Tag Archives: architecture

A Drought in Mexico Uncovers a 400-Year-Old Colonial Church in the Middle of a Reservoir 

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Licensed from the AP / David von Blohn

Usually when droughts occur and reservoir water levels recede, it’s not a good thing. But a certain drought in Southern Mexico is attracting a lot of enthusiasm. Water levels in the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir have dropped by 82 ft (25 meters), revealing the remains of a mid-16th century colonial church. Known as the Temple of Santiago, the structure was erected by Dominican friars but then abandoned in the 1770s because of plagues.

The 48-ft tall church became a relic of memory in 1966 when the construction of a dam submerged it under water. Since then it’s only emerged twice: once in 2002 and again, now. As it did in 2002, the church has become a popular destination for tourists and local fisherman have been taking spectators out on boats to get a close-up view of the rare occurrence.

“The people celebrated,” recalls a local fisherman, of the last time the church emerged out of the water. “They came to eat, to hang out, to do business. I sold them fried fish.” If the drought continues, water levels could get low enough for people to walk inside the church.

Photos by David von Blohn, used with permission.

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Artist Theaster Gates Bought a Crumbling Chicago Bank for $1 and Turned it Into a World-Class Arts Center 

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Tom Harris © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

One might think that an abandoned 1920s bank on Chicago’s South Side, crumbling from top to bottom—the roof long collapsed, exposing the interior to snow and rain for years—would be destined for a wrecking ball. Like so many other decaying structures in the area, that was certainly the fate of the Stony Island Savings & Loan building before artist, urban planner, and Chicago resident Theaster Gates intervened.

Armed with only a vision to carry him through, Gates acquired the 20,000-square-foot bank for $1.00 from the city of Chicago and set about an unbelievable restoration. This month, amidst all the hubbub of Chicago’s Architecture Biennale, the doors were thrown open and the public was given the opportunity to walk through the new Stony Island Arts Bank. While construction is complete, several details of the bank’s history including peeling paint and damaged ceiling tiles have been preserved to physically merge the past and present.

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Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

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Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

The Stony Island Arts Bank is a place that proudly defies convention. A community savings and loan bank shuttered since the 1980s turned into a world-class arts center in the middle of a greatly under-resourced community most in need of bold ideas. It’s the kind of place that civic leaders propose and residents dream of, but for a thousand reasons it never seems to materialize. And yet here it is.

Gates’ idea has now manifested itself as a platform for site-specific exhibitions and commissions, artist residencies, and as a home for the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the artist in 2010 that seeks specifically to foster culture and development in underinvested neighborhoods. In addition, the arts bank houses the vinyl archive of Frankie Knuckles, regarded as the “Godfather of House Music,” as well as 60,000 glass lantern slides from the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute. You can also find the personal magazine and book collection of John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony and Jet magazines.

In a press release Gates describes the Arts Bank as “an institution of and for the South Side,” “a repository for African American culture and history, a laboratory for the next generation of black artists,” and “a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine and share their heritage, as well as a destination for artists, scholars, curators, and collectors to research and engage with South Side history.”

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Tom Harris © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

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Tom Harris © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

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Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

The building’s first exhibition is by Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga, whose installation Under the Skin introduces towering cardboard columns to the bank’s towering first-floor gallery. The facility will undoubtedly be used as a place for black artists, community members, and other individuals to experiment with and engage with the South Side, in an environment Gates refers to as a “laboratory.”

“Projects like this require belief more than they require funding,” Gates tells Fast Company. “If there’s not a kind of belief, motivation, and critical aggregation of people who believe with you in a project like this, it cannot happen. The city is starting to realize that there might be other ways of imagining upside beside ‘return on investment’ and financial gain.”

You can visit the new arts bank Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-6pm. (via Fast Company, the Chicago Reader).

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Tom Harris © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

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Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

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Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

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Tom Harris © Hedrich Blessing. Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation.

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A New Book Celebrates the 200 Most Beautiful and Innovative Cabins Ever Designed 

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Built as retreats for solitude and reflection, cabins are typically found in remote areas, tucked into the forest-filled corners of civilization. Due to their remote nature, they are often secreted from the public eye, unless you know the right path to explore. However, as a group of friends (including co-founder of Vimeo, Zach Klein) began to collect inspiration for cabin building projects, they discovered a vast array of outdoor structures and tree-houses with unique architecture on the backroads of America and around the world. They quickly began to document their discoveries online, and the Cabin Porn site was born.

