architecture topics

Creating an Architectural Travel Film

Create your own travel movie from all your video clips to share is easier than you may think. Video can be the most amazing way to capture, relive and share your architectural experiences. There are a few advantages of video over photography such as the obvious sound, but video also replicates movement and time very differently than photography because it is capable of capturing what comes before and after. When visiting and documenting architecture although the subject matter is likely static the viewer is not and some buildings truly unfold and develop as you move through them, video is a perfect way to capture these experiences.

For the amateur film maker, like myself, your DSLR or point and shoot camera will have a video mode and that will be good enough.

Part 4 - Videos

Here are some tips on how to create your travel videos:

The idea

Have an idea of what you want your travel video(s) to be, for example do you want to create a series of videos of different architectural projects or will you compile a series of short snap shots of different buildings. Your video can take on themes similar to photography:

  • easily recognizable,
  • very objective
  • experimental,
  • detail based
  • snap shot of for comparison,
  • a story
  • artsy

Be sure your video has a beginning, middle and end.

Tripod

Use a tripod when possible, unlike still photography where shutter speeds can be increased to prevent blurry photos a video may be harder to prevent shaky footage. Many times a tripod is not permitted in public buildings so try to keep this in mind and use similar techniques for holding your camera as covered in the photography section.

10 second rule

In film production there is a “10 second rule” which means that every 10 seconds something interesting should happen. When filming architecture it may be difficult to get action is every scene. If your scene is uneventful you can edit the shot in post-production but at least you will have enough footage if you choose to add a fade or narration. An easy way to add action in your architectural film is to include people, they will give scale and show interaction with the space, also use light, the sun moves, and a long video can be speed up in post-production and be very dynamic.

Variety

It is a good idea to vary your scenes; this will keep it interesting and add interest to your travel movie. Try to capture less common vantage points, film the details and overall shots, ensure you have a variety of camera angles such as shooting low and high, on the side or on an angle. Remember, as per photography architecture reads better when photographed and filmed at chest height. All of this variety will help tell the story and keep your viewers interested.

Avoid

Try to avoid zooming in and out which will appear amateur and avoid panning your camera without a tripod since it will be very difficult to do it without shaking.

Separate audio

If you intend on using the audio captured in situ try to use separate audio devise such as your smart phone or tape recorder and leave the recorder running longer. This will let you match the studio to the edited video separately allowing you more control over the sound and no choppy sound bits. Ie: city traffic, people talking, religious chanting etc.

Equipment

Keep in mind that video will use up more space on your memory card and require more battery. It is recommended you buy an extra good quality memory card (they are not all created equal) and test the life of your battery, perhaps investing in an additional battery.

Observe

Pay attention when you are watching movies and film, there is architecture in most of them; notice how the camera angles are setup how the building is presented even if it is a backdrop. Often we do not notice the nuances of a craft until we try it ourselves.

This all sounds like a lot of work while in situ however a few seconds of film here and there can make for a fantastic short video but I would recommend some practicing at home or around your neighbourhood the first few times to become familiar with video if it is new to you.

Editing your Travel Film Blog post coming soon…

 

 

modern architecture is not just for architects

Greatbatch Pavilion by Toshiko MoriIt is a misconception that only architects or those educated in design can appreciated, understand and have an opinion on modern and contemporary architecture.

Left, The Eleanore and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, Visitor Center for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House by Toshiko Mori Architect

Architecture is created for everyone.

to be used, lived in, visited, loved, hated, talked about, create a mood, guide us, challenge us, move us, protect us.

Architecture is all around us and can be appreciated at many levels and in a multitude of ways.  Let me use wine as an analogy.  IMG_0767Wine connoisseurs know a lot about wine, they know about the different grape varieties, where they grow, what each plant and grape looks like.  They understand the process of converting those grapes to wine, all the science and technique required, how many people are involved how many years it takes.  A wine connoisseur will know to look and smell the wine before tasting and be able to notice and articulate the subtle differences and undertones in a glass of wine using vocabulary such as robust and angular.

Does all this mean that anyone cannot enjoy a glass of wine?  Absolutely Not

It just means that the wine connoisseur will experience the wine differently have more background and likely read more from the experience but it is not a requirement to enjoy the wine and have an opinion about it.

Architecture is just like wine (minus the side effects).

If you are an architect, an architecture student or an architecture groupie you have studied and trained to read architecture and thus will see details and formulate an opinion perhaps quicker, you will notice more, know what to look for, have the vocabulary to speak about it but

anyone can have an opinion about architecture

Darwin Martin HouseBoth modern architecture and historic architecture can be good or bad.  Just because a building is old doesn’t make it good architecture and just because a building is new doesn’t make it bad architecture, and visa-versa.  Use your own judgment, next time you are looking at architecture try to make a definitive decision about whether you like it or not and why.

Left, The Darwin Martin House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Remember there is no wrong answer.

Also visit www.archgroupie.com   modern and contemporary architecture – by location

Related articles:

architecture JARGON: one

architecture JARGON: two

How do we EXPERIENCE ARCHITECTURE

Computer Modeling changed the path of architecture

guggenheim_bilbao Gehry_Technologies“the computer is a tool, not a partner – an instrument for catching the curve, not for inventing it”  Frank Gehry

Computers are changing architecture – some believe it is for the worst, other for the better, either way the transformation is unfolding and modern and contemporary architecture is made of different materials, formed into new shapes and much more experimental than it has ever been.  This is an exciting time to be visiting new architecture; current architects are pushing the envelope – literally.

So how does computer software actually change the face of architecture?

The computer software that has allowed for these architectural opportunities is called Building Information Modeling more commonly referred to simply as BIM.  BIM is intelligent model-based digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of building elements.  The digital model becomes a shared wholistic and comprehensive information resource of the facility throughout its entire lifecycle – Yikes!  In short architects are now building complex building forms in 3-dimensions rather than only working in plan, section and elevation (essentially flattening the building like a cubist painting). The benefit is that the complexity is computed and rationalized by the computer and the complicated information can be sent directly to manufacturers and contractors for production.

