Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Pattern in Architecture

Since the decline in the popularity of modernist architecture and its strict ideas on pure form decoration and the use of pattern within architecture has been flourishing. Once reserved only for interior decoration pattern has started to be integrated into the fabric of buildings; in cladding systems and also through the use of materials.

Klein Dytham Architects - Japan
The Leaf Chapel

This small wedding chapel sits in the grounds of a hotel in the leafy area near the Japanese Alps. It is formed of 2 leaves which overlap, the outer leaf is pierced with 4700 holes each filled with an acrylic lens. The pattern is meant to represent the lace on a brides veil and when the wedding ceremony is finished the leaf opens up to reveal the landscape beyond.

Claesson Koivisto Rune - Japan

Sfera Building

The Sfera Building is a cultural centre in the old part of Kyoto. The architects were inspired by the traditional use of bamboo screening to create a contemporary screen of their own. They picked cherry leaves from a local tree and laid them on to a light box in their office, they then photographed the leaves which formed the basis of the screen pattern. Using computer design they manipulated the image into a series of punched holes. The final screen was made from pierced titanium panels which appear almost transparent when lit internally at night and create decorative shadows during the day.

My Own Experiments

I had already been playing with the idea of a pierced surface pattern after looking at the work of Atelier Domino and experimented by using a pin and white paper to recreate my pattern design.

The left hand image is the original and on the right I have inverted it to more clearly show the design.

Design with light shining through it.

As well as the 2 examples of pierced hole facades in the Leaf Chapel and Sfera Building I was also inspired by the work of Tord Boontje.

Little Flowers Falling - Laser Cut Design.

My own photograph of my 'Garland' light and the beautiful shadows it creates.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Maison Folie by Nox

The Maison Folie in Lille is a cultural centre and arts complex on the site of an old textile factory. The project included the renovation of the existing industrial buildings and a new performance space - the 'Salle de Spectacle'. Lille was once famous for its textile industry and is where many of the Hugeunot silk weavers who settled in Spitalfields would have learnt their trade. French textile fashions hugely influenced the British style and French fabrics were incredibly popular until new trade laws limited imports. The Maison Folie complex consisted of several buildings ranging in scale, Nox architects worked with this layout to create a city style landscape 'a city within a city'. The programme required flexibility for all the different functions and changing exhibitions. The landscape aimed to link all of these functions and create a space for interaction. Nox wanted to create a lasting image of the site and would also link the old to the new, they created a street facade with a 'luminous skin' which appears to shimmer during the day and night.

External Images showing the range of buildings and the new facade linking the old and new.

Plan showing the new landscape scheme.

The internal design for the foyer continues the external forms. The influence of the buildings past as a textile factory is evident in the fluid shapes and spaces created.

New elevation during the day. The facade is made up of bent vertical lines in a complex pattern which animate the building as the sun moves through the sky and as you move past.

New elevation at night. At night it appears to glow and seems almost holographic.

Nox's work is very reliant on computers to aid the design process, this is clear in the complex forms created in their schemes. I think the Maison Folie project is successful, I prefer it to some of their other schemes because the use to the complex fluid forms is limited to one facade and the original buildings have been treated respectfully. The facade does succeed in linking the old and the new and is a very different approach to those I have looked at so far. The new 'skin' appears to float in front of the old building, it does not detract from the architecture of the industrial warehouses but adds to the landscape of the area.

Monday, 15 February 2010

New Buildings in Old Settings

"A living art does not restore the works of the past, but continues them." August Rodin, 1910

"Merely to call a stop to the new and hold together the old can never be regarded as an attractive strategy for the future...We still need a new architecture, but one with a 'memory' just like its inhabitants have their power of recollection." Charles Moore, 1975

"Tradition does not mean preserving ashes, but keeping a flame alight." Jean Jaures, 1910

Alte Pinakothek
Munich 1946-1957, Hans

The Alte Pinakothekis a museum of 19th Century Art in Munich, it was built by the King of Bavaria in 1826 and designed by the architect Leo von Klenze. At the time it was very modern and became a model for new art galleries in Rome, St Petersburg, Brussels and Kassel. It was badly damaged during second world war and rebuilt by Hans Dollgast between 1946 and 1957. Dollgast used simple materials such as rubble bricks, tubular steel and concrete to rebuild the galleries. The bare leaves the 'wounds' of war on the facade.

Top: Elevation for the new facade. Middle: Rebuilt facade in 1977 shows the exposed brickwork and simple style of construction. Bottom: Original facade in 1927

Original grand staircase removed from long southern side and new modern staircase built to increase space in the galleries. This staircase shows a strong resemblance in style and idea to the Chipperfield intervention at the Neues Museum.

David Chipperfield's staircase in the newly refurbished Neues Museum.

The exposed brickwork on the facade acts as a reminder of the buildings war damaged past.

