Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

by Starre Vartan

The Wieliczka Salt Mine has existed — and been recognized as a marvel — for so long that its famous visitors include Copernicus, Goethe and Chopin. This incredibly unique space was officially recognized as a UNESCO heritage site in 1978 but had been used as a salt mine near Krakow, Poland, since the 13th century.

During the Renaissance, it was one of the biggest businesses in Europe, since salt was recognized as a key ingredient for safe food preservation. The mine continued to produce salt until the late 1990s, but now it’s one of Poland’s main tourist attractions with over a million visitors every year.

It’s pretty obvious why so many flock to see it. This large complex more than 1,000 feet underground is a marvel of centuries of human construction and decoration. The entire mine is over 178 miles long, but only part of that is open to visitors, who can take a two-mile-long tour of the various rooms and artworks.

The oldest art was created by the miners themselves, and in recent years artists and artisans have added to the craftsmanship, sculptures and reliefs throughout the public areas of the mines.

In addition to the chapel pictured at the top of this page, there are many other decorated spaces and tunnels. One chamber’s walls were carved to resemble wood, as churches were built of at the time, while others feature Disney-like recreations of history in the mines.

In the 19th century, huge chandeliers — made of salt crystal, of course — were brought in to fill the spaces with light. There’s even a lake (above) and a grotto (below).

Surprisingly, there’s also a health resort within the mine — the air is said to be beneficial to those who have respiratory issues. You can visit for the day or stay overnight to experience what the website calls “subterraneotherapy.”

Staying overnight in the salt caves could be a unique adventure — accommodations are in the Stable Chamber, which used to be where the horses were kept in the 12th century when horses were used to power salt excavations. According to the resort’s site: “…there is no pollution in which the environment on the surface abounds today; there are no allergens, bacteria and fungi, or harmful electromagnetic radiation, either.” Sounds peaceful, for sure.

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/eco-tourism/blogs/subterranean-polish-city-carved-out-salt

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Compiled by Bored Panda, the list contains everything from a dancing house in Prague and a train station in Lyon to a congress centre in Hangzhou and a research institute in Berlin.

1. Buzludzha, Bulgaria

num-1

2. Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia, USA

3. Mahanakhon Tower, Bangkok, Thailand

num-3


4. Polygone Riviera, France

5. Riverside Museum, Glasgow, UK

6. Catholic Church, Paks, Hungary

7. Former Research Institute for Experimental Medicine, Berlin, Germany

8. Bahnof OFfice in a former Atomic Shelter, Stockholm, Sweden

9. Maison St. Cyr, Brussels, Belgium

10. Fort Alexander (Plague fort), Saint Petersburg, Russia

11. Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral, Clermonr-Ferrand, France

12. Dc Tower I, Vienna, Austria


13. The National Library of Belarus, Minsk, Belarus

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Archaeologists have discovered what may be the original structure built at the pyramid of Kukulkan at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, experts said Wednesday.

Last year, archaeologists using electrical imagining techniques found that the pyramid, which is also known as El Castillo, was built atop a subterranean river, or a cenote.

Archaeologists have long known that a smaller pyramid is encapsulated underneath the visible temple.

Researchers said Wednesday that they had detected an even smaller structure inside the other two structures. Using what is called tri-dimensional electric resistivity tomography, or “ERT-3D,” they found a 10-metre tall structure within the 20-metre tall ‘intermediate’ pyramid that was covered over by the last construction stage, perhaps around 900 A.D.

Archaeologist Denisse Lorenia Argote said “if we can research this structure in the future it could be important, because it could tell us about the first-period inhabitants” of the site.

Argote, of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, said the first structure may be in the “pure Maya” style from between 500 and 800 A.D.

University of California, San Diego anthropology professor Geoffrey Braswell, who was not involved in the latest project but who has conducted research at Chichen Itza, said the discovery may be new, or may be a structure detected in the 1940s.

Braswell said that while digging into the intermediate-layer pyramid in the 1940s, one archaeologist found a third platform buried within it.

“The tunnel was unstable, so we know very little about this platform,” Braswell wrote. “It appears to be much smaller than the outer two pyramids, and is not perfectly aligned within them.”

The computer image distributed by the researchers also showed un underlying structure not quite aligned with the subsequent layers.

Braswell compared the Kukulkan pyramid to a Russian nesting doll, with each layer encapsulating another. But at the bottom, there may be more than one platform encapsulated.

“To make matters more complicated, ” Braswell wrote, “the third Russian doll moving in may actually be one of a set of several small dolls rattling around inside the same shell. We just do not know. ”

Rene Chavez, a researcher at the National Autonomous University’s Institute of Geophysics, said the early structure appeared to have a staircase and perhaps an altar at the top that may have just been filled in and preserved. The structure has been mapped, but it is not clear whether it will be excavated.

“Given that no one has excavated this structure … it is difficult to say with certitude if it is one of the oldest buildings at the site,” Braswell said. “But this is quite possible.”

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/world/original+pyramid+found+nestled+inside+larger+ones+mayan+ruins/12399722/story.html

By Kate Springer

A tiny scrap of land might not catch your eye.

But to Japanese architect Yasuhiro Yamashita of Atelier Tekuto, there’s nothing more beautiful.

A veteran designer of kyosho jutaku — or micro homes — Yamashita has built more than 300 houses, each uniquely shaped and packed full of personality.

All starkly different, the only thing these homes have in common is their size — Yamashita’s projects start at just 182 square feet.

Demand for small homes in Japan results partly from land scarcity, property prices and taxes, as well as the impending danger posed by the country’s regular earthquakes and typhoons.

But some residents simply prefer a smaller home, seeking a minimalist lifestyle.

