Traditional Andean Design Finds New Life in Architectural Details

Colors, Design & Designers, Random Beauty

The city of El Alto in Bolivia, high up in the Andes, is the country’s second largest city and right next to the third largest one, La Paz. Something that El Alto beats its richer neighbor in is unique eye candy right on the building facades.

That’s because an architect, Freddy Mamani Silvestre, is slowly working bright colors into El Alto’s red-brick and concrete scenery.

Wikipedia Mamani Cholet1

via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Information on Silvestre seems scant in English. A member of the indigenous Aymara, he apparently started working on buildings as a bricklayer. There’s a feature on El Alto in The New York Times in 2013 and in The Washington Post in 2014. He’s referred to in a 2014 BBC News article on president Evo Morales. The Architectural Association, Inc., still has their exhibition info Salones de Eventos from 2015 available online. I also found two articles via the German Wikipedia entry for Silvestri: one in The Architectural Review and the other in Quartz, both from 2015. The best bet at the moment might be the 2017 book El Alto by Silvestre and Peter Granser. For Spanish readers there’s more, including the 2014 book La arquitectura de Freddy Mamani Silvestre.

Quartz Mamani Salon Montecarlo

Salón Montecarlo by Alfredo Zeballos / The Architecture of Freddy Mamani Silvestre. Via Quartz.

Silvestri draws on traditional shapes and colors in his designs. Some of the detailing reminds me of jugend (I believe the phrase art deco is used in the U.S. instead), but Silvestri’s work is clearly not derivative of it.

If the exteriors seem colorful and detailed, just wait until you see the interiors!

Wow! His style has been described as Neo-Andean, new Andean, space-ship architecture or, plainly, kitch. However you may want to describe it, the word colorful will have to be there!

Found via Colossal.

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

On the Visual Design of Birnin Zana, Wakanda’s Capitol

Design & Designers, Geek out!, Movies & TV

All the “best of 2018” movie lists I’ve seen remind of how much I loved Black Panther. So, I’m stealing an early start to the Martin Luther King Day weekend and reading about the design of Wakanda’s capitol city.

It’s called Birnin Zana and nicknamed the Golden City, although neither name appears in the movie. The Birnin Zana we see on the screen is the creation of the movie’s production designer, Hannah Beachler.

In a CityLab interview with Nicole Flatow, Beachler recounts her starting point:

“You know what’s keeping us together: the connectivity of people, not the connectivity of users. We’re not users; we’re people, but we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re users,” she said. “So I took all of that, and I just chucked it out of Wakanda, because the people were the most important thing about it, and we’re forgetting it. And I think that’s why people responded to Wakanda on this massive level: people.”

CityLab Marvel Studios Wakandan Street View

Marvel Studios; via CityLab.

The first impression of Birnin Zana is of course the skyscrapers, but if you look closely, there is water and ample greenery, too. The skyscrapers don’t seem to block the light too badly either.

Wired Marvel Studios City from Above

Marvel Studios; via Wired.

And if you really look, you can see greenery both in and on the buildings.

fxguide Marvel Studios Royal Landing Pad

Marvel Studios; via fxguide.

Vanity Fair Marvel Studios City Concept

Marvel Studios; via Vanity Fair.

Ahh! Nice.

Many of the building shapes hark back to traditional African aesthetics; also the surface detailing is rich and striking. In an interview with Collider, Beachler talks about the influences for her work:

“I started poking around and looking at really modern architects who have designed in Africa, all over Africa, east and west Africa. And someone who I really fell in love with was Zaha Hadid, who has passed away, but she is one of the foremost architects. So I started looking at her. Her architecture is very voluptuous and very flowing, very organic. So I thought this would be good. And the more I started digging into Senegal and Nigeria and finding things, while not necessarily futuristic-looking, very modern in their sensibilities as far as the way they’re putting together their elements and the colors that they use. I was struck by that. So I took a lot of that in. And a lot of it does come from Nigeria. I think in Kenya, Uganda, Johannesburg was another one, where no matter where you go, you really do see that they’re always keeping in mind the tradition.”

