Secluded behind a screen of tall bamboo shoots in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, the Kings Road House may be considered the first home ever built in the Modernist style. Designed by Rudolf Schindler in 1921, the architect’s use of tilt-slab concrete construction (highly innovative at the time) and an informal studio layout, set it apart from its contemporaries; indeed, the design would set the tone for other Modernist residential design for decades.
Originally built as the headquarters for the Finnish Communist Party, the House of Culture (Kultuuritalo in Finnish) has since established itself as one of Helsinki’s most popular concert venues. Comprising a rectilinear copper office block, a curved brick auditorium, and a long canopy that binds them together, the House of Culture represents the pinnacle of Alvar Aalto’s work with red brick architecture in the 1950s.
Occupying the center of a small farming town in Finland, Säynätsalo’s Town Hall might appear almost too monumental for its context. Designed by Alvar Aalto in 1949, the town hall is a study in opposition: elements of classicism and the monumental blended with modernity and intimacy to form a cohesive new center-point for the community. These and other aspects of the design initially proved somewhat divisive, and the Town Hall has not been without controversy since its inception.
Sitting on the northern bank of Venice's Grand Canal is a great house whose ornately carved marble facade only hints at its original splendor. The Palazzo Santa Sofia—or the Ca D’Oro (House of Gold), as it is also known—is one of the most notable examples of late Venetian Gothic architecture, which combined the existing threads of Gothic, Moorish, and Byzantine architecture into a unique aesthetic that symbolized the Venetian Republic’s cosmopolitan mercantile empire. Built to serve as the grand residence of wealthy Venetian businessman and politician Marin Contarini, the palazzo has seen a number of owners and renovations over its lifetime before ultimately coming to serve as a museum for medieval painting and sculpture.
Since time immemorial, and more recently, humans have wondered what the world looks like from above. This fascination has historically manifested in the plan drawing and aerial photography. In this vein, and using a motorized paraglider, National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz has captured a stunning bird’s-eye view of the ancient city of Ghadames, in Libya.
Chilean architecture, having long stood in the shadow of more established design traditions in Europe and North America, has been catapulted to the forefront of global attention with the news that architect Alejandro Aravena has been named the 41st Pritzker Prize Laureate – the first Chilean to receive the award. He is also the director of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, which focuses on the role of architects in improving the living conditions of people across the globe, especially in cases where scarce resources and the “inertia of reality” stand in the way of progress.
With peaks and valleys echoing the nearby Alps, the vast canopy of the Munich Olympic Stadium has been a local landmark since the opening of the 1972 Olympics for which it was designed. Intended to present a new face for post-war Germany, the stadium—strikingly Modernist in character—was meant to stand in harmony with its surroundings. Despite these modest intentions, however, controversy surrounded the project from its outset, which centered on skyrocketing costs, the erosion of local heritage, and the grim specter of the country’s own recent past.
The decision to hold the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich held considerable political significance for the republic of West Germany. The international spectacle of the Games was one of the nation’s best chances to build a new image for itself.. The fact that the 1936 Olympics at Berlin had been a showcase for the Nazi regime gave the organizers of the Munich games even greater impetus to demonstrate that Germany had consigned that particular era to the past. As a result, and in contrast to the monumental facilities at Berlin, the Olympic site at Munich was to be more modest and subdued.
With its simple geometry and classical arrangement, Stockholm’s Public Library is a difficult building to characterize. Designed by noted Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund during the 1920s, the library is the physical manifestation of a transitionary period in both the rationale of its designer and the shifting values of European architecture. The ultimate result is a deceptively complex synthesis of styles presented in a visually straightforward package: the fading influence of Neoclassicism juxtaposed against the emergence of Rationalism.