Architecture

Architecture

May 15 2008



Some of us think that our far off ancestors lived in the trees — and during our childhood, when our thoughts and memories are most pure, we yearn to climb trees growing in our gardens, in our parks, in our cities.  As we get older, the urge to climb trees subsides as we ride elevators up to our offices in the sky and look out across the cities where we live.  Yet occasionally, as we’re sealed up tight in our artificially climatic spaces, we long for a breath of fresh air.



At a German company called baumraum  an architect, a landscape architect, an arbologist, and a craftsman design modern, natural and solidly constructed treehouses. Each treehouse project is assessed individually. The team takes into consideration both the condition of the environment and of the tree, with the size and features the clients desire.  


baumraum offers a range of wood-types as well as options for insulated walls.  Treespaces can be outfitted with sitting and sleeping benches, storage spaces, a mini-kitchen, heating, glass windows, lighting, as well as a sound system for multimedia.  Every piece is pre-fabricated in a workshop, and then brought together on site.



Sound like something you’ve been wanting?  The baumraum team offers free consultation where they can talk you through every option available as you put together your dream treehouse.  The treehouses can span multiple levels and sit among several trees.  Treehouses are mostly secured with ropes, thereby minimising the impact of stress to the tree or trees on which the house is placed.  And if a tree is particularly weak, or even if a treehouse is wanted where there is no suitable tree, stilts are used to guarantee people everywhere can once again climb trees. By Andrew J Wiener.





Architecture

April 11 2008




The owner couple of this beautiful pre-fabricated cabin on the shores of Lake Simcoe in Ontario, Canada, has been coming to their large recreational property for a quarter-century. But the big property in a great recreational location translated into lots of overnight guests and no privacy for the owners.

They felt they needed a 'getaway,' a place at their own property where they could capture the peace and serenity of the surrounding four-season nature without disturbing any of the existing trees or structures. They needed a place that remembers what the Simcoe cottage-country is all about.

The brilliant, award-winning solution by Toronto-based Taylor Smyth Architects is the one-room Sunset Cabin, a real cabin with a decidedly contemporary feel. The wonderful cabin has won several architectural and design awards and met the clients’ needs perfectly.

It is a one-room (190 square feet in size), self-contained box that was built by furniture craftsmen in four weeks in a Toronto parking lot and installed on site in 10 days.

Three of the exterior walls are floor-to-ceiling glass and of those, two are encased in horizontal cedar-screens for privacy, shade and light effects inside. One of the cedar screens has a large opening providing a direct view of the sunset from the built-in bed. The rest of the screen has random smaller gaps to allow various vignettes of the surrounding nature and to create fantastic light patterns inside. The slats are positioned so that there is no direct view in from the outside, but at the same time, it the inside feels almost wall-less.



The untreated cedar of the outer structure will turn silvery grey over time, helping the cabin blend in with its natural surroundings. In addition, the roof, visible from the existing main building, is a green roof planted with native plants of the area, further ensuring that the building mixes in with the landscape rather than sticks out in it.

All interior surfaces are unpainted birch veneer plywood, including the built-in storage cabinets. Doors at both ends of the cabin allow for cross ventilation. The interior floor extends outside to form a deck where the rustic feel continues with the screened-off outdoor shower.

The owners are apparently spending more time at their property than ever before. They enjoy the cabin year-round, heating it by a wood-burning stove and, if needed, electric heaters. Most likely, they are not inviting guests to share the space, so we can join in only by admiring the images. By Tuija Seipell


Architecture

April 8 2008




Zaha Hadid's silvery building resembling a sub-surface ferry or a space ship is the winning entry in the competition for the design of the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in the ancient city of Vilnius, capital and the largest city of the Republic of Lithuania.