The facade of the Neues Museum showing a similar use of exposed brickwork.

Hans Dollgast intended the history of the building to be visible through the use of materials and the treatment of the facade. The interior spaces were given a contemporary make-over but referenced the traditional style. This approach to the alteration of a historic site was clearly an inspiration to David Chipperfield when working on the Neues Museum. Apart from the obvious similarities in the past and situation of both buildings they are also linked through the use of materials and contemporary interventions applied by both architects. I think Chipperfield's Neues Museum probably takes the approach further and is more successful in the interior.

Museum Castelvecchio
Verona 1958 - 1961, Carlo

Carlo Scarpa's addition of a museum to the historical complex of the Castle of Verona shows a different approach to the alteration of historic space. The external elevations remain almost exactly the same, only the interior is really changed. There is a marked contrast between old and new and as with the Alte Pinakothek the use of materials is crucial to this contrast. Scarpa's new additions are in steel and reinforced concrete whereas the original building is brick and masonry. The new additions form a 'second skin' which creates a tension between new and old.

External Images and Plan

Internal Details - Scarpa designed the doors and windows, he was influenced by oriental art and this can be seen in the beautiful lattice work.

The equestrian statue of Cangrande (orginally part of a family tomb) forms the centre piece of the sculpture gallery and Scarpa's work. It is one of the most interesting pieces of 14th Century sculpture in Europe and its prominence in the museum reflects this.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Pattern Design Experiment

I decided to experiment with designing my own wallpaper or fabric pattern. I wanted it to be a repeating pattern that could be used over a large surface area so I researched how to create a repeat design and found this really helpful step by step guide at Design Sponge Online.

1. First I created a design on a centre of a piece of paper. I used a forget-me-not floral motif inspired by the silk designs of Anna Maria Garthwaite. I made sure that none of the design touched the outer edges of the paper. After sketching it with pencil I used a fine black pen to ink over it.

2. Then following the step by step guide I cut the image in half vertically and flipped the 2 sides so the drawing was on the outer 2 edges. I then taped the 2 halves carefully back together. I repeated this process cutting it in half horizontally and flipping it again so the drawing was on the 4 corners.

3. In the white space left in the middle of the page I drew another sprig of flowers - completing the design.

4. After I had the completed sheet I scanned it into my computer and used photoshop to colour it up. After I had the completed design I was able to tile it to create a wallpaper.

Timerous Beasties

Timorous Beasties is a design studio set up in Glasgow in 1990 by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, they are noted for their 'surreal and provocative' wallpaper and textile designs. There work has been described as "William Morris on acid" and mixes the traditional medium of wallpaper with very contemporary images. A good example of this would be their London Toile. Toile is a traditional wallpaper usually depicting a scene of rural idle, in their London Toile Timorous Beasties depict the modern London skyline in bright, vivid colours:

Timorous Beasties use both hand printing and machine techniques to experiment with their designs and much of their work is done in their Glasgow studio. They have also collaborated on a wide range of projects in different media. In 2007 they were invited by Maxalot of be part of an exhibition in the Hague. Maxalot showcases contemporary graphic design as an art-form and allows designers to work outside of the usual client boundaries. In the Hague Timorous Beasties projected traditional Toile images against a Damask backdrop on to the city hall. The projection was 30x30 metres.

In 2008 they were commissioned by a private donor to design new drapes for the stage in the main concert hall of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The design is hand printed on to velvet and the drapes were 20 metres wide by 9 metres high.

In 2009 they were invited by Metropolitan Works to exhibit with 9 other artists, designers, jewelers and architects to showcase the technology available. Metropolitan Works provides technology, training and workspaces for the creative industries. The exhibition was the first time that Timorous Beasties had used laser cutting technology. They used the laser cutter to etch designs on to the surface of bricks. The 2 tessellating designs are both scenic, one showing a windfarm and the other urban wildlife in the city.

Peacocks Among the Ruins

I first came across the work of Timorous Beasties when I was researching the history of wallpaper in the library. I came across a catalogue for an exhibition that they co-curated at the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts). Peacocks Among the Ruins focused on the prevalence of plant and animal motifs in interior design dating back to the 18th century. It featured historical designs and the latest in contemporary wallpaper and fabric designs. Timorous Beasties created several new artworks for the show but also designed the installations and positioned the objects in the gallery. The exhibition was largely chronological, taking the viewer back in time from an opening contemporary scene to they delicate designs of the 18th century.

Flock of Flocks by Timorous Beasties - Flocked wallpaper decorated with 'Devil Damask Flock' produced in Gothic black-on-black. Birds are silhouetted at various stages of flight as if they have just been disturbed. The makeshift birdwatching hide constructed from wooden crates and raised off the ground like a tree house is by Dutch designer Jurgen Bey.