Los Angeles Times Marvel Studios City Concept Low-Built Area

Film Frame / Marvel Studios; via Los Angeles Times.

Collider Marvel Studios Wakanda City Concept

Marvel Studios; via Collider.

Beachler also created a 500-page “Wakanda Bible” for the actors to study, including the history of Golden City and names for all the buildings. The records hall held special meaning for her:

“Because [Wakanda residents] know everything about their past”—a privilege that real-world African Americans don’t have—“and [that] will never go away again in this city.

“I felt that way because I never knew my history. I didn’t know my ancestry, I didn’t know how far back it went …That was truly the most important thing to me. I don’t have that, but I could give it here in this fantastical world.”

I wish we got to see it, but I don’t think we do. (If you’ve spotted the records hall, let me know!)

Anyway; gorgeous through and through, isn’t it?

Now, I’m a city girl and have been almost my entire life. However, my concept of a city is different: all urban areas back home are typically so roomily built I’ve heard that if we were to follow some particular EU directive the whole country of Finland wouldn’t have a single city. (No idea whether that’s true, though.) Add my introversion to the difference in our respective urban population densities, and I suspect I would need a lot of alonetime were it possible for me to visit the Golden City.

Other than that, I LOVE everything we see: Color! Fantastic public transit (maglev trains, streetcars), but with people and their needs (and not cars) clearly at the focus. Traditional crafts and art that live very comfortably next to high-tech. Street vendors of almost every stripe – especially the food vendors make my mouth water every time I see them.

I do wish we could have a real-world Wakanda, for many reasons, the fabulous design being just one.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

WoW’s Dalaran Cupola Library vs. Real Round Libraries

Games, Geek out!, Stunt Double

I was browsing my WoW screencaps for something entirely different when my eye fell on two shots from the Dalaran inscription trainer’s place. (This is in the Legion version of Dalaran.) Both are actually from inside the book-filled cupola: the first looks up towards the impossibly high ceiling, the second down towards the trainers’ room floor.

WoW Dalaran Inscription Tr Book Dome2 Sm

Screencap from the Dalaran inscription trainer’s place in World of Warcraft.

WoW Dalaran Inscription Tr Book Dome Sm

Screencap from the Dalaran inscription trainer’s place in World of Warcraft.

Neat, right? Well, I wondered whether anyone’s actually done anything similar for real and hit the Internet. And I found some!

 

Stockholm Public Library in Stockholm, Sweden

The functionalist stadsbibliotek was designed by Gunnar Asplund and opened in 1928.

Flickr Marcus Hansson Stockholm Public Library

Marcus Hansson on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

 

Round Reading Room in the Maughan Library, King’s College London in London, UK

The Round Reading Room of Maughan Library, the main university library of King’s College London, can be found on the Strand Campus.

Wikimedia Kings College London Maughan Lib Round Reading Room Sm

Colin via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

 

Picton Reading Room in Liverpool, UK

The Picton Reading Room, completed in 1879, is now part of the Liverpool Central Library.

Flickr Terry Kearney Liverpool Central Library Picton Reading Room

Terry Kearney on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

 

A home in Toronto, Ontario

Designed by Katherine Newman and Peter Cebulak, this two-level library is in a private residence in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Architectural Digest Toronto Ontario Home

Tony Soluri via Architectural Digest.

 

The Octagon Room, Islamic Studies Library at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The library is situated in the neo-Gothic Morrice Hall building that previously housed the Presbyterian College of Montreal from 1871 to 1961.

McGill Islamic Studies Library Klaus Fiedler Sm

Klaus Fiedler, McGill Library.