Many people believe that this type of technology is very new however this technology dates back almost 30 years.  A Hungarian company, Graphisoft, launched a 3D CAD program for Mac in 1984, eventually recognized globally in 1987 under Graphisoft’s ‘Virtual Building’ concept, now known as ArchiCAD, almost simultaneously Autodesk released 2D AutoCAD, unfortunately the popularity of computer drafting grew – until now.  The term BIM was used loosely until Autodesk popularized it in more recent years.

We are reaching a tipping point in architecture similar to the renaissance when drawing perspective altered the way architecture was designed, created and perceived.  The future of architecture is entering a new chapter, an exciting chapter defying normal architectural rules and conventions are questioned re-examined and pushed to its limits.  BIM connects architects and projects from opposite sides of the world allowing amazingly complex projects to be built within a fraction of the time pre-computer architecture.  Think back not too long ago to the Sydney Opera House, the project was awarded to Jorn Utzon in 1957, the first of three back to back phases began in 1959 and finished in 1973.  The iconic architectural landmark took 16 years from conception to completion.  Compared to Bilbao Guggenheim which was awarded to Frank Gehry in 1992 began construction in 1993 and was complete in 1997 – 5 years later.

NRS12706, 2/8645A   Sydney Opera House Detail Drawing   Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House above, Bilbao Guggenheim below

Gehry Sketch - Guggenheim  Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry  guggenheim computer model

Have you ever wondered what the drawings for Bilbao Guggenheim by Frank Gehry look like?  In fact Gehry has invented his own software to accomplish his designs to get his projects realized

Complex connection, organic shapes, and playful forms are all possible architects have more freedom and we have more to be astonished by.  Some examples of contemporary architecture taking full advantage of what computer modeling can achieve.

The Beijing National Stadium (aka the bird’s nest) by Herzog & de Meuron was completed in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics, below.  A complex façade constructed of a double-curved roof of woven steel box beams sized at 1meter squared.  The geometries where multifaceted – an impossible design to achieve and construct within the five year time frame they had.

National Stadium  Bird's Nest

Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi in Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE is still in construction however computer generated design was pivotal in creating the effect Nouvel was looking for, below.  The most notable architectural feature is the perforated dome roof with a pattern of shadows – more than 1000 tender drawings and datasheets were required to describe and analyze the lattice dome.  More than one hundred thousand structural and architectural members were rationalized and assembled using the computer model.

Louvre Museum Abi Dhabi

Riverside Museum in Glasgow by Zaha Hadid is a Museum of Transport.  The complex form was created, studied, and fabricated with the computer model. Most of Hadid’s work, if not all, uses the computer to achieve organic and unusual forms.  Her architecture is unlike any others and the experience within each building is unique and memorable.

Zaha Hadid Computer modeling      BIM zaha-hadid Riverside Museum Riverside Museum in Glasgow Riverside Museum in Glasgow Diagram Riverside Museum in Glasgow Construction

The discussion of computer modeling and its effect of contemporary architecture is overwhelming however the opportunities that have been created for more exciting and intriguing architecture is yet to be created.

package your architectural memories

So we take these extraordinary architectural journeys and visit inspirational places and but when we get home it seem almost immediately to be like a dream that went by in a flash.  Before you begin planning your next trip take some time and package your architectural memories.

Make the most of your experiences and re-live them by sharing with family and friends.  This is what I do to keep the inspiration and memories around me or at my finger tips.

Scrapbook / Box it

It sounds nerdier then it is.  I try to keep all the tickets stubs, receipts, plane boarding passes, train tickets and even subway cards from my trips.  When I return home I usually put them all in a scrapbook or well labeled box.  It is surprising how much you forget until you open up the scrapbook or box and see a ticket stub to a museum or tour and flooded with memories of the day and experience.  I also like to look back to see how much I paid for things like flights or dinners and it makes it much easier when friends ask me what I did when I was there.  It is also nice to see how different the each scrapbook can be, ticket stubs and receipts in different languages, little notes and things you pick up along your travels can vary immensely.  The scrapbook doesn’t need to be beautiful – just make sure the paper has a heavy weight, I like paperclips for pamphlets and maps, staples and glue work well also.

Scrapbook3 Scrapbook2 Scrapbook1  Box-it

Photobook

Some of us will have taken thousands of digital pictures which will go into our computers never to be seen again. Create a photobook that looks like a magazine, the days of the old 4×6 picture album with plastic sleeves is over.  There are much better photobooks that are so easy to make online.  I have used the Blacks photobooks but there are lots of companies that provide similar services.

Now that we take hundreds, even thousands of photos on our trips picking the right pictures can be a bit of work.  An easy way to sift through all of this is to make a ‘BEST OF…’ folder.  Then go through all the pictures and any one you like COPY into the ‘BEST OF…’ folder, you do not need to be too picky at this point, if you are really thorough this is when you can delete any out of focus shots or just really bad ones.  When you are done the first round go to the ‘BEST OF…’ folder and see how many pictures you have.  Keep narrowing it down removing photos that are repetitive, try to get the essence of the trip.  Depending on how big you want to make your photobook is how many photos you should have in this folder.

Slideshow

Using the photos from your ‘BEST OF…’ folder you can easily make this into a slideshow.  There is so much software available to do this I won’t go through all of them, keep in mind you can add any videos you took, include local music, add captions and so on.  Be creative and have fun.  You can play your slideshow on your TV or computer; you can send it to your friends and family online. I recommend no more than 200 pictures – this is even pushing it for the average attention span – they weren’t there so they are only so interested.  Also be sure that the pictures you use in a slideshow are not just of you with a landmark in the background, my brother and his girlfriend did this and watching a slideshow essentially of just them was pretty boring and we have never let them live it down (all in good fun).