View of the first gallery. The boards propped up against the wall show a selection of classic designs by Timorous Beasties and re-issued historical designs from Cole & Son. The boards are decorated on both sides so they can be turned during the show.

Lampshades by Timorous Beasties. The 20 cylindrical lampshades are decorated with samples from a 1970s Sanderson wallpaper book. The prints are applied on the inside of the shades giving an almost ghostly appearance and reinforcing the fact that they are reproductions. Up close they have an almost cartoon like quality due to the garish patterns and vivid colours.

Eaglemountain by Universal Everything. Universal Everything are a British graphic design company, the work was initially envisaged as a single artwork but was produced as a digitally printed wallpaper to be fixed straight to the wall.

Horse Lamp by Front. Front is an all female Swedish design group, better suited to public spaces this work is controversial but also rooted in history and takes as precedence griffin table legs and lion newel posts.

With the advent of Modernism naturalism was outlawed, it was seen as too literal and unimaginative or dismissed as sentimental kitsch. In fact surface decoration of any kind has been looked down upon by architects since Modernism introduced the pure white forms we are so familiar with. However the tide seems to be turning and there are many designers now embracing decoration and bold natural motifs. I have already looked at the history of silk design and seen the importance that naturalism played in 18th century textile design and therefor also in wallpaper design. I think it is important to incorporate craft and decoration into architecture to avoid ending up with a sterile environment. Traditionally an architect would design the building and the interior designer would worry about the surface decoration. I would like pattern and surface to be key to the my design and integrated from an early stage rather than just applied as an after thought.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Influence of Textiles on Early Wallpaper Design

The first examples of wallpaper date from the 15th Century and were used not only on walls but also to decorate ceilings and some items of furniture. At this time wallpaper was produced as small single sheets which could be used alone or joined to make a pattern. England led the way in the development of wallpaper and by 1700 had invented the role of wallpaper still common today. The length of 12 yards or approximately 10 metres is still a standard length for wallpaper today and the common width of 21 inches (56.5 cm) was the width of the silk which inspired many of the designs.

Wallpaper replaced fabric hangings and tapestries as a popular wall covering, although paper was expensive it was cheaper to reproduce a fabric design on paper and either hang it or paste it on to the wall. Early papers imitated textiles - mostly embroidery but also printed fabrics and lace. I was surprised to learnt whilst researching these papers that some of the best examples come from Epsom in Surrey, my home town and specifically from a house called The Shrubbery. The Shrubbery was demolished due to vandalism but it once stood on South Street, the same street that I live on now, it was also built in 1680, around the same time as the house that I live in and used for my initial project.

"Many examples of these early papers have been found at Epsom in Surrey, which was not only a spa own but was a place where wealthy merchants from London liked to live. The papers could even have been made there." The Papered Wall: The history, patterns and techniques of wallpaper.

The Shrubbery in Epsom - demolished due to vandalism, the site is now a roundabout.

Example of early 18th Century wallpaper from Epsom: Pre-joined single sheets grounded in yellow and stencilled and block-printed in various colours.

The V&A is home to most examples of early wallpaper; including some of the Epsom papers. You can search their collection for wallpapers from a specific time and place and it will bring up an information sheet detailing where and when it was found and any details about the origins or manufacture that are available. One of the papers in the V&A Collection is from Uppark in Sussex. It is an 18th Century design and depicts a 'spare and delicate pattern of trailing blue flowers with a simple cable border, closely resembling the embroidery of Spitalfields silk patterns.'

London was important in both the manufacture of silk and wallpaper. One of the most well known and technically advances wallpaper warehouses in London was located in Aldermanbury - just the other side of Liverpool street to Fournier Street, in the heart of the City of London. Spitalfields is approximately 1 mile away which further strengthens the links between the fabric and wallpaper trades.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Atelier Domino

London based studio Atelier Domino focuses on hand-crafted art and design and particularly on pattern in interiors. The studio was set up by Ana Araujo and Willem de Bruijn, Ana trained as an architect in Brazil and has just finished a PhD on the themes of Pattern at UCL. During my review last week we discussed the importance of pattern to the design and I am widening my research to not only include silk pattern design but also the history and use of wallpaper in interiors. Atelier Domino's work is very relevant to my research and the many ways that they have reproduced patterns is inspiring.

Gravedure is a project at a home for elderly people in Belgium, it started as a wallpaper commission but then became a series of 'surface interventions' including wallpaper, curtains, ceiling tiles, furniture and uniforms. The inspiration came from the history of tapestry weaving and Flemish textiles in the area, this directly links to the research that I have been doing on the silk weaving industry in Spitalfields.

