Architecture Monday

Oh this is neat, a visitor centre for Fort  York in Toronto done in part by Patkau Architects (who were some of the first architects I gushed about in these Monday posts).  Set as a backing to a hill behind, with a cool use of rusting steel and somehow making the underside of the Gardiner expressway feel livable.  I’ll need to check it out next time I’m home.

Fort York Visitors Centre by Patkau Architects and Kearns Mancini Architects

Architecture Monday

A sweet little clinic in Japan!

With smooth walls and a pure form that pops in and out, the building creates a sculptural ribbon that turns the corner on its L-shaped lot.

All those zigs and zags create a tonne of slices for windows on the inside, leading to lots of light and lots of views out onto small gardens and trees, a nice calming environment.

Very nifty and cool!  A creative and dynamic building to enliven the medical experience.

Asahicho Clinic by hkl studio


Architecture Monday

A giant, pink, spiraling, sculptural staircase.  That bold gesture forms the heart of this townhome, where even the main walls spiral inward in unison.

The stairway also acts as a giant atrium and kind of courtyard, pulling light to nearly all rooms as well as allowing a tree to grow in the main living/dining area of the home.  It also allows the house to operate in the vertical direction, creating continual visual connections across all levels so that the family can be in touch with each other as they pass from room to room.

All those interlocking spirals and forms coupled with the play in levels creates a tonne of interesting little spatial and sculptural moments, where light and materials and plants all get to dance together.  Very neat and solid work!

Maison TT by Nghia-Architect

Architecture Monday

A double bandstand, one facing east at ground level looking onto the city, one facing west and elevated looking onto the local volcano.  Both nestled within in a simple barrel-vault made of rough and vibrant local stone.  A space for community, for music learning and performance, and for theatre and gatherings.  A gem of a design.

Kithara Music Kiosk by TO Architects

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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.

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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