Journal it

Travel Journal

Writing and/or drawing in a journal is so gratifying for your future reminiscing.  I highly encourage you to spend a few minutes everyday on the trip and jot down a few things you were thinking throughout the day.  But what do you write, here are some ideas:  the most surprising or best part of the day, what really inspired you and why, what you thought was disappointing.  If you don’t’ like to spend time doing this when you could be out and about take advantage of the train rides or waiting in the airport, there is always some downtime that can be better utilized. These short notes are priceless and you can keep them private or share them.

Showcase

It is always nice to surround yourself with memories of the places you have been and also a way to decorate your home.  Here are some suggestions of ways to display your photos which I have done.

Collage

Print 4×6 photos and collage them together, this is inexpensive and a fun home project.  The image above is a small portion of my photos of Japan, if you make the collage big enough it has lots of impact and can tell the story of your trip and all the places you have been.

Photos on the cheap       Photos on the cheap 2

This image are photos I printed on my home printer and then spray glued each photo on foamcore, using an x acto knifecut off the boarders and mounted them on the wall using a small piece of double sided tape (be careful to use a tape that can come off the wall easily).

Photo Series

A series of photos is also nice, the image above are two photos from Turkey I sent to be printed and then mounted them in frames I purchased.  This is more expensive, the cost will depend on the frame and type of printing you choose.

Party

Often when I return from a trip I am eager to share what I have seen and learned with anyone who will listen.  Returning from a vacation doesn’t mean the fun is over – have a party themed and inspired by it.  When I returned home from Peru I decided to have a bunch a girlfriends over and host a ‘Peruvian night’ we all brought a Peruvian dish, drank pisco sours and I ran my slideshow with the native music playing.  It was all very fun and relaxed and because a few of them had already been there it was a trip down memory lane for them too.

A happy groupie is an architecture GROUPIE

Architectural Photographers that will leave you speechless

Hisao Suzuki Photography

Sometimes the architecture is the star of the photograph  other-times the architecture is the subject and the photograph is the showstopper.  Noteworthy  architectural photographers,  Ezra Stoller, Iwan Baan,  Lucien HervéJulius Shulman, Erieta Attali, and Hisao Suzuki capture architecture that will leave you speechless by the sheer fact that they are amazing photographers.  Architectural photography on occasion is so powerful in their representation their images will forever represent the building’s the photograph.

Architectural photography is an art which two-dimensionally represents the essence of the three-dimensional built form and the architect’s idea and vision.  We can aspire to their work and look at their talent not just as a mastery of technique but also a unique and insightful way they see space, light and lines.  Their photos and career inspire my architectural photography i hope you take a moment to notice the talent of this small collection of images which represent architecture in a magical way.

Ezra Stoller Photography

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Ezra Stoller was born in Chicago, 1915, but grew up in New York.  When he was a student he photographed buildings, models and sculpture. In 1942 he was drafted to work as a photographer for the Army Signal Corps Photo Center. Stoller had a long architectural photography career, working closely with Eero Saarinen, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Meier, Paul Rudolph, Marcel Breuer, I.M. Pei, Gordon Bunshaft and Mies van der Rohe.

Many modern buildings are known by the iconic images Stoller created due to his talent at visualizing the formal and spatial aspirations of modernist architecture. In 1960 Ezra Stoller was awarded a medal for his photography, the first time the American Institute of Architects awarded a medal for architectural photography.

Ezra Stoller’s photographs are published in countless books and magazines:

Ezra Stoller received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in 1998 and died in 2004 in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

http://www.esto.com/ezrastoller.aspx

Iwan Baan Photography

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Iwan Baan was born in 1975 and raised outside of Amsterdam, he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and worked in New York and Europe in publishing and documentary photography.

In 2005 he proposed that he document a project by OMA to Rem Koolhaas. The documentation of the construction and completion of OMA’s China Central Television (CCTV) building and National Olympic Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron’s in Beijing led to his career in architectural photography.   Since he has photographed work by Frank Gehry, SANAA, Morphosis, Steven Holl, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Toyo Ito and Zaha Hadid.

His work is characterized by the portrayal of people in the architecture, the context, society and environment around architecture.

Books featuring Iwan Baan’s photography:

http://www.iwan.com/iwan_index.php

Lucien Hervé Photography

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Lucien Hervé was born in László Elkán, Hungry, and died in Paris at the age of 26.  Known primarily for his architectural photography of Le Corbusier.

“Lucien Hervé is one of the rare photographers to combine a humanist outlook with an architect’s eye. His characteristic style of cropped frames, plunging or oblique views, and pared-down compositions tending toward abstraction distinguish his work from that of his contemporaries.”

Books on Lucien Hervé:

http://www.lucienherve.com/

Julius Shulman Photography

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Julius Shulman (1910 – 2009) was an American architectural photographer known for his photographs of the California modern architecture movement such as the iconic shots of the Case Study House #22, Frank Lloyd Wright’s or Pierre Koenig’s remarkable structures, have been published countless times.

“The clarity of his work demanded that architectural photography had to be considered as an independent art form. Each Shulman image unites perception and understanding for the buildings and their place in the landscape. The precise compositions reveal not just the architectural ideas behind a building’s surface, but also the visions and hopes of an entire age. A sense of humanity is always present in his work, even when the human figure is absent from the actual photographs.”

Many of the buildings photographed by Shulman have since been demolished or re-purposed, lending to the popularity of his images.  His vast library of images currently reside at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Books on Julius Shulman:

http://www.juliusshulmanfilm.com/shulman-photographs/

Erieta Attali Photography

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Erieta Attali was born in Tel Aviv in 1966 and studied Photography at Goldsmith’s College, University of London.
Her talents are proven by her awards including Fulbright Artist Award in Architectural Photography, the Japan Foundation Artist Fellowship,  and the Graham Foundation Grant, Chicago.

