Architecture

A few ways architecture can come to you.

There are many reasons why traveling to visit architecture in distant cities can be difficult, the cost of travel has gone up significantly, it is hard to get time off work, you have obligations, you just don’t like to travel or you can’t afford it.  In my case I recently had a baby thus realizing this is going to change how I travel and how much I travel as much as I didn’t want to believe it before.  So I have been thinking about all the ways I can still get my architecture fix without travel and possibly without even leaving my house.  Here are my suggestions:

Books

 

I love books, let me clarify, I love big coffee table books.  There are thousands of beautiful modern architecture books available with amazing photos and lots of information about architecture and their architects.  Many books are compilation of architecture projects, Phaidon Press always creates awesome modern architecture books.  My favorite recent book is The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture which features more than 1000 of the finest architecture completed since the year 2000 from around the world.  And now that I think about it you don’t need to leave your house for books anymore either.

Click here for some more book suggestions.

 

 

Magazines

For those who like to stay in the know regarding new architectural projects, awards, news, and events magazines are just the thing. They are also idea for flipping through while having your morning coffee, they are easy to digest, portable and not precious objects so they can be recycled when you are done.  You can also subscribe to magazines so you don’t even need to think about it.  Here are some good ones.

           

Digital Books and Magazines

Although there is nothing like a tangible book I am very fond of all things digital.  If you have a Kobo, Kindle, or tablet you can purchase digital architecture books or magazines so if you are the type that doesn’t like a lot of stuff or don’t have a lot of space this is perfect.  Plus you can order them anytime of day and get it instantly.

Architecture Documentaries

I always say that because architecture is three dimensional it should be viewed in person to understand the true space and to grasp the real nature of the architecture HOWEVER the next best thing is film.  There are some outstanding Documentaries about architecture where you can learn about a series of projects by one architect or learn a ton about one building.  Click here for a link to a bunch of architecture documentaries worth getting.

               

Lectures

Check out your local architecture college / university they often run architectural lecture series through the school year bringing in some really fascinating architects to speak about their work.  I have seen Elizabeth Diller, Tadao Ando, Craig Dykers from Snohetta, Kazuyo Sejima from SANNA,and so forth.  Listening to the architect speak of the challenges, the inspiration and reasoning is priceless and I have found very inspiring.  Other places to learn about lectures or events is in magazines, also check you local architecture associations website there is usually a list of events.

Youtube

Youtube is not new but I feel like I have only recently realized its true value when it comes to architecture.   There are countless interviews with architects and short documentaries about buildings on youtube, they vary in length and context but they are similar to lectures in that you can get the real scoop on process and design, challenges and my favourite is seeing how different the office environments are.  I have a few blog posts that have several youtube links, see below, or you can just search youtube for whatever or whomever you are interested in.

Learn more about Bjarke Ingels (B.I.G)

Interviews with Zaha Hadid

Websites

There are lots of great architecture websites.  I list a bunch in this blog post:

 12 awesome ARCHITECTURE websites

 

These are a few ways to have architecture come to you.

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Visiting Modern Architecture

How to Plan your Architectural Travel

Canova Plaster Cast Museum

I love planning my architectural explorations, for me it is almost as fun as the traveling, however I recognize not everyone feels this way, it can be a lot of work particularly if you want to see it all and don’t want to miss a thing.  I really hate getting back from a great city and missing an amazing architectural project because I didn’t know it was there!

When I went to Venice I was ill prepared and missed a bunch of Carlo Scarpa’s architecture, I have heard his work is amazing from friends and wish I could have experienced it in person (now his work is on my bucket list).  So to prevent this I have outlined my system of travel planning in hopes you will never miss out on any architectural experiences.

Choosing an architecturally rich city

If you haven’t already decided where you want to go one of the methods I use to determine which cities to travel to is to first ask myself and my travel companion: what time of year I want to travel, how long the trip will be and what do we want to gain from the experience.  Most people like to travel where the weather is reasonably good so that will help narrow down where you want to go depending on the time of year.  How long you have will narrow down how far you can go and how many cities you can reasonably see.  There are so many wonderful and exciting cities so once the list has been narrowed down do image searches and talk to people who have been to the places you are interested in – this will definitely help to make your final determination.  If you are like me there are just too many places and not enough time and/or money.

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Finding the architecture

Once you have determined the city or cities you are going to visit you can begin to find the architecture.  Research cannot be overstated – the more you do before you leave the less you miss and the more you see!  I always search for as many architectural gems as I can by doing the following:

  • Refer to architecture magazines and books
  • Talk to friends and family about your travel plans they may offer suggestions and tips, most people love to reminiscent about the things they have seen and places they go.  Friends and family are usually a reliable source because they are unbiased and the information and experience is first hand.
  • Image searches, try different keywords, when you see something you like save the picture and try to get the name from the website – the pictures are important because a list of building names can get all confusing after so much research
  • Visit www.archgroupie.com which is our architecture directory of architectural gems organized by city so you are able to skip all this research but if we haven’t covered the city yet – feel free to write us and let us know.
  • Consult various architecture websites, check out this blog post:  12 Awesome ARCHITECTURE websites

Keep an ongoing list of everything you find.  This can be done on your computer, in a sketchbook, on a smartphone app such as Evernote, or all of the above.  Whichever method works best for you, we will organize the information in the next step.