Although Vilnius is one of Europe's smallest capitals, it has a long, strong and culturally rich history, beautifully reflected in its well-preserved Old Town with cathedrals dating back to the 12th century. The Pritzker prize-winning architect Hadid's futuristic building will be an arts centre and a museum, housing selected collections of both the New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the St. Petersburg- based State Hermitage Museum.




The jury selected Hadid's (Zaha Hadid Architects) design over those of equally famous architects Daniel Libeskind (Studio Daniel Libeskind) and Massimiliano Fuksas (Studio Fuksas).

A feasibility study, commissioned by the recently established Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Centre in Vilnius, is expected to be completed by mid-June 2008. Depending on its outcome, the museum could open as early as in 2011. By Tuija Seipell

Architecture

March 5 2008



Most of us have a personal image of an ideal escape or getaway. A secluded beach shack hidden on an island paradise - a tucked away cabin built into a snowy mountainside - a private chateaux set on the quiet, rolling hills of a vineyard - basically anywhere we feel removed from the mundane normalcy of our own daily lives. 



X.Pace, a Sydney/Singapore-based design studio is on the verge of helping us redefine the ultimate lifestyle solution - the highly luxurious Hingarae residences and resort located in Lake Taupo on New Zealand's north island. Hingarae embodies everything one would expect from 6 star standards - the ideal balance of extreme luxury, privacy and ultra-modern built form set upon a pristine natural environment. 



The development will offer twenty eight opportunities to own a fully-furnished Hingarae Module. Each individual Module is 200 square metres set carefully within 1 hectare of natural landscape. Oversized glazing allows uninterrupted views to the surrounding forest, green countryside, snow-capped mountains and crystal blue lake. The interior design is equally rewarding offering an exceptional imported blend of modern and futuristic furniture. The main living space sits on a revolving disc floor that allows orientation toward the exterior or the LCD screen.



Numerous additions to Hingarae Module ownership include an electric car for all on-site traveling, personal use of Hingarae's premium luxury 4WD vehicles for off-site travel, access to on-call helicopter, on-going membership to Jack Nicklaus' Kinloch Golf Club, ongoing winter season's pass to Mount Ruapehu's Whakapapa (New Zealand's largest ski area), shared use of Hingarae's motor launch and unlimited access to the 6 Star Hotel Hingarae and all its facilities including a recording studio. Hingarae also fully manages and maintains each Module and its individual acreage.



Nearly every aspect of a superior style of living has been taken into consideration during the conception and development phases of Hingarae. Unlike anything in the world, this New Zealand destination will soon embody the ultimate expression of escape for those of us able to get in - as prices start from US$1.9 million. As for the rest of us, we can always hope for an invitation from a generous friend. By Andrew J Wiener.

Architecture

February 27 2008




An architect's house could be his ultimate expression of his relationship to the surrounding world. Arthur Casas positioned his own House in Iporanga outside of Sao Paulo deep in the Atlantic forest - the quintessential Brazilian landscape according to Casas.

Two symmetrical rectangular cubes face one another on the north and south sides of the site. Two retractable 36 foot-high glass walls connect the cubes and frame the main living and dining rooms of the house. The entire exterior is panelled in Cumaru wood that blends effortlessly into the surrounding forest.



Cumaru is also used inside as flooring where it stands out against the stark white walls - the only 'colour' found in the minimalist space. To an architect, one of the defining features of the overall design of a structure is effective interior spatial division. In his own house, Casas successfully divided the ground floor into distinct public and private areas. The kitchen and service area - including a separate bedroom and bathroom - were placed in the north cube structure. A studio and a guest bedroom and bathroom are located on the opposite side. The entire space is connected by the vast living room flanked by wood terraces on both ends. An infinity pool appears to be spilling over to soak the surrounding flora.



A floating Cumaru stairway leads to the first level, where one finds the master suite in the southern cube. A narrow bridge crosses over the middle of the living room and leads to an additional guest bedroom, bathroom and a home theater.

