Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

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Architecture Monday

September 16, 2019

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

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Architecture Monday

September 9, 2019

Let us step backwards in time tonight and enter the National Library of Finland.  Standing directly opposite the grand Helsinki Cathedral, it’s stateliness and position are a testament to the importance of knowledge and books to the Finnish people.

The main hall was built between 1840-1845, and, quite frankly, stately may well be an understatement.  Rife with classical details from floor to column to ceiling to dome, there is no doubt that this is a hallowed place for the books that encircle the room.  Every direction you look is a rich tapestry of colour, texture, and form.

The rotunda, built between 1902-1906, is more spare but no less impressive.  Reminding me a bit of the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, the radial rows of books climb balcony by balcony towards the large skylight overhead.  I love the difference between it and the main hall, showcasing the newer motifs of its day with highly artful and expressive cast iron  columns, railings, and details,  not to mention the skylight, reminiscent of the Crystal Palace from the Great Exhibition of 1851.

And to cap it off, the side/secondary reading rooms just keep that grandness going strong.

For the nation’s archives and repository of its cultural record, there is nothing sad about this building at all;  it is fitting and mighty fine.  Here are a couple of 360~ views!  One in the main hall, and one in the rotunda.

The National Library of Finland by C L Engel, Gustaf Nyström, and others.

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Architecture Monday

September 2, 2019

Let us slide over tonight to Stockholm for another library, the Stadsbibliotek.  Instantly recognizable, it was built in 1928, making it much older than the Helsinki library from last week.  But it is still an unabashedly modern design.

A stripped-down take on the classical orders, the building is, essentially, a cylinder emerging from a box.  While the first half of the base is clad in a brick-like pattern with expressive entryways, the top of the box and the cylinder itself are plastered in a deep and striking orange, displaying the formal purity for the world to see.

Passing inside, you emerge from a narrow staircase into a celebration of books. In the round, rising for three stories, are books, books, and more books, with the room continuing to soar further overhead where punched windows let light rain in from above.

Surrounded by the rich wood and colourful spines, it’s quite the experience.  Here are a couple of 360~ views so you can look all around: a view from the ground floor near the entry, and a view from the top balcony.

A classic building that has more than stood the test of time.  Well worth seeing.

The Stadsbibliotek by Gunnar Asplund

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FutureCOT

September 1, 2019

Ohhhh, this is nice. There’s a big push of investment about to be poured into EPCOT at Walt Disney World, and one of the new buildings teased looks like this:

Colour me intrigued!  I love its futuristic/biophilic flair, and I get a very world-expo vibe from it.  Especially with the promotional poster like this:

Very nice!  Fingers crossed it survives intact from these schematic/conceptual drawings into reality…

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Wonder Wednesday

August 28, 2019

Seemingly random Tintin artwork in the public/playground/community area under an apartment building!  Very cool.

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Architecture Monday

August 26, 2019

And like that I’m back from a vacation to the Nordic countries that was, as my vacations often are, heavily aimed towards architectural visiting.  So many buildings!  And plenty to share in the coming weeks.  Hard to know where to begin, and so with no reason other than it jumped into my head let’s start with the new Helsinki Central Library.

There’s lots to love here.  Sinuous and sensual, the curving wood exterior forms an inviting covered entry, while the iceberg-like glass box that rests on top hints at the reading room to come.  The curving wood continues to play around once inside on the ground floor, carving out spaces for the café and several gathering spaces.

Moving up one floor on the central staircase leads you to this amazing project area, with raked seating for work on your laptop and access to a maker space with sewing machines, 3D printers, video editing computers, cutting mats, power tools, and all sorts of other goodies, all nestled among wood-covered diagonal bracing.  (I took a 360~ photo from the start of the project/maker space, you can view it here)

The top floor is where the books live, and yeah, it’s quite something.  With the ceiling floating overhead like an undulating cloud the rows of books (and trees!) extend in both directions towards each end of the building.  There, the floors rise up like a landmass, housing a reading room at one end and the children’s area in the other.  Should all the glass makes you feel like going outside, you can, onto a large balcony that overlooks the city.

A wonderful new library and community hub, purposefully set opposite the Finnish parliament building to emphasize the relationship between governance and active learning, freedom of expression, and citizenship.  And beyond books the library seizes new roles with the maker spaces, classrooms, theatres, and more.  Great stuff.

Oodi Helsinki Central Library by ALA Architects

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 30, 2019

Especially in the realm of “problem solving” or “invention” or “towards a more perfect”, there is a distinction, a difference, between doing something less bad and doing something that is a good.

This can be a tricky thing to wrap our brains around.  Because certainly fixing something has to be good, right?

Well, yes/no.  It’s similar to the conversation around efficiency.  Often when we see something that produces something we want, yet has these drawbacks*, we fixate on those drawbacks and limit our plan of attack to reducing them.  It is evolutionary design and problem solving.  “If I can get it to emit 10% less toxics, then that’s better!”

So we work, and work some more, and boom, we’ve gotten something that produces 15% less badness.  Hooray!  We dance, and celebrate, and then miss the point that the thing/system/machine/process/etc is still producing plenty of badness.  Badness is still there.

We also often forget that nothing is inherent.  Just because something is a certain way, doesn’t mean it is meant to be that way.

Instead, we can return to the primordial.  Design from first principles.  Create with intention.  And invent something that delivers a good on all fronts.  Something that not only produces what we want but may even produce extra of the things we’d want.

This is how we get a house built in the harsh desert that don’t just use 10, 15, or even 30% less energy for air conditioning by making it more ‘efficient’, making it less bad.  From our glorious spirited wellspring, we craft and get a house that, through good design, uses 100% less energy for AC even in the hottest of days, while at the same time being a more gorgeous house to live in.

This is revolutionary or primordial design.  It is not less bad.  It is a good.

When we cut ourselves, we put on a bandage.  Emergency problem solving is going to be limited in that way.  And we should absolutely do it!  Bleeding is no good.  But if we cut ourselves continually in the same manner, getting or creating better bandages is not the best way forward.  The less bad way still ends up hurting.

Returning to the source to chart a new course lets us avoid the knife and create many a good thing along the way.

 

 

* Which in of itself can take work to become aware and present that there are drawbacks, and even then to get over resisting or downplaying or ignoring the drawbacks because we get caught up in a false dichotomy that says we have to abandon the thing** entirely to avoid the drawback.

** We can also get caught up in the notion that the thing is the best, or even only, way to deliver that result.  The only way to have fun.  The only way to generate income.  The best way to transport our bodies.  By coming again from the primordial, designing by intention, we often create something that is not only a good instead of less bad, but the end result/product is even better than it was before, a better we never knew or could imagine existed, and would never had seen had we stuck with the same old, just less bad.