In all cities around the world, there are some forms of residual space, forgotten pieces of the urban fabric, remnants of overlapping layers of past development. This land whose conditions make it unsuitable for most types of conventional construction might be a fertile ground for architectural invention. Assigning a new value to vacant corner lots, dead-end alleys and strangely shaped plots opens up a new field of opportunities for inward urban development, expanding available living space and increasing amenities in densely populated cities. The following explores the potential for experiment and urban activation held by urban leftover space.
In 1977, a New York Times article by Carter B. Horsley proclaimed that “Glamorous Glass Bricks Are Booming:” once a “less than first-class” material, it was beginning to gain acceptance among architects in residential and restaurant projects for its translucence, privacy, visual interest, and sense of order. However, following the industry’s brief but widespread use of glass bricks, many now associate the material with outdated 80’s architectural styles, an aesthetic that few seem interested in reviving. Yet pioneering contemporary architects have begun using this unique material in new and distinctly modern ways, whether for sleek and minimalist bathrooms, industrial bars and restaurants, vintage residential windows, or even experimental urban facades. As Horsley stated, it appears that glamorous glass bricks are booming – again.
Kengo Kuma (born 8th August, 1956) is one of the most significant Japanese figures in contemporary architecture. His reinterpretation of traditional Japanese architectural elements for the 21st century has involved serious innovation in uses of natural materials, new ways of thinking about light and lightness and architecture that enhances rather than dominates. His buildings don't attempt to fade into the surroundings through simple gestures, as some current Japanese work does, but instead his architecture attempts to manipulate traditional elements into statement-making architecture that still draws links with the area in which it's built. These high-tech remixes of traditional elements and influences have proved popular across Japan and beyond, and his recent works have begun expanding out of Japan to China and the West.
The private space is usually associated with hiding what goes on inside, allowing people to have certain moments of intimacy. Habitually, bathrooms have been designed for this purpose, reducing openings to a minimum or — sometimes — eliminating them completely.
However, being such an important space within a building, bathrooms have become an object of new exploration for architects. By blurring the limits of privacy — without losing it completely — these spaces are open to the outdoors, allowing the breeze to enter. How does this new experience feel? Check out 30 open bathrooms that play with the feeling of exhibitionism, without fully revealing what is happening inside.
Some restaurants don’t need a review to get attention. You might know them for their longevity, their presence, or even just their advertisements. But most importantly, whether it’s their grand luminous logo, or the building’s prominent architecture and color palette, these franchises are more or less the same (the menu, the music, the interior design…), wherever you are, be it London, Lima, or Lahore.
Recently, however, a few of these places have begun to shift away from the “architectural stamp” that they use in all their branches, hiring design firms to rebrand their restaurants - and by extension, their image. This bespoke approach can result in outposts that are atypically site-specific, understated, and individual. For users, it may be a point of curiosity; a reason to revisit what you think you already know. For the brand, it's an attempt to cater to evolving tastes (culinary and otherwise) without having to alter the core product.
The interior design of a coffee shop can make-or-break an establishment. With an inviting design, you can transform drinking a simple cup of coffee into a wonderful experience. However, when you only have a few square meters and various machines and properties to distribute, finding an efficient configuration is not easy.
To help you make better use of small spaces, below we have gathered a selection of 20 small cafe projects alongside their design drawings.