Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ryōan-ji – Japan

Ryōan-ji – Japan

Ryoan-ji Temple - Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto is famous for its Zen garden. Ryoan-ji Temple is considered to be one of the most notable examples of the "dry-landscape" style. Some say Ryoan-ji Temple garden is the quintessence of Zen art, and perhaps the single greatest masterpiece of Japanese culture. This Japanese temple is surrounded by low walls, an austere arrangement of fifteen rocks sits on a bed of white gravel. No one knows who laid out this simple garden, or precisely when, but it is today as it was yesterday, and tomorrow it will be as it is today. Behind the simple temple that overlooks the rock garden is a stone washbasin called Tsukubai said to have been contributed by Tokugawa Mitsukuni in the 17th century. It bears a simple but profound four-character inscription: "I learn only to be contented".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – EUA

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of Minnesota's crown jewels and its centerpiece, the Spoonbridge and Cherry, has become a Minnesota icon. Claes Oldenburg best known for his ingenious, oversized renditions of ordinary objects, and Coosje van Bruggen, his wife and collaborator, had already created a number of large-scale public sculptures, including the Batcolumn in Chicago, when they were asked to design a fountain-sculpture for the planned Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The spoon had appeared as a motif in a number of Oldenburg's drawings and plans over the years, inspired by a novelty item (a spoon resting on a glob of fake chocolate) he had acquired in 1962. Eventually the utensil emerged--in humorously gigantic scale--as the theme of the Minneapolis project. Van Bruggen contributed the cherry as a playful reference to the Garden's formal geometry, which reminded her of Versailles and the exaggerated dining etiquette Louis XIV imposed there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shalimar Garden – Pakistan

The Shalimar Garden is a Persian garden and it was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in Lahore, modern day Pakistan. Construction began in 1641 A.D. (1051 A.H.) and was completed the following year. The project management was carried out under the superintendence of Khalilullah Khan, a noble of Shah Jahan's court, in cooperation with Ali Mardan Khan and Mulla Alaul Maulk Tuni. The Shalimar Garden is laid out in the form of an oblong parallelogram, surrounded by a high brick wall, which is famous for its intricate fretwork. The gardens measure 658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west. In 1981, Shalimar Gardens was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Lahore Fort, under the UNESCO Convention concerning the protection of the world's cultural and natural heritage sites in 1972.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yuyuan Garden – China

Yuyuan Garden is believed to be built in the Ming Dynasty more than 400 years ago. Built in traditional Chinese style with numerous rock and tree garden areas, ponds, dragon-lined walls and numerous doorways and zigzagging bridges separating the various garden areas and pavilions.In the past over 400 years, Yuyuan was restored and reopened several times. Because of the downfall of the Pan's family after Pan Yunduan's death, Yuyuan was slowly out of use and was once in a mess. Although later the garden was renovated by the local rich people, several civil wars in the mid-19th century caused huge damage. In 1956, after Shanghai's liberation, the city government rebuilt the garden and recovered its elegance and beauty. Yuyuan Garden was at last reopened to the public in 1961.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Butchart Gardens – Canada

Butchart Gardens is one of the most famous gardens in the world which is counted among the best of the best. It's no less than a heaven out there at Butchart Gardens located in British Columbia. The breathtaking views will keep you stunned for some time when you first visit the Butchart Gardens. Spread over an area of 50 acres, the Butchart Gardens is placed near Victoria on Vancouver Island. There's never a dull season at Butchart Gardens, which keeps itself vibrating all throughout the year from the summers to the chilly winters.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jardim Botânico de Curitiba – Brazil

Also known as the "Jardim Botânico Fanchette Rischbieter", the Botanical Garden of Curitiba is a garden located in the city of Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná, and the biggest city in southern Brazil. It is the major tourist attraction of the city, and it houses part of the campus of the Federal University of Paraná. Opened in 1991, Curitiba's trademark botanical garden was created in the style of French gardens. Once at the portal of entry, extensive gardens in the French style in the midst of fountains may be seen, as well as waterfalls and lakes, and the main greenhouse of 458 square meters, which shelters in its interior, copies of characteristic plants from tropical regions. It rolls out its carpet of flowers to the visitor's right at the entrance. This garden occupies 240.000 m² in area. The principal greenhouse, in an art nouveau style with a modern metallic structure, resembles the mid-19th century Crystal Palace in London. The Botanic Museum, which provides a national reference collection of native flora, attracts researchers from all over the world. It includes many botanic species from the moist Atlantic Forests of eastern Brazil.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Versailles – France

