‘Sleeping districts’ of Moscow, Plattenbauten of East Berlin, modernist estates of Warsaw, Kyiv`s Brezhnevki: although these are home to the vast majority of city dwellers, post-war suburbs of central and eastern Europe have been invisible for decades.
Modernist: The Latest Architecture and News
In the next chapter of his ongoing Urban Geometry project, self-taught Spanish photographer Andres Gallardo captures the elements of color, form, and materiality of post-war architecture in Berlin. This photo series, with installments featuring the modern marvels of Beijing, Seoul, Copenhagen, and Tallinn, among other cities, has become representative of Gallardo's personal growth from his humble start in his career as a professional photographer.
It was an early morning in Chelsea, and men in suits were standing around the street, ushering in guests into a dark, 12,000 square-foot exhibition space at the XI gallery. Inside, the room was lit by a centerpiece installation of the New York City skyline, sprawling upwards towards the ceiling with its reflection. Bjarke Ingels was going to unveil new plans for The XI (‘The Eleventh’), a pair of twisting towers set between 17th and 18th Streets and 10th and 11th Avenue. Es Devlin, a British artist who has stage-designed for Beyoncé and Katy Perry, was tapped by HFZ Capital Group to create three installations to present the project.
In the gallery, Bjarke Ingels's work is seen through a sculptural map of Manhattan constructed within a 30-foot wide concave hemisphere (Egg); a pair of illuminated towers gently rotating upon shimmering water (Dance); and a 360-degree film strip of Ingels and his sketches scrolling across a horseshoe-shaped room (Paper, Stone, Glass, Water).
“Evolution in constant motion,” Es Devlin told reporters as she gestured towards the curves of the dancing towers.
Bjarke laughed. “I’ll bring it down to pragmatism.”
Cloistered by a protective shell of stone, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is one of the world’s foremost collections of rare manuscripts. Opened in 1963, the library is renowned for its translucent marble façade and the world-renowned glass book tower sheltered within – a dramatic arrangement resulting from the particular requirements of a repository for literary artifacts. This unique design, very much in the Modernist lineage but in contrast to the revivalist styles of the rest of Yale’s campus, has only become appreciated thanks to the passage of time; the same bold choices which are now celebrated were once seen as a cause for contempt and outrage.
Visiting architectural masterpieces by the greats can often feel like a pilgrimage of sorts, especially when they are far away and hard to find. Not everyone takes the time to visit these buildings when traveling, which makes getting there all the more special. With weird opening hours, hard-to-reach locations and elusive tours we thought we’d show a selection from our archives of masterpieces (modernist to contemporary) and what it takes to make it through their doors. Don’t forget your camera!
The "architectural pilgrimage" is much more than just everyday tourism. Studying and admiring a building through text and images often creates a hunger in architects, thanks to the space between the limitations of 2D representation and the true experience of the building. Seeing a building in person that one has long loved from a distance can become something of a spiritual experience, and architects often plan vacations around favorite or important spaces. But too often, architects become transfixed by a need to visit the same dozen European cities that have come to make up the traveling architect's bucket list.
The list here shares some sites that may not have made your list just yet. Although somewhat less well known than the canonical cities, the architecture of these six cities is sure to hold its ground against the world's best. The locations here make ideal long weekend trips (depending of course on where you are traveling from), although it never hurts to have more than a few days to really become immersed in a city. We have selected a few must-see buildings from each location, but each has even more to offer than what you see here—so don't be afraid to explore!
Once dubbed a “flying saucer,” the Parish (Church) of the Holy Sacrifice is a Modernist expression which embodies the complex colonial history of the Philippines. Located on a university campus in Quezon City (formerly the capital of the nation, now a part of the Metro Manila National Capital Region), the domed concrete church was the product of Filipino architect Leandro Locsin, and of three other national artists who contributed to the building’s interior. Locsin’s design, which combines elements of traditional Filipino architecture with postwar International aesthetics, is a potent symbol of a newly-independent nation following centuries of imperial control.
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.
Join us for another portrayal of one of America’s greatest architects: Richard Neutra. The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat explores how Neutra, considered the “father of California Modern architecture,” came to befriend this modest small-town family and how he was inspired by the site’s stunning desert setting, which Neutra compared with the grandness of the mystical Gobi Desert.
Neither photographs nor renders, all of the images in this post are actually the intricately handcrafted creations of British artist Lucy Williams, a skilled paper-cutter with an incredible amount of patience. Luckily for us architecture fiends, the stars of Williams’ mixed-media works are her 20th century modernist designs. Check out more of her amazing work after the break.