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Art Design History

Historic Lithograph Reveals Anamorphic Views of Razed Bank of Philadelphia

February 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

In 1832, artist John Jesse Barker added depth to a drawing by Philadelphia-based William G. Mason to create an optical illusion titled “Horizontorium.” Part of a tradition of anamorphic works, this depiction of the Bank of Philadelphia is one of the two surviving works looking at the historic financial building designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. At the time, it was the unofficial bank of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that sat at the southwest corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets. The structure was razed in 1836.

Horizontoriums became popular throughout England and France in the 18th century, although this piece is the only one known to be made in America. Viewers would set the lithograph on a flat surface and perpendicularly position their face at the center of the work (note the semicircle on this lithograph suggesting a spot for a chin) to peer over the image. The sharp angle would produce a distorted perspective that appears to project the building and its passersby upward. Sometimes, viewers even would peek through a small hole carved out of paper or cardboard to block out their peripheral vision and give the work a more distinct look. (via Graphic Arts Collection, The Morning News)

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

 

 



Design History

Historical Adobe Pigeon Towers Located Near Riyadh Captured in Photographs by Rich Hawkins

February 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Rich Hawkins, licensed for use

In modern city life, pigeons are often a nuisance to be stepped around or shooed away. But for ancient civilizations, the birds filled a necessary position, prompting communities to build masses of adobe dovecotes, or pigeon towers. Surrounded by an expansive desert with little vegetation, the historical dovecotes pictured above are located just south of Riyadh. Saudi Arabia-based photographer Rich Hawkins recently captured the fourteen towers, saying they’re the first he’s seen in the Middle Eastern country, most often spotting them in Iran, Egypt, and Qatar, where they have a lengthy history dating back to the 13th century.

Dotted with wooden pegs and hundreds of holes, the towers provided shelter and breeding areas for the birds to nest and raise their young in, which at times could amount to eight babies a year per bird, the Pigeon Control Resource Center says. While the structures throughout Europe often housed the birds as a food source, they were used instead throughout the Middle East to provide a place to harvest pigeon guano, or manure.

A lengthy piece from Aramco World detailing dovecote history throughout the region says the tower walls often were slanted to allow the droppings to amass on the central ground area, making it easier to collect. Pigeon guano is high in phosphorus and nitrogen, which is perfect for fertilizing vegetation. It also could be used to make gunpowder when combined with ash, lime, and soil or for leather tanning when mixed with water to create an ammonia substance.

As Hawkins’ photographs show, spray-painted markings and refuse mar the abandoned towers today, although the pigeons don’t seem to mind. “I was able to stay and watch the sun set as wild doves flew back and forth to their nests within the towers,” Hawkins writes on Instagram. For another look at ancient architecture that’s no longer in use, check out the stepwells of India.

 

 



Design

A Minimalist Home in Japan Utilizes a Tent Structure With Open Air Sides

February 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Takeru Shoji Architects

A new tent-shaped home built in a small agricultural village near Nagoka, a city in the Niigata prefecture of Japan, is designed with a community in mind, rather than a single family. Conceived of by Takeru Shoji Architects, the 166.24 square-meter “Hara House” is situated on a larger estate and utilizes a simple A-frame structure made up of 120 millimeter-wide beams. The two-story home has a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space downstairs, with storage and two small rooms upstairs.

The designers said the particular shape is “a stiff yet giving structure which assimilates (to) all the human behaviors,” prompting them to leave out partitions and private rooms that would split up the otherwise expansive space. Because of its bareness, “Hara House” requires its inhabitants to make use of the other buildings and areas on the land, bringing them outdoors and into a more collective setting with nature and their community.

With sloping roofs, the minimalist home also features side areas with wooden supports that open directly to the outside. “We designed a space where passing neighbors, friends and children can easily stop by to chit chat under the entrance porch, or workshop meetings and (the) events hosted in the space can spill out to the land,” the designers said in a statement. “Thus bringing down the threshold of the house and opening it to the village.”

To see more of Takeru Shoji Architects’ community-minded projects, head to Instagram. (via Fubiz)

 

 



Design Photography

Dramatic Views of Worldwide Architecture Captured by Gareth Pon (with a Hidden Twist)

January 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

Ponte, Johannesburg. All images © Gareth Pon, shared with permission

Photographer Gareth Pon (previously) encourages his audience to join in his reinvention of Where’s Waldo. His architectural photography relies on depth, pattern, and symmetry, often framing a small piece of the city he’s visiting, like the water-covered street below Chicago’s “L” or a multi-colored building complex replete with balconies and air conditioners in Hong Kong. But every image has one signature twist: Pon hides a small rocket in each of his structural pieces. On his wildly popular Instagram, the photographer shares that his lifelong dream is space travel, perhaps explaining his use of the flying object. To join Pon’s ongoing game of spot the rocket, check out his Facebook.

