Escaping the big city used to mean keeping warm beside a fireplace in aquaint little wood cabin tucked away in the wilderness. But now we allknow impressive design can be found virtually anywhere, even in themost remote areas. At just over 200 square metres, the Steel House in New Yorkï¿½s Hudson Valley provides an ideal weekend retreat.
From a distance the length of the narrow house looks like a metallicscreen rising out of the surrounding meadow. The house opens to thelandscape on the narrow east and west facades. One end features adouble-height entry with a stairway leading up to two bedrooms on thefirst level. The bedrooms above overlook a small, private lake by wayof an enclosed balcony whilst below, the living and dining area openout to a screened patio.
Striving to remain economical, high priority was giving to theselection of materials and finished both inside and out. Allinterior walls, floors and ceiling as well as custom furniture andcabinetry were constructed of durable maple plywood. Specialconsideration was also given to the use and placement of glazing andskylights that allow for natural ventilation.
Exterior floating stainless steel panels run the length of the house.Besides obvious aesthetic considerations, these perforated exteriorscreens protect the house from seasonal weather variations. Theyprovide much needed shade from the summer sun, and buffer the home fromstrong winter winds.
At just under 150 kilometres from New York City, the Steel House ishardly at the end of the earth, however, the siting and design of theweekend retreat allows its guests a welcoming break from the urbanchaos. By Andrew J Wiener
See also Camouflage House
It’s not only the destination that is important – the trip itself matters as well. Both literally and figuratively. So why are we left bored out of our heads, plus cold, wet, angry and hungry, as we wait (and wait and wait) in line ups?
It is because the operators of clubs, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, sports facilities and other entertainment venues fail to embrace — or take advantage of – the entire user experience. We are right there, waiting to be entertained and they ignore us and leave us out in the cold?
As we ponder this, we are delighted when something like this fun ski-lift shows up under our radar. It serves as a metaphor for the idea of doing more than the minimum with every aspect of the experience. What we see is ingenuity, creativity, and a sense of style and fun.
They used to say "a light bulb goes on in your mind" when knowledge happens. The Danish architects at 3XN already realise the sun is the true source of knowledge - providing fuel for each global system. Imagine the power more sunlight can provide young minds hard at work in their schools.
Orestad College (upper school) opened this year just south of central Copenhagen in the development area of Orestad. The superstructure of the building is formed by four boomerang-shaped platforms that rotate over four floors and remain open to one another allowing for a seamless interconnection of space throughout the school. This open, high central hall, known as the X-zone is linked by a stairway that helps promote interdisciplinary communication and cooperation among the various teaching and study spaces.
Transparent glass louvres automatically rotate on the exterior of the building allowing light in and providing an array of colours to the interior environments. By manipulating the sunlight the entire student body becomes aware of the passing of time and the changing of the seasons as the school year progresses.
Sustainability for education can certainly begin with the design of the school itself, and 3XN has successfully integrated the traditional Scandinavian aspects of functionality with clarity and beauty in form. - Andrew J Wiener
The Nestlé Chocolate factory in Mexico City's Paseo Tollocan near Toluca has never been a site anyone went to see for its beauty. It is what is inside that has always interested chocolate-lovers.
That changed earlier this year when Michel Rojkind, the 38-year-old principal of Rojkind Arquitectos, decided that he was not satisfied with the original idea of just revamping the factory's viewing gallery.
He put together a team that came up with an entire museum, with a shop, a theatre, and direct access to the factory as well. The 300-meter-wide scarlet building cannot go unnoticed by anyone driving the entrance freeway to Toluca.
This is by far not the first chocolate museum in Mexico, the ancient home of chocolate. Neither is it the first sweet museum for the Switzerland-headquartered consumer-product behemoth Nestlé.
However, it is probably the first chocolate museum ever to be called both a piece of origami and a shipping container. The corrugated metal look gives it an air of impermanence and industrial clunk while the bright color and crazy shape evoke play and fun. What any of this has to do with chocolate, we are not exactly sure, but we almost managed to fold a KitKat wrapper to a similar shape. By Tuija Seipell
While it may look like an optical illusion from the outside, this housing block in Izola on the Slovenian coast offers bona fide affordable options for many young families. The team of Ofis Arhitekti won a national design competition for their design of two apartment buildings each containing 30 units of varying size ranging from studios to three-bedrooms.
Internal spaces may be small, however the unique trapezoidal-shaped balconies accentuate external perspectives and views directly to the sea. Structural elements are located externally as well thereby allowing more spacious living areas while taking advantage of the limited area of each unit and helping to keep the square metre cost low.
Ofis wrapped sunshades in the form of colourful canvas awnings around the blocks balconies. These defining features provide ample external space for each unit, while innovative side paneling allows for both privacy and ventilation. From within, the canvas panels create unique environments in individual apartments. Each coastal-facing apartment is thereby effortlessly adapted to Slovenia's Mediterranean climate. By Andrew Wiener
Libraries aren’t generally known for amazing architecture but this incredible one in Italy has us dying to get there amongst the books. Pictured below, it’s actually an extension on the existing library at the Pontificial Lateran University, which houses new reading rooms and an Auditorium. The incredibly stylish space was designed by Rome firm King Roselli, who took totally fresh approach to the project by employing features not usually seen in these types of spaces, such as a curved ceiling, angular stair-casing and vast glass panelling.
The university holds an outstanding collection of books numbering around 600,000 volumes, some of which date back to the 16th century, whose subjects for the most part coincide with the principal academic courses: philosophy, theology and law. The bulk of them are now deposited in the newly restored compartmentalised underground vaults equipped with an adequate fire extinguisher system and humidity and temperature control. Learning has never been so glamorous. By Laura Demasi
Camouflage, or cryptic colouration, is something living organisms have developed over millions of years in order to remain indiscernible from the surrounding environment.
Buildings, something humans have designed and built for thousands of years, have never been indiscernible from the surrounding environment. If anything, our egotistical fascination with conquering nature has meant our buildings are designed to triumph over its surroundings. Of course, nature inspires building design. But it rarely seeks to mimic it.
That is, until this twist on nature landed on The Cool Hunter doorstep. Set among shrubs and budding fir trees, this home has been encased in a façade matching the greenery around it. The concealing mesh is permeable to let the sunshine filter onto the house. But it also allows the light from inside to radiate out. Allowing the build to sit anonymously by day, but emerge discretely at night. Blurring the boundaries between what is human, and what is not.
Inside, the materials are organic and neutral. Wood decking and paneling cover the inside and outer reaches, while neutral colors blend rooms into a seamless array of angles and hard wood furnishings. But perhaps what’s more inspiring, is the building’s impact. The structure, while inherently human, isn’t trying to dominate the landscape it resides in. The single-storey house will soon be engulfed as the surrounding woodland matures, and the materials used to give the house its shape, will darken and merge with the backdrop. It’s an idea based on nature — to evolve with nature, and to mimic the concept of nature. Something in our opinion, there should be more of. By Matthew Hussey