Monday, April 26, 2010
January 11th, 2009
Rucksack house by Stefan Eberstadt
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
"Maybe I am not very human - what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house."
by Edward Hopper
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
by Wallace Stevens
Rooms by the Sea (1951)
Hopper first began painting the effects of sunlight as a young art student in Paris, and this interest continued throughout his career. As a mature artist, he lived and worked in New York City and spent most of his summers on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He designed and built a sunny, secluded studio at Truro on the bluff overlooking the ocean. This painting is based on the view out the back door of the studio. Titled in his record book "Rooms by the Sea. Alias The Jumping Off Place," Hopper noted that the second title was perceived by some to have "malign overtones" and he thus deleted it. While the view from the studio suggested the composition of Rooms by the Sea, the image is more an evocative metaphor of silence and solitude than the transcription of an actual scene.
Sun In An Empty Room (1963)
Hopper was 81 when he painted Sun in an Empty Room, his last great painting. The original plan for the picture included a human figure, but in the end, the patch of light and the wind-swept trees were enough. "Whether we like it or not," Hopper wrote, "we are all bound to the earth with our experience of life and the reactions of the mind, heart, and eye, and our sensations, by no means, consist entirely of form, color, and design." This was meant as a swipe at the Abstract Expressionists working a few blocks north of Washington Square, and yet—as that "by no means" suggests—Hopper's vision was pushing him inexorably toward abstraction. Sun in an Empty Room has the meditative weight of Rothko's saturated canvases as well as something of Richard Diebenkorn's refracted light in his California paintings of the 1960s. Hopper, and American art, had come a long way since Summer Interior, but that patch of light on the floor carries a similar emotional freight. The empty space is not so much unfurnished as cleared of furniture, like a room for rent, or an opening for the unconscious.
Friday, April 9, 2010
In 1961 the house in Alfred House Road that had been designed for a Burgher doctor called Noel Bartholomeusz was cancelled as it was nearing completion and Bawa persuaded his partners at E. R. & B. to take it over as their office. The original design was developed in the spirit of the Ena de Silva House, though the plot was narrower and longer. A first courtyard, separated from the street by a two-storey lodge containing garages, servants' accommodation and an entrance archway faced a single-storey pavilion containing a dining room and kitchens. Beyond, a formal pool court led to the main pavilion, which was occupied by the principal living room with bedrooms on an upper floor. The living room opened via a covered verandah into a final garden court. The change from house to office was effected with so little effort that one is left to wonder whether Bawa had prior knowledge of his client's intentions. With its courtyards, loggias and verandahs, the building created a pleasant and comfortable working environment that obviated the need for air-conditioning and offered a sample of the practice's work to any prospective clients. The design of the building incorporated two innovations: polished coconut trunks were used in conjunction with granite bases and capitals to protect them from termite attack, and the 'tile-on-cement' roof made its first appearance. Bawa had already concluded that the roof was the critical element in tropical architecture and experimented with a number of alternative materials and methods of construction: flat roofs were difficult to seal and tended to get hot, though earth-covered slabs had yielded interesting results; interlocking 'Calicut' or 'Mangalore' tiles were lightweight and required relatively minimal timber support but offered little insulation; traditional flat Kandyan tiles needed high maintenance and had to be laid to steep pitches; corrugated cement sheeting was light, easy to support and highly waterproof but unbearably hot and totally unattractive; the half-round 'Portuguese' tile produced a pleasing texture and good thermal mass, but its double layering required a complex and costly timber structure of battens, close-spaced rafters, purlins and trusses. While seeking a solution for the roof of a house in Jawatte Road, Bawa hit upon the idea of laying Portuguese tiles in and over the corrugations of cement sheeting. This marriage combined the advantages of the two materials - excellent waterproof qualities, good insulation and attractive appearance and minimized their disadvantages. Extra tiles were laid at the ridge and the eaves to prevent slippage and improved adhesion was achieved by adding cement fillets.The new office offered the perfect opportunity to try out the new idea on a substantial building, and its immediate success prompted its adoption for many subsequent projects.
The office was used until the end of the 1980s, when Bawa slowly withdrew from E. R. & B. and began to work more and more from his home off Bagatelle Road. In the summer of 1997, after eight years of disuse, Poologasundram and Bawa finally agreed to wind down the holding company that owned the office and Bawa became its sole owner. The house was then rented out to Shanth Fernando, the proprietor of a chain of design shops. A simple roofed pavilion was added to the furthermost garden to serve as an open-sided restaurant, and the rest of the ground floor was turned into a gallery and shop. This conversion has given a new lease of life to the complex, while respecting something of the spirit in which it was designed.
Robson, David. 2002. Geoffrey Bawa: The Complete Works. London: Thames and Hudson
(The above images are some samples of parti sketches from M. Gerwing Architects.)
"... a freehand sketch diagram that was at the tangent between idea and imagination... if the parti - the first critical diagram - is not made well, it will be difficult for arhitecture to follow. If there is no parti, there will be no architecture, only (at best) little more than the utility of construction. Buried within their early sketches is the germ of a narrative or language. The early diagrams are reflective conversations with the language of architecture."
- Alan Phillips, Brigton, UK
M. Gerwing described the parti diagram as 'an idea sketch', 'an initial response to a site', 'a client's program' or some other conditions that begin to determine the order for designing a project. They don't really represent what the project will look like in plan or elevation, but are a road map of the ideas of the project. Ideas of 'threshold', 'tension v. repose', 'horizon and center', or 'territory and enclosure' all can be simply diagrammed in the parti as an initial response to the problem posed by a new project.
- by M. Gerwing on May 12, 2009