Australian photographer Tom Blachford presents the latest instalment of his series of modernist architecture photography Midnight Modern, a body of work that captures iconic Palm Springs mid-century residences in the chilling light of a full moon.
Midnight Modern, Palm Springs, USA, Photography by Tom Blachford
The Barcelona show is something of an intervention, with a diagonal walkway slashing across the famously rectangular floor plan to set up a dialogue with the solitary existing sculpture in the Pavilion, Georg Kolbe’s ‘Alba (Dawn)’, which stands on a small plinth in the smaller of the building’s two reflecting pools. Veilhan has reinterpreted Kolbe’s figure in four figures of descending scale, using different materials in a homage to Mies’ simple, rich palette of glass, steel and marble. The pools have been partly built over, offering visitors new perspectives on spaces made iconic through photography, reproduction and imitation.
‘My curatorial role was focused on researching together with Xavier Veilhan about the history of the pavilion, the characters and conditions that defined its design and how we could connect with that through our project,’ Gonzalo Herrero Delicado explains. ‘It was also important for the Barcelona installation to create a conversation with the rest of the exhibitions.’ The architect oversaw all aspects of the project, from liaising with the MvdR Foundation to secure permissions to finding the local architects, MAIO, to build the final design.
Xavier Veilhan. Architectones, at The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona Spain
Photography by Florian Kleinefenn
This 1960’s Hugh Kaptur ranch house was in quite a state of disrepair when it was purchased as a foreclosure. It had been “remuddled” several times, featuring electrical wiring run on the outside of walls, awkward closets added in every room, and poor design choices highlighted throughout. It was stripped of all finishes and some minor layout work was implemented. It was restored to its mid-century glory with modern, but period-appropriate, finishes and materials. Furnishings are a mix of vintage and new, mostly sourced from eBay and local Palm Springs vintage boutiques. It’s intended use as a vacation home provided some extra latitude for whimsy and use of color. The original architect came to view the home at the end of the project and was highly complimentary.
Richard Pare’s fascination with modernist architecture shines through his vast collection of images taken over several decades. Living Laboratory will illustrate how he photographs buildings, taking care to reveal both their many subtleties and magnificent monumentality. Pare’s perceptive point of view brings into play dramatic use of light, (always achieved with no supplemental lighting) as well as varied weather conditions and seasons.
To achieve his images he deploys a wide range of technical approaches, combining conventional film and a view camera with the latest advances in digital image making. These state-of-the-art aspects of his work serve to highlight the majesty of his subjects without in any way overwhelming the purposes of the undertaking. He is also attentive to the effects of the passage of time and changing social conditions on the works he chooses to portray. The absence of human beings, coupled with signs of wear and decay, including creeping vegetation and the lingering evidence of past eras, emphasise the impermanence of seemingly solid structures and their struggle for survival.
While Pare’s work covers many subjects, Living Laboratory reveals his admiration for Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, two of the finest and earliest proponents of modernist principles in architecture.
Living Laboratory: Richard Pare on Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, March 21 – May 11, 2014, PM Gallery & House, London, United Kingdom
Photography by Richard Pare
Italian architect and illustrator Federico Babina has recently unveiled a new project, this time taking a look at the connection between architecture and the visual arts. Titled ‘Archist’, the project comprises a series of illustrations of imaginary buildings inspired by famous works of art. Beginning with the question: what would a house designed by Dalí or a museum by Miró look like, the resulting images demonstrate what Federico Babina believes is the ”implicit partnership between Architecture and Art.” They sometimes treat the facade as a canvas decorated with a well-known piece of art, while in other cases, they draw inspiration from the artist’s overall output to create an inventive architectural composition. Quite interestingly, and probably unbeknownst to the artist himself, the project also shows how the visual arts world is just as male-dominated as the world of architecture, as only two women (Jeanne-Claude – Christo’s partner – and Anne Truitt) made it onto Babina’s list of 27 ”most popular artists.”
List of artists: Keith Haring, Sol LeWitt, Anish Kapoor, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Joan Miró, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Piet Mondrian, Ernesto Neto, Ellsworth Kelly, Josef Albers, Antoni Tàpies, James Turell, Frank Stella, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Anne Truitt, Lucio Fontana, Tony Smith, Peter Halley, Kazimir Málevich.
