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The Architectural Trio: Edition #3
This week the standard of architecture had returned to its engaging and diverse best after last week’s underwhelming selection of buildings. I was actually spoilt for choice, and as a result this week’s post will feature a fourth building as a special mention. Writing this series is helping me to realise which architectural qualities appeal to me personally, as well as countries I aspire to design in and which building types I favour. Right, onto the buildings…
Maison Terrebonne, Canada, La Shed Architecture
This house sits on the foundations of a demolished 1990s bungalow, and references it’s primary feature – split levels. There are 3 levels, the first containing a small office and lobby, the second the main living spaces, and the third the master bedroom. I am fond of many of the small details found in this property, such as the brilliant contrast between the black glazing frames and bright white walls. The central volume does not reach the ceiling, allowing natural light to pass over the top of it and improve ambient lighting conditions in the open living area. The timber floors and stairs compliment the white walls, whilst the glass bannisters and railings are almost invisible, so as not to detract from the strong axial lines. The exterior of the house is clad in cedar, which will fade to blend into the surrounding woodland in the future. In my opinion this house is an open and minimal architectural delight.
King Street Live/Work/Grow Project, Canada, Susan Fitzgerald
Also located in Canada, however wildly different in design, Susan Fitzgerald’s building provides her family with a residence, flat and office. The plot is large, and when viewed from above you can see that there are two buildings joined by a walkway. The offices are located on the ground floor, sitting at either end of a courtyard and opening out onto the street. A side staircase from the front facade leads up to the main living spaces which are on the first floor, with the master bedroom on the top floor. I particularly like the use use of black corrugated metal, which helps the contemporary structure to blend in with its neighbours. Also, the central courtyard allows plenty of natural daylight into the property, and planters on the floor create a pleasant environment in which vegetables can be grown. To me the presence of greenery in architecture is very important, since nature has many benefits to health, wellbeing and of course wider sustainability. Making a building as complex as this work on a relatively small site must have been very complex, however in my opinion Fitzgerald has succeeded in creating spaces that work in both a professional and familial sense.
Saint-Victor-Sur-Loire Leisure And Services Centre, France, Link Architectes
This centre houses a cafe, snack shop, toilets and ticket office for boat tours, replacing a messy bunch of buildings that used to serve each of these functions individually. It is painted white to visually couple with the nearby rescue centre, as well as appear bright and clean in the southern French sun. The symmetrical facade is ordered and striking which appeals to me. Also, its voids and masses each serve a different function, demonstrating the consideration that has been applied to the design to make it aesthetically pleasing as well as functionally strong. The only feature which breaks the symmetry is the glazing for the ticket office, drawing the eye towards this particular spot will advertise the boat tours, perhaps increasing revenue. Larch plywood has been used in conjunction with concrete and glazing to maintain simplicity throughout the building, whilst a rooftop garden acts as a viewing platform.
An (Incredibly Frustrating) Special Mention: Tamedia Extension, Switzerland, Shigeru Ban
When I saw the thumbnail for this building (the first image), I was stunned. The craftsmanship in the timber joints and lightness of the space thoroughly impressed me, even the cut pebble flooring seems like the perfect choice to me. After I began to read more about the building, an extension to the headquarters of Tamedia (a top Swiss media company) I became increasingly sure I was going to include the project in this week’s Architectural Trio. However, I then came across images of the exterior… I don’t understand how a building that is so beautiful on the inside can be so completely neglected on the outside. The facades are dull and flat, and seemingly no effort has been made to show off the incredible interior through openings or transitions. After finishing my exploration of the Tamedia Extension I was left hugely disappointed, it had so much potential.