Design for All

Sendai Mediatheque. Photo by Tomio Ohashi The building started shaking at 2:46pm. Books tumbled off shelves, magazine racks teetered and ceiling panels swayed violently back and forth like a drunk trying to reclaim his balance. This was the scene in a YouTube video recorded the seventh floor of the Sendai Mediatheque on March 11, when […]

The Quiet Modernist

Jardine House (right). Photo by See-ming Lee It’s late on a Monday afternoon and James Kinoshita is sitting at home in Hong Kong’s Sai Kung district with his son, Andrew. Overhead is a tile roof that slopes towards a garden of blooming azalea and bougainvillea; just beyond are the placid waters of Port Shelter. James […]

Modernism Debauched

Villa Besnus in 1922 and 2010. Photo compilation by Laurent David Ruamps In 1922, Le Corbusier was hired by a man named George Besnus to build a new house in the Paris suburb of Vaucresson. It was the architect’s first chance to put the Purist ideals he had been toying with to practice: an architecture […]

Obsolete Modernism

You can see the Pekeliling Flats from the platform of the Titiwangsa monorail station, just north of Kuala Lumpur’s city centre. The grounds between each apartment block are unkempt; the flats themselves look ransacked, with doors knocked out of their frames. Though the flats haven’t been abandoned for very long, they are already being reclaimed […]

Le Corbusier Died and Nobody Noticed

On August 27th, the forty-fifth anniversary of the death of Swiss architect Le Corbusier slipped by with nobody noticing. His legacy, however, lives on in cities around the world. His idea was to make things better for people. Getting rid of substandard, unhealthy housing, and separating industry from residential areas was supposed to reform both […]

Postwar Ugly or Postwar Chic?

Calgary has a lot of squat apartment buildings built in the 1950s and 60s. Unlike their counterparts in Vancouver, which tend towards a breezy, pastel-coloured Art Moderne kind of style, these are typically clad in frumpy brown brick. They look cheap and outdated, but I’ve noticed a handful of such buildings that have undergone renovations […]

Posted in: Architecture, Canada by Christopher DeWolf 2 Comments , ,

Modern Madrid

Madrid’s iconography is strictly prewar. Between the gratuitous ornamentation dripping from the buildings lining Gran Via and the interiors of crowded tapas, the city centre appears decked out in full late-19th century regalia, fit for admirers of coattails and opera gloves. Tread out along the boulevards bursting from the city’s heart, however, and Madrid’s palette […]

My Love-Hate Affair With Modernism

I used to hate Montreal’s Place Ville-Marie. I thought it was ugly, overly gigantic and hostile to the city around it. Built on top of an underground shopping mall, it seemed a fitting symbol of the way modernism had turned its back on the streets of the city. But then something happened. I. M. Pei’s […]