The M.A.D.Gallery is hosting “Optical Variations”, an exhibit by French artist Damien Bénéteau, featuring four of his illuminated, hypnotizing monochromatic mobiles. A photographer by training, Bénéteau creates art dedicated to light, capturing it in a playful and energetic way that renders it nearly tangible. Bénéteau’s kinetic sculptures reflect his fascination with how an object’s volume is perceived in various lighting situations and his interest in mechanics and machines. “My greatest influences come from minimalist sculpture, seen in the mixture of geometric aesthetics, austerity and simplicity found in my work” says the artist.
In three of his installations for the M.A.D.Gallery – “Length Variations”, “Circular Variations” and “Spatial Variations” – the French artist plays with pendulums, pairing their oscillating movement with light to create a trio of mesmerizing phenomena. “Sphérolithe”, in contrast, sees the former photographer moving away from the continuous movement of the pendulum, rather letting light emanating from a stationary point speak for itself. The light pulsates like the throbbing of a heartbeat: consistent, calm, calculated.
Operating from his own atelier in the suburb of Paris, Bénéteau, a connoisseur of machinery, uses milling, polishing and metal turning machines to create his structures, each one requiring between three and six months of work.
Optical Variations, by Damien Bénéteau
The western shore of Lake Garda is characterised by its mild climate and richly cultivated landscape. David Chipperfield Architects has built two villas on the hillside looking over the resort town of Gardone Riviera. Both buildings are carefully inserted into the landscape with its olive groves and cypress trees. Their volumes are divided into individual one or two storey structures, which are offset to one another following the topography of the hillside.
The materials are influenced by the region. The stone for the masonry and terraces comes from local quarries. The light roof structure of the pergolas and the window frames are crafted from wood, providing a contrast to the stone. The inner organisation of the buildings further reflects the surroundings. While the auxiliary rooms are located in the rear areas, the living and bedrooms are situated at the front, providing panoramic vistas of the lake and the surrounding landscape. The two buildings were constructed in the context of a larger project, encompassing seven villas, a hotel and an apartment building designed by four architectural practices.
Villa Eden, by David Chipperﬁeld Architects
Yet another in a series of exemplary beach houses by this practice, this project has a directness and simplicity that engages its occupants with both the essential and the existential nature of the beach house. Beautifully considered and expertly crafted, this is a demanding house – showers are not fully weather-sealed, surfaces are intended to suffer the natural consequences of ageing, and materials are blunt and uncompromising: the architects know that meeting some challenges is a wholly beneficial exercise. Yet within this almost rustic language is a captivating level of delight – the warm breezes passing through the spaces, the sand on the floor: all the qualities which distinguish a holiday house from a suburban home create a distinctive sense of place. The house commands its site without either pretence or posturing and invites occupation in all seasons.
Castle Rock House, Whangarei Heads, New Zealand, by Herbst Architects
Photography by Patrick Reynolds
Carbon Chair is a consistently constructive and yet formal and experimental design by Thomas Feichtner. It is a sheet of carbon fibre, which contacts the floor at three points and depicts a line from above and below, positively and negatively. The result is a formal interplay of inner and outer surfaces – a recurring theme that runs through many of Feichtner’s works. (Limited Edition of eight pieces).
The Carbon Chair is part of the exhibition ‘Austrian Design Pioneers’ during the Milano Design Week 2015.
Carbon Chair, by Designer, for Thomas Feichtner
This weekend house located in the Jurica Campestre community seeks to redefine the concept of a retreat home by defragmenting its core program in 4 main volumes. The house is conceived as a central house and 3 independent suites or volumes. This configuration of modules makes the house central core a plaza where one can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. These main spaces of the house create an interior-exterior relationship where the interior is well connected to nature and its surroundings, creating this way its own context.
The house from the beginning was placed on a 5m by 5m grid and this helped position and have flexibility during the creative process where one could reconfigure the relationship between volumes. The name Casa 4.1.4 derived from its massing consisting of one central house, 4 main volumes, one central plaza and four plazas or patios.