Tapestry Weaving

Tapestry design

Reproduction of design as a raised surface

Finished Product

Design embossed on to paper

The work of Atelier Domino has inspired me to try and design a pattern which could be repeated in a range of media throughout my project. I am going to do more research into the trends and fashions in fabric and wallpaper during the 18th Century which I will help me to gather a range of sources to work from.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

My Lightbulb Moment!

After struggling with what the program for my proposal should be for several weeks I had a bit of a 'light bulb' moment yesterday and came up with this proposal:

The main idea is that you would move through the 3 buildings (number 22, 24-26 and what is currently the gap at what would have been number 28) following the research and design process.

Number 22: This would be an archive collection of materials relating to Spitalfields and the silk trade in London during the 18th and 19th Century. It would be a place where artists and designers could come to learn about the area and specifically the silk industry. It would be the most private of the 3 spaces but still accessible to the local community.

Number 24-28: This would be a workshop and creative space with enough room for traditional weaving to be taught and with smaller rooms available for experimenting with ideas and techniques learnt at the archive. It would be semi private/public with a more transparent facade and viewing platforms. Artists will be able to interact with the community.

New building: The new building in the 'gap' will be a public space for the exhibiting and selling of work made in the neighbouring workshop space. It will be a very transparent building encouraging the local community to become part of the design process and also attracting new visitors to the area. It will be a space where ideas and techniques learnt through the research and making process can be shared.

I think the circulation of the buildings will be very important as I really want it to reflect the research and design process. The role that research, especially historical research, plays in the design process really interests me and I think this can be seen through the projects that I have looked at for inspiration. I found the 6A project at Raven Row so interesting because all of their decisions about form and material were based on research they had done into the buildings history and material techniques (such as the burnt wood). I have tried to approach this project in the same way; the historical research that I did into Spitalfields led me to discover the importance of the silk trade to Fournier Street and since then I have been experimenting with silk as a material which I will hopefully use in the making of my work and as a part of the final design proposal.

I do not yet want to worry too much about what form the buildings will take but think that this is an important step forward as it will allow me to focus my research and move on with the project.

Layering History

During my review with Ken and Pete they suggested that it would be interesting to layer my 'lost' elevation of Fournier Street with the current elevation. I have used photoshop to do this quickly, fading out the 'lost' elevation so it appears as a ghostly memory behind the current elevation.

Layered Elevation

I am hoping that by experimenting with the layering of the elevations it will inspire me when I am thinking about what form my design will take and what the facade of the buildings should look like. I would not be re-creating the originals but I would like there to be a trace of what the site might have looked like when it was first built.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Fournier Street's 'Lost' Buildings

I was inspired by Jonanthan Glancy's book 'Lost Buildings' to imagine what Fournier Street might have looked like before the original houses at numbers 22, 24, 26 and 28 were demolished. I used other houses on the street as inspiration and also the information I had gathered from historic site research. 22-28 were built as a later addition to the street, they do not appear on the original drawings or on the survey as they had been demolished before it was taken. They were on a 96 year lease granted by Wood and Michell in May 1728 to Samuel Worrall who started to build straight away. If they were demolished after the lease ran out they would have been gone by 1824, by this time the silk trade was declining so it is likely that the houses had become run down or were empty. I think numbers 22-28 Fournier Street would have been less grand than some of their neighbours and would have been slightly narrower. I have used the simpler, arched door with fanlight from houses further up the street and larger square windows. They would probably still have had attic spaces for weaving so I have included windows in the roof.

22-28 Fournier Street as I imagine they would have looked in the 1700's

22-28 Fournier Street as they look today

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Lost Buildings

Jonathan Glancey's latest book 'Lost Buildings' is about buildings that have been 'lost' due for different reasons. It covers buildings lost in myth, dreams, peace and war, political losses, acts of God, self-destruction and buildings that were never built. It is a really interesting book with beautiful images including fantasy drawings, architects plans, painting and photography.

One of my favourite sections 'Lost in Dreams' covers things such as biblical buildings, the Space Hilton Hotel from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Toad Hall from Wind in the Willows.

Buildings in Berlin feature quite a lot in the book as many have been lost through war or been demolished during the decades after. One building which has recently been demolished and caused quite a lot of controversy was the Palast der Republik (1973-76) which was home to the communist GDR government. It was a huge steel, glass and concrete building which was seen as a communist icon. The site of the Palast der Replublik was once home to the Stadtschloss, a medieval castle which was home to the Prussian Kaisers, this was also demolished for political reasons after World War One and the end of Imperial Germany. The Palast der Republik was abandonded in 1990 after the fall of the wall and was uninhabited for over a decade due to problems with asbestos. It was finally demolished in 2006. Many Berliners did not want the building demolished despite its political controversy. It was a distinctive part of the Berlin cityscape and could have had future uses. Plans to rebuild the Stadtschloss now that the Palast has been demolished have met with outrage.

The Palast der Republik in 1976

The Foyer