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The Architectural Trio: Edition #4
This week’s Architectural Trio features projects from Sydney, Zurich and California. These three locations are very far from each other, and the fact the buildings can be included in one related post shows the huge impact of the internet in making architecture a globally linked phenomenon.
Oak Knoll Residence, America, Brandon Jørgensen
This house and guest wing is located around the vineyards and wineries in the Napa Valley, California. It was designed for a retired couple who wanted a space in which to show off their art collection and entertain guests. I am particularly impressed with the careful balancing of stone and cedar, which perfectly offset each other with the stone providing solidity and the timber softening the aesthetic. The architect included a lot of moveable glazing in order to make the most of engaging countryside views, and allow the occupants to open up spaces when friends visit. Jørgensen said “I think that the ability to see and move back and forth without much friction of walking up and down stairs or over thresholds immediately enhances our connection to the outdoors”, hence he ensured all transitions from interior to exterior are seamless and simple. In my opinion architects of the future must have a thorough knowledge of how to incorporate the existing natural area of each site into their buildings, since the last generation avoided this with horrible consequences.
Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park, Switzerland, Markus Schietsch Architekten
This elephant enclosure is located at Zurich Zoo, and can house up to ten elephants at a time. It contains a number of pools, one of which is glass walled, allowing visitors to see elephants swimming from an unusual and novel angle. The building reminds me of a tortoise shell that has been dropped on timber columns, playfully relating to the zoo. The roof is a gridshell structure, with prefabricated panels that were assembled on site before being bent into shape. Each rooflight is unique, so the enclosure lighting conditions constantly change, adding interest. The wooden spokes loosely resemble branches, which help the elephants feel at home and remain calm. In one of my own university projects I used a similar roof structure for a community art centre, however although I liked the design and thought it would create engaging lighting my tutors were not so keen.
Orama Extension, Australia, Smart Design Studio
This minimal concrete extension was added to a 19th century Sydney villa in order to adapt the property to the family’s lifestyle and extensive art collection. The villa was refreshed however its original charm maintained through the retention of the authentic fireplace and cornicing. The new extension is in stark contrast to the original property however somehow they work together due to the sensitivity and intelligence of the architect. The heavy minimalist extension offsets the bright white villa brilliantly, whilst the subtle touches of colour from the greenery and pool, as well as the exposed formwork, provide just enough interest to keep the extension from appearing brutal and monotonous. It has been said by observers that Tadao Ando would be proud of this design, which proves the quality of the design.