Architecture Monday

I think by now people know I love trains, and that I equally love many train stations (another nod here to one of my favs, in Ottawa).  And as sad as it is when a train station is no longer in use, it’s ok in my book when it’s converted so wickedly as is this one in Brussels!

Good old school and lofty train stations are already such wonderful spaces, and what’s been done here is to leave most of it well enough alone, inserting independent multi-level pavilions to create offices, retail, entertainment, and more.  These also create a network of streets that lead to large public gardens that just fit wonderfully under the soaring roofs.  Crafted of wood, the whole thing is a welcoming space indeed.

Adaptive reuse, FSC-certified cross-laminated timber, water capture, natural ventilation, and PV panels integrated onto the grand front windows, AND an exciting space to be in… what’s there not to love about this?  Great stuff.

Gare Maritime by Neutelings Riedijk Architects + Bureau Bouwtechniek

Architecture Monday

Oh this one’s awesome… (and kinda close to my hometown!)  An over 125 year old romanesque post office brought to new purpose to become a ‘bookless’ library, filled with creative labs and maker spaces and more.  And it’s not just the stately post office building, it’s a new wrap-around glass pavilion that reaches out to engage the adjacent canal and make the whole shebang a part of the community space.

So, yeah, that gallery that hangs out over the river pretty much sells the whole thing.  I mean, the original (and restored) post office is also lovely, with its arched windows, half turrets, towers, steep gable roof, and the brick and stone.  All of that is enhanced with the new glass and steel surround that cantilevers not just once, but twice, hovering first over the water, then above over a patio/deck.  And the undersides of which hasn’t been neglected, with polished aluminum and integrated lighting that speaks towards a future river walk.  It’s dynamic and playful and though a very different language than the original building that contrast enhances each other, even more so when they are reflected off the water whether by day or, glowing like a lantern, at night.

Lots of light, lots of great views to the river and city beyond, and more interplay between the crisp new and the rugged old are what awaits within.  These two languages combine in a culmination in the third floor maker space, inhabiting the cathedral-like space under the old high-pitched roof amongst the old support frames.

For an added bonus, there’s the glass ceiling that looks up into the old clock tower, putting the mechanisms on display!

Very cool project, another example of taking something already existing and, through re-use and a clever set of additions, turning it into something even greater.  Plus public maker spaces/etc are a great addition to a community (I loved the one at the new library in Helsinki).  And if you, like me, still love traditional book-filled libraries, there’s one right across the river.

Ideas Exchange by RDHA

Architecture Monday

I love adaptive reuse of just about every type, but there’s something extra lovely when old coal-fired power plants or coal storage yards are repurposed into something much less destructive.  It doesn’t hurt that the soaring spaces and muscular structure within lends themselves well to all sorts of great insertions and intricate spatial play.  To that end, here’s a nice new example of the genre, a bit of adaptive reuse in Wisconsin aptly named The Powerhouse.

A set of big brick boxes, built over time, is what defines the old plant, punctuated by strips of tall windows. A new fieldhouse made of polycarbonate panels is a nifty counterpoint, creating a diffuse glow inside by day and a lantern outside at night.  And it’s hard to miss the smokestack as a calling card…

All the space inside is used in fun ways, mixing new levels with old and with the new functions intertwined around old machinery and infrastructure.  The suspended running track is cool, traversing through all three old buildings and the new addition, letting you see the different eras and types of buildings while also interacting with old roof trusses and other bits of the building.  And check out the idea of the climbing walls within the old coal hoppers!  Now that’s a super nifty idea.

Good stuff.  A new life for an old building, saving all the materials and the energy it took to build them, and turning it into a plethora of fun spaces for all sorts of great uses while also tying the waters edge, the city, and the university campus together.  Mighty fine work.

The Beloit College Student Union by Studio Gang

Architecture Monday

That picture alone is enough to pique my interest; a music room nestled within a roof shed, crowned by a skylight with linear LEDs for supplementary lighting.  It’s exciting in its own right, even more so when you throw musicians into the mix.  But that’s just the start!  For it is part of a monastery that has been artfully turned into a music conservatory.

 

While the above music room is in a new wing, there’s plenty of great examples where old and new are mixed to create something special.  Like the former cloister turned dining hall, roofed over in a sandblasted glass that makes the restored white plaster surfaces glow.

Or the hallways and stairwells, and the monastic cells/bedrooms…

Culminating in a second music room in the rafters, this time in the historical portion of the building, with light streaming down to accentuate the rough hewn lumber framing.  And airy and mystical place for practice.

A wonderful piece of adaptive reuse, and knowing much I love adaptive reuse there’s no way I can’t fall in love with this.  Great stuff.

