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The Architectural Trio: Edition #10
There is a range of architecture on show in this week’s Architectural Trio, and despite each serving a different purpose each project responds sensitively and thoughtfully to its site and function. Once you start to explore the built environment, you begin to realise what an astoundingly vast profession architecture is. This variety is important, because whilst I’m sure an optimum house or office could be designed for the average human or company, most buildings look and behave differently. This is because personality impacts architecture, and as well as improving the appeal of a company or making a home more “homely”, it’s personality which makes the built environment so interesting.
The Cube, England, Hawkins\Brown
The Cube is a ten storey block of apartments in Shoreditch, London. It has the claim to fame of being the tallest building in Europe to utilise a cross-laminated timber structure. Along with steel and a reinforced concrete core, this structure allowed the designers to create complicated overhangs and cantilevers which enhance the views from each flat. It also allowed each flat to have three exterior walls which aid natural air flow and therefore comfort. A black brick grid stops the cedar cladding from dominating the facade and sympathetically blends the buildings with its more conventional neighbours. The result of such intelligent and creative design is a sustainable block of flats that will be comfortable for its occupants as well as recognisable and aesthetically pleasing.
Can Valls, Spain, Munarq
A farmhouse in Mallorca was reworked and extended in this project to change it into a studio and gallery for a local artist. She wanted two large spaces for creating and displaying her work, as well as high ceilings and north light which is essential for artists. The farmhouse was very run down when the project began, so it had to be almost totally overhauled. The walls were stripped back to their bare earth and straw, then replastered in brilliant white inside, with timber beams and other details left exposed. Fresh concrete was poured in the existing farmhouse and extension to smooth the floors, whilst a dry stone wall was constructed for the extension. Munarq retained just enough charm from the old building, such as a well in the courtyard and some of the original footprint and wall textures, whilst incorporating new materials, techniques and ideas to make the interior space suitable and successful. Can Valls seems tranquil, clean and authentic, a perfect environment for the client to produce her art.
House In Kai, Japan, MAMM Design
This house was designed for a family consisting of two small children and their parents. Their main request was for natural southern light to be maximised which was achieved by glazing the south facing wall which backs out onto the garden. From this point MAMM Design made hugely intelligent use of the space. In keeping with the two storey vernacular, they managed to seamlessly input a mezzanine “street” into the main space. This acts as a meeting place for the family, around which every activity occurs. It allows the parents to keep an eye on their children whilst cooking or relaxing, as well as stopping the feeling of seclusion that would have been felt if the rooms had been arranged over three storeys. I have never seen a house done in this way, although upon discovering the technique it seems a shame that it is not utilised more often. Of course in smaller plots it would not be possible, however it seems like a fantastic way of balancing personal privacy and encouraging community. The timber and white wall aesthetic that I find so appealing is present, and the natural light which reflects off the walls makes the space bright and expansive. It is obvious that MAMM Design have some innovative and intelligent architects, since House in Kai has been thoughtfully moulded around the needs of the client.