Posts Tagged ‘design’


Architecture Monday

March 23, 2020

Oh I do so like it when a building makes us do a double take and go, “wait, what?”  Like making brick into a sinuous wave that melts away from a heavy volume that now perches precariously…

And that’s just what this building does.  Even better is that the curvy bricks become a staircase, giving access to the office that sits within the more traditional boxy form balanced above, which in turn opens to the sky with a concealed rooftop garden.  Below, a retail space slips under the artificial hill, the articulated brick expressing itself as the ceiling cascades down through a series of carefully plastered waves.

Very neat.  While the brief was something so commonplace (and time tested as being a good urban model): multi-use building of office atop retail, the result is anything but commonplace.  It is a playful addition to the city’s fabric, a building that is both a delight to the eye and, especially for the tenants of the office, a delight to access every morning.

The Termeh Office Commercial Building by  Farshad Mehdizadeh Architects


Architecture Monday

March 16, 2020

Great buildings very much aid in creating a great work environment, which then leads to great work.  And this new office definitively fits the bill.

It’s hard to miss the building, its six v-shaped pavilions creating a strong sculptural presence.  Like a series of open books, each of the thick concrete walls that nestle the office spaces open northward out towards a lake, cutting glare from the strong sun at this latitude while allowing plenty of diffuse northern light as well as parkland views to penetrate deep into the work spaces.  Each pavilion is connected via outdoor arcades, which in turn also become planted pathways connecting the rooftop gardens that also adorn each concrete V.

Cuts into and slices taken out of each V allow for small punched windows and dramatic entryways, while exterior stairs also lead to porticoes allowing access to the rooftop gardens.  Altogether the green roofs flow across the whole assemblage of pavilions, connecting them all and creating another layer of parkland.

There’s a lot to love here.  From a building that’s overall both fun and rife with greenery to the wonderful details like the pattern of cutouts that create an additional layer of sculptural articulation as well as the bold slices to create the entries.  And that green roof is wonderful, pulling double duty to keep the building cool while just being a cool space to hang out.  Great stuff.

Viettel Offsite Studio by VTN Architects


Architecture Monday

March 9, 2020

Welcome to your lily pad, floating gently on the water in a placid lake.  Ready for a little getaway?

Surrounded by vineyards in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France, the vertical wood slat screen that encircles each small cabin creates patterns of light and shade, solid and gap, such that the huts blend easily with the trees and tall grasses that surround the lake.  This is further and deliciously accentuated by having the tops of the slats stretch beyond the lattice-like roof beyond, extending towards the sky.

Carefully positioned, the screen dapples the strong Mediterranean sun and dampens any winds, bringing comfort while also bringing privacy to both a veranda and the cabin itself.  The interior is spare, almost sauna-like, letting the wood planks and the water beyond do most of the talking.

A lovely little idea, using a simple motif to bring both elegance and lightness to the project, blending with the serenity of the lake and leaving nature as the dominant voice.  Great marrying of function and form.

The Grands Cépages Cabins Hotel by Atelier LAVIT


Architecture Monday

March 2, 2020

This one for sure can be filed under the category of tiny house (it’s about 12 m2/130 ft2).  But interestingly it’s also perched on a roof of an existing building – a demonstration of reclaiming leftover spaces to create something not only valuable but that could also be rendered beautiful.

The simple bent A-frame structure is covered in a gleaming seamed metal roof that reflects the sky during the day and the urban lights at night, while the twin glazed ends (one clear, one frosted for privacy) turns the house into a lantern and beacon in its own right.  It’s also quite elegant, a shapely little folly that slides unobtrusively into the skyline.

For this first version, things were kept simple on the inside, with an exposed wood structure and paneling that contains coconut-based insulation.  A rectangular core near the back contains the major utility functions for the house, making the most of its small space.  This leaves the living space and loft above to open upwards and outwards through the full-height window that offers views of the mountains beyond.  With windows at both ends of this small house, it is an understatement to say that it is suffused with light.  At the same time, its opaque side walls, along with the porch-like overhangs at both ends, prevents glare overload while also keeping the house from overheating in the equatorial sun.

