If there was ever a perfect curatorial pairing, Alain de Botton made it when he selected artist Grayson Perry to work with English architects Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT). Architecturally speaking, their so-called House for Essex is a “built story”—a shrine to an Essex woman named Julie who led a life as a rock chick and later a social worker, along the way marrying twice and finding happiness before being tragically killed by a curry delivery moped. https://youtu.be/qQ1hbD28KDY The dynamic duo of Perry and FAT's Charles Holland collaborated for almost four years on the artwork and its integration into building form. Perry wrote a long poem about Julie and her life, and how her second husband, Rob, promised to build a Taj Mahal for her if she were to die before him. This is that shrine to her life. Perry had the dream of making a secular shrine, and he first started by sketching his visions of the precious, small temple-like house. “My first ideas looked a bit Hobbity, or like something from Game of Thrones: ramshackle with lots of turrets.” FAT helped make his design, well, less "Hobbity," and incorporate the narrative imagery of Julie’s life and death into the building. They decided on green and white tiles, hand crafted for the building, each of which has an iconographic reference to Julie’s life. While practically every surface is adorned with some of FAT’s most intense detailing, there is a subtle touch that allows the more ordinary features to shine through as a spatial enactment of the narrative. Arched clerestory windows are carved out of a richly painted ceiling; their curved voids contrast, Aalto-like, with the surface of the ceiling. Mustard- and ketchup-colored built-in furnishings are detailed with a level of precision that only FAT could make work without going way over the top. The proportions of the telescoping volumes make the outside like a Russian nesting doll, but inside, the interiors are intensely proportioned to keep up with the visual narrative. The cozy, cathedral-like main space soars above, giving way to a chandelier made from the moped that killed Julie. The bedroom features a 15-foot high tapestry by Perry that looks over visitors, and, depending on one’s own reading, gives approval, disapproval, a cheeky glance, jealous yearning, comforting presence, or complete indifference. Every aspect of the home is meant to have multiple layers meaning, like all of FAT’s projects. This one just takes the notion a step further than other projects. The house is the sixth installation of de Botton’s Living Architecture program, “a social enterprise…dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of world-class architecture. It has produced outstanding houses such as MVRDV’s Balancing Barn and the Room for London, a boat by David Kohn and artist Fiona Banner, with Artangel that sits on top of Queen Elizabeth Hall and gives stunning views of central London. The building is the last project for FAT, which disbanded in 2013. The House for Essex has had wide-ranging coverage in the UK, including an hour-long special on Channel 4, which got good reviews. More information is available at the Guardian. Perry also gave an interactive tour of the house here, and it is a must-watch.
Posts tagged with "Housing":
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has unveiled the design for its first building in Mexico, a 981 unit, mid-rise housing project in Monterrey. The original brief called for 12 towers, but ZHA proposed the alternative plan that includes a large open green space surrounded by three buildings in a rectangle. The scheme is one of Hadid’s more nuanced, as individual units are expressed as such in a pixelated, morphing grid. Each unit is styled in the firm’s signature curved massing. Usually, their buildings main function is to look like a late '90s/early 2000s basketball sneaker, namely the Adidas Crazy 97, the Jordan XV, or the Reebok Preachers. However, the so-called Esfera City Center attempts to engage with its urban surroundings, namely the two adjacent neighborhoods that are very different in character. The project is designed with ample open space to create a safe environment where both residents and passers-by feel welcome. The interconnected public zones include a café, gym, reading room, and amphitheater. The project will be built in three phases and the first is scheduled for completion in 2018.
Chinese architecture firm MAD has broken ground on their first project in Japan, a kindergarten in Okazaki, Aichi that will be designed in the owner’s own family house. The subsequent home-like atmosphere of the “Clover house” is meant to foster the school’s pedagogy of emotional bonds and trust. By making a school that is a shelter, the architects seek to create a haven for education. The transformation of the 1,100 square-foot house began with the reuse of the existing wood structure, which is a relatively standard construction. This skeleton is covered y a new skin and structure, which has a blurry relationship with the existing form, including a pitched roof that frames interior spaces while telling a story about the history of the structure. The new skin drapes over the building to cast the old structure in a new light. The architects want it to be like a “mystical cave and a pop-up fort,” and this sense of playfulness is continued in the design of the house, as the building is wrapped in a series of paper-like pieces that act as a canvas for students to draw on. The kindergarten is scheduled for completion in December 2015.