Chicago, Illinois

Atlanta, Georgia

Chicago, Illinois

Hong Kong

Atlanta, Georgia

Hong Kong

Chicago, Illinois

 

 



Design

A Floating Hotel with Aurora Views Just Opened on a Frozen River in Sweden

January 26, 2020

Andrew LaSane

Arctic Bath. Photographer: Anders Blomqvist

After 16 months of construction, a spa hotel built on the Lule River in the northern province of Lapland Sweden is now open to travelers. Called Arctic Bath, the 12-room hotel features six elevated land cabins and six cabins that float when the river thaws. In the center is a circular structure with saunas, hot baths around the perimeter, and a large ice bath at its core.

For the buoyant rooms and main structure, architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kauppi took design inspiration from timber floating methods used by loggers to transport felled trees downriver. The land cabins were designed by Ann Kathrin Lundqvist with glass walls that provide guests with unobstructed views of the surrounding Swedish landscape. In addition to experiencing the unique architecture, visitors have access to various spa and wellness treatments, chef-prepared meals, and activities including yoga, dogsledding, bear watching, and cross country skiing.

“The Arctic Bath really is a first—it’s a special spa experience,” Lundqvist said in a statement. “So much thought, engineering and ingenuity have come together to provide visitors with an experience they can’t find anywhere else.” Reservations for the hotel are now open, with rates starting at 9600 Swedish Krona (just more than $1,000 U.S. dollars), and dates available between February 2020 and February 2021.

Photographer: Johan Jansson

Photographer: Anders Blomqvist

Photographer: Daniel Holmgren

Photographer: Anders Blomqvist

Photographer: Daniel Holmgren

Photographer: Daniel Holmgren

Photographer: Daniel Holmgren

Photographer: Daniel Holmgren

Photographer: Daniel Holmgren

 

 



Photography

Nature Reclaims Abandoned Castles, Theaters, and Monasteries in Photographs by Jonk

January 25, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Jonk, shared with permission

Inspired by a wildlife documentary he saw as a child, Paris-based photographer Jonk (Jonathan Jimenez) travels the world in search of man-made structures that have been abandoned and reclaimed by nature. A jungle fills a dilapidated theater in Cuba, roots snake through a mansion in Taiwan, and a wild garden sprouts in a former greenhouse in Belgium. A reflection of his ecological consciousness, Jonk’s photography shows that in the power struggle between man and nature, nature always wins.

Throughout his career, the photographer has visited more than 1,000 abandoned structures in 50 countries on four different continents. The Naturalia: Chronicle of Contemporary Ruins series has led to the publication of a hardcover photography book, and Jonk says that he is working on a second volume. The juxtaposition of weakened architecture with thriving plant life tells a full story. The images capture specific moments in time and allude to the past, but for Jonk, they hint at an inevitable future. “This series also tells the story of the progression of Nature,” he said in a statement, “from the infiltration in abandoned places, through the moment where She grows inside them, until their collapse. Burial comes next along with the disappearance of all traces of Man.”

Images from the Naturalia series are currently being exhibited at the André Planson Museum in Paris through March 1, 2020, with other exhibitions planned this year. To see more of Jonk’s urban ruin photography and to follow his travels, head over to Instagram.

 

 



Animation Art Design

Mobile Architecture Twists and Morphs in Futuristic Cityscapes by AUJIK

December 30, 2019

Grace Ebert

In “Spatial Bodies: Hong Kong & Shenzhen,” the self-described “mysterious nature/tech cult” AUJIK imagines a Hong Kong and Shenzhen with architecture that shifts and moves seemingly on its own just like live organisms. Using AI and AR technologies, artist and AUJIK founder Stefan Larsson created the short film that depicts a futuristic cityscape with contracting and expanding buildings that are far from resembling typical rectangular skyscrapers. AUJIK’s creature-like structures often have an element similar to limbs or tails, in addition to facades with rounded edges that mimic moving bodies. It is a sequel to a previous project that centered Osaka.

The group says the concept for this project is based on open-source software, which theoretically would allow users to shape the architecture based on their needs and in a collaborative, public manner. Spatial Bodies was commissioned by the Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture and premiered in December 2019. The film features music by Japanese electronic artist Daisuke Tanabe. More of AUJIK’s futuristic conceptions can be found on Behance and Vimeo. (via designboom)