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shops milan dela spiga

Shopping, like a lot of things, can produce a smile and a sweet memory or it can make you grumble for days and hate yourself.  A lot of the difference lies in the attitude of you and me, the shopper.  But much depends as well on the shop itself, and the face it presents to the street. Above is a shopper’s street of dreams, Rue Manzoni in Milan.

 

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Still in Milan, where commerce takes place in settings suitable for an opera or the overthrow of the government.  The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele is centre stage, a shopping mall where you and everyone else is part of a performance–comedy, drama, money changing hands, loyalties tested.

 

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Italy is more than Milan of course, and if you find yourself in Naples, for example, at the other end of the country, you won’t lack for chances to exercise your shopping muscles and the offerings may be quite different than Milanese high fashion.

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Above is a windowful of Neapolitan wood carved figures,  a product of this ancient city that can be found all over the world (e.g on the giant Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum in New York).  Nicely photographed by this perceptive shopper.

 

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But its not just Italy that has a history and a culture of shops and shopping.  England too is what it is because of trade and traders, goods and wares, purveyors and shoppes.  our life as a shopper isn’t complete until you’ve treated yourself to London. This is Regent Street, a shop front done up by architects in 2013.

 

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This looks to us very English too, but it is in New York, via Copenhagen, albeit on “Prince” street. Nice job by Han Kjobenhavn, is a “playful” Copenhagen-based eyewear brand.  Fits right in and stands out all at the same time. Found here.

 

 

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Awwwwwww.  Cute as a box full of budgies. How much for those red lips, Mr Pucci?  This store is up on Madison Avenue in NY where they’ve been setting up shops to feed your eyeballs since way before there was QR code or a #.

 

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Still on Madison Ave, this fellow and his fluffy companion have, I guess, seen it all before, but those gals in the window seem to be looking at him with intent. Nice photo.

 

MARNI 67th Street by MARNI

If you want to join the show on Madison, you better have your act together, and this is just about perfect, we think.  Nicely done Ms Marni.

 

Paris Pencils

We’ll give the last spot to Paris, not the fashion houses or perfume shops, but this little stationary shop between the Marais and the river.  Mmmmmm.  Wish it was just around the corner.

With shopping, as with dining, the best moment is often before you take the first bite.  Give yourself an eyeful next time you go shopping.  It won’t show up on the credit card statement and it won’t wear out.

Everyone should live alone–at least for a while, we think.  It teaches you how to take care of yourself and your cave.  It will make you a better roommate when the time comes.  If you make the choice–or it is made for you–to live on your own, you mostly have to make do with a place designed for two or three or seven.  Unless you get lucky.

Tobacco by Avehideshi Architects and Associates

A few designers have, luckily, turned their heads to solo living. Above dwelling (“close to transportation”), is in Tokyo (of course) and is a solo abode designed for a 60-year-old woman above a tobacconist shop.  Architects : Hideshi Abe / Avehideshi Architect and Associates. Photos by Hiroki Kawata.  Viewed at dezeen here

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The cost of land being what it is, the building has a small foot and lots of stairs to climb–beautiful stairs in this case, so take your time.

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This drawing shows where the living quarters (or eighths) are, but how the solo householder has arranged it all is her secret.

 

Nor is this little lady telling us how she arranges her life and her bonnets inside this tiny red place.  Chances are it’s either neat as a pin or a spectacular mess.

 

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If you want some space around your home alone, here’s a nice little cube among the trees and rocks to call your own.

 

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This is a tiny onesy tucked right into the woodsy countryside for the winter.  Fits right in (“Maybe I should have the Birches over for hot chocolate”).  Seen here.

 

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Back to the future, this prototype for one is designed to supply food, energy, heat and oxygen to its occupant.  Its maker calls it  Oogst 1 Solo.   Sadly for us, no mention of it providing wine and potato chips.  Seen at polychroniadis on tumbler.

 

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This is Piiri house, mostly wood, just for one, good for thinking about where you are and where you aren’t.

 

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And if you aren’t yet sure where you want to live, consider the mobile option.  This one in Lego colours folds up into a trailer and folds out into different rooms.  More here

 

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Mmmm. Designed for one, maybe but surely occasional sleepovers are allowed.  APH80 tiny home designed by the Spanish design team at Abaton,

Once you start looking, it turns out there are more people than we thought, professional designers and just plain soloists, who have considered the uni-dwelling:

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Blob VB3, Designed by Belgian architectural firm, dmvA above.

