Architecture Monday

This may be a hotel, but the concept is an intriguing one that could be applied to high rise buildings of all types:  a porous and verdant shell with several open-air plazas that step their way up the building to reach a green and inhabitable roof.

With the mix of red aluminum, blue waters, wood decks, and, of course, all the trees and plants, it’s a colourful and striking building.  The location of the plazas switch sides as the building rises, so that the indoor parts and the outdoor parts aren’t just stacked repetitively all the way up.  And while there aren’t any there now, I could easily envision some wind turbines in the crown that could generate at least some of the building’s own energy.

Nifty stuff.  The Oasia Hotel by WOHA

Architecture Monday

A little serenity for us all tonight, in the form of a Reflection pavilion on the TEC campus in Mexico.

No surprise, the building is a series of lovely, quiet, and calming spaces.  It harnesses both the play of light and water, while it’s big concrete form acts as a frame towards the landscape beyond.

Nice and sweet.  Breathe in, breathe out, and recentre.

Reflection Space TEC by Taller de Arquitectura X / Alberto Kalach

Architecture Monday

I’ve prided myself on being able to Tetris space really well… no matter if it’s packing a car or making the most of my living space.  However, I gotta say this small house really elevates the art of Tetrising to a whole new, delicious, level!

This tiny home is built in a hutong, a narrow alley between an existing wall and adjacent building.  And not only that, it’s wrapped around a corner.  But it’s no dark, awkward, and cramped hovel.  By leaving one edge continually open as a kind of atrium hallway – including making great use of the tall and curved wall it adjoins by painting finishing it white and running a continual skylight along its edge – and placing nearly all of the living spaces on the other side as a series of adaptable cubic follies, it’s got great flow, feeling airy and even expansive.

Varying in height and chock full of tiny living tricks, bits of these follies slide and shift to reconfigure the spaces as needed to accommodate various uses, providing plenty of communal day space that becomes more private as it shifts to sleepy time.  At one end, a large glass door and window is actually one giant unit that can swing completely open, making the back patio and the house into one.  Equally nifty is that the cubes are fully climbable, leading to spaces left dedicated to children play, study, and sleep areas.  It’s kind of like the ultimate bunk bed or tree house, but still inside.  (Fear not, the adults aren’t completely left out of the fun, for on the other side of the L, there’s also a mezzanine bedroom and office.)

(And seeing that bench brings me a smile, for I have one of those in my foyer as well!   Though sometimes it’s also used to practice kung fu… then again, for all I know, so is the one in the photo…)

I love this.  Really smart design that creates an awesome house in the most conventionally unlikely of places, showing that the boxes in our mind of what a house needs to be can be quickly expanded with some carefully packed yet playful boxes in a creative home.  Nicely done.

Dengshikou Huton Residence by BLUE Architecture Studio

Architecture Monday

This is cool.  In a mountain village well known for its tofu, a new commercial kitchen that allows for the local families to not only hone their craft, but do so in a food-grade-certificate environment.

Gently stepping down to follow both the landscape and the adjacent river, this is no typical industrial-food ‘factory’.  With its assemblage of sawtooth roofs and windows all around, it’s the very definition of light-filled and keeps the cooks connected to the community.  And vice-versa, opening up this region’s traditions for all to see, whether local or a new tourist clientele.  Like a series of terraces, the stepping nature of the building and site also allows for gardens and greenery all the way down, leading to a tofu-tastic tasting room.

Count me as a fan of this.  Great use of the the program, matching the process of tofu making to with a long and linear building that is further enhanced by using the natural topography of the site.  Add in a great use of elegant wood construction with plenty of glass and the rich tones of the stone floor that’s nicely mirrored in the kitchen’s counters.  Great stuff.

Tofu Factory by DnA

Architecture Monday

Restaurang Tusen is a restaurant in a pretty remarkable location… nestled in a mountain valley at the base of a few ski slopes.  But rather than copy the typical chalet or plunk down a generic box, the design team got to work and used what was on hand:  birch trees.

As the only tree that grows at that high altitude, the resulting building is literally ringed with them, creating a conical form that is not only beautiful and iconic but also stands well to the windy snow-blown conditions on the mountain.  By taking a small pie slice out of one side, it also creates a sheltered entry area to doff your skis before going in.  The inside space lofts upward following the cone, bits of birch poking through along the edges showcasing the building’s wood frame.

Sweet little building, built with sustainability in mind and blending with the landscape with whimsy.  Nicely done.

Restaurang Tusen by Murman Arkitekter

Architecture Monday

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…)

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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.