Take one part sculpture, one part landscape, and one part building, put together, stir gently, and pour out onto an urban plaza, Voila! You’ve got yourself a remarkably bold space for contemplation.
Rising out from a reflecting pool, there’s no missing these sloping and gem-like forms. From afar they act as a hill or abstract rock, face, edging one side of the urban square. Closer in, they are more like sculptural elements, with the building itself being split to fit within many of the forms, all connected via glass walkways that allow the water to flow freely.
Inside the geologic forms continue, both rising from the floor or pushing down from overhead to create a nice complex interior geometry. It’s a balancing act, but it remains mostly in the realm of “visually engaging” without devolving into “cacophony of random stuff.” Little bits of light and water play out continually as you travel, in a ritual fashion, from space to space.
I dig it (pun semi intended). Something inventive and playful married with old tradition. Very nifty.
Al Musallah Prayer Hall by CEBRA
(Who also did the Iceberg apartments in Aarhus! See them mid-way in this post here…)
Another wonderful schoolhouse and mini-library tonight, harnessing design to create something vital and beautiful!
Designed in the aftermath of, and thus to withstand, a cyclone, it’s no bunker of a design. Full of air and light, built by community hands, and using the robust structure to its fullest to create a great and interesting space within.
The bit about the library is doubly interesting, for this school is in Vanuatu, an island country where humidity levels are often around 99%. And so the library is nestled up a ladder under the ridge of a black roof, using the sun to heat the air, thus increasing its moisture capacity while also causing convection which is used to continually pull the moisture out of the building. It’s a small thing, but it helps the books last longer, while also creating a great reading nook.
Great design is never out of place, and should never be considered, nor need to be, a luxury. Sweet work here.
Ranwas School by CAUKIN Studio
With my brain being a bit on the fritz, a good book is what the hypothetical doctor ordered. And this wonderful library in Muyinga, Burundi fits the bill for a lovely place to grab and read a book.
There’s a lot of from local culture and the conditions of the site that went into this building, used in a great way that are both functional and fanciful. Right from the start you can see it in the locally-fabricated compressed earth block masonry which allows the building to match rich colour of the surrounding earth and tree trunks. There is a rhythm to the high-buttressed walls, each perforated to allow for light and cross-ventilation, and that further extends into the generous covered walkway. At night, the whole assemblage glows like a lantern.
Inside, it just gets downright sweeter. It’s lofty and inviting, with a great connection to the outdoors and steps that become bookshelves. But the piece de resistance is the hammock suspended overhead… what a great reading nook!
I love it. A great example of learning from the vernacular, using and building skills in the community, and creating a wonderful space through straightforward good design and a few touches of whimsy. Great stuff.
The Library of Muyinga by BC Architects
It’s no big secret that I love rough, rich, exposed textural brick (yet I am way less of a fan of brick veneer, curiously). I also love clean lines and careful attention to detail that punches through to both accentuate and punctuate.
All of which is why this house is such a delight for me, for it has all the above in spades. A clean plastered box on the outside with an equally clean standing seam roof, it turns into a rich delight on the inside with its exposed brick and equally exposed wood roof framing above. Thick steel frames jut out in several places, creating entryways and window porticos.
While using few elements the diversity in feeling for each space within is great. There’s plenty to love in here, but my favourite has to be the office /bedroomwith the ladder-accessible loft.
Very nicely done. House V by Martin Skoček.
Thinking of relaxation, recently I went looking for saunas, and didn’t expect to find this little gem near(ish) my hometown, on the shores of the Georgian Bay!
There’s a great number of juxtapositions and sweet attention to detail that really makes this work. For starters, the exterior is this very handsome box, dead simple in form but deliciously rendered in worn wooden siding while also being nestled into the glacier-scraped rockface just hovering above the water line. And so while it’s sharp corners and straight lines are definitively not of the natural landscape it nevertheless fits in quite well, a compliment to the whole and to the horizon. Placed cut stones near the approach further help to unify the box into the landscape while providing the structure’s roof as a deck.
