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Impressions and photo reportage from the visit to Homes headquarters:

The Homes Executive Centre is located in industrial area of Pieve di Soligo (Treviso). Desiged by award winning architect and industrial designer Mario Mazzer, the building was finished in 2009. There is no production in the complex: it accommodates the executive, sales, technical and administrative parts of five companies.

The volume of the entrance/ lobby intersects with the main building in an angle (non perpendicular way). This is not particularly visible from outside, but definitely adds to the play and quality of exterior and  interior spaces.

The front facade, view from the main street of the Headquarter Offices Homes Group:

Homes Executive Centre front side

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Active facade-passive building

The building features several special energy saving systems and according to the architect has won some awards for sustainability/innovation. The facade by itself allows high energy savings: the glass is of semi-active type, the glass is extra-light,  semi-active and is regulated by air extractors and curtains; it also provides a greenhouse effect in winter and a chimney effect in summer time.

The heating system uses the residue from machining carried out by the companies in the group; tele-heating is combined with condensation boilers. Cross-flow air treatment machines facilitate energy recovery and come with motors regulated by means of inverters (30% electricity saving).

From the distance, I assumed that the facade looks like it has a lighting system out, however upon a closer examination I find that the extra skin of the facade is a decorative feature consisting of open aluminum tubes.

Double facade close up:

FACTORY PIEVE DI SOLIGO FACADE FRONT SIDE5

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Popper detailing in and out

I observe, that the central staircase has been given a particular attention to. It is well detailed and has a feeling of a high quality built-in furniture rather than a part of a building.

Staircase in the lobby:

FACTORY PIEVE DI SOLIGO INTERIOR2

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From interior spaces I liked several moments: the ceiling/lighting design, it’s shape mimics the overall plan of the building. The top floor and the meeting rooms there features a wonderful view of the mountains in the distance and well maintained roof. Meetings rooms are subtly shaded for privacy by a fritted glass. Underground exhibition rooms are lit by natural light what comes in by a light tunnel.

It’s not all about the profits (or the aesthetics)

I am taken around the building by a friendly employee of the factory. She is most definitely proud of the place she works, her job, her big boss and is very happy to share some stories, what are interesting, even if architecture un-related. I am intrigued and amused to listen how wonderful it is to have a kindergarten in the building and I’m  cheerfully asked if I want to see the kids. I refuse in a slight chock,  how real life and the perfection of architecture are not necessarily connected. All I could notice, is how the colorful plastic elements spoil the purity of the back facade, and that raises the contradiction: isn’t the architecture supposed to be for the people?

Cantilevered end of the building, this side on the ground floor has a function of a kindergarten:

FACTORY PIEVE DI SOLIGO FACADE FRONT SIDE3

Dining area/canteen for the employees:

FACTORY PIEVE DI SOLIGO INTERIOR

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Additionally, I am told the story how nobody in the factory, despite the recession (and imagine in Italy!), have been laid-off. Apparently that is due to the hard work and the personal initiative of the owner of the factory. This story leaves me convinced, that the people here do their best and are super loyal to the company  As we speak here comes the lunch time and the workers from near-by building, what actually hosts the furniture production, hurry towards the canteen. In rush I take the last  few snapshots and leave the building.

Gallery, the rest of the images:

Barista Pro Shop, one from the chain of Streamer Cofee Company is a very unusual cafe. Situated in the district of Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan this building stands out due to it’s resemblance of a shipping container tilted vertically. I was not sure if it was a real shipping container used for the construction, but after a closer examination, I discovered  that it is only a design solution.

Barista Pro Shop container house tokyo

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Located on a small triangular plot, that used to be a parking lot, the ground floor of the building is merely 10 m². The idea behind the design of the shop is to show the manly and robust nature of string coffee by the use of steel walls, wood  and concrete. The 2nd and 3rd level temporarily hosts Armani concept store at this is a very upmarket fashion oriented neighbourhood.

There are benches provided outside as the building itself has a small footprint and not all the customers fit inside. The space provided is actively used: as visible in one of the pictures. During the day the plot was occupied by a professional photo-shooting.

More pictures of the Barista Pro Shop Harajuku:

This time I will leave all the lovely mid-century buildings aside for a little while and tell you a story about a contemporary office building in Vilnius, Lithuania which has been built in 2012. Designed by Hackel-Kaape architekten office Hamburg-Vilnius with mainly Lithuanians on the team. This project also includes restoration of  1913 secession style merchant’s house originally designed by an architect M. Prozorov. New glass addition plays a contrast role in overall composition.

