All posts filed under: architectural design


A copper-clad community centre by Menzi Bürgler Architekten

There seems to be a trend at the moment for all things copper, from candles (I’m looking at you Tom Dixon) and planters to kitchens and bathrooms, and architecture is no different, as shown with this community centre in northern Switzerland. It has a fantastic copper roof, wrapping over its bulky concrete form, and punchy copper windows too. It is the new home of the Evangelical Reformed Parish, set in the existing graveyard of Wurenlos, and designed by Zurich-based Menzi Bürgler Architekten. The building was made of prefabricated wooden components, enabling the structure to take shape in just a few days. On the ground floor of the new building can be found a rectory and meeting room, while upstairs there are two rooms of different sizes, which offer space for events. The architect hopes that the copper and wood will naturally age over time, changing the expression of the building and how it fits in the landscape. Images: Rasmus Norlander, Zürich


Converted Brooklyn loft by SABO Project

New York and Paris-based architects SABO Project has completely gutted this Brooklyn loft, located in a former die casting factory built in 1913. A series of new partitions, custom cabinets, glass enclosures and a new mezzanine now define the concrete space, creating private rooms without compromising on daylight. The building’s concrete ceilings and columns can now be seen in all their bare glory, while cabinets alternate as stairs and storage. The turquoise bathroom, a delight in itself, was designed around a diamond shaped ceramic tile, with no less than three colours and nine shades in the bold graphic pattern. All images SABO project


Private house in Paris by architect Julie Rosier

Paris-based architect Julie Rosier has redeveloped a duplex apartment in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. She has flipped the apartment round so that the kitchen and living room have been relocated to the first floor and the bedroom and bathroom are now on the ground floor, providing more light from the courtyard behind. The kitchen is concealed behind a new grey and neon yellow box which wraps around the staircase and was inspired by the geometry of Mondrian, who also lived in Paris. Small window slots connect the stairs with the kitchen sink and worktop, while a dizzying mosaic backsplash carries the colour through the space. Elsewhere the small living room is divided up with white sliding doors to form an even smaller bedroom. All in all, a very clever space-saving solution.         


I wish I lived here: A nordic home by Vitra and Artek

During a sunny Saturday last week, I visited the relatively unknown Villa Hager on the Vitra campus in Weil am Rhein, near Basel. It is my dream house, three storeys of designs by the Finnish masters – Aalto, Tapiovaara, Kukkapuro – as well as contemporary designers such as Konstantin Grcic, Hella Jongerius, and Barber Osgerby, all curated by Artek for an imaginary family of four. The idea is to showcase Vitra furniture alongside Artek products for the first time in one unique but seemingly real-life setting (Vitra acquired Artek last September). When I visited, the sun was streaming in, showing off the simple shapes and strong patterns of the designs, some familiar, others new this year. There’s a multi-functional kitchen with a dining table set for eight, alongside a vintage Aalto poster and the Bouroullec’s inviting turquoise sofa (one of my favourite rooms). Meanwhile, the living room is divided into two, with Aalto’s chairs clad in a racy zebra print and a new shelving system-cum-room divider by Barber & Osgerby. A small side room, even sunnier than the rest of the house, cleverly uses Bouroullec’s Corniche shelves for plants and …


Travel: Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein

Last week I was lucky enough to make the pilgrimage to the campus of Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra, set in the bucolic surroundings of Weil Am Rhein, a short drive from Basel in Switzerland. If you are as addicted to design as me, this is an absolute must-visit; an architectural theme park with work by some of the most well-known architects in the world, such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando. It requires a day, if not two, to see the current exhibition, join an architectural tour, take a ride down Carsten Holler’s new slide, stop for a coffee, and of course, visit the shop. It all started in 1981 after a major fire destroyed most of the factory buildings built in the 1950s. Since then the site has grown organically, with a fire station by Zaha Hadid (her first built project), a bus stop by Jasper Morrison, factory buildings by SANAA, Alvaro Siza and Nicholas Grimshaw and a petrol station by Jean Prouve, to name a few. First stop, VitraHaus, a jumble of house shaped blocks designed …