Whether interested in small houses or not, or whether interested in a project that latches onto an existing building (adaptive expansion rather than adaptive reuse?) or not, its simple form and resulting poetics makes this a house to take note of.

The ”Parasite” House by El Sindicato Arquitectura


Architecture Monday

February 17, 2020

This is not an accident.  It is not a truck that drove into the sea.  It’s not a beached whale either.  It is a restaurant, appropriately named “Under.”

Just recently completed (and, alas, too far away for me to visit on my equally recent trip) at the southernmost point of Norway, the angled concrete tube that forms its shell pokes its head above the waterline like a rising sea creature.  On one face, the concrete is peeled back to reveal rich oak siding, where a bridge spans the gap between the shoreline and this entrance.  Battered by frequent storms (often several per day, lasting a few hours before becoming calm once more), waves crash across its surface like a kinetic sculpture, bringing witness to the marvelous power of nature.

Inside, things take a serene turn.  The reclaimed oak paneling transitions to fabric wrapped panels as you descend past the bar and towards the restaurant, with colours slowly changing from pink to coral to green to luscious midnight blue.  But, situated at the end of the subtly curved tube, it is the window that most catches the eye.  Enormous, it looks out onto the shallow depths to give a stunning glimpse of the highly varied marine life that exists in this tidal pool.  A second window slices vertically along the side of the bar and mezzanine, extending from the sky to below the sea, the tableau changing hourly with the rise and fall in the weather.

This is definitively theatrical architecture, but not in a way that I think is pejorative.  It takes an idea, an interesting concept, and uses it as a starting point to develop a design that is more than the sum of its parts, and way more than just a “gimmick plus a box.”  It is done with care and with an attention to detail that makes for a stunning space.  Great stuff.

Under by the amazing folks (and still one of my favs) at Snøhetta.


Architecture Monday

February 10, 2020

Oh this is a fun one.  A tumble of baskets?  A series of stacked boxes?  A series of wood piles?  Or yes to all of the above, writ large to the size of a building.

A museum in the middle of a dense urban area, the interlocking wood cubes are both neat and also break down the building to both fit within the scale of the surrounding town.  At the same time, they also allow it and the site to bridge between different street heights via ramped stairway.  It’s definitively a playful composition, with the slats that make up the boxy forms sometimes tightly woven, sometimes spread apart to act as a sunscreen, sometimes extended to become railings for patios, and sometimes completely empty, making for a fancy portico hovering overhead.

Inside, the same language drills down the centre of the building as a twisty atrium, connecting the various gallery levels together and letting sun penetrate deeply throughout.  Starting tall on the first floor for large-scale works, the floors gradually get shorter as they rise through the building, creating more intimate spaces for smaller works of art.  All the while, that central shaft of wood acts as a friendly wayfinder.

A bright museum that invites all while integrating itself into the surrounding urban fabric.  Very nicely developed!

The Odunpazari Modern Art Museum by Kengo Kuma & Associates


Architecture Monday

February 3, 2020

Here’s a sweet pair of homes, built together by splitting a corner lot.  Almost the same, but not quite, the two play off each other to create two new units where only one might have otherwise stood.  Even better, they were built on a budget with high energy standards in mind and yet never skimped on design quality to satisfy either of those aims.

I love how their simple forms and simple materials work nicely together, with the vertical striations on the standing seem metal roof and wall panels pairing nicely with the deeply coloured horizontal wood boards.  The clean detailing wherever two surfaces meet lets the houses read like idyllic forms, sketches made real and resting lightly on the land.

Inside, the covered porch/portico under the pitched roof continues through the ample window to create a lofty living space.  I also really dig the large rolling barn doors that lead to the office and the bedrooms at the back of the house.  And with the kitchen pushed out into the wood-covered extension, the exposed rafters and roof ridge can continue back from the front room to lend the house a very expansive and bright feeling.

This is some good stuff going on here.  Two homes built with purpose and flair, showing that good design and “everyday typical housing” are not incompatible or impossible.  Nicely done.

Two Houses on Oak Hill Avenue by Studio 804.