Ce quoi ça?
It is, my birthday - and that will see me entering my 75th year as of Friday November 23rd.
Moreover it tells me - and you - that for the last 57 years I have worked in the world of design, construction, graphics for my first job was a junior draftsman/trainee/apprentice with Webb Zerafa Menkes, Architects, Toronto. Known for the last few decades simply as WZMH Architects they have become an internationally renowned pioneer in design. When I was working there, the principals (Peter Webb, Boris Zerafa) had adjacent offices. Brian Brooks was the Design Studio lead, Boris Lebedinsky the Chief Draftsman and Allison Hymus was one of the first interior design Associates in high profile architectural firms. She mentored me, guided me as I moved from the world of architectural technology drafting into the domain of interior design. It was a small, vital, cosy firm - maybe a maximum of 25 staff with René Menkes heading up the Montréal studio. It was a seminal time for me as I ricocheted between being a goFer, the printBoy, junior draftsman, courier - whatever. Hanging around the small Design Studio unit I was a fly on the wall. The guys all knew of my passion and they kindly indulged my lurking background presence.
In reviewing their current web-site I have selected one recent project that I believe best expresses the core commitment to human scale, to humanity - to good, solid, responsible and accessible architecture.
It is the Quinte Consolidated Courthouse in Belleville, Ontario.
From the WZMH web page:
The winner of a Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) competition, this court facility is located on the Moira River in central Belleville. WZMH’s design develops a strong connection between the courthouse and the city’s other main civic facility: City Hall, located across the river. WZMH oriented the building on an east-west axis, slightly off the main city grid, to ensure that its significant exterior and interior public spaces have a view of City Hall. This orientation emphasizes the civic importance of the courthouse and also creates optimal conditions for sustainability strategies, including passive solar heating and daylight harvesting.
A minimalist, modern design using local Ontario limestone gives a sense of gravitas to the courthouse exterior, its stature further underlined by a dignified entrance forecourt and public square facing the downtown core. The functional organization of the facility creates a zone of public space on one side and more secure spaces on the other. Functions are vertically stratified within the six-storey structure according to the need for public access: large courtrooms, ceremonial spaces, and jury selection rooms are located on the ground floor, while less-used and more secure spaces are on higher floors.
Client: PCL Constructors Canada
Size: 16,075 m2 | 173,000 ft2
Sustainability: LEED Gold
Scope of Service:
Full Architectural ServicesAwards:P3 Awards Finalist, Best Designed Project: Partnerships Bulletin/P3 Bulletin, 2015Canadian Design-Build Institute, Award of Excellence Honourable Mention, 2014
To my mind there is a simple, elegant purity to this project. Is it earth-shaking, ground-breaking design?
Probably not by most standards - especially with the current obsession with twistyTurny pretzelArchitectiure. But, it does, deliver.
And I believe one of the core principles of professional practise that was ingrained in me, in that firm, all those years ago, was simply - always deliver!
It is my belief, that I have done so. And thankfully it is a believe shared by all my clients over almost 6 decades of dedication, devotion to design
• • You may well be asking, 'Whoever is he droning one thus?' It is simple, my answer : :
On November 22, 2019 DesignReview•International will move to a monthly paid subscription model.
Fair notice, yes? How much? Not much - but I'm giving 12 months notice....should we not attain the necessary subscription target we will discontinue publication. Stay tuned - as we establish the price schedule we will publish it here.
But, in the event that DRI gets put out to pasture, in the next 12 issues, starting in December, I will, selfishly, showcase one selected project that is part of my portfolio. It will be the last entry of any given blog so that it does not become a self-serving distraction. In this issue you will find my design development work on the world's first electronic kiosks. Yup -'twas me....as you will see.
Stunning! What a vista! As if in the prow of a ship, one looks outwards to the frozen lake and beyond.
This is an amazing home designed by Alain Carle, Architect, Montréal.
Built on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, in Cornwall, Ontario, it is a refuge from the world, a place of serenity and solitude....disciplined in its choice of materials the visual language expresses a purity of principle. In my opinion. . . .
Photographs : : Adrien Williams
Based in Montreal, this up-and-coming photographer has worked across North America – including Detroit, Chicago, New York, Toronto, and Vancouver – as well as in Portugal. His work has garnered numerous accolades and awards.
