The Drawings of Dame Zaha Hadid

One of the world’s most visionary architects died last week. She was only 65. Zaha Hadid’s structures are famous for their use of fragmented geometry, swooping gestures and futuristic style. Iraqi-born Hadid, who had a background in mathematics, studied at the Architectural Association in London. In 2004 she won architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, becoming the first woman to receive the award (and Muslim, no less). She had a profound effect in our field, and opened so many doors for women in architecture. The world has lost one of its leading form makers.

ZahaHadid_Portrait_thesis

Aside from being a remarkable architect, Zaha Hadid was also a fashion, furniture and product designer. (Behind: Malevich’s Tektonik – her 4th-year student design project for a hotel on the Hungerford Bridge over the Thames)

Hadid drew on Russian Suprematism (think painter Kazimir Malevich) to create her own unique language of drawing, painting and building. Exhibitions of her drawings, paintings, reliefs, and installations have toured the world. Her intricate, abstract drawings were means of visualizing her architectural ideas.

The World (89 Degrees)

The World (89 Degrees)

Berlin: Blue Beam, Victoria City Aerial

Berlin: Blue Beam, Victoria City Aerial

Hong Kong: The Peak

Hong Kong: The Peak

Manhattan: A New Calligraphy of Plan

Manhattan: A New Calligraphy of Plan

Weil Am Rhein: Vitra Fire Station

Weil Am Rhein: Vitra Fire Station

Lebbeus Woods, an artist known for his unconventional architectural designs, and a kindred spirit no doubt, discussed Zaha Hadid’s drawings in his blog here.

Her striking and experimental designs were often dismissed as impractical, and at times even “impossible” to build. Until Hadid completed her first built work, the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, in 1994, she was largely considered to be a paper architect. Since then, however, she has proven that her deconstructivist, largely column-free, designs work as buildings and not just as futuristic, theoretical concepts. Below are some of her projects that have been built around the world.

Vitra Fire Station. Photo by Wojtek Gurak.

Vitra Fire Station, Weil Am Rhein. Photo by Wojtek Gurak.

Phaeno Science Center, Wolfsburg. Photo by Werner Huthmacher.

Phaeno Science Center, Wolfsburg. Photo by Werner Huthmacher.

London Aquatics Centre: Olympics Swimming Venue, photo by Hufton+Crow

London Aquatics Centre: Olympics Swimming Venue, photo by Hufton+Crow

The Investcorp Building, University of Oxford. Photo by Luke Hayes.

The Investcorp Building, University of Oxford. Photo by Luke Hayes.

Messner Mountain Museum Corones, South Tyrol, Italy. Photo by Werner Huthmacher.

Messner Mountain Museum Corones, South Tyrol, Italy. Photo by Werner Huthmacher.

Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo by Hufton+Crow.

Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo by Hufton+Crow.

Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo by Helene Binet.

Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo by Helene Binet.

MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome

MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome

Guangzhou Opera House. Photo by Iwan Baan.

Guangzhou Opera House. Photo by Iwan Baan.

Hadid's design for the 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar is currently under construction amid controversy concerning working conditions for labourers.

Hadid’s design for the 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar is currently under construction amid controversy concerning working conditions for labourers.

Vancouver and surroundings

Vancouver_SurreyPublicLibrary

Surrey Public Library (left) and City Hall

Vancouver_SurreyPublicLibrary-3

Surrey is an adjacent district of Vancouver. I visited its Civic Centre recently, which is part of a larger plan to use civic infrastructure as social space. Libraries are an interest of mine; in particular the changing role of libraries and different modalities of engagement within the library e.g. digital learning, makerspaces. [If you’re interested in reading more, you can find an article I wrote on the Toronto Reference Library on Canadian Architect]. The Surrey City Centre Library by Bing Thom Architects is conceived as a series of different height spaces organized around an upward winding central atrium. I like the “living room,” a casual double height reading area -complete with fireplace and rock-shaped soft seating-  next to sweeping windows overlooking a public plaza.

Vancouver_SurreyPublicLibrary-2

Vancouver_SurreyPublicLibrary-4

Stanley Park is a 1000-acre urban park that borders downtown Vancouver. Still densely forested, its trails, beaches, lakes, and recreational facilities attract thousands daily. It is almost entirely surrounded by water – you can follow its 22-kilometre seawall by bike or by blade. This green peninsula in the city is not isolated — walking through Vancouver’s downtown core, it is not difficult to find instances of green and open space. This adds to the city’s human scale.

