Out Of The Bottle And Into The Building

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Hazelwood School by Alan Dunlop Architect Limited

Cork is a ubiquitous material used in products such as bulletin boards and wine bottle stoppers, but its history of use in architecture is limited to mainly sub-flooring and insulation. However, contemporary architects looking for environmentally friendly building alternatives have begun to implement cork in innovative, nontraditional applications.

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Treehouse by SHED by SHED

Typically, trees are cut down and milled in order to produce construction material such as lumber or plywood. The cork oak tree is different; the bark, which grows back, is harvested stead of the trunk, making cork one of the most sustainable material choices.

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Cork House by Arquitectos Anónimos

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An Australian Special Rural Property

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Wall and Wall House by Dane Design Australia

Ecological stamps of approval in architecture can be a quick and easy way to gain some environmental cache. The Wall and Wall House in Australia isn’t LEED approved and doesn’t have bees on its roof, but the architect Dane Richardson has taken into careful account the integration of the building into its surrounding landscape.

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Wall and Wall House by Dane Design Australia

Located in Western Australia (a place that with the recent winter weather looks pretty good from the Architizer offices), the home is based on a building type known in the region as a Special Rural Property. These properties serve a purpose similar to a Gentleman’s Farm, providing a respite for the owners from the rigors of the urban environment. Since these estates are all about getting back to nature, it makes sense that the architectural design would take into account environmental concerns.

Read the complete article on Architizer here.

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Wall and Wall House by Dane Design Australia

Making Music With The Architecture Of The Brooklyn Bridge

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The sound and performance artist Di Mainstone had an epiphany when walking across the Brooklyn Bridge one day; she realized that it looked a lot like a harp, with the suspension cables resembling the instrument’s strings and the deck and towers mimicking its neck and body.

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And the bridge not only looked like a musical instrument. The chatter and footsteps of pedestrians, the low rumble of traffic, and the slight thrum of the suspension wires also evoked the sound of a symphony or piece of music—albeit a slightly cacophonous, often noisy one.

This moment of whimsy has inspired the Human Harp, Di Mainstone’s latest project, which allows one to play the bridge as a musical instrument. The artist envisions the Human Harp as both a physical connection and interactive performance piece.

Read the full piece on Architizer here.

Valentines For Urban Neighborhoods

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“Love Letter,” Stephen Powers in Philadelphia. Image via.

Valentine’s Day brings an avalanche of platitudes, from the banal to the heartfelt, delivered to the subject of one’s amore. Normally, the recipient of these overtures is a person, but in the case of artist Stephen Powers, city neighborhoods, and the people that live and work in them, are the muse. Claiming the sides of forgotten buildings and outdated infrastructure as his canvas, Powers presents city dwellers with provocative text-based art that riffs on popular forms of communication, from self-help affirmations and advertising mantras to starry-eyed confessions. This earnest language cast in colorful formations is a satisfyingly jolting juxtaposition.

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“Love Letter” by Steve Powers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2010. Image via Adam Wallacavage.

Today, Princeton Architectural Press is releasing A Love Letter to the City, the first compendium of all of Power’s projects, in cities as disparate as Philadelphia, Syracuse, Belfast and Johannesburg. A set of notecards, titled “I Paid the Light Bill Just to See Your Face,” is also being released simultaneously, just in case you’re searching for the perfect Valentine’s Day card for your sweetheart.

Read the complete article on Architizer here.

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“Love Letter,” Stephen Powers in Philadelphia.  Image via.

Updated Contemporary Cottages For Unpretentious Accommodation

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City Cottage by Verstas Arkkitehdit

In his melancholic, semi-autobiographical Enigma of Arrival, V.S. Naipaul writes of purchasing and then living in an English Cottage. The small home would play a major role in the author’s meditations on daily life and routine, a nexus from which the story is spun.

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SHIFT Cottage by superkul inc | architectcottage

Quaker Bluff Cottage by Birdseye Design

The term “cottage” comes from the word “cotter,” which refers to a person who performs farming duties in exchange for lodging. The word is English in origin, as is the architectural style. Constructed of a single floor with the sleeping quarters under the roof, cottage architecture is simple and utilitarian, with an emphasis on comfort.

Read the full article on Architizer here.

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The Cottage by Gray Organschi Architecture

Tea House Project In Silicon Valley

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Tea Houses by Swatt Miers Architects

Contemplation of nature is not the first thing that springs to mind at the words “Silicon Valley.” However, beyond the cubicles and technology is an area ripe with natural beauty, and the Tea Houses, three buildings designed by Swatt Miers Architects, were designed to celebrate this environment.

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Tea Houses by Swatt Miers Architects

The homeowner discovered the building site on an exploratory walk; the beautiful location was just below a ridge on the side of a mountain, studded with California oaks. The owner originally planned to build a tree house, but decided the space would be better used for the three Tea Houses.

Read the complete article on Architizer here.

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Tea Houses by Swatt Miers Architects

Pushing Boundaries Transgressing Borders

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Die Neonorangene Kuh,” Matthias Wermke and Mischa Leinkauf, 2005.

The contemporary urban environment can feel oppressive and majestic, buildings towering high above the toiling masses below.  Who is controlling our spaces and to what purpose?  Slipping in between these questions of ownership and use are Berlin based artists Matthias Wermke and Mischa  Leinkauf, who explore their surrounding environment making short videos and taking photographs documenting their interventions.

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“Decisions,” Mishca Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke.

Playful and energetic the pieces show the possibilities of surrounding edifices, and constructions.  A tunnel for a train can easily be turned into playground, a bridge an ideal hanging anchor for a swing.  Changing perceptions of the architecture alters the accepted uses.

Physical danger is an implicit part of this situation. Transgressing against everyday limitations and pushing through the constraints of society requires bravery in their conceptions and physical performance. Vulnerability shows explicitly how serious these actions are.

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“Decisions,”  Mishca Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke.

For those in the Philadelphia Metro area, the artists will be presenting two free screenings of their films for public viewing.  The first is regrettably already passed.  However the second will be at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Sunday, March 2nd at 12PM.  Also available for purchase at the screenings will be copies of a new catalogue, Grenzgänger, published by Snoeck Verlagsgesellschaft.