A rambling, gravity-defying structure in Willow, Alaska has drawn a bevy of curious onlookers, who have dubbed it “the Dr. Seuss house.” The structure was built in the aftermath of a forest fire once the trees had regrown, obscuring the owner’s view of nearby Mount McKinley and the Denali National Park. The previous owner spent a decade adding floors, but when he died abruptly, the tower was abandoned for 10 years. Renovations were then taken over a by a new occupant to add more stories, and the sky-piercing structure now comprises 12 floors that gradually taper in square footage. The building bears a striking resemblance to the winding, often structurally implausible structures incorporating endless staircases in Theodor Giesel’s fictional town of Whoville, which is rumored to be based on the Massachusetts town of Easthampton, as well as treehouse designs. The Giesel Library by William Pereira at San Diego State University, almost as much a spectacle as the so-called “Dr. Seuss house,” is named after the legendary storyteller and illustrator himself. The brutalist structure features gravity-defying concrete levels extending from a tapered base.
Home expansion becomes ungraceful when it dwarfs its context—be it Corinthian pillars among shingle-style houses or an imposingly large annex. With this in mind, a family of five decided to extend their modest weatherboard dwelling upward rather than outward. “Australia is wide and flat. As a result, our homes are wide and flat,” said Andrew Maynard Architects, which was commissioned for the project. Tower House in Victoria, Australia comprises a series of five interconnected, tower-like buildings with triangular roofs that not only heighten ceilings but compartmentalize the home into high-end, treehouse-like nooks and crannies for the twin eight-year-old boys to unleash their imaginations. The house now accommodates a library, an astroturfed getaway nook in the center of the home, and a study room for the kids with floor-to-ceiling shelving, over which a hammock-like net is suspended for them to relax and study. The triangular-shaped towers resemble a tiny village from the outside, but indoors, the home is much less compact than it appears. The family requested a home “for community, art and nature to come together,” and Tower House checks all three boxes. While the backyard is fenced off, the front yard has been transformed into a communal vegetable plot where visitors are welcome to help themselves or take up shovel and hoe. “Rather than simply extrude the existing structure, the new form runs along the south side to maximize sunlight exposure,” the architects wrote in Archdaily. Completed in 2014, the “anti-monolith” home was designed not to impose on the surrounding modest brick and weatherboard homes and country lane-like roads.
Palm Springs Modernism Week is in its tenth year of celebrating the city's architectural masterpieces and tracts of mid-century modern houses. The Architects Newspaper is, for the sixth year, a media sponsor of Modernism Week, and we are here in the Mojave desert reporting on its numerous events. One of the highlights is the Sunday discussion and round table, "Why Isn’t the 1947 Neutra Kaufmann House on the National Register?" This working panel hosted by the California State Historic Resources Commission’s (SHRC) Modernism Committee will look at the Kaufmann house and other case studies in order to challenge "the integrity and standards used to evaluate National Register nominations" and ask whether they need to change when evaluating "the material realities of mid-century modern structures; materials that were often mass-produced, vulnerable, and easily replaced." The panel will include: architectural historian and California State Historic Resources Commission Beth Edwards Harris; well-known historian Alan Hess; Michigan preservationists Brian Conway, Katie Horak, Christine Lazzaretto. I am also on the panel and will discuss the research and remaking of the Lever Houses curtain wall. There are still a few tickets available for the event. Why Isn’t the 1947 Neutra Kaufmann House on the National Register? Hilton Palm Springs, Horizon Ballroom 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, $12
Known for being economical in terms of space and sticker price, prefabricated homes are also boasting increasingly abbreviated build times. One modest-sized dwelling in Castlemaine, Australia took a mere 10 days to construct and garnered an esteemed sustainability marque from PassivHaus to boot. One of the world’s fastest-growing energy performance standards, ‘Passive House’ accreditation is doled out solely to homes operating on 90 percent less energy than traditional homes. For consideration, three eco-friendly parameters are paramount: thermal performance, airtightness, and ventilation. The most efficient homes use the sun, internal heat sources, and heat recovery for insulation, avoiding the need for energy-guzzling radiators even in the icy throes of winter. At just 419 square