Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

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Architecture Monday

July 15, 2019

If this building looks like it was assembled from a kit of almost random parts, well, that is because it, in many ways, is.  Gathered from 30 traditional villages demolished to make way for new developments, the leftover remnants were gathered up and used to create the distinctive faces of the buildings.  Recycled brick, tiles, stones – some which date back over a thousand years – were carefully arranged to create a stable structure that surrounds the angled shape of the museum.

Even the concrete structure of the museum has something unique embedded within.  Using bamboo formwork during construction, it emerges heavily textured, full of rich variation that complements (while still being different) the assembly of found fragments.

As a bonus, the slanting and rough surfaces create striking canyons and courtyards.

I have some trepidation about this building – it is certainly striking and nifty and in many ways beautiful, but it’s also hard to not think of the 30 villages demolished in the name of “progress” that resulted in a rubber-stamp gridded city of rigid uniformity (and of ecological dubiousness).*  Still, for what it is, I do like its creative form and the architect’s desire to give expression to those who lost their villages (at least in an “if I can’t stop it at least I can do something” kind of way, I imagine).

The Ningbo History Museum by Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio

 

* In China, the past is often bulldozed to make way for the new.  “Historic Buildings” as a concept has even less of a presence than it does over here.

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Architecture Monday

July 8, 2019

Here’s a fun home that creates hillside living in the midst of the city!  Its smooth white and expressive exterior only hints at what’s within…

Ringed with swooping forms, sloping green roofs, and punctuated by pavilions, it’s a playful and yet serene affair.

Inside there are plenty of connections to all those verdant hillside swoops and the private courtyard.  Centered around a traditional Korean hearth, the spaces unfold in a spiral with fun intricacies and suffused with plenty of light.

A house out of the ordinary, filled with delight.  Very cool!

Flying House by IROJE KHM Architects

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Architecture Monday

July 1, 2019

In honour of Canada Day, here are some photos of our lovely Parliament Hill Centre Block!

Radiant in autumn…

The beaver is a proud and noble animal!

The always impressive Confederation Hall.

Artistry in stone and glass.

And it’s totally hard to not fall in love with the library…

While I’ve always had a softer spot in my heart for the East and West blocks (and their greater intricacies vs the perfectly-symmetrical Centre block), I still do like the Centre block a tonne.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

 

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Architecture Monday

June 24, 2019

Hold up for a second… Wine and Olson Kundig architecture?  Sign me up!

I’ve spoken about Olson Kundig’s work before, and I very much love their work, especially their ability to pair the rough and rugged with the refined and precise.  And they do so not only in terms of materials and mechanisms, but even, and especially, spatially, crafting highly elegant spaces that emerge from within the hardy structure.  And this winery is no exception, with a plethora of striking tableaus as you travel through the complex.

Or, as you travel outside and around the complex as well.  Set upon a hilltop it is a nice assemblage of different buildings, appearing timeless yet modern at the same time.

(And check out that belltower!)

Great work.  I gotta go visit this next time I’m in BC.

Mission Hill Family Estate by Olson Kundig Architects

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Everything Thursday: The Aesthetics of Genre

June 20, 2019

“I think it is very important to be able to read media with a critical eye. To parse it in terms of what it is saying, both on its face, and in how it uses the language of its medium (film, TTRPG, whatever) to deliver its ideas. To make its statement.

Genre is not simply a set of aesthetics, full stop. It is aesthetics with a direction, an impetus.

Lots of folks like to forget the reason behind the aesthetic choices, and just sort of, eat and regurgitate them unthinkingly.”

Commuting Crow [Emphasis Mine]

I came across this and I like it a lot, and want to pass it forward for it is very important in storytelling, in gaming, and even in architecture.

The look and feel (ie aesthetics) of any genre is born from a philosophical place.  It was through the examination and exploration of certain ideas, theses, and ideologies, whether that be in support of them (we are interested in this  and think this is a good way to go, let’s explore and invent down that road), in question of them (we see this as a possible way things could go, let’s explore and see what the outcome(s) might be), or in opposition or critique of them (this is something we see happening, and think it is not productive, let’s explore and illustrate the harm).  Genre is more than the style of the world, it is about world building, and all of the aspects of world building.  The way society operates (or doesn’t), the way people think (or don’t), the prevailing truths (or untruths), the direction and inflections of humanity.  It is from there, from that baseline world building from which the aesthetics emerge and are developed into their final form.