Vancouver_StanleyPark_Seawall

Vancouver_StanleyPark_Seawall-2

Vancouver_StanleyPark

Vancouver-StanleyPark_totems-2

Vancouver

Vancouver_StanleyPark-4

Vancouver_StanleyPark-3

Vancouver_StanleyPark_pool

Followed by some random Vancouver sights…

Vancouver-6

Vancouver_Highrises_Evening

Vancouver_skyline

Vancouver_Convention-Centre

Vancouver_GranvilleMarket

Vancouver’s Millennium Water Olympic Village – North America’s first LEED Platinum Community – served as the Athletes’ Village for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Formerly an industrial site, it was the catalyst for the revitalization of the surrounding False Creek neighbourhood.

Vancouver_OlympicVillage

Vancouver_OlympicVillage-2

La Ville de Québec

Quebec_City_SCalvet

Quebec_City_SCalvet-13

Quebec_City_SCalvet-3

Quebec_City_SCalvet-12

Quebec_City_SCalvet-5

Guy Levesque crafting another of his extraordinary hand carved molds.

Guy Levesque crafting another of his extraordinary hand carved molds.

Meet Guy Levesque, a rare find. He provides a glimpse into the world of a true artisan. For over 25 years, from his workshop-gallery in the Old Port district of Quebec City, he has brought the medieval art of Venetian mask making to Canada. His influences span Commedia dell’arte, Japanese Noh, to the contemporary. His chosen media are leather and metal, which can also be seen in his unique furniture pieces.

Quebec_City_SCalvet-14

Quebec_City_SCalvet-8

Quebec_City_SCalvet-9

Quebec_City_SCalvet-10

Une tradition québécoise: le tire d'érable (maple taffy)

Une tradition québécoise: le tire d’érable (maple taffy)

Moriyama & Teshima Architects imagine and re-imagine the Toronto Reference Library

This is an article I wrote for Canadian Architect magazine.

Toronto Reference Library, circa 1977. Photo by M&T Architects.

Toronto Reference Library, circa 1977. Photo by M&T Architects.

The Toronto Reference Library (TRL) is the flagship of the world’s busiest urban library system. Occupying over 416,000 square feet, it is a landmark situated adjacent to one of the city’s liveliest intersections—Yonge and Bloor—at the junction of two subway lines. The TRL opened its doors in 1977. Designed by architect Raymond Moriyama, the robust five-storey building was clad in red brick, its mass scaled back by terracing the façade along the diagonal. Bands of mirrored glass suggested an inner world within. The narrow corner entrance, flanked on two sides by a colonnade, drew patrons into the building’s soaring interior. With escalating demands on the library system, the TRL recently completed an extensive five-year phased revitalization led by Moriyama & Teshima Architects, though its cofounder Raymond has since retired.

The renewal of the TRL presented an opportunity to create a library of the future for Torontonians: a technologically advanced public space to meet a growing need for innovation, research and collaboration. Outreach strategies include an expanding range of programming. Here, you can take a workshop, get a flu shot, publish a book, or make a 3D-printed model.

“The key,” says Raymond’s son Ajon Moriyama, who was partner in charge of the revitalization (he has since left the firm), “was creating as much flexibility—physically, operationally and socially—in the space as possible.”

A view of the extensive renovations made to the Toronto Reference Library by Moriyama & Teshima Architects.

A view of the extensive renovations made to the Toronto Reference Library by Moriyama & Teshima Architects.

The building buzzes from top to bottom. It is centred on a vast tiered atrium inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The interiors are bright, airy and uncluttered. Over the last five years, a series of interventions were thoughtfully integrated: a refurbished gallery, a freestanding theatre, a cultural and literary salon seating 600, enhanced spaces for quiet individual study and group work. A double-height rotunda dedicated to special collections reinterprets the romantic feel of old libraries with a distinctly modern material palette of concrete, titanium and dark wood. Each venue provides opportunities for people to meet, interact and exchange ideas.

Special Collections. Image courtesy of the Toronto Reference Library.

Special Collections. Image courtesy of the Toronto Reference Library.