Attali’s career as an architectural photographer began by working internationally, being published in various books of architecture and periodicals and being exhibited in major museums and institutions.  From 1992 to 2002 she worked in the field of Archaeological Photography.  From 2003 she has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architectural Photography at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, New York.

Work of Erieta Attali:

http://www.erietaattali.com/

Hisao Suzuki Photography

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Hisao Suzuki was born in 1957 in Yamagata, Japan. He studied at the Tokyo College of Photography and moved to Barcelona in 1982 to observe the work of Anotnio Gaudi, where he still resides, becoming immersed in contemporary architecture.

Suzuki is currently the principal photographer for the architectural journal El Croquis.

“A photographer may take one of two stances: either demonstrate a work within its reality and its environment, or demonstrate the image of the work that the photographer himself has created. In Suzuki’s case the former is true, for his work is a true testimony and documentation of reality.”

http://www.nuaa.es/eng/hisao.html

VISIT archGROUPIE.com to find modern and contemporary architecture

Vote on the Best Modern Architecture City in the WORLD

architecture world map

There is so much amazing architecture in the world and so many cities to choose from.

architecture GROUPIE is trying to determine which cities are missing from our architecture directory and travel maps.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

VOTE for your TOP 3 modern and contemporary architecture cities OR add another city we missed.

Forward on to all your architecture groupie friends.

Thanks for your help.

travel guides shopping copy

Starchitect

Starchitect is a blend of two words and their definitions to create a new word.

The Starchitect (star –a architect) describes architects who have obtained celebrity status and fame within the community of architecture as well as become known amongst the general population.  This fame is often a result of architecture which is avant-guard, extremely creative, provocative, the charismatic or intense nature of the architect him or herself, and their unique work that pushes the envelope of modern architecture to the next level.

Since fame is dependent on the media and is designated by others – the starchitect is therefore a fleeting or permanent designation out of the control of the architect.  Sometimes this term is meant derogatorily and some architects have an opinion about it, such as Frank Gehry who stated in his interview with The Independent called Frank Gehry: ‘Don’t call me a starchitect’

“I don’t know who invented that f—ing word ‘starchitect’. In fact a journalist invented it, I think. I am not a ‘star-chitect’, I am an ar-chitect…”

Some well known starchitecture:

Some of the most well known starchitects include:

 

Is the ‘starchitect’ a new phenomenon or were architect’s historically famous and the media and pop culture packaged and ‘branded’ the architect in a way similar to movie celebrities to further romanticize the profession or popularize architecture again?

Related starchitect articles worth checking out:

Here Now, the Craziest Starchitect Projects of the Year by Curbed

The ‘Starchitect’ Effect on Condo Prices by The Wall Street Journal

Starchitects: Visionary Architects of the Twenty-first Century

Modern and Contemporary Architecture Bucket List

Well this was no easy task – putting together a Modern and Contemporary Architecture bucket list has made me pretty choosy. The essence of any good architecture bucket list consists of visiting projects which exemplifying design to near perfection, is beyond the norm and embodies amazing ideas.

Here is the architecture GROUPIE Modern and Contemporary Architecture Bucket List consisting of 25 architectural projects I have made a point to visit or have yet to see in my life.

Yes some are pretty obvious cliche projects but nonetheless they are famous for a reason.

without further ado, in no particular order…

1. The Therme Vals Spa, 1996, Graubunden Canton, Switzerland, Peter Zumpthor

Therme Vals

2. Bilbao – Guggenheim, 1997, Bilbao, Spain, Frank Gehry

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

3. Sydney Opera House, 1973, Sydney, Australia, Jørn Utzon

Sydney Opera House

4. The Reichstag Building, 1992, Berlin, Germany, Norman Foster

Bundestrag im Reichstag - Berlin Architecture

5. CCTV Headquarters, 1982, Beijing, China, Office of Metropolitan Architects

CCTV - 1

6. Fallingwater (Kaufmann Residence), 1935, Pennsylvania, USA, Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater

7. Oslo Opera House, 2007, Oslo, Norway, Snohetta

oslo opera house

8. Burj al Arab Hotel Dubai, 1999, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tom Wright

Burj-al-arab-hotel

9. Church of Light, 1989, Ibaraki, Japan, Tadao Ando

ChurchOfLight

10. The Louvre Pyramid, 1988, Paris, France, I.M. Pei

louvre-museum

11. Barcelona Pavilion, 1929, rebuilt 1986, Barcelona, Spain, by Mies van der Rohe

Barcelona Pavillion

12. Canova Plaster Cast Museum, 1957, Treviso, Italy, Carlo Scarpa

Canova Plaster Cast Museum

13. Soumaya Museum, 2011, Polanco, Mexico, LAR / Fernando Romero y Mauricio Ceballos

Soumaya Museum

14. London Aquatics Centre, 2012, London, England, Zaha Hadid

London Aquatics Centre

15. City of Arts and Sciences, 2002, Valencia, Spain, Santiago Calatrava

Arts and Sciences

16. Notre Dame du Haut, 1954, Ronchamp, France, Le Corbusier

IMG_0702a

17. Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2010, Metz, France, Shigeru Ban

Centre Pompidou-Metz

18. Prada, 2003, Tokyo, Japan, Herzog & de Meuron

Prada - Tokyo

19. Sendai Mediathèque, 2000, Sendai, Japan, Toyo Ito

Sendai Mediathèque

20. Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 1960s, San Diego, California, Louis Kahn

Salk Institute

21. Louvre-Lens, 2012, Lens, France, SANAA

Louvre Lens

22. Case Study House #8, 1949, California, USA, Ray and Charles Eames

Case Study House 8

23. HSBC Main Building, 1985, Hong Kong, China, Norman Foster

HSBC Main Building

HSBC Main Building

24. Lotus Temple, 1986, New Delhi, India, Fariborz Sahba

Lotus Temple

25. Louvre, Abu Dhabi, 2013, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Jean Nouvel

Louvre Museum Abi Dhabi

Let me know which architectural projects have made your Bucket List!

architecture JARGON: two

…Talk like an architect continued

Here is a lexicon of words to help you discuss architecture and understand architects:

 

Balance [bal-uhns]:  Always a goal for architect creating balance can be done most easily with symmetry however asymmetrical architecture can still obtain balance.  Architectural balance is concerned with the arrangement and proportioning of mass to obtain visual equilibrium.

