Friday, August 31, 2012

expressive face on the Pont Neuf, Paris

This expressive carving, on a corbel atop the Pont Neuf in Paris, is one of many exuberant faces that watches over the River Seine from the top of this bridge. This face appears directly over the promenade on the north side of the Ile de la Cité, watching with skeptic gaze over centuries of unwitting tourists that have passed underneath.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

plants as architecture, in Boston

In contrast to the overgrown ivy covering the Istanbul townhouse in my last post, these examples below show how "green" architecture can be cultivated as a purposeful design element.

A carefully cropped patch of ivy defines this ground-level storefront and frames a large display window on Newbury Street.

The occupants of this apartment on Fairfield Street have grown two stripes of colorful leaves. The plant leaves create a soft surface that contrasts with the hard brick facade, and add a contained block of bright color to the street.

It is unclear if the architectural contribution of these rooftop trees is wholly intentional on this Fairfield Street townhouse. Evidently part of some landscaping for a rooftop deck, the effect is a dog-ear pair of living finials to add height and flamboyancy to a blocky facade. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

green architecture in Istanbul

Ivy leaves cover the entire facade of a townhouse in Istanbul. This green wall filters sunlight and produces its own energy - a photosynthetic curtain wall.

Monday, August 6, 2012

shadow of a building in Montreal

This shadow of a demolished mansard-roof townhouse clings to the side of a taller building in a vacant lot in Montreal. The back-to-back arrangement of rooms typical of Victorian-era townhouses is evident in the twin chimney shafts that pierce the house's broken floor plates. As the empty urban lot waits to be filled in, this shadowy imprint suspended in brick serves as a tenuous index of the site's history and reminds passerby of the house that once stood here.

This ghostly ruin, signifying at once both a void and a monolithic monument, calls to mind the concrete sculpture "House" by British artist Rachel Whiteread, documented by noted photographer John Davies in the image below:

In this work, Whiteread filled the interior of a London townhouse with concrete and then tore away the walls around it. The eery result serves as both a symbolic intervention in defiance of the demolition of a row of historic homes and as a palpable inverted record of what once stood on this site. Like its unintended counterpart in Montreal, it is ultimately a sort of architectural fingerprint.