The first thing that struck me about this building was the beautifully proportioned front facade (read my take on composition, here); next, the stratified brickwork – thin linear strips graduating to larger brick sections as the eye travels up the building.
Located in an historical centre but lacking any character of its own, this house also faces the challenge of its narrowness, a 6.5m width. To resolve the problem of getting light in, a series of outdoor spaces create a transition between the rooms, thus becoming rooms themselves. Privacy, solar gain, ventilation and light are all addressed and resolved in one fell swoop. The sequence of spaces also creates a lovely ambiguity about what is an interior and what is an exterior space.
Because the colour and rhythm of the exterior masonry is visible from within, the interior walls are painted white, with just the window reveals left raw. There are simple, pale wood floorboards and an exposed (but beautifully detailed) metal ceiling. Sometimes, the materials are reversed, and the ceiling or walls are lined with wood. The zig zag line of the stair soffit plays against the pattern of the metal ribbed ceiling as it rises up, as well as the rhythm of the wood planks.
A kid’s room contains a single piece of furniture serving all necessary functions – sleeping, reading and storage.
Perfectly proportioned on the outside, simply and beautifully detailed within.
House 1014 by H Arquitectes, via Photographs: Adrià Goula
I think the design of the facade of this bookshop in Sao Paolo is almost perfect. Here’s why:
- The entrance is clearly defined and inviting; comprising pivoting, double-sided bookcases, the scale of the facade is brought down to human scale at the doorway, enticing one in.
- The signage is clear and dynamic.
- The lighting allows it to glitter at night like a jewel box.
- The facade is simple and without unnecessary embellishment; it’s all about what’s going on inside – the books.
- It is made of concrete; to my mind, a wonderful, expressive material with integrity and strength, the most interesting of materials (evidenced by my most-pinned Pinterest board, ‘I love concrete’)
- Composition – it is asymmetrical and follows the ‘one third, two thirds’ rule. The rule of thirds divides a line into roughly 2/3 and 1/3. It is a simplified version of the golden ratio, used in art and architecture to proportion work – especially in the form of the golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio – in the belief that this proportion is aesthetically pleasing. It is also used extensively in photography. I recently attended a photography workshop with the fabulous Emily Quinton (details, here), and this one rule changed the way we shot our photographs. Its use creates a more dynamic composition. Symmetry and balance can be, well, dull, whereas a composition where the elements are placed to one side, adds a tension between the elements and the empty space. It can be applied both horizontally and vertically. The lower third of the bookshop, the opening, could be considered positive, while the upper part is negative. What do you think of this building? Do you like the composition and asymmetry?
More about Livraria de Vila bookshop, São Paulo by Brazilian studio Isay Weinfeld Arquitecto, here
Still life images, owl’s house london.
More good design series, here.