TwerkITECTURE

Words by Laura Chan, lover of architecture (and a good twerk)

Barcodes on Buildings

image

'Barcode Hall', Lingang New City, China, by Meinhard von Gerkan, 2008

image

'Barcode Building', St. Petersburg, Russia, by Vitruvius & Sons Studio, 2007

image

Office Building in Middelburg, NL, by Hercuton

image

Barcode Building by Jan Timm

image

Law Courts in Barcelona, Spain, by BAAS

image

Barcode on Building in Coruña, Spain

image

Digital Beijing Building, China, by Studio Pei Zhu and Urbanus, 2008 (a barcode or digital circuit board?)

image

The N Building in Tokyo by Qosmo and Teradadesign (2010) has QR codes on its front facade that can be read by the phones of passersby, so they know what’s happening inside. 

Top of the World in a Topiary Tree

image

Photographer Erwan Fichou's project Miradors sees gardeners creating fun topiaries out of trees before coercing street pedestrians to stand on top of them.

image

image

image

Adding a playful slant to guerrilla urbanism.

I looked into the eyes of Joseph Rykwert

… And he looked right back at me, and smiled.  I hope he didn’t see a vacuous nothing as I tried for the life of me to remember who he was. 

image

What a guy.

It happened just before noon today, when I was on Oxford Street - dying to use the facilities. Even though there were 100 loos in closer proximity, I knew RIBA was the place to pee.

image

When a toilet sink looks like this (above), how can anyone bear to wash their hands in anything else? 

After satisfying said urge, my mind followed my feet’s natural ascension to the first floor gallery, within which The Brits Who Built the Modern World is exhibited.

I only had time to take in Big Norm’s and the European Space Agency’s take on living on the moon.

image

image

image

image

image

(Foster envisages a (dark) future living under moon regolith…)

… Back down the grand staircase (a dramatic backdrop where oft newly weds pose for photos) and there he was - Joseph Rykwert, architect/ architectural historian; a king amongst men. 

I just couldn’t place name-to-face, face-to-name.

He was sitting by the entrance, on the Barber Osgerby steel desk, with people milling around him, holding reflectors and taking his photo.

He paused to sign a book. Was it The Seduction of Place? The Necessity of Artifice? I just don’t know. He could have been anyone, but he wasn’t. He was the Royal Gold Medallist, there for his lecture on The Profession and the Art. And had I not been such an ignoramus, I could have been there now, listening.

image

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined, The Royal Academy

image

Sensing Spaces is about experiencing the power and the poetics of architecture”, says curator, Kate Goodwin. 

image

Expecting a lesson in architectural phenomenology, this is how far the £14 admission fee took me. 

image

Pezo von Ellrichshausen's huge pine platform, raised almost to ceiling height by four large pillars with internal spiral staircases, made the large gallery smell like deforestation. 

Emotion: Intrigue and desire to reach the top.

image

Elevated within the space for the first time, I could (almost) touch the historic detailing. 

Emotion: An onslaught of excitement, rapidly extinguished by restraint.

image

Kids can be architects, too.

Emotion: Hope.

image

People go mad for straws, especially when the likelihood of them poking you in the eye is high. 

Emotion: Mild pain superseded by sense of play.

image

Diébédo Francis Kéré knows that everyone loves a strong honeycomb structure.

image

image

Moving from a light-filled space to a dark Grafton Architects' designed one heightened my sense of enclosure. 

Emotion: Far from any children throwing unusually long straws; so placid, so calm.

image

My sense of inhabiting space, already heightened by trying hard not to bump into anyone in the tightly packed Kengo Kuma room, meant I missed the aroma infused within the tied bamboo structure. They were pretty, though, and provoked the girl next to me to break out into a James Blake medley.  

Emotion: Suddenly I’m hit!
Is this darkness of the dawn?
And your friends are gone.
And your friends wont come.
So show me where you fit.
So show me where you fit.

Other starring architects are Li XiaodongEduardo Souto de Moura, and Álvaro Siza (Siza did something amazing with reinforced concrete, but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you - the most poetic moment).

You’ve got until 6 April to see how these huge scale installations move you. 

