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The Architectural Trio: Edition #44
After a bumper Architectural Trio last week, this edition was always going to struggle to follow it. However, whilst perhaps more understated and less colourful, this week’s three buildings are also exemplary demonstrations of how to create meaningful architecture. Due to another commitment which I will update you on in the coming weeks, no other posts went up on the site this week. So sit back, relax, and scroll to explore the Trio.
Cloaked House, Portugal, Ernesto Pereira
This humble home hides amongst the trees on its verdant site. It is formed of two concrete slabs which are separated by a glazed wall to make the most of views over a nearby valley and the surrounding nature. The greenery and building work together from a sustainability standpoint, with the dense layers of leaves minimising overheating in summer, whereas when the trees are bare in winter sunlight can enter the property to provide passive heating. The form of the house respects the surrounding environment, and the ground floor slab contains holes to allow trees to penetrate it. The general open plan nature of the interior makes it feel spacious and airy despite being only one storey tall, whilst two timber volumes in the living space and bedroom provide a pleasing counterpoint. In fact, timber plays an important role in giving the manmade structure a softer organic side, with framing, structural columns and the aforementioned boxes using the material. Ernesto Pereira is one of my favourite architects and I am inspired by his refined and elegant aesthetic. With Cloaked House, he has not disappointed.
Cloud House, Mexico, ARQUIDROMO
I do not feel 100% convinced by this project, however I had to include it solely for that photo; it looks like a spaceship has landed in Monterrey. Based on an angled plot, which is rare for inner city residential projects, the architects decided to make the most of the long, exposed side walls by creating a bold, strongly three dimensional form. Each volume is individually sized in response to its function, then slotted into the design which the architect likens to a cloud. Gaps in the junctions between the modules are filled by slit windows which bring natural light into the interiors of the private, inward facing property. In my personal opinion, where this scheme really falls down is in its connection to the street. The garage and entrance is totally disconnected from the white cloud, so much so that I was unsure if it was part of the same building. I appreciate that it is tricky to join elements at harsh angles, however I feel more effort should have been paid to unify the aesthetic. Despite this, there is no doubt that Cloud House is a memorable and interesting intervention in the Monterrey streetscape.
Westport Presbyterian Church Renovation, America, BNIM
Ravaged by fire in 2011, BNIM have renovated and reworked this church in Kansas City to create an engaging visual dialogue between its history and future. After the fire, only the limestone shell of the church remained. The architects have endeavoured to keep and expose as much of it as possible whilst introducing contemporary elements to modernise the spaces. The junction between old and new in this project is particularly pleasing, with the clean, white, light parts of the renovation contrasting the heavy, tactile stone of the original Romanesque revival building. Through the application of clerestory windows and skylights the interiors are awash with celestial light, some of the photos of which are stunning. Sensitively incorporating modern architecture within such a charged and important historical context must have been a huge challenge for BNIM, however they have risen to it with this beautiful and appropriate response.