The balance of the CCTV building in beijing changes dramatically as you move around it. 
Flickr Photos by Ningbo Ningbo

Occupant experience:  This term is a way of empathizing with how users of the building will understand the space.

Permeability of the space:  This is a very architectural way of describing that there is easy movement / flow / connection (visual or physical) between multiple spaces without describing in anyway how this is done.  For example the exterior walls of the SOHO Camper store is permeable because there are a number of means to access the store from the street and the street from the store, therefore this is a highly permeable space.

 

The entire facade blurs the line between interior and exterior on the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.
The Prada Store in Los Angeles by Rem Koolhaas completely deletes the front facade, this retail space has maximum permeability to the street.
 

Form [fawrm]:  A clearly defined area, material, configuration, shape while not specifically describing it at all, thus being generic and specific simultaneously. The form of architecture is typically clear.  When an architect or architecture is said to be ‘formal’ it refers being designed based on the outcome of the building form rather than other driving forces such as building function (functionalism) or experience.

Mies van der Rohe is a prime example of a formal architect whereas Koolhaas is less so.

This is the Architecture Centre Amsterdam.

Functionalism [fuhngk-shuh-nl-iz-uhm]:  This is an architectural style where the building function, materials, purpose and construction is expressed and is the driving force of the design.  Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function” in the 1920s which transformed the aesthetic of architecture and became a mantra for the modern movement.

Typology:  A way to classifying architecture by type.  For example residential, institutional, schools, recreational, and so forth.
 

Architectonics [ar-ki-tek-ton-iks]:  The science of architecture / the science of planning and constructing buildings.

Peter Zumthor at work

model posing as an architect at work

 to be continued…

how to document your architecture experience

how to document your architecture experience…. video, photo, words, sketch, writing…

There are so many ways to capture your experience of architecture.  Each method offers different benefits as well as different levels of authenticity.  A photograph or video can be thought to come closest to reality however even they are subjective and are not exact replications after all photography replicates a 3-dimensional object in 2-dimensions and weakly represents movement and time, video can do that but still lacks documenting the many other senses we use to describe architecture (related topic:  How do we EXPERIENCE ARCHITECTURE).  So how can we authentically represent our architectural experiences?

Simple – we don’t…

There are two main filters our experience of architecture will go through before it can be documented:  our personal subjectivity and the media we choose to represent it

Subjectivity is our interpretation, understanding and opinion of space and architecture which can be highly influenced by the personal experience you have at that given time.  How we understand and perceive space can vary greatly from one person to the next.  Projects which create strong reaction, both positive and negative are successful, in my opinion, because they hit a nerve and force viewers to stop and think a minute.  Good architecture can make you ultra-aware of the space you are in and the moment so your reaction and impression of the architecture is just as important to capture as the architecture itself.

Selecting a media to document will edit what you can represent and how you choose to document the experience says so much about what your perception is.  Have fun and be creative with your documentation, exploring will help you learn and enjoy the architecture in a deeper and richer sense.  Here are some suggestions to help you think twice about just taking a photo:

VIDEO:

Helps to capture the sounds and movement through the spaces

SKETCH:

In colour or pencil, with pens or markers, Fast or slow, accurate or free, scribbles or lines, shaded or outlines

messy sketch, done fast, i like the curve of this building so i just looked at representing that moment in the building.

i took a bit more time with this sketch and trying to use strong continuous lines to describe the architectural details

PHOTOS:

Architectural Photography can serve several objectives, knowing what your objective is will produce a collection of photos that will be useful for you in the future and will help direct your photographic decisions while on site.

See my previous post:  The Intention of Architectural Photography

WORDS:

words that describe the space and how you feel – these don’t need to be full sentences
describe the materials, use adjectives

WRITE:

journal entries such as the ones I have posted online help recall specific moments that can be forgotten.

architectural travel entry: one

architectural travel entry: two

architectural travel entry: three

architectural travel entry: four

architectural travel entry: five

architectural travel entry: six

SOUND CLIPS:

Document your thoughts while you walking around (you can get an app for your smartphone, there are even programs that can transcript them for you.
Sound clips are also great to capture music or acoustic qualities

COLLAGE:

Use objects you have found to represent the architecture

  • this is a crude collage i made of a restaurant i went to in Prague, the waiter took us through a maze of small dinning rooms and corridors before we were seated. I still don’t know how we found my way out

OTHER:

I used a thick piece of lead to telegraphy the pattern of leaves from the concrete facade of this building.

I like to collect all the tickets and booklets – they come in handy to help remember all the great places i visited and on what day.

The options are endless… it is your subjectivity and selected media that makes the documentation of your architectural experiences an artistic expression.

If you have any other suggestions please share it with us.

 

 

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Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames:  Born in St. Louis, 1907, studied architecture at Washington University.  In 1936 began his fellowship at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan, during this time he collaborated with Eero Saarinen on furniture design.  The team won first place in MoMA’s ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’ competition.

Bernice Alexander Kaiser (name changed to Ray in 1954):  Born in Sacramento, California, 1933, studied painting at The Arts Students League and the Hans Hoffman School in New York.  In 1940 began school at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan where she met Charles.

Charles and Ray Eames where married in 1941, moved to Los Angeles and “began the greatest husband-and-wife collaboration of the century” (Fiell 141).

