Photos: David Harrison
I am not sure Europeans really understand the desert or its architecture, and I am less certain that we understand American desert architecture. My assumptions, whether correct or not, suggest a good reason to take a closer look at the Rimrock ranch house designed by Lloyd Russell.
A steel portal frame, typical of an industrial shed, is clad on its roof, but not its sides, with profiled metal sheet. The construction creates what farmers in the UK call a Dutch Barn. A massive concrete up-stand- base on which the portal frame stands, suggests a cannibalised industrial shed. In this architectural scenario, we might refer to the canopy that is created as a climate break. Read more
Photos: David Boureau
There appears to be a belief in many quarters that concern themselves with matters educational, that new schools must be brightly, even outlandishly coloured, as a prerequisite to being suitable for children.
I suspect that bright colour is sometimes used to mask the lack of architecture, budget and possibly even teaching. It seems to say that children must immediately like their school environment otherwise they might not want to learn, irrespective of the teaching. Gaudiness, as a substitute for architectural rigour, seems like a subliminal softening-up of expectations for the quality the public domain in adulthood.
But with the Lucie Aubrac School in Paris, lessons in architecture, are interesting, rigorous and serious.
Images: Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion has, in the last eleven years, become one of architecture’s hot dates in London. This year, four years after their collaboration on the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei again collaborate marking London’s hosting of the games. The syrupy poignancy of the timing is what it is, but what of the pavilion?
Such is the stature of the previous designers of the pavilion that the show has inevitably become something of a muscle act. The culmination of this approach, abdominals, pectorals, and all, was arguably the 2008 pavilion by Frank Gehry. The year after, Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, and again in 2011 Peter Zumthor, kicked back against the creation of loud, powerful, architectural objects with something more subtle entirely. This year’s pavilion continues in the vein of this critique with a rummage through the bowels of pavilions past. Read more
On the edge of the Queulat National Park in Patagonia, Chile, creating an industrial water bottling plant posed an interesting architectural question for its designer: Panorama. The river, beside which the factory is located, is fed by glacial melt water whose purity is highly valued. But installing a factory by the river, for aesthetic considerations if nothing else, is not a matter to be taken lightly.
Similar facilities in or on the edge of national parks in the UK and elsewhere have produced ugly factories clad in crinkly tin, or profiled metal sheet, if you prefer, that at best are accepted as aberrations provided they feed the local rural economies in which they are located. Here however, the architects have tried to engage positively with the sensitive environment creating a striking intervention that in certain light, appears to melt into its environment. Read more
Photos: Ae 5 Architects
The M House by Ae 5 Architects raises questions of tradition and modernity in the Japanese town of Kaga City, Ishikawa. A ‘Kurra’ is a traditional Japanese warehouse and is a typological feature of the town – something like a barn as might be understood in western Europe. Every house in the town has a Kura. They are often positioned between the main house and the busy road acting as a privacy screen. This Kurra, like the traditional version, is carefully proportioned and has carefully positioned openings to safeguard the inhabitants privacy. Because its design has followed the traditional principles of layout, form and scale it fits into the town without creating architectural antagonism amongst its neighbours. Read more