National Art Gallery in Ottawa, Canada
Architecture by Safdie Architects, garden by Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
It’s funny, I’ve just been musing about a little backyard studio, and this one pops up on my radar out of nowhere . I don’t have as large a property… or a hill… so it wouldn’t work as a template for my place, but there’s plenty to enjoy in this whimsical little addition.
It pretty much speaks for itself, with its arched windows and scalloped railing for the nice little roof deck to give it a ‘secret garden’ vibe. The ceiling within curving upwards to meet a large linear skylight is unexpected and noteworthy however, bringing ample light to suffuse the interior in a powerful glow.
Pandemic WFH office, art or writing studio, or just a fanciful little retreat, nice and simple but anything but boring. Cool stuff.
Oh this is neat! A new trio of apartments to be added atop an existing building – but rather than just make the new units and call it a day, this project goes above (kinda literally) and beyond to create a new trio of public yards for everyone in the complex to use: a play area, a couple of decks, and a grassy knoll. And while that last one might seem like a joke, it is not! Even further, it is crowned by an outlook to survey the city all around.
Very nifty, a cool addition to a dense Copenhagen neighborhood.
So while looking at the subject of last week’s post, I noticed this:
“What,” I asked myself, “In heck is that honkin’ cantilevered thing?” So I looked more, and, yeah, wow, that is one big cantilever – 178 feet or 54m!
Attached to a performing arts centre, the prominent protuberance is known as the Endless Bridge and is used as a gallery, event space, and observatory.
The rest of the building is pretty spiff as well, an assemblage of bold forms upon which subtle (less so at night) images have been printed right onto the panels.
The main theatre is pretty cool too, with an asymmetrical thrust stage and hyper colourful seating:
Nifty and expressive, and a cool contrast to the old silos of the Mill Center. Very cool!
An old flour mill on your industrial waterfront, dormant for 25 years, catches fire and partially collapses. You could knock that hulk down and wipe your hands of the affair. Or… you could stabilize the ruins and do some adaptive reuse magic to turn it into the forecourt of a new museum!
As you can guess, that’s exactly what happened with the Mill City Museum.
And that forecourt is indeed some magic. Ruins often manage to be compelling in some ways that is hard to pin down (I’d venture it’s a combination of the roughness, the randomness, and the precariousness, in conjunction with the perfection that is our imagination that completes what is missing), and here the shell acts like the outer concourse of the Coliseum. The slick glass and steel addition contrasts beautifully with it, and all that glass lets it be a part of the museum experience within so that the history you’re learning about is ever present.
Best of all, the forecourt makes one heck of a backdrop for all sorts of events! Beyond just being a museum, it creates a whole plethora of possibilities for a reinvented waterfront district.
Given how much I love adaptive reuse, and the rich texture of old brick and rough and tumble buildings in particular, it’s no surprise that I totally dig this. Great work!
Sound wave? Tectonic shift? Mountains? However you read the shape it forms a strong identity for this library that edges up on one side to a wooded ravine.
While its big portico entrance welcomes you inside, only clerestory windows face the rest of town. Along the ravine, however, the building is one continuous strip of window. Beyond being something sculpturally nifty (which it is), the highly angular roof divides the space within into zones for reading, shelving, and enclosure (study booths, multipurpose rooms, offices) while also allowing light from above to make the building glow.
For a smallish branch library, the building is perfect, a straightforward and rectangular layout elevated to be distinct and inviting and cool. Great stuff.
Another lovely restored medieval tower in Spain tonight! A singular fortified tower once again accessible via a refined new structure within.
Done with precision, the new wood and steel staircase and platforms is a delight, with its sharp angles and regular pattern contrasting with the rough adobe walls of the tower, while at the same time the wood complements the earthen hues. Best of all, the lattice allows for dramatic light to splay down from above.
And you gotta love the off-kilter arrow slit windows!
Simple but lovely. The aptly named Tower Castle of Espioca, with restoration and new frame by El fabricante de epheras. Complement it with this other tower/keep restoration I talked about earlier, also in Spain!
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with masonry and brick. The banal, everywhere, front-façade-only, use of brick veneer on a generic house, well… that can go jump in a lake. But highly expressive, truthfully used, rich textured brick, made even better when it’s got history and patina? From what I’ve posted before on this blog, I think it’s quite clear that I’m totally into that.
This one can’t fulfill the history and patina part, but no matter; feast your eyes on this beauty!
If there was a picture needed for “expressive brick”, this, without a doubt, would fit the bill perfectly. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to know where to begin. A reinterpretation of a traditional fortress, it’s got inward-canted walls, rounded (or not!) corners, a dark stone base that rises into a vibrant brick top, bits of stone or brick that jut out or are recessed inward, and it culminates with arching brick latticeworks that top it off like a crown. All this then further punctuated by patterned concrete boxes that poke out to form rooms or balconies. It’s exquisite.
And it gets even better within. Formed around a central shaft and stair, the different levels spiral upwards, creating numerous courtyards and porches and allowing nearly all parts of the house to be visually connected to each other. The latticed stone and brick are left exposed inside, often further articulated and accentuated to provide a rich backdrop and a sense of solidity. Best of all is the quality of light, sifting through the openings and lattices in ways both dramatic and serene.
Can this get much better? How about yes; the openings were not arbitrary and were instead designed with the venturi effect in mind to naturally cool and ventilate the house, and the roof collects water in a traditional kund and stores the excess in a cistern. It’s designed to be a part of the world, not apart from it.
Needless to say, great stuff. A wonderful piece of work.
The Olympics will get underway this coming Friday, and the new stadium is more than ready… to be mostly empty, devoid of just about all visitors. It’ll be a surreal thing to watch, for sure. But let’s take a moment to check out the stadium itself, and it’s kinda nice, using lots of wood and taking inspiration from the vernacular overhangs to create a series of verandas that also boast edge gardens. It seems inviting enough.
Doubly nicely, these verandahs and the roof (whose opening is deliberately asymmetrical to enhance this effect) have been designed to funnel natural ventilation through the structure and reduce the AC loads. So that’s cool too (pun semi-intended).
Stadiums tend to be stadiums, but this one does some work to help keep it from being nothing but an imposing oval. Time will tell if this one will find enough life post-olympics to become part of the city’s fabric.