Category Archives: Architects and Architecture

The Shah Mosque at Night

The Crown Jewel in the Naghs-e Jahan Square was the Masjed-e Shah, which would replace the much older Jameh Mosque in conducting the Friday prayers. To achieve this, the Shah Mosque was constructed not only with vision of grandeur, having the largest dome in the city, but Shaykh Bahai also planned the construction of a religious school and a winter-mosque clamped at either side of it.

Masjed-e Shah – The Pinnacle of Safavid Architecture

Naqsh-e Jahan Square Panorama

The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side is the Ali Qapu Palace. Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and the northern side opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. Today, Namaaz-e Jom’eh (the Muslim Friday prayer) is held in the Shah Mosque.

Panoramic view from the square

Church on the Water by Tadao Ando – Japanese Churches


As with many of Tadao Ando’s structures, the power of the Church on the Water lies in its simple geometric form – in this case two interlocking cubic volumes. One of Ando’s early examples of spiritual architecture, it demonstrates his belief that religions buildings should be at one with nature.

Located in the northernmost and coldest area of Japan, it is surrounded by woodland and sits alongside a shallow artificial reflecting pool created by diverting a nearby stream. Here, the seasons are strongly differentiated: a union of weather, water, sky, trees, and tranquility.

Embarking on a ‘religious journey’, visitors approach the entrance circuitously around an L-shaped wall that runs around the back of the building. Enhancing expectation, the lake is hidden from view but the contemplative sound of water can be heard.

Ascending counter-clockwise, visitors reach the smaller of the two volumes, a glass box with views over the lake to the mountains beyond. Four monolithic crosses, which just miss touching, are arranged in an unusual square formulation, hinting yet subverting an obvious Christian message.

Unlike most contemporary architects Ando did not receive any formal architectural training. Together with his well-received Church of the Light, the Church on the Water was the project that brought Ando international fame.

Church On the Water, Church of the Light: Tadao Ando

This book presents each of the churches in detail, using Ando’s own drawing archive, including his sketchbooks. The Church on the Water occupies a pastoral site and consists in plan of two squares, one large, one small, that overlap and are arranged facing a man-made lake. The smaller of these two squares is a calming preparatory space, enclosed on four sides by milky-white frosted glass, an “enclosure of light”, where one can pause before entering the glass walled chapel below.

The Church of the Light is built in a quiet residential area of Osaka, and was planned as an annex to the existing church and vicarage. Here Ando explores the spiritual force of the effects of sunlight on simple raw concrete. Slits cut in the form of a cross perforate the chapel’s front wall, and when lit by sunlight they manifest what Ando describes as a “cross of light”.

When presented together these two churches provide a synthesis of opposites, creating spaces that attain a purity and calm through powerful architectonic forms.

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Mercedes Benz Car Museum by UN Studio, Frankfurt, Germany

The Mercedes-Benz Museum, with 450,000 visitors a year, is located next to highway B14 into Stuttgart. The 16,500 square meters lounge, and the surrounding landscape. UN Studio has long been refining its work to create an architectural language that speaks equally of its reverence for history, Baroque, and Modernism and of its passion for new forms and structures – of continuous surfaces, movement, twists, and Mobius strips.

The Mercedes-Benz Car Museum is arguably the first example of the firm’s work that achieves this. Their tour de force is appropriately a museum dedicated to the art of movement and engineering, and somehow the painstaking research and passion imbued by those glossy expensive cars merges seamlessly with UN Studio‘s genuinely new vocabulary of architecture that offers no boundaries.

The Museum is trefoil shaped

Three overlapping circles leave a triangular void in the center. The semi-circular floors around it form horizontal plateaus of double or single height. Several radical spatial principles are bound together, generating a completely new typology as a result. This responds partly to its museum function, partly to its urban location, and partly to concerts that belong to the discipline of architecture. The building is divided notionally into three but actually serves to be one continuously fluid space from top to bottom. The underlying geometry of the building is a series of interlocked circles and arcs, responding to the typology of the car.