Get Organized

When you believe you got it all or have run out of time for researching begin to vet through the information.  I always rank my researched architecture list into three categories:

1. Absolutely will not leave this city without seeing this building…MUST SEE

2. Really want to see

3. I will live if I don’t see that building

4. Not that interested

Now research the essential information from the top three categories: address, hours, entry fee, tour times, website links, etc.  Make reservations, get tickets if required and prepare anything you may need to visit the building.

Map it out

smartphone 5

There are lots of ways to map out the architecture, you can use Google maps, print a map and label it with a corresponding legend or mark up your travel guide book.  It is important to map it so you can better prepare an itinerary.  Mapping will also help you know when a building is hard to get to or just next door.   I like to always group sites by geography so I do not waste precious time traveling back and forth around the city – on a map it is easy to tell how close or far apart buildings are.

Architecture GROUPIE is creating maps so you can skip all this work too.

Itinerary

Visiting Modern Architecture

Make an itinerary, I have never been too keen on a day by day / hour by hour itinerary but many buildings are not open every day and if you are not careful you can miss out on some great sites because you weren’t organized or well researched.

Based on your “MUST SEE” architecture list outline what days they are open and closed to see if a conflict will occur.  Use your itinerary loosely to figure out how you will get around and what you plan to see and do… be sure to leave flexibility for example if the weather is rainy I like to check out some indoor venues such as a museum.

Documents

It is important to let people know where you are just in case.  I create a small spread sheet with the important information of where I will be and give it to a family member, be sure to include any information you may need as well, such as confirmation numbers, see example below.  Another option is to enter all this information into a sharable calendar such as Tripit, I have not used it yet but plan to give it a try on my next travel adventure.

 Date  City and Flight Info

Hotel (name, address, phone number)

Confirmation Number

Include your email address and phone number at the bottom.

Also it is important to have a copy of important travel documents such as your passport, visa etc.  Save these on your smartphone, tablet or print them out.  I would recommend putting all this important stuff on the cloud (Dropbox Google Drive, etc…) or you can just email it to yourself in case something happens to your device, this way you just need any computer with internet to access this sensitive information and its one less thing to care around. 

Budget

If you are on a budget be sure to take note of ticket prices and free offers.  Some buildings can be viewed from the outside if the tours are really expensive and it isn’t on your “MUST SEE” list.

Also visit:  5 TIPS FOR VISITING MODERN ARCHITECTURE ON A BUDGET

Just remember you will likely never go back to these cities and see these places again so don’t go overboard and miss out on great architecture.

Now all you need to do is pack…  Happy Travels

travel guides - blog

A happy groupie is an architecture GROUPIE – check out the digital maps to save you all this work

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!

12 awesome ARCHITECTURE websites

architecture websites copy

There are so many great architecture resources online I thought I would share my favorite architecture websites.  These websites feature modern and contemporary architecture and include great photos and information on new projects around the world.

I love to look at these websites and now you can too.

These are not inclusive of all architecture websites – just some of my favorites.  listed in alphabetical order. 

12 awesome ARCHITECTURE websites architecture groupie’s will love:

archdaily.com

archgroupie.com

archidose.blogspot.ca

archinect.com

architonic.com/nttre/architecture

contemporist.com

designboom.com/architecture

detail-online.com/architecture

fastcodesign.com

inhabitat.com/architecture

mocoloco.com/fresh2/architecture

thecoolhunter.net/architecture

wallpaper.com/architecture

AND don’t forget to check out:

 ebook image-reducedArchitecture Travel: a how to guide

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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WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT MODERN ARCHITECTURE (5 reasons)

Here are 5 reasons why you should visit modern architecture that perhaps you never thought of.

1.  means to an end

This isn’t quiet the right term but the idea here is that you can use these modern landmarks to explore and meander different streets and new neighborhoods you likely would not have found otherwise.  I have found really great alleys and markets on my way to some of these buildings you just need to keep your eyes open and make the route part of the fun.  Often the new and cool buildings are in up and coming neighborhoods which are nice to checkout before they become tourist traps.

2.  modern architecture is cool

Modern architecture can house some cool stuff or activities.  I have gone to look at some great architecture because of the architect and thought it was actually just really fun and recommended it to my friends just because it was cool.  For example while I was in Tokyo I visited the Swatch Group Store because it was design by Shigeru Ban (fabulous architect).  I actually didn’t know much about this project at all before I went.  The entire ground floor is open to the street, there isn’t any merchandise on the ground floor only glass elevators and a large open space with a trickling waterfall and living wall almost 5 storeys high.   The elevators bring customers to different floors each carrying a different brand of watch.  It is actually one of the best retail stores I have been too, we had an espresso and took a ride in some of the elevators.  It was cool.

Shigeru Ban   Shigeru Ban   Shigeru Ban

3.  it isn’t boring

Visiting modern architecture is not like visiting old Gothic cathedrals, they don’t all look the same! I must admit I don’t’ think Gothic churches all look the same but it is understandable why many would think that.  Old architecture followed particular rules for centuries – that is why they are so similar.  New architecture is not like that – Modern architecture is colourful and playful.  Architects experiment with materials and form.  Even if you don’t like every building – you won’t be bored.

Fun Architecture   Colourful architecture  Suprising architecture

4.  new stories

While your friends are doing and seeing the same old stuff that they found in their travel books you can see new and exciting projects.  Visiting these new buildings will provide you with interesting stories and adventures and you will be the envy of all your friends.

5.  here and now

Modern architecture most often relates to today.  You don’t need to be a historian to understand and appreciate modern architecture.

   Boston Modern Architecture  

Bonus reason:

Because it is now easy to find these modern buildings just visit architecture groupie.com  for an address list!

A Guide to Modern Architecture