There’s lots to love about this school in India, not the least of which is the tantalizing oval form, made of local limestone blocks that blend so seamlessly into the landscape on which it sits. Add to that the beautiful basket weave pattern of brick that tops it off to create a large rooftop patio – sweet in its own right but if you look carefully you’ll see that the screen isn’t level all the way around, subtly sweeping upward to great effect. And the blue tile of that roof patio is a fun little touch.
The brick weave also does double duty by accelerating the wind through the venturi effect, helping to cool the courtyard in the extremely hot locale. Likewise, the thick limestone and mortar do their duty in this regard by creating a thermal mass that absorbs the heat throughout the day and keeping temperatures within the classrooms manageable without need of mechanical support. Rounding out the trifecta, the clerestory windows along the back do their own double duty to illuminate without glare as well as let the hot air rise and escape.
This is an architecture of a place, for a place, and that makes it top notch work.
Nope, that’s not a typo. We’re talking toilet paper tonight. Specifically, we’re talking about finishing our business with clear cut forests. Think of what level of impudent boors we must be to take a glorious tree, the marvelous gift to us from mother nature and the gods above, and all that tree provides… making oxygen, sequestering carbon, fixing nitrogen, distilling water, accruing solar energy as fuel, making complex sugars and food, creating microclimates, providing habitat, material for shelter, changing colors with the seasons, and it self-replicates… take that and knock it down to wipe our asses with it.
Let’s not do that, shall we. Let’s not be that type of people.
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.
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.”
Reminiscent of my own attempt at a visualization, here’s a great one that shows just how remarkably thin our atmosphere really is… the right stack is the Kármán line at 100km (62mi) where space begins:
With a bonus representation of about how high orbital vehicles are, at about 300km!
Adaptive reuse can always be such a delight, and this is no exception! A ginormous former postal service mail sorting warehouse turned into a huge new combo of shops, restaurants, and offices, with a huge flexible music venue and topped off by an even huger green roof, complete with urban farm!
The strategy is a cool one, cutting away large sections of flooring and roof to create three large atriums capped by translucent glazing, each one named for the sculptural stair within that joins the two levels plus garden roof: X, O, and Z. The patina laden character of the warehouse remains on display, especially through the old painted columns that still retain their wear and tear as well as identification markers, all coexisting nicely with the more sleek glass and steel additions. Not to mention that grand rooftop garden.
I dig this kind of project, where super-solidly built buildings – whose construction feels like it can last another thousand years – and, rather than demolishing them, reuses them by taking advantage of that solidity in creative ways, as was done here through new openings and amenities that the solid structure could easily handle. And voila, a whole new venue ready for use without debris and energy use of tearing the whole thing down and starting over. Great stuff.
It’s not quite a hobbit hole… but it is an underground house. One that, with its sunken courtyard, perhaps has an even more dramatic entry than a simple round door in the side of a hill.
How this came to be is kind of fun: the owners enjoy hang gliding and from that vantage point gave a lot of thought of how the house would appear from the air. Also, they didn’t want to cut down too many of the avocado trees on the property, and who could blame them? Avocadoes are awesome. Hence, the buried house.
Now, it’s not 100% buried, for one façade does indeed get exposed, with a slope partially carved away to reveal the house just like that hobbit hole front door. Between that face and the entry sub-subterranean courtyard, coupled with its narrow and linear layout and a few choice skylights, there’s plenty of light despite its buried nature. If the slope wasn’t there, I think it would’ve worked equally well (and I might even have preferred it this way) with two sunken courtyards. Definitively very cool how the very green roof is an extension of the field, littered with wildflower bushes and, of course, those avocado trees!
Very nice, a way of inhabiting the field rather than perching on it, living in the soil just as the nature around it.
Mmmm, it’s been a while since I featured something with rammed earth, and here we go! But this new distillery and hotel goes above and beyond. Nearly all of the materials used to build are sourced from the property itself, from the earth in the walls to recycled and reclaimed wood, stone, and more. And then it goes even further, fully embracing a hand-crafted nature for everything from the rafters to the awnings to the furnishings and more.
While completely regular (and even symmetrical) the building feels a bit labyrinthian but in a good way, as these twists and turns are filled with connections. Every room or courtyard participates in multiple dialogues between spaces of the building and, especially, with the surrounding landscape. Here the rammed earth and reclaimed materials really shine, further tying the space to the vistas of the land in which it sits.
Being a “destination hotel”, it’s no surprise there’s an air of theatricality to it all, with the grand vistas punctuated with artwork and centered around the large mezcal press. But it is theatricality that is handled most well. Great stuff.