The visitors proceed through the museum from top to bottom; during the ride up the atrium in one of the three elevators, visitors are shown a multimedia Preshow presentation. The elevators are like capsules with only a large slit at eye-level through which the visitor see images of the history of Mercedes-Benz, projected on the walls of the atrium.

Digitally controlling the geometry made it possible to incorporate changes, immediately knowing the effects of that change on all other aspects of the building. The structure is concrete and required a great deal of testing for the twists to determine quality. An atrium core forms half of the structure; the supports on columns that are visible through the windows provide the other half.

Mercedes Museum UNStudio Stuttgart

Dream Garages International: Great Garages and Collections from around the World

Some of the most amazing spaces in the world are profiled in this lavish, illustrated journey across the continents, fulfilling the automotive voyeur’s dream of exploring private car sanctuaries from around the world. Incredible supercar collections, a museum packed with obscure makes and models, and quirky collector spaces from Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America combine to provide a fascinating portrait of how the gearhead phenomenon manifests itself in cultures across the globe.

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Bosphorus Bridge Istanbul, Turkey – Famous Suspension Bridges

Ever since antiquity, men’s minds have been exercised by the idea of bridging the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, the straits connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean. The dream was to create a permanent link between the Occident and the Orient. The pontoon bridge built across the Bosphorus in 513 BC by the Persian master builder Mandrokles of Samos for the Scythian campaign of the Persian king Darius I is remembered to this day.

For Mehmed’s successor, Sultan Beyazid II Wali, polymath Leonardo da Vinci designed a 360-metre-long bridge in 1502 that was to connect Constantinople with Pera, now suburbs of Eminonu and Beyoglu. The Sultan believed da Vinci’s highly original design to be unworkable and abandoned the project. The design was eventually used ‘in 2001, when Norwegian architects Selberg Arkitektkontor AS realized it as a wooden pedestrian bridge, albeit on a reduced scale of 57 meters, in As near Oslo. Sultan Beyazid was mistaken: computer simulations have now shown that Leonardo’s design for a bridge over the Golden Horn was structurally sound.

Bosphorus Bridge Peel and Stick Wall Decal

Printed on WHITE, premium, self-adhesive, re-positionable fabric paper. No nails, frames or glue. No professional installation required.

Centuries would pass before the Bosphorus was bridged. Between 1970 and 1973, the first fixed link between Europe and Asia was created in the form of the Bosphorus suspension bridge, built by the German engineering company Hochtief AG under its chairman, Enno Vocke, and engineer Celalettin Dursun in collaboration with the British firm of Freeman, Fox and Partners. Proceeds from bridge tolls were so lucrative that in 1988 another bridge, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, with a span of 1,090 meters, was built. A privately financed third gateway to the Orient is now planned.

Bogazici Koprusu Painting

History Comes Alive In Beautiful Istanbul

Whether you are looking for shopping, fine dining or a scenic hike and an afternoon picnic, you will find it all in Istanbul. Istanbul, which is located on the border of Europe and Asia, is an ancient city on the coast of the Marmara Sea, Princes’ Islands in the distance across the water. It is also where the Bosphorus Bridge connects Europe to Asia.

Istanbul is the fifth largest city in the world and the largest city in Turkey. In its long history, it has served as the capital for the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. In the current day, you will find ancient architecture alongside a thoroughly modern city with two international airports, expressways, a suburban railway, trams, funicular railways (subways), light rail and the modern Istanbul Metro that was constructed beginning in 1992. With all of these options, seeing the sights should not be a problem.

There is a bounty of things to see and do in this beautiful city. A wonderful way to start your morning is to visit Fransiz Sokagi (French Street) and enjoy breakfast and a rich Turkish coffee at one of the many cafes. After breakfast, wander through the art centers or stop to enjoy the styling of one of the many street musicians. The area was completely updated recently, opening in 2004 in Beyoglu district and includes a variety of cultural offerings. The influence of Parisian artisans is evident in the 100 year old French coal-gas street lamps and streets that were designed and constructed by Parisian architects in distinctly French style.