 

None of them are exactly the same as the game library cupola, of course: apart from the the scale of the rooms, the scale and direction of the bookcases might differ. But apparently it isn’t terribly far-fetched to make a round multi-storey library and pack it chock-full. 😀

Images: Stockholm Public Library by Marcus Hansson on Flickr (CC BY 2.0). Round Reading Room of Maughan Library by Colin via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0). Picton Reading Room by Terry Kearney on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0). Toronto home by Tony Soluri via Architectural Digest. Islamic Studies Library at McGill by Klaus Fiedler, McGill Library.

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Updating Past Styles: Estonian Architect Allan Strus

Design & Designers, Stunt Double, Thumbs Up

Estonian architect Allan Strus uses historical styles as springboard in his building designs. Filled with modern features like triple-glazed windows plus high-quality insulation and soundproofing, his houses nevertheless charmingly nod towards earlier styles like Jugend and Neoclassicism. Other contemporary features in his buildings include French balconies, underground parking structures or roof terraces.

HS Allan Strus Tallinn Vesivärava 40

Vesivärava 40, Tallinn, Estonia. Design by Allan Strus, photo by Marko Mumm; via Helsingin Sanomat.

 

The design ethos is described at Arkitehtibüroo Allan Strus website like this:

“We believe that built environment should enrich the environment surrounding us, harmonize with it, depart from local customs and traditions instead of shocking the observer. We also think that buildings should tell their users and watchers about their essence and birth as well as about their owners. We hold that buildings and entire built environment should be beautiful and elegant, not ostentatious and arrogant. We hold that harmony and beauty of buildings must be clearly understood also when we are gone, not only in the perspective of a short-time trend. We are convinced that buildings must be physically and visually solid and durable, that they must certainly last longer than for one human generation, because this is the only way to restate the consistency and transmission of man-made values from one preceding generation to the following. […]

“Therefore we depart from traditional and classical architecture and try to combine it with local customs, circumstances and specific requirements as well as with latest technology. We believe in consistency of traditions and vitality of classical values precisely because they are essentially not derived from trends but stem from technical, logical and aesthetic solutions-tectonics- formulated by centuries long experience of mankind and easily adjust to changing needs and demands of a specific period.“

Strus doesn’t only design apartment buildings, though. His private residences and vacation retreats follow the same design principles.

Allan Strus Pirita-Kose Tallinn Private Home

Arkitehtibüroo Allan Strus.

As Jugend is one of my favorite building styles, I love Strus’s work a lot. The proportions of his buildings are more pleasing than those of later styles like modernism or functionalism. (Some of them ping my Jane Austen radar, too; or at least remind me of what I associate with Regency period building styles.) I wish his approach were already more widely known, for the work is so very beautiful, balanced and harmonious.

More at the Arkitehtibüroo Allan Strus website or Facebook page. (I especially recommend FB for more amazing project photos!)

Found via Helsingin Sanomat (NB. Finnish only).

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Colors: A Blue, White and Grey Kitchen

Colors, Design & Designers, Room of Awesome

Architect Liza Breeze was hired to transform a dated townhouse in Fitzroy North, Melbourne, Australia, and she most definitely delivered. My favorite picture from the project is below:

Lisa Breeze Fitzroy+North+Townhouse+7

Architect Liza Breeze. Styling: Tamara Maynes, photo: Caitlin Mills.

That’s such a LOVELY blue! The lines are a hint too modern for me, but I do love the color combo – blue with a bit of grey in it, white, grey marble plus a dash of black. And a Smeg fridge for the Red Dwarf fans out there… 🙂

Kudos! More photos on Lisa Breeze’s website.

Found via Desire to Inspire.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Movie Directors’ Styles as House Posters

Design & Designers, Geek out!

Architect / graphic designer Federico Babina makes fabulous posters, including melding architecture and a wide variety of subjects. For the series Archidirector, he encapsulated a number of famous movie directors’ styles as houses. They’re pretty awesome.

Federico Babina Archidirector Mashup

Federico Babina; collage by Eppu Jensen.

(Yay, Finland was mentioned!)

More on his website, shop or Twitter.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.