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The Architectural Trio: Edition #33
This week’s Trio was a challenge to pick, with nothing in particular jumping out at me apart from the first featured project. It’s strange how some weeks selection is simple and other weeks I struggle to find three projects that are worthy of appearance. Moving away from the Trio, this week on the Barn21 two other posts have featured. The first explores a wonderful winery project in Canada that uses its function and setting exquisitely to create beauty. The other post is a broad overview of a technology called blockchain, which has the potential to impact the world as significantly as the internet. Without further ado, here’s this week’s Architectural Trio…
Rancho El Descanso Toilets, Mexico, RE+D
Perhaps the most beautifully designed toilets I’ve ever seen, this block sits on an old family owned ranch South of Guadalajara in Mexico. Alongside providing the client’s request for the toilets, the architects have creatively designed a memorable and versatile event space on the roof. The tiered aesthetic is inspired by talud, a feature seen in Mesoamerican temples. This system allows the design to guide visitors down the sloped ground in a comfortable manner, and facilitates emphasis of the stunning views of the nearby lake and mountains. Mexico seems to be my architectural spirit land, as projects there consistently appeal to me. The stone walls of Rancho El Descanso are particularly successful in my opinion. At a distance they fade into the surroundings, accentuating the fresh greens of the flora, however close up their rich earthy tones and tactile texture become apparent. The sloped roof is also pleasingly striking, with its angular, rigid geometry being a memorable aspect in the building’s organic setting.
Villas Winterberg, Germany, Third Skin
In a completely different climate to Rancho El Descanso, but peculiarly with a similar form, Villas Winterberg is a cluster of ski villas in Germany. Their sloped roofs reference those found in their village context, whilst also shedding heavy snowfall. Whereas Rancho El Descanso was relatively open to the elements, the Winterberg Villas are much more sealed and contained in order to create a cosy living space. Whilst the white walls match the snow, the wooden panelling is a pleasing contrast that conveys the warmth of the accommodation. I also think the mirrored glass is a subtle yet thoughtful touch, providing a little privacy whilst also indicating the contemporary nature of the buildings.
Baltic Station Market, Estonia, KOKO Architects
On what seems to be “striking slanted roof week” of the Architectural Trio, the third project is a complex market renovation in Estonia with… you guessed it, striking slanted roof planes. The market was originally three limestone warehouses, which have now been unified with a connecting roof. As well as linking the warehouses, the roof juts out at points to create more covered space and add more depth to the facade. A number of different uses have been catered for in order to both attract visitors and capture the attention of those passing through to catch a train from the connecting station. The complex contains permanent interior store fronts and market stalls, terrace cafes on the first floor, temporary external stalls for smaller travelling sellers, and two public squares, Hommikuväljak for morning use and Õhtuväljak for the evenings. My favourite aspect of this design is its lighting. The yellow lights give a welcoming, warm tone to the extensive material palette of brick, timber and different types of metal. It also visually ties the wide array of spaces together, and acts as a subtle and pleasing backdrop to the hustle and bustle of the market.