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The Architectural Trio: Edition #25
Welcome to 2017 on Barn21. This year should be a big one for me as I’m finishing my degree in May, the first part of my architectural qualification. I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do for the second part of the year, but I have some options that I need to consider. Having finished my exams this week I now have a free week to relax before beginning semester two, so I’m trying to recuperate as much as possible. This week’s architecture is varied, however what links all the projects is their sensitivity to their location. I rejected a couple of projects that seemed impressive at first glance, although on closer inspection they seemed a little disjointed from their context. Let’s get going.
The Estrade Residence, Canada, MU Architecture
This week features a second appearance on Barn21 for MU Architecture, whose Nook Residence I featured in June last year (read about it here). Also located in Quebec, this five bedroom family home uses multiple volumes to step down the site’s slope. The offset masses facilitated the creation of multiple terraces, integrating the interior with the surrounding natural environment. Strong geometry and deliberate material choices contrast the different volumes, with stone on the lower levels and timber above. I am not normally that keen on black stained cedar, however in this instance I think it works against the rugged, light stone without overpowering the architecture. Internally the plan is quite open, and like the outside features a lot of timber which humanises and visually warms the spaces. MU Architecture are nailing site sensitive architecture right now, creating many impressive and thoughtful responses.
Tea House, China, Atelier Deshaus
This Shangai Tea House forms the end point of a stunning landscaped courtyard garden on a previously unused plot. Many aspects strike me about this pavilion which enhance its quality and its ethereal appearance. Firstly, the route is clearly considered, very much controlled and gloriously processional. The way the broken stone path winds through the garden to reveal the beauty of the pavilion close up is a tranquil introduction to the experience. Secondly, the structural and material decisions are all deliberate to enhance the lightness of the building. Having recently completed a project where the concept was lightness, I could’ve used this building as a precedent a few months ago (you always seem to find the best examples after you require them…). The steel is slender and sparse, and its colour blends into the shadowy, overcast garden. The thin cantilevers and suspended benches seem to float above the ground, whilst the glass melts the interior and exterior. When inside, ribbed glass within the envelope blurs the garden in the same way views at the edge of your vision blur, or steam rises to partially obscure the objects behind it. There is something intangible about this building, it is spiritual, gentle and elevated above the user. It serves as a comforting reminder that humans are actually pretty small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
House F, Israel, Pitsou Kedem
This family home sits 20km east of the city of Tel-Aviv in an upmarket neighbourhood. It is a modernist’s dream with smooth white walls, sharp angles and blocky masses stacked on top of each other. However, there is more to this house which elevates it above the level of typical modernism. In places, Pitsou Kedem have digressed from the mean to include novel features. For example, the slatted timber fence which sits at the entrance to the house. I am a big fan of this kind of semi-permeable pattern making due to its tactility, offering of changeable views, and lighting potential at night. Another intriguing material choice which is visible on the left hand side of the first image is line marked grey stone. It adds a organic angle to the design which contrasts and accentuates the sharply engineered home. One final point to note is the exquisite level of detail throughout the building; the chandeliers are wonderfully suited to the aesthetic and the joints between the glass panels are almost invisible. I have noticed a trend in the aesthetic of expensive Israeli homes which is impressive and sleek, however can sometimes lack joy. This project seems to balance the two harmoniously.