Thursday, April 24, 2014

Make it Simple

My article on this artist's studio outside Barcelona appears in the latest issue of architektur.aktuell, which is dedicated the theme "Plain and Pure."
" 'A temple' is what the artist Eduardo Arranz-Bravo calls his new painting studio. 'With this height and the light moving through, it's a temple of art,' he exclaims. The monumental impact of the space derives from its great simplicity, which amplifies the spatial tension generated by two or three formal moves – chiefly, the irregular pyramidal ceiling topped by an off-center skylight."

I must confess, however, that I was really taken by the artist's original house,which features tiers of open spaces around a descending staircase that follows the slope of the site. It was designed for living, not the concentration required for producing art and looking at it:
"The house was designed in 1991 by a friend, the Italian architect and art dealer Lanfranco Bombelli, but in a style and spirit that dates to the 1970s, when the two formed part of the vibrant cultural scene at the coastal resort town of Cadaqués, where Bombelli built many homes. With the simple, vernacular forms of its exterior and the open but cozy spaces inside, filled with artwork by friends and including a sunken, built-in seating area around the fireplace, the house is a testament to the vibrant lifestyle of Barcelona's cultural elite during that era."

The Bubble 
Garcés De Seta Bonet Architects
Jordi Garcés + Daria De Seta, Project Architects
Eduardo Arranz-Bravo Studio, Barcelona
architektur.aktuell 409
 Aprit 2014, pages 66 - 75, cover

Photos © Adrià Goula

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Foster Cancels Planned Foundation in Madrid

Site of proposed foundation. Source: Palacetes de Madrid

El Pais reports that Norman Foster has dropped plans to establish his private foundation in a Madrid palace dating to 1912, after Madrid's Heritage Commission ruled against some of his proposed modifications and additions to the protected building.

The Foundation, currently registered in London, would house Foster's personal archives and organize exhibitions, debates and publications on architecture, urbanism, design and art.

In a letter to the city, Foster stated that he is reconsidering "the suitability of the location". His office has declined to make further comments.

Foster currently organizes an annual architecture show in his wife's Madrid art gallery, Ivorypress, which has featured Ron Arad, Buckminster Fuller, Jean Prouvé, Zaha Hadid and Foster himself.

Another architect's personal foundation seems to be in the works in Madrid, that of Emilio Ambasz. Last year, the City of Madrid ceded a building near the Prado Museum that Ambasz plans to demolish for a new building of his own design. Fore more on that story (although the less said, the better), see El Pais, March 6, 2013 and December 12, 2013.
Ambasz proposal from El Pais

I would gladly trade Ambasz's furry green building on its overly-promintent site for Foster and his palace, discretely located in Madrid's leafy embassy district, with its pavilions and whatnot in the garden. With any luck, though, Ambasz's project will go nowhere. And let's hope that Foster, once properly begged to and groveled before, will reconsider.

Bruno García Gallo, Ángeles García
"Norman Foster Drops Plans to  Create his Foundation in Madrid"
El País, English edition
April 8, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Siza's Boa Nova Tea House to Reopen

Alvaro Siza's Boa Nova Tea House on the rocky shoreline of Leça da Palmeira, in Matosinhos, outside Porto, which has stood empty for several years and was badly deteriorated, has been restored. The town of Matosinhos ceded the building to the local non-profit Casa da Arquitectura (ACA), which commissioned Siza for the restoration. Chef Rui Paula will open a small restaurant in the space, scheduled to begin operations in June. The Tea House, which was completed in 1963, is one of Siza's first works. It is a classified National Monument in Portugal.

This is one of my favorite places, and I was shocked to see it empty and falling apart two years ago. When was it that I actually had tea there, after a long hike up the coast? Now things look better, though the idea of an ambitious chef aiming for a Michelin in this tiny shrine seems a bit out of place. Everything was so much smaller in the 1960s! And the worn wood furnishings, the rustic feel, its intimate hold on the rocks, the sense that it had to be put it back together every springtime after being lashed by winter storms.


