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).

Architecture Monday

This is a nifty little building experiment.  Starting with the humble brick wall, this renovation explores quasi-thickening the exterior façade to provide both texture as well as interior utility.

The result is this rich brick wall laid out in this checkerboard pattern of solid and void, whether windows or actual void at the top where a roof terrace resides.  The thickening part comes from pushing in each edge of the checkerboard to create a waffle of alcoves.  On the outside, each of the windows is pushed in, allowing for plants and greenery to grace the city.

Within, each of these alcoves are used for built-in desks, shelving, seating, or other furniture.  Windows alternate from low to high, a sculptural assemblage that brings visual interest and also lets light penetrate deep within the units.

This is cool.  It takes a local tradition and building material, and uses it in a new way to create a nifty face to the city (+ greenery) while also doing double duty and trying out something different for the apartments inside.  Plus the name of the project is a lot of fun:

“Operation Between Walls” by Natura Futura Arquitectura

Architecture Monday

Culture house, community locus, and an example of lovely design, this new library in Tingbjerg alights amidst a garden city that was once a model city but has fallen into one of grave challenges.

It’s hard to choose what’s more striking at first glance… the large glazed façade that acts like a beacon, showcasing the activities within, or the bold wedge shape that, from certain angles, makes the whole thing read like a giant picture frame.  And that shape is not just some fancy thing chosen for frivolity.  Instead it was crafted quite deliberately as a way of bridging the scale from the existing school it connects with while also crating entry courts to both itself and the school.  In addition, the exterior cladding (which is mirrored within), with its strong vertical banding, is a nod in colour and in texture to the surrounding buildings.

The intricacies continue inside, with multiple rooms and levels all tetrising together to serve the building’s many functions, be it library, learning, performances, resource center, community room, and beyond.  The multi-levels follow the shape of the wedge through a big atrium, peeling back like a mountainous town and allowing views and interactions while also providing a sweet spatial experience for the many different uses.

This is cool.  Architecture can be a great force multiplier, which is to say that through design and the creation of great space it can boost the effects of action and bolster the community.  Provided, of course, that such action and community is being supported in the first place (otherwise it can also be a multiplier, but in the negative direction).  I hope that proves to be the case here.

The Tingbjerg Library by Cobe

Architecture Monday

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I find castles fascinating and evocative.  So this little gem of a keep restoration in Spain is right up my alley, not only for the castle aspect (and sitting opposite an old church) but also the way the new and old combine to (re)create something beautiful.

The main noticeable bit on the outside is the new stair, which replaces the back wall of the keep that had long fallen down or been dismantled.  Forming not only a stabilizing wall, it follows historical investigations and likely replaces the original stair that would have been encased within the walls.  I really like how the rough board-formed concrete pairs with the stonework striations of the original, and the rounded corner is also a nice touch to mirror the old walls.

What was once an interior second floor is also restored, now forming an exterior patio from which springs various lookout platforms so survey the surrounding countryside.  This also allows the inside to be rebuilt to house a small exhibit space and museum.

Very cool.  A lot of care and love put into this to make something that not only preserves but enhances the old ruin.

La Tossa de Montbui by Meritxell Inaraja