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The Architectural Trio: Edition #51
As my time in Spain approaches its end, I'm bringing you another Architectural Trio. This week features projects across the whole spectrum of architecture, from a pavilion in Bruges to a high-class hotel in Hong Kong. Also featured on Barn21 this week, an in depth look at Barcelona's old new Art Nouveau gem, Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, and an article highlighting my current top five architecture firm websites. Have a wonderful Sunday, and enjoy the architecture.
Trienniale Bruges Pavilion, Bruges, SelgasCano
Contrast is a powerful tool in architecture, and when used correctly it can harbour fantastic results. This is absolutely the case with SelgasCano's Bruges Triennale pavilion. Situated on the city's Coupure canal, it acts as a sunbathing spot that the architects hope will "bring people together in unexpected spots". The bulbous floating structure is typical of the practice, having constructed a similar pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in 2016. Formed of two yellow end decks connected with a translucent vinyl and steel tunnel, the Trienniale Bruges Pavilion looks nothing like the surrounding quaint canal-side houses. However, as a temporary installation it undoubtedly works, attracting attention and drawing people inside to explore a new pink perspective of the surrounding urban fabric. SelgasCanos are experienced pavilion creators, and their interventions are always thought-provoking and encourage chance meetings and debate.
Chuon Chuon Kim Kindergarten, Vietnam, Kientruc O
In my opinion one of the best ways to engage children in their surroundings is to provide a dynamic variety of experiences, stimulating their intrinsic curiosity and sense of exploration. The Chuon Chuon Kim Kindergarten, Kinentruc O's second kindergarten in the city, embodies this theory. Formed of a series of gabled masses, which the architects have compared to Lego Bricks, the broken down scale of the building is less intimidating to children and truly memorable. Bare brick is used in the walls, floors and ceilings due to its versatility. In places it forms solid planes, whereas at other times perforated planes facilitate natural ventilation and admit natural light into the spaces. Whilst the classrooms are relatively typical, communal and circulations areas are spacially dynamic, with unusual angles, bright colours and an interesting inside-outside blend. Since the classrooms are on different floors, vertical circulation plays centre stage in the scheme. Users can either traverse the levels on a wide cantilevered external staircase which adds a bold, sculptural aspect to the appearance of the building, or use the internal spiral staircase. Whereas light floods into the communal spaces and classrooms, the circulation core is dark, with sunlights spots puncturing the roof through perforations in the brick. I have no doubt this kindergarten will inspire and excite its students, intensifying their enthusiasm for learning and provoking wonder in the world around them.
The Murray, Honk Kong, Foster + Partners
Foster + Partners ooze sophistication in everything they do (including their website, which is on my top five), and this project is no different. Of course, one could argue this is easy when you're converting a prestigious former governmental building into a luxury hotel in one of the world's wealthiest cities. However, I disagree. Whilst many firms would be able to create a good building under these circumstances, Foster + Partners have managed to create a spectacular result, which is testament to their skill. The uniform, gridded facade is a sight to behold in itself, and it looks particularly impressive in low light, like a glowing, geometric gemstone. The four storey arches at the base of the hotel also carry visual weight, with the architects intercepting them with pedestrian and vehicle ramps that are partially clad in platinum gold stainless steel. The junctions between these straight elements and the curves of the arches are striking and aesthetically pleasing; they remind me of the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi Restoration by OMA in The Trio Edition #16. Internally, use of the gold platinum stainless steel continues alongside other elegant, expensive materials such as marble. Foster + Partners know exactly how to create grand interiors without straying into extravagance. Since the building was originally completed in 1969, when cities were being planned almost exclusively for cars, it used to be surrounded by wide, busy roads. The architects have masterplanned the surroundings to reconnect the hotel front with the city, with landscaping being extended to create a public tai chi area. Glass walled rooms on the ground floor also offer views of the landscaping. Situated at the edge of Hong Kong's business district, The Murray will likely attract some very wealthy guests. With their design, Foster + Partners have captured the prestige embedded within the project and converted it into a sophisticated piece of architecture.