Inside, the straight lines and dark wood turn into blond cedar that forms an amorphic and cozy grotto. Gracefully shaped, skylights and windows, benches and the sauna stones themselves all flow seamlessly into each other. Precision shaped, the wood grain was precisely aligned so that the individual panels all unify as though carved from a single piece of wood (or as though carved directly into the cliff face). With a view out to the bay, the trees, and the sunsets beyond, it really fits the idea for “a quiet spot of retreat and relaxation”.
The Grotto Sauna by Partisans Architecture
As an architect who deals with the ADA on a daily basis and who understands its importance, this kind of fraudulent charlatan (or even stronger words) behavior grinds my gears. It’s stingy and spiteful malice that misrepresents and harms. Read the whole thread and be forearmed (and don’t take nor fall for any of this crap):
I know not much about what’s happening inside (and the crucial bit of architecture it is the spatial quality within), but I am totally digging the outside!
With nothing more than the careful stacking of brick, a façade is transformed into a lushly woven design, like a rug expanded to epic proportions (while also doing double duty as covered arcades/walkways). Coupled with some carefully placed reflecting pools and some equally intricate metalwork screens, the courtyards that surround it are a lovely place to be and to hang out.
Very nice. Krushi Bhawan by Studio Lotus
Wow, here’s another project that exudes an amazingly beautiful simplicity, sitting lightly on the land and calling outwards while not overbearing the beauty in which it sits and gazes upon.
A frame of pristine and shockingly white smoothness, this building basically speaks for itself. And it’s the articulations of its otherwise-perfect form that really make the project, most noticeably the delicious inset stained-glass windows (and I do so much love stained-glass) with one (but not the same one, adding a touch of dynamism) on each side rising upwards to the steeply sloped roof. On the outside, the window recesses are articulated further with angular cuts that carve out the insets, while on the inside, small niches and built-in benches (that pull down from the wall) give rhythm as your eye draws out to the completely windowed end, peering out towards the sculpturally-cast cross that sits surrounded by the immensity of nature beyond.
How the building changes in each season seems especially magical, the white forms contrasting in the summer and blending into the snowy landscape (yet still an object that draws the eye) in the winter. There’s some magic in that.
Beautiful work. It may be of small proportions but it is of immense effect (but not in an ostentatious way), a place of quiet contemplation never separating itself from the world. Great stuff.
Chapel Maria Magdalena by Sacher.Locicero.Architectes
(Complement this one with the Nossa Senhora de Fatima Chapel as well as Ando’s Church on the Water)
Nowadays, the word factory conjures up images of big and dark voids full of machinery that is, and the workers within are, much removed from delight and the world around it. Not that it needs to be that way! Not in the least. Here’s one that accomplishes everything needed within (ie, making stuff) while being mighty fine for both the workers within and its neighbors and passers-by.
While in plan the building is in a very typical (and straight-edged) L-shaped configuration, with its vertically zig-zagging walls you’d never guess it, helped even further along by the great texture striations that embellish the protruding concrete wedges. All around, the ground rises up to follow and meet these chiseled shapes. Similarly, up top, the roof tips down to reveal a planted surface, studded with skylights. Besides the great energy and maintenance benefits of the roof (coupled with the insulated thermal mass of the concrete walls), it helps the building blend into the nearby pine forest, especially for those peering out of the window as their plane departs from the nearby airport.
Inside the spaces are large and continuous, befitting its manufacturing purpose, broken up by inviting atriums that work double time to bring light deep into the interior. Multiple paths, gardens, and more let the atriums be amazing spaces to view and use for the surrounding offices. (Also… let us simply marvel at the horse-lamp and the pig-table…)
Great stuff and a sweet reminder that good design that honours us as people is possible no matter what type of building.
Coffee Production Plant by Khmaladze Architects