There are also many historic monuments and a variety of popular attractions to be found. One of the most famous and popular sights in Istanbul is Hagia Sophia, a masterpiece of architecture, its beginnings dating back to 532 A.D. Originally constructed as a Roman church, during Ottoman rule it was designated as a mosque until 1935 when the secular Republic of Turkey converted it to a museum as it remains today.

Famous Bridges Of The World: Measuring Length, Weight, And Volume

If shopping is the order of the day, be sure to visit Beyoglu Passages along Istikal Street. It is a true cornucopia of treasures ranging from clothing to culinary delights.

Lodging is plentiful as well, and hotels in Istanbul range from the modest to the extravagant so you will surely find something to suit your taste.

What ever your interests, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Istanbul.

Roo Sadegi is an online travel writer based in London’s East End, although he spends much of his time travelling around Europe’s travel hotspots.

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Los Angeles Canna Road Residence by Ray Kappe Architect

Recently emerging from a contemporary restoration, this house in the Brentwood district of Los Angeles was originally designed by Ray Kappe in the late 1960s.

The house was fortunate enough to have been bought by Michael LaFetra a few years ago, because LaFetra is somewhat of a savior of mid-century modern homes in the Los Angeles area. He buys iconic modern houses that have fallen into disrepair, and rescues them from being torn down by lovingly restoring them, then getting them registered as a Los Angeles historic cultural monument, and finally selling them off for someone else to enjoy.

California Cool: Modernism Reborn

Showcases the modern residential style in Southern California and includes many of California’s masters of modern residential architecture. Includes outstanding photography by Russell Abrahams.

Michael’s sense of purism is kind of insane and intense,” says Kimberli Meyer, the director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, where LaFetra has made donations and sits on the advisory board. “Since there’s no public entity in Los Angeles that can handle our incredible collection of important homes, we need people like Michael. Private restoration is becoming more and more important.”

Ray Kappe has long been a cult figure in the architectural scene in and around Los Angeles. In 1972 he founded the influential, avant-garde Southern California Institute of Architecture, where many of the younger-generation architects have studied or taught. In addition, his smoothly rectilinear wood-and-glass houses, based on modular principles, modern technology, and a sensitive response to the regional climate, continue to explore the principles of Los Angeles Modernism put forth by the work of Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and others in the early part of the 20th century.

You can read an article about Michael LaFetra in the New York Times – here.

This 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home is one of LaFetra’s more recent projects that is currently for sale.

Brave New Houses: Adventures in Southern California Living

Los Angeles and Southern California have always been a crucible for the experimental in residential design. Here then are the successors to Neutra and Schindler, Lautner and Gehry – architects who break out of the box to create houses that respond to the benign climate and varied topography of Southern California and express the needs and dreams of their clients. From serene white forms to bold expressions of structure, from houses that engage the landscape or ocean to those that turn confined lots to advantage, these are models of creative design.

Behind every creative design is a successful architect-client relationship, and Webb gives a rare glimpse of the collaborative process of “designing a house.” With some of the best houses built in the past decade, Brave New Houses should appeal to everyone who has thought of designing or owning a house that is one-of-a-kind.

Ackerberg House Richard Meier | Design, Construction, Architecture

Influenced by the traditional style of courtyards typical of Southern California, this house is located among the mountains extending alongside the coastal highway and the beach which borders the Pacific Ocean. The site chosen for the construction of the building consists of three flat areas and the adjacent plots, facing Malibu Beach.

The building stands on an L-shaped base, and consists of two floors, the private family area and the living room area. Main access is from the north front, from where, passing through a covered walkway, a vestibule is reached with floors set at different levels, and surfaces set with glass. This area leads on to the living room, the dining room, the kitchen and the bathrooms, the interior courtyard, and the guest rooms.

