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The Architectural Trio: Edition #26
On the eve of the beginning of semester two, my final project before graduation, I’ve found some brilliant architecture. I’ve used this week to organise myself and sort things out before all my time is taken up with the project, which is to design a bereavement centre for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. As always I’ll try to write some articles alongside the university work, however I can’t promise regular uploads. I would like to revive the project journal for the bereavement centre, depending if it’s going well, due to the live nature of the project. This means, unlike my other university work, the client is real, and the building will exist in the future, however unfortunately to the designs of a professional architect instead of one of the students here at Liverpool University.
The Caswes House, Belgium, TOOP Architectuur
The flat landscape in which it sits has inspired the low profile of this house, which is located in a small Flemish town called Westouter. In my opinion one of the most interesting aspects of the design is the material choice. At first glance, the whole house seems to be faced in timber, however upon closer inspection it becomes clear that one volume is made of concrete with timber formwork marks mirroring the actual timber cladding of the other volume. This decision intrigues me, and I would love to know why the architects went for it. I definitely think it is successful, as it adds a memorable feature in the design. A chunk of the geometric volume has been removed in order to create a patio, separate the living and sleeping spaces and bring light into the interior. As a designer, it is very satisfying when a small change makes a lot of positive difference, and it is often the simplest moves that are the most appropriate.
MA House, Mexico, Cadaval & Solà-Morales
MA House seems to be very complex, however by looking at the plan everything becomes clear. The weekend home for a couple in a town South of Mexico City consists of three pavilions which are linked by two patios. The reason behind the complexity of the aesthetic is the angles which are involved, with acute angles enclosing sharp corners and obtuse roof slants. Whilst the architects could have played it safe and produced this building as a standard U-shaped plan with perpendicular geometry, their bold decision to create a more ambitious design has paid off. It is unlikely this house would be as impressive with a more typical form. I particularly like the use of solid rock walls, which reference the nearby mountains, whilst the shear monolithic concrete roof is beautifully exposed. My favourite part of this house, however, is the plan. It encourages outdoor living with the patios, and the spaces have been cleverly arranged to maximise views out to nature and the mountains. I can imagine walking around the shaded patios and interiors in bare foot on a hot humid day, enjoying the cooling effects that the design creates.
The Thread, Senegal, Toshiko Mori
I think this is the first project I have featured from Africa, and it is certainly worthy, since it has won a 2017 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. The centre is multi-programmatic, with uses including a gathering space, children’s play gym, library and residency for local artists. It was created using local materials and techniques such as a bamboo structure, thatch and compressed earth bricks. Many sustainable approaches have been considered, with perforations in the walls aiding air flow, heavy shading provided by the undulating roof and rainwater collection which is used for irrigation by local women in the long dry season. The centre is supposed to encourage unity between the twelve tribes that collaborated to build it alongside the architect and international charities. As impressive as the roof is, my favourite part of this design is the broken tile flooring. It looks cool and glossy, and uses different tones to mark different areas. As an architect, it is projects as thoughtful and successful as this that you aspire to create, it shows the true value that an architect can bring to the lives of a community.