Friday, 7 December 2012

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: ROOFED CITY OF THE YEAR 2000

















I can't read the text properly, but this is obviously a "*something* city in the year 2000"! Under a wet and rainy sky (Who knew that a chocolate factory predicted climate change 112 years ago?), people are leading happy suspiciously well-lit lives under a roof, enjoying green grass, fountains and masonry buildings with domes and pediments, as well as bicycles, horses, and trams for transportation. Is this vision to blame for the phenomenon of shopping malls? Never mind, Bergen is cold today, so bring me to the year 2000!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

PRESENTATION

























Today was my first presentation about architecture at BAS without drawings or models. I was presenting my essay concerning sustainability and the use of local materials, showing mostly pictures and telling about my findings and my views, and the response was good. I've done loads of presentations before, but this one was the first about architecture in a theoretical perspective, so I was a bit nervous. All the more rewarding when people came up to me afterwards and told me that it was exciting and focused!

The picture is of the village of Rocamadour in France, a great example of how the use of local materials (in this case limestone from the cliff on which the village itself stands) can result in "an unrestrained harmony", to quote the essay. (Ha ha, I'm so pretentious!) Picture credits: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

DESKTOP/NYKIRKEN TOWER



















This is my current desktop background picture, taken with the "starry sky" function on my camera, which spends 30 seconds taking in the light, and then 30 seconds putting it together to form a picture. It was taken inside the tower of Nykirken, Bergen, in the room behind the clocks. The colours are not adjusted, it's really that blue. One of the most beautiful rooms I've ever seen.

PS. Wondering about what all that concrete is doing inside a 17th Century church? The roof and tower were reconstructed in the fifties after having been bombed in the WWII.







Friday, 16 November 2012

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: LIFE ON MARS?



For reasons unknown, I've been listening quite a lot to this amazing song lately. However, as it has the the most boring music video in the history of the planet Earth (with no architeture whatsoever, except for a white void which I'm sure Le Corbusier would have loved), I'm throwing in a couple of pictures with designs for a Martian city, made by the brilliant visual artist Thomas Denmark:















Friday, 2 November 2012

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: PUSHWAGNER'S SOFT CITY












In the early 1970s, the Norwegian artist Hariton Pushwagner created a dystopian vision of the modern city, with cars, monotony and soulless architecture, called Soft City. In this amazing series of drawings, he showed a day in this horrible society where identity is history, variation is fault and likeness the prime virtue. In many ways, this was probably nor only a reflection of Pushwagner's political views, but just as much a reaction to how Norwegian architecture was developing at the time.




















































One example can be found in Fantoft student hostel in Bergen, where repetition, uniformity, lack og scale and boring and ugle materials are combined with boring setting to create something that could easily have inspired Pushwagner.




















The artist kept returning to Soft City, and not all of these drawing come from the original series. A book with the first edition of Soft city was published some years ago. I own a copy, but I'm not sure if it can be bought online. The ISBN number is 9788291187785, and the book is very much recommended.



















Finally, a short film version of Soft City:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

THOMAS AND THE GOAT WILLOWS




















My former classmate Thomas is the definition of sympathetic, and a rather clever tree-bender. At the beginning of our secound year, we joined forces in attacking a couple of goat willows with our braiding abilities and our sharp scissors, creating, as you can see, something looks like a rather nice tree, out of what used to be just a mess.



















Last week, we followed up by not only re-pruning the first trees, but also making sense of several other bushy things of the kind which keep popping up around our school. I completely forgot to do a before-shot, but above, the reader may see what it looked like afterwards. Another shot below, with the sunset, Thomas, yours truly and the tree, in that order.

To find out more about creative bending, braiding an dpruning of living trees, check out Ivan Hicks' book Tricks with trees, of which I own a much-loved copy.