Case Study House No. 8

Pacific Palisades, California, 1945 to 1949

The Eames House is a double-storey unit divided into house and studio areas by an open court.
Made of light steel frame, standard 7 foot 6 inch bays, with sashes and panels from standard industrial components utilized in a straightforward and workmanlike way.  Materials such as: transparent panels, clear or wired glass; translucent panels of glass fibre, opaque panels of wood and coloured aluminum  were used for the building shell.  The interior was filled with furniture, flowers, pillows, toys, candles, with a mezzanine and built-in
seats, and bookcases.

This house was designed for a living pattern and not as a fixed architectural pattern.

Design Philosophy:

They could not see why the living, moving, outward-rounded human form should have to be flattened against a rigid, straight surface, or pressed down on an arbitrarily curved one when sitting or lounging.  Chair seats and back should be sculpted to fit and conform to body movements.

The Eames strived to create well-designed furniture for the masses which was affordable, durable and comfortably fit the body thus providing a positive house environment.
Their chairs belong to the occupants, not to the building.

They began working with fiberglass in the 1950s because it could be easily manipulated, creating a one-piece chair which was mass produced for Herman Miller Co. with Zenith Plastics and UCLA.
The Plastic Shell Group of chairs were made of molded fiberglass-reinforced polyester seat shell connected to various metal rod bases, with rubber shock-mounts, some were designed to be stack-able.

New technologies were fundamental as well as close relationships with manufactures to ensure they employed the latest products and techniques.
Charles and Ray were thorough and vigorous in their process.

Ray Eames stated that “what works is better than what looks good.  The ‘look good’ can change, but what works, works.”

Eames Plywood Work:

Lounge Chair and Ottoman,
1956-7, ($634 in 1957, today $5500 )
The comfortable executive chair is made of rosewood veneer, moulded plywood shells, upholstered foam and downfilled and leather cover on a swivelling cast aluminium base.

“This differs from bent plywood in that there is no excessive compression or internal stresses set up nor any tendency to return to the flat shape.

At the time of curing the individual plys of veneer are held in the desired relation to each other and so take the molded contour as their natural shape.”

Charles and Ray created a one-piece compound curved chair through the use of their homemade ‘Kazam’ Machine.  It worked by pushing glued plys, with a bicycle pump, against an electrically  heated plaster mold creating the curved plywood chair.  This process worked but took
4 to 6 hours, too long for mass production.

Process & Technique:

Eames Sketches

Charles and Ray experimented on innovative methods of molding plywood into furniture for mass production.  Their designs are molded in two directions creating compound curves from thin veneers laminated together, achieving considerable strength.

Designs were explored with full scale models from preliminary sketches, working drawings were rare.  These models under went scrutinized testing for comfort and durability.

In 1941 The Chrysler Corporation invented a process called cycle-welding which allowed wood to be joined to rubber, glass or metal, without protruding bolts or screws, this connection absorbs shock and distribute stress.  However at this time the technology was reserved for the military.  Eventually the use of Rubber Shock Mounts and Electronic Cycle Welding became available and applied to their designs.
This same process was used to mass produce the molded-plywood forms.  A synthetic resin was placed between each sheet of laminated timber, allowing each layer to cure for a few seconds while heat is supplied by a wave emission from an electronic instrument.

The mechanical components are displayed but not glorified, they believed that it was appropriate to make the greatest use out of the least amount of material.

Charles Eames stated “I think of myself officially as an architect.  I can’t help but look at problems around us as problems of structure-and structure is architecture”

Bibliography:

      

Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century

Eames Design

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Charles Eames. Furniture from the Design Collection. The Museum of Modern art, New York

architecture JARGON: one

Talk like an architect.

Architects have a particular language to describe and discuss architecture – this isn’t purely to sound smart or pretentious but rather to convey ideas and express the meaning of built form.

Here is a lexicon of words to help you discuss architecture and understand architects:

Human scale:  The relationship and measurable qualities of the human body as it relates to architecture.  The human body’s scale and proportion has been studied since Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man or Le Corbusier’s Modular Man.  How the body’s relationship with, or the lack thereof, is often intentional and is present in all architecture.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

Le Corbusier’s
Modular Man

 

The National Assembly Building by Louis Kahn in Bangledesh (right).  Notice the building has no frame of reference to the size a person.  The image on the top could appear to be big or small.  This building, for the most part lacks human scale. 

Juxtaposition [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn]:  This is when two or more architectural objects are located close together or next to one another for comparison and/or contrast.  This is commonly seen with new architecture next to historic architecture.  This is also a technique that can be applied to one very large building to break it down into smaller components which have differing materials, scale, and/or form.

Quartier Schützenstrasse, Berlin by Aldo Rossi.  The large building is broken down by colour and form.

Legibility:  The ability of being deciphered or understood.  In architecture this typically refers to way-finding which is how easily users can understand their environment and find their way within it.  If a large number of signs are required to decipher where to go the architectural legibility is poor.

Synergy [sin-er-jee]:  When the combination of parts or components creates a greater effect than any individual element.  This is typically the case for any good architecture but this word seems to get thrown around a lot.

Columniation:   The arrangement of columns.

Treptow Krematorium, Berlin by Axel Schultes, Charlotte Frank, Christoph Witt.  Its all about the columns.

Intercolumniation:  The space between columns.  The pattern of spacing between columns.

Squarify:  To make more square. (This is not a really word.  FYI:  architects love to make all words verbs)

Negotiate the Topography:  To change levels, to go up or down stairs or ramp.

(I guess sometimes architects like to sound pretentious sometimes)

Tectonics [tek-ton-iks]:  The science or art of assembling, shaping, or ornamenting materials in construction; the constructive arts in general.  A general term for the theory and techniques of construction.

Materiality [muh-teer-ee-al-i-tee]:  A way to create form and space via the nature or quality of materials used in architecture.  Materials can be the driving force behind the design of architecture, where the architect studies materials and techniques and thus form a building from the maximization of their effect.  In modern architecture material honesty is at its essence.

