You guys seemed to enjoy yesterday’s post about watchtowers and a few of you sent me photos of some great towers projects. So today, as a postscript (or should that be postpost?) I’m happily offering up two more towers for your consideration; this time with a bit more information about the towers.
Up top, we have the Samitaur Tower by Eric Owen Moss. In the firm’s own words:
“The tower consists of five circular steel rings, approximately 30 feet in diameter. The rings are stacked vertically at 12 foot floor-to-floor intervals, and, as the height increases, the rings are staggered in plan, back and forth – to the north, east, south, and west – in order to establish proximity and viewing angles for various levels at various heights. [...]Its primary objective is to distribute art and other relevant content to the local and the in-transit audiences passing by.”
For some reason, the Samitaur Tower reminds me of another project not too far down the street: the Claes Oldenburg Binoculars in front of the Chiat/Day Building. Don’t see it? Maybe the model is more convincing. Still no? Just imagine half the binocular sculpture… inverted. See it?
Next, is the Kupla Tower on Korkeasarri Island in Finland. The name of the tower comes from the word for bubble and this particular bubble is constructed out of crossing wooden battens bolted together. A lookout tower in the Helsinki Zoo, Kupla Tower was designed by a then-graduate student Ville Hara. The shape isn’t amorphous, but anthropomorphic if you ask me: it looks like a head, or maybe even a stomach; like a Martin Puryear sculpture with stairs inviting you to climb inside. There’s an interview with Ville where he talks about the “bubble” tower, starting his office and why it takes Finns 8-10 years to finish Architecture school. It’s worth the read.
Yesterday, the towers we looked at were more secluded than these two, but I think the forms of each tower looks great in its respective setting. And why not? A sculpture in the middle of the city is just as lovely as one in the woods.
Last week, Phillip wrote a great post about observation structures in Norway. To start this week, I thought I’d follow his post by sharing some contemporary watchtowers built in the Netherlands that are also worthy of geeking out about.
To start with, the topographies of Norway and the Netherlands are quite different. One of the of the reasons why the structures from Phillip’s post are so spectacular is because of their scenic settings. But if you heart jumps at the mountainous situation those observation decks, your heart may flatline looking out across the Dutch level landscape from these watchtowers. That is, until you look down at the the structures themselves.
I couldn’t figure out if there was some kind of governmental agency that sponsored or coordinated the construction of these guys, but it seems remarkable if such a variety of these spectacles decided to pop up on their own. If I could read Dutch or get past links to covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” I might be able to find out. (FYI: Even the Indigo Girls have covered it.) I found all of the photos above on the flickr site of Klaas Vermaas, an architect from Utrecht. His photostream is huge (nearly 19,000 images) and growing, packed with photos from all over the place but still plenty of photos from the country he calls mijn huis.
It’s not too often that you’ll find people writing about roadways on The Fox Is Black yet I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share with you this great initiative that the Norwegian government started working on back in 2005. This ongoing project is called The National Tourist Routes In Norway and its aim is to open up the stunning Norwegian landscape to tourists through a series of architectural viewpoints that enhance their surroundings.
It seems that more often than not rest-spots and viewpoints are functional yet mundane, yet here the government have really made an effort to create something that’s a little more special. To me, these architectural structures are stunning yet restrained. The government have worked with an array of talented architects who seem to respect their surroundings and have a desire to enhance the landscape for those who come to visit it. I’m particularly fond of the Aurland Lookout designed by Saunders & Wilhelmsen Arkitektur which is pictured at the top of this post. This structure lifts the viewer completely off the roadside and up past the trees, thus allowing them to be completely surrounded by the panorama of the fjord at Stegastein. It’s one of those places that you see and instantly want to visit.
Currently the route is comprised of 18 selected stretches from north to south of the county but it’s all part of a 15-year agenda set out by the government so we’ll probably see more amazing structures popping up along the country in the coming years. You can see a selection of the wonderful architecture on the Tourist Routes website or even start planning your trip to Norway.
There’s a great interview with designer James Carpenter where he talks about a strange phenomenon concerning light. No, he doesn’t explain about how light is both a wave and a particle at the same time; instead, he talks about how light changes at the boundary between inside and outside. Moving from the outside to the inside, light becomes privatized for the interior occupants; but moving outward from the inside the light is public, and can add to the experience of folks on the street. Even though Mr. Carpenter is not the designer of the above project, his words are… illuminating.
The project above was designed by Jason Bruges Studio for the Leicester Square W Hotel in London. Throughout the day, cameras mounted on the hotel’s roof take photos of the surrounding city. When the building lights up at night, it broadcasts a pixelated panorama outward through translucent glass to the city. It’s exciting for visitors to see such a new-fangled facade, just as it is exciting for the hotel to get a bevy of publicity and become a local landmark so quickly. In london it usually takes either Lord Norman Foster or a much longer time.
Suzanne LaBarre, who wrote a lovely article about the facade, says “it’s about as close as a chain hotel in a glassy modern building can get to visual harmony [with historic London]. But I’m not sure visual harmony is what the hotel is after. Sure, there’s some notion of context embedded in the hotel’s skin, but the expression is digitized and abstracted to point of being unrecognizable by passers-by. The digital nod to the neighborhood actually exaggerates how different the hotel is from its neighbors– oh sorry, neighbours. And even though this new neighbour has skin tattooed with 600 colour-shifting lights, I hope the neighbourhood is happy to see it move in.
Bobby and I were talking earlier today about how much we both like 56 Leonard, a high-rise apartment tower designed by Herzog & de Meuron for Tribeca. The skyscraper is an increasingly disorganized mass of luxury apartments that I would never have been able to afford, but would have still enjoyed looking at. The project would have added to the diversity of the manhattan skyline– but sadly– the recession yanked down this project like it was a wonky stack of Jenga pieces. Luckily, we can still watch the sweet video (by Tronic Studio) from a time when everything was coming together for the project instead of falling apart.