Travel Guide: Amsterdam

Here’s my definitive guide to Amsterdam – a sort of alternative guide to the city, off the tourist-trail – featuring high-concept design shops, art galleries, independent boutiques and some of the best coffee shops. We went for my birthday at the weekend and had such a lovely time exploring the city, meandering around the canals and soaking up the atmosphere. There was something instantly relaxing about the water and the slow pace of the bicycles. Of course it did help that the weather was bright and sunny, but one of the best ways to get around was on foot or with one of the canal cruises (we did the hop-on hop-off orange line that took about an hour). There were certainly plenty of higgledy piggledy houses and pretty windowsills to photograph en route! So below I’ve listed Places to See, Places to Shop and Places to Eat, all highlighted on a handy map made with Jauntful. See the printable, pocket-sized map here. PLACES TO SEE Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1 This is the Netherlands national museum dedicated to arts and history, …

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I wish I lived here: a modern apartment in an old German farmhouse

This small project by Italy-based Francesco di Gregorio and Karin Matz inserts a contemporary wooden structure clad in over 3,200 tiles into a traditional farmhouse on the German island of Föhr. The former barn, used for hay storage, now has two new volumes, with a bedroom and bathroom in each. The bedrooms, painted in a dark turquoise, are described as ‘nests’ by the architect, in contrast to the light and airy living spaces, where more than 500m of polypropylene blue rope has been used to form a transparent division between the staircase and the apartment. di Gregorio and Matz, inspired by the traditional architecture in this rural environment, say: Föhr is an island belonging to Germany but first and foremost to Nordfriesland. The Friesians have their own language and culture. In the 17th century a school of navigation was founded on Föhr and many people sailed to Asia and North America.  Sailing to other countries brought back the tradition of ceramics and tiles from Asia. Being rich meant having as many painted Friesian tiles as possible on your dining room walls. Wood …


London Design Festival 2014 at the V&A

London Design Festival kicked off last week for me with a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the hub location of the festival for the past six years. This year’s programme is packed to the rafters with innovative installations and product displays, from the scale of a pencil sharpener to Barber & Osgerby’s extraordinary Double Space that twists and turns two reflective structures in the Rafael Gallery. One of the highlights for me was The Wishlist, a joint project between Sir Terence Conran, Benchmark Furniture and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). They invited 10 design legends – from Zaha Hadid to Paul Smith – to nominate an up-and-coming young designer to create for them a product that they had always wanted, but never been able to find. All the items were crafted during one intense making week at Benchmark’s workshop in rural Berkshire (I visited them back in July, you can read my article in Blueprint’s September/October issue, out now). They range from a ladder for Richard and Ab Rogers, a table for Alex de Rijke and a …


Alvar Aalto at Pitzhanger Manor

An exhibition on my favourite architect Alvar Aalto is currently on at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing. (In 2011 I made a bit of a pilgrimage to Finland to see his work, such as his studio here and his house here, which you can see in previous posts if you want to find out a bit more about him). Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen places Aalto’s creations around the historic rooms of Sir John Soane’s country villa. You think it wouldn’t work– placing Finnish modernism in an 18th century house– but I loved the interaction between old and new. In the breakfast room there is some of his glasswork, including the ‘Savoy’– so-called because Aalto and his wife Aino used it in their interior for the Savoy restaurant in Helsinki– and the Aalto flower, a set of stackable vases designed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In the library there is his table and chairs, while the small drawing room has two fascinating films on his home in Helsinki’s Munkkiniemi neighbourhood and his …


Kerferd Place by Whiting Architects

Australian Whiting Architects has designed a family home in Melbourne, inspired by vernacular barns and warehouses. The black extension to the existing brick building creates a ‘complimentary opposite’ to the surrounding architecture and provides the parents with a self-contained home away from the children and guests. Inside, space is saved by not using doors and corridors, while a simple staircase rises to a neat mezzanine office space. Next to the master bedroom, instead of a corridor, there is a cosy window seat with wooden joinery that carries throughout the home. An open kitchen eating area in the centre of it all provides a large table to spread out and doors opening out to the back garden. Here it is eloquently put by the architects: Avoiding the typical flat-roof response at odds with site and and surroundings, the new should contribute to a “sense-of-place”, transcend fashion; remain contemporary and robust. In getting back to architectonic basics we wanted to avoided the cliched, heroic-modernist box, or worse still the one-liner gimmick-piece in which the fabric of architecture …