Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category


Architecture Monday

March 12, 2018

How’s this for a barn?  Complete with horses and cows and all the trappings of farm life, it’s also designed with a dual purpose in mind, allowing the hayloft serve as a community space for shows and gatherings and dinners.

I like how the off-kilter roof catches the eye and lets the barn feel taller than it really is, and how the metal trim helps emphasize the form (as though you were tracing around it with a thick line in a drawing).  I also like how it and the large window for the loft (itself pretty nifty) work off each other to balance the composition.  There’s lots of nice little touches scattered throughout, and in keeping with the theme most of them do dual duty, like the deep porch that not only welcomes as an entrance but also provides a covered spot to tend to the animals “outdoors” before bringing them in.

Cool stuff.  Save for the metal trim, this is all pretty much standard barn construction, just wood and studs, designed and constructed with precision and care.  A great reminder that all buildings, even “working buildings”, can be ones of great designs that engage and enliven and fill us with delight.

Swallowfield Barn by MOTIV Architects


Architecture Monday

March 5, 2018

Imagine stumbling on an enigmatic “ruin” – an old cement factory with cavernous rooms, punctuated by massive supports (sometimes for things no longer there), and dotted with stairs leading to nowhere.  A child’s dream to explore… and a playground for a whimsical and very cool reinvention.  With some careful demolition and clever insertions, the old factory was transformed into offices, archives, a library, theatre, and a huge multi-function space.

I love this thing!  The whole thing is visually interesting and teasing, very fairy tale like (which is very much helped by the gothic-like tracery added to windows and around doors).  The rich texture of the rough concrete helps a bunch too, evoking the feel of natural stone that the castle was either carved in to, or otherwise built out of.  Surrounded by gardens and greenery, it really is like inhabiting a forgotten world.

And the rooms inside are a delight as well.  From the old concrete silos (round rooms! aka turrets!) to the great machine halls, everywhere the original (industrial) shapes are used to excellent effect.  Solid yet soaring, heavy yet filled with light, with smooth wood and steel contrasting with the rough natural concrete, it’s a delight for the senses.

Sorry for the million pictures  here, but there are just so many of them that catch my imagination.  I’ve gotta try and visit this place sometime.  What an amazing piece of adaptive reuse, using the bones of something gone to create something wonderful and new.

The Factory by Ricardo Bofill


Architecture Monday

February 26, 2018

This is a lovely little office/guest house/pavilion in the Netherlands.  It’s ringed with glass, built of warm wood, and has a striking roof made of raked bands that create strong shadow lines.

Inside is open and filled with yet more warm wood, with its own striking feature in the fashion of a ceiling that shoots upwards to capture as much volume as possible.  Nicely, this ceiling also creates a subtle division of the space below into that of “room” and of “circulation” that rings the entire pavilion.

Truth be told though, I think I’m most in love with this bedroom.  Though maybe it’d be better to call it a sleeping pod – just big enough for a bed, but shooting up towards a skylight to create a quiet and magical space for slumber.

To me, it feels like a nice blend of Scandinavian and Japanese motifs.   Finely crafted, it manages to be both serene and expressive at the same time.   Nicely done.

Tiny Office Pavilion Vught by studio PROTOTYPE


Architecture Monday

February 19, 2018

This is a project close to my hometown, in Toronto, a new Student Learning Centre for Ryerson University, designed by Zeidler Partnership and (one of my favs) Snøhetta.

While the outside is all angular and kinda sculptural and opens to the street and creates access to lower level retail and has a nifty patterned glass enclosure, it’s the interior where the real meat of the design happens.

And it starts with, as this section shows, a decided avoiding of having every single floor be exactly the same height, or even be level at all.  Some floors are tall, some are more squat, and sometimes a level dips down or angles upward to encroach into the spaces above/below.  In this way, each floor – each given their own evocative name such as Garden, Sun, Beach, or Sky – is molded to what is needed to support its use.

The building really sings in the vertical, with levels and spaces opening into each other to create connections and a sense of connectedness, while stairs, hallways, and atriums serve dual purpose with impromptu meeting areas and amphitheatre seating.

Easily both my favourite as well as that of the students, the Beach level exemplifies this with flair.  Starting at a wood “deck”, a series of ramps (that double as seating) slope down beach-like towards a blue carpeted “pool” nestled against copious amounts of the fritted glass.  And, of course, there is plenty of beach furniture to be had, and to be re-arranged as the students would like and need to study, to collaborate, or just chill in the midst of their day.  (A far cry better than the rough and tumble tile-lined box with harsh steel furniture we had in our university centre…)

The other floors follow in various fashions.  The Garden and Sun levels seem only to match their colour scheme to their names, but the Sky level culminates with a roofline that soars upwards, casting views and light towards the, well, sky.

