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The Architectural Trio: Edition #36
This week’s Architectural Trio is one of the best in months in my opinion. The projects are diverse and unique, with impressive creativity on display. This week the Cordoba article should be up, as well as an anniversary of a particular architectural event that’s shaped how I approach architecture as a subject. I hope you enjoy these wonderful buildings, and have had a fantastic week.
Vitsœ Headquarters, England, Vitsœ
Best known for their manufacture of Deiter Rams’ furniture and storage systems, British company Vitsœ have recently completed their new headquarters, which reflects their ethos of flexibility and modularity. Designed by an in-house team with collaboration from a yacht designer, architects, academics and timber fabricators, the building is inspired by racing yachts and engineering from the Victorian Era, such as the Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton. Timber features heavily in the building, alongside steel for the sawtooth roof. The former was selected due to its sustainability credentials, warmth and tactility, and the ease with which a timber frame can be extended or altered due to its simple connections. North European Beech was chosen specifically as it has been the timber of choice for the company’s furniture since its inception, and the hardwood facilitates smaller cross sections in the laminate-veneer lumber (LVL) frame than more commonly used softwood. Through the use of a large open internal space the company encourages collaboration between different departments. This area receives abundant natural light from North facing skylights and a large window at one end which permits both views out for employees and views in for passers by. Contained within the building are a number of departmental zones such as research and development, assembly and software development, however other more novel spaces also exist such as a museum. It is clear how much functional and long term thought has gone into this design, and the outcome seems to be a resounding success. The best way to sum up the responsible and sustainable approach behind this headquarters is to end with this quote from Vitsœ’s managing director Mark Adams, “Intentionally the building will be unfinished – and it is unlikely that it will ever be finished – because it is alive and learning as it responds to an ever-changing world”.
Red Brick Art Museum, China, Dong Yugan
Red Brick Art Museum is a celebration of the almost limitless potential of the simple brick. The non-profit art museum holds pieces from collectors Yan Shijie and Cao Mei, and is located in North-East Beijing. Whilst the building has a concrete structural frame, the architect has used the brick as an aesthetic device to create textured surfaces, interactive elements such as stairs and seating, and perforations that play with light to engage and intrigue visitors. The strong uniformity of the cladding system pleasingly contrasts the organically formed shanty shops of the surrounding area, with the only alteration of the brick being a change of colour to distinguish the museum from landscaping elements. Continuing the theme of the building itself, the traditionally arranged garden uses black bricks for novel elements that encourage visitors to explore. Brick often gets labelled as boring and samey, especially in the UK where it features heavily. Hopefully the Red Brick Art Museum can play a part in detaching this stereotype from the material, because when brick is used creatively the results can be astounding.
Spring Ranch, America, Feldman Architecture
This Californian holiday home gives me major house envy. Nestled at the base of a hill on a walnut farm, it provides a space for three generations of a family and their guests to relax and come together. The defining organising feature of the property are three rammed earth walls which follow the curve of the hill. From them protrude stone walls which further organise social and private areas. The beautiful, layered rammed earth is complemented by timber beams and black steel which have been combined wonderfully in the structural beams and columns, as well as staircases and other elements. What makes this project even more impressive is that it has net-zero energy consumption, achieving a gold LEED certification. Extensive South facing glazing allows plenty of natural light to penetrate the interior and heat the rammed earth walls and concrete floors, which act as thermal masses. To stop overheating from the high midday sun overhangs and external blinds shade the property. On top of this, a geothermal heating and cooling system can provide optimum thermal comfort and photovoltaic panels on the roof generate electricity. This house and its surroundings are equally spectacular in their own way, I would love to be able to sit out (or in) and take in the views of either.