Even though Jing Zhang says that she is “running out of patience” to finish this letter marathon, I’m hoping she can trudge through because these letters are fantastic. The communicative constructions are rendered in axonometric projections, as if we were playing an architectural video game. Zhang is no architect, but started out as a fashion illustrator. Now, she works in a variety of styles and you can tell from her portfolio that her interests are varied. What’s fun about this series are the surprising scenarios created within the framework of the letters and the curious scale figures that inhabit this unfinished alphabet.
What would you expect from a restaurant built inside an architecture park? This particular restaurant is Restaurant 13, designed by Johan de Wachter which is located in the Jinhua Architecture Park. The park is a series of slightly bizarre structures designed by an international menagerie of architects selected by the park’s organizers: Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. What’s remarkable about the restaurant, structurally, is the column grid that extends beyond the restaurant enclosure. What’s remarkable about the restaurant’s programming is the consideration for three different paces of dining: there’s a street food component for the fast folks, a sit-down restaurant for medium-paced food ingestion and a lounge restaurant for the slow folks. Overall, the layers of steel, glass, bamboo and dining speeds make this atypical restaurant well suited for an architecture park.
These are images from the shiny, new West Hollywood Public Library designed by Johnson Favaro. Barely a week old, the library has been enjoying a bevy of publicity (including a very flattering write up in the LA Times). Indeed, there is much to admire within this project: the artworks, the ornamented surfaces and the surprisingly fancy materials. Who funded this, the Medici family? Speaking of, what’s also surprising is the replica of the vestibule from the Laurentian Library inside. You know, the 16th century library designed by Michelangelo? After being cut, pasted and dry-walled, the vestibule is now a children’s theater. But the allusion is not intended to deceive; from the outside of the theater, the plywood walls give a hint about the veneer of artificial history about to surprise you.
In his review, Hawthorne suggests that this library may be the beginning of a postmodern revival in the region; I’m not sure if he’s right, but I’ve heard several critics talk about reexamining postmodernism in the past few years. The Laurentian Library may not be embedded within your local library anytime soon, but historic forms may start reappearing in lieu of the novel and tortured geometries that punctuate many architecture projects under construction. Whether the horizon is full of more history or more blobs is anybody’s guess, and it will probably be both. Hundreds more photos of the project, including the ones above, can be found here.
Editors note: You can learn more about the library over on Los Angeles, I’m Yours, as well as seeing Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf, and RETNA create their pieces that adorn the library.
This is the Museum of Ocean and Surf in Biarritz, France. Designed by Steven Holl, the building is almost shaped like a giant half-pipe with two glassy boxes protruding in the middle. Instead, Holl describes an “incredible cup form; one side moves you toward the ocean horizon, and the other side cups the space up into the distance.” But maybe we could read the form as the trough of a wave– either way there’s a fluidity (or maybe plasticity) to the ‘incredible cup form” that Holl describes. But surfing isn’t the focus of the museum, just a lure; the focus is to raise awareness about the science and health of the oceans.
This is one of those simple ideas that must be hard to execute: a regular frame that organizes program along structural bays. Architect Petr Hajek completed a house in Beroun that does just this. The simplicity is deceiving, because hidden in the frame and between the walls are dividers, screens and doors that control privacy for the folks lucky enough to live there. The material palette seems a bit severe, but I’m surprised how livable the house appears in these photos. Strict geometry and concrete can start to resemble a bunker very quickly, but this seems more exciting.
Still, this house raises questions like “how does the roof drain?” or “where do people sit in the living room?” I’m sure it works. There is one problem that I’m not sure how the architect solved: the front door. Whenever you set up a regular structural system like this, how do you interrupt it for the entrance? Maybe you don’t; If the front door occupies an entire bay… that would be a door three meters tall and three meters wide. That’s huge, but it’s what appears to be happening in the middle photo (the only photo I could find showing the entrance.) Still, even if you have to muscle your way through the front door, it’s a stunning place to call home.