Architecture Monday

What I love most about this new theatre building is its continuous use of a particular material, but in two forms.  Ok, that’s a bit of a word play, for a good chunk of the building is made from board formed concrete.  As the name implies, this is where planks of wood are used as the formwork for concrete, and the resulting surface of the concrete inherits the rich impression of these planks of wood.  In other words, it looks like wood planks, only in concrete.

And this building uses it everywhere.  The walls, the floors, the angular bits of the stairs, the rough and irregular texture permeates throughout.  Sometimes it’s left as is, while sometimes it’s been stained slightly black to bring out further richness. Something about this really works for me in the theatre context.

Even better is when they pair it with actual wood planks (the second form I was alluding to above), giving this wonderful play between them where there is a continuation of texture yet still a difference in colour and feel.

A couple of simple materials deployed in multiple ways, I dig it!

Theatre Squared by Marvel (who also did the St. Ann’s Warehouse Theatre that I blogged about about here!)

Wonder Wednesday

Also a bit of… Washroom Wednesday?  For this is an art project that is placed at the entrance to the new gender neutral bathrooms at my alma mater, the School of Architecture at Carleton University.  I can still picture that washroom entrance, though not surprisingly a bit different in my memory as they were separated washrooms when I attended.  But even then there was a relatively prominent concrete block wall as you chose which direction to go, and with this remodel it became all that more pronounced.  What better canvas for new art?

Watching the above time lapse is neat, and I do like the resulting art!  I find it very fitting for the building and the study therein. It’s not all that unlike a quilt, with panels being personal affairs (the panels were made by different artists) and range in medium, methods, and meaning.  From architectural molding to the tools of the trade (one made of pencil points that looks kinda… dangerous?) to carved plaster plans to interpretations of the environment to a drawer pull and beyond, it’s quite a rich tapestry.  Nicely, there are also numerous filler panels so that the art can evolve and grow in the coming years.

Very neat!  Check out the story and more pictures of the work here.

Architecture Monday

Check out this pretty glorious example of midcentury modern design, in the form of a church in Toronto.  Slightly expressive, and slightly reserved, it’s a neat exercise in form, contrast, colour, and light.

Sadly, I could only find a couple of images of the inside, but they do tell most of the story of how the two parabolic sets of gluelam beams soar upwards yet don’t meet, leaving a gap for a band of windows that lets light filter down the wall in a soft gradient of light.  A similar shift of planes happens at the altar end of the church, bathing the back wall in a similar light with the potential to cast a dramatic shadow of the cross (which also reminds me of Tadao Ando’s Chapel on Mount Rokko done nearly 30 years later).  At the same time, the opposite sides of the nave and the apse are punctuated by small coloured windows.

There’s so much nifty stuff going on here, starting with the light play above which is further enhanced by having the taller lit parabola be white to catch the light, while the other side is a darker wood to accentuate the colourful piercings.  On that same side we have an aisle of sorts, formed between the space of the gluelam and the outside wall with a zig-zag ceiling that becomes a brow both inside and out, while outside, that same wall faces the street and is clad in a richly toned quarried stone.  And while the pipe organ seems to be a more recent addition, but hovers like a pair of sails that mimic the rising paraboloids.

What’s also cool is that the architecture firm who designed this also designed some very iconic and long-lasting urban icons, including Ontario Place (whose pods fascinated me as a kid), Canada Place, and the Eaton’s Centre!  (And the equally nifty Parkwoods Church nearby in North York.)  I’d never realized they were all done by the same firm… that’s some serious design chops.

Unfortunately, this church is currently up for sale and its days may well be numbered, very likely to be replaced with some banal cookie-cutter subdivision homes.  But if you’ve got $7m Canadian you could take this and turn it into some pretty sweet digs for yourself!

West Ellesmere United Church by Zeidler Partnership.

Architecture Monday

Now this is one heck of a design constraint!  A super narrow and super long trapezoidal lot in Tokyo, that is further constrained by setbacks from the property lines. Nothing like that kind of limitation to get the creative juices flowing, and the resulting lantern of a house is one nifty solution.