“In Japan, there’s a saying (‘tatte hanjo nete ichijo’) that you don’t need more than half a tatami mat to stand and a full mat to sleep,” says Yamashita. “The idea comes from Zen — and a belief that we don’t need more than the fundamentals.”

Of course, the beauty of a well-designed micro home is that it doesn’t appear ‘fundamental’ at all.

Below, Yamashita divulges 10 strategies to make petite properties feel more spacious.

1. Embrace the awkward

“Asymmetrical pieces of land can often be obtained cheaper than others. And it is an architect’s job to work with the land and fulfill the client’s request,” says Yamashita.

“‘Lucky Drops’ — a house in downtown Tokyo — is a good example. It was a leftover scrap of land that was less expensive because of its irregular trapezoid shape. We had to be creative, but the result is beautiful. There’s a saying in Japanese, that the last drop of wine is considered to be lucky. That’s the inspiration.”

2. Build towards the sky

“When you look at an area in 2D, it might seem very small — perhaps the plot is just a few meters wide. But thinking in terms of volume, you can build the home higher and create more space. I try to make the house feel like it’s extending upwards into the sky, so it’s almost like the sky is part of the house. I also build high ceilings, so you don’t feel cramped.”


This Tokyo home, designed by Atelier Tekuto, takes the shape of a polyhedron in order to provide an enormous skylight above the living room.


Aptly named “Framing the Sky,” this Atelier Tekuto home was built on a polygon-shaped site. The architects focused on the relationship between nature and people, by incorporating a large skylight to make the home feel like it was extending upwards into the sky.

3. Incorporate nature

“In Japan, about 70% is mountains and forest and 30% of the land is rather flat, making it more suitable for residences and rice farms. Even so, we are not trying to fight against nature — we’re trying to live along with it. You can see this in the homes we design. Most of our homes incorporate natural materials and large windows to let in lots of natural light.”


A combination of a shop and private home, Wakka incorporates lots of natural touches, such as a small stone garden and a series of sliding doors that offer more alfresco space.


4. Think outside the box

“Instead of traditional square corners, I often cut the edges of the house into triangular shapes. This creates more surface area and more room for windows. There’s always a corner open to the sky. That way, as the sun moves, the home is always filled with natural light.”

Designed by Atelier Tekuto for a family of five, Iron Mask is steel-based house with a unique curving facade that made the most of the site’s shape.

5. Go monochrome

“What you see informs 60% of your perception of a space. Imagine that you’re inside an eggshell, with the same color and texture all over. There’s no real start or finish, no real corners.

It is a visual effect that will make the space expand. I think that the color white makes spaces look larger, but I prefer to use the natural colors of materials rather than painting.”


Designed by Atelier Tekuto for a family of five, Iron Mask is steel-based house with a unique curving facade that made the most of the site’s shape.


The color white can make spaces look larger, but any consistent palette can create a similar effect. Atelier Tekuto often incorporates natural materials and textures rather than painting.

6. Use reflective materials

“To trick the eye, I use polished stainless steel features. They reflect light and make an area seem larger. In ‘Reflection of Mineral,’ for example, I used stainless steel in the kitchen and in the bathroom to make the space feel more expansive.”

An industrial-style home designed by Atelier Tekuto, Wafers makes use of reinforced concrete, steel and highly reflective windows.

7. Hide Storage

“People tend to accumulate a lot of things over time. I want it all to be hidden away, out of sight, so I build a lot of invisible storage inside the house. If you keep the area wide open and uncluttered, then it’s hard for people to really comprehend the size of the space.”

The uncluttered space feels spacious and large, an effect that’s accentuated by floor-to-ceiling windows.


The owner of Cell Bricks, also a designer, requested an “out of the norm” home and Atelier Tekuto delivered. The house has lots of natural storage thanks to the stacked steel-box design, making it functional as well as visually engaging.

8. Stay close to home

“In the 20th century, architecture was meant for the masses, for the general public. Designs and buildings were constructed quickly and economically — all with the same materials and same appearance. We were in an era of globalization and everyone wanted the same thing.

But now, people are looking to their own regions, their own local traditions for inspiration. That’s where design is moving — closer to home.”

Using natural materials such as cedar wood and terrazzo floors, Atelier Tekuto created a nature-inspired abode for a Japanese family.


9. Invent new solutions

“I spend a lot of time developing new materials from what other people consider to be ‘waste.’ I’m like a garbage man. If I find materials that are not commonly used or have been discarded, then I get really excited.

If I can’t find the materials that go along with the structure, then I invent a new one. For example, I was unhappy with the cement used for homes in Japan, so I worked with Tokyo University to develop a new type. Our recyclable Shirasu Cement is made from volcanic ash deposits.”

Two chemists own R Torso C and they specifically requested a concrete design with an eco-friendly approach. Atelier Tekuto set out out to develop a new type of environmentally friendly cement, called Shirashu.

10. Personalize your home

“A few factors affect my designs — the specificities of the land, the way the light hits the property, the neighborhood, and the client’s personal requests. A home is very personal. In ‘Reflection of Mineral,’ the clients wanted a strong, sharp-looking design. From there, I choose materials based on the design, depending on what would be best for the space.”

Atelier Tekuto approached Reflection of Mineral with an open mind. The clients requested a strong design that would be a memorable piece of architecture while providing the maximum amount of livable space.

home 16

Also an architect, the owner of Layers requested a home that could accommodate multiple generations, as well as feature outdoor courtyards and connecting staircases. By using a mix of materials, Atelier Tekuto achieved a unique yet functional design.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/22/architecture/japan-micro-homes/index.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.