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Design

Reimagining an Iconic Midwestern Structure, Catie Newell Cuts a Slice of Sky Out of a Michigan Barn

June 21, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Catie Newell, shared with permission

In the township of Hume in rural eastern Michigan, an unassuming barn stands sentry in a wide-open field, partially covered in wild vines and grasses. Like many Midwestern farm structures, it’s weathered and has seen years of use and repairs, but one recent alteration makes it a standout among its counterparts: a careful cut through the middle of the structure reveals a slice of sky. Conceived by Detroit-based architect and educator Catie Newell, founder of Alibi Studio, the project reworks the iconic framework of an aging farm building to allow light through an unexpected aperture.

A team of more than two dozen construction professionals and volunteers collaborated on Secret Sky’s transformation, which is part of an ongoing series of barn interventions in rural parts of the state that are commissioned by Greater Port Austin Art and Placemaking. The nonprofit’s project 53 North works with creative practitioners to adapt and save unused, aging, wooden barns in the region.

To make the massive cut for Secret Sky, original materials were patiently reworked and replaced by hand, including restructuring the overall design so that major beams and a column could be removed to open up the new space. Simultaneously subtracting a large volume and also adding a new area, visitors can now pass through what Newell describes as a merging of building and landscape and “a gift to the sky.” Both meditative and striking in the daytime, at twilight the barn is illuminated and glows lantern-like, casting long shadows across the field as light escapes through the slats in the walls.

As part of the ongoing project to preserve the building, Newell is currently raising funds to replace the original roof shingles and protect it for years to come. You can donate to support Secret Sky at 53 North and learn more on Newell’s website.

 

Image © Ben Lawson

 

 

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Design

A Typographic Tribute Honors the Residents and Neighbors of a Now-Demolished House in Sainte-Marie

June 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Paprika, shared with permission

For five days in November 2020, a house in Sainte-Marie, Québec, identified all of its residents and neighbors on Saint Louis Avenue. Antoine Audet, Maude Faucher, James Audet… the list included hundreds of names inked on strips of white paper and pasted to the clapboards.

The ephemeral design was the project of Louis Gagnon, creative director of the Montréal-based studio Paprika who lived in the house as a child and wanted to honor its tenants and friends before it was demolished. Back in 2019, major flooding swamped the city, and the government required that the most damaged residences be razed. 283 Saint Louis was one of nearly 60 to be torn down that summer.

At the time, 93-year-old Béatrice Vachon had been living in the house for nearly seven decades. “She hoped to spend her twilight years at the same address,” the studio said. “Sainte-Marie is the kind of tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone, from one generation to the next. Here, neighbors saw children being born and growing up; and neighbors helping each other was simply a common practice. Very few people have ever walked away.”

 

As the city prepared for such life-altering change, Gagnon reached out to his sisters to help remember former residents, frequent visitors, and others with ties to the neighborhood. Before printing the names, he tweaked an existing font to reflect the decorative architectural details, and many of the letters feature curved flourishes with upper points evocative of those on the front porch columns.

One photo of 283 Saint-Louis just before it was leveled shows Vachon standing outside her home plastered with the typographic tribute. “As darkness arrives, the house stands before its imminent destruction, bearing witness to a life of stories and memories,” Gagnon said. “A last hommage. An act of resilience.”

For more images and video from the demolition site, visit Paprika’s Behance.

 

 

 



Design

Ceramic Tiles Overlay an Infinity-Shaped Roof at a Bamboo Pavilion in Sichuan Province

June 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Archi-Union Architects

Daoming Town in Sichuan Province, China, is known for its bamboo weaving traditions. “The practice,” says Archi-Union Architects, “is more than a rural industry. It is an integral part of the way families in the town spend time together and how neighbors visit with each another.”

One of the firm’s projects titled “In Bamboo” is an homage to this rich local custom. Constructed in just 52 days back in 2018, the multi-use pavilion stretches 1,800 square meters and contains space for exhibitions, gatherings, and dining. The steel and wood structure supports a twisting, infinity-shaped roof of small ceramic tiles, which slopes down near a reflective pool at the center of the building.

Evoking the brushstroke of a traditional Chinese landscape painting and situated amongst a bamboo forest, the Mobius-style design is meant to capture the relationships between interior and exterior and heritage and innovation. “The new definition offered for traditional paradigms and the rethinking of rural and urban issues provide a lens for thinking about the meaning of architecture in the present time,” said lead architect Philip F. Yuan.