It’s cool enough on the outside, but to really get what’s going on within I find a section through the building tells the story the best:

The big move is to place most of the living spaces underground where the setback didn’t apply, thus maximizing the available width (still only about 10’ wide!).  A long and linear (ok, natch, how could it be anything but long and linear on this property?) kitchen occupies the middle of the basement, with a living room up front and the washroom in back.  Upstairs is the bedroom with (again) a linear hallway leading to the back door. What makes this all work, however, is that the building skin is made of translucent panels, and the floors above are of metal mesh, allowing light to suffuse and penetrate all the way down to the basement living areas.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any photos looking towards the living room or the bedroom area, which is too bad as those are likely some of the most powerful places within the house.  But the experience of being in this luminous cathedral-ceiling like house has got to be pretty neat no matter where you are.

I love it, a great example of taking something that seems unusable and turning it into something of wonder.  Great work.

Lucky Drops by Atelier Tekuto

Architecture Monday

There’s something that I quite like about this train station in Dinan, France.  Built in 1879, it’s got this interesting mix of old school form, art deco-ish ornament, and some clean lines of modernism, all wrapped up into one.  And check out that rotated clock tower – you don’t see that very often!  Complete with ornamental bas-relief bells and a spare but bold design of the clock itself.

The delight continues inside too… check out that serious corbelling of the ceiling in the corners, at the base of which is a light?  Now that’s neat.  And the classic map along the upper band, with art-deco touches beneath.

I learned of this station through an adjacent new welcoming platform which is in of itself interesting.  A wood lattice canopy “supported” at one end by two earthen forms (one conical, one more amorphous) that recalls the medieval construction the region is known for.   Also with bonus trees that grow up and through the canopy above…

What a glorious assemblage!  Old and new, in many senses of the words, brought together to serve the rails.

La Garre de Dinan, old station designed by Georges-Robert Lefort and new canopy by Fouquet Architecture Urbanisme.

Architecture Monday

They say California is in love with their cars… which leaves lots of extra car and road bits around… so why not get playful and use them into your architecture?

Road signs for fences and railings and siding, hatchback glass for awnings, station wagon tails for a a gate, plus repurposed sheet metal and more!

Something fun by Leger Wanaselja Architecture

 

 

Architecture Monday

I like this, a building ‘rescued’ from it’s intended undifferentiated glass box origins, taking the raw concrete frame and building something that is more in tune with its context and the environment in which it sits.  With colour, pattern, and plenty of greenery, it is at once nicer to look at, nicer to be in, and nicer to the planet.

The whole idea is quite clever in a rather logical way.  The side of the building that sees the most sun in this hot and humid environment houses the stair core and other utility elements, creating a buffer to keep heat and glare out.  The other two sunny sides are surrounded by open-air balconies, two of which are encased in a colorful set of scrim, shifting in geometric patterns to create openings out of which plants poke their leaves towards the sun.  The other two levels are protected by the overhang and more potted plants.

Heat and glare are kept out, and you’re working next to a little garden oasis.  Even more so when you open the sliding doors and let the breeze flow through.  As a supreme bonus, check out the little reading nook, nestled into the walls throughout!

Sweet work.  A building that could have been a pillbox that instead found life as a nifty object that’s lush and creates a wonderful space inside, all while needing less energy to run.  That’s what it’s all about.

MGB Headquarters by Spacefiction Studio

Architecture Monday

A play of light and shadow, a patter of falling rain, a breeze that flows throughout, and a house that organizes itself around a covered courtyard pool, with geometric perforated concrete panels that lets all the above happen.

And geometric boldness pretty much rules the day all throughout the house.  There’s lots of cool stuff going on, as the house pulls and stretches this way and that to catch the light or a breeze.  Or to catch a tree, embracing a towering royal palm tree that becomes another courtyard.

The great hall, no surprise, is really the centerpiece, opening without barrier to the pool with the three skylights (two angled to catch the morning sun, the other to catch the evening) being just the beginning as the concrete screen above the pool further lets the light dance about.  As a bonus, the cross-ventilation from this open screen above the pool, plus those on the front and back of the house, keeps it cool and pleasant and lets everyone be late into the evening before any lights need to be turned on.

Great designs embrace their context, and this house does so in spades.  Great work, and looks like a very fun place to live.

Casa Delpín by Nataniel Fúster

Architecture Monday

Ah, here’s another cool project (this one for a small coffee shop in Japan) that inhabits the space underneath a railroad bridge/trestle.  Nestled under one of its many repeating arches, it’s exactly what it says on the tin.  Patinaed concrete, rich exposed brick, and a double curve of the arched ceiling and concave back wall.

Nifty, and a nice complement to the Arches Project and to the Vans complex (both in the UK) which also inhabit under-rail spaces.

Blue Bottle Coffee Chiyoda City by Schemata Architects