We continue our curiosity with bicycle art. Here is the latest installation by the activist Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. This piece is one of 21 works by Ai from 1983 to present that form the “Ai Weiwei Absent” exhibition, opened at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum at the end of October.
“Forever Bicycles” is made of 1,000 bicycles installed in a 10-meter high space in a moving, abstract shape to symbolize the way in which the social environment in China is changing.
Ai Weiwei is known for example for his cooperation with Swiss architects Herzog & Meuron as the consultant for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Birds Nest building.
Ai is prohibited from leaving Beijing and cannot attend the exhibition. In a Reuters article, Ai was quoted as saying: “This is the first time I’m having an exhibition of my art works in the wider Chinese world. I’m really happy that it can be exhibited in Taiwan, because recently it has not possible to have an exhibition in my own place of residence. I have been notified that I won’t be allowed to go -- that was the outcome of my application -- so right now I cannot attend. But my family members will attend.” - Bill Tikos
Predisposed as we are to loving all things that involve curving wood, natural light and minimalism, it is not surprising we fell head over heels in love with this exquisite chapel. It is made with 20 tons of unadorned wood and not a single nail or metal fitting.
It is called Capela Árvore da Vida- Seminário Conciliar de Braga — The Tree of Life Chapel at St. James Seminary in Braga, Portugal.
Built inside the existing seminary, the chapel was designed by architects António Jorge Cerejeira Fontes and André Cerejeira Fontes, with sculptural work by sculptor Asbjörn Andresen.
All three are with the Braga-based Imago, also known as Cerejeira Fontes Architects - Imago Atelier de Arquitectura e Engenharia. Andersen is a Norwegian sculptor, who lectures and works in Sweden, Norway and Portugal. The Cerejera Fontes brothers are both engineers and architects currently pursuing PhDs in Urban Planning.
Other participants in the beautiful chapel project include sculptor Manuel Rosa, painter Ilda David, the organ builder Pedro Guimarães, Italian photographer Eduardo di Micceli and civil engineer Joaquim Carvalho.
The chapel functions as an intimate prayer room, a place of quiet contemplation for those living in the seminary. Every detail of the structure and its adornments draws its origins from the Bible. Even the overall floor plan and structural solutions echo the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest.
There is an intimate and gentle connection between the outside world and the chapel itself, with an inviting, fluid pathway leading into the space, instead of a categorical doorway with a heavy, excluding door.
The structure resembles a hut, a boat, a honeycomb or a forest. The wooden slats — that also provide shelving for books — and the open ceiling allow light to play its magic at all times of the day. This is a time-lapse video of the building process here. - Tuija Seipell
All images sent to TCH exclusively by photographer Nelson Garrido.
Some city councils get it, others don’t. Tapping the creative talents of street artists, illustrators and graphic designers is an effective and cool way to make bland public spaces, old buildings, bridges and car parks new again, and to freshen up the concrete jungle.
It is also an effective way of keeping graffiti away. Plus it draws attention to the building or structure as “potential” not as something to be hated. Maybe it will even bring a buyer, a new occupant or additional creative ideas about how to revitalize the building? Anything but the current dilapidated state of abandoned spaces!
Street artists and muralists bring with them vibrant and a new perspective that architects or designers may not have. This does not mean that millions need to be spent to upgrade the buildings immediately, all you need is vision, courage, local creative talent and some colorful paint like these perfect examples here. Our subscriber list reads like the Who-is-Who of city councils around the globe. So here’s a challenge to you: You need to step up and change the face of your city. There are way too many ugly, run-down buildings, bridges, tunnels and walkways that can be completely transformed into exciting and fun environments with some creative input.
Contact Access Agency so we can help. - Bill Tikos
Anyone who has ever attempted to master various forms of visual art will attest that watercolor painting usually turns out to be one of the most challenging.
This has not discouraged Cate Parr, a UK-born fashion illustrator, who has managed to capture the ethereal, fleeting and vulnerable qualities of fashion imagery in her watercolors.
There is a dreamy, beautiful undertone, yet the images are not entirely virginal. A darker undertone, beneath the pastelly beauty demands the viewer to look closer, a quality we admire in any image-maker's work. In today's world of a million images a second, it takes a lot to make any of us stop and pause and really see.
Parr's work, which has appeared in both editorial and brand contexts, hasn't been seen in massive formats or super-brand environments yet, but somehow we envision these images appearing in enormous window displays in the world's fashion capitals this coming spring. - Tuija Seipell
This stunning house, perched on the hillside above Lake Lugano in Switzerland, certainly takes advantage of the views of the lake and the idyllic, historic village of Brusino Arsizio with its population just under 500.
The residence and office, designed by Milan-based architect Jacopo Mascheroni of JM Architecture for a financial consultant and her family, consists of two sections: a rounded glass pavilion and a reinforced concrete structure that is partially inserted into the mountain.
The client asked for maximum access to the views, but otherwise allowed the architect creative freedom to imagine an exceptional house that clings to the hillside.
A 3,700 square-foot glass house forms the most visible part of the residence and resembles a viewing pavilion of a major sightseeing attraction. It is an open-concept living space, with a white-walled central section that contains the kitchen, bathroom, stairway, storage and mechanical room.
