Saturday, 30 August 2014

NUDE CLASSICISM









No, it's not a library from Fascist Italy. Behold the Leisner Auditorium of the George Washington Univeristy in Washington DC! When everyone else was doing "stripped-down" classicism in DC in the 40s, architects Faulkner and Kingsbury decided to go completely naked with the Auditorium, named after a donor and finished in 1943.

A symmetric building clad in limestone, it only hints at classical roots, with a level of detail some might find to be a bit harsh, while others may think the structure to be strikingly modern and intense in its austerity. I'd call it a guilty pleasure, I suppose. Inhuman and amazingly ruthless though it is, the shadows cast by its narrow porch, the dynamic of the three entrances invisible from each other, and the soft patina of the stone walls in my opinion makes it good enough to deserve its place. If I could make one wish, it would have been for the pillars to be of massive limestone, or at least not as obviously clad in rather thin plates of it.

At night, 1946























The building has been used both for concerts, movie screenings, lectures and debates throughout the years, and continues to function as a gathering place in modern day DC.

River Horse, 1996








In front of the building stands the sculpture called River Horse (artist unknown), given as a gift in 1996. A plaque on the base reads

Legend has it that the Potomac was once home to these wondrous beasts.
George & Martha Washington are even said to have watched them cavort in
the river shallows from the porch of their beloved Mount Vernon on summer evenings.
Credited with enhancing the fertility of the plantation, the Washingtons believed
the hippopatamus brought them good luck & children on the estate often attempted
to lure the creatures close enough to the shore to touch a nose for good luck.
So, too, may generations of students of the George Washington University.
Art for wisdom,
Science for joy,
Politics for beauty,
And a Hippo for hope.
The George Washington University Class of 2000
August 28, 1996

Friday, 29 August 2014

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: SIDONIA























Long after the destruction of our Solar System, the space station city state of Sidonia may be the last remnant of mankind. In the newish Netflix series Knights of Sidonia, we observe what happens when an outsider from the deep and mysterious foundations of the city enters the world above, and goes further into space to fight the monsters that threaten the city's existence.












The city of Sidonia is a curious place. Unlike so many other visions of the future, a certain degree of organised complexity seems to the the principle with which it has been formed. The steel and glass skyscrapers which are at the core so many visions of the future are very absent, and in their place, we find an amazing diversity.

Artificial landscapes, bodies of water and immense structural skeletons of metal actually seem to be complemented by masonry buildings, with facades reminiscent of fortified European architecture, modern Japanese structures and weightless Middle Eastern villages stacked on top of each other. 


Hipped roof with terracotta tiles and what looks like green copper cladding, external staircases, courtyards, cloisters and even streetscapes give these conglomerates a wonderful amount of variation. Especially interesting is the way it all seems to have grown over time, with additions, nooks, balconies, bridges and towers. However, it all comes together as a rather harmonious-looking built environment, forming an effective background for the dramatic actions of the series. I'm fascinated.













PS. If you'd like to check out some real world-attempts at the same thing, check out the work of Ricardo Bofill, or MVRDV's Vertical Village concept.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

PUMPKIN TUNNEL

Picture credit: Pinterest, I think















Today in outdoor architecture: A super cool tunnel made of steel and living pumpkin plants. The colour, the contrast between the geometry of the steel and the organic shapes of the plants, and the amazing filtering of the light all come together to make this an unusual and interesting space. Would love to put one of these in my garden, or even in the grounds of a school or public building.

Friday, 15 August 2014

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: THE LITTLE MERMAID or I'M MOVING TO COPENHAGEN!























Once again, months have passed since I last published anything on the blog. However, this doesn't mean that interesting things aren't happening; quite the opposite.

The image is an illustration from Danish writer H.C. Andersen's fairytale "The Little Mermaid", which was published in Copenhagen in 1837. The illustration was made by Edmund Dulac in 1911, and depicts the prince finding the mermaid right after she's received her legs. The prince is leaning on a column of (more or less) unprecedented design, with a concave base, which, although ornamented in gold patterns, brings a feeling of uncertainty to the scene, perhaps reflecting the lack of security and certainty that the mermaid seems to feel throughout the story. (Read it, it's beautiful and sad.)

Just like the little mermaid, I've caught myself longing to experience new places and new perspectives throughout the years at Bergen School of Architecture. Although it's an amazing school, where I've found some of my best friends, I'm not sure if I ever quite grasped what their approach is really about. With this in mind, I've spent many evenings and weekends during the last year making and sending applications to schools throughout the Western hemisphere. The first school I was told I got in to, was the Art Academy's Architecture School in Copenhagen (the official name is unbelievably long and complicated, and reeks of NPM), in English mostly just called KADK, and I accepted the place.

This means that I'll spend the last two years of my education in Copenhagen, Denmark's wondrous capital, a city of red brick and cobblestone, green copper domes and tree-lined canals. Thinking about it, I realised that quite a few posts on this blog have been based on pictures from Copenhagen, including the Totoro post, the smelling wood post, the perspective post (where the photo was taken a few metres form the grave of H.C. Andersen), the city life post, the summer farewell post, and the main entrance post + the murderous library post, both of which focus on how much the outside of the new Royal Library buildings sucks. I have a few friends in the city, and I hope to get more. Also, the city supposedly has a vibrant cultural scene which encompasses many different genres, and some very cute gay guys.