Probably the world's most famous garden, it was built for Louis XIV and designed by André Le Nôtre. The laying out of the gardens required enormous work. Vast amounts of earth had to be shifted to lay out the flower beds, the Orangerie, the fountains and the Canal, where previously only woods, grasslands and marshes were. The earth was transported in wheelbarrows, the trees were conveyed by cart from all the provinces of France and thousands of men, sometimes whole regiments, took part in this vast enterprise.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Suan Nong Nooch – Thailand

This incredible park is situated in Pattaya, Thailand. It is popular among tourists because of stunningly beautiful landscapes and marvellous views. Everything there seems to be from a fairy-tale. It is full of Thai style houses, villas, banquet halls, restaurants and swimming pools.
A vast 600 acres area was bought by Mr. Pisit and Mrs. Nongnooch in 1954, this land was predicted to be a fruit plantation, but, Mrs. Nongnooch made a trip abroad and came back with a firm decision to create there a tropical garden of ornamental plants and flowers.

In 1980 it was opened to the public and got an official name “Suan Nong Nooch”. Suan – means “garden”, since it is a place where everybody concerned can get acquainted with Thai Culture and Cultural Shows. More than 2,000 visitors go there everyday. This garden always looks as it does today. Also, it is a conservation place for many plants and palms.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keukenhof Gardens – The Neatherlands

An unprecedented wealth of spectacular floral displays planted in endless varieties, alternated with beautiful works of art. Keukenhof is unique, world famous and has been one of the most popular destinations in the Netherlands. The garden is home to 7 million tulips, which includes special hybrids that have been or are being developed. In fact, Keukenhof's pride and joy is the truly awe-inspiring Russian black tulip Baba Yaga.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation – Scotland

Open to the public only one day a year, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation takes science and maths as its inspiration. Quite simply, there isn't another garden like it in the world. The garden was set up by Charles Jencks, together with his late wife Maggie Keswick and is located at Portrack House near Dumfries. That's in Scotland, by the way! It was set up in 1989 without the usual ideas people have when they create a garden. Horticultural displays very much take second place in this garden. Instead, it is designed with ideas in mind – and to provoke thought (or at least speculation) about the very nature of things.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A tribute to rednecks

Now for something a little different. In order to appreciate the artistic qualities of architecture, one must also familiarize them self with the absolute nadir of society, redneck culture, if only to contrast and compare what is hilariously compromised to that which is awesome in its uncompromising nature:

Redneck Carnival Ride.

Redneck Flat screen TV.

Redneck Swimming Pool: yeah, filling up the El Camino to stay cool.

Redneck Harley.

Redneck Garden.

Redneck Bass Boat.

Redneck Car Window Defroster.

Redneck Car Lock.

Redneck Horseshoes.

Redneck Birthday Cake.

Redneck Hot tub.

Redneck Riding Mower.

Redneck Mailbox.

Redneck Senior Scooter.

Redneck Water Pump.

Please do not attempt any of these dumb ideas unless you are already in a less than sober state.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Random Architecture of the Day, #4

Here are a couple photos of Black House in Utrecht, Netherlands by Bakers Architecten, 2010. Photographs are by pedro kok. See Arch Daily for more on the project.

Casa Preta, Utrecht, Holanda

Casa Preta, Utrecht, Holanda

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Spurred by a recent today's archidose, I ventured to the Lower East Side (before Jan Gehl's great lecture) to check out SOFTlab's installation at bridgegallery.

The gallery is located next door to the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street. The colorful vortex is a jarring juxtaposition with the old-law tenements and other old buildings on the street.

