This is a neat little high-rise tower that wears its expression on its sleeve – in a sense literally, for that expressive exterior is an outer shell for the glass tower within.
But that’s not all, because that smooth and curvaceous form is also the building’s primary structure, which allows the floors inside to be column free. It also shades the building with an air gap, bringing relief from heat gain.
And no surprise, the form is equally evocative from within the building…
As I said, neat!
O-14 by Reise + Umemoto
These large buildings were built just before 1900, able to hold 12 million cubic feet (360 thousand cubic meters) of coal gas. Perhaps needless to say, coal gas isn’t in use anymore, so what to do with their ornate and richly detailed brick-ness?
Can we just pause here for a moment and admire that ornateness? These are, after all, “only” industrial and utilitarian structures. But it was understood that these were civic buildings, and that our surroundings influence our experience and quality of life. So it wasn’t a stretch to ensure that such prominent hunks would be worthy of those who had to view them and as such given a well designed exterior.
Returning to that question, it’s likely no surprise (if you’ve seen anything I’ve posted here before) that the answer is one of adaptive reuse. Much like the Battersea Power Station, these four gasometers have been re-imagined into a mixed use neighbourhood. The domed steel structures were transformed into giant atriums for new construction that rings along the exterior, acting like a giant indoor garden for the new units. Each building was redone by a different architect, and as such each has a different design within. It’s as cool as it sounds.
The Vienna Gasometers, re-envisioned by Jean Nouvel, Coop Himmelblau, Manfred Wedhorn, and Wilhelm Holzbauer.
There’s lots to love about this school in India, not the least of which is the tantalizing oval form, made of local limestone blocks that blend so seamlessly into the landscape on which it sits. Add to that the beautiful basket weave pattern of brick that tops it off to create a large rooftop patio – sweet in its own right but if you look carefully you’ll see that the screen isn’t level all the way around, subtly sweeping upward to great effect. And the blue tile of that roof patio is a fun little touch.
The brick weave also does double duty by accelerating the wind through the venturi effect, helping to cool the courtyard in the extremely hot locale. Likewise, the thick limestone and mortar do their duty in this regard by creating a thermal mass that absorbs the heat throughout the day and keeping temperatures within the classrooms manageable without need of mechanical support. Rounding out the trifecta, the clerestory windows along the back do their own double duty to illuminate without glare as well as let the hot air rise and escape.
This is an architecture of a place, for a place, and that makes it top notch work.
Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School by Diana Kellogg Architects
Love this little retreat/cabin in the hills of Mexico. Small and straightforward, yet delightfully evocative.
For starters, it’s a truncated box, with a patio covered a triangle of canvas as an awning that completes the rectangle from above… with a bonus that the canopy is supported/suspended by a nifty steel beam perched on the cabin’s roof.
The cabin itself rests on a foundation that’s a tad smaller, making it all appear to hover and float off the ground.
Board formed concrete lends a nice texture and scale to the whole thing, left natural within but painted black on the outside — something that I think works really well, creating subtle highlights and a rich ‘charred wood’ look that lets the building fade well into the landscape.
Enclosed on three sides, the last side is slick steel and glass, stretching towards the light and the world.
A small retreated of simple elements designed with care and flair. Great work.
Bungalow H by ET.co
This is a super posh hotel, so the theatricality is to be expected. And what stunning theatricality it is, in a kind of ‘walk on water’ sort of way.
In overall form it’s not all that dissimilar from Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute, with a row of angular forms creating an axis, highlighted by a water feature, and open to the sea. Though certainly heightened here by making the entirety of the axis the water feature, and the forms all that more bold (and, at night, colourful!) Plus the addition of a bird’s nest…
A neat mix of architecture creating spatial art. I dig it.
Viceroy Los Cabos (formerly Mar Adentro) by Miguel Angel Aragonés
’tis the season for… Scotch. So here’s the new Macallan distillery, with a wildflower-laden roof that merges into the countryside!
The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience by RSHP
The new Greek church near the WTC in NYC is interesting for a couple of reasons… for one, it’s designed Santiago Calatrava in a very restrained way that is decidedly uncharacteristic for him:
For two, it is clad in sections of translucent marble. Which is always mind tweaking for me; whenever I think of stone the first thing that comes to mind is light passing through it such that it can become downright luminous, and yet, that is a thing that some stone amazingly can do. Such that, at night, this building very much becomes a lantern:
Unfortunately, this ends up not being carried through to be used in an interesting way on the interior. Unlike the alabaster panels at the LA cathedral I visited some years ago, only a ring of fingerling arches around the base of the dome allows any of the light pass through into the inside:
Still, it is a nifty little architectural gimmick.
St Nicholas Church and Shrine, photos by Field Condition, by Santiago Calatrava.
I will admit, my first thought was that this school was in a Nordic country. Awesomely, it is not; it’s in Arkansas, with an amazing design that wraps a couple of buildings in a sculptural and continual roof that turns downward to become a screen wall.
And something about that matte grey metal really works here – it’s not a bland neutral, but instead subtlety reflects the hues of its surroundings and of the ever-changing sky. It also pairs well with the wood of the building itself that resides behind the sheltered arcade/atrium created by the screen wall. Then add in a sweet connection to its site (including on-site stormwater catching), a site replete with native plantings, and a couple of protected courtyards with playful water elements. Good stuff.
Inside the spaces follow the bold lines of the roof to create dynamic and bold spaces that also tie themselves to the outside. And that cafeteria! Wood slat roof (with chandeliers) creating this striking and strong linear pull towards the grand vista.
Certainly, we all need an artistic photo of rain drops falling onto our educational pool…
High grade work! And only one of several buildings on this property that follow the school’s teaching organization of Reels (narrative and visual communications through film), Wheels (physics and mechanics through bikes), and Meals (biology and chemistry through food).
Home Building at Thaden School by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (and the master campus plan can be found here!)
Another adaptive reuse! This time in Amsterdam, with a rejuvenation of a former mercantile exchange. While the outside’s been brought back to all its turreted pointiness, it’s the addition of the glass geodesic-like dome on top that caught my interest.
It’s not much of a presence from the street, and it’s not trying to be. It even cuts into itself to avoid impinging on the turrets (while, as a bonus, creating an outdoor gathering space). But it’s one wicked, column-fee space inside, a soaring crystal cover whose diagonal rib work offers dynamic windows onto the world.
And then, in one of those turrets, is this very cool time-infused room…
Sweet work. The Diamond Exchange Capital C Amsterdam by ZJA + HEYLIGERS
In keeping with the recent somewhat-theme… a home with a courtyard! But with a circular twist… so even better it’s a tower/courtyard theme mashup…
But it’s not a round building. The perimeter is fully rectangular to fit the site and the surroundings. Only the wedge-shaped carport with rounded fence and the equally angular window on the front façade gives any hint of what’s within. (Nicely, the box also is a rich grey stucco that both hides the wood within and the wedge cutout once again gives it away.)
Add in a few double height spaces and a few choice changes in levels to create different conditions within, all splaying from that central atrium, and you’ve got yourself a nifty little house. Cool stuff.
The aptly named 360° house by YUUA Architects