When the architect’s story for this cottage starts with, “I built a five-metre-long steel spoon and traveled the length of the country with it…” you know something interesting is up. There’s no spoon involved in this project, but the cabin is likewise interesting designed as it is with a pair of originating concepts: frame two views with a sweep between them and build out of found and repurposed materials.
The two views are from the bed, looking straight up, and from the working desk, which requires the floor to be opened to create a seat. The materials came from all over, giving this otherwise “new” building a patina of rugged history. It’s not the grand luxe, but then it isn’t meant to be. It’s an artist/writer cabin in the woods, a place to retreat and be and work.
A cool little thing, showing what can be wrought with playfulness and thought and ingenuity, and without the need for a big budget.
Picalo Cabin by Gerard Dombroski Workshop
Oh I so love this. A pair of old and disused granaries next to a lotus pond reworked into an arts centre. And while the granaries are sweet in their own right, with their rhythmic progression towards new grand windows at either end and a lovely terrazzo floor that mirrors the lotus pond nearby, it’s the twin curving brick structures that make this such a delight. Sinuous and sculptural they are poetry of space and light.
TaoCang Art Centre by Roarc Renew
I do so much like a great gothic cathedral in all its carved glory. And I really want to visit Gaudi’s stone forest of awe. But I’m also really keen on this restoration of a church first erected in 1314. To say it’s on the opposite end of the gothic/carved spectrum would be an understatement… smooth, serene, and silky white, it’s a play of pure volume and light.
The photos kinda tell the whole story. When you strip away almost all ornament and texture, you have nothing but the pure spatial quality of the space left. You gotta get that right as there’s no way to hide it! If anything is off everyone will notice and, even more so, feel it right away. So there’s some high quality design going on here.
There are also a lot of nice little spatial interplays, vistas and views and connections to the important side areas such as the baptistry or a side chapel.
(I get a big kick out of the above photo – doesn’t it of look a lot like a D&D miniature placed on a tabletop diorama?)
Very cool. One sublime piece of work!
St Moritz church by John Pawson
Very excited that Francis Kéré won the Pritzker prize this year! I’ve spoken about their work on here before (here and here — including one of the very first Architecture Mondays!) and everything I said then I am still enamored with today, especially the creation of great space and design with what many might term “limited resources.” Because terming it such can be a death knell to the spirit. As Kéré himself says, “It’s not because you are limited in resources that you should accept mediocrity. No, I never accept that! I try to do things I feel proud of.”
I ought to do some deep dives into more of his works, but for the moment enjoy this smattering of photos from his firm’s work:
“Simplicity doesn’t mean banality, it doesn’t mean something is not rich. It can be really rich.”
Absolutely! Great work. A big congrats to Francis Kéré for the well deserved win. Check out the Pritzker’s announcement here, and the Kéré Architecture firm here.
Last week was such a gem… but Labrouste was not finished! Nearly two decades later a second reading room was finished, this time for the National Library of France and it is equally stunning. Moving from the double barrel vault of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, this reading room switches to a series of vaults, elegantly supported by a grove of his signature thin steel columns.
There’s a lot of lovely play going on here. The columns and arches that define the perimeter of the room are massive and weighty, contrasting with those delicate columns and the filagree-enhanced arches that flare from each column to support the vaults. But look closer – notice that the vaults don’t actually rest against those heavy outer bits. Rather, there’s an independent column placed in front of each that heightens the soaring of the vaults overhead. So much about the vaults is in contrast with the walls that support the stacks, yet they still marry together perfectly.
Such a beauty all over. Great stuff.
La Salle Labrouste at the Bibliothèque Nationale by Henri Labrouste.
Now this is a great photo of Falling Water:
Aaaaaa, I just love it. The snow-covered trees forming a neutral backdrop makes the diagonal slash of the river, punctuated by the house itself, all that much more prominent and dramatic. And the leftover red foliage in the lower right corner helps balance it out and make everything pop.
A sweet photo of some sweet architecture!
This is such a gem. From 1851. Kinda surprising, for it looks decidedly modern. Indeed was in many ways, for it was one of the first buildings to use steel in such a monumental way, not only to create these massive open bays of space (and thus monumental structure) but also in such strikingly decorative ways (and thus monumental in decoration).
Beyond even that though, what must have been the most stunning for those visiting it in the 1850s was the slenderness of the steel columns. Used to the large and heavy stone or wood structure of contemporary buildings, the lightness and slenderness of these columns must have been wonderous to behold, mixed with perhaps no small amount of trepidation. Could something that thin support so much roof?
This building was also somewhat of a first in that it was a public building that paid more attention to its inside than its outside. That said, the outside is a classic creation with a decidedly unclassical twist: the inside is reflected on the façade (ie, the function informed the form). Check out the representation of the book stacks from within, complete with author’s names.
Definitively a momentous architectural work and still a wonder to this day.
Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève by Henri Labrouste.
Now this is just lovely. A little cabin by the water.
From afar, it may appear as ordinary as any other… but look closer.
Certainly the brightly coloured walls are somehow different, in a way that creates some nice shadow play.
But look closer still… why, those are gaps between the studs that make up the wall! All delightfully angled to let in light and views while sheltering those inside from most angles.
Cap it all off with some mighty fine detailing and you have one wonderful piece of work, a quiet place for contemplation and camaraderie.
The Badehus by Handegård Arkitektur
This was a conceptual model for a speculative master plan in South Korea. It’s definitively got some ‘first draft’ vibes, but it’s an intriguing concept. Rather than units being blocked in on three sides with a single (often narrow) view out, take a courtyard building (perhaps a bit akin to BIG’s 8 House?), with each side one unit thick laid lengthwise, and pull it upward. The funky bits protruding out is embellishment, but the core is living units that have cross-ventilation and light on two sides, as well as visual connection to all the other units to create a stronger sense of place than a typical high-rise corridor. And with just a bit of platforming, you could have a gaggle of sky gardens too.
While there would be plenty to do to get it all ironed out (or to see if it breaks in some way), it’s still a starting point as something interesting to ponder.
Project R6 by REX
An amazing set of photos by Xavier de Jauréguiberry of the amazing Phillips Exeter Academy Library. This one is a classic, an amazing combination of geometry, proportions, materials, and light to create this remarkable spatial experience. I also love how understated it is from the outside – striking in its own way for sure, with its intriguing with its heavy load-bearing brick construction and classical regularity that gives the impression of a stacked series of arcades (almost coliseum like?), which is further enhanced by the actual arcade at its base and that open-air bit at the top. But within this smooth exterior is the explosion of space at its centre, with circles meeting squares, with concrete meeting wood, and with light diffused into an ephemeral glow via a heavy structural frame. And the ancillary spaces are done with equal care and precision. Exquisite work.
The Phillips Exeter Academy Library by Louis Kahn.