Friday, 19 October 2012

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: THE GRIFFIN'S CAVE



From my favourite live action version of the classic Alice in Wonderland, a strange and beautiful little scene, set in a piece of gravity- and proportion-defying classical architecture, in the form of a cave. (No point in going to richardland.com, by the way.)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

WES AND MATILDA



















Today, while sitting at the desk in our classroom with my brilliant fellow student Matilda, who makes the world's most beautiful ink drawings, I suddenly felt like I was part of a Wes Anderson film. It may have had something to do with the amount of symmetry, an element which he uses a lot in his movies. At one point, I felt I was Bill Murray, but now I'm much better, thank you very much.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

MOVING THE PASSIVE HOUSE

















Earlier today, I passed while this installation was being removed from one of the public places in the centre of Bergen. It's a passive house (basically a very energy efficient kind of building) that has been exhibited for some time now, and a few weeks ago, I went with my friend Vegar, who is also an architecture student, to see it. There is a huge debate about passive houses in Norway these days, because, although they spend very little energy, they are also very high-tech, and the techo-optimists and the eco-architects do not agree as to whether the quality of air inside a passive house is good enough.

This one is very small, but was fully equipped, and thus still interesting to see. However, the design was awful, with a door and the inside walls made out of a sort of cardboard (which can be really cool, but in this case was used for) imitating wood, and cheap, ugly moulding. Also, the air inside smelled of fart. Needless to say, we were not quite convinced, and I can't say I'll be missing it.

Friday, 12 October 2012

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: THE HOBBIT






For all lovers of fantasy architecture: This will be great. Get ready to return to pointed arches in Lórien, grass-covered walls and round doors in the Shire, lighweight Art Nouveau in Rivendell and heavy underground Dwarf walls of solid stone. I simply can't wait.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

FACEBOOK 101

















Yesterday, this blog's Facebook page reached 101 likes! As you can see, 92 of them are friends of mine, most of whom were probably invited by yours truly. Still, I think this is fun. I joined Facebook in 2006, and I use it almost every day to connect with friends and co-workers, learning new things, and finding out about real-life events. In this way, the "social network"actually works almost like a well-connected city, with more or less rounded blocks of homes, stores, offices, restaurants and cultural scenes.













In this amazing map of Facebook friendships made by Paul Butler, you can see how large parts of the world are interconnected using this powerful network. I, for one, com from Norway, but have connections going to such far-off places as Kenya, Colombia, South Africa and Bangladesh. Read more about how the map was made in this short and interesting article.

Finally, a picture of a well-connected city, for comparison. Bologna in 1640:






















May both the world and its cities become increasingly interconnected in the years to come!

Monday, 10 September 2012

THE BOATHOUSE
















Earlier this summer, I was at the opening of a new cultural scene in Oslo, called Naustet, which means "The Boathouse". Inspired by traditional Norwegian boathouses and built directly above the water in the new waterside neighbourhood Bjørvika, this little gem was designed and built by students from Norway's three architecture schools, in the joint workshop called Trestykker.










































"Tre" means both "three" (as in three architecture schools) and "wood" (as in made from) in Norwegian, and the whole thing is sponsored by different companies within the wood industry in Norway, including free materials.








































The doors, back wall and wooden floors both inside and on the outside, are made from the excellent material Kebony, which has many of the same properties of tropical wood, but is made from local trees such as pine and maple, combined with leftovers from sugar factories.








































The walls are clad in polycarbonate panels, which are partially opaque, depending if the sunshine is direct of filtered through clouds. Before sunset, the walls seem to be glowing.





























































The building stands in stark contrast to the other buildings of Bjørvika. While the rest are mostly glasshouses in a vulgar, petroleum-driven architectural language, who turn their back in the rest of the city, the Boathouse is a human-scale construction, made of wood, and talking to the city, actually turning its back on the water. In my opinion, this very last quality is also the best, and very brave, in a city that is forgetting what it has been for several hundred years. If the old Oslo, perched in the low, rolling hills, and the new Oslo down by the water are going to feel like one place instead of two, the communication has to go both ways.

















































The acoustic qualities of the building are excellent. There were three concerts during the opening, and I particularly enjoyed this one, by the wonderful Ingvild Våge. I also taped a video there, which I might post on the blog later.

