Harmonious Drawings and Sculptural Renderings by Louise Despont Conjure Balance in Nature
Balance, symmetry, and the geometries of proportion create a distinct visual lexicon for Louise Despont. Working in graphite and colored pencil on antique ledger paper, the French American artist practices an alchemy of pattern and color, fusing the two into intricate, contemplative renderings that evoke natural elements. “I think my work has always attempted to bridge the worlds of plant wisdom and healing with a language of architecture,” Despont tells Colossal. “I’m interested in drawing the invisible, in attempting to represent the unseen but nonetheless powerful forces and systems that surround and inhabit us. I’m interested in art-making as a co-creative experience, a bit like gardening. I plant the seeds and tend to the work, but what grows comes from its own source.”
Inspired by the homeopathy and alternative medicine practiced by the artist’s mother, Despont’s works often hearken back to botanical forms as she renders petals and writhing stems in pastel hues. Her sculptural drawings utilize bamboo and string to perfectly mirror the sweeping lines and circular shapes on each side of a three-dimensional form, and this desire for engineered precision is a nod to her grandfather, father, and partner who all have backgrounds in architecture. Whether on paper or dyed fabric, her works illuminate nature’s organic harmonies and are tinged with a reverence for its more mystical properties, focusing on the energies and expressions of the world around us.
Before moving to her current home in Mallorca, Despont was featured in three Art21 films in New York and Bali that offer insight into her earlier practice. The artist’s drawings will be on view at Art Basel in Miami this December with Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, and she is currently working on a book slated for release next year. For glimpses into her studio and process, head to Instagram.
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Ceramic Tiles Overlay an Infinity-Shaped Roof at a Bamboo Pavilion in Sichuan Province
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.
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‘Bamboo Contemporary’ Spotlights 14 Designs Advancing Sustainable Architecture Around the World
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.
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42,000 Bamboo Shoots Construct an Illuminated, Latticed Welcome Center in Vietnam
A glowing welcome center of interlaced bamboo stands at the entrance of the resort Grand World Phu Quoc in Vietnam. One of many designs by Vo Trong Nghia Architects that utilizes the ubiquitous material, the facility is comprised of arches, domes, and angular grids built from 42,000 culms, or hollow shoots. The open facade and embedded skylights allow light to stream through the building, helping to illuminate a 1,460-square-meter footprint, with visitors entering through an interior shaped like a lotus and bronze drum. “The light comes in beautifully and, along with the natural colour of bamboo, creates a warm and intimate atmosphere, even though the structure is very open in terms of airflow,” the studio shared with dezeen.
For more of Vo Trong Nghia’s architectural projects, visit the studio’s site and Instagram.
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Spiraling Nautili Rooftops Cover a Multi-Story School Made Entirely of Bamboo in Bali
A series of monumental spiraling structures with vaulted roofs and balconies overlooking a 45,000-square-meter site in Sibang Kaja, Bali, is an innovative foray into sustainable architecture. Designed by IBUKU back in 2008, “Heart of School” is made of local bamboo and grasses that once deteriorated, can be easily removed, composted, and replaced with similar materials. The multi-story structure features thatched roofs evocative of coiled nautilus shells that sit atop three, open-air towers. It houses a high school and its administration and was a catalyst for Bamboo U, which offers courses in architecture and design using the woody material.
“Heart of School” is also included in Build Better Now, a virtual exhibition highlighting 17 inventive projects working to combat the climate crisis. “Globally, CO2 emissions from the building sector are the highest ever recorded, with buildings and construction responsible for 38% of total global energy-related CO2 emissions,” a statement says. The exhibition promotes alternative, sustainable methods, and other projects include a low-carbon home made with 3D-printed clay, an “urban ecovillage” in São Paulo’s Jardim Nakamura favela, and bridges constructed with laminated timber in Amsterdam.
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12,000 Sheets of Wrinkled Rice Paper Drape Around a Monumental Installation by Zhu Jinshi
More than 12,000 sheets of delicate Xuan paper form the ruffled exterior of Zhu Jinshi’s suspended “Boat” sculpture. The renowned artist, who’s currently living and working in his hometown of Beijing, is widely regarded for pioneering Chinese abstract art, and this monumental installation from 2015 is a reflection of his conceptual, meditative practice.
Spanning 18 meters long and seven meters wide, “Boat” is comprised of wrinkled paper layers draped around bamboo frames. Countless thin cotton threads hold the individual components in place and intersect the curved, tunnel-like form with straight lines that extend vertically to the ceiling. Bisected with a central space for viewers to pass through, the metaphorical work considers the passage of time and space and is an extension of Zhu’s 2007 installation “Wave of Materials” (shown below), which features a single, halved form anchored to the gallery floor with stones.
The artist is exhibiting at West Bund Art and Design 2021 next month and is opening a solo in Shanghai at the end of the year. Until then, explore an archive of his works at Pearl Lam Galleries and on Artsy.
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