

Oh my, I love this!  That crazy amazing facade of windows upon windows upon windows is great in its own right, but its backstory is even sweeter:  they are all reclaimed.  Every single one of them had a previous life.  And it doesn’t stop with just the windows:  old farm equipment is reborn as furniture, bottles become light fixtures, bricks and wood and more are all given a second career.

This community building is literally built from bits that have histories from within the the community.  It’s a reuse gem.

Those windows look great on the outside, and they glow magnificently like a lantern at night, but wow is it even better inside.  The twin-layer of the irregular windows creates an absolutely marvelous space, a complex intricacy of lines and patterns and shapes (almost a Mondrian painting) that in turn creates a tableau of light and shadow, both on the windows themselves and projected onto the walls.   And that rising roofline, beneath which sits the shop and taproom, contrasts so nicely with the more compact brewery, exploding the senses upward and outward in elation.  It’s exhilarating.

Not that the brewery itself is any slouch, nicely proportioned and well refined detailing with a traditional Japanese bent.  A reclaimed brick pathway cuts crosswise through the building, pulling you through and linking the community BBQ and lawn outside back to the town.  Inside, the pathway is flanked on one side by the cluttered homeliness of the shop, and by the precision stainless steel brewery on the other.

There’s so much to love here.  A very resource-minded building that uses a simple palette of materials, many found and reclaimed, with careful craft to create delightful spaces within while connecting to the community without.  Great, great work.

Kamikatz Public House by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP  (whom I just realized also did the Ribbon Chapel I featured earlier…)

 

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Architecture Monday

June 26, 2017

This is a fun little idea, taking the idea of shutters and writing it large across the facade of the house.  Opening a few, most, or all playfully changes the look and feel of the house, shifting throughout the day.  Even when completely closed, the cutouts (which derive from symbols used to identify boats and gear in this traditional fishing town) keeps things warm, illuminated at night like a giant tea light lantern.

The reverse, of course, also works, cutting the glare and heat-ray effect from direct sunlight and casting a delightful patterns within.  (Though I do not know why they do not have any furniture…)

House 77 by dIONISO LAB