Going up the stairs to the second floor, which is linked to the first floor by means of the open space of the living room, we come upon a suspended shelving area opening onto the lower level. A number of rooms and a suite with dressing room and washroom complete the basic ground plan. This free spatial sequence is supplemented by a tennis court already in place in the southern section, and a recently constructed swimming pool on the west side.

Ackerberg House and Addition (One House)

3D Architecture Visualization

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Underwater Seascrapers of the Future: Underwater Skyscrapers and Floating Cities

Throughout history, through his need for civilization, man has created buildings that consume resources. The skyscraper is the epitome of this voracious consumption, its highly dense grouping of activities ie work, play, rest etc. has become an ominous harbingers of our ecologically bleak future.

As a reaction to the modern skyscrapers and its dilemmas the world’s eminent minds have created many variations of the skyscraper in the form of the antithetical subscrapers, groundscrapers and even depth scraper. Yet still they still struggle to achieve zero input/zero output in terms of resource production. There are greenscrappers which, though themselves are ecologically sound, are tied to and urban fabric and interconnection of production networks which are still contributing negatively towards the environment.

The hO2+ scraper proposes to break free of the urban fabric and functions as self-sufficient ambassadors in the sea. The hO2+ scraper is an autonomous floating unit of livable, functional and self sustaining space which will function, in a collective manner, as a floating city. It is self sufficient as it generates its own power through wave, wind, current, solar, bio etc. and it generates its own food through farming, aquaculture, hydroponics etc.

It carries with its own small forest on top its back and supports places for users to live and works in its depths. Its bioluminescent tentacles provide sea fauna a place to live and congregate while collecting energy through its kinetic movements. Such sustainability strategies aim to ultimately create and provide an oasis with ‘Zero‘ negative impacts to the environment, not only that but also improves on it hence the ‘Plus‘. Aptly as poetic antithesis to a skyscraper which goes up into the heavens the hO2+ scraper goes down to the depths of the sea.

Self-Sufficient City at Sea

The main components of the programme for the hO2+ scraper consist of resource generation (i.e. power, food, air etc), living, work, play, waste treatment and maintenance. The programme is spread evenly in accordance to the proximity of any specific required external resource i.e. the wind generators are placed of the roof garden island, the livestock farming component is also placed there, the living areas are placed just below sea level where the natural light is the best etc.

Ocean Outpost: The Future of Humans Living Underwater

One of the greatest scientific and technological achievements of the 21st century will be to cast a light on the eternal darkness of the deep ocean and this book identifies the key determinants of life or death in its extreme environment. Dr. Erik Seedhouse examines how individuals survive free dives to 200m, how humans adapt to breathing exotic gas mixes at depths exceeding 700m, and how technological innovation will enable humans to enter unendurable realms.

The book describes the problems unique to the hostile environment of the deep ocean, such as decompression sickness, discusses how the human body responds to increased pressure, and what happens when adaptive mechanisms fail. Ocean Outpost describes how the technology will evolve, how crews will be selected and trained and what a typical underwater mission will entail. The book also chronicles the frontiers of diving medicine that will eventually take humans into the midst of a world we could once only guess at.

Future Underwater Cities

The building itself is kept upright using a system of ballast and balancing tanks. The tentacles also serve as balancing elements as they, in generating their power, are constantly moving with the rhythm of the tide. The buoyancy and ballast controls are placed at the lowest portions to create the proper counter-force for keeping the building upright.

Gut Garkau Farm Complex

Gut Garkau farm, Germany, 1923-1926, Photoseier+seier

This group of farm buildings is key in the genesis of modern architecture. Hugo Haring (1882 – 1958) worked closed with Hans Scharoun, a proponent of an organic Modernism whose portfolio includes public buildings such as the Berlin Philharmonic. Haring’s oeuvre is more considered, but he had few occasions to demonstrate his principles.