   

Ricola Factory by Herzog and de Meuron (masters of materiality)

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Space [speys]:  A loaded word which could be discussed at length but in short it is the formation and realization of a constructed three-dimensional realm.   In architecture space is physically or implicitly enclosed by the constructed form to create specific experiences and qualities.

The Pantheon, Rome.  One of the most dramatic interior spaces due to the geometric proportions.

to be continued…

How do we EXPERIENCE ARCHITECTURE

Understanding Architecture is highly experiential.  It is a complete sensory experience that requires use of much more than the eyes to understand and generate a response.  This is why visiting architecture is the only reliable method to understand architecture rather than looking at a photograph of it.  I have always tried to refrain from a strong opinion of a building until I have had a chance to see it in person.  From experience I know that a photograph doesn’t tell the whole story.  You likely know what I mean; similar to the way art can have a profound effect in person and almost none at all in a textbook.  For example I remember when I saw Klimpt’s painting ‘The Kiss’ – I was surprised I could not look away it was hypnotizing to me.  I had never given this painting a second thought in my art classes but the really life experience was profound for me.  This is not to say Architecture is always better in person sometimes it is just the opposite, however we cannot overlook the three-dimensional aspect of architecture as well as how the human body relates to these spaces.

“We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves” (Ways of Seeing by John Berger pg 9)

So how can we understand architecture?  Let’s begin with the human senses:

Seeing

Of course seeing is the most obvious way to understand and experience architecture but are you conscious of what you are looking for or at?  Do you see the bigger picture and the small details? Are you looking for natural light or the use of materials?  Are you watching how people use the space?  Seeing is profoundly useful to experience architecture if you are consciously processing what you see.  Sketching can be tremendously beneficial because what you are seeing must be processed and then regurgitated on paper thus requiring a lot more attention and consciousness.

Hearing

In some cases architecture’s success or failure is based on this human sense.  Sound can be the most profound and memorable element of a building.   I attended mass in Notre Dame and when the organ began it was palpable and the entire space changed, it made sense, the space, the light and the sound came together.  Sometimes the lack of sound is most desired; such as in a library.  When you visit a building listen for a moment, is it quiet? Does the space create an urge to speak low or not at all? How does it do that?  Become aware of the acoustics? Is there an echo? Can you hear people talking? Can you hear anything at all?

Smell

This is not the first thing you think of to experience architecture however, building materials have a smell, they are not always good but the smell will influences your experience.  If a new building is off-gassing due to the choice of materials your experience will be poor.  However there are other smells such as wood or concrete.  Is it fresh or stuffy?  Does the building smell old or new, close your eyes for a second you may be surprised what you discover.

Touch

I touch a lot.  Touching gives you tons of information and architects spend a lot of time thinking about surfaces, texture, and materials, what people touch how they interact with the material. Some architect’s believed that people should always touch wood so handrails would always be made of wood.  If you are in any of Tadao Ando’s buildings you must run your hand over the concrete – it is soft and silky like butter – not what you would expect.

Taste

I don’t think this applies, however if you have experienced architecture by taste let me know.

There are other senses we can use to experience architecture such as:

Balance

How do you feel in this building, some architecture intentionally throws off your internal sense of balance to bring out a specific frame of mind.  The Berlin Jewish Museum Daniel Libeskind tilt some of the walls slightly so when I was reading and looking at the exhibits I felt particularly moved and effected by the exhibit and its content.  It was very intense and made me uneasy which in this instance was appropriate – the architecture powerfully provoked a sense of instability.

Temperature

Feel the air, become aware of it.  Do you feel warm or cool? Is there a breeze?  How does this happen?  Are you shaded from the sun? or roasting in its light. Is it natural or mechanical?   Are you surprised by the change in temperature from the outside?

Time

Architecture transforms as you move through it and around it, it unravels over time.  How does your experience change during your visit?  Is it predictable or does it surprise you?

Time can also make itself known on the building itself in the way materials age and patina.  Can you see time in the building you are visiting?  Has time made the building more rich with texture and color or does it look worn down?

This is an addition of an old french Villa, the concrete was mixed with pulverized limestone and copper to replicate the aging of the existing Villa. 
Villa am Romerholz by Gigon Guyer 1998

So how do all these stimuli make you feel?

Architecture provokes a reaction, pay attention to your immediate reactions as well as the feelings you have at the end of your visit as well as those you have upon reflection, did your opinion change?  Sometimes you will need time to formulate an opinion – don’t be worried if you do not know what you think or feel immediately.  Enjoy visiting these buildings and practice becoming aware of how you experience architecture.

Visit architectureGROUPIE.com a Modern and Contemporary Architecture Travel Guide

MUST SEE architecture movies

Sometimes a documentary is just easier and a bit more fun to learn about architecture than to read all these books.

13 must see architecture documentaries:

(in no particular order)

1.  Antonio Gaudi (The Criterion Collection)(1984)

In this documentary Teshigahara immortalize Antonio Gaudí taking the audience on a trip of Gaudí’s amazing architecture, such as his large and still-unfinished project Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain. The photographic work as strong and delicate.
 

2.  Regular or Super – Views on Mies van der Rohe(2005)

REGULAR OR SUPER is a review of Mies van der Rhoe’s entire body of work, showcasing more than 70 projects which reflect his motto: “less is more.”  This is an informative introduction to the work of one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.
 

3.  Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman(2010)

Although this is not a movie about a specific architect it is a great movie for those interested in architectural photography.  VISUAL ACOUSTICS celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Capturing the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry to name a few.
 

4.  Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sydney Pollack (2005)

This film is a conversation between Frank Gehry and Sidney Pollack who discuss Gehry’s career and the process of making his architecture.  They visit four projects in this film: the Vitra Museum in Germany, Maggie’s Centre, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the Disney Concert Hall in L.A.
 