The underground level houses the entry hall, three bedrooms, two baths, an office, laundry, staircase, and playroom. The bedrooms open to an inner courtyard garden.
Radiant heating, use of natural light, geothermal heat pumps and a rainwater collection system are the main environmentally friendly features of the structure.
Jacopo Mascheroni was born in 1974 in Milan and worked for Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects in San Francisco and Richard Meier & Partners in New York City before founding JM Architecture in 2005.
The firm has completed several major residential projects for private clients, as well as commercial and retail spaces. - Tuija Seipell
When restoring this traditional Victorian terrace house — now known as the Skylight House — in Sydney, Australia, the architects and designers at Chenchow Little had to leave the street façade intact because the house is part of a conservation streetscape.
But the ornate, white exterior now hides a beautiful, minimalist dwelling that includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a new kitchen.
Flipping the typical Victorian terrace-house floor plan around, the designers placed the secondary bedrooms on the ground floor and the living rooms on the top floor. The living areas gained access to natural light via the new series of south-facing skylights, and to views across Parramatta River thanks to strategically placed windows.
Right beside the stairs leading from the relocated living room to the new kitchen, is a new central courtyard that encircles an existing mature banksia tree.
The materials and colors are minimalist and pure: raw concrete, glass, white walls and spotted gum hardwood.
The interior design by Janice Chenchow of Chenchow Little, veers toward mid-century modernist with several Scandinavian and Italian pieces including a Woodnotes’ hand-tufted wool "Sammal" carpet (Finnish for "moss") carpet in the color "Ice." We also love the lighting choices, especially "Parentesi" designed by Achille Castiglioni & Pio Manzuʻ for FLOS.
Project architects, husband and wife, Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little, established their Sydney-based firm in 2004.
The Skylight House won the Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Chapter Award 2011 Residential Architecture Award for Alterations and Additions. - Tuija Seipell
The 15-room Parisian boutique Hôtel Thoumieux in the Left Bank is yet another cool, art-deco-ish creation by Thierry Costes and designer India Mahdavi. Some time ago, we wrote about their Germain cooperation
Located above the popular Thoumieux Brasserie, the hotel also offers its own significant culinary input in the form of the 20-seat dining room Jean-François Piège, where chef Jean-François Piège is apparently creating gastronomic masterpieces.
The dining room’s tongue-in-cheek decor, also by India Mahdavi, exudes a somewhat out-dated and perhaps even a bit underworldly glamor of a bygone-era -- potted plants on doilies and elaborate wallpapers included. The pastelly furnishings, carpets and wall treatments bring out an aura of an elderly, once-quite-elegant aunt, who would not allow you to enter the room with a drippy chocolate ice cream cone.
The 20-seat dining room is not likely offer ice cream cones, but the atmosphere is relaxed, with no sommelier and no menu just “Les Règles du Jeu” (today’s market). - Tuija Seipell
The three-dimensional wall art, “I feel good today,” is a result of creative minds coming together. The location: A popular morning coffee and lunch spot, the erste liebe bar in Hamburg (erste liebe means first love in German). The bar’s owners are the video producers at erste liebe film who work right above the bar.
The artist: Niels Bruschke of Santiago Design, who used a Viktor bike from Schindlehauer as the focal point. The partner: Bruschke was asked to do this piece by Two Wheels Good, a bike shop and promoter and creator of urban mobility concepts. Their first location is at Bismarckstrasse and the second one opened this summer at the new bike-loving 25hours Hotel HafenCity.
All of which just proves Oprah Winfrey’s point: “Here’s what my love affair with quotations has taught me: the more you focus on words that uplift you, the more you embody the ideas contained in those words.” - Tuija Seipell
French architect Odile Decq (born 1955) and her late partner, architect and doctor Benoit Cornette (1953-1998) have never feared bold, big, challenging projects.
This year, Decq who continues to lead Odile DECQ Benoit CORNETTE:Architectes Urbanistes in Paris, completed a task that has apparently eluded designers and architects since 1875.
She designed the spectacular L'Opéra Restaurant, located in one of the most famous buildings in opera, the 1,600-seat L'Opéra Garnier, on Place de l'Opéra in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris.
The 6 million Euro (about $8.2 million US), three-year-long project was completed this summer. The most significant features of the restaurant are the magnificent glass curtain walls that protect the original stone; the curved structures that define the new space and also create the seating areas and even some of the seating; and the simple use of white and red. The result is both minimal and grandiose, contemporary and historic. From some angles, the curvy structures create a cave-like view, perhaps a reference to the Phantom’s subterranean world.
The building, originally designed by architect Charles Garnier in Baroque Revival style, was inaugurated in 1875. Over the years, it has been known as Opéra de Paris, L'Opéra Garnier, Paris Opéra and L'Opéra Populaire. Its architecture set a new style for opera buildings, and for the next several decades opera houses around the world were built to resemble it.
The building’s fame has also been boosted because it is the setting of Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel, Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, 1911) and the popular musical ,by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1986). - Tuija Seipell
Pics by Roland Halbe