Front Architects modern-billboard-house

A bit of a cliffhanger, by Front Architect

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The lovely  L41home, designed by Architect and Urban Designer Michael Katz and Designer Janet Corne

So if you’re ready to go it alone, at least for a while, you just might be able to find the right fit after all.  Lots more here and here  Just don’t be a stranger, OK?

 

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To those of us who have spent our lives in a moderate climate–ours is moist, mild, misty, and lush–it is stunning to encounter the desert for the first time.   Pic above is a desert in Peru looking to swallow up the highway, found here.

The desert eats me, Uyuni tour

We are here to say that people can lose their heads over this landscape, falling quickly and hard. The torrid attraction to desert heat and space happens not only to ordinary boys and girls off on a road trip (like this smitten traveller in Bolivia seen here ) but to all sorts of exotic creatures, including architects and artists.

Desert vacation home architizer

If you want to do more than just look and swoon at the desert, if you want to live there, find yourself an architect who’s got the desert bug.  Above is called the Four Eyes House by California architect Edward Ogosta, more here .

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Say “Desert house” to many an architect and you’ve got them where you want them.  Here you don’t have to worry about the zoning restrictions, the neighbours, or where to put the lumber, trucks, and tools while you are building.  This freedom, combined with the sheer harshness of the physical factors, has produced some beautiful results. Above three desert designs are by Olson Kundig Architects, Robert Stone, and Rick Joy, all found here.

Ant Farm Cadillac Ranch 1974 Photographed 1977

Artists too have found freedom and inspiration in the desert–the flat open space must seem liberating to any artist who feels confined by the canvas and the studio. Above is Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo Texas as it looked when produced in 1974 by an art gang named Ant Farm.  See here.

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The artist who in our time has set the standard for getting out of the studio, Christo, has wrapped up big things (bridges, buildings) all over the world and now intends to place a very big thing in the desert landscape of the United Arab Emirates , as reported here

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And this is American artist Michael Heizer, image from here.

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Mr Heizer has devoted a good slice of his life and imagination and hutzpah to creating, not a sculpture, not a monument, but a city in the desert of Nevada.  Above image from Treehugger and more from the NYT 

And if you like art and light and you don’t know what James Turrell has been doing in the desert, you need to go here now.

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Above is an entry into James Turrell’s Roden Crater project found here  

But don’t go getting the idea that it is just the 1% of the artistic club, the superstars, who get their hormones and imaginations all swept up in the desert.  Lots of everyday free spirits with a gluegun and a hammer and a glint in their eye do too.

noah purifoy

This is a portion of the life work of one Noah Purifoy, now known as the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art exhibit near Joshua Tree CA. Visit here.

Many of the freest spirits who lust for the desert end up at the Burning Man Festival every late August/September.

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Held in northern Nevada in Black Rock Desert, it is about art and life and transportation and fire and lust and freedom and a lot more.  Only a desert seems capable of hosting such a collection of desires. Pic by Jim Bourg/Reuters via Boston.com

burning man 2010 Boston Big Pic

Before the burning, time for tea.  This image is one of many at the Big Picture site at Boston.com.

Some of the sculpture is wondrous, such as the piece shown below in this photograph by Frederick Larson of the SF Chronicle.

burning man sculpture 2008 F Larson the Chronicle

The desert seems to be able to accommodate and excite all varieties of humanity. It’s not just the unclothed and untamed who fall for it, but the super sophisticates who find something unexpected and rich in the plain hot flat emptiness if it.  How about you?

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Mr Noel Coward, 1954 photo by Loomis Dean for Life Magazine seen here

Who’s that up on the roof?  Well, it seems lots of people like it so much up on the roof that they’ve built themselves a place to live and play and sometimes work. This woman in Paris (from a Jacques Rivette movie) has come up to take a look for herself.

This is one of those pictures that you can never quite forget.  The pool is on the roof of a house designed by Rem Koolhaas called Villa dall’Ava outside Paris.  It’s an iconic image for life on your own terms.  Take the plunge here 

New York is also renowned for people who live life with both style and daring.  Diane von Furstenberg built her studio up on the roof of a 6 storey building in an area of the city once known for meat-packing.  Supply your own quip if you feel the urge. (credit to Work Architecture Company; Image by Elizabeth Felicella Photography).  See more at archdaily

New York being New York the desire to be on top has captured more than one resident.  This is in Tribeca (found here) and it results in a splendid cupcake effect to our eyes.