All in all, an nifty design.  If anyone goes to Ryerson please ping me, I’d really enjoy checking it out next time I’m back home.

The Ryerson University Student Learning Centre by Zeidler Partnership and Snøhetta.



Architecture Monday

February 12, 2018

This is a cool project, both because of the (rather wild!) result, but also where its expressive forms came from.  The client had access to a gaggle of century old douglas fir beams, all milled from a single tree, and all different lengths and overall sizes.  Rather than cut or otherwise finish any of those beams, the architect chose to use them as-is, warping the geometries of the house to accommodate them all.

And what a wonderful warped set of geometries it is, allowing for an expansive and hyper expressive set of rooms and spaces.  With its abundance of angular forms, it’s quite the playground where light and shadow can dance, both from the generous amounts of windows, but also from the suspended globes of light that create floating constellations of light at night.  An effect that is also carried through by piercing similarly random holes through doors and shutters.

I love how the kitchen counter becomes a table becomes a vertical library becomes a set of stairs that becomes the floor into the upper parts of the house.  There’s a plethora of little built-in touches like this throughout the house, and it, along with the unifying theme of those “hanging stars”, help provide a sense of unity and continuity inside what could otherwise seem like an arbitrary jumble of forms.

I think this is pretty rad, a super fun home to live in.  Very nicely done.

The 23.2 house by Omer Arbel Office

Bonus image!


Architecture Monday

February 5, 2018

This definitively falls on the “monumental” (and maybe even epic) end of the spectrum.  It’s a museum, and not just any museum, but a branch of the Louvre, it’s nearly 10000 m2 in size (100k+ ft2) and it’s in Abu Dhabi, a place not necessarily known for being without money.  And it’s an absolute beauty.

The grand move here is not hard to miss:  it’s a dome, and a big one.  But the dome isn’t really what catches your eye right away, at least not exactly.  What catches your eye is the nearly 8000  points of light that glitter from underneath, for the dome is not a solid but instead is made up of layers of overlapping geometric shapes to create an irregular pincushion of solids and voids.  By day, you get dramatic shafts of light that pierce the plazas below.  By night, constellations of upon constellations hover overhead.  I could post a hundred photos, and the beauty never ceases to amaze.

What’s beneath this dome only enhances this ethereal dance.  The museum is broken down into (what seems like) hundreds of pavilions, connected by passageways, atriums, plazas, and gardens.  You don’t enter a single building and leave at the end of your visit, no, rather you are travelling through a village of irregular buildings, each housing a part of the collection.  Pavilions, by the way, that do not touch nor support the dome;  by careful construction, the dome seems to hover magically overhead.

And if that weren’t enough (!), the whole thing is built upon the water, such that canals and pools travel into this entire assemblage, providing oases where the flickering reflections from the water match the shifting pinpricks of light overhead as you move through the space.  Simply stunning.

I cannot help but love this thing.  Like the amazing works of Ando at Naoshima Island, here the architecture is as much a part of the experience – and the art – as the works within.  The finely crafted volumes, both solid and void, layered and complex as they recede into the distance, are a joy to experience, and the clusters of irregular buildings creates natural divisions of art and exhibitions that allow for exploration and discovery.

Stunning  work.  The Louvre Abu Dhabi by Ateliers Jean Nouvel.



Architecture Monday

January 29, 2018

There’s something wonderful about brick.  There’s a comfort within its heft, and there’s a richness that comes from its perfect combination of roughness, irregularity, and the deep colours of the materials used to make them.  It’s also a material that is familiar, one of our earliest and longest lasting building materials.

So when you have a chance to go hog wild with brick… go for it.

This museum of roman antiquities does so with spectacular effect.  It’s nearly all brick – inside and out – creating a sensuous backdrop for the exhibits within.  Built over and protecting a pristine archeological excavation (and providing access for the public to view it), and adjacent to further ruins next door, the brick forms evoke their ancient architecture while remaining decidedly contemporary.

There’s a lot to love about this:  the high-arched hall that forms its spine, the mezzanines of galleries that line its side, a multitude of surprising and creative alcoves and atriums to discover, the intimate crypts below, and the finely tuned beams of light that perfectly highlight the beauty and mottled colours of all that brick.

Good stuff.  A bold design that grabs the eye and alludes to its contents and the ruins nearby without succumbing to being a copy, all while wrapped in those delicious layers upon layers of brick.

The National Museum of Roman Art by Rafael Moneo