feet, the Passive House in Castlemaine, Australia (the first in the country to receive this certification) comprises a wooden frame with wool and fiber insulation and a facade clad in steel to confer a modern look. Further insulation comes from the triple-glazed windows and specially engineered seals protecting the windows and floors, which is made from an air-tight membrane called Intello. Keeping the interior snug and toasty year-round is an energy recovery system which, contrary to ordinary logic, funnels air into the house, heating it in the winter and cooling it in the summer at low running cost while also keeping moisture out. The system also tamps down heat transfer, giving the exterior of the house a u-value (heat transfer coefficient) of 0.261 watts per square meter. The lower a home’s u-value, the better its insulation. As a result, annual heating, electricity and hot water demands for the Castlemaine Passivhaus are a mere 11 kilowatt hours per square foot. Designed by Australian architectural firm CARBONlite, which specializes in prefab homes, the various sections of the Castlemaine dwelling were built off-site over a 5-day period. Once assembled on site, the exterior was erected and the building made wind and watertight that same day. The house has a mono pitch roof with an overhang to provide shade and minimize overheating during Australia’s scorching summers.
AN has an exclusive look at a new home in Golden Beach, Florida designed by Chad Oppenheim of Oppenheim Architecture + Design. If we’re being honest here, the 23,000-square-foot home is really more of a resort masquerading as a private residence. Or maybe it's a private residence masquerading as a resort. Either way, the home is massive and packed with amenities. First, 699 Ocean Boulevard has a 5,000-square-foot spa that is twice the size of the average new home built in America. Inside the mansion-sized home spa is a steam room, sauna, arctic room (what?), treatment baths, and a sunken hammam room. There’s also a “spa pool with jets” and a “lap pool with a waterfall.” The very, very large home is comprised of stacked concrete volumes that are visually softened by overgrown vegetation and moveable vertical wood slats that act as a shading system. Massive window panes and openings connect the interior and exterior spaces giving the entire place a very open and airy feel. To complete the natural feel, Oppenheim plants a tall “living wall” of local and exotic flora in the main entryway. If at any point, this home—with its en-suite eight bedrooms—starts to feel a little cramped, there is always the 700-square-foot guest house next door. For the record, that guest is house is 200 square feet smaller than the home's main kitchen. “We worked really hard to make sure this home will enhance every aspect of your life–from pulling into this incredible garage to sitting on a second story terrace or a roof garden and opening the windows that retract automatically into the walls, really helping one connect viscerally to the place,” said Oppenheim in a promotional video for the home. The home is listed at $36 million so booking a few nights at a resort probably makes more sense. Looks like you're going to have to share the hammam room.
Affordable housing has been a critical part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda since taking office, promising to create or preserve 200,000 affordable units over the next decade. At a press conference last week, the mayor announced that his administration has made headway toward achieving this ambitious goal, financing over 17,300 affordable homes in the last year (whether his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, should have received some credit for this accomplishment has spurred debate). But even with this good news, the demand for affordable housing continues to grow. To help fix this shortage, the administration might want to take a cue from Dutch developer, Heijmans ONE, which has come up with its own win-win idea for alleviating the housing crunch in the Netherlands: putting vacant land to good use with temporary, portable housing. Heijmans ONE designed a one-bedroom prefab house that can be easily assembled in just one day. The house, which rents for 700 euros or $900, kills two birds with one stone: provides an affordable dwelling and activates empty land while construction is stalled on a project. These sleek, pentagonal-shaped homes are designed to have a small carbon footprint, using sustainable wood and solar panels. Once constructed, the house can be connected to the city’s water and sewage, but also designed to operate off the grid. New York City, with its paucity of affordable housing and glut of vacant land, could benefit from this model. Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Housing Preservation & Development have already started rolling out a plan to develop over a 1,000 city-owned properties. In the meantime, why not bring some temporary, affordable housing to sites waiting for long-term development?
