In the world of architecture, libraries are among the very special buildings because they require the architect to design not only for humans but also for BOOKS! and their very special requirements in terms of natural light and the overall building conditions (acoustics, temperatures, humidity, etc). There is something so beautiful about the combination of books, natural light and human occupied space that creates a spirit to every library ( libraries with great design off course) . Now my love for library designs is combined with my admiration for Dutch designers MVRDV. This group of designers are without doubt one of the current pioneers in architecture with their SIMPLE design for efficient functionality. Their latest work “The Book Mountain” is a great example of my point about this firm. First of all, I think for the first time, I see a library that has centralized the stack of books and arranged everything else around it. The decision of the architects for this arrangement is definitely based on the context of the building. The adjacent buildings of the library are mainly the traditional brick buildings with pitched roofs and the architects have taken advantage of these rigid and bold buildings by literally taking their silhouettes and turn them into a new typology. This has resulted in a building with solid brick base topped by a glass pyramid which has a “mountain” of books in its heart. The transparency through the pyramid into the books creates a very tempting feeling to every passerby inviting them for a visit to the library. I think the response to the context, and attention to the arrangement of different functions in the building is a genius act and must be admired. Please do not hesitate to read more about further details on the project here.
I was amazed to see the work of Homa Arkani, a young Iranian pop artist. Her Paintings focus on the social/cultural issues faced by young Iranian girls. The feelings her paintings bring to me are very nostalgic and familiar; they remind me of my last few years of life back in Iran. Feelings of insecurity, anger along with the typical teenage quest for trying new things in life, on the way of finding my identity in a country like Iran where women are under tremendous pressure. “These images of young girls who have so thoroughly immersed in their fantastic world demonstrate the crisis of identity amongst the middle-class new generation of Iranian women. As one treads a path among these flamboyant features one easily identifies them as stereotypical adolescent city girl in today Iran. Vanity, overindulgence, artificiality, extravagance; these are the expressions which come up in a spectator’s mind in the first place. Homa Arkani has presented her familiar and, at the same time, awkward characters in both indoors and public places, creating a psychically-charged space to reveal the characteristics of this section of the society.” Click here to read more.
I love the design of the Nolitan hotel by New York based architects Grywinsky + Pons. Located on a corner site, the architecture emphasizes the dynamics of the site by the solid/void relationship on the facade. The dynamics and simplicity of the exterior continues to the interior that are full of life and energy. I think the attention to detail and the connection of the exterior/interior makes this project very successful.
London 2012 Olympic, beside being the most important sport event of the year, was an amazing showcase of great “English” design. Beside the great pieces of architecture, one thing that seriously caught my attention during the opening ceremony was the Olympic Cauldron designed by British artist Thomas Heatherwick . 204 petals resembling all the teams participating in the Olympics were laid on a concentric structure. As the first petal was flamed up by the torch, slowly all of them started burning and moved up into a big flame or the main Cauldron. What I really loved about this sculpture was the way of celebrating that “very moment” of turning up the flame by putting it into a beautiful slow motion process. Once the Olympic finishes each participating team can take their own petal from the cauldron back home as a memory of London 2012 Olympics. I think the design is a great example of the power of “ART” in unifying all cultures into a peaceful world which is one of the purposes behind the Olympics. I also loved the design of the Torch by designers BarberOsgerby ; the smooth triangular form made of golden aluminum alloy successfully put this historic object into the modern context of 2012 Olympics. The body of the torch was perforated by 8000 circles symbolizing the number of people who had carried it making it both a functional and symbolic object. Click to read more about the Cauldron and the Torch.