Archive

Tag Archives: modernism

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).

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 1

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.

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 2

Very sculptural corner detail:

 Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 3

The building is in a very good condition, my guess is that concrete façade must have been cleaned-up recently.

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 4

View from the street, Brussels as a permanent construction site (changes for the better, thought) :

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 5

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.

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).

Click image to enlarge

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.

This is a second architect’s residence, that I visited and photographed. This time a classic modernist project form Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. This wonderful building is built in 1966 (!) and it is designed by Takamitsu Azuma. He called this project  “Tower House” (“Tou no Ie” jpn.).
Built only on 20 square meters site this architectural masterpiece consists of 5 stories above ground and one level of basement. The ground level is garage, basement is a storage space, second level is living and kitchen, third level is a toilet and a bathroom, fourth floor is a bedroom and top room originally was designed as a child’s room.

Click image to enlarge

In the bottom right photo of the collage, you can see me hugging a corner of the building to show the scale of it (I have been there and it still bends my mind).

Inside all the levels are connected by one volume, shared by an inner “tower”. The idea behind it is about sharing the space, feeling one with everyone in the house, possibility for unverbal communication; one can easily hear, smell and feel what other people do in the house.

At the moment a grown-up child, who also became an architect,  Rie Azuma a daughter of Takamitsu Azuma and her family is living in the house. In the past she left her parents to live in the United States and after she came back her parents moved out. My personal guess is that for ageing parents it was becoming difficult to move up and down the number of stairs everyday. However out of respect to her father the name plate on the house still bears the name of Takamitsu Azuma.
The building is kept as original as much a possible. Some of the fixed furniture was replaced, but has been rebuild to the original design.

This amazing building is very well know in Japan, architecture students go thought this project, study it and make it’s models. Every month a number of visitors visit the house on a scheduled tour. I feel lucky to have dashed by this building and when seeing it my hands almost involuntarily grabbed the camera to photograph it.

On the 30th of June at Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design an exhibition of Modernisation. Baltic Art, Architecture and Design in the 1960s–1970s was opened. I went to see it and here I will share with you some photos and impressions.

Click image to enlarge

I almost fell into the Soviet period nostalgia trap thinking: “it was not all that bad”, “they were rather advanced”, “wow they do not even have such design nowadays”, ” modernist buildings look the same all over the world”. The reality was brought back to me by one photo of a cafe interior, all fancy and flashy, smiling people, but… the glass counter (where normally cakes, etc. should be displayed) had only one item in it – a champagne bottle. The scarcity tales are almost forgotten nowadays.

Exhibition covers the design, architecture and engineering of Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) from 1960’s to 1980’s. Ironically the period was “golden” to these three small countries, and within the Soviet Union they were considered “the little West”. This status was achieved by distinct architecture, seaside resorts, different and more easily available goods, unusual (for majority of other nationals in Soviet Union) local design and souvenirs. In retrospect, the status once held is lost and now, in another union, the Baltic states are just a periphery, a grey zone and have to struggle to be different, distinct and valued for the quality of their design and products.

Some photos from outside of the museum building, during the opening speech:

Click image to enlarge

The exhibition will be open until the 4th of November 2012.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 299 other followers

%d bloggers like this: