Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Our first stop was the Royal Ontario Museum by Libeskind. I was so eager to see a Libeskind’s building, but felt a bit disappointed when I got there. Maybe I’m no longer strongly attracted by striking forms. The play of form here didn’t invent a new model for exhibition or offer the visitors a new way to experience a museum, almost the same feeling I had when visiting Akron Art Museum by Coop Himmelblau. To me, the only interesting space is the Stair of Wonders which combines the sculptural form with fascinating object display at each level. However, I still want to visit Berlin Jewish Museum since the spatial sequence generates deeper meaning.
Gehry’s new addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario is under construction right now. Unlike his signature sculptural exterior, this building has a simple linear transparent skin while the crazy forms are kept inside.
Ontario College of Art & Design by Will Alsop is such a playful and structurally challenging building. I really hoped to get to the top, unfortunately it closed during the weekend.
Later we walked by the Graduate House by Morphosis and Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building by Norman Foster on Univeristy of Toronto campus, the last two stops of my architectural tour.
After seeing the pictures of all the famous buildings again and again, what caught my eyes are the ‘behind the scenes’ photographs: those captured the construction workers taken by photographer Iwan Baan. These migrant workers should not be forgotten, for they are the people who are building the new Beijing under heavy workload and low wages.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This phenomenon reminds me of the world’s largest restroom, as one of the main structures of a theme park in Chongqing. The building looks like a cheap amusement park castle with 1000 toilets inside. Some of the urinals have fancy shapes such as a crocodile mouth and Virgin Mary. It was the mayor’s decision to make a new attraction or a “culture” out of the toilet. To their satisfaction, the huge restroom entered the Guinness World Record. But I doubt what kind of attraction or culture it will bring to people simply considering the smell of that place.
In the realm of profit-driven capitalism, either the form or function of a familiar space can be replaced. In this case, prison and restroom are transformed into festal space. The degree of being public or private in such space also gets shifted: the jail hotel becomes publicly private; the restroom castle becomes privately public. Is it a new type of heterotopia?
More satirically, the restroom is made of all recycled materials. Perhaps it’ll get LEED certified? Remember the 60-story single-family home being built for the Indian rich is also a green building? Does the idea of sustainability not offer a convenient excuse to build socially controversial buildings today?