Construction Goes Small Scale with Mini Materials’s Tiny Building Supplies
Building a tiny home gains new meaning when working with Mini Materials. The U.S.-based company invites craftspeople and masons to think small for their next projects, offering pallets of cinder blocks and lumber ready to be slathered in mortar or nailed into position at either 1:6 or 1:12 scale. From construction supplies like road signs and barriers to kits for creating a backyard firepit, Mini Materials offers a vast array of products intended for minuscule fabrication, all of which are made of the same concrete or wood as their life-sized counterparts.
Shop the small supplies on the company’s site, and find a variety of projects and how-to guides on its blog and YouTube.
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In ‘Lost Tablets,’ Jan van Schaik Constructs Deteriorating Architectural Sculptures with LEGO
“The first one I made, I made by accident, like a three-dimensional doodle,” says Melbourne-based architect and artist Jan van Schaik about the sculpture that founded his Lost Tablets series. Now encompassing 89 works, the ongoing project continues to reflect this intuitive, imaginative impulse as it scales principles of monumental design into dozens of models that stand about ten inches tall.
Built with secondhand LEGO, each monochromatic construction encapsulates questions of legacy and decay. Remnants like writing, dirt, and divots imprinted in the plastic bricks from rough play are visible in van Schaik’s sculptures, which recreate aspects of “the city caves of Matera, the churches of Borromini, the arches of the Doge’s palace in Venice, the buttresses of Gothic cathedrals, and the blue ceilings of the Shah Mosque of Isfahan” as deteriorating structures. Varied in style and aesthetic, the walls contain gaping, window-like arcs, exposed mechanical gadgets, and uneven bricks that appear on the verge of collapse. Each is named after a ghost ship, or a vessel found at sea with no crew members on board, imbuing the pieces with a sense of mystery about their origins and existence.
A third-generation architect, van Schaik has long been interested in “the ways that cities recombine themselves” and how new constructions often reuse materials, objects, and foundations and embed local history within the contemporary landscape. “Cities are always building themselves on top of themselves,” he tells Colossal, referencing the ancient walls of the acropolis of Athens as an early example. His use of LEGO mimics this tradition and captures the universality of the material and subject matter. “Architecture is for everybody, and everybody is aware of it, whether they intend to be or not, whether they’re conscious of it or not,” the artist shares. “That’s why (the works) have a strange familiarity.”
This year, van Schaik plans to complete the Lost Tablets series, which will total 100 constructions, and publish another book to explore the latter half of the collection. You can see the pieces on view at two spaces in the state of Victoria, Boom Gallery in Newtown and NAP in Mildura, this spring and at The Other Art Fair in Melbourne in March. Until then, find more on the Lost Tablets site and Instagram. (via Yatzer)
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Art Design History
Industrial Materials Reconstruct Local History on a Monumental Scale in Public Sculptures by David Mach
Known for sculptures and assemblages that utilize everyday objects like bricks, coat hangers, and matches, Scottish artist David Mach has embarked on numerous large-scale, public projects that draw inspiration from local history. In his monumental “Brick Train” in Darlington, he taps into regional heritage through the use of red brick and the depiction of a life-size steam locomotive. The industrial revolution of the 19th century spurred a need to move materials like coal and steel around the country, and the first railway to use steam engines to transport passengers also originated in the area. In the U.K., red bricks have prevailed as the most popular building material, constructing long rows of terraced homes that characterize the urban landscape.
Further north in Edinburgh, the architectonic “Temple at Tyre” was constructed from dozens of shipping containers and over 8,000 tires (or tyres) in the port of Leith, a critical international shipping hub. It was installed for a month and illuminated at night to rival the city’s major landmarks, like the neoclassical National Monument on Calton Hill. The containers, which are also the focus of a proposed building in an Edinburgh business park, are immense reminders of the trade and commerce that the city is built upon.
Mach currently has additional projects in the works in London, Mauritius, and Syria. Heavy Metal, a solo exhibition opening at Pangolin London in January will highlight ongoing work in a showcase of maquettes and prints. You can find more of the artist’s work on his website.
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Tiny Holes Drilled into Bricks Provide Miniature Homes for Solitary Bees
An innovative creation of Cornwall-based Green&Blue, Bee Bricks are designed to establish homes within homes. The architectural building blocks can be layered with more typical materials and feature holes of various sizes that allow the fuzzy, winged insects a space for nesting. These multi-purpose bricks are especially crucial as bee populations dwindle due to habitat loss and a changing climate.
Burrowing inches into the blocks made of reclaimed concrete, the narrow openings are targeted at red masons, leafcutters, and other cavity-nesters that live outside of colonies. It’s estimated that the U.K. alone boasts 250 solitary species, which tend to be better pollinators than their social counterparts because they gather the sticky substance from multiple sources, which improves biodiversity.
Bee Bricks have made headlines in recent days after the city of Brighton and Hove announced that all new buildings more than five-meters-tall have to include some form of housing for the solitary creatures. The council’s move follows similar policies in Dorset and Cornwall, in addition to guidelines that establish homes for swifts in new buildings, as well.
Watch the video below to see the bricks, which are available in multiple colors, in use. You also might enjoy these portraits captured inside a home for solitary bees.
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Comprised of Undulating Bricks, A Facade Allows Light to Stream in Without Sacrificing Privacy
The innovative project of Farhad Mirzaie and the firm A.P.P. Architects & Associates, “Revolving Bricks Serai” is a dynamic office building in Arak, a city largely known as the industrial capital of Iran. Nestled within a residential area, the structure is designed with privacy in mind and features a rippling, wave-like facade made of brick that allows natural light to stream through while obstructing outside viewers from peering into the space.
The individual blocks, which have ends painted in turquoise and azure, are arranged according to parametric design. A booming trend in architecture, the style generally focuses on sweeping, curved lines, forms simulating structures occurring in nature, and a consideration of how elements interact individually and as a whole. An algorithm determines many of today’s designs based on these geometric principles, although Antoni Gaudí is widely credited for pioneering analog methods with his upside-down modeling.
Find more of Mirzaie and his firm’s recent projects on Instagram. (via Jeroen Apers)
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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.
Find more of Studio Zhu-Pei’s designs on its site and Instagram. (via Yellow Trace)
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