Lebanese photographer Serge Najjar notices geometric patterns in his day-to-day surroundings. Based in Beirut, his photographs capture instances of minimalist architecture with an emphasis on symmetry and repetition. But despite its focus on clean designs, his work includes evidence of human inhabitants in these austere edifices. With people peaking out of their doors and windows, the buildings come alive. The people in his work add individuality and quirkiness to his otherwise highly stylized presentation of Beirut, where cultural context is stripped away to highlight the city’s modern, architectural elements.
In 2013, Australian architecture firm Studio505 completed the Lotus Building, a community center set atop an artificial lake in Wujin, China. The city government commissioned the sculptural building to serve as a public park and multi-use space with exhibition and conference rooms that are open to the public. The building extends two stories under water and visitors must enter it from below and ascend to a cathedral-like peek with large windows that allow for plenty of natural light. A creative architectural creation, the Lotus Building is a modern-day landmark in an age when architecture is typically minimalistic and functional.
Interested in the intersection between tech and architecture, interdisciplinary design studio Loop.pH (composed of Mathias Gmachl and Rachel Wingfield) creates interactive, site-specific installations that allow the public to engage with budding technologies and scientific concepts in novel ways. One of their latest works, “Atmeture,” was on view at the Letchworth Fire & Fright Festival, which took place on October 28 through November 6 in Letchworth, UK. “Atmeture” invited viewers to walk through an illuminated, porous tunnel in which fibers inflated and deflated with a breath-like motion. Though a bright, visual spectacle on the outside, the breathing work of art fostered a calming, meditative space in its interior.
Alex Chinneck is frequently praised as an architectural wizard for his unusual interventions, which he creates with the help of engineering experts and legions of volunteers. In 2013, he transformed a multi-story home in Margate, UK into a steep slope that resembled a skate ramp (see our coverage here). Earlier this year, he made Covent Garden’s Market Building levitate, creating the illusion of the 184-year-old edifice floating off its foundation. For his most recent work, Chinneck built a brick house made entirely out of realistic, wax parts for London’s Merge Festival. The piece, titled “A Pound of flesh for 50p,” was put up in early October and left to endure the elements. Over the course of the past few weeks, the house has perplexed passersby as it melted and collapsed. Chinneck recently tweeted a photo of the house in its current state. Take a look at the melting house’s progress below.
Originally built by architect Andre Bloc in 1949, La Maison Bloc is an unusual, geometric house owned by curator and collector Natalie Seroussi. Viewers must enter the dwelling’s sculptural interior through a hidden hollow in its wooded surroundings in Meudon, France. Seroussi has been inviting artists to create architectural interventions and installations in and outside the structure since 2008. Her latest guest artist, Didier Faustino, altered the space with a bright, rust-colored entrance in the shape of a “Pow!” visual onomatopoeia. The outdoor work (which brings a loud, blatant pop culture reference into the quiet forest) leads the way into a sound installation composed of whimpering voices. A neon arrow sign sculpture illuminates the interior, further alluding to comic book imagery.
South African designer Justin Plunkett’s “Con/struct” series has more in common with the digitally-fabricated renderings of speculative architecture than documentary photography, but it illustrates an eerie collision of both formats. The images are built from a combination of photography, 3D modeling and substantial post-production editing, to form street-level perspectives of futuristic urban fantasies.