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The Architectural Trio: Edition #35
Another week, and another trio of stunning, inspiring buildings for your delectation. Alongside this article, the other post from this week highlights the storytelling of photographer Yao Li in his images of The Exhibition Hall of Crime Evidences, China. I have some exciting plans for this coming week’s posts following my trip to Córdoba the weekend just gone, as well as an interview, which I’ve never done before. Keep checking back for those, and enjoy this week’s Architectural Trio.
Holmen Aquatics Centre, Norway, ARKÍS Architects
This swimming pool and sports complex makes use of a green roof to extend the recreation space from a nearby beach and provide uninterrupted views of the Oslo fjord. The complex appears to be a glazed box with a separate slatted facade that seems to float whilst wrapping the glass element. However, internally timber and concrete walls trace the line of the external cladding. This treatment allows some natural light to penetrate the swimming hall whilst retaining privacy and a comfortable sense of enclosure, alongside linking the interior and exterior aesthetic. Since this project is a new build, the sloping green roof replaces the lost green space whilst adding an interesting feature in the lookout, fulfilling the job of architecture to improve lives with deliberate and thoughtful interventions.
São Salvador Cemetery Toilets, Portugal, M2.senos
Vying with the toilets at Rancho El Descanso from The Architectural Trio #33 for the title of the most charming toilet block is this bold, tiled pavilion in the Ílhavo municipality of Portugal. The local council asked the architects to replace the old toilets, which were unnecessarily large and hid the chapel from view when one stood in the cemetery. The firm state that they don’t work in styles, instead they seek to “understand what’s wrong and then look for an opposite image”. This approach is evident in the design, which elegantly solves a number of problems. The form of the building maintains a low profile to maximise views of the chapel, whilst its sloped roofs reference its neighbour and facilitate skylights to naturally light the interiors. In my opinion the use of green tile was a stroke of genius, alongside being perfectly suitable it really makes this building memorable and different. The tiles relate to the building’s use, the chapel’s facade and the cemetery’s marble gravestones, and the forest green tone matches the surrounding greenery whilst pleasingly contrasting the chapel. The decisive geometric cuts into the mass are also satisfyingly simple from an architectural point of view. Which do you prefer, Rancho El Descanso or São Salvador? I can’t decide…
Tianjin Binhai Public Library, China, MVRDV
Moving from one extreme to the other, this huge public library in Tianjin, China, is designed to resemble an eye. Despite this somewhat puzzling and uneasy basis for the design, there is no doubt that the library looks like an incredible place to experience. The pupil of the eye contains an auditorium, whilst sinuous floor to ceiling bookshelves wind around the five storey atrium. On the exterior, these layers of the shelves protrude from the glazed wall to create a semi transparent facade. Alongside the vast atrium, meeting rooms, lounge areas and offices have been pushed to the periphery of the building. Despite MVRDV detailing access to all the shelves, many are currently unreachable in reality due to the removal of some upper access rooms, a decision taken by the local team against the advice of MVRDV. This is a big blot on the project, and what’s more infuriating is that it seems to have been done only in the interests of speed. Rushing something that should last for decades or even centuries is a horrifically short sighted decision, and I can only hope that in this case over time alterations can be made to fully realise MVRDV’s vision. Despite this, the scheme remains staggering and I’d love to visit it.