5.  My Architect (2003)

The world-famous architect Louis Kahn had two illegitimate children, this movie is one son’s exploration of his father’s architecture while meeting people who worked and knew him.  Exeter Library, Salk Institute, and Bangladeshi Capitol Building are visited in this documentary and much is revealed about the life and death of Kahn.

6.  Eames: The Architect and the Painter

A movie about America’s most influential and important industrial designers Charles and Ray Eames.  Interviews with friends, colleague, and experts capture the personal story of Charles and Ray giving context to their projects.
 

7.  Rem Koolhaas: Kind of Architect

Filmed by Markus Heidingsfelder and Min Tesch, this documentary features interviews from other architects and friends about Koolhaas, offering a peek into his process and his influence in architecture. 
(You can watch it here: www.youtube.com/)
 

8.  Philip Johnson: Diary of An Eccentric Architect (1996)

Philip Johnson has always been at the forefront of stylistic change. Featuring the house he designed and lives in, his famous “Glass House” which has no walls so the landscape becomes the wallpaper. This movie is what he refers to as his “diary” and insightful look into the life of Johnson. 
 

9.  The Alchemy of Building

This film explores the way Herzog and de Meuron explore various materials, how their strengths and weaknesses compliment each other and how they collaborate with others, giving the audience insight into how they develop their ground-breaking architecture.

10.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Special Edition

This is a two disc collection including the fascinating story of how Fallingwater came to be as well as interviews with Lynda Waggoner, the director of Fallingwater, and Richard Cleary, an architectural historian.  The second disc includes an interactive visual tour of Fallingwater, and copies of original plans, presentation drawings, and photos.
 

11.  First Person Singular: I.M. Pei

I.M. Pei speaks about his famous projects along with experts who comment on the impact and importance of these projects.  Featured projects include the Louvre in Paris, the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas.
(see a trailer:  First Person Singular; IM Pei)
 

12.  How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?

How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? follows Norman Foster’s unending quest to improve the quality of life through design. By investigating his origins to how his dreams and influences inspired the design of emblematic projects such as the world’s largest building to its tallest bridge, Foster offers some striking solutions to humanity’s increasing demand on urban centers. 
(You can watch it here:  www.youtube.com)

13.  Architectures (Vol. 1-5) – 5-DVD Box Set ( Baukunst )

This five volume collection includes: ‘The Dessau Bauhaus by Walter Gropius’, ‘The Siza School’, ‘Family Lodgings in Guise’, ‘Nemausus 1’, ‘The Georges Pompidou Centre’, ‘The Vienna Savings Bank’, ‘The Johnson Building By Frank Lloyd Wright’, ‘The Galleria Umberto I’, ‘Lyon Satolas TGV Station By Santiago Calatrava’, ‘The Stone Thermal Baths By Peter Zumthor’, ‘The Paris Fine Arts School By Felix Duban’, ‘The Jewish Museum Berlin By Daniel Libeskind’, ‘The Garnier Opera By Charles Garnier’, ‘The Convent of La Tourette By Le Courbusier’, ‘The Casa Mila By Antoni Gaudi’, ‘The Auditorium Building in Chicago By Louis Harris Sullivan’, ‘The Municipal Centre of Saynatsalo By Alvaar Alto’, ‘Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans By Claude Nicolas Ledoux’, ‘La Maison de Verre By Pierre Chareau’, ‘The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao By Frank Gehry’, ‘Jean Prouve’s House’, ‘Multimedia Library of Sendai By Toyo Ito’, ‘The Abbey Church of Sainte Foy at Conques’, ‘The Alhambra, Granada’, ‘The House of Sugimoto, Kyoto’, ‘The Reception and Congress Building in Rome By Adalberto Libera’, ‘The Yoyogi Olympic Gymnasiums By Kenzo Tange’, ‘The Villa Barbaro (Villa di Maser) By Andrea Palladio’ and ‘Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg By Zaha Hadid’.  This will keep any architecture groupie occupied for a while – a great gift. 
 
 A Guide to Modern Architecture

VISIT architectureGROUPIE.com for a travel guide to modern architecture

 

Berlin Architecture Resource

There is so much to learn about the Modern Architecture of Berlin,

our featured books…

     

Dutch Embassy In Berlin By Oma/Rem Koolhaas  by Rem Koolhaas, 2004

Sketches, drawings and models illustrate the design’s points of departure, and Koolhaas himself expounds upon the project’s context.  Everything you need to know and more about this fantastic example of modern architecture.

BUILDING BERLIN Vol 1.: The Latest Architecture in and out of the Capital by Chamber of Architects Berlin (ed.), 2012

The overview of more than 70 contemporary projects in and from Berlin is augmented by architecture essays by renowned authors and interviews.

there’s more


        

Modern Architecture in Berlin by Rolf Rave, 2009

With texts and images, the book presents 466 architectural works built from 1907 to the present day. The author’s choices support the greater intention to present what can now be deemed contemporary, typical, and exemplary about every period of Berlin’s diverse, irregular, and amazingly rich architectural history.

Berlin – The Architecture Guide: Updated (Architecture Guides) by Braun Publishing, 2012

This architectural guide provides expert guides to the capital city and largest metropolis in Germany.


Daniel Libeskind: Jewish Museum Berlin: Museum Building Guides by Daniel Libeskind, 2011

For Libeskind, a Polish Jew raised not far from Berlin who lost many relatives in the Holocaust, this extraordinary building was an intensely personal undertaking.


Holocaust Memorial Berlin: Eisenman Architects by Hanno Rauterberg, 2005

The enormity and scale of the horror of the Holocaust is such that any attempt to represent it by traditional means is inevitably inadequate . . . Our memorial attempts to present a new idea of memory as distinct from nostalgia . . . We can only know the past today through a manifestation in the present. Peter Eisenman

A Guide to Modern Architecture