The Gut Garkau complex is perhaps the most demonstrative of his works. A barn and cowshed, grouped picturesquely around a courtyard, the buildings illustrate Haring’s belief that architecture should appear to arrive naturally and spontaneously from its surroundings. Eschewing the overstyled organic approach that characterized Art Nouveau and its associated movements, Haring preferred that the structure evolve around its function and environment.

Modern Architecture Through Case Studies

Peter Blundell Jones details the inadequacy of the first histories of the Modern Movement by revealing the existence of suppressed alternative traditions within the movement and shows their great diversity through the use of case studies. Each case is analyzed in detail then used as a springboard to explore different theoretical approaches.

Haring used concrete, brick, and wood to build the horseshoe-shaped cowshed. Its curving facade is a complex composition of all three components, with bands of structural concrete expressed on the brick lower stories, and the upper levels clad in painted wood. The floor plans were shaped by considerations such as animal welfare, with the concrete construction allowing for a tall, light-filled interior.

Hugo Haring: The Organic versus the Geometric

This book is not just a biography of Haring, but an unusually detailed analysis of his architectural work, including many unbuilt projects which have never before been published. It also includes an account of Haring’s theory, with translated extracts from his many writings. Through setting Haring within his historical context, and differentiating his position from figures such as Mies, Le Corbusier and Hannes Meyer, Peter Blundell Jones suggests a radical reframing of the early Modern Movement.

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Tenerife Opera House by Santiago Calatrava

Sweeping over the top of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava‘s spectacular new Opera House in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, a gigantic concrete wave shelters the cone-shaped auditorium complex. But this wave is more than a wave: it is a thumb in the eye of the modernist style that dominated 20th century architecture.

Led by the German-born giants Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and marching under their banners – less is more; form follows function ‘modernist took an Occam’s razor the the highly embellished designs of the nineteenth century.

Stripping decoration and ornament from buildings, they produced structures of serene purity and rigor. But as the style penetrated the mainstream, the rich materials and symmetries that distinguished the masters’ work went missing – and the result was a generation of banal, boxy buildings that argued rather persuasively that less is less.

Santiago Calatrava: Complete Works

This updated volume comprehensively examines this contemporary master’s career, including the architect’s furniture designs, sculpture, and drawings. His spectacular cultural and civic projects have secured Calatrava’s place in the pantheon of world-class 21st-century architects.

Among these are the Athens Olympics Sports Complex; the Tenerife Concert Hall in the Spanish Canary Islands; the Valencia Science Museum, Planetarium, and Opera House, and the much-anticipated World Trade Center Transportation Hub. This newest edition introduces Calatrava’s latest triumphs, including the expressive Turning Torso tower in Sweden and the Chicago Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the US when built. A catalog raisonne, detailed biography, and bibliography complete this comprehensive monograph.

The $80 million Opera House opened in September 2003 in Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s main city. The cone-shaped auditorium complex holds two concert halls, the larger of which seats 1,668 people. The architect, who often finds inspiration in his own sculptures and drawings, as well as from the natural world, says the building’s shape was suggested by Mount Teide, the volcano overlooking Tenerife, into whose dormant cone tourist can descend.

Performing Architecture: Opera Houses, Theatres and Concert Halls for the Twenty-first Century

Profusely illustrated with photographs, computer renderings and architectural drawings, “Performing Architecture” explores fifty of today’s finest performance spaces, as well as recently refurbished, restored and transformed buildings. A brief introduction traces the post-war development of theater and concert hall design, and sets out the circumstances today that have led to such a rich provision for performance.

Buildings featured range from Frank Gehry’s landmark Disney Opera House in Los Angeles to the quieter Unicorn Theater for Children in London; and from the Tenerife Opera House by Santiago Calatrava to the Guangzhou Opera House, China, by Zaha Hadid. A celebratory study, this book showcases some of the most exhilarating buildings of our time.

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