Wednesday, July 13, 2011

✈Worldwide Wednesdays: Astounding Architectures - #2

Where shall we travel to today?....

The Little House, CANADA
Toronto’s Little House was built in 1912 by well-known contractor, Arthur Weeden. Mr. Weeden was born in England and migrated to Canada in 1902. During the street’s development, Lot 128 was conceived as a laneway for the neighbouring home. However, the curb was never cut by the City to allow vehicular passage from the street. Observing this, Arthur decided that “in order to use the land, I would build on it” (Weeden, Toronto Sun Telegram, 1939). After completing the laneway house, he and his wife lived in it for 20 years. After his wife passed away, Mr. Weeden, 77 years of age at the time of the Sun Telegram article, lived in the house for 6 more years, during which time he tended to the vegetable garden in the rear of the house, growing tomatoes, cabbages, Swiss chard, rhubarb and some flowers. At the time, a house on Sydenham street was said to be the smallest, but Weeden discredited this claim by noting, “it has a frontage a foot and a half longer [than his]”, and was not a complete house as it did not have electricity and other conveniences. The other disputed ‘smallest house’ is located at 383 Shuter Street, but it too is larger. Eight inches wider, to be exact.
Arthur Weeden on the porch of the Little House, 1939

Floating Farmhouse, UKRAINE

When some architects set out to design a new building, they’re less concerned with functionality and more interested in creating a massive piece of art. Sometimes, those developers won’t let a pesky thing like gravity get in the way of their conceptual vision.  An optical illusion you say? Maybe not.  Supported by a single cantilever, this mysterious levitating farm house looks like it belongs more in a sci-fi flick. It’s claimed to be an old bunker for the overload of mineral fertilizers but we’re sure there’s a better back story . . . alien architects probably had a hand in it. Cantilevered barns do exist – mostly in the Appalachian region of the United States – but usually aren’t quite this dramatic looking. 

meanwhile in the NETHERLANDS....

The Cactus House
Rising up into the sky like an alien urban desert invader, this 19 floor Rotterdam high rise offers city dwellers an opportunity to try out their green thumbs. .
Conjured up by the visionary design team at UCX Architects, the graduating structure with star-shaped levels enables natural light to stream through the living spaces while also offering residents access to ample outdoor patio areas, all while overlooking the Rotterdam Harbor. Sounds and looks divine!  Due to its siting at the end of harbor, the architects chose to conceptualize the project as belonging to the "green nerve" rather than the surrounding urban structure.

The Cube House
Kubuswoningen, or cube houses, are a set of innovative houses built in Rotterdam and Helmond in The Netherlands, Incredible designed by architect Piet Blom in 1984. The houses in Rotterdam are located on Overblaak Street, and beside the Blaak Subway Station. Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. There are 38 small cubes and two so called 'super-cubes', all attached to each other.

As residents are disturbed so often by curious passers-by, one owner decided to open a "show cube", which is furnished as a normal house, and is making a living out of offering tours to visitors.

The houses contain three floors:

* ground floor entrance
* first floor with living room and open kitchen
* second floor with two bedrooms and bathroom
* top floor which is sometimes used as a small garden

The walls and windows are angled at 54.7 degrees. The total area of the apartment is around 100 square meters, but around a quarter of the space is unusable because of the walls that are under the angled ceilings.

Dar al Hajar, YEMEN

This striking rock palace is not a hotel or a museum. It’s not even a primary residence. Dar al Hajar was built as a ‘summer home’ by Imam Yahya in the 1930s, and it’s a stunning example of rock-cut architecture. Standing at the base of this imposing structure, you have to crane your neck to see the top. The palace has since been restored so that visitors can buy a ticket and get a breathtaking 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape.  Coming from Suq al-Wadi, at one point it is inevitable that your eyes are drawn towards Dar al Hajar. While the wadi is an oasis of green and quiet not far from the capital San'a, the Rock Palace is its jewel, visible from many corners of the wadi. The closer you get, the higher it seems to become, until you reach the bottom and you have to put your head between your shoulders to be able to look up and admire the building.

There is a system to cool water in earthware jars, you can see takhrim windows from up close, there is a very deep well, and there are various spots where you can go outside. The views are marvellous as can be expected from such a daringly built palace. Its five floors offer enough to see. Walking around at its base is equally impressive and heightens your admiration for the stunning architecture the Yemenis are capable of.

View from the roof of the Rock Palace or Dar al Hajar

System to cool water in jars.

The Bubble House, FRANCE

This bubble house structure isn't even 40 years old yet, but it's already been designated an historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture. Designed by organic architect Antti Lovag, the home features panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and celestial views at night. A garden at the center of the home features a waterfall and stream with palm trees and exotic vegetation. Inside, space-saving furniture, cupboards, and shelving are built into the home.It has lots of built-in furniture and oval, convex windows. The design is meant to take optimal advantage of the volcanic Côte d’Azur landscape Believe it or not, this is not a unique property; Lovag has designed three others—including one for fashion designer Pierre Cardin—along the same coast. 

Water and Wind Cafe, VIETNAM

Bamboo is the stuff of green dreams these days. Not only is it a winning combination of strong, lightweight and flexible; it also scores highly in the sustainable stakes, being super fast growing and easy to harvest locally in many parts of the world. What's more, it is increasingly being lauded for its aesthetic qualities.
Made almost entirely of bamboo without the use of a single nail, the Water and Wind Cafe in the Binh Duong province of Vietnam is just one example of incredible bamboo structures designed by architecture firm Vo Trong Nghia. The domed structure, dripping with lights, features a dazzling skylight, with the end result resembling a natural cathedral. The bamboo was woven together using traditional Vietnamese bamboo weaving techniques and covered in a local bush plant.

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