You are my Candy, Girl

image

I was very excited to see this Alvar Aalto building in Helsinki this week.  

image

Nicknamed “The Sugar Cube”, Stora Enso is an important landmark in the cityscape, whose style has provoked controversy from the moment its foundations were laid. 

image

Completed in 1962, the white modernist exterior is beautiful in its repeated geometry. Looking upwards along its rear facade, I realised that each double line (above) denotes a floor.  

image

I wanted to climb onto this lower level roof and peer down the circular light shafts, but alas my shoes were too icy and I’m clumsy as fuck.

image

Built to replace the torn down Neo-Renaissance palace, Norrmén house by Theodor Höijer (below), Aalto’s dream structure expressing visual clarity and order could not be more different.

image

Sugar!

OhHoney Honey.

You are my candy, girl … And you got me wanting more.

The fine line between beauty and eyesore

image

Alexandra Road Estate is beautiful in its clever use of indoor and outdoor space, light and access routes. Its vast grey concrete mass was bound to cause waves. 

And cause waves it has - and still does.

image

Concrete is the Marmite of the built environment. These flats are highly desirable and are sold for a whole lotta coin, yet are deemed unappealing to buyers in the eyes of lenders, which means THEY ARE BOUGHT STRAIGHT UP WITH ££££££££££££££££££££££££

image

Designed in 1968 by modernist architect Neave Brown and located a stone’s throw away from that Abbey Road crossing (made famous when the Beatles traversed its zebra), the estate announces its presence in NW in its sombre horizontality, rising up to four floors. 

image

Mostly occupied by council tenants, who can buy their homes from the local authority after 10-year residency, privately-owned flats are selling for bucket loads, especially considering lenders are not providing mortgages on the estate. WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?

Because it is (wrongly) deemed to be an unattractive place to live due to its - yep, you guessed it - concrete!

I visited these two flats when they were on the market, and this is what I found:

image

This two-bed was bought by an architect seven years ago. With his wife, he raised two small children here (the eldest of which he named Neave), before deciding to move to the ‘burbs.

image

Sensitively restored and maintained, the architect preserved many original features, such as the internal moveable partitions and the timber stairs, adding LEDS under the treads.

image

Stencilled in multicoloured lettering beneath a light switch by the front entrance reads “HOUSE OF FUN” - a nice touch.image

On the market for £375K, the property was snapped up by a dogged buyer, and sure lover of concrete, for ‘significantly above asking price’.

image

Clearly, lenders have got it all wrong.

image

This flat (below) is on the market for £275K, a one-bed close to the railway line. It was bought three months ago by the current owner for £80K less… Mental, eh.

image

Just mental.

image

Note the kitchen’s original sliding cabinet doors and brown tiling.

image

Although only 500 sq ft, the flat felt bigger due to large glazing, opening out onto a south-facing balcony.

image

Oooh, say what, say what, say what?

thejogging:

mirror step, 2013
custom made mirror fixed to a concrete step
View high resolution

thejogging:

mirror step, 2013

custom made mirror fixed to a concrete step

(via yearinreview)

Your inspiration?

"Drugs and nudism", says architect Andrés Jaque.  

imageimageimage

Now, this doesn’t at all mean that Jaque is a nudist on crack, but his design for House in Never Never Land is born from the “extreme bliss" garnered from the hedonistic Ibizan landscape, upon which its foundations lie. 

image

Like an “impromptu party in the sunset”, the house excites- what with its angled stilts, visible cross-bracing and interconnecting volumes at different levels (arranged in a seemingly ad hoc way, to preserve the existing trees).

image

Concrete, metal and glass has never looked so cray.

image

I’m taking off my blouse.

image

And now my socks.

image

While gurning.

image

Gurn, gurn, gurn.

The Wonderfully Warped Mind…

…of Philip Dujardin is something else, I tell you.

image

No ordinary photographer, Dujardin captures buildings with his lens (mostly in his hometown of Ghent in Belgium), then on his computer, dissects and pastes sections of these images together to form fractal and surreal structures. 

image

In playing with form and materiality, Dujardin produces imaginative new spatial configurations that he calls ‘fictions’.

image

image

image

image

imageimageimage

Oscillating between reality and fiction, this artist-photographer’s urban collages call for a more creative city with built structures much like Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67 in Montreal (below).