So when you use the imagery and aesthetics of the genre as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the genre.  Your work is not of the genre.  It’s something else in different clothing.*

The same holds true in architecture.  The organization of the Beaux-Arts building, the hyper-detailed nature of the Baroque period, the classical orders, the bold planes of modernism, they all emerged out of philosophies about living (in all senses of that word).  There were values and convictions and ideas and ideologies beneath it all, and it was the exploration into form of all of those that informed and created the style, including how the building is laid out, how one approaches the building, how one travels from room to room, how the façade is proportioned, how and where ornamentation, etc.

So when you use the architectural pieces and aesthetics (the architectural language) of a ‘style’ (or genre) as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the true nature of the style.  Your work is not of the style.  It is something else in different clothing.

In this way, Using the words  “architectural style” to describe how a building looks turns out to be a misnomer.**

To reiterate, genres (and architectural ‘styles’***) are born of a specific context, in time and space and thought and vision.  From there emerges a look.  If you want your story, your game, or your work to be truthfully of that genre, it needs to engage with that context (again, whether it is to follow, to re-examine, to tweak, to refute, whatever, but it must engage with it), not just the look of it.

It is from there that richness arises and that great works emerge.

 

* Which BTW is fine… there’s some fun in playing around only with style.  Just be honest about it.

** It is also where many more recent buildings fall flat or feel terrible, because they’re importing architectural languages in a copy/paste mode without any thought or understanding of all the ideology and knowledge that underpinned the ‘style’ and so having little design sense poured into them.  Confusing architecture as just the “fancy looking bits” leaves behind the most important aspects that make up what architecture actually is.

*** We really need a better word.  Ok.  This is my game now, to find or come up with a new word for this.

 

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Architecture Monday

June 17, 2019

I do like me my little spaces of contemplation, and this one in the Ukraine is a mighty fine example.

Outside, it’s got this quirky little form that is somehow familiar yet also not at the same time.  Square yet also curvy, simple yet with some surprising complexity near the top, and an off-centre entryway that is even more mysterious with the extra roof that hovers inches above the ground.  And covered in shingles that match the trunks of the trees in which it is nestled.

Inside there’s beautiful stuff happening, especially when you look up.  That is one cool oculus, a twist of geometries that elates, further punctuated by some precision lighting.  Simply adorned, the wood interior arcs upwards, bending towards the light.

And that strange ground-hovering double roof turns out to be there to shield a continuous window band, aligned horizontally with your view as you sit peacefully on the floor.

Very nicely done, a space both quiet and exciting.  Good stuff.

Chapel of the Intercession by RdsBrothers

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Architecture Monday

June 10, 2019

For less than the price of a small “shack” in my current neck of the woods,* you can buy a designated historical masterpiece by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright.  And once again, thanks to the magic of a real estate listing, we get great photos of the inside of such a usually private work!  Lo, let us feast our eyes upon the Pappas house:

The Pappas residence was one of FLW’s “Usonian” houses.  Usonia was a concept that Wright developed and turned into a manifesto of sort, espousing ideas about housing and living and community planning.  They were squarely intended to be for middle class families, built with materials and methods that were straightforward to manage costs, yet at the same time coupled with a strong design to make them sing.

While the Usonian concept calls for strong integration with the site and nature around it, and many homes were built on sloped or otherwise interesting lots, that isn’t as much on display here at the Pappas house.  But what is fits with many of the moves that FLW brought to his design:  a strong horizontal feel, high clerestory windows to bring in light, breaking down corners and even whole walls through windows and glass doors, and a masterclass in using differing levels and ceiling heights to create a playful and interesting set of interlocking spaces. Material use is also well on point, marrying the mosaic-like solidity of concrete blocks and tile with the warmth and continuity of wood, punctuated by all that glass.

The house for sale even comes with original FLW furniture!

Compared to the monumentality of the Ennis house, this is anything but.  Yet in no way does that diminish the qualities within.  It may not be the strongest of FLW’s Usonian designs, but it’s still darn good.

The Pappas house by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Images and Listing by Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty.

 

* To be fair, some of the shacks (albeit not too many) are Eichler houses, which are quite amazing in their own right.  And I do mean that; I live in an Eichler-inspired home, and it’s fine, but walking into a true Eichler just hits you with how exquisite the space and design is.  Of course, to buy an actual Eichler in this area is going to cost you wayyyyy more than buying a “Like-ler” (as the local planning department has named them) and certainly way more than the Pappas house out in Missouri.