While the TRL’s role as a social gathering place grows, the written word still lies at its core, both in physical and digital form. Over four million items reside on site—novels, periodicals, films and maps. The building employs concealed mezzanines to maximize overall storage capability, amplified through the use of space-saving compact shelves. Open-plan layouts were rezoned for easier self-navigation; stacks were reconfigured to facilitate research. The library continues to explore and adopt emerging technological tools to better monitor collections and support learning and discovery.

Beyond the rows of books and computers are labs and maker spaces—means by which the TRL helps drive digital literacy through experiential learning. Access to laser cutters and audio mixers turns patrons from content consumers into creators.

Toronto Reference Library

Toronto Reference Library, circa 2014.

Toronto Reference Library - Rendering from original proposal. Image courtesy of Unbuilt Toronto 2.

Toronto Reference Library – Rendering from original proposal. Image courtesy of Unbuilt Toronto 2.

The library’s re-envisioned design recalls Raymond Moriyama’s visionary initial design concept of a glass box, which the City dropped in favour of a brick-clad volume. The revitalization provides a more open and transparent interface with the street: a reading lounge invites glimpses in, a bustling café entices passersby. The formerly dark, deep entrance now takes the dynamic form of a rotated glass cube. At night, it appears as a glowing beacon. The building reclaims its corner site, its evolving mix of paper and pixels drawing from—and contributing to—the downtown milieu.

Stephanie Calvet is a Toronto-based architect and writer.

Faux Sunlight

Interior space illuminated by high tech LED skylight from Coelux

CoeLux uses LEDs and nano-materials to create a startling facsimile of sunlight.

Here is a technologically innovative light fixture that simulates the look of sunlight through a skylight. It is made from a material that mimics the light scattering achieved through the Earth’s atmosphere. CoeLux wants to change our experience in spaces cut off from the outside. Different models recreate the warm, grazing light of Northern Europe or the dramatic light of the Tropics. It is currently being used in ‘iceberg homes’ —mega basements for the wealthy in London. But imagine it being used in hospitals, gyms, offices, and carparks. It could have some real impact when the price comes down…

Below is the full article from the blog PetaPixel. Photos by Michael Loos.

Interior space illuminated by high tech LED skylight from Coelux

Accurately mimicking sunlight isn’t just a matter of creating a perfect simulation of the sunlight’s wavelength, but recreating a process called Rayleigh scattering where that light is subtly distorted by atmospheric particles.

There’s an innovative new light technology that’s trying to shake up the way people think about “artificial light.” In Italian company called CoeLux has developed a new light source that recreates the look of sunlight through a skylight so well that it can trick both human brains and cameras.

It’s a high tech LED skylight that’s designed to provide “sunlight” for interior spaces cut off from the outdoors. One of the main ideas behind it is that to create realistic sunlight, you can’t just simulate the sun… you need to recreate the atmosphere as well.

CoeLux turns a basement washroom into a passable alternative to a Mediterranean spa.

A basement washroom transformed into a passable alternative to a Mediterranean spa.

24347_2_coelux2

Interior space illuminated by high tech LED skylight from Coelux

The scientists who invented the light figured out how to use a thin coating of nanoparticles to accurately simulate sunlight through Earth’s atmosphere and the effect known as Rayleigh scattering. It’s not just the color temperature that is the same — the quality of the light feels the same as well.

People who have had a chance to experience the skylight so far have been fooled into believing that there was an actual hole in the ceiling, and the sample photos on the CoeLux website come with a cautionary note: “The photographs on this site are real and unretouched. They are not computer renderings.”

The technology is designed for providing the appearance of sunlight to spaces that could use it (e.g. hospitals, gyms, offices, underground parking structures), but it seems photographers could also make use of it as well for an artificial sunlight source in a studio — especially people who work in places with unpredictable or limited sunlight. However, the price would need to come down first: CoeLux currently costs £40,000 (~$61,000) to buy and up to £5,000 (~$7,600) for installation.

CoeLux says future improvements will include the ability to change the position of the sun in the frame and dynamic color temperature of the sunlight.

coelux-large_0004_Layer-1

The innovation behind CoeLux is a custom nano material that recreates the effects of 6,200 miles of atmosphere into a sheet of plastic just a few millimeters thick.

Wired magazine also has an article on this: A Nanotech Skylight That Looks Just Like The Sun Shining Overhead.