For the tinkerer in most all of us, check this out : :
But now, look closer -
Here it is, in action
What fun! For young, old.....
Tinkineer’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kits introduce children and adults to engineering principles and physics concepts through dynamic model kits that are made of wood in America. Each “marble machine” kit is an engaging lesson that is told through the eyes of a cast of characters (the “Tinkineers”) in graphic novella format. The principles introduced in the comic are then reinforced through the construction of the kit and, finally, brought full circle with real-world examples and applications.
Sailing, sailing - over the bounding main -
A spectacular new luxury yacht is soon to be delivered, launched.
P U R A
is her name
ROYAL HUISMAN PURA SAILING YACHTThink about the Pura as more of a platform and less of a finished product. Centuries-old Dutch shipbuilder Royal Huisman has teamed with architect Mani Frers to let each buyer customize their yacht. Much of the engineering for the 130-foot vessel will be completed beforehand, but the shape of the hull, deck, and superstructure will be created via a collaboration between the owner and Frers, who will provide drawings along the way. The interior will be similarly customizable but should offer room for up to eight guests and six crew members and a wide range of high-end creature comforts.
Occasionally I will come across items of astonishing beauty. . . and I have an irrepressible urge simply to share them with you. Being as they are, unique, it is my opinion they do not require explanation or provenance.....they are simply to be enjoyed, as are these following photographs. I came across them some years ago, in a library book - was so taken by them I scanned them....and sadly, I do not now know from which book they came - thus I cannot provide honourable attribution. In a text reference I could see the name Alicia Goñi........she may have been the photographer. We will do further research....
Now this is a view I would love to look at every evening.
The summit of the Swiss mountain Titlis measures in at 3,000 meters above sea level. Its peak draws in over a million tourists every year and its former mountain outpost could no longer meet the demands. Architects Herzog & de Meuron plan to replace the dated 1967 summit station with the Titlis 3020 Mountain Outpost. The project calls for a new alpine station with a bar and restaurant as well as an updated antenna tower and underground tunnel. Its innovative design aims to transform Alpine architecture while showcasing Switzerland's surreal landscapes.
Titlis 3020 Design Unveiling
ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND, 5 November 2018 – The TITLIS 3020 project was unveiled to the public today.
At 3000 meters above sea level, the Swiss mountain Titlis is one of Switzerland’s most renowned international tourist attractions.
The summit station was built in 1967, and despite several modifications and expansions over the last 50 years, it no longer fulfills current and future requirements. As a further modification would not optimize the situation in a sustainable manner, the summit station will be entirely replaced by a new construction.
Herzog & de Meuron developed a master plan for the entire summit that entails the new construction of the summit station, the redevelopment and extension of an old beam antenna tower, and an upgrade of the underground tunnel.
Photographs by: Herzog de Neuron
And if you do, do you also know what day it is?
Well, if you're not sure here's a really cooool iOs calendar app for you.......minimalCal
Of course CHICAGO is musically asking that question....but this is a really beautifully designed calendar app. To me it's a throwback to the 60's, when Helvetica ruled supreme. The crisp clean graphics - what we, as designers then referred to as 'Swiss style'. Heck, I love the look of it so much I sprung for the $4.00 and installed it on may phone......you too can get it here.
If I died, and went to heaven - and came back and wanted to describe it to you, this is what I would want you to see.....
American studio MW Works has designed a compact cabin in a Washington forest with exterior walls clad in weathered cedar and blackened cement. The cabin called Little House is located in Seabeck, a waterfront village and former mill town in Washington. It sits within a forest on a bluff overlooking Hood Canal, a natural waterway that is part of the Puget Sound.
Seattle-based studio MW Works built the holiday home for clients from Houston who have spent many summers in the area, visiting family members on a nearby property.
"They loved the wildness of the southern canal and imagined a small retreat here of their own," said MW Works in a statement.
Rectangular in plan, the cabin was built atop an existing foundation that measured 20 by 20 feet (six by six metres). The team sought to create a compact dwelling that was efficient and relatively easy to build.
Envisioned as "a simple box with large carved openings", the cabin rises two levels and encompasses 1,140 square feet (106 square metres). Exterior walls are wrapped in cedar – which has been oxidised to speed up the material's aging and turn it black – and blackened cement panels.