Synergy (From a Monastery to Music Conservatory), by Brückner & Brückner Architekten

Architecture Monday

Take a little dash of ruins (an old parchment factory, in this case) and dab of an old cow shed, apply some adaptive reuse and a bit of careful addition inside of the old walls, and you have one nice addition for a historic Victorian house.

Rather than demolish the rough and rich ruin walls, the new additions slips between them to make their aged texture a part of the composition, further heightened by the mismatch of stone and brick between the various structures.  Even better, while the new addition is, well, new, much of it was built using material found on site.

Throughout old and new material are juxtaposed artfully, as are their crisp lines and jagged edges.  Looking out, whether from the living space or the new rooftop deck above the addition, the walls of the factory ruin – and its lovely pointed window! – frames everything while forming a little courtyard.

Some sweet adaptive reuse going on here and a great use of the existing conditions.  While the temptation is often to scrape clean and start fresh, this is a good example of where embracing the rough and tumble leads to something far more exciting to live in.

The Parchment Works House by Will Gamble Architects

Architecture Monday

A glorious example of adaptive reuse tonight, in the form of a project that sports an equally epic name:  Godsbanen.  A former railway goods station it is now a full-blown cultural centre, with several theatres, galleries, night clubs, along with a number of art workshops and rentable spaces for creative business startups.

In its transformation the building keeps both its rugged heritage as well as its Neo-Baroque forebuilding, presenting several faces to the city.  Forming a giant U, that elaborate forebuilding and the adjoining warehouses were both preserved, while a new and rather fanciful addition nestles within the base of the U.  Appearing as a series of angular forms and ramps, this new bit houses the main theatres and all the connective tissue, such as the lobby, café, and a courtyard.  A courtyard that connects to the roofs, allowing full access up and along those angular ramps, doing triple duty as a lookout, seating, and another venue for performances.

Inside, the addition the muscular facets of the addition’s angular forms create dynamic and interconnecting spaces that are further punctuated by overhead oculi.  Meanwhile the amazing curved wooden structure of the original warehouses continue to march in succession into the distance along with the equally amazing continual light monitor.  Galleries and workshops are enclosed within slightly sculptural insertions into the existing space.

Exiting Maps – the glorious gift for us who want to see a floor plan…

I totally love it.  From the luscious and aged red brick to the rough concrete wedges, from the massive wood supports to the slick gallery walls, all wrapped up in a great play of light and form and shadow.  Not to mention the diverse nature of the cultural centre itself, and the vibrant heart it gets to play for an entire area that will soon include a School of Architecture.  It’s a fabulous example of repurposing something existing to create something even more amazing, taking the time, energy, detail, and beauty of the past and enhancing it through something equally detailed and beautifully thought out and crafted.  Great stuff!

Godsbanen by 3XN Architects.

Architecture Monday

Well, since I turned on the BIG tap last week, I might as well open the floodgates… because there was no way I was going to Denmark and not visit as many of their projects as I could.  And visit many of them I did!  I was especially excited to experience this one, for it was one of the first architecture posts I shared on this blog:  The Maritime Museum of Denmark.

To give a brief recap of what makes this building so amazing is that it is built not exactly inside of, or around, or even over a historic dry dock, but in a way that it becomes a part of it.  Leaving the existing and impressively thick concrete walls of the former “bathtub for ships” in place, the museum wraps around it underground while also crisscrossing the dock’s open-air empty space through a series of ramps and bridges.  In this way you can walk right up and experience it, with nothing needing to be built near it that could hide it.  The main path to Kronborg, the Hamlet Castle is even a bridge that crosses right over it.

 

Inside, the museum unfolds in a continuous series of ramps through exhibition spaces that both flank the outside of the drydock as well, as noted before, ramping diagonally through the void.  (As an aside, the exhibits were well done as well!)

I love (and this is probably no surprise at this point) all the great texture and patina that comes with the re-use of something old like this, with many moments of what becomes rich decoration when ensconced in or traversed by the new architecture.  Or how something like the stepped base of the dry dock is used as bonus seating.

As a bonus, the graphic design for the museum is excellent.  Check out the admission/entry tag, where the flap you use to slip it onto your shirt is a match for the building itself!

Superbly done.  I was giddy to visit and the architecture did not disappoint.  That the museum component was also made for a splendid day.  Definitively check it out if you’re in the area.

The Maritime Museum of Denmark by BIG Architects.

Architecture Monday

The library train continues!  And what’s this, combining books and adaptive reuse, two of my favorite things, together?  Yes indeed!

