This time a bank building from Brussels, Belgium. It is one of the best examples of modernist architecture and one of the best known in the area (if you ask design related locals to recommend nice modernist building this will be the one).
Prefabricated concrete pieces mounted together with the help of metal pieces and tension cables, make an intricate façade. The building looks contemporary enough, some designers nowadays copy the style, however the level of detailing and quality of execution is difficult to match. I can hardly imagine what building, built in recent years, will be looking at least ok, 50 years down the road.
Very sculptural corner detail:
The building is in a very good condition, my guess is that concrete façade must have been cleaned-up recently.
View from the street, Brussels as a permanent construction site (changes for the better, thought) :
However and sadly my on-line search could not retrieve any information about the building nor who designed it. It would be great if anyone from the readers could tell me, if they happen to possess such information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This time I am sharing with all of you my impressions of CO2Works architectural office in Nagoya, Japan. Designed by Koji Nakawatase, 4 stories high, finished in 2012.
Nagoya is the kind of city I could get lost in an instant as most of the buildings around look alike (see the backdrop of this building), but this one I find to be a contemporary hidden gem. Surely the form of the building was the first thing that attracted my attention. That is a great and smart move for an architectural office to have a building that celebrates the profession. A wonderful architectural piece to show the style of the office, to show their capabilities and to inspire the team while they work in it everyday. And surely everyone in the neighbourhood knows: that’s the architect’s office. Also I can suspect that the building by itself filters the clients: the ones who come want contemporary and fresh houses and they know what kind of architecture to expect.
The purity of materials and the details in this building truly amaze and perplex me. There is no difference between inside and outside, all is concrete and the transition from the outside to the inside is incredibly smooth. The window details fit very nicely and I can only wonder what happens during earthquakes (minor ones happen 2-3 times a year). And what about the cold bridges as Japan is not that warm (is it even possible to dream of such building in let’s say Finland) and how do the other systems in the building function?
Additionally I like the little bits of landscaping elements: grass on cantilever terrace, little flowers and decorative tree pots.
When I walked up to the building to photograph it, I had a chance to meet two people from CO2 office. We exchanged our details and latter, after coming back to Europe, I corresponded with the main architect Koji Nakawatase. I asked him for a permission to write about his creation and kindly, to my joy, he said yes. Also I asked if he could tell me some some additional stories (the wonderful rare opportunity), but I think our good intentions got lost in translation. So, I still feel curious what are the stories that this building has to tell, what was the path to get there, what were the quarrels about that the design team had (supposedly), what was the vision and what was the main challenge?…
This post leaves me curious and I take it as a sign of encounter with great design.
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!
The shiny façade finish (at least on a sunny day!) was the element what attracted me to this building, since dominating shades in the city are rather grey. Upon closer inspection it is obvious, that the façade is well detailed, especially the corners are neat.
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However I must express a doubt about operable exterior blinds: Brussels is dusty city, therefore the blinds are going to be very dirty in a matter of few months.
This buildings has an inner enclosed courtyard.
On the very bottom right photo a booth for garage parking-meter is photographed.