Dutch practice Zecc Architecten has completed Residential Church XL an abandoned church located in Utrecht, Netherlands which has been repurposed and converted into a single family residence. hundreds of empty churches are scattered throughout the Netherlands and since 1970 more than 1000 churches have been closed by communities with over 1/3 of those structures being demolished. Re-use is the only way to prevent long-lasting vacancy or destruction of the historical layer within the city. The purpose of the re-use of the St-Jakobuskerk was to revalue the dignified monument with little interventions as possible. The facade stands inconspicuously along a street at the Bemuurde Beerd in Utrecht city. Religious services have not occurred at this location for twenty years and was even used as an antique furniture showroom. The church also served as meeting place and venue for small concerts and dictated the implementation of a large mezzanine floor. This floor was an important factor in the designing process and has been substantially modified to recover and enlarge the interior spatial qualities. Partial removal of the floor generated interesting sight lines allowing light to permeate the ground floor. Underneath the manipulated floor reside the bedrooms, study and a bathroom. Ambient daylight enters through vacant spaces in the floor and openings in walls.
At the rear of the dwelling, the functional section of the kitchen is adjacent to a dining table created from old pews. To strengthen the relationship with the backyard and to provide additional daylight, three new fenestrations were added. the sleek transparent facades contrast the original stained glass windows allowing colored light to stream through the preserved exterior. The existing wooden floor and doors were retained and repaired where necessary. the new white floor sculpture is pulled away from the original walls, columns and arches. The sleek stucco volume is constructed from steel, wood and sheet metal. Closed parapets guide sight lines and encompass the living areas. Transparent surfaces within the volume constantly offer another insight of fragments in the interior while simultaneously reflecting historical elements, fusing the old and new.
French architect Odile Decq has completed the ‘(Phantom) L’Opéra Restaurant’, which recently opened in the Palais Garnier located in Paris, France. Recessed within the historical building, visitors pass the facade’s original pillars to enter the undulating interior. The mezzanine space is carefully integrated to resist touching the existing structure’s walls, columns and roof. The contemporary addition compliments the classical details of the vaulted stone ceiling without altering history.
Accommodating and seating 90 guests at one time, the large floor plate is suspended with concealed steel plates. A glass wall encompasses the interior isolating the space from the existing shell. the billowing white structure touches down to the lower level producing integrated organic supports. The striking red chairs, benches, and floors produce a theatrical character reminiscent of the phantom of the opera which was once performed within the auditorium.
A Calvinist essentiality that recalls diaphanous, diffuse, pervasive lights in sharp contrast black and white, and rigorous geometry where very little space is left indeterminate or uncertain. A seemingly scarce indulgence reminiscent of a more evident sensuality, immediate in the relationship between the body the occupation of the space, which finds expression by means of the geometric articulation of a sequence of containers; containing and contained.
Inspired by the oriental sensibility for the “box” as a container full of instruments for the unfolding of human life and by the drawer holding the domestic objects which are the primary nucleus at the centre of the oriental domestic space, all the spaces are obtained from a sequence and superimposition of cupboards, containers and joinery that not only organise the functional aspects of life, but also contain it, forming bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen and other living spaces in a sequence that is at once labyrinthine, yet clear and reassuring in its inexorable mechanism.
Even so, the container, modeled and modified by the highly worked material surface, recalls and alludes to the physical dimension of the human body and to a sensuality completely devoted to containing life; humour, affection. Tragic, sweet, sublime Virgin of Nuremberg, the porcupine’s quills removed in an innocuous representation of the domestic fort/castle in which we come back to believing ourselves the masters of our own lives, in a perennial oscillation between intimate introversion and public exposure to the light, to relationships, to chance encounters, here represented by the expansive, fully-glazed living room and entrance.
Following the game of the Chinese boxes placed one inside the other, one can imagine a suburb that contains a building that contains an apartment; rooms, furniture and objects – or in a metaphorical sense a story that contains another. Certainly a change of scale from the large to the small in which that which changes is the dimension and not the value or importance of the various boxes. Stories that proceed at times following the line of reason, at times in opposition – rational, orthogonal volumes that are at odds with furniture with inclined planes, fittings curved and asymmetrical.
Metallic laser-cut surfaces set against hand-lacquered woods, graphic colours (black and white) against red and ochre in a continuous succession of light and shade, of finished versus crude, of low versus high, and of the playful versus the serious to give body to a story that contains, from passage to passage, from chapter to chapter, rigour and incoherence, calculation and improvisation, method and paradox.
French mathematician Henri Poincaré once said “creativity is to unite existing elements with new connections that they may be useful” “creativity is the union of disorder and order”.
Raiffeisen’s flagship branch on Zurich’s Kreuzplatz dissolves traditional barriers between customer and employee, creating a new type of “open bank,” a space of encounter. Advanced technologies make banking infrastructure largely invisible; employees access terminals concealed in furniture elements, while a robotic retrieval system grants 24 hour access to safety deposit boxes. This shifts the bank’s role into becoming a light-filled, inviting environment — an open lounge where customers can learn about new products and services. This lounge feels more like a high-end retail environment than a traditional bank interior. Conversations can start spontaneously around a touchscreen equipped info-table and transition to meeting rooms for more private discussions. The info-table not only displays figures from world markets in realtime, but can be used to interactively discover the history of Hottingen, or just check the latest sports scores.
