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

Architecture Monday

Well, since I turned on the BIG tap last week, I might as well open the floodgates… because there was no way I was going to Denmark and not visit as many of their projects as I could.  And visit many of them I did!  I was especially excited to experience this one, for it was one of the first architecture posts I shared on this blog:  The Maritime Museum of Denmark.

To give a brief recap of what makes this building so amazing is that it is built not exactly inside of, or around, or even over a historic dry dock, but in a way that it becomes a part of it.  Leaving the existing and impressively thick concrete walls of the former “bathtub for ships” in place, the museum wraps around it underground while also crisscrossing the dock’s open-air empty space through a series of ramps and bridges.  In this way you can walk right up and experience it, with nothing needing to be built near it that could hide it.  The main path to Kronborg, the Hamlet Castle is even a bridge that crosses right over it.


Inside, the museum unfolds in a continuous series of ramps through exhibition spaces that both flank the outside of the drydock as well, as noted before, ramping diagonally through the void.  (As an aside, the exhibits were well done as well!)

I love (and this is probably no surprise at this point) all the great texture and patina that comes with the re-use of something old like this, with many moments of what becomes rich decoration when ensconced in or traversed by the new architecture.  Or how something like the stepped base of the dry dock is used as bonus seating.

As a bonus, the graphic design for the museum is excellent.  Check out the admission/entry tag, where the flap you use to slip it onto your shirt is a match for the building itself!

Superbly done.  I was giddy to visit and the architecture did not disappoint.  That the museum component was also made for a splendid day.  Definitively check it out if you’re in the area.

The Maritime Museum of Denmark by BIG Architects.

Architecture Monday

There’s something wonderful about brick.  There’s a comfort within its heft, and there’s a richness that comes from its perfect combination of roughness, irregularity, and the deep colours of the materials used to make them.  It’s also a material that is familiar, one of our earliest and longest lasting building materials.

So when you have a chance to go hog wild with brick… go for it.

This museum of roman antiquities does so with spectacular effect.  It’s nearly all brick – inside and out – creating a sensuous backdrop for the exhibits within.  Built over and protecting a pristine archeological excavation (and providing access for the public to view it), and adjacent to further ruins next door, the brick forms evoke their ancient architecture while remaining decidedly contemporary.

There’s a lot to love about this:  the high-arched hall that forms its spine, the mezzanines of galleries that line its side, a multitude of surprising and creative alcoves and atriums to discover, the intimate crypts below, and the finely tuned beams of light that perfectly highlight the beauty and mottled colours of all that brick.

Good stuff.  A bold design that grabs the eye and alludes to its contents and the ruins nearby without succumbing to being a copy, all while wrapped in those delicious layers upon layers of brick.

The National Museum of Roman Art by Rafael Moneo