July. The heat is stifling, unrelenting, and even oppressive to those of us without a/c or just a reliable fan. What's the escape? Aside from a nice chilled beverage (I'm nursing an ice-cold Mexican Coke), we present the coolest architecture of the week.
The top project of the week (year?) is the impressive, yet unassuming Houseboat on the Eilbek Canal in Eilbek, Germany. The floating residence is nestled along the sloping canal banks, with a tall screen of verdure sheltering the house from the prying eyes of passerbys and pedestrians outside. The rooms face outwards towards the forest on the opposite shore, whose landscape is reflected in the still waters below. The living quarters are housed in the lower volume; the top volume contains the kitchen and social spaces, with an open deck offering views panoramas of the site all around.
Domestic brutalism seems like an anomaly, if only because of the typology's relatively low success rate. Still, when executed right, the synthesis of the two can yield a lovely project. See the Maruma House to see how to use unadorned concrete surfaces in a single-family house. The design benefits greatly from its siting, encompassed, as it is, by foliage and vegetation, whose vibrant colors and forms offer a brilliant counterpoint to the lushly texture concrete walls.
The architects behind the Soho Apartment in central London seem to have thrown the building code out the loft window. Literally. The project began as a simple refurbishing, that is, until the architects suggested knocking out the apartment's corner walls and ceding the terrace space to the interior. Bounded by transparent sliding glass walls, the loft appears as a large cavity carved out of the brick residential block, a surrealist gesture that instills some strangeness into its (handsomely) bleak context.
A simple "house in the mountains" is how the architects behind the Haus PM / Meran describe the home's aggregated cubic frame. Perched on a sloping hillside of sunflowers, the house is less like the "eagle's nest" the architects liken it to and more like some machine in the garden. The LEGO-like massing is nearly entirely closed off to the road, with only a few openings for the entrance and garage space. On the other side, the house opens up to the surrounding landscape, commanding an impressive view of the mountains of Italy's South Tyrol.appears reserved and closed. The entrance as well as the garage door appear as simple shadows in the facade.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies (CSET) stands either aloof or half-lost, bounded by a small river on 0ne side, surrounded by clusters of trees on all others, smothered by the grey, smog skies. The tower's angular, zig-zag profile, with its fanning, accordion-like cladding, appears almost industrial from afar, only without any of the smoke stacks you'd expect to waft out from its roofline. Up close, however, the building reveals itself to be a sleek and sensitive handling of local traditions--the design is apparently inspired by "Chinese lanterns and traditional wood screens"--and context.