Posts Tagged ‘creating space’

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Architecture Monday

November 18, 2019

Let’s slip back over to Oslo tonight, to visit the Opera House (which also houses he National Ballet, plus theatre, concerts, and more) designed by none other than one of my favs, Snøhetta.

One of the things that makes this building stand out – besides its gleaming white facets emerging from the water like an iceberg – is how much it integrates itself into the city through those facets.  They are huge ramps, inviting everyone to stroll up the face of the building and walk along the roof, taking in the views, sun, and experience.  And whenever we passed there were always plenty of people doing just that.  Even better, several times a year they anchor a barge in the bay for either a stage or a screen and host giant, free, concerts and other events.  (We even saw the barge being prepared on our last day there).

Inside, things take a turn for the sensual, with the three theatres contrasting the angular exterior through being wrapped in rich and sinuous wood.  The lofty main entry hall is extra fun, seeing past the wood drum as it rises to watch people pass by the windows as they walk on the roof outside.

The seating lobbies and the main theatre both carry the rich and enveloping theme even further.

A cool and nifty exterior coupled with a warm and nifty interior makes for a sculptural and appropriately theatrical building of beauty, well used and well loved by the city, and now its almost de facto center point.  Great work.

The Norwegian National Opera House by Snøhetta.  (Who won the commission through a blind open design competition – only after the entry was chosen did anyone learn the fortune that that a local Oslo firm had won!)

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Architecture Monday

November 4, 2019

One of the jokes I make about my trip is that I travelled over 8000km just to look at apartment buildings.  And… well, it is kinda true.  I did look, quite intensely, at a lot of apartment buildings.  Some, like the last three posts here, were deliberate visits, but many were seen and experienced just by walking past.  There is a plethora of both solid and nifty apartment buildings throughout the Nordic cities, ranging from the sedate and mighty fine to the wild and adventurous.

(By the way, don’t get me wrong, I also love very much the “old school” 5-story urban string of walk-ups, often concealing lovely little courtyards.  They make for wonderful living and a lovely streetscape and urban fabric!)

To start our tour, I really liked these towers, for they were definitively not in a “trendy” neighborhood but still exhibited design care.  Varied window placements, textured brick patterns, but above all else, check out those hanging community rooms, suspended in the light atrium!  That’s a funky and nifty touch.

These ones jut into a pond, overlooking a park with a wood longboat sculpture…

Funky balconies and great colour, ho!

I totally looove this one.  Encompasses a courtyard, volumes jutting in and out, encased in nature, and, best of all, it is (I think, anyway) university student housing.  That’s way better than the residence housing during my time at university!

Clearly a deliberate and artful design.  Certainly nifty, and the angled volumes work to provide the inner units with views out to the ocean.

This one is hilarious, in that it’s done by BIG Architects, and I didn’t even know it before I stumbled upon it.  They’re everywhere!

Just a small sampling of various other buildings.  Overall, I found the “design median” quite high.  While some were meant for the “luxury” category many were not, often glimpsed from the tram or metro as we glided by.  All, I’d say, sprung from a general civic sense and understanding that well designed spaces elevates the everyday experience of for all.

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Architecture Monday

October 28, 2019

Two successful projects under their belt.  The same developer approaches them again with a new site just down the road.  Time to go for the hat trick… and boom: The 8 Tallet (8 House) is born.

Looking from above, there’s certainly no mystery where the name comes from.  A winding row of apartments shaped into a double courtyard arrangement, with an open flow in the pinch point that leads both into the courtyards but also allows for unimpeded cross traffic.  But the killer concept comes in the form of its sloping nature, filled with continual open-air ramps and staircases that connects nearly every unit together in one giant loop, from the ground to the top floor, fostering community connection and creating a sense of neighborliness not often found in large apartment blocks.

As with the previous two projects, there are several different configurations of apartments, some featuring front porches that abut the ramp, others with balconies facing the courtyards.  The courtyards are planted quiet spaces, and the entire building dips down to reach the ground (sporting a planted roof) along its southern corner, allowing light into the courtyard and views out to the fields and marshes of a preserve.

It’s big, yet bright and airy and interesting and playful and definitively a cut above the usual apartment building fare.  It’s rightfully famous and well known… so well known that it has had to post notices all around to remind us that, while amazing, it is still home:

As a bonus, we ate at the café at the base of that planted roof, looking out over the waters and wildlife and artwork of the park area to the south.  (And the food was excellent.)

As a double bonus, check out the great iconography and wayfinding graphics!

Hat trick totally achieved.  A mighty fine design in every sense.  Splendid work.

8 Tallet by BIG Architects.

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Architecture Monday

October 21, 2019

From last week’s post we’re going to walk just a few steps to the project next door, and BIG’s next apartment building.  With one successful project under their belt, the (same) developer was willing to loosen the reins a bit.  So, naturally, they built a mountain.

