MAR

House in Uleta by Roberto Ercilla – Miguel Ángel Campo.

Photos: Roberto Ercilla – Miguel Ángel Campo.

The Roman God Janus, after whom the month of January was named, was the God of beginnings and transitions. He is usually depicted as having two faces, looking in opposite directions towards the beginning and the end.

This house reminds me of this depiction. On the one side it is part of a luxury housing estate and clearly fits that category, whilst on the other hand it faces an industrial site and so takes ideas for its form from that view.

The architects see this as a critique of the unsatisfactory nature of the luxury housing round about, but a case could be made that the design provides a penetrating insight into a sense of unease about the site and the neighbours. Read more

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FEB

Surprising cities: Stencilled street art by Evol.

Photos: Evol.

The street artist Evol, who works in Germany, is on to something with his compelling stencilled interventions. That he uses images of an anonymous and generally unattractive kind of architecture on items of street furniture that, in themselves are anonymous, makes us think about both the architecture, and our propensity to clutter-up our streets with unattractive services enclosures.

Evol breaks society’s tacit agreement to overlook ugliness providing the object remains useful.

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JAN

Firm family footings: Family House, Zurich by Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler Architects.

Photos: Valentin Jeck.

On a steep site outside of Zurich, Switzerland, sits this family house designed by Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler Architects. It is set on a heavy concrete plinth presented almost as a rocky outcrop from the mountain itself. The tactile qualities of this concrete spring from what is essentially the dubious workmanship in the casting process, but that would be miss the point. Rather than drive-out the human vagaries in the process of making, this project embraces them, at least in the concrete. Read more

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JAN

God and the detail, it all adds up: 20 by 20 House, Calera, Chile by Felipe Assadi + Francisca Pulido.

Photos: Assadi and Pulido.

In the 20 x 20 House, designed by Felipe Assadi and Francisca Pulido, that Miesian maxim: “God is in the detail”, seems to resonate.

There is arguably a religious zealotry when the dimension of a ceramic tile is allowed to dictate the dimensional grid of every aspect of an entire building, producing a sort of cosmological map of the architect’s entire universe. The approach, once popular amongst minimalists, fell out of favour sometime after the point when every talentless architect on the planet used it as a justification to produce the most tedious and nauseating buildings imaginable.

Thankfully, Assadi and Pulido who worked with Trinidad Schonthaler have managed to produce an exciting architectural expression that is both crafted and creative. The architecture is developed on a 20 x 20 inches three dimensional grid that is applied to and is part of every aspect of the building. Inside and outside!

In receiving a very strict brief from the client, the architect found comparative freedom to design by imposing the even more rigid tile grid…

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DEC

Oscar Niemeyer.

Photo: National Cathedral of Brazil.

One of Brazil’s most famous sons, and perhaps the last great Modernist, Oscar Niemeyer, has died aged 104. From Rio de Janeiro he was born in 1907, graduated in the mid 1930s and worked until well after his 100th birthday. As a life long communist he was forced into exile in 1964 when his country was taken over by a military dictatorship. He moved to France but his work took him all over the world. He returned to Rio in the 1980s.

He planned the city of Brasilia and designed many of its key buildings including the National Cathedral, the key ministries, and the National Museum of Brazil amongst many others. He also designed much of its housing. Brasilia is now a Unesco World Heritage site, and is the only modern city to be afforded such recognition. Read more

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