The main point of moving, though, is attending the new program in political architecture at KADK. In what seems to be an attempt at raising the school's academic achievements, we'll be focus as much on reading, discussing and writing, as we'll do on drawing, modeling and looking at pictures of houses. Rumor has it that some of the best teachers and students of the school have been put into the program, so I must admit that I'm both a bit nervous, as well as extremely excited. In the program, which also will approach the buzzword "sustainability"and criticisms of it, I hope to be able to use my experiences both as a politician working with architecture, as an environmental activist working with architecture, and as an architecture student concerned with politics and environmental questions.

Wish me luck! (And maybe I'll see you there?)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Friday, 7 March 2014

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: SORIA MORIA CASTLE

Soria Moria Castle, by Theodor Kittelsen. Wikimedia Commons.           
















Finally, time for another painting! It's been a while, and this time I've chosen one where architectural forms are just hinted at, instead of being worked out in detail. I still find it to be an alluring and beautiful picture, which evokes many images in my mind.

The fairytale of Soria Moria Castle is one of the most poular Norwegian folk tales, and has triggered the imagination of artists through generations, especially since its publication as a part of Asbørnsen and Moe's collections of folk tales in the mid-19th century. Read the entire story here.

PS. Although the story doesn't involve any dwarves, it's supposed to be the source of Tolkien's name for Moria, the dwarf-kingdom of Middle-earth. Do not trust this information.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

STUMP HOUSE

















To live in a stump house! How wonderful is this? From the Jim Linderman collection, who also published a book of arcane americana, with this picture and many others.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

HURVA AND THE POWER OF RECONSTRUCTION

Main facade























Earlier today, my friend Anita sent me an article about the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem. Dating back centuries, it was reconstructed and re-opened in 2010, after having lain in ruins since 1948.

Actually, the building has been torn down several times, thus earning its name, which means "ruin" in Hebrew. However, it's also been rebuilt, time and time again, not at least because of its importance as a symbol for Jewish presence in Jerusalem and Palestine throughout the ages.

This also meant that the reconstruction was seen as a provocation by parts of the Arab population, who protested the re-opening, claiming that it was the start of a campaign to conquer Jerusalem on behalf of the Jewish people, eventually leading to Israel destroying landmarks of Arab presence in the city.

For others, however, the reconstruction meant recovering a missing piece of the puzzle that is Jewish history. The old synagogue was a symbol of Jerusalem itself, and many later synagogues around the world were modelled on its neo-byzantine design. Getting it back, meant that a memory once again became reality.

This blog is mainly about architecture, not politics, but it's interesting to see how the erection of a building has very different meanings, depending on who you're asking. The Hurva Synagogue is also a prime example of how important historical buildings and cities are to our identities, even when they are (almost) completely rebuilt.


The ruin, 1967




















Interior of the building, clearly showing where parts
of the old ruin were incorporated in the new structure.

















All pictures: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

PHYSALIS

Picture by Wikimedia Commons

















Eating delicious Phsyalis berries as an evening snack, I'm thinking it would be great to make a building with a structure based on that of a of a Physalis shell. A greenhouse, perhaps?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

TARKHANY


Picture by Wikicommons














At the time when I started this blog, I wrote a few posts about the wonderful wooden architecture of Russia. Large manor houses, churches and villages are all part of a great tradition which is not well-known in the West, but includes both very classical buildings, and those inspired by vernacular architecture.

Rear view. Picture by Wikicommons.

















The example of the day is the elegant and charming estate of Tarkhany, which was constructed around 1800 in the region of Penza Oblast, in Western Russia. Currently a working museum, the manor house and the surroundings were originally a family residence, containing such necessities as a church, fish ponds, fruit gardens, a domed garden pavilion, avuenues of lime trees, several cottages for the workers, and a mausoleum.

Tarkhany garden pavilion. Picture by worldwalk.info

Pavilion dome detail. Picture by worldwalk.info





























Tarkhany was also the home of the famous Russian poet Lermontov, and the museum still contains many of his belongings in the period furnished rooms of the houses.


Cottage at Tarkhany. Picture by worldwalk.info


















I want a porch like this one. Picture by Wikicommons



 

Friday, 10 January 2014

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: FROZEN or WHY NOT LIVE IN A STAVE CHURCH?



I watched this wonderful little film in Christmas, and was blown away by all the wonderful design. Disney was heavily inspired by the Norwegian landscape, especially Western Norway, and went on several study trips to establish the asthetics of Arendelle, the kingdom in which the film takes place.

Apart from nice music and charming characters, I guarantee you'll love the buildings, which were copied from famous Norwegian buildings and building types, such as Akershus fortress in Oslo, Bergen city centre, stave churches and log-built houses. The royal palace is basically a stave church with bedrooms.

Poster

























Hello, Arendelle













Hello, Gol Stave Church

























Hello, Akershus Fortress














Hello, Bergen



















Oh, and the queen builds a pink and blue ice palace at one point.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

LYNGDALIAN HOUSE





















Visiting a friend of mine in Lyngdal, Southern Norway a few weeks ago, we stumbled across this weird and wonderful house and garden, lying peacefully next to the road. I doubt that an architect lives here, but the people who do, have taken their liberties in creating something unusual, adding both a small tower and miniature italianate box planting in the middle of the Norwegian agricultural landscape. I can't help but love when people take control of their surroundings in this way, often creating something unique and infinitely charming as they go along.
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