Named just that, the idea was to tweak the usual concept of parking below/apartments above by skewing the whole thing into a giant slope, and where this slope is made up of overlapping units.  Never thicker than one overlap, this arrangement allows each unit to be a balcony garden for the unit one level up.  In other words, starting at ground level, each unit has its own yard as the building slides upward towards the sky.  With each yard ringed by planters, it’s become a lush green hillside.

Just as nice, both the parking underneath and the pathways to the apartments are not rough afterthoughts.  The sides of the building are covered in giant metal scrims that follow the apartment’s stacking and onto which are etched a giant photo of a mountain.  Access to the apartments themselves are from the back of the units in a series of glazed hallways that open to the equally angled parking ramps, each hallway a unique beacon of colour.  (Which is also visible from the exterior and very impressive at night!)  Most niftily, since a regular elevator wouldn’t work, an angular funicular-like car connects the levels together.

Plus, as a bonus, you get this mural as you enter the garage!

Another great project idea, executed with aplomb.  It takes the programmatic requirements (a parking garage, a stack of apartments) and re-mixes them in a way that makes each one better and allows for that unique thing:  the spacious gardens.  I also appreciate how, despite it could be considered a “Phase 2” of apartments for the same developer on a site right adjacent the first, it became its own thing, providing variety for both the inhabitants and the cityscape.  Sweet indeed.

Mountain Dwellings by BIG Architects.

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Wonder Wednesday

October 16, 2019

a serene escape

in a space away from away

to contemplate the silence

and recapture our spirit

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Architecture Monday

October 14, 2019

One of BIG’s first major projects was an apartment building (the story of how they got the commission is one of amazing gall and almost amusing slyness) in a newly emerging area within Copenhagen.  As it was their first project, the developer was not willing to give them too much leeway in what they designed.  “Keep it somewhat in the box” is essentially what he told them.  So they did… though they twisted the heck out of that box.

Starting with a basic 2-bar design for two apartment buildings, they proceeded to poke and prod the forms to create a zig-zag pattern, creating a park nestled within the v-shape of one and a shared courtyard between the two.  And while the second building is nice in its own right, it’s that building facing the park that everyone remembers, for its balconies.  It’s crazy, amazing, assemblage of balconies.

With their distinct shape and positioning, it’s an amazing sight to behold, filled with intricacies of form, space, and light.  What’s even better and what I really love is how much the residents have taken the expressiveness of the form and used it as a launching point, adding holiday lights, artwork, and more.  Even the apartments themselves become something fun by bathing the inside with coloured light.  We visited the building as the sun was setting and the burst of colour and play of lights through the shadowed forms of those triangular balconies was very cool to experience.

Alas we didn’t get to go inside (it is, after all, housing).  But from photos on the ‘net, the apartments themselves also seem awesome, with dozens upon dozens of unique configurations all interlocking around each other to create something way more than your typical cookie-cutter stacking.  Filled with light, they feel fresh and invigorating, with lots of little areas of interest and fun.

Great work, showing wonderful and playful design that fit within the caution of a housing developer.  And definitively indicatory of the start of a storied practice for BIG.

VM Houses by BIG Architects

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Architecture Monday

October 7, 2019

Well, since I turned on the BIG tap last week, I might as well open the floodgates… because there was no way I was going to Denmark and not visit as many of their projects as I could.  And visit many of them I did!  I was especially excited to experience this one, for it was one of the first architecture posts I shared on this blog:  The Maritime Museum of Denmark.

To give a brief recap of what makes this building so amazing is that it is built not exactly inside of, or around, or even over a historic dry dock, but in a way that it becomes a part of it.  Leaving the existing and impressively thick concrete walls of the former “bathtub for ships” in place, the museum wraps around it underground while also crisscrossing the dock’s open-air empty space through a series of ramps and bridges.  In this way you can walk right up and experience it, with nothing needing to be built near it that could hide it.  The main path to Kronborg, the Hamlet Castle is even a bridge that crosses right over it.

 

Inside, the museum unfolds in a continuous series of ramps through exhibition spaces that both flank the outside of the drydock as well, as noted before, ramping diagonally through the void.  (As an aside, the exhibits were well done as well!)

I love (and this is probably no surprise at this point) all the great texture and patina that comes with the re-use of something old like this, with many moments of what becomes rich decoration when ensconced in or traversed by the new architecture.  Or how something like the stepped base of the dry dock is used as bonus seating.

As a bonus, the graphic design for the museum is excellent.  Check out the admission/entry tag, where the flap you use to slip it onto your shirt is a match for the building itself!

Superbly done.  I was giddy to visit and the architecture did not disappoint.  That the museum component was also made for a splendid day.  Definitively check it out if you’re in the area.

The Maritime Museum of Denmark by BIG Architects.