Find more photos of “In Bamboo,” in addition to an archive of Archi-Union’s projects, on its site.

 

 

 



Animation History Illustration

An Exhibition Unearths Rare Production Drawings from the Futuristic Neo Tokyo of the Anime Classic ‘Akira’

June 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

Akira, cut #1, Final production background detail, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 93 x 53 centimeters. All photos from AKIRA (Movie), based on the graphic novel AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo. First published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd. © MASH • ROOM / AKIRA COMMITTEE, shared with permission

Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 sci-fi classic Akira has had an unparalleled influence on anime and film, and an exhibition at the Tchoban Foundation in Berlin showcases the original drawings that brought its futuristic cyberpunk setting to life. Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo features 59 production backdrops, layouts, concepts, and image boards, many of which have never been shown publicly. The collection includes now-iconic works by art director Toshiharu Mizutani and collaborators Katsufumi Hariu, Norihiro Hiraki, Shinji Kimura, Satoshi Kuroda, Hiromasa Ogura, Hiroshi Ōno, Hajime Soga, Tsutomu Uchida, and Takashi Watabe.

Otomo first released the dystopian story as a manga series in 1982 before turning it into the highly influential action film a few years later. The narrative follows characters Shōtarō Kaneda, the telekinetic Tetsuo Shim, and their friends, who navigate the imagined Japanese metropolis of Neo Tokyo with its neon streetlights, crumbling infrastructure, and unrelenting post-apocalyptic vibe.

Ahead of the exhibition, curator Stefan Riekeles also released the book Anime Architecture: Imagined Worlds and Endless Megacities. The volume contains fantastic scenes from various animated classics including Ghost in the Shell and Metropolis. You can see Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo through September 4, and according to It’s Nice That, the show might travel to London next.

 

Akira, pattern no. 182, final production background, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 55 x 42 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 2211, final production background, Hiroshi Ohno, poster color on paper, 50 x 36 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 2204, picture board, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 25 x 35 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 700, final production background Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 26 x 37 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 214, final production background, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 25.5 x 37 centimeters

 

 



Design

‘Bamboo Contemporary’ Spotlights 14 Designs Advancing Sustainable Architecture Around the World

May 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

Tommaso Riva. All images courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press, shared with permission

Six times stronger than steel and using an estimated 50 times less energy to produce, bamboo is at the forefront of sustainable architecture. The durable material is central to recent projects like a latticed welcome center in Vietnam and this swelling canopy offering respite from the elements of the Karst Mountains, two constructions that accentuate the plant’s organic shape and sturdy qualities.

A new book published by Princeton Architectural Press highlights fourteen homes around the world built with the perennial grass. Written by author and architectural historian William Richards, Bamboo Contemporary explores a vast array of styles and techniques, ranging from sleek remodels with the material to the lavish home in Bali fabricated by the firm behind this spiraling school. “In design circles, bamboo has been heralded as the material of the future—a pliable solution for architects seeking sustainable methods and materials. For many architects and builders along the equatorial band, bamboo’s past is just as rich. It’s both new and nothing new at the same time,” Richards writes in the introduction.

Containing structural renderings and photos for each project, the 256-page volume is an insightful and forward-looking consideration of the architects working toward a more environmentally conscious future. Explore more by picking up a copy of Bamboo Contemporary from Princeton Architectural Press.

 

Maira Acayaba

Mischa Witzmann

Satoshi Asakawa

Mischa Witzmann

Photo by Marc Gerritsen

 

 



Design

A House of Crimson Steel Vines Harbors Memory and Mourning in Wuhan Shimenfeng Memorial Park

May 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images by Jin Weiqi

Rambling, weathered ivy constructs the walls of a home placed among the quiet, serene cemetery of Wuhan Shimenfeng Memorial Park. The project of designer Hu Quanchun of Field Conforming Studio, “The Vanished House” elicits the act of remembering in a public space devoted to mourning and memories. Tension between the enduring and transitory pervades the architectural work, shown through the combination of the sturdy material and open roof that appears to fade around the perimeter.

In a statement about the memorializing project, the studio likens the structure to that of a child’s sketch, explaining that the simple design draws attention to the sprawling vegetal forms laser cut from sheets of Corten steel. Over time, the crimson material will age with rain and sun, and its rusted color will stand in starker contrast to the green environment.

For more from Field Conforming Studio, including a similar vine-based project installed at Delong Steel Art Park in Leting, Tangshan, visit its site. (via designboom)

 

 

 

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