Cabin Porn grew over the course of six years to amass a following of over 350,000 on Tumblr and became a visual bastion for architects, camping aficionados, and anyone craving an escape with a collection of over 12,000 cabin designs. The site has now been transformed into a printed book by the same name, Cabin Porn, a collection that adds narrative to the spaces first documented online to include interior photography, new homes, and advice from cabin makers that touch on subjects from how to live underground to crafting an off-grid bunkhouse.

The book narrows down its sprawling inspiration to just 200 cabins and hopes to not only present the aesthetic of these cabins, but the feel they elicit in their construction. “Inside each of us is a home ready to be built,” says the book’s website. “It takes a supply of ambition and materials to construct a cabin, but the reward is handsome: a shelter for yourself somewhere quiet, and a place to offer warm hospitality to friends.”

Cabin Porn can now be found on Amazon. Take a peek inside the book, and watch a lovely trailer below.

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New Architectural Collages That Double as Visual Poems by Matthias Jung 

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Matthias Jung (previously) creates worlds of surreal architecture that inhabit vast photographed landscapes. The works merge together different elements of photography to create unusual compositions, structures you might vividly remember from a dream. By placing the composite structures in commonplace landscapes the German-based graphic designer preserves their believability, allowing us to momentarily trick our brains into thinking these places actually exist in environments we have not yet explored.

Jung refers to the works as “architectural short poems,” a perfect description for how they are visually consumed by the eye. You can see more of his surreal architectural collages on his website gallery here.

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Rathausblat-gross

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Moped-gross

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Vertical Panoramic Photographs of New York Churches by Richard Silver 

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Church of St. Vincent Ferrer

Richard Silver (previously) has a unique way of looking at architecture, building composite photographs from several images that seamlessly reveal a structure’s interior. His new series captures the insides of New York churches, and are perfectly timed for the Pope’s impending arrival on U.S. soil. These images are composed of 6-10 shots, forming a vertical panorama so cohesive that it might give you vertigo.

Although Silver has been to hundreds of churches during his career and many years of travel, it’s only recently that he figured out how to capture the expansive inner beauty of their architecture. “Finding the perfect location in the center aisle then shooting vertically from the pew to the back of the church gives the perspective that only architecture of this style can portray,” says Silver.

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Church of St. Stephen / Church of St. Paul the Apostle

Silver was born and raised in New York and has visited 75 countries in his life, including 13 last year alone. His previous careers involved computer science, real estate, and a stint on Wall Street, but he embraced photography full-time in 2011. You can see more of his vertical church series on his Flickr page here.

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Calvary Episcopal Church

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Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava / Church of the Village

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Church of St. Francis Xavier

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Vincent St. de Paul / Most Holy Redeemer Church

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St. Monica’s Church

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Constrained by the Limitations of Soviet-Era Architecture, Brodsky & Utkin Imagined Fantastical Structures on Paper 

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Hill with a Hole, 1987/90
. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

To be an architect with vision in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 80s, was to witness a near complete loss of Moscow’s historical architectural heritage. Restrictions on aesthetics, quality building materials, and access to skilled labor resulted in poorly designed structures void of inspiration that were practically destined to crumble. Architects with any shred of ambition were severely limited by communist bureaucracy and were often outright penalized for their ideas. Desperately seeking a creative outlet, these constrained artists and designers turned instead to paper.

Perhaps the most vivid example of this is the work of renowned Soviet “paper architects” Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin who from 1978 to 1993, retreated into their imaginations to create fantastical etchings as a revolt against communist architecture. Paper architecture (or visionary architecture), is the name given to architecture that exists only on paper that possesses visionary, often impossible ideas interlaced with whimsey, humor, satire, and science fiction.

Building on ideas borrowed from Claude Nicolas Ledoux, the design of Egyptian tombs, and urban master plans envisioned by Le Corbusier, the duo conceived of obsessivly detailed renderings that seeme to fill every inch of the canvas with buildings, bridges, arches, domes, and schematics. Through these artworks, Brodsky & Utkin criticized the aesthetic norms of the day until their partnership ended shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Princeton Architectural Press just released the third edition of Brodsky & Utkin, a large volume containing 30 duotones from the artists, but also includes “an updated preface by the artists’ gallery representative, Ron Feldman, a new introductory essay by architect Aleksandr Mergold, visual documentation of the duo’s installation work, and rare personal photographs.” Several Brodsky & Utkin prints are also currently on view at Tate Modern. (via Hyperallergic)

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Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Contemporary Architectural Art Museum, 1988/90
. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Diomede, 1989/90
. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Doll’s House, 1990
. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Dwelling House of Winnie-the-Pooh, 1990. 
Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Glass Tower II, 1984/90. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Ship of Fools or a Wooden Skyscraper for the Jolly Company, 1988/90. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Villa Nautilus, 1990. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc.

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