The main objective of Casas' design brief for the House in Iporanga was to provide an escape into the Brazilian forest. He has accomplished the creation of a personal retreat, a place where he is able to relax and recharge. By Andrew J Wiener



Architecture

February 4 2008




We have found a candidate for the winner in the Coolest Home Theatre category. Just short of being a drive-in, this outdoor home theatre surpasses the stinky basement family 'media room' by close to a light year.
 

 
Glass walls, clean lines, uninterrupted space, uncluttered rooms, expensive detailing the hallmarks of a modern, upscale classic are all present in this stylish residence. Why anyone in possession of such an amazing home with such breathtaking views, would want to watch movies at home, is beyond us, but let's just say that we wouldn't mind being invited to a screening or two. The terraces, patios and the 65-foot infinity pool and spa will keep cinematically uninterested guests entertained as well. And we'll all stay at the separate guest house, of course.



But we must admit we are still lacking an invite to the 5,800-square-foot Skyline residence overlooking Hollywood and downtown LA. The visit is up to the owner of the home, architect Hagy Belzberg, a Harvard graduate (1991) who interned in Frank Gehry's office.
 


 The opulent home was designed by the entire team of his Santa Monica-based, 13-member Belzberg Architects that the now 43-year-old Hagy Belzberg founded in 1997. -  Tuija Seipell
 

 

Architecture

January 28 2008



The office of Zaha Hadid, the sometimes controversial and always bold Baghdad-born, London-based architect, has revealed design plans for a striking new building in the most traditional and affluent of places, Oxford.

The new composite-glass structure, to be named the Softbridge Building, is an extension to the Middle East Centre at St Anthony’s College. It will link the 66 and 68 Woodstock Road buildings, one a Victorian mock Tudor and the other Edwardian.

The new, concave, shiny structure looks like a modern sculpture that fell from the sky and wedged itself between the two sleepy oldies. The exuberant and dynamic Softbridge appears to have known that, against all odds, the old buildings will not buckle, the mature trees will not die and the limited space into which the newcomer must settle, will be just enough.



The Softbridge will house a lecture theatre and the library, taking pressure off the old, bursting-at-the-seams facilities. Other goals are to provide a better research environment for students and to connect the academic and public functions of the institute. The above-ground floors house the reception and exhibition areas, the main archive reading room, library storage and the main library. The lecture theatre and additional storage will be located in the basement.

The outspoken Hadid continues to produce bold design work, characterized by rounded shapes and unconventional approaches, in spite of the widely publicized controversies surrounding some of her buildings in Britain, including the Olympic Aquatic Centre. In an Oxford Times article, Hadid was quoted as saying, “As a woman, I’m expected to want everything to be nice and to be nice myself. A very English thing. I don’t design nice buildings. I don’t like them. I like architecture to have some raw, vital, earthy quality.”� By Tuija Seipell.

Architecture

January 21 2008



Here at TCH, we’ve been noticing architects around the world transforming church buildings into various types of structures including houses, retail stores, hotels, libraries, and well, cooler churches. 



After successfully converting a water tower into a living space, Marnix Van Der Meer and Rolf Bruggink’s Utrecht-based architecture studio, Zecc has done it again — this time perhaps a little more controversial. Here they transformed an old chapel into a spacious house — carefully respecting and enhancing the character of the original building. 



The design team chose to keep many of the original features — including the high gothic stained glass windows and the original choir organ.  To allow more light to enter the space, they cut a Mondrian-inspired glass window into the front of the house facing the street — perhaps paying homage to Rietveld’s nearby infamous Schroder House.  The entire living area has been whitewashed, whilst the private spaces above were painted dark.



And only 150km away in Maastricht an 800 year old Dominican church was transformed into the newest addition to the Selexyz book store chain — the Selexyz Dominicanen — housing an impressive collection of books not only in Dutch, but in English as well.



