Architecture Monday

I didn’t see this one while I was last in Toronto (though now it’s on my list), but this is a very cool pair of duplex houses.

The two units in each house are stacked atop each other, and there’s a mirroring effect between the two of them.  Sunken courtyards (replete with colourful murals), generous windows, and multi-story spaces make the lower units dynamic and filled with light.  But no doubt it’s the scrim on the top floors that catch the eye, both from inside and out.  Made of wood with a seemingly random pattern (but that supposedly draws something, though I can’t see it), the scrim also screens a raised patio.

Inside in both units, the skylights, courtyards, murals, and, of course, the scrims make for some pretty nifty living spaces.

They’re simple but thoughtful moves that elevate this from the typical banal box of a house into something much more exciting.  Great suff.

Double Duplex by B-CA

Architecture Monday

I’ve joked more than once that I travel thousands of miles to go visit apartment buildings… and my recent-ish trip to Toronto was no exception.  There continues to be a condo boom in downtown, and it was encouraging to discover that – beyond the obvious example of BIG’s King project – many of them were willing to go beyond a banal box in the sky and reach for some design goodness.  Including this one here, which I think would feel quite at home among the apartment buildings I saw while in Denmark.

On the whole it’s all pretty self-explanatory/evident, with shifting and interlocking cubic volumes to create engaging geometries that further define themselves in a distinctive base, mid, and, of course, the giant “bridges” that span from building to building.  All aligned to create framed vistas towards the water and the Toronto Islands.

While it may not be as bold as some others (again, the obvious examples of BIG’s projects) it’s definitively solid work.  Inviting, interesting, enlivening, and again great to see as a step forward for design in Toronto.

Pier 27 Condos by architects-Alliance

Architecture Monday

Perhaps one of the most famous architectural photos of all time.  Certainly it is one of the most famous of modern architecture, and likely introduced many to this new mode of design and its new architectural ways, forms, and materials.  It was built in 1957 as a Case Study House, which themselves are an interesting thing, some 36 home designs sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine as experiments in American residential architecture.  This one, the Case Study House #22, overlooks Los Angeles by dramatically cantilevering the glassed-in and nearly transparent living room over the edge of the cliff, something this photo by Julius Shulman does wonders to highlight.  To the eyes of the day it must have appeared completely otherworldly.

The Stahl House (Case Study House #22) by Pierre Koenig.

Architecture Monday

Is it gauche of me to post two BIG designs in a row?  Feh, no matter, for I will use this to illustrate the ways they employ similar forms and ideas in responsive and different ways, and with a different language of materials.  Behold, the appropriately named 79&Park (it’s next to a park, you see…)

 

Another of their “landform courtyard” style buildings, this one places the emphasis on wood and windows, with large vertical forms stacked upwards, each unit distinguishing itself with its own arrangement of fenestration.  The result delivers order without rigidity, and variety without becoming a jumble.

Of course, the big moves still ring true here, with the stepped sections of the building responding to the aforementioned park while providing for both the courtyard as well as the sweet green rooftop gardens (complete with trees!).  This arrangement also allows the units the most out of those giant windows, with plenty of avenue for light and views outward.

The killer is that this isn’t likely considered highly unusual or “grand luxury.”  If my impression of the country when I visited was correct, this level of design is not that uncommon nor reserved for the hyper-well to do.  It’s a recognition that quality of life affects us all, and why shouldn’t we strive for areas that shout, “this is a spot for living and living well!”

79&Park by BIG Architects.

Architecture Monday

If you looked at this and thought, “That looks like a BIG building,” well, you wouldn’t be wrong.  One part 8 House, one part Mountain House, with the addition of a striking gesture towards the water.

Starting with a simple courtyard square shape, the building angles itself down on one end while angling upward on the other, allowing it to open itself towards the city while also embracing the water on the other.  Really embracing, as the water flows into the courtyard for easy access.  And really open, as a public path from the city rises up and circles the whole building along a green roof.

Unfortunately, there’s no interior shots I can find yet, so no idea what it’s like in those units with the giant angled windows that overhang the water…

Though I joked at the start about being able to recognize it, really there’s no knock against them to engage their well-tested features in new ways to create another neat and enlivening place to live.

Sluishuis by BIG and Barcode Architects.