This is a fine house - a very fine house....it is the work of a newly evolving architect, Ray Dinh. He refers to this project as his 'First lessons House'. And to my mind, he got it right the first time.
To be specific - and to state a bothersome observation that I have wrestled with for some time - too long probably, and that is, although we see wonderful architecture on a daily basis - for example the first article in this blog's issue - I am intensely bothered by a seeming determination by far too many architects to stress the lean purity of a designed envelope forsaking almost all aspects of comfort. It really, really, bothers me. When you observe, review - look at - many of the beautifully spawned architectural designs, do you ever think to yourself, 'Yes! It's wonderful - but how am I going to sit in that corner over there and read my book, sip my tea? And where actually, will I put my tea cup?, for there is rarely even the basics of simple human comfort provided with something as rudimentary as a side table. Or a reading lamp. Absurd......
However, In Mr Dinh's efforts here not only do we see great taste, great design and balance, wonderful material mixes/combinations, we see - and feel - an inviting comfort.And does that not make sense to you?
It does to me. I have often tried to explain to my design students that an unspoken rule of a good interior designer is to create a mood in a space - to weave a feeling in a room. To provide that subliminal cloak of comfort, like a shmooshy quilt, that embraces you and your spirit. Mood architecture, to my mind, is created by many various contributors. Lighting is a primary one. And good, or great lighting must be conceived at the time of the design journey.....'cause all your drawings need to incorporate that special hidden LED behind a bookshelf, or a gentle uplight in the floor over there in that corner.
So I take my hat of to Ray Dinh - this is a place that I would like to call home......
For architect Ray Dinh, the First Lessons House is just that. The home is his debut project after going solo and is a practice in mastering the basics. Part of that was creating a design that responds to its landscape along with the owner's needs which included an abundance of exterior space to take advantage of views of Australias's Portsea lagoon and wildlife reserve. The result is a charred blackbutt, concrete, and corrugated iron structure with seamless indoor/outdoor living. Large sliding glass doors aid in this transition, allowing for unobstructed views of the garden when closed and direct access to the central terrace when open. Acting as more of an extension of the interior rather than a separate space, the deck features its own dining table and BBQ for summer dinners and a sitting area organized around the double-sided fireplace.
Photos: Peter Bennetts / Ray Dinh Architecture
Ray Dinh Architecture is a one man practice, working weekends with family and friends.
Ray is a registered architect living in Melbourne, currently working at Austin Maynard Architects.
Ray studied architecture at University College Dublin & Ecole Nationale Supérieure d' Architecture de Nantes, graduating in 2012 with First Class Honours. Ray’s final year thesis was featured in The Architect’s Journal and his dissertation on social housing was published in the Irish Archizine 2ha. Ray has since worked in Dublin and New York and is now based in Melbourne, completing his professional registration in Victoria in 2016.
2017 marked the completion of First Lessons House, Ray's first solo project
This article first appeared in: https://uncrate.com/first-lessons-house/ .
. . . . and, 'tis the season, fast approaching.
Books! Love books - here are a couple of timely offerings....have been a student of Rothko forever.....actually bought a book of Rothko paintings, scanned them all - use them a screensavers.....
Though he rejected the label, Mark Rothko is known as one of the most influential artists in the Abstract Expressionism movement that began in the late 1940s. This hardbound book provides a detailed chronological summary of Rothko's life including his role in the first American art movement to have a worldwide influence. Part of Taschen's Basic Art series, Rothko includes 96 full-color pages filled with the artist's iconic canvases of bold color blocks that were meant to create an active relationship between the observer and each painting.
Hardcover / 8.3" x 10.2" / 96 pages https://uncrate.com/rothko/
Available from Amazon.com $14.00
So now, to kiosk design.
A little history first. In the late 80's Royal Bank of Canada was a primary client of mine. The nature of the design assignments varied from branch design to Special Projects. And in the course of meetings one day I was asked if I knew anything about electronic kiosk design. Of course, I replied honestly, 'No.'
Their response was, 'Do you want to learn? And help us figure out a problem in the process?'