The challenge for the Amsterdam based architects Merkx + Girod was staying true to the original character and charm of the church, whilst also achieving a desirable amount of commercial space. A multi-storey steel structure that houses the majority of the books was constructed and placed along the central nave of the church under the vaulted ceiling.

Located in Finland in the Ostrobothnia region, near the campus of Helsinki University on the eastern side of the city, JKMM Architects won a national competition to design the Vikkii Urban Centre. The focal point of the Centre is a church clad in aspen shingles that have turned gray since construction was completed in 2005. Throughout Europe new church design is not synonymous with modernity, so when the Parish of Helsinki approached the architects at JKMM, they welcomed the opportunity to contribute to a newly developed urban area housing approximately 13,000 residents.



Many Scandinavian churches serve as civic spaces for the surrounding community to gather. Of course sacral characteristics are still present, and the Viikki Church’s central space and adjoining congregation hall have a light-filled cathedral-like appearance.



The architects chose timber for practically every surface of the interior space as well: oaken doors, spruce ceiling and walls, and aspen furniture allow the congregation to feel as though they are gathering within a forest.  Large windows open the space even further onto the surrounding landscape of the countryside. The church does not sit in isolation, however a new market was built to the north and an urban park sits to the south.



Divisive as it may be to alter houses built for God, these architects do not need to preach to the choir about their immaculate conceptions in renovations, we’re sold. By Andrew J Wiener and Brendan McKnight.



We're looking for more church renovations, if you spot one, send [email protected]








 

Architecture

January 14 2008




After designing the prize winning Bergisel Ski Jump, the city of Innsbruck invited Zaha Hadid back to design four new stations and a cable-stayed suspension bridge for the Nordkettenbahn - the city's cable railway system. Continuing their global contribution to the seamlessness between computer generated design and construction, the ZH Architects studied glacial formations and ice movement and translated their ideas with similar design technologies used by the automotive and aircraft industry to achieve varying degrees of movement and circulation in structure. 



Residents and visitors can now embark trains in the city's centre at the new Congress Station and reach the summit of Seegrube Mountain in 20 minutes. Each progressive station crosses the Inn River and then ascends the Nordkette Mountain terminating 863 metres high at the Hungerburg Station. Passengers then transfer to cable cars that travel to the top at 2,300 metres. 



ZH Architects' signature fluidity in design was carried through here with the innovative use of doublecurvature glass in construction. The design could not be actualised without inventive production methods such as CNC milling and thermoforming. Each unique station looks at though winter melted down the mountainside flowing freely across the new suspension bridge and into the river. By Andrew J Wiener>


Architecture

January 8 2008




Escaping the big city used to mean keeping warm beside a fireplace in aquaint little wood cabin tucked away in the wilderness. But now we allknow impressive design can be found virtually anywhere, even in themost remote areas. At just over 200 square metres, the Steel House in New York�s Hudson Valley provides an ideal weekend retreat.



From a distance the length of the narrow house looks like a metallicscreen rising out of the surrounding meadow. The house opens to thelandscape on the narrow east and west facades. One end features adouble-height entry with a stairway leading up to two bedrooms on thefirst level. The bedrooms above overlook a small, private lake by wayof an enclosed balcony whilst below, the living and dining area openout to a screened patio.



Striving to remain economical, high priority was giving to theselection of materials and finished both inside and out. Allinterior walls, floors and ceiling as well as custom furniture andcabinetry were constructed of durable maple plywood. Specialconsideration was also given to the use and placement of glazing andskylights that allow for natural ventilation.



Exterior floating stainless steel panels run the length of the house.Besides obvious aesthetic considerations, these perforated exteriorscreens protect the house from seasonal weather variations. Theyprovide much needed shade from the summer sun, and buffer the home fromstrong winter winds.

At just under 150 kilometres from New York City, the Steel House ishardly at the end of the earth, however, the siting and design of theweekend retreat allows its guests a welcoming break from the urbanchaos. By Andrew J Wiener




See also Camouflage House



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