Elegantly flowing walls blend the different areas of the bank into one smooth continuum, spanning from the customer reception at the front, to employee workstations oriented to the courtyard. The plan carefully controls views to create different grades of privacy and to maximize daylight throughout. The walls themselves act as a membrane mediating between the open public spaces and intimately scaled conference rooms. Portraits of the quarter’s most prominent past residents like Böklin, Semper or Sypri grace the walls, their abstracted images milled into Hi-macs using advanced digital production techniques. While intricately decorative, the design ground the bank in the area’s cultural past, while looking clearly towards the future.
Raiffeisen Bank, Kreuzplatz, Zurich, Switzlerland, by NAU, for Raiffeisen Schweiz Niederlassung Zürich
The project required maximum rigor, leaving little space for improvisation or casualty. Every material used in the process should previously be analyzed to ensure they met the pertinent bacteriological requirements, to achieve an optimum conservation and quality of the wine. In its essence, the alteration project was begging for a reduction and simplicity in the variety of materials; the main protagonist of the project were the wine barrels, so the concept of the project must have been based on resolving certain technical requirements and new systems, dignifying the architectural finish and achieving a globally harmonic space, functional and elegantly sober for the sanctuary of one of the “unique”, excusing the repetition, best wines in the world.
The goal was to create an environment where creative interaction is supported and to achieve as much workplaces as possible in the new structure with flexible offices and large open spaces.
i29 searched for solutions to various problems which could be addressed by one grand gesture. At first a material which could be an alternative to the ceiling system, but also to cover and integrate structural parts. Acoustics became a very important item, as the open spaces for stimulating creative interaction and optimal usage of space where required. This led us to the use of fabrics. It is perfect for absorbing sound and therefore it creates privacy in an open space. From felt we made ceiling, walls, furniture and lamps.
Tribal DDB Office, Amsterdam, Netherlands, for i29 Interior Architects
The 100 square meter residential home is located in Old Jaffa. Its location is unique in that it is set above the harbor, facing west with all of its openings facing the majestic splendor of the Mediterranean Sea. Whilst it is difficult to determine the buildings exact age, it is clear that it is hundreds of years old. Over the years, it has undergone many changes and had many additions made that have damaged the original quality of the building and its spaces. The central idea was to restore the structure’s original, characteristics, the stone walls, the segmented ceilings and the arches including the exposure of the original materials (a combination of pottery and beach sand).
The building has been cleaned of all of the extraneous elements, from newer wall coverings and has undergone a peeling process to expose its original state. Surprisingly, modern, minimalistic construction styles remind us of and correspond with the ascetic style of the past, and this despite the vast time difference between them.The central idea was to combine the old and the new whilst maintaining the qualities of each and to create new spaces that blend the styles together even intensify them because of the contrast and tension between the different periods. The historical is expressed by preserving the textures and materials of the buildings outer shell and by respecting the building engineering accord. The modern is expressed by the opening of spaces and by altering the internal flow to one more open and free and the creation of an urban loft environment along with the use of stainless steel, iron and Corian in the various partitions, in the openings and in the furniture.
The project succeeds in both honoring and preserving the historical and almost romantic values of the structure whilst creating a contemporary project, modern and suited to its period. Despite the time differences, the tensions and the dichotomy between the periods exist in a surprisingly balanced and harmonic space.
Jaffa Apartment, Old Jaffa, Tel-Aviv, Israel, Design Team: Pitsou Kedem, Raz Melamed,
Irene Goldberg, Pitsou Kedem Architect, Photography by Amit Geron
La Maison Champs-Elysées consists of two buildings, one dating from the Second Empire under Napoleon III, the other built more recently. Maison Martin Margiela, appointed after winning the competition to design the historical part of the building, has re-thought this space to create hotel suites, a restaurant, a smoking room, a bar and a reception area. In designing this project Maison Martin Margiela aimed for continuity in relation to its own artistic history by offering a place where contrasts harmonize that are further tinged with surrealism.
Portuguese practice A2G Arquitectura has created Sushihana, a sushi restaurant in Porto. Inviting and minimal, the space seeks to communicate a contemporary architectural language while retaining a unique aesthetic. Materialized through milky-white wood and perforated back-lit panels, the design seeks to reveal itself discreetly, drawing curious passerby’s into the warm interior. The main dining room is contained within an inner volume that generates a more intimate and controlled environment. Surrounded by louvered panels and defined by a dropped ceiling, the semi-enclosed eating area is treated in contrast to the rest of the space and divides the restaurant into two distinct zones: sit down and take-away. An abstract Japanese motif wraps around the walls and ceiling, its perforated skin acting as the primary source of artificial light.