Over the course of… four years, George Nelson, along with his associate Gordon Chadwick, would execute a highly personalized design-a home tailored to the members and lifestyle of the Kirkpatrick family. This itself is not remarkable-it could be said of any architectural commission. What makes the Kirkpatrick House so special-then and now-are the universal qualities that transcend the specifics.
The best Nelson designs, be it a clock, chair, or in this case, home, share that same elusive trait. His view of design allowed for both modular system and mannerist quirk. As an “architect in industry” (as he categorized himself in the introduction to the 1948 Herman Miller Collection catalogue), Nelson was responsible for creating-and making salable-consumer goods. In the Kirkpatrick House, it becomes clear that this mentality affected his practice of architecture in equal measure. A product had to be unique to stand out in the market, but it also had to appeal to a wide array of people to be successful. Even in the execution of this private home for personal friends, Nelson’s brand of modernism embraces this duality fully.
Kirkpatrick House, Kalamazoo, Michigan, by George Nelson, Gordon Chadwick
via: Herman Miller
Dutch designer Richard Hutten has been invited to guest curate the interior of the Sonneveld House by altering the original layout with his own product designs.
The Sonneveld House Museum stands adjacent to the NAI on the corner of Jongkindstraat and Rochussenstraat in Rotterdam. Built in the early nineteen thirties, it is one of the best-preserved houses in the Nieuwe Bouwen style, the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism. It was designed by the architecture firm of Brinkman & Van der Vlugt, also known for the Van Nelle Factory and Feyenoord Stadium. The Sonneveld House opened to the public as a house museum of the NAI in March 2001, following a period of intensive restoration and refurbishment. As a visitor, you can see for yourself what it was like to live in a hypermodern home in 1933.
Tadao Ando’s design for the Koshino House features two parallel concrete rectangular confines. The forms are partially buried into the sloping ground of a national park and become a compositional addition to the landscape. Placed carefully as to not disrupt the pre-existing trees on the site, the structure responds to the adjacent ecosystem while the concrete forms address a more general nature through a playful manipulation of light.
The northern volume consists of a two-storey height containing a double height living room, a kitchen and a dining room on the first floor with the master bedroom and a study on the second floor. The southern mass then consists of six linearly organized children’s bedrooms, a bathroom and a lobby. Connecting the two spaces is a below grade tunnel that lies beneath the exterior stairs of the courtyard.
Ando used the space within the two rectangular prisms as a way to express the fundamental nature of the site. This space reveals a courtyard that drapes over and contours to the natural topography. A wide set of stairs follows the sloping land into the enclosed exterior space and allows the light that penetrates through the canopy of trees into the sunken courtyard. This self-governing space represents the fold of nature that has been bound by the conditioned structures and become synthetic.
Narrow apertures have been punched through the façades adjacent to the exterior staircase and manipulate complex crossings of natural light and shadow into the interior spaces. The patterns provide the only amount of ornament to the simple rooms. Other slots are cut from various planes of the two modules to produce the same effect of complexity throughout the entire house.
LIFE republishes a series of photographs by photographer Frank Scherschel from a feature that ran in the March 1, 1957 issue of LIFE, at the same time that the architect’s signature achievement — the 38-story Seagram Building on Park Avenue in New York — was nearing completion.
Titled “Emergence of a Master Architect,” the LIFE article made clear from the outset that until the mid-1950s, “Mies was renowned chiefly among fellow architects and his revolutionary ideas were known chiefly through models, a few buildings in Europe and the work of disciples.
Emergence of a Master Architect, Photography by Frank Scherschel, for LIFE
In March, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat Villa reopened after an $8.8 million, two-year reconstruction. Using family photographs, archival material, visiting Mies’ other buildings in the U.S. and Europe, the Tugendhat redesign team focused on, as Villa Director Iveta Cerna said “identifying authenticity.”
The Villa, built in 1930, was the family home of the Tugendhats only until 1938 when they fled the country due to World War II. Fritz and Greta Tugendhat worked closely with Mies, who designed the site-specific building to make excellent use of steel, glass and concrete, and flowing spatial srrangement. The building was not well maintained under communism. Many of the original furnishings and other elements went missing and structural work needed to be done. Work included removing things added in the years after the Tugendhats had left, as well as hunting down original furniture, and when those couldn’t be found painstakingly making exact copies. The result is a renewed near-perfect example of one of Mies’s “space must be felt” creations.
Tugendhat Villa, Brno, Czech Republic, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s, via: Dwell