The project takes a starting point by placing the 4 components of the house on the site. The main house of approximately 155 sq. meters, is lived from a central courtyard that acts as a distribution of program such as kitchen, living, dining, and main bedroom, as well as filters light to all the public areas. The suites (cubes) of just 25 sq. meters makes a playful shadow and depth of field and creates its own context by being placed around the central plaza, these rooms allocate a bedroom, a bath, dressing room, panty-coffee space so they can operate independently form the house and provide privacy.
Casa 4.1.4, Jurica, Mexico, by AS/D Asociación de Diseño
Photography by Rafael Gamo
They are simple sky-reflecting concrete and glass cubes framed, or rather camouflaged by vegetation. Pascal Grasso conceived a spacious vacation home that reinvents outdoors living in perfect harmony with the environment – a contextual architecture designed as an adapted response to the surrounding geography, landscape, climate and light. The materials chosen echo to the coast’s mineral quality: raw concrete, stone, glass, stainless steel. Poured in formworks, the bottoms of which were layered with sanded wood boards, the surface of the raw concrete retained the motif for a peculiar texture.
While minimalistic aesthetic is one of the project’s formal influences, it also reveals a more conceptual approach. Pascal Grasso used a reflecting glass to bring forth notions of disturbance or transparency: in day time, nothing from the inside of the house can be perceived from the outside as the openings reflect the landscape (and this furthermore intensifies the way in which the four cubes merge in their environment). Dealing with this connection to the landscape also implied resolving the issue of the openings. More willingly speaking of screens rather than windows, the architect thought in terms of photographic or filmic framing.
Pascal Grasso conceived a house divided into four volumes set in the landscape according to an orientation determined by the viewpoints and connected together by circulation spaces. Each of the four raw concrete boxes has a distinctive size and positioning (on the ground, in slight levitation, cantilevered, piled up): this was a means to take advantage of the tilted land by working with terraces at different levels, but also to interact with the surrounding landscape.
Maison Le Cap, Var, France, by Pascal Grasso Architectures
Photography by Cyrille Weiner
The interior consists of four apartments that were knocked down to create one large apartment to create a two-story penthouse space. The house is characterized by sprawling views of the cityscape, as well as a rooftop pool that overlooks the city. The lower level consists mainly of living spaces while the upper floor contains the balcony and roof deck. A series of raised and recessed squares compose the wall and ceiling of the main living area. Total floor area: 400 sqm.
Square Compositions Penthouse, Tel Aviv, Israel, by Pitsou Kedem Architect
Photography by Amit Geron
Arthur Erickson: Lignes topographiques / Site Lines
World-renowned Canadian architect, Arthur Erickson (1924-2009) created a remarkable body of work, distinguished by the quality of its relationship to site and landscape. Organized by the Canadian Architectural Archives (CAA) of the University of Calgary, which holds a large Erickson collection, this exhibition presents drawings and sketches illustrating eight of the Vancouver architect’s projects designed during the 1960s: five residences, two university campuses (including the famous project for Simon Fraser University), and the Canada pavilion for Expo 70 in Osaka. The exhibition will also be an opportunity to revisit Erickson’s Montreal connection, with a special section prepared by the Centre de Design: two projects designed when Erickson was a student at McGill University (1946-1950), two pavilions for Expo 67, and one intriguing project for a residential complex designed with the idea of offering a monumental entrance to downtown Montreal.
Designed by Brussels-based architect Olivier Dwek, “House T” is embedded within the hillside of western Greece that overlooks the beautiful surroundings of the island of Kefalonia. The initial designs for the country villa were developed around the dwelling’s view with surges of blue, intense light and veils of cloud playing key inspiration. From the terraces, the sitting room, the dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms, each living space is oriented towards this fascinating Greek seascape. Boundaries between interior and exterior become blurred as sliding doors open the sitting and dining areas onto the patio, drawing inspiration from the island’s vernacular into a contemporary design.
House T, Kefalonia, Greece, by Olivier Dwek
Photography by Serge Anton