View to the new addition to the “Merchants’ club” from Lukiškių square

This building is just next to the most important Gedimino boulevard in the center of Vilnius. Due to the importance of location choosing the right project was by the means of a closed competition, what was held in 2008. Other competition entries can be seen here.

The sunny weather photos are taken in summer 2012, and in the beginning of this year I came back for more. The building looks much more cheerful in a sunny weather conditions, than in the middle of winter. In the competition entry of the architects the building was presented as a bit more pale, whiter glass would be used, however in reality it is even brownish. Even thought the construction is claimed to be finished in 2012, the office spaces are still not rented out – exactly the same add half a year latter is still there on the front window. I also assume, that within the deeper side of the building the construction is not over yet, as the courtyard is still not accessible for anyone and the construction fence is still there instead of a gate.

Some architecture from Vilnius, Lithuania: the headquarters of a bank designed by Ambrasas architects bureau. The building was completed in 2009, the architects for the building were selected in an architectural competition. Now this building is a part of Vilnius “down town”: an architectural hill formed by group of high-rise buildings. Out of all of them (exception modernist hotel), I believe only this bank is worth to be written about as a successful architectural object.

swed bank vilnius ambraso arch01

This building features expressive form-what is a very strong dominant and visible from plenty of different views in the town, as well as pleasant and well executed landscaping. Even thought this building was built a while ago, it was the first time I went to look for a closer look at it. The “sharp” metal façade and “soft” wooden terraces create an unexpected contrast.

swed bank vilnius ambraso arch

The static electricity in the metal façade hit me when I tried to feel the texture. (Warning: do not touch) The variation in colour of the plates is created by directional sanding.

swed bank vilnius ambraso arch3

I was very much impressed by the way the landscaping was done on top of the terrace. It is spacious, but not windy (a common problem for any roof-top garden/public space). This public garden was a requirement for the architects by the city municipality.

Designed byJun Mitsui & Associates Inc. Architects in 2008, the Glass Cubes shopping center is one of the most architecturally exiting shopping centers I’ve seen.

Apparently the client (the H&M) desired the building to be open, but the architects chose colder and more “classic” look, a building with certain attitude in an ever-changing fashion district of Harajuku.

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Event thought it is not extremely hight building (by definition mid-rise only), in my opinion it is shaped as a perfect skyscraper. I see it as something from the early visions of Metropolis, very urbane, cold, but fresh and clean at the same time. Well (pardon the pun), it is cool.

The Ice Cubes does stand out with its seemingly feather light enamelled glass façade. The fritted or enamelled glass façade also prevents overheating, making the building more environment friendly (it’s even labelled as eco-building).

Also the solution applied to the façade is not very common: to avoid greenish looks of the glass the enamel pattern was used on the exterior of the glass.

I do believe it is one of the better designs(and implementations) to be seen around in the area.

Currently used as a headquarters for a Dexia bank, this building marks the great times of Brussels architecture. Designed and build in 1969, it features some well executed details. Most people nowadays would probably call it ugly. Surely this is not the only of the type or the most spectacular office building of the region, but it shows the period and is a living example of  the true spirit of Brussels – the endless bureaucracy (fr. bureau + gr. κράτος kratos – rule or power).

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And still as a bank building of the 60’s it still looks good and contemporary enough nowadays. I especially like the decorative façade, which stands a bit away from the structure and the windows. This type of solution gives some architectural play – the slightly sculptural window patterns cast  shadows on the tinted windows as if putting some lace on the office box.

This building is 13 stories high and it is 56 meters.

One more cantilever building, this time form Belgium, small university town Leuven. It is situated next to Martelarenplein , what is on the left hand side from the main railway station.

Architects of the building are Crépain Binst architecture and ARCHI + 1.

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This local branch bank insurance building is rather impossible to miss due to it’s amazing cantilever. The structure is well hidden so that the building looks close to impossible to be built.

The cantilever in this case even works as a public shelter, it is neat new and protects you against rain. As you can see in the photos-people do hang around it.

And again, as I have mentioned in my previous post, this building in reality looks much better than in presentation drawings of an architect: good architecture is not about renders!

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