Architecture Monday

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 Gadi House by  PMA madhushala

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

This office project intrigues me.  Built in Paraguay, where daytime temps often hit around 40~C under intense sun, it uses the simple yet brilliant idea of shading structures to keep the actual offices (surrounded with their own heavy mass walls, which further helps keep things cool) at a reasonable temperature.  It’s like putting the building under a tree.

Letting the breezes through is just as important as the shade, and the deep open cells of the side walls along with the gap between the hanging and office roofs let the air flow through.  To minimize its structure and to allow for the rest of the building to be made from locally available and sourced material, the parasol roof uses a tension system to string itself over the building.  The natural hanging shape also allows for rain to be collected in a central pool, which in turn is circulated via pumps onto the roof to provide for evaporative cooling when a little extra escape from the heat is needed.  It will also allow for additional plants to be grown across the site, making for a veritable little oasis.

Very cool (pun semi intended).  A building that totally responds to its context in all manner of speaking, creating a building that functions well and that is a delight to behold and be in.

Nordeste Curuguaty Offices by Mínimo Común Arquitectura

(Also reminds me of this house which uses a similar shade+mass idea!)

Architecture Monday

WOW… the beauty of these amazing bundles of bamboo, all tied together to form these delicious interlocking sets of gothic-like arches, is just gorgeously stunning! And that wonderful umbrella creates an equally wonderful space.  This is structure used to it’s fullest as a generator of form.

What amazing craftsmanship.  Local genius with local materials.  Love it.

The Vedana Restaurant by VTN Architects (who have done many incredible things with bamboo, check out their other projects).

Architecture Monday

Maybe it’s something about spending so much time indoors that has me looking at libraries so much of late… whatever the reason, here’s another lovely one and one that I can check out the next time I can head back home to visit!

Wood.  Definitively lots of wood going on here.  Big, muscular, impressive wood, using engineered mass timber construction from responsibly managed lands (I am unsure if this is FSC certified, but I hope so).  Arranged like a series of curving splayed fingers, each topped with a green roof, it opens towards the public square with a giant portico.  It’s got great visual complexity, changing appearance from every angle, its various bits always in a dance with each other.

That beefy post and beam structure allows all below to be enclosed entirely with glass.  Inside the veritable forest of leaning trunks and all that light makes for a vibrant experience, almost cathedral-like.  It also allows for maximum flexibility; as its role evolves over time, the library can shuffle itself around to suit the needs of the community.

A very cool, engaging, and fun design.  Top shelf work.

The Scarborough Civic Centre Library by LGA.

Architecture Monday

There’s something about this building that I just can’t stop loving.  It’s a museum about watchmaking, rendered exquisitely by BIG in a way that marries the intricacies of fine Swiss timepieces with the landscape and the fields from which they grew.

Sunk into a hill, the base plan is of a couple of interlocking spirals.  But it is the roofs above, canted and ramping, that really defines the building.  Covered in the same grass as the hill into which it is nestled, it is as if the ground itself pushed up to create this sculptural form, one that is as striking in the lush green of summer as it is in the white blanket of winter.

With the ground hovering above it, every wall is made of glass, both inside and out.  This makes for a rather kaleidoscopic experience travelling through the museum to view the exhibits, further amplified by the highly reflective polished metal ceiling (again, recalling the inner workings of a watch).  And among its outermost ring there is a working watchmaking lab, one that lacks nothing in terms of light, delight, and one heck of a view.

I’d totally be down to work in an office like that.  This is one of BIG’s earlier buildings, and it already shows off their inventive and exciting building that feels wonderful to be in.  Great stuff.

Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet / BIG + ATELIER BRÜCKNER + CCHE

Architecture Monday

This may be a hotel, but the concept is an intriguing one that could be applied to high rise buildings of all types:  a porous and verdant shell with several open-air plazas that step their way up the building to reach a green and inhabitable roof.

With the mix of red aluminum, blue waters, wood decks, and, of course, all the trees and plants, it’s a colourful and striking building.  The location of the plazas switch sides as the building rises, so that the indoor parts and the outdoor parts aren’t just stacked repetitively all the way up.  And while there aren’t any there now, I could easily envision some wind turbines in the crown that could generate at least some of the building’s own energy.

Nifty stuff.  The Oasia Hotel by WOHA

Architecture Monday

Nowadays, the word factory conjures up images of big and dark voids full of machinery that is, and the workers within are, much removed from delight and the world around it.  Not that it needs to be that way!  Not in the least.  Here’s one that accomplishes everything needed within (ie, making stuff) while being mighty fine for both the workers within and its neighbors and passers-by.

While in plan the building is in a very typical (and straight-edged) L-shaped configuration, with its vertically zig-zagging walls you’d never guess it, helped even further along by the great texture striations that embellish the protruding concrete wedges.  All around, the ground rises up to follow and meet these chiseled shapes.  Similarly, up top, the roof tips down to reveal a planted surface, studded with skylights.  Besides the great energy and maintenance benefits of the roof (coupled with the insulated thermal mass of the concrete walls), it helps the building blend into the nearby pine forest, especially for those peering out of the window as their plane departs from the nearby airport.

 

Inside the spaces are large and continuous, befitting its manufacturing purpose, broken up by inviting atriums that work double time to bring light deep into the interior.  Multiple paths, gardens, and more let the atriums be amazing spaces to view and use for the surrounding offices.  (Also… let us simply marvel at the horse-lamp and the pig-table…)

Great stuff and a sweet reminder that good design that honours us as people is possible no matter what type of building.

Coffee Production Plant by Khmaladze Architects

Architecture Monday

Take a little dash of ruins (an old parchment factory, in this case) and dab of an old cow shed, apply some adaptive reuse and a bit of careful addition inside of the old walls, and you have one nice addition for a historic Victorian house.

Rather than demolish the rough and rich ruin walls, the new additions slips between them to make their aged texture a part of the composition, further heightened by the mismatch of stone and brick between the various structures.  Even better, while the new addition is, well, new, much of it was built using material found on site.

Throughout old and new material are juxtaposed artfully, as are their crisp lines and jagged edges.  Looking out, whether from the living space or the new rooftop deck above the addition, the walls of the factory ruin – and its lovely pointed window! – frames everything while forming a little courtyard.

Some sweet adaptive reuse going on here and a great use of the existing conditions.  While the temptation is often to scrape clean and start fresh, this is a good example of where embracing the rough and tumble leads to something far more exciting to live in.

The Parchment Works House by Will Gamble Architects