Posts tagged with "fjord-itecture":

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Take a deep dive into Olafur Eliasson’s first completed building

Fjordenhus in Vejle, Denmark, is the first completed building by artist Olafur Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann. Together with Studio Olafur Eliasson, the duo have created a thoughtfully conceived and crafted structure in the bay of a Danish fjord. In their earlier architectural collaborations—like the curtain wall design for the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland—their work has displayed an attention to detail, composition, materials, and craftsmanship that carries over into this unique commission.

Once they convinced their client, Kirk Kapital, to build its headquarters in the water of an underutilized shipping port, they created a cylindrical concrete structure as a reference to the area’s surrounding grain silos.

The building is composed of four intersecting concrete volumes arrayed around an open public space and faced with nearly a million custom-designed bricks. The four-story volumes morph in elevation from ellipses to circles, and out of these are carved porous openings that dramatically frame views of the fjord. Built atop a man-made island with a basement foundation, Fjordenhus looks like a medieval rampart as imagined by Louis Kahn. But up close, its exterior walls are a pattern of endlessly and beautifully textured color.

The designers created 15 different hues of unglazed brick, added a smattering of blue, green, and silver glazed bricks, and then meticulously laid them out in digital drawings to create a patterned composition for the entire building. The brick colors were selected to reflect their immediate surroundings (more blue at the top of the building and gray for the stairwells), and they are meant to embody the changing weather and light conditions of the site. The torqued elliptical forms are intended to create a series of dynamic, flowing spaces that are “constantly calibrating to allow the user to trust themselves,” according to Eliasson, as they enter and pass through the building. The artist cited Erwin Panofsky’s criticism of neoclassicism and how it prescribes the inhabitation of buildings as an example of what not to do in designing architectural space. Eliasson wanted to move away from classical hierarchical planning to a more democratic, participatory architecture that he considers a hallmark of Danish democracy.

The building is entered from the quay by a footbridge that leads into a circular public space with three of the artist’s sculptures and a mirrored ceiling piece that reflects the light of the fjord back into the occupied public space.

A circular elevator that features dramatic top and bottom lighting, along with a surrounding stair that rises on splayed armatures, take users up into workspaces fitted with furnishings, lighting, built-in cabinets, and interior stairs all designed by the firm. The placement of furniture is purposefully haphazard so that users “democratically” negotiate their own paths through the space, giving them co-authorship of the building. 

In addition, Eliasson designed table and floor lamps made of deep green glass and metal, as well as built-in lighting that is equal parts functional lighting and sculptural object. Lower floors have elegant, circular concrete pads with coffered lighting overhead. The top floor has a globular, faceted sculpture placed below a skylight that throws sunlight over the space. In addition, the rooms have a series of Eliasson-designed fixtures elegantly cobbled together from a hanging LED light fixture that casts light upward through a glass lens, creating a pattern of concentric circles on the ceiling.

This unique practice is based on an artistic sensibility devoted to materiality, craft, and an understanding of form, developed through Eliasson’s years of experimentation as a trained sculptor. As a result, it is a challenge to more traditional architecture practices. Furthermore, the designer’s insistence on the necessity of creating a democratic, user-controlled space means Fjordenhus comes as close to a contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk (or total work of art) as we have yet experienced in the 21st century.

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Olafur Eliasson’s architecture studio completes stunning first building

The Architect’s Newspaper recently did a studio visit with Studio Other Spaces, the architect’s office established by sculptor Olafur Eliasson and his architect-collaborator Sebastian Behmann in 2014. Behmann has collaborated with Eliasson and his research team since 2001 on numerous high-profile projects, and they have just completed Fjordenhus (Fjord House), their first entirely in-office building. The architecture studio, like many offices today, claims to “pursues a research-based approach to the production of space that seeks to expand the estab­lished architectural vocabulary.” But unlike many new firms, this studio has already produced a strong body of  built work (though these were done alongside established architecture firms). Fjorden­hus is a 92-foot-tall office building which sits literally in the water of a disused dock in a fjord in Vejle, Jutland (Denmark) for their client Kirk Kapital. This building project builds on Olafur Eliasson’s history as an artist and claims to be a “total work of art” (Gesamtkunstwerk) and comes as close as any recent building project to achieving that claim. They have designed nearly every aspect of the building, including the windows, doors, carpets, glass, furniture, lighting and of course, the art works. Constructed, for example primarily of unglazed brick it was chosen because it is “the smallest possible building unit” and allows for the organic shape of the building. They also argue that Fjordenhus' intricate brickwork seen from afar “seems orderly” but upon closer inspection, “the different shapes and slightly ir­regular staggering of the bricks’ depth reveals a lively, organic surface.” Moreover, additional colors of glazed bricks are “integrated into its carved-out sections to produce color fades–green from the bottom and blue from the top–that reflect the water and sky.” Given the firm's intense interest in materials from their previous art projects, “every corner, niche, and arc required an individual brick-laying solution; each brick was specially fit into the complex cur­vature of the concrete walls, the overall brickwork lying flush with the curved steel frames and glass elements of the facade.” Further, Fjorden­hus art works don’t so much sit in the space but are designed into the building itself, and include light “installations” like Fjordhvirvel, which encircles Fjordenhus, Undervandsforventning and Den indre “that visually link the lower and upper spaces and create a formal dialogue between the curvature of the building, the daily cycles of the fjord, and the arc of the sun’s path across the sky.” The building is a double shell of local Danish brick that forms “four intersecting cylinders” from which volumes have been carved out to create complex curved, circular, and elliptical forms, torqueing walls and parabolic arches, windows and openings. As the building sits in the water, it is accessible by a footbridge into a double-height ground floor, which is open to the public and is “permeated by the fjord and contains two aqueous zones.” The upper three floors are offices for Kirk Kapital and varying floor plans are on different levels and are organized around circles and ellipses, with specially designed furniture and lights, and are connected by spi­ral staircases and round vestibules. The Gesamtkunstwerk notion might be considered a dated one for architects, but with this firm, coming as it does from the world of art, it has a different idea about how to think about buildings, conceive of space and design walls and facades. There are currently other art practices like Thomas Heatherwick's moving into architectural design, but none have created as convincing a work of architecture as Fjordenhus.
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Unveiled> BIG Wins Again in Greenland

Bjarke Ingels continues his relentless forward march toward world domination, winning yet another project, this time a gallery in Nuuk, Greenland. With so many recent mountains, it appears BIG has moved on to new iconographies inspired by land art, a barnacle perhaps? The Greenland National Gallery is a low, doughnut-shaped structure hugging a difficult terrain on a dramatic fjord. BIG's entry beat a number of firms including Norwegian Snøhetta, Finnish Heikkinen-Komonen, Islandic Studio Granda and Greenlandic Tegnestuen Nuuk. “The Danish functionalistic architecture in Nuuk is typically square boxes which ignore the unique nature of Greenland. We therefore propose a national gallery which is both physically and visually in harmony with the dramatic nature, just like life in Greenland is a symbiosis of the nature. We have created a simple, functional and symbolic shape, where the perfect circle is supplied by the local topography which creates a unique hybrid between the abstract shape and the specific location”, Bjarke Ingels said in a release. Visitors enter the building under a slight lift in the building's facade facing a panoramic view of the waterfront. The building itself is a perfect circle surrounding an interior sculpture courtyard forming a hybrid focal point of culture and nature. BIG says the layout enables flexible gallery arrangements.