Architecture Monday

Oh this one’s awesome… (and kinda close to my hometown!)  An over 125 year old romanesque post office brought to new purpose to become a ‘bookless’ library, filled with creative labs and maker spaces and more.  And it’s not just the stately post office building, it’s a new wrap-around glass pavilion that reaches out to engage the adjacent canal and make the whole shebang a part of the community space.

So, yeah, that gallery that hangs out over the river pretty much sells the whole thing.  I mean, the original (and restored) post office is also lovely, with its arched windows, half turrets, towers, steep gable roof, and the brick and stone.  All of that is enhanced with the new glass and steel surround that cantilevers not just once, but twice, hovering first over the water, then above over a patio/deck.  And the undersides of which hasn’t been neglected, with polished aluminum and integrated lighting that speaks towards a future river walk.  It’s dynamic and playful and though a very different language than the original building that contrast enhances each other, even more so when they are reflected off the water whether by day or, glowing like a lantern, at night.

Lots of light, lots of great views to the river and city beyond, and more interplay between the crisp new and the rugged old are what awaits within.  These two languages combine in a culmination in the third floor maker space, inhabiting the cathedral-like space under the old high-pitched roof amongst the old support frames.

For an added bonus, there’s the glass ceiling that looks up into the old clock tower, putting the mechanisms on display!

Very cool project, another example of taking something already existing and, through re-use and a clever set of additions, turning it into something even greater.  Plus public maker spaces/etc are a great addition to a community (I loved the one at the new library in Helsinki).  And if you, like me, still love traditional book-filled libraries, there’s one right across the river.

Ideas Exchange by RDHA

Architecture Monday

I love adaptive reuse of just about every type, but there’s something extra lovely when old coal-fired power plants or coal storage yards are repurposed into something much less destructive.  It doesn’t hurt that the soaring spaces and muscular structure within lends themselves well to all sorts of great insertions and intricate spatial play.  To that end, here’s a nice new example of the genre, a bit of adaptive reuse in Wisconsin aptly named The Powerhouse.

A set of big brick boxes, built over time, is what defines the old plant, punctuated by strips of tall windows. A new fieldhouse made of polycarbonate panels is a nifty counterpoint, creating a diffuse glow inside by day and a lantern outside at night.  And it’s hard to miss the smokestack as a calling card…

All the space inside is used in fun ways, mixing new levels with old and with the new functions intertwined around old machinery and infrastructure.  The suspended running track is cool, traversing through all three old buildings and the new addition, letting you see the different eras and types of buildings while also interacting with old roof trusses and other bits of the building.  And check out the idea of the climbing walls within the old coal hoppers!  Now that’s a super nifty idea.

Good stuff.  A new life for an old building, saving all the materials and the energy it took to build them, and turning it into a plethora of fun spaces for all sorts of great uses while also tying the waters edge, the city, and the university campus together.  Mighty fine work.

The Beloit College Student Union by Studio Gang

Architecture Monday

That picture alone is enough to pique my interest; a music room nestled within a roof shed, crowned by a skylight with linear LEDs for supplementary lighting.  It’s exciting in its own right, even more so when you throw musicians into the mix.  But that’s just the start!  For it is part of a monastery that has been artfully turned into a music conservatory.

 

While the above music room is in a new wing, there’s plenty of great examples where old and new are mixed to create something special.  Like the former cloister turned dining hall, roofed over in a sandblasted glass that makes the restored white plaster surfaces glow.

Or the hallways and stairwells, and the monastic cells/bedrooms…

Culminating in a second music room in the rafters, this time in the historical portion of the building, with light streaming down to accentuate the rough hewn lumber framing.  And airy and mystical place for practice.

A wonderful piece of adaptive reuse, and knowing much I love adaptive reuse there’s no way I can’t fall in love with this.  Great stuff.

Synergy (From a Monastery to Music Conservatory), by Brückner & Brückner Architekten

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

Wonder Wednesday

Woah!  That is not a photoshop job… that is actual people walking on actual water in an amazing piece of land art by none other than Christo and Jeanne-Claude titled The Floating Piers.  Installed for 16 days back in 2016, it was also huge:

That’s 3km worth of 16m wide golden floating walkway, leading to and island and onto another island.  Again, wow…

Read more about it and see plenty of more pictures (including construction photos) at Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s website.

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