Architecture Monday

Oh I dig this apartment building in Winnipeg.  Looking much like something that would be at home in the Nordic countries, it takes a roughish site and elevates (pun intended) itself to create some nifty living spaces.

A floating donut of weathered steel and glass would not be a pretty fair description of the building.  Supported by slender concrete pilotis, the hovering drum also sports a central aerial courtyard that gives access to the units.  Impaled by the stair and elevator access, it’s a neat sculptural entry to one’s house.

The units themselves are interesting.  No surprise, they are wedge shaped, and they place the more utility functions near the entrance, allowing the rest of the space to expand outward towards the fully glazed exterior wall.  Unit type A is seriously… interesting, with the free-standing tub you have to pass by whenever you enter or leave.  It can be enclosed by movable partitions, so it can still become a private bathing area, but it is certainly genre-breaking and subverts what we would consider “normal”!

As a final crown, the building takes advantage of the stair/elevator core to perch a glass box of a penthouse with a full 360 degrees of view.

I dig it.  Something out of the ordinary, creating great living conditions on a marginal site, enlivening the city as well as those who inhabit it.  Sweet design!

62M Apartments by 5468796 Architects (who also worked on this storage/gateway I posted about a while back, also in weathered steel)

Architecture Monday

There’s a lot of great design bits here, let’s step through some of them!

Using the natural slope of the site, rather than digging into it or obliterating it, the cantilevered design also creates a double and rather stylish carport, split by the entrance stair.  (On which I really cannot help but notice the distinct lack of handrails…)

A combination of voids and extrusions creates a great mix of indoor space and outdoor courtyards and balconies.  Besides being lovely, this also allows in tonnes of light.

The main framing of the house is a series of large timbers arranged in a grid pattern that is exposed, creating both a steady rhythm and also a sense of continuity throughout the house and rooms.  It’s also a sculptural element in its own right heading down the spine of the house.

The second floor is more like a series of lofts, allowing first floor spaces to not only gain awesome height and light, but it also sets up for cross-level views.

Very nice design.  It’s not a big house (it’s about the same as mine) nor an “extravagant” one, but it feels way more expansive and expressive and a joy to live in than the common suburban product.

House in Umegaoka by Container Design

Architecture Monday

Coming upon this the cube house (that I visited couple of weeks ago) in Toronto is bound to launch some question marks into the air.  In the middle of a pretty industrial area, surrounded on many sides by busy roads and freeway bridges (though one side of this triangular property does face old-style connected houses), with nary a front yard or even mailbox… is this really a house?  Does someone even live there?

Yes, and yes.  And, while it looks in rough shape for its mere 26 years of age, and despite its very odd and rough location, it’s quite cool.

Built back in 1996 and inspired by Piet Blom’s complex of Cubic Houses in Rotterdam, it is only one of the gaggle of them originally planned buildings that was built.  As an aside, today its Rotterdam counterparts are super well known and popular and have become a tourist attraction in their own right.  But for what’s likely a myriad of reasons it, unfortunately, never took off here.  While the base is a bit inelegant, with awkward siding and windows below the cube, it still manages to create a nicely sheltered private balcony, leaves more of the site as open space, and creates an intriguing skyline.

But oh my, the interiors!  The pure cubistic form of the exterior belies the space within, as each 42’ cube is split into three floors.  And with each cube balancing on its point the space inside is decidedly sculptural, accentuated by the light from the corner windows.  This explodes to the extreme on the top floor in each cube, where the ceilings soar upwards to a luminous point.  It is not unlike how it would be living in the upper gallery Liebeskind’s addition to the Royal Ontario Museum!  (Though this house predates the ROM addition by some years…)

I really dig it, especially those dramatic upper floors.  There’s been a redevelopment proposal recently entered into the city for the property, and I really hope that the house will be moved and preserved rather than simply torn down.

The Cube House by Ben Kutner and Jeff Brown.

Architecture Monday

There’s something cool about rooms that blow away the corners.  FLW often did so in his houses, but it’s a fairly common technique that breaks down the confines of a room in a most peculiar way (especially given how accustomed we are to rooms having definite corners).  This little house takes it to a very nifty place, a square where all four of its corners can, through pocket sliding doors, be completely dissolved.

With a few more years planting and growth, each bit of the house could open into set of interconnected lush gardens (a hint of which is in the pictures below).

A small house that uses its neat concept to create something above the ordinary.

The None Angle House by Benoit Rotteleur Architecte.