Housed in a former tram (streetcar) maintenance sheds, the library takes full advantage of the old tramway doors to craft huge windows with giant shutters that playfully incorporate a bookshelf motif when open.

Inside, the space is kept wide open, punctuated only by furniture (including the bookshelves with colourful seating/desks), and a mezzanine against the great exposed brick wall that itself nestles a kid’s corner that rises like a boxy mountain.

Nicely, the library expands outward into an adjacent café, which itself is adjacent to a sports complex that occupies the rest of the repair shed.  Even there, books (and games) abound!

Altogether forming a wicked community hub, this is one great bit of adaptive reuse, keeping the history and aged ruggedness of the old shed and marrying it with an airy comfort.  I liked it a bunch, if I lived nearby I’d be there often for sure.  Nicely done.

The Norrebro Bibliotek

Architecture Monday

For many years my friends and I would travel to Toronto to visit, among other things, the few gaming stores to get our fill of RPG materials.  Taking the subway from Scarborough, we’d walk through then from the Eaton’s Centre down Queen Street, and up Spadina Avenue to our main gaming store haunt.  Along the way, we would pass around this amusing oddity, a point where the street flowed around a large island located smack in the centerline of the street.  On that island was a rather stately building that, despite that stateliness, we never could tell what it was used for, or whether it was even use at all.

Well, I needn’t wonder any longer, for the building has been taken and expanded into the new home for the School of Architecture at the University of Toronto!  From the restored front to the landscaped back, the building mixes old and new and emphasizes the juncture between the two, turning that intersection into the primary entryways into the building.  The addition is a box, primarily relying on changes in the roofline and topography to provide some (and I might say just barely enough) articulation and interest.

The best happens inside that box, however, with a plethora of interconnecting spaces radiating off a principal hall that serves multiple duties as auditorium, gallery, and critique space, all culminating at a large graduate studio on the top floor.  With a sculptural ceiling that allows for an abundance of natural, indirect, light, the hall then itself connects through generous circulation to other ancillary spaces allowing the whole affair to come alive in different ways throughout the needs of the school year.  Crits, symposiums, workshops, and extra project space are all well accommodated.

I think my favourite spaces though are the revamped interiors of that stately original, bringing forth much of the character and form of the existing building and rendering it in a nice and new twist with careful touches and with some striking lighting.

Overall, I call this one a win.  The interpenetrating shards of the interior works excellently in providing the varied spaces needed for an architecture school, and there is a nice interplay between the orthographic and grounded original building and the airy, fractal-like new (which in of itself is great for budding architects to experience).  And best of all, it’s brought life and use to a building that was once this odd folly cut off from the city by a busy road and streetcars.  Now it’s a vibrant hub that even makes the detour drive around it curious and new.  Well done.

The Daniels Building by NADAAA

Architecture Monday

Pardon me if I indulge here for a moment by posting another adaptive re-use design by Heatherwick studios, this time from South Africa, transforming a building type familiar to many and found throughout the world:  the waterside concrete grain silo.

On the one hand, grain silos are super strong and resilient.  On the other hand, they’re kind of limiting… what is one to do with all that tubular space?  Fortunately, the first hand and the second hand can come together, with the unified strength allowing for massive holes to be cut into the structure without collapse.

And that was the founding point of the design.  Using a leftover kernel of corn that was literally picked up at the base of one of the silos as the template, a massive atrium was cut into the silos to create a grand entry and circulation space.  And hoo boy, grand it is!  Glazed on top and with circular elevators and stairs gliding through the peripheral silos it’s a stunning sight to behold.  And one of detail mastery as well; the skill on display required to cut the concrete in the complex curving forms is amazing.

The adjacent grading tower with its strong boxy form is a nice contrast to the silo tubes.  With jeweled windows that protrude from the strong boxy frame additional galleries, event spaces, and even a hotel are created.  Best of all might be the amazing roof sculpture gardens that not only provide an amazing panoramic view of the area coupled with sculpture, but also the skylights for the atrium upon which you can walk and cavort and dance.  Or the rooftop pool for the hotel…

One of the strict desires/briefs by the client was “No curving galleries!  Art is not round!”  So the majority of the galleries seem to be white boxes that totally belie the silo nature in which they are contained.  This to me is unfortunate; while I get the desire for straight walls, to not find a path that could both celebrate the curvy while maintaining the orthogonal is a bit of a lost opportunity.  But that hardly breaks the project.  As an amazing reuse of a very industrial building this is an exceptional win, delightful to experience and doubly great that African modern artists now have a local home upon which to have their works displayed and celebrated.  Great stuff.

The Zeitz MOCAA by Heatherwick Studios

Bonus video!  Click here:  https://vimeo.com/269008579