Posts Tagged ‘design’

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Architecture Monday

January 28, 2019

If you’ve heard the term “glass pavilion” before, well, this certainly fits the bill.  Lots of glass and even mirrored glass makes this diamond-patterned box, along with its dramatic and likewise diamond-patterned roof that appears to float above it all, a striking object nestled into its wooded site.

The purpose of all this pizzazz is for a neighborhood library.  Once inside, the drama of the glazed exterior transitions to something much more sedate.  I love how the deep wood boxes that make up the diamond pattern becomes almost quilt-like as it envelops the stacks and reading areas.  And by pulling back the second floor in various places, these large atriums get created that let that mosaic strut its stuff, further enhanced by the luminous ceiling.

It’s all about the outer wall (and roof) here, and that’s alright.  With its nifty design there’s a lot of fun plays between light and shadow, transparency and solidity, outward views and inward texture.  As a temple for reading and community gathering, it’s suitably exciting without detracting from the quiet and comfy needs of the readers and gatherers.  Cool stuff.

The Francis A Gregory Library by Adjaye Associates.

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Architecture Monday

January 14, 2019

Sometimes, when you do well in school you get a gold star.  This particular school takes that notion in an almost literal way.

Shaped like a star, the layout of the school does a couple of cool things.  Each radiant point houses a grade levels or two, each sporting its own design character as well as age-appropriate sizing.  At the same time, grouping the shared and special functions by the centre creates the school unified and creates a strong communal point.  It at the same time allows for separate environments and scale that allow the students to relate to the building and feel safe within, while still allowing the school to be a unified whole through interactions and gatherings in the communal core.

And what a core!  The piece de resistance, the stair and open-air (and deconstructed) library and gallery seating and stage and who knows what else keeps the area alive and engaged with activity throughout the day while also being a powerful and ownable element in its own right.

The angled nature of each of the wings means that there’s no hallways per se; things are wide enough that the circulation can serve double duty as seminar and collaboration space.  And if that wasn’t enough, the place is littered with smaller rooms and nooks and all sorts of great spaces for students to gather and do work or just socialize.

Wait… is that… a nook with a literal PIT of LEGO?  (Well, I guess it is in Denmark)  Man… I love this school even more now.

As a bonus, check out those wicked and very fun conceptual drawings of the building!

Compared to many of the institutional and staid schools that abound, this is a design that aims to make an engaging and delightful place for the students and teachers who spend so many hours there.  Plus its design is geared towards natural ventilation, full of light, covered in solar panels, and aims outward towards playgrounds and parks and trails leading into the surrounding neighborhood.  Splendidly done.

Nordstjerneskolen (New City School) by Arkitema Architects

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Architecture Monday

January 7, 2019

Let’s start 2019 off with a sweet adaptive reuse of an old powerhouse on the shores of the East River with views of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Can you say brick arches galore?

And how!  Leaving intact the exterior shell of the building, including its many, many metal shutters, the project’s new guts celebrate the aged solidity of all that brick.  To start, the newly carved open-air courtyard and pedestrian walkway connects the waterfront park to the city and turns those thick walls into an art object.  An object you can get up close and personal with through publicly accessible walkways and a roof terrace.  Want to see the park and the nearby Brookland Bridge?  Or the very cool carousel that’s just next door?  Those same terraces have you covered.

Going further upward, the new structure is rendered in glass and beefy steel, extending the feel of the building without mimicking the material or exact look.  By pulling back from the edges of the old walls, more terraces and green roofs are created while, again, celebrating the aged beauty of those rugged brick walls.

Inside, old structure and new are merged into an antithesis of a sterile office environment.  I especially love how they dealt with the windows, making a sealed structure while allowing the full depth of the wall to be felt through each opening from both inside and out (further enhanced on the outside by being framed with those shutters).

Even better?  This is right next to St Anne’s Warehouse, another adaptive reuse par excellence (featured here a couple of years ago).  Good stuff you’ve got going on there, Brooklyn!

Empire Stores, by S9 Architecture.

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Architecture Monday

December 17, 2018

Wow, check out this wicked pizzeria from Matera, Italy.  Above a fast-flowing river that has cut a canyon deep into the surrounding landscape, the natural caves in this region have been used for shelter for thousands of years, developing into a city where many buildings hug the cliff face and extend deep into the rock.  There, human intervention merges seamlessly with the natural beauty of the caves, and this pizzeria is no exception.

