Let’s Cut This Bunker In Half

A concrete bunker sliced in half

a walkway through the former bunker

Cutting a bunker in half can’t be easy, but it sure looks sweet. This project, Bunker 599 is a collaboration between Rietveld Landscape (the folks behind the Vacant NL pavilion full of blue foam) and Atelier de Lyon. It seems a little too obvious to compare Bunker 599 to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, but it also seems too obvious not to: the architects have created a new space by cutting through an existing one.

It’s a straightforward idea, but uh… how do you go about actually cutting so cleanly through the cubic meters of concrete standing in your way? The contrasts this operation sets up (between rough and smooth, old and new, solid and void) lend this bunker the feeling of a memorial or a monument. But it may just be that the photos were taken on a gloomy day.


Alex Dent

January 31, 2011 / By

27, A Journey Through Architecture in Europe

Tietgen Dormitory

Darrell O'Donoghue

You may not be able to understand all the words that happen in this video (and props if you do) but the pace and tone, along with the few words I can understand, convey that this video previews an exciting survey of contemporary architecture across the 27 countries in Europe. The architects featured in the trailer are emerging voices in the profession, and lead firms that are doing exciting work. It’s exciting to see my old boss, Julien De Smedt in the mix.

Speaking of mix– it’s wonderful, and kind of shocking, as an American to visit Europe and see the contrast between new and old. Cities in the States are so much younger than cities in Europe and the European Public has a different attitude toward historic buildings. Pair these two together and you get a seasoned urban fabric that’s polka-dotted with bold and contemporary buildings like the one featured in the short preview, created by LAN Architecture and Fat Cat films.

The notion that buildings can communicate without actually speaking is called Architecture Parlante. Which is nice, but I hope that when this project is finished it has english subtitles.


Alex Dent

January 27, 2011 / By

Kind of Like An Inverted but Sophisticated Lite-Brite

stained glass perpendicular to the window

layered translucent color panels

While we’re on the topic of color (see yesterday’s post) there’s this lovely research center up in Canada that uses translucent layers of colors as part of the project’s exterior. The colors make the building look happy rather than institutional. Designed by MCM Partnership, the Child and Family Research Institute carries out translational research about a whole host of disorder and diseases that are no fun at all: obesity, diabetes, and childhood infectious/inflammatory diseases.  No thanks.

While most of the project’s materiality is naturally or neutrally-colored concrete, stone, wood or metal, there are repeated moments where brighter colors literally shine into the project. In the top photo, you can see the stained-glass fins that sit perpendicular to the windows. I’m not sure if you would still call them shadows, but the resulting colored parallelograms of light move across the building’s surface throughout the day; when the shadows are long, they overlap and make other colors. In the lower picture, there’s a slightly more complex wall construction where clear glass windows are set into a translucent polycarbonate wall with a random distribution of colored polycarbonate panels. It’s an effect precedented at the Laban Dance Centre by Herzog and de Meuron. For the CFRI, the use of color is pretty smart if you ask me: it invigorates an otherwise fairly neutral project and continually changes throughout the day, briefly making a spectacle of the southern face before sunset.

And while diseases are not fun, this building is seeking an antidote inside and out.


Alex Dent

January 26, 2011 / By

An Idea Space To Match Your Highlighted Notes

fluorescent interior

These are photos of the Bangkok University Creative Center designed by SuperMachine Studios. The most dominate feature of the 600 square meters is the bold use of color… and even bold doesn’t quite portray the magnitude of color cajones it must have taken to realize this space. From the giant array of rotating pixels, to the highlighter-colored “internet center” to the day-lit spaces that line the periphery, this project creates a variety of workspaces for students to be creative. And the room is no blank slate, but another source of inspiration for students who go there.

The variety of spaces in the Creative Center seem to mirror the head spaces you occupy when you’re trying to solve a creative problem. There are more somber and serious spaces like the ones that line the exterior where you get stuff done, and spaces more playful, like the roving internet center where you sometimes get things done.  And there’s plenty of space for distraction: not by cat videos, but by a wall of thousands of color-changing pixels. The wall could even be used to make a cat video, but someone would have to have the patience and determination to re-arrange each pixel by hand for every frame of the video. Or just stare around the room, thinking about the polychromatic hues and looking for your favorite one.


Alex Dent

January 25, 2011 / By