What better way to celebrate the life and achievements of a mountain climber than to build a museum into a mountain? That was the approach Zaha Hadid Architects took for the recently completed MMM Corones, an institution in the Italian alps dedicated to climber Reinhold Messner. For me it feels like a hidden lair of an evil genius, or perhaps the buried wreckage of an alien spacecraft? That’s exactly why I enjoy this building so much as it’s form is traditionally unexpected (although not necessarily surprising that it came from Hadid). It’ll be even more beautiful once the vegetation covers more of it, further blending it into the landscape.
Eero Saarinen, famed architect and industrial designer, is well-known for the TWA Flight Center at JFK, a futuristic looking terminal that still stands as an iconic masterpiece. These days the space is no longer open to the public, yet photographer Max Touhey was given access to document the space, which surprisingly is still in amazing shape. Curbed NY has his collection of photos which highlight so many of the beautiful details of the space, which supposedly will be transformed into a 500 room hotel by JetBlue. This news may not please everyone though I’m happy to hear that people may yet again regularly inhabit the space.
When I think of the word “pavilion” I imagine standard 2×4 pieces of lumber slated together to make the most mundane of barbecue shelters. Architect Marc Fornes and his firm THEVERYMAN has succeeding in creating the opposite, a brightly colored shelter made from aluminum shingles that together create an amorphous blog that looks like it’s ready to slither across the land, titling it the Vaulted Willow. These are the objects I’d love to see popping up in more places, a thoughtful piece of architecture that tries to incorporate organic and natural forms.
A little bit of old, a little bit of new. That’s what Wespi de Meuron Romeo architects have put together with their Stone House transformation in Scaiano, Switzerland. The space is fresh and contemporary in so many ways, with the glass filled cutouts, polished concrete floors and ample amounts of light.
This concept allows on the one hand the authentic conservation of the historic stone façade, which tells the history of the house and on the other hand, it generates zenith light for the rooms with exceptional light reflections. It would not have been possible otherwise to get sunlight into the rooms, in such a village structure with narrow streets.
In my opinion this looks like the ultimate getaway. Think it’s available on Airbnb? You can see more photos of the entire renovation on designboom.
Photo © Hannes Henz
When I was working on a now cancelled socially conscious news show, I was responsible for producing a few segments that were high tech shows-and-tell that showed how technology can benefit the developing world. This meant that I was constantly trolling design websites to find objects like Yves Behar’s Kernel Diagnostic and Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun, doing my best to get my hands on them to share. This was often a difficult, frustrating task but the results were always remarkable.
This has left a special place in my heart for design projects with good intentions, ones that seek to offer solutions through creativity. While reading Wired recently, something caught my attention that certainly fit into this world and, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about flying a prototype out to Los Angeles: Architecture and Vision has created a “water tower” out of bamboo that extracts water from the air, harvesting the resource for those in dry environments. It’s a novel idea executed in an exceptional way.
The tower—which they call WarkaWater, after the Ethiopian Warka tree—is composed of bamboo poles wrapped in a thin mesh net that catches water from rain, fog, dew, etc. It all funnels into a water tank and, apparently, it can collect almost thirty gallons of water a day. It requires no electricity, requires less than a grand to build, and is even designed to keep birds away.
The project is literally huge and has gone through many design incarnations, their most recent being the most viable, useful effort. Yet, like many designs for social good, the funding for clever projects like this is quite minimal and the creators have turned to Kickstarter for funding. They’re raising money through mid-February and, if successful, they should be able to start more serious testing of the tower this year—and they hope to employ the towers in Ethiopia in the next three years.
New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman takes the design and concept of the new World Trade Center building to task, disappointed by the lack of vision for such an important New York building/monument.
Instead, the building, built as if on a dare to be the tallest, required unprecedented fortifications at astronomical costs, on an immensely difficult site. Mr. Childs faced a nearly impossible task: devising a tower at once somber and soaring, open and unassailable, dignified but not dull. He envisioned an elaborate antenna and a tapered base. Both ideas were vetoed, among much else. The building didn’t end up exactly as the architect pictured it. Few buildings do. I’m not sure that the differences are what tipped the scale.
Uninspired and more like a bank vault than a space for culture to thrive. As Kimmelman rightly points out, this “idea was brushed aside by the political ambitions of former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, a Republican, and the commercial interests of Larry Silverstein, the developer with a controlling stake at the site, among other forces pressing for a mid-20th-century complex of glass towers surrounding a plaza.” Missed opportunity.
Almost 20% of the total area of the Netherlands is water, with many parts of the county reclaimed from the sea through an extensive system of dykes that date back as far as medieval times. For this reason, the Dutch have always had a fairly special relationship with water. You can see this in so many aspects of what they do, from amazing bridges to beautiful public ponds, their unique appreciation for lakes, rivers and the sea has always lead to interesting work.
I recently came across this wonderful recreational island home by 2by4 Architects and quickly feel for its simplistic charms. Completed in 2011, the home offers an ideal rural getaway that boasts large glass walls and a slide-away wall that opens up directly onto the water. It looks like the perfect place for an outdoor retreat.
Found on a man-made island on the Dutch lake of Loosdrechtse Plas, the home is designed to be completely customized depending on the owners needs. On warm days the northern facade opens towards the water, turning the wooden floor of the living room into a jetty. On winter days the home looks just as good, offering a freestanding fire to snuggle up to as you look out over the countryside.
While only 100 meters in size, the home still looks quite spacious and comfortable with a shower, toilet, kitchen, closets, storage and other functions are all integrated into a double wall. It all looks perfect!
If you think of Sweden I’m sure you can think of a lot of great things. Maybe it’s their fantastic contribution to the world of pop music; maybe you prefer their existential cinema or perhaps you’re simply salivating at thought of their delicious meatballs? Either way, as a country, Sweden has done pretty well for itself. For me, I like to think of two things: flat pack furniture and summer houses. For too long these icons of Swedishness have stood apart, but they’ve finally been combined thanks to this ingenues project by Jonas Wagell and Sommarnöjen.
Dubbed the Mini House 2.0, the project is a prefabricated cabin concept that can be delivered flat-packed and typically takes only two days to construct. A collaboration between the Swedish manufacture Sommarnöjen and the designer and architect Jonas Wagell, the modules comes in various layouts and can be configured to include a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living space.
Developed in a range of sizes, the first two models are 15 square meters in width and length. As I said, they come with a range of interior solutions and are constructed with high quality wood. Each cabin is fully insulated and includes electricity and interior and exterior painting.
Not only are they a great idea but they also look great. You can see more from this project on its website.