Like one of Anish Kapoor's inaccessible voids, the red-to-green funnel draws one's gaze into the gallery space. Access inside is via a plain-Jane door next to the storefront window, not through the tunnel of color.

Inside the installation is the inverse of the space it creates. The small pieces of colored paper are clipped together with good old generic binder clips. Names of donors are printed on some of the pieces.

The individual pieces of paper are assembled like a cut-out model: Cut here, fold here, clip here, repeat. The folds are perforated, allowing light from the gallery to enter, highlighting the seams that run vertically and horizontally.

The cavernous, tube-like, amorphous spaces reach from the storefront to the deep reaches of the gallery, branching out towards a side wall and towards the front door. Visitors gaze in to see the views like those collected here, drawing a myriad of associations that may or may not be intentional.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random Architecture of the Day, #3

Historical Museum Bern, originally uploaded by asli_aydin.
Extension to the Historical Museum Bern in Bern, Switzerland by KUBUS/TITAN (Eduard von Rodt and Andre Lambert), 2010. Correction: Extension to the Historical Museum Bern (aka KUBUS/TITAN) in Bern, Switzerland by :mlzd, 2009.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chloe's Toronto

Spurred by a comment in a recent post, I rented Atom Egoyan's film Chloe, in which the below house by Teeple Architects plays a small role, among other buildings, in the story. The basic plot (don't worry, no spoilers in this post) involves a married couple--a doctor and professor played by Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson, respectively--and a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) hired by the wife when she suspects her husband is cheating on her. The prostitute is supposed to flirt with the husband to see if he would be unfaithful with her, but of course things get complicated in ways the viewer may not anticipate. In the film the Heathdale House is the home of Moore, Neeson and their high-school-age son (Max Thieriot). Or is it?

Actually the house just plays the front, giving a suburban context to the three-person family. But the inside is played by the Ravine House by Drew Mandel Design, a house that appears to be in a more rural area (but in reality is down the street), backing obviously onto a ravine. Ravine House's rear is articulated with projecting bays and inside corners, so one can look from one space to another through exterior glass walls. This is illustrated in the film, but the interior displays the same means of oblique views through glass walls and across openings in section. They are complex spaces that reinforce the visual proximity but physical and mental distance between the three family members, but it and the front of the house are just the tip of the iceberg in Egoyan's use of architecture--specifically Toronto's contemporary architecture--in Chloe.

[Interior of Ravine House by Drew Mandel Design | image source]

A little bit has been written about Toronto finally starring as itself in a film (this is the first foreign-financed film both set and shot in Toronto), instead of pretending to be New York, Chicago, or even a European city. Torontoist does a good job of running down the various sites that are used in the film, including the two houses above, but also the Royal Conservatory of Music by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) by Daniel Libeskind, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) by Frank Gehry (with Will Alsop's OCAD in the background), as well as a hotel and various bars and restaurants. Many of the above buildings and names echo my review last week of A Guide to Contemporary Architecture in Toronto by Margaret Goodfellow and Phil Goodfellow.

View Larger Map
[AGO with OCAD in the background | Google street view]

While watching Chloe and recognizing many of the recent buildings portrayed, a few things entered my mind: Toronto is becoming much more cosmopolitan, with iconic buildings helping the city "play itself" instead of standing in for another one; the film acts as an advertisement for Toronto, like booster propaganda, where the quality of life and places is very high; and the use of landmarks in the city--be it a Frank Gehry building or a well-known cafe--does not actively engage the plot, unlike the Ravine House. The last is like a film set in New York City where we see the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Guggenheim, and other places that scream NEW YORK (I can't think of a particular film at the moment, but I'm sure there are many) but don't use the city as more than a backdrop. How does the AGO/OCAD setting relate to the phone call happening when Chloe is on that corner? Unfortunately I'm at a loss to say. Regardless, I liked the film a lot.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Random Architecture of the Day, #2

Sukkah City | Fractured Bubble, originally uploaded by roccocell.
Fractured Bubble by Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan, at the Sukkah City installed in Union Square Park, New York City, 2010. Fractured Bubble was selected as the People's Choice and is on display in Union Square Park until October 2nd.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010