A Mirrored Ceiling and Gleaming Tile Floor Turn This Chinese Bookstore into an Immersive M.C. Escher-Style Illusion
X+Living is known for its deceptively designed Zhongshuge bookstores that mimic M.C. Escher woodcuts and trippy infinite spaces. The latest iteration is this dreamy location in Chengdu featuring bold archways, a reflective tile floor that makes the display tables appear like floating boats, and a mirror embedded in the ceiling to create a seemingly endless loop of stairways and shelving. Completed in 2020, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge has a cafe on the first floor, along with a children’s area occupied by a bamboo forest and pandas climbing the bookcases. In the rest of the two-story space, the uppermost shelves lining the winding walkways are covered in a decorative print, adding to the illusion of countless volumes and ensuring all 80,000 available titles are within a customer’s reach.
See more of the Zhongshuge locations, in addition to the Shanghai-based studio’s cinemas, family parks, and retail spaces, on its site.
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Last summer, The New York Times Magazine published a series of articles declaring that climate migration—a global exodus that’s predicted to displace between 50 and 300 million people worldwide—has begun. As more regions surrounding the equator become uninhabitable due to rising temperatures, crop losses, and disasters, entire populations will be forced to relocate to regions with more stable environments and economies. This impending movement coupled with an ongoing lack of affordable housing has sparked a wave of conversation about how best to remedy the looming crisis.
As a partial antidote, a Bologna-based studio, Mario Cucinella Architects, teamed up with the 3D-printing company WASP to design a low-carbon home that’s easily and quickly reproduced. Called “Tecla,” the prototype is a pair of sloping domes that can be built in only 200 hours using an average of six kilowatt-hours of energy. It’s made of 350 layers of coiled clay, which is sourced from a nearby river, that serves as thermal insulation for the earthen structure complete with a living area, kitchen, and sleeping quarters. Two skylights embedded in the roof of the 4.2-meter-tall domes allow light to enter the 60-square-meter space.
A short video from WASP documents the construction technique in Massa Lombarda, which involves two synchronized printing arms that glide back and forth to layer the walls. Producing almost no waste, the process is adaptable to other raw materials, making it a viable option for housing beyond the Italian region.
Find a larger collection of Mario Cucinella Architects’ and WASP’s climate-focused projects and looks into their processes on Instagram. You also might enjoy this 3D-printed home by Rael San Fratello. (via Dezeen)
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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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Editor's Picks: Art
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