With the great big residential boom in Brooklyn, the typical housing stock (brownstones, apartment complexes, and the like) has grown scarce steering developers to set their sights on the properties most readily available and ripe for conversion: churches, schools, banks, hospitals, libraries, and even municipal buildings (who needs amenities or services, anyway?!). Now, two of Brooklyn’s landmarked movie theaters—The Brooklyn Heights Cinema and Park Slope’s Pavilion Theater—have been scooped up by different developers who have proposed residential conversions. The Pavilion Theater, with its Moorish brick facade and old-fashioned marquee, first opened in the early 20th century and has had several incarnations, first as the Marathon Theatre, and then as the Sanders Theatre in in 1928. The historic cinema, however, has seen better days: According to 6sqft, the interior, which does not have landmark status, is in ramshackle condition, and has been said to have had a bed bug problem in the past few years. Developer Ben Kafash, who purchased the theater three years ago, plans to revamp the building and transform it into housing. New York City firm Architecture Outfit released two schemes, perhaps in anticipation of an obligatory review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission at some future date. One proposal turns the theater into a 6-story residential apartment complex (preserving the facade), building new apartment units facing the circle, Bartel-Pritchard Square, and adjoining a row of contemporary townhouses, outfitted with protruding windows, along 14th Street. The second scheme keeps the entire theater and replaces a one-story building at 190 Prospect Park West with new construction. The one-story, white brick building, formally housing the cozy Brooklyn Heights Cinema, has been sold to local developers Madison Estates and JMH Development for $7.5 million. The theater closed its door this past August and had been in operation for over four decades, way before Lena Dunham was buying up property in the historic neighborhood. While the new owners have yet to reveal plans for the modest structure, the Daily News said it is likely to be converted into a low-rise condo or condo building. If Brooklyn Heights residents want to see a movie, they will just have to mosey on down to DUMBO where the two-screen movie theater is moving to.
The style of architecture known as "mid-century modern" is a cousin to the "International style." A popular combination of European stylistic tendencies and domestic American influences, including furniture design, it has become an influential catch all term for distinguished post-World War II structures and commercial tract homes (like the Eichler Homes). While the style has become widely popular in lifestyle magazines like Dwell and even replicated in new suburban developments, the original homes are being regularly torn down and being replaced with bloated McMansions that have shoe closets the size of the former mid-century living rooms. But the style has a huge following and a number of organizations to highlight and preserve is monuments. Docomomo has been in the lead highlighting these structures and Palm Springs was one of the first city to host a "modernism week." The latest city to create a week of activities devoted to the style is Sarasota, Florida, which along with Palm Springs and New Canaan, Connecticut, were experimental centers of the style. The Florida city also had a gifted number of architects working in the style: Paul Rudolph and his early mentor Ralph Twitchell, Gene Leedy, Victor Lundy, Tim Seibert, and Carl Abbott. The four day event of lectures, city and house tours that took place this fall was a model of how a community can highlight its unique but disappearing history. The week was created the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (founded by Martie Lieberman, a realtor who specializes in the style of homes) which is trying to promote the city's modern architecture. It hopes to raise awareness of the style so its buildings can be preserved, updated, and even become a model of a future architecture that is more responsive to needs and demands than the typical McMansion. Sarasota prides itself on its modern history and was a unique crossroads of culture, commerce, and environment after World War II that helped birth this style. The week also highlighted the fascinating figure of Philip Hiss III who moved to the beach community in 1948 and became a major figure in the community. He was chair of its education department (which commissioned Paul Rudolph to design two high schools) and a developer of the modernist community Lido Shores. The Foundation is hoping to make their week an annual affair and the area has the modern assets to make it work.
Architects, perhaps more than any other professional group, understand property and real estate and the role it plays in the construction of buildings. But it's not often talked about it in their monographs or symposia where they prefer to speak about their designs as internally generated or part of a closed history of architecture. A new website, House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate, from Columbia University's Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, hopes to help foreground the importance of real estate in the design, development, and construction of buildings. House Housing will attempt, as it grows in content and reach, to focus on the repetitious themes, tendencies, and actions of property relations on which architecture rests. Finally, it will broaden these themes by locating housing at the center of the current economic regime, with the United States as an influential node in a transnational network. This website could not be more timely or needed as a reference point in the discussion between real estate and architecture. Have a look!