The wood frames are made of plywood, which were pre-made, but glued and screwed together on site.































Let's hope that the Boathouse will find people to run it as a scene, and that Oslo will be inspired to create more architecture that relates to the site, is human in scale and materials, and dares to talk to the city. Good luck on next year's Trestykker!


Friday, 31 August 2012

FICTIONAL FRIDAY: OLYMPUS OF "IMMORTALS"














Fictional Friday is a series of posts on my blog, where I present fantastical and fictional architecture from books, television, films, computer games, art etc. every Friday.

This week, something for those of you who just can't have enough of inventive Classicism: In the otherwise unimpressive film 'Immortals', there was a rather beautiful set, designed for Olympus, the home of the gods. Imagined as a synthesis of unpolished marble, symmetry and geometry, this amazing piece of fictional architecture reminded me of the stark and beautiful Nordic Classicism (sometimes referred to as 'Swedish Grace') of the 1920s. Have a look, ignore the silly costumes, pay notice to the nice Lucie Fournier relief and make up your own opinion:

















































































































Thursday, 30 August 2012

THE BEGINNING



Back in school. More than a year has passed and I really am a different person in more than one way. And ready.

The music is from the movie 'The Truman Show' from 1998, featuring some really cool sets, including the very real town of Seaside, a traditional-looking new town in Florida, and a place where I'd really like to go.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

IAN BEGG AND THE SCOTTISH VERNACULAR

























This is the Radisson BLU Hotel Edinburgh, on the famous Royal Mile in the middle of the city. It was designed by the Scottish architect Ian Begg, who has restored and built many beautiful buildings in Scotland. This hotel, which according to scottish-places.info filled anotorious gap site, was completed in 1990! It's a very traditional building, designed in a sort of local vernacular style, but it's not made to look old by applying fake ageing techniques or anything of the sort.
















On the side of the main entrance, there is a plaque, inscribed with the words "AL THIS WARK WAS BEGUN DANCON ON 10-JANUARY-1989 AN ENDIT BE THEM ON 31-MARCH-1990", leaving no doubt as to the building's age. There's another plaque at the foot of the tower (covered up in the top picture, but normally visible), clearly stating the year the hotel was built "AD 1989". I did not get to see much of the interiors, but I did pay a visit to their elegant lobby, in which I found friendly staff, who unfortunately were not able to tell me the name of the architect. In my opinion, they should be informing their guests about this very special building and the architect behind it.




Ian Begg has a passion for everything Scottish, and is the architect behind many new buildings in this and related styles. On his excellent website you can read more about his work, and even see an excerpt from a series of BBC programmes on "The Scottish House" from the early 1970s (which, by the way, should be published online, on Youtube or elsewhere). An excerpt:




This very sincere and talented man is also the architect of another beautiful urban Scottish building, St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, in Glasgow.

Photo courtesy of visitscotland.com













Constructed in 1993, the building blends in with its surroundings while still retaining a character of its own. The design is intended to reflect the now lost medieval Glasgow Castle, which formerly occupied the site, but sadly was torn down at the end of the eighteenth century. Apart from exhibitions on religious life in Scotland, the building also features a Zen garden, a courtyard used for markets, festivals concerts, as well as stain More pictures of the exteriors, interiors and even a model of the building can seen at Undiscovered Scotland.
















Zen garden









Playing Gamalan instruments and dancing in the courtyard
















The courtyard during Merchant City Festival









Photos of St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow
This photo of St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is courtesy of TripAdvisor


Discovering the work of Mr Begg has certainly motivated me to make more trips to Scotland, and learn more about this interesting designer and his thoughts on architecture. Wish me luck!
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