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The Architectural Trio: Edition #47
Welcome to the Architectural Trio. This week’s selection is certainly varied, with a cottage, stadium and education facility, and each of the projects appeal to me for wildly different reasons. Currently a lot of my time is being taken up with reformatting all the Barn21 articles for the new website. It’s a laborious process, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it. With that update out of the way, read on and enjoy the Architectural Trio!
Engineering Education And Research Centre, America, Ennead
This engineering building at the University of Texas seeks to display a range of structural techniques to aid students in their learning and inspire creativity. The Cockrell School of Engineering consists of two towers and a glass atrium in-between. Most of the smaller classrooms and labs are located in the towers, whilst the three storey atrium acts as a communal gathering space, encouraging students of different disciplines to mix and share ideas. To me this seems like a bright, energetic and exciting space, and I often longed for something similar at my university. Although the complex is clearly modern, the towers reference the traditional buildings on the campus with the use of local limestone and decorative metalwork. This metalwork theme is obvious in the glass block’s structure, an impressive multi-storey diamond grid. Walkways pass between the two towers beside the grid, I can only imagine how fantastic the view is. The roof structure also utilises intriguing engineering with an origami type pattern. There is no doubt that this building is visually busy, however I think that is an ideal atmosphere and aesthetic for a university building. I’m sure the lively atmosphere, engaging spaces and interesting architecture will encourage students to use the building, helping them to develop into the next generation of top quality engineers.
Mountain Cottage, Poland, HOLA Design
In contrast to the previous project, a mountain cottage should be cosy, tranquil and homely, and this project certainly ticks all those boxes. Situated on the shore of an artificial lake in Poland, Mountain Cottage references nearby pastoral houses whilst modernising the aesthetic. The building is deceptively large, containing a basement which facilitated a guest suite alongside three other bedrooms on the first floor. The living and dining space on the ground level seems perfectly proportioned so as to be cosy without being claustrophobic. Also, in the summer months it can be extended onto an exterior deck by opening the large glazed doors (when there are no sheep in the way, obviously). Traditional carvings have been used throughout the project, and whilst I can understand their relevance they don’t really appeal to me. On the other hand, I think the aspen shingles look brilliant. At first I wasn’t sure what the cladding was, however as you zoom into the photos the black painted shingles reveal themselves. I imagine the effect would be similar when approaching the cottage, adding a playful layer of intrigue. I have never seen the pattern before, and I may use it for my own projects in the future. I also like the contrast between the dark exterior and comfortable glow of the interior when the lights are on. The property is certainly a beacon in its rural surroundings, and the warmth and caring attitude of its designers definitely comes across.
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, America, HOK
With the Superbowl just around the corner there has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks regarding the architecture of American football stadia. From what I’ve seen it’s been generally negative, which is disheartening considering many of the new stadia cost over a billion dollars and many of them are partly funded by taxpayers’ money. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, based in Atlanta, is no exception, and it seems to be receiving a lot of hate. I’m going to buck the trend here on Barn21 because I actually like it. I think its bold and strong aesthetic works in the context of a sports arena, and I have certainly never seen anything like it before which makes it a novel and interesting intervention. The large overlapping panels reference folded wings since the stadium is the home of the Atlanta Falcons, and whilst I’m sure more sinuous curves would have been a stronger reference, I think that has been overdone and would not reflect the tough, aggressive nature of American football. There was some room for elegance in the design, with the closing roof using ETFE plastic “petals” which close like the aperture of a camera. Unfortunately this will probably only be appreciated in birds eye shots from helicopters, however this is perhaps relevant considering the stadium will host the 2019 Superbowl. Alongside developing a memorable aesthetic, sustainability is at the forefront of HOK’s design. The stadium is aiming for LEED Platinum certification from the US Building Council, and if successful it will be the first professional sports stadium to achieve the accolade. The more I discover about this scheme the more confused I become regarding its critics. It is a memorable and unique design that is no doubt viable in and suitable for its industry, as well as noble in its pursuit of sustainability and creative in its engineering solutions. Everyone, get off its back please.