Massive Curved Vaults Mimicking Traditional Kilns House a Jingdezhen Museum Dedicated to Porcelain Production
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China is widely recognized as the porcelain capital of the world with a more than 2,000-year history of producing prized ceramics. As an homage to that tradition, architects from Studio Zhu-Pei constructed an open-air structure with towering arches mimicking traditional kilns. The expansive brick vaults now house the northern city’s Imperial Kiln Museum, which sits adjacent to the production sites used during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
To preserve and demarcate the existing ruins on the grounds, Studio Zhu-Pei configured the new building around the remnants, like courtyards and monuments embedded in the ground, in a way that brings together history and contemporary culture in a single space. Each of the curved structures, which is comprised of both recycled and new bricks, differs in volume and length, allowing light to stream in at varying angles throughout the day. The museum’s entrance is on the ground level so that the “experience of people entering it is the same as the past artisans,” the architects say in a statement.
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Glasgow-based artist Lola Dupré (previously) continues her practice of slicing and rearranging photographs and art historical works into cleverly surreal collages. Her newest manipulations include a blockheaded Léon Bonnat, an entire row of irresistible puppy eyes, and a twisted rendition of George Stubbs’s “The Kongouro from New Holland.” Dupré’s cat, Charlie, still finds himself as fodder for the unusual works—see two pieces centered on him below—and the artist is currently in the process of creating her 33rd portrait of the orange-and-white feline. Find more of the Dupré’s compositions in the latest issue of Standart Magazine, shop originals and prints on her site, and see the distorted works in person at Portland’s Brassworks Gallery later this year. You also can follow along with the contorted creations on Instagram and Behance.
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Staggering Photos Capture a Frozen Apartment Complex in Vorkuta, a Dwindling Russian City That's the Coldest in Europe
Photographer Arseniy Kotov is dedicated to documenting the changes in Russian life and architecture since the fall of the USSR, a commitment that brought him to the coldest European city last February. Located about 110 miles from the Arctic Ocean, Vorkuta is a small mining town that once held one of the largest and most grueling forced labor camps during Stalin’s reign. Often plagued by temperatures as low as -45 degrees Celcius, the city now has one of the fastest dwindling populations in all of Russia.
During Kotov’s visit, he toured various housing complexes built for workers, many of which were abandoned when the mines closed. One building in particular, though, is evidence of how desertion continues to unsettle the once-thriving city, an ongoing problem that Kotov captured in a stunning series. His photographs frame the dilapidated, five-story structure that’s entirely subsumed by feet-long icicles and mounded snow. Relics from former residents and the chipped, blue paint peek through the frost, much of which clings to the stairs and banisters and climbs the walls.
Kotov tells Colossal that often, buildings are transformed into similarly chilling caves when pipes burst due to lack of maintenance, leading to splashes of hot water, subsequent high humidity, and then ice growth on every surface. At the time of his visit, one family remained in the Severniy-district building, which was still connected to the central heating system that runs through Russian cities, making it easier to pass through some of the walkways thanks to warmth from the radiators. Although Kotov wasn’t able to meet the sole occupants, he did hear that they moved not long after his tour, saying:
As I know, locals said that after one week as I visited this building, he and his wife were resettled to another apartment, and this whole building was cut off from all the communications (water, heating, electricity). This is a usual story in Vorkuta: as less and less people are left, it becomes unprofitable to heat an entire building, and people are gradually moved to others where there are more inhabitable apartments. Local authorities call it a “managed compression strategy.”
Many of Kotov’s photographs are compiled in Soviet Cities: Labour, Life & Leisure, and his second book, which is full of images he captured while hitchhiking around the country, is slated for release in November. Prints are available from Galleri Artsight, and you can follow Kotov’s sightings and travels on Instagram.
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In his architectural portraits, Patrick Akpojotor visualizes the exchange between humans and their built environments, whether real or imagined. The artist’s spatial body of work, which explicitly contemplates the relationship between interiority and exteriority, is founded in his childhood in Lagos, a city checkered with traditional, colonial, and contemporary structures where he still lives today. “I saw how a former residential area became a commercial one changing how people interacted with that community,” he says.
Rendered in bold blocks of acrylic, Akpojotor’s paintings encourage introspection as they consider how identities inform the design of single buildings and infrastructure, which in turn shape the people who occupy those spaces. The anthropomorphic structures evoke cubist geometry and illusion, fracturing the body with a staircase, brick chimney, or entire house, and some works shown here, including both “In Memory of the Living” pieces, are self-portraits.
Beyond his surroundings in Nigeria, Akpojotor derives inspiration from ancient African sculptures and masks, particularly “the way the forms are intentionally distorted to pass messages and symbols of their (beliefs),” he shares. “In my work, the way object(s) are placed does not matter. What is important is that the object(s) are represented, and the message is passed.”
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Nestled in the mountainous region of Taipei’s Xindian district is a new home by Yuan Architects that mirrors the stately landscape outdoors. In “Lan Villa,” the international design firm constructed a central, curved wall that sweeps upward as it follows the two staircases from ground floor to ceiling. It mimics the roving scenery that can be viewed through the large, glass windows covering the back facade.
Cloaked in wooden slats, the striking enclosure spans all three stories of the 2,390-square-foot home, which features a kitchen, dining area, and large deck on the first level, main entrance and mezzanine on the second, and bedrooms on the uppermost floor. The bowed wall “represents the flow of life through an architectural structure,” the firm says in a statement about the project. “As a collector of seasonal changes outdoors as well as an interface of the living space, the wall reflects every variation of light and color on the rolling hills and casts different colors of light into the living space accordingly.”
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Although it boasts more than 50,000 books, the massive library at the heart of the Kadokawa Culture Museum (previously) isn’t just for bibliophiles or curious readers hoping to stumble upon a new title. Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma (previously), the towering venue is more accurately billed as a cultural gathering space than a traditional book collection, which Ryosuke Kosuge, who works as RK, recently documented a new series of photographs.
Just months after its opening, the Tokyo-area library already has hosted a variety of music and theater performances, with the staggered shelving and metal walkways serving as a backdrop. Many of the events—which you can see photographs of on Kadokawa’s Instagram—utilized the available projection mapping technology and embedded screens, creating immersive experiences that illuminate the largely wood-lined space with a candy-colored glow.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.