"CASA DA ARQUITECTURA assina contrato de arrendamento da Casa de Chá com o Chef Rui Paula"
Casa da Arquitectura webpage, no date

"Casa de Chá da Boa Nova reabre em junho"
Matosinhos Cámera Municipal webpage
March 17, 2014

Abel Coentrão
"Chef Rui Paula desafiado a conseguir estrela Michelin para a Casa de Chá da Boa Nova" 
March 17, 2014


See the finished restoration and new terrace:
José Juan Barba
La renovada Casa de Chá de Siza, ahora es el Restaurante del Chef Rui Paula 
July 19, 2014

Vista de pajaro de la restauración de Boa Nova Casa de Chá de Siza. Fotografía © Joao Morgado. Señala encima de la imagen para agrandarla.
Source: Metalocus  Photo © Jaoa Morgado

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Strange Times for the COAC

Strange times for the COAC - the architects' professional association in Barcelona, the Col·legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya. Its headquarters, located on a prominent plaza facing the Barcelona Cathedral, is now festooned with a large, publicly sponsored advertisement, entirely covering its facade, that seems to be promoting, in the guise of a historic anniversary, Catalan independence.

The marquee below the poster is by Picasso, another in-your-face gesture, this one from the Franco years, when the artist was an official no-no.

And the COAC's exhibit space, apparently too valuable to be dedicated to architecture exhibits these days, has been turned into an ersatz gift shop. 'All very tastefully, done,' I suppose they imagine. Why don't they just lease it to Foot Locker?

Photos by DC, March 14, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Virtual Reality Blues

sydney kramer business insider oculus rift
William Wei, Business Insider
Mark Zuckerburg on his latest purchase, Oculus, goggles that immerse video game players in virtual reality, as reported in Business Insider
"After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home."
And an April Fool's Day post in The Guardian on InstaWindows for refurbishing England's public housing:
 "If you're addicted to adding filters to your Instagram snaps, and wish you could always see the world in grainy high contrast or with that sun-kissed glow, help may be at hand. As part of the government's Happy Homes initiative, which will see swathes of ailing council blocks retrofitted with colourful cladding panels and wood-effect flooring over the next five years, tenants will also be given the chance to transform their windows with the application of a tinted filter."
"'The Instawindow is designed to transform even the bleakest views of post-industrial wastelands into picture-postcard visions that you'll be dying to share with your friends,' says Daisy Faropoll, head of brand at Happy Homes. 'Whether you prefer that permanent sunset look, or like your colours super-saturated, our range of filters caters to every mood. And with an easy-peel backing, you can keep mixing it up and curate your own personalised viewscape each day.' "
As always, parody and reality are never far apart.
Permanent sunset … The window filters are designed to transform even the bleakest prospects into 'picture-postcard views you'll be dying to share with your friends'
The Guardian

Post edited April 11, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Entresitio in Record Houses

© Roldand Halbe
It's April, Record Houses time again, and once again a house in Spain is among the eight works selected. Known as "#house#1.130" (a rather ungraceful moniker in my opinion), the Spanish work is by Estudio Entresitio, with partners Maria and José Maria Hurtado and César Jiménez. See the full story in Architectural Record here.

The article begins,
"The interweaving of indoor and outdoor spaces recalls the condensed landscapes of classical Chinese gardens in Suzhou: tightly framed vistas are crossed in close succession by multiple spatial events–glazed pavilions, light wells, bridges, terraces, beds of vegetation, a covered pathway angling slightly out of view."
 And for an idea about what it's all about:
"The ribbons of greenery, which extend below-grade to the light wells and run up a ramp to the roof, are just one element in the design's multidimensional knitting together of inside and out. In its first proposal to the client, the architect developed this strategy even more intensely. It was based on a honeycomb of hexagonal rooms and patios that was systematically distorted in size and shape according to programmatic requirements. Each distortion created adjustments in adjacent hexagons, following a mathematical system known as a Voronoi diagram."
#house#1.130 by Estudio Entresitio
© Roldand Halbe

Down the Garden Path
#house#1.130 by Estudio Entresitio
Architectural Record, Record Houses, April 2014

Photos © Roldand Halbe
Used with permission

© Roldand Halbe