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Monthly Archives: October 2012

“OH my!  I ditched my paddle when I needed it most! What was I thinking???”

Red Light District

Dancing barefoot on the wrong side of the tracks

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  Ok, this horse did not participate.


Lighting a candle on the altar of the pumpkin seed.

These fantasies constructed within the cave of my pumpkin when Hurricane Sandy swept up the Eastern Seaboard and I sat by the fire listening to the wind.  Happy scary Hallowe’en!

Curves reign.  In Chicago this week, Canada’s Marilyn Monroe Tower was named best skyscraper in the Americas by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.  Applause to MAD Architects of Beijing, China for designing the highly-suggestive female forms, dropping these creatures of loveliness in the unlovely bedroom community of Toronto.

I happened to be in Mississauga yesterday when the announcement went public, so I took some shots of the stunning sweep, sashay and twist of the towers.  (The less-complex version of the 56-storey Marilyn Monroe sits slightly to the north on the development) in the heart of sprawling, unwalkable Mississauga.Mr. Salvatore, president of Fernbrook Homes and Mr. Crignano, a principal in Cityzen development, commissioned the multi-tower development, paying a premium of 20 per cent to construct the MAD-design. The design, engineered by Sigmund Soudack, makes concrete look plastic.  It features continuous glassed-in balconies, and a tower that rotates clockwise between one and eight degrees.  Supporting walls run longer or shorter depending on the configuration of the concrete floor plates.

Forty-five years ago, Mississauga was an unspoiled landscape of hayfields, but the countryside has since been replaced by strip malls, shopping centres and unwalkable high-rise neighbourhoods. A six-lane thoroughfare leads you through the ultimate in built banality…but even on a misty morning it’s possible to glimpse the outstanding archi-female form in the distance.

a surprising vista in Mississauga: nature and the sashaying condo towers.

Voluptuous design sells.  The Marilyn sold out in a matter of weeks.   For the record, the Marilyn Monroe, a term coined by the public, though the actual title – which nobody seems to know – is the Absolute.  Ninety-two firms from around the world competed to design the towers.  Obviously the jury picked a winner.

 

Jammed next to the Atlantic Ocean, on that thin wisp of land called the Outer Banks, North Carolina, there’s a roadside stand flaunting retro-modern stripes and the promise of fried bologna sandwiches.

Across the beach road in Nags Head, a series of shingled black ghosts built during the 19th century; wood weary and structurally forgiving, set next to the surf, daring the  hurricanes to come and get them.

Remarkably, the “Unpainted Aristocracy” houses (some of them constructed of wood reclaimed from shipwrecks) have withstood the onslaught of weather and water. Look how they’re raised on stilts to allow the sweep of water underneath, while guests visiting from the plantations sprawled on the wraparound porches.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest in the USA, wears a modern black and white daymark on its brick tower.

 The distillation of colours mimic the black shells and feathers on the vast Hatteras beach.

Inside, the tightly-wound spiral staircase is an honest interpretation of nature…

with a complex geometry that has inspired countless stair designs, from the one uncoiled in Gaudi’s  Sagrada Familia basilica to the one spiralling through the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.

 Address: the southern tip of Outer Banks, where the lighthouse keeper once reported that he and his wife and their multiple children never felt lonely.

Here’s a Scandinavian version of meditative space: the kamppi chapel of silence by Helsinki-based K2S Architects.  The solid, windowless building blocks out the sound of an overly cluttered mind or city noise – useful when the roar of vodka-inebriated soccer fans visiting Helsinki from Russia becomes overwhelming.

CNC-cut glue-laminated elements make up the structural framework of the building with spruce wood planks used for the cladding of the chapel.  The client was the City of Helsinki and Helsinki Parish Union.  (Images Tuomas Uusheimo.)

The Cube, designed by the talented, young Canadian studio 5468796 Architecture, sits like a jewel in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District.

Designed with twisted aluminum, custom-fabricated by a Hutterite colony, the malleable screen surrounds a room of concrete – reminiscent of Tadao Ando – which serves as a popular stage and event space.  As a private meditation space, you could lose yourself in the reflections.

Closer to home is one of the most enchanting, unscripted meditative rooms: Wolf Lake, Ontario.  Where the walls and the sky roof change with the seasons.