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A renovation project from Kyoto, Japan. Located in a tiny Kiya-machi Dori street, in the most narrow spot between of two rivers: small, but fast flowing Takasegawa canal and main river for Kyoto Yatsuyanagicho. It is the only place that you can see the both rivers from the street  (not visible in pictures though).

Originally the building was from 60′s (a guess by looking at older photographs) and it was renovated in 2010. It stands out due to an unusual burnt wood façade and a huge tree in front of it.

This building combines both worlds: the contemporary and the traditional one.

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house3

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I like this area of Kyoto a lot, in fact I just love it! In April 2012 I had participated in an architectural/urban planning competition of Takasegawa river (or canal) and it’s surroundings. So to keep long story short, during my last visit to Japan I decided to stop by Kyoto just to have a stroll in the area I spent so many hours working on,  all from a huge distance. And the walk was definitely worth the stop: I walked on foot the whole stretch of Takesagawa river (about 4 km) and the atmosphere was just magical. This little black building was a pleasant discovery as the particular spot is not covered by the google street-view (to prepare myself for the competition I virtually walked a lot in this area).

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house2

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This particular spot has a has a long history and plenty of stories to be told about. From 8th century it used to be an imperial garden with a mansion in this area. Nothing remains of the palace, but this tree, named Enoki is the only remain of the huge forest that once stood here. Enoki is revered as the sacred tree and it was selected as the “tree of pride for residents,” the city of Kyoto in 2000. That is reflected in the torii Daimyojin Enoki is enshrined in the back.

The tree is full of life: tiny green (and loud) parakeets were dashing in and out of the canopy, some huge mushrooms grow on it. Here, it feels as if the time has stopped.

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house4

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Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house

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This building is not only a shrine, but also an atellier apartment/artist residence. I had a quick glance at the interior: hight ceilings, exposed structure, contemporary lighting.

Kyoto Kiya-machi Dori shrine black house1

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This is the only perspective that pitched roof is visible. Approaching the house from the south it looks completely like a contemporary box (in contrast to very traditional or 80′s buildings in this area).

Last week I has a pleasure to visit a heart of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. This pavilion located in-between Architecture and Design museums provides unique space for design events during all the summer of 2012. During my visit there was some event happening, however all was purely in Finish (and presentation wasn’t visual either), so I present the impressions of the building itself.

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The Pavilion was designed at Aalto University’s Wood Program and it is is a showcase of Finnish sustainable wood architecture.The designer is Pyry-Pekka Kantonen who’s competition entry was selected in the spring of 2011.

Specifically I liked: the furniture; building’s designer’s trust in the society (no walls, all exterior covers are framed curtains only); neat ramps for handicapped or people with prams; stylish cafee; different zoning in seemingly open space, and an urban garden.

The Pavilion will be open throughout the summer, plenty of events. It is open even if there are no presentations happening, so surely it is a must see place for curious visitors of the Design Capital 2012 :)

Photos from a visit to Lahti, Finland. Pro Puu (eng. Pro Wood) design shop and gallery.

Pro Puu is housed in a former matchfactory Tikkula in the old Lake Vesijärvi harbour. The premises include a gallerya shopoffice and design spaces as well as an independently operating wood workshop.

Here are works by design students displayed in a gallery space:

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Shop and some of the items sold. Locally designed and made

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This building is well known and probably seen before many times, but here I present my personal experiences and the building is indeed great!

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In 2004 the Oslo city government held a competition and Snøhetta architects won and executed the building.
Latter, in 2008 it was awarded in World Architecture Festival as a category winner.

Not only that I came into the Opera House several times (as well as walked around it), I also took a guided tour inside the building to see the areas what are normally closed for the visitors. Sadly no photos allowed in the backstage and other areas. During the tour it was very interesting to find out that there is a hidden inner courtyard with pretty landscaped garden in the middle. Around the courtyard rehearsal rooms and offices circle around.

Another amazing thing about this building is that it’s appearance changes with the weather. As you can see in the photos, the building blends in the surroundings completely: when it is grey and gloomy, it looks like just another ice lump; during colourful sunset, the buildings sparkles in the evening sun. It would be nice to see how it looks and feels during warm summer months.

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Interior is designed by several designers.

The exterior of the building possesses power and elegance, while the interior is softer.

One of the few buildings that is well designed and evidently much work and thoughts put into it – every corner of it is photo-worthy.
This project Haagse tramtunnel comprises of 28000 m2 in several levels underground, 1250 m long tunnel, 500 parking spots, two tram stops of which I visited photographed and present one: station Spui. Designed by OMA – Rem Koolhaas, the design was later taken by architect Rob Hilz, construction started in 1996, finished in 2004.

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There were some troubles on the way to implementation: the tunnels got flooded, the construction halted, budget exploded. But these problems were soon forgotten after the project won several prizes. It seems that good architecture can save the day.

More apartment blocks from Kakumae, Tallinn. Designed by architects Siiri Vallner and Indrek Peil, built in 2005. I like the use of decorative wood stripes,  yellow “cut outs”,  and just note how the rain pipes are incorporated in the design.

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Kakumae is a residential area toward the east from the city center. Newly planned and built, some of the buildings are still rising up and it is happening really fast!

These photos were taken at the exhibition and shop “To Declare” in the Old Customs Warehouse. The building itself is worth mentioning as it has just been brought back to life for cultural events and exhibitions. Helsinki Design Week was one of the first use after 40 or more years. It is an excellent example of reuse and change of function, however some things like sanitary will have to be installed inside some day.

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After enjoying the exhibition, especially the useful objects, I had a pleasure to listen to a presentation of a book in Finish and I decided not to take a copy – too much of corporate flavour or just too few pictures in it.

Later, rather unexpectedly, architect Carolina Bueno, partner at Triptyque Architecture gave a lecture and presented her works. She was full of energy and inspirational.

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