Architecture Monday

Here’s something cool:  it’s a stormwater water treatment facility!  A great reminder of how design and architecture is not limited to any particular typology, even if, and especially when, on a budget.

Using both the tight and irregularly shaped site as well as the deep treatment pit as starting points, the building facets itself into a little gem of slightly reflective concrete. Channels embossed into the form further cements (pun intended) the role of water on the site, bringing the roof’s capture down to the ground into a little moat/stream.  Tied into the revitalized paths that lead down to the lakefront, it ties itself into the urban fabric as a parklike folly.

While the pics above are renderings, this in-progress pic does seem to show that it is translating well into the real world:

Mighty fine work.  It’s in Toronto, so I’ll have to add it to my list of things to visit when I’m next back home!

Stormwater Treatment System by gh3*

Wonder Wednesday

Oh wow, there’s something I really like about this piece of concept art!  If it looks like a monument, it is of a fashion: it’s from the early days of what would eventually become Disney’s California Adventure.  This sculptural spire would have been the centerpiece of what was then still being developed as “Westcot”, a west coast version of EPCOT. Interestingly, it’s the second version of the park’s centerpiece, the original being a large globe similar to EPCOT, albeit one planned to be enveloped in a second lattice work globe twice as big and embedded with a gazillion lights.  That received some push back from the local community, and thus this spire was born, something to still maintain an impressive monumentality from within the park while reducing its visual impact from without.

There are other sketches that show the spire at the front of a landscape-like building, but while they’re neat I prefer this one above.  It feels both more approachable and more impressive on its own, with the fountains and walkways and the stonehenge-like segmented slabs that surround it.

In the end, of course, it was never built, and the saga that leads us up to the park that is there today is a whole fascinating story of its own.

 

Architecture Monday

Oh my.  This was off the path from where we visited during my Nordic trip, but what a beaut, a visitor’s center whose angular concrete planes marry well with the mountains in which it nestles.

Look, no lie, you create a pool of water in a luscious landscape like this, and the ensuing bathes of steam is going to lend your project an ethereal elegance no matter what.  And when you’re in the mountains and can add low lying clouds to the mix… magical.  But even without those enhancements this elemental design of two alternating wedges does great things on its own, contrasting its pure form against the natural ruggedness while also mirroring the peaks of the surrounding mountains.  The raw concrete also marries well with the surrounding rock and even more so in winter with the snow, and the glass interrupts little of the view.  Follow those sculptural wedges and climb atop the green roof to observe far, or follow the paths to hover over the water as it melts, collects, then leaps down into the verdant gorge.

I’m smitten.  With a light touch on the outside and a dynamic interplay on the inside, it’s an expertly rendered little folly that enhances the grand valley in which it sits.  Great work, definitively on my list for next time.

The Trollstigen Visitor’s Centre by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

Architecture Monday

Jean-Michel Jarre is no stranger to incorporating architecture into his concerts.  Whether the office towers in Houston, or at La Defence in Paris, or the great pyramids of Giza, his epic outdoor concerts (sometimes with audiences in the millions) the buildings all become part of the show, both as more obvious backdrops for projections and lights and fireworks and as also acting as giant prosceniums, creating the very container for the concert itself.

So, even beyond my love of his music, it was with great excitement that I learned that he’d been invited to host a New Year’s Eve concert inside none other than the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris… well, sort of.  The concert was held inside a virtual version of the famed cathedral, which allowed both for way more people to inhabit the space (plus, the cathedral is of course still under repair) and it allowed for his signature visuals to push beyond the boundaries of reality and physics to create effects that interacted with the building in amazing and novel ways.

And boy did they ever!  The best effects were definitively the ones that played with the building, either interacting with the architecture or inhabiting it in a way that changed the experience of the space:  boxes of light that enveloped the columns of the nave, long ribbons of light that hugged the form and changed the emphasis from the vertical to the horizontal, glowing orbs and objects that hovered high above amongst the stained-glass windows.  All along with the usual bevvy of effects including projection mapping, shafts of light, and the video blocks that surrounded the virtual Jean-Michel on his stage at the central crossing of nave and transept.

Unfortunately… the official replay of the concert by Unesco and the City of Paris, both of whom were the generators of the concert, which I myself watched, is no longer available for viewing on Youtube.  Not sure why they made it such a limited run engagement to view it, but they did.  Fortunately, some who attended ‘in person’ (in VR) captured their experience and have made their recordings available:

An amazing concert, well worth watching.  For me this was an extra amazing experience on several levels, for almost exactly 23 years earlier I’d visited Notre Dame de Paris on Christmas eve, getting to experience the architecture, the organ, and the choir all acting in glorious unison in the run up to Midnight Mass.  To “be in” the cathedral again for a concert that was integrally tied and inseparable from the architecture was just fantastic.  A celebration on so many levels.

Architecture Monday

Though it’s a brutalist icon, and despite my love of libraries, I’ve never visited the inside of the Robarts Library on the campus of the University of Toronto.  But after seeing these photos of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book wing, I really gotta!

There’s a lot of goodness going on here, from the strong hexagonal patterns (reminds me a bit of the National Art Centre), the cathedral like nave of books, the intricate play of multiple levels, the clerestory window coupled with the ginormous hanging lantern, all enhanced by the rich tones of the wood paneling, the books, and the red carpet underpinning it all.  Killer work.

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library by Mathers and Haldenby Architects.

Architecture Monday

In the midst of all the ongoing tumult and turmoil, a little ride among the trees to re-centre seems like a grand idea to recenter ourselves.  So how about riding up into the treetops?

Very possible with this delightful little idea.  A continuous circular path that guides one up to a rarely experienced lofty vantage point among the upper boughs before gently guiding us back down and back on our way.  All made out of slender weathering steel that seeks to fade inconspicuously into the surroundings.

Lovely.  Cycling Through the Trees by Burolandschap

Architecture Monday

This little folly deliciously straddles the line between sculpture and architecture.  Situated atop a hill, it’s a meditative spot from which to gaze out over the picturesque valley while also being a fun little object to observe from everywhere else.

And that’s pretty much it (in a good way)!  A simple splaying concrete base into which is integrated a wood lounging bench, capped by two bent sheets of weathering metal that rise from the open embrace of the bench to form a kind of open tent.  Though the metal panels are quite thick and rigid, their scale and the random deformations make them look delicate.  It’s not a design that dominates, accentuating the hillside in both directions.

I dig it.  Nice little piece of work.

Sonnenklang Installation by Christoph Hesse Architects.

Architecture Monday

Oh wow, the funkitude is strong with this one!  The curves, the copper, the protrusions, the sinuous shingle work, the way hit juts out from its sloping site to fly into the trees…

This is a house that is very much tailored to its owner, with little bits all over designed to support their lifestyle, from the meditation apertures (with wild circular glazing) to the acoustic ceiling for chorale singing to the gardens and the flow of inside and out.  Whether you like its particular stylings or not, it’s definitively got flair.

I dig it.  Very unique and fun and I bet the owner is super happy in it.  Creatively fantastic.

The Wilkinson Residence by Robert Harvey Oshatz.

Architecture Monday

WOW… the beauty of these amazing bundles of bamboo, all tied together to form these delicious interlocking sets of gothic-like arches, is just gorgeously stunning! And that wonderful umbrella creates an equally wonderful space.  This is structure used to it’s fullest as a generator of form.

What amazing craftsmanship.  Local genius with local materials.  Love it.

The Vedana Restaurant by VTN Architects (who have done many incredible things with bamboo, check out their other projects).