Naturally I was enthusiastic. The challenge? To develop the design for an information services kiosk that would be installed in some of the larger branches across Canada. The intent was to provide a non-threatening passive 'sidekick' where a customer could key in requests for information about financial services and see the replies/answers on overhead screens. They knew what they wanted to aspire to - just not how to get there. Here is an early concept sketch.
Clearly it is quite large. Big, bulky - intrusive. Of course it had to be shop produced and transported to a branch. And once in place it would not be moved about. As can be seen, the upper arm, being cantilevered as shown, would require a very robust structural support column. The following drawings and details tell the story......and bear in mind - this was in 1988 - almost 30 years ago.
I retained the services of a structural engineer and we worked in concert to deliver this, at the time, completely unique 'modern' service kiosk. I wonder whatever became of it. It should be living in a tech museum of some kind.
In any event following the success of this undertaking I became involved with a couple of colleagues to explore the viability of what we saw as the next, new wave, of tech. Bear in mind, 1994, 1995 - Netscape Navigator (the first web browser) was just creating big waves on the WorldWideWeb. There were no web-sites selling products or merchandise. Our collective concept was to design a service kiosk with two screens, the lower screen being a touchscreen (yes, believe it or not HP actually had developed touchscreens way back then) and the upper screen, being a large TV, would showcase the requested information to the user. The Panasonic GAAO TV was the state-of-the-art television then - and of course, it was certainly not a flat screen - these this were huge, bulky, crazy expensive. The touchscreen interface would be conned to a laserdisc player within the structure. When the customer tapped on an icon (let's say a travel destination like Club Med) it would trigger the laserdisc to play a video clip - like a commercial - on the upper screen. My role was the design of all aesthetics - the form factor, graphics, all the visual aspects of the unit. My partners, being engineers, handled the electronics and the programming. The following photograph shows our Model II unit installed in a shopping centre in l'Estrie, Québec.
In fact we installed three units throughout the shopping centre and they were linked, wirelessly, believe it or not. Talk about 'ahead-of-its-time' innovation! And they worked! But the superhuman effort to convey/convince the corporate world of their value was an endless uphill battle. As we were in intense negotiation with some of Quebec's premier tech giants we were also transporting our monstrously huge prototype to places like Germany (Hanover Fair), Ottawa, Toronto - in order to showcase its value. Concurrently, the WorldWideWeb was growing - rapidly. Netscape went through various rapid iterations as it worked to induce corporate America to use the internet to market and sell. And ultimately, the forces of Microsoft, IBM, Netscape combined to bypass our technology, then. It was deemed that using a computer monitor to convey marketing messages via internet was a more cost-effective way to reach target markets. Ultimately, our enterprise failed. Sadly, it died. Just one more of 'sounds like a good idea but' kinda stories, right? True dat.......
The following images are the original design drawings and details I developed (and saved all these years)
Some many months following the closure of our enterprise, the first public use financial kiosks started showing up.
It is quite obvious that he curvilinear form factor was 'borrowed' from my very early design concepts. And why exactly was that formShape selected as being the best one? In a day when the world was just starting to be seduced by consumer tech, my thinking was that the consumer, when faced with such a new-fangled apparatus, or interface - be it in a shopping mall, a hospital, a library - needed to feel a gentle visual greeting -- that the interaction between man and machine would be seen as a collaboration not a confrontation - that there would be no sense of intimidation in the dance with the interface......and so the gentle curving form evolved as the natural embodiment of that design. And know what? That principle has proven awesomely successful for kiosks designed and manufactured today tend to mimic that form factor.......who knew?
Am I bitter? Bitter that my 'thunder' was mis-appropriated? Nah......would been nice to cash in maybe.....but, life goes on.
Until it doesn't.
Next month's issue is already in development - target date for release? December 22nd.....watch for it.
Remember - write me with questions, comments, complaints - whatever : :
As a professional interior designer (45+ years) and as a Certified Graphic Designer (25 years) I have devoted my life to the pursuit of design excellence. Winner of numerous design awards I have also spent 25+ years teaching Interior Design.....the greatest quote regarding design is: the greatest faux pas in design is irrelevance
• Note Regarding Archives •
Weebly provides an archive header by month - such as March 2021 . . . . when you select a month, you will be able to access all issues posted in that month - there is no way, thus far, to provide the reader with archival access via Issue number - were working on it.