There’s been a recent popular interest in and adoption of an aesthetic born from agrarian retreats called cottagecore. It harkens back to the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other simpler times of settlers, pioneers, and traditional European settlements. Cottagecore includes flowers, woods, warm tones, thatched roofs, worn furniture, and other objects and motifs associated with country living. The restorative power of cottages and retreats has long been recognized, but their popularity and renewed interest coincide with the pandemic as our lives are marked by excessive time spent indoors and communicating solely through electronic mediums.
Architecture can be funny. Of course, it often makes for a well-disposed butt of the joke, like when Frank Gehry is satirized on the Simpsons, but buildings themselves can be funny as well. Philosophers like Kant believed humor was in the incongruity between what is expected and what is experienced. There are all sorts of expectations placed on buildings and an infinite number of ways that incongruity might grow between those expectations and what a building actually delivers. This video explores some of the most interesting of these humorous buildings through history, from Giulio Romano’s Mannerism, to SITE Architects BEST stores, and many more. Finally, it points to some contemporary practices that deploy humor to achieve more than just a chuckle.
The House of the Future was designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in 1956 to showcase what house designs might be like 25 years in the future. It is an interior-focused rectangle filled in with amorphously shaped walls, storage units, and a central courtyard as well as high technology of all sorts. It is like something out of the Jetsons. While the design remains unique in the Smithsons portfolio, it was highly influential in their student’s work and firms like Archigram built upon its boldly novel concepts. Despite this long and robust influence, the structure was physically standing for only a short time. In this video, the house is reconstructed and explored in real-time. What would it have been like to occupy The House of the Future? See for yourself.
Architecture and photography are deeply dependent on one another. The first photograph ever taken frames buildings as its subject. Even more, it took an entire room to produce the image through a camera obscura. In the early days, buildings were one of the few subjects that could sit still for the 8 hours it took to burn an image onto a photosensitive medium. However, architecture is dependent on photography too. Buildings are large, slow, and immobile. Without photographs, it would be difficult to visit the important structures around the world. In this way, photographs are an easily shareable surrogate for buildings. But, photographs are not truthful 1:1 depictions so photographers have a lot of agency when it comes to how we experience architecture. This video offers some insight into this relationship and presents a few photographers as examples for how they interpret an architect’s intentions and add their own voice. These include Julius Shulman, Ezra Stoller, Stephen Shore, Iwan Baan, among others.
Welcome to the Slow House, Diller and Scofidio’s (now Diller, Scofidio and Renfro) first building commission for Long Island, in NY. The crescent-shaped slug doppelganger, was a pivotal design for the firm — and architecture at large — when it was first revealed in 1990. However, the building was never built, living only through its extensive catalog of models and drawings. In this video, the Slow House is digitally reconstructed, analyzed and explored to discover unique elements lurking in its design that can only be revealed through a first-person experience. From delayed million-dollar views, to CCTV feeds of the water, to dozens of operable plywood doors and shades, the house is truly a machine for viewing. And now, you can view it for yourself.
Boats offer delightful distractions for a surprisingly large number of architects. So many in fact, that there seems to be something about boats that appeals specifically to those trained in architecture.
In this video, Will Quam of Brick of Chicago takes us around the American city to question Louis Kahn’s adage that all bricks are motivated to be arches. Here, in the Logan Square neighborhood, we find bricks of all sorts, that — in addition to arches — take on other configurations and metaphors to describe their qualities; textile bricks and diapering, brushstrokes of a painting, butter joints and glazes, soldiers and bullnoses.
In 1984, the Menil Museum in Houston, Texas, commissioned the Mexican architect Luis Barragan to build a 3,000-square feet guest house to be located across the street from the famous Rothko Chapel. The architect came back with a design for a dazzling purple, pink, and orange 8,000-square feet mansion that looked to be more at home in Mexico City than a Houston residential suburban lot. So, due to the ensuing conflict between client and architect, the house would never get built, only displayed as an exhibition within the Menil’s galleries.