Architecture Monday

Huh.  There’s something about this new condo tower proposal for Toronto that piques my interest.  Skyscrapers are an interesting lot – they’re so tall and big that we begin to view them more of an object (akin to a chess piece on a table) than we do of other buildings.  And so their design language tens to be different.  Which also means things that may not work at other scales work for them.

I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the squishy lattice work here works for me.  It manages to be a bit sculptural and even a bit ephemeral, the thick grid making it almost seem like it could be hollow inside.  And with the subtle indentations and the flare at the top, it also kinda does look like some fancy contemporary chess set piece (which I, at least consciously, wasn’t noticing when I made the analogy above).  I wonder what it would be… the bishop, probably?

One thing know I’m keen on are what appear to be double-height terraces or winter gardens both at the swoopy bit when the building narrows as well as the squishy ring near the top.  More greenery is almost always great.

Overall, I think it’s a solid design.  As it’s been submitted for planning approval, if you want to see the plans you can gander at them here.

The 55 Yonge project by BDP Quadrangle & Partisans Architecture (who, interestingly, did this sauna I wrote about some months back!).

Architecture Monday

What a beautiful chaotic mass!  There’s certainly no missing this building, jutting froth from the ground as it does, like the tectonic plates of the region that inspired it.  As a cultural centre, it announces itself most unabashedly.

It’s also got a touch of a European castle influence mixed in there, I think.  But that’s my projection from what I’m used to, for my eye also projects a little bit of climbing gym wall as well…

The wonderful chaos continues within.  Not that this is true chaos, of course – you can certainly tell the difference between a carefully designed explosion of expressiveness and rhythm versus true random splatter construction.  Here it’s all geometric exuberance writ large, creating shelves and nooks for all manners of books and objects and art, including multimedia!  All choreographed through circulation, charting a decidedly spatial journey.

Very cool and lots of fun.  A great fusion of a library, art museum, and natural history museum.

The Kodakawa Culture Museum by Kengo Kuma & Associates

Architecture Monday

This is a cool performing arts venue.  For decades the performances by this organization had been held in two big top tents.  In keeping with that history, the design took inspiration to create a sculptural shell that reaches for the heavens.

There’s a nifty slight of hand here, creating a broad plinth (with wide stairs to reach it) on which they rest the shell.  This allows for the arena inside to be ringed by what appears as clerestory windows for a luminous glow, while they also function as entry doorways.  The ribbing on the underside of the roof is great, heightening the visual pull of the curving ribs all the way up to the amazing oculus.

In addition to the biggie hall there’s a smaller and way more intimate theatre, also done in the round.  But the pièce de résistance (and the thing that really piqued my interest) is a third performance space that consists of large saltwater float/thermal bath under a vaulted dome illuminated by another soft oculus.  Music is pumped into the water and the room so you can float and listen, which just sounds absolutely lovely.

Very fun project.  A great venue for all sorts of arts and performances, that ties into its community both in site (including the nearby ruins of a train station bombed during WW2) and in its large outdoor terrace, and that adds a bistro and, especially, that spa and float tank for a space of ultimate unwinding.  Great work.

The Tempodrom by GMP

Architecture Monday

I was glancing through my photos of my trip to the Nordic countries and came across this one of a church I wrote about back in 2017!

I saw it (and took this shot from) the deck of a ferry heading into the fjords, and I love how both a) prominent it is, a strong upthrust of verticality in the sea of low-slung horizontal buildings, but also b) how much it just fits and avoids becoming a massive punch in the eye(sore).  It’s not announcing itself for itself.  Instead it’s form and materiality are used to play off of and perhaps even enhance its backdrop.  Also neat to see how it looks now after a few years of patina has turned its wood construction into this lovely rich shade of rocky grey.

Alas, I didn’t get a chance to go inside so I’ll have to live vicariously for that part of it.  But this glimpse as we sailed past was great on its own and made me admire it all that much more.

Community Church Knarvik by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter  (Which I just realized is the same architect as the Trollstigen Visitor’s Centre I posted about a few weeks ago!)

Architecture Monday

Oh how I like this, especially as it’s exactly what it says on the tin:  Seashore Library.  It’s intricate, sculptural, and it delightfully responds to its unusual (for a library) location and makes full use of what such a location offers.

Inside and out the whole thing is a fancy interplay of solids and voids, with spaces both large and grand (such as the main reading room, with its ginormous window that frames the sand and surf beyond) or small and quiet (such as the meditation room).  Its rough board-formed concrete feels right at home on the beach like some giant rock, and that wall texture enhances the interplay of light and shadow.  And there is plenty of delightful light play throughout, shaping it both for functional reasons but also for dramatic effect.

Very very cool.  Love its boldness and its intricate assemblage of different forms, with equally intricate windows and play of light to create a wonderful array of spaces that manage to be evocative and contemplate at the same time.  Great stuff.

Seashore Library by Vector Architects

Architecture Monday

Seeking out tiny lot homes in Japan is always a lot of fun, they’re often amazing expressions of creativity and ingenuity, fitting lots of function and great feels into a small form.  This particular example is nestled on a small triangular lot that borders a river.

As is often the case with these types of narrow houses, this one uses the vertical direction to its best advantage, while also playing with the angular nature of the triangular lot to let the second and main floor open and expand in three dimensions, even creating enough room for a loft.  The main room sports a pair of large bay windows, one of which opens to a small balcony facing the river.  Despite (and in some ways enhanced by) the small size, each room has its own feel, and all abound with light.

Very neat.  Constraint can be a great impetus for design, and this is a mighty fine example of that, an exciting series of rooms that make the most of the boundaries.

The Riverside House by Mizuishi Architects Atelier

Architecture Monday

Richard Rogers is well known for putting the structure on display at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.  And so he did here… but there’s also something kind of insane going on.  As in the building juts out 90’ from the edge of the hillside, with nary a support beneath it.

Just look at that, what an insane cantilever!  It hovers 60’ above the ground (and a historic Roman track) at its outmost point, seeming to defy gravity (and almost daring you to walk under it).  Meant as a gallery, it’s a perfect folly, taking the ground plane and extending it until you’re floating amongst the treetops, looking out over ancient ruins and a national park below.

Wild and crazy!  But nifty, and as a capstone (he has retired) it’s a nice callback to one of his earliest and most well known buildings.

The Drawing Gallery at Chateau La Coste by Richard Rogers.

(The Chateau also has buildings by Ando, Gehry, Piano, Nouvel, and more… so clearly a spot I need to keep in mind!)

Architecture Monday

This office project intrigues me.  Built in Paraguay, where daytime temps often hit around 40~C under intense sun, it uses the simple yet brilliant idea of shading structures to keep the actual offices (surrounded with their own heavy mass walls, which further helps keep things cool) at a reasonable temperature.  It’s like putting the building under a tree.

Letting the breezes through is just as important as the shade, and the deep open cells of the side walls along with the gap between the hanging and office roofs let the air flow through.  To minimize its structure and to allow for the rest of the building to be made from locally available and sourced material, the parasol roof uses a tension system to string itself over the building.  The natural hanging shape also allows for rain to be collected in a central pool, which in turn is circulated via pumps onto the roof to provide for evaporative cooling when a little extra escape from the heat is needed.  It will also allow for additional plants to be grown across the site, making for a veritable little oasis.

Very cool (pun semi intended).  A building that totally responds to its context in all manner of speaking, creating a building that functions well and that is a delight to behold and be in.

Nordeste Curuguaty Offices by Mínimo Común Arquitectura

(Also reminds me of this house which uses a similar shade+mass idea!)