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The Architectural Trio: Edition #17
Since finishing university for summer, this week’s Architectural Trio is the first that I have been genuinely excited about. Each project is very different however they are all suitable and responsive to their context, settling brilliantly into their location. This week I have been reading a book about Elon Musk, the billionaire who cofounded Paypal and now owns (he is the primary stakeholder) Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. Whilst not directly related to architecture, the book raises some very interesting and exciting points regarding the future of the broad technology sector. Since architecture is related to pretty much everything, especially progression and accompanying future technologies with the built environment, I would recommend the book for architects. With that advert out of the way, lets get on with this week’s Trio.
MeCri Museum Extension, Switzerland, Matteo Inches
This museum/gallery extension creates a new space in which to hang art works, complementing the old house nearby which was converted into the MeCri Museum by the same architect two years ago. It is a subtle and beautifully lit building that mimics the form of the local architecture. The steeply pitched roof creates a lofty, welcoming interior, whilst allowing use of Maggia Granite as the external cladding. The external walls are made of a concrete aggregate with a rough texture, and they extend out from the building around the border of the gallery site to define a courtyard. The architect has said “as the old stone walls degrade over time the concrete boundaries will stand in their place”. Small windows allow hanging space to be maximised on the internal walls, whilst a strip of glazing along the centre of the roof admits natural light to create a “mystic atmosphere” according to Inches. The creative use of stone in this building is exquisite, with different types combining beautifully into a sensitive and understated whole. The contrast between the smooth roof and interior against the rough aggregate is delightfully tactile, and the heavy, thick walls seem reassuringly solid and protective of the precious artwork inside.
The S House, Israel, Pitsou Kedem
This large house is laid out over three extensive floors in the Herzliya Pituach district of Israel, an affluent beachfront area. The most striking aspect of the house is the lightness of the supporting structure which carries the seemingly heavyweight concrete upper floor. Nowadays, millions of buildings make use of the miracle properties of concrete and steel so it is easy to forget how incredible the two materials are. The S House’s ground floor steel structure is strong enough to support the solid concrete upper storey on relatively infrequent slender columns. It is crazy that this is possible, and a credit to modern engineering. Having recently used concrete on a university project, I particularly like this project’s tie-marked concrete panels. They look smart and clean in their setting against the blue Israeli sky, and marry pleasingly with the other elements of the house. The slender black steel fenestration is also a favourite of mine which I have used frequently in my university projects. For me, I would find this house too large to live in, however obviously each client has their own desires. The architect has created a statement home with The S House that shows off the mind blowing possibilities of modern engineering and material science.
The Crescent, India, Sanjay Puri
This small property developer’s office is situated on the intersection of two roads, with its form creating a memorable sculptural landmark to advertise the company. This project is one of the few where I think weathered steel works well. It is bright and fiery in the harsh Indian sun, and the uniformity of the tone and panel dimensions stops the material detracting from the engaging wedge form. The crescent shape responds to the path of the sun, aiding prevention of overheating by blocking southern sun and accepting northern light. A pond in the centre of the u-shaped plan also helps to create a cool microclimate around the building. At the back of the building, a slice has been cut into the structure to create a grass courtyard that the director’s office looks out onto. The Crescent was one of the first buildings that I came across when researching this week’s trio, and I immediately knew I was going to include it. It’s wacky form is striking and exciting, however the architect hasn’t just done this for the sake of it. The shape of the building is logical and intelligent in controlling solar gain, admitting light and controlling the privacy of different spaces. This is the type of building I aspire to creating when I qualify, a little bit different to the norm, creative, clever, sustainable and visually engaging.