There’s something lovely about the rock itself, wonderfully smooth and light in colour.  Lofting high overhead, it comfortably envelops and feels very much down to earth (pun most decidedly intended).

But it’s those moments where the undressed rock meets clearly worked stone, or when it meets plaster, steel, and glass, where the magic really happens.  And there are a plethora of those moments throughout.  That masonry pointed arch, or the embedded glass forming the entry way (further enhanced by the rusting steel), or the pure smooth white plaster that dissolves into the rock… punctuated by slender and elegant metal armatures and lights.

As can be expected for a cavern, it’s a delightfully complex floor plan, further leading to feeling both intriguing and yet decidedly snug.

I love those stairs, heading upward to a ‘private cave’!  Or the wine rack, comfortably nestled into a natural niche.

I totally dig it (yes, another intended pun!).  In my next travels to Italy I need to stop by this region and see all the great architecture that uses the best of its context like this.

Oi Marì by Manca Studio

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Architecture Monday

December 10, 2018

This is an interesting one to me.  Firstly, no doubt, for its unabashed wedge shape of blackness, as though a geological form or some ancient monument emerging from the ground (made all the more striking in winter in stark contrast with the snow).  Secondly, for the fact that this striking form has been crafted with some of the humblest, and inexpensive, of materials.  Lastly, for it’s multifunctional use, intended to be a craft and studio space for audiovisual design and exhibitions.

To that purpose, the inside was purposefully left raw and unfussy, with plenty of open space to be used as a studio.  But it still possesses a few nice touches that keep it from being a drab bunker of nondescript offices.  That concrete stair core, with its careful assemblage of cut-away concrete walls, is certainly a worthy entry and centerpiece.

Multi-purpose, made for the community, and an expressive design that demonstrates that big budgets aren’t always needed for good buildings.  Nicely done.

The Cathedral by Petra Gipp Arkitektur

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Architecture Monday

December 3, 2018

Ok, there is a lot of similarity in the house below and the amazing work by Ando I shared a couple of weeks ago… but the scales are vastly different.  Here, a tight three-house compound in northern Beijing with non-existent yards was reimagined into a single home.  Keeping and upgrading the existing house along the north side of the compound, new additions were added along the west and south sides to create a U-shaped arrangement that creates a generous courtyard.

I’ll admit, I can be a sucker for exposed brick (especially in adaptive reuse scenarios), and this project has them in spades.  But there are a lot of other great details as well:  the exposed log-structured roof in the renovated old house, the patio and rock garden in the courtyard, the expansive windows and rotating screens, and the LED light strip that illuminates the intricacies and texture of the old tile roof at night.  With the generous windows throughout, the house feels continuous even though it’s wrapped around a courtyard; the courtyard becomes just another room to look through.

Like with the Ando design, it’s a very interesting mix of old and new, both factually and figuratively.  There’s a historic ruggedness in the brick and tiles and iron-grey railings and window frames, accented by the smooth concrete and crafted wood paneling.

I especially like this bonus moment where the courtyard opens a vista that allows the profile of the house next door to mirror that of the mountain ridge in the background.

Overall it’s good stuff.  Not a total adaptive reuse, but still a partial one that makes most of what was there before.

Backyard by CCDI

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Architecture Monday

November 26, 2018

I love it when companies recognize good design makes for a better running enterprise, especially for building types that, over the past century or so, have been considered “utilitarian” and thus “unnecessary” or “wasteful” to spend any effort in making them places that treat their worker’s right.

And so, behold!  A fishing facility of docks and warehouses and processing and offices all high up in the rugged northern part of Norway.

It’s a fun mix of colour and forms and graphics that support both easy wayfinding as well as creating a great backdrop in the dark nights of winter.  Large windows let the surrounding landscape (or the northern lights) fill the employee areas.  The varied forms create an abundance of interesting places while hiding tonnes of little nautical hints throughout, all capped by the dramatic flying bar that houses the offices and other amenities.

Good stuff.  A well-crafted complex that improves operations while/by honouring its employees.  A delight nestled into a rugged landscape. Well done.

Holmen Industrial Area designed by the great team at Snøhetta.