Whereas this New York roof topper has more of a …what, French country house feel?  Generous water supply very close by.  See here.

But no matter what anyone says, you can actually find cool examples of unique living beyond Manhattan, even when it comes to rooftop living.  The blue beauty (designed by MVRDV) above and below is in Rotterdam, Netherlands and was built for the Didden family.  See more at archdaily again

The two pics above are of a playful rooftop residence (designed by JDS Architecture seen here) in Nørrebro, Copenhagen.  Dad and son are having a nice bonding moment taking in the Danish summer sun–though the boy looks like he is not about to move his head and look down.

There are books about the high life of course, above from NAI publishers and Cloud 9 below from Loft Publishers available here for example.

This remarkable book above takes us far from Paris, New York, and Scandinavia.  Portrait from Above is a chronicle of rooftop living in Hong Kong.  These roofies are not thinking about being cool or unique.  They are just taking up residence in the only place available to them.  More here

There is a neat video here of a guy who designed for himself a very compact home on a rooftop in Barcelona.

The above film series was hosted on a rooftop in good old Austin Texas.  It was last year, but if you want to celebrate this idea of getting on top of things, you might look for a rooftop near you and see if you can organize a wingding or two.

This was in London atop Selfridges department store above Oxford Street, photo from here 

Or maybe you could get a band to play some lively music like this one did on another London rooftop some time ago.

Genoa is very old and very new.  The layout of the city and the famous harbour are said to be fundamentally unchanged since Christopher Columbus was a boy here in the 1440’s.  But if you stop and look, you will see modern life at its best thriving, proudly, in Genoa today.  Above is the breakfast room at a hotel in Genoa called Palazzo Cicala, which overlooks a very nifty cathedral, San Lorenzo.

If you stepped outside the hotel–and tilted your head a bit–this is what you’d see.  Photo from here.

 

The architect, Renzo Piano still works from his native Genoa, and he has been busy for more than 20 years adding ideas, structures, and life to the city, especially on the old harbour.  He designed one of the world’s largest aquariums there, along with a biosphere (above), seen here.

This is a structure/sculpture called Bigo,  designed by Mr P to celebrate the hardworking cranes of the Genoan docks that, along with thick-backed shore workers, have loaded and unloaded the world’s heavy goods for a long, long time.  One of the arms of the Bigo now lifts tourists above the harbour for a gull’s eye view.  Photo above here.

This painting of the harbour, done more than 400 years ago by a man called Grassi, shows the busy-ness of the place back in the age of wooden boats and sails.  More here

The above image is of the harbour about a hundred years earlier, around the time that Genoa’s own C. Columbus set out (with Spanish boats and hopes) for America.  It shows the fortifications necessary to keep a harbour secure for its customers.

The lighthouse on the left in the above ancient print still stands at the entrance to the Genoa harbour, and people say it’s the oldest anywhere. Its red cross on a white background is the emblem of Genoa and has come to symbolize “help available” all over the place.

This painting of a ceremony that may never have happened is weird and beautiful, from here. It is among the many many treasures of the swell Maritime Museum in Genoa.

 

       

Another example of old Genoa meets new Genoa is the street called via Garibaldi (pic above left found here), whose amazing palaces (along with those of an adjacent street)  were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.  Outside, these buildings tell you a lot about what people fancied in the 1500’s.  Like great heavy doors and great scary doorknockers.

They also cared about eye catching colours combined with the kind of craftsmanship we are unlikely to see again.  Seen at Wapedia here

 

Inside, past the (heavy, scary) doors of these places, you might see almost anything (these neat chairs in Palazzo Bianco, photo here)

 

Silence and solitude and arches gently hued.  And this is a public building!  Nice image and more from here.

 

Or you’ll find a swish contemporary furniture store called  via garibaldi 12, which is its address.  See more

Hungry???

Genoa claims both Pesto sauce and Focaccia as its own, .

And there is seafood in endless variety, some of it spooky, all of it tasty, wherever you turn.

Above, dinner for two, outdoors, in a plain but life filled Genoan piazza, yummy to the end.

 

Just go, when you get a chance.

and go back often.

Two pics above from here.

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