“God Is in the Details”: 8 Architectural Moments to Make Mies Proud

Many modern-day projects by cutting-edge firms include details of incredible rigor.

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

The hugely popular details categories return for the 7th Annual A+Awards! Get every element of your building recognized on a global stage — submit your project here, and act fast: the extended entry deadline is May 10th, 2019.

“The details are not the details. They make the design.”

So said Charles Eames, and he is surely right. The American architect was alluding to those special moments in design that transform good buildings into extraordinary ones. Mies van der Rohe’s headline quote sums up the significance placed on details by many great architects throughout the last century, and the master of modernism would undoubtedly be happy to see that this appreciation for the little things has not been lost in contemporary practice.

Many modern-day projects by cutting-edge firms include details of incredible rigor, seamlessly blending form and function to transform a simple junction or material transition into a powerful architectural moment. As you consider which of your projects to enter in the 2019 A+Awards, be inspired by this selection of eight projects, each of which was commended in previous years for its creator’s incredible eye for detail …

1. Architecture +Brick

Brick Spris Coffe by Hooba Design, Tehran, Iran

Hooba Design’s cave-like Brick Spris Coffe shop in Tehran captivated the A+Awards jurors in the Restaurant category back in 2015, and its undulating surfaces form a striking example of brick detailing. Individual bricks were divided into eight pieces, and a turquoise glaze was applied to certain surfaces for a flash of color. Special lighting blocks were then slotted in between some modules for an even more magical ambience.

2. Architecture +Wood

Grotto Sauna by PARTISANS, Ontario, Canada

PARTISANS won the popular vote in the Health Care & Wellness category with this cave-like sauna in the stunning Ontario wilderness, and its sculpted interior is an exemplar in contemporary timber detailing. The firm utilized 3D technology in the fabrication process, working with a millwork specialist to achieve a soft, flowing surface perfect for rest and relaxation in this serene environment.

3. Architecture +Glass

The Gores Group Headquarters by Belzberg Architects, Beverly Hills, Calif., USA

The innovative facade of this commercial building in California bagged Belzberg the 2015 award for Low Rise Offices. Custom-slumped panels were utilized for the double-skin envelope, each with a bespoke level of opacity to ensure the perfect levels of privacy throughout the interior.

4. Architecture +Concrete

Wollongong Central Development by HDR, Wollongong, Australia

It is hard to pick a single standout detail from this retail complex in New South Wales, but one of the most striking is its intricately etched concrete facade. An abstraction of the local Illawarra flame tree is embedded into the surface, transforming this typically monumental material into a tapestry of illuminated flowers by night.

5. Architecture +Metal

Velenje Car Park by ENOTA, Velenje, Slovenia

ENOTA developed a simple but highly inventive system of mesh screens to wrap a car park in their native Slovenia, creating a sculptural envelope with exemplary metal detailing. The manipulation of these permeable screens not only forms a striking way of concealing an ostensibly utilitarian building, but also possesses a high degree of structural strength in comparison to its weight.

6. Architecture +Stone

Compact Karst House by Dekleva Gregoric Architects, Vrhovlje, Slovenia

Shortlisted in the XS Private House category, the concept for Compact Karst House — a “monolithic mono-material volume inserted with two wooden proto-houses” — required careful detailing to create a seamless transition between the external walls and roof. Dekleva Gregoric Architects’ beautifully crafted blend of traditional and contemporary construction makes it a perfect exemplar for the new category celebrating the best stone details in architecture.

7. Architecture +Façades

Incineration Line, Roskilde by (designed by) Erick van Egeraat, Roskilde, Denmark

Erick van Egeraat’s stunning incinerator won an A+Award in Architecture +Lighting, but its façade would also be a perfect fit for the details categories. Perforated panels of raw, weathered metal wrap the building like autumnal armor, transforming this industrial facility from a utilitarian structure into a sculptural artwork by night.

8. Architecture +Stairs

1.8-M Width House by YUUA Architects and Associates, Toshima, Japan

This incredible slim residence in Japan possesses many ingenious space-saving details, and among these, the stairs are particularly striking. Impossibly thin treads appear to float supported by barely there handrails that allow the maximum amount of light to filter through the compact space. As if that wasn’t minimal enough, YUUA also included a streamlined ladder for secondary access.

Now it’s your turn: Visit the 2019 A+Awards page to submit your project before the deadline on May 10th!