Architectural Levels, Architecture Article, Design Debate, Property Review

Architectural Levels : Architecture Dialogue

Building Presence Discussion by Nigel Henbury

7 May 2013

Architectural Levels Article

Presence on Many Levels

Firstly, congratulations to e-architect on the milestone of their 200th Newsletter, a tribute to their dedication and the spirit of the world architecture community.

UC Davis Art Museum, California, USA
Design: SO – IL
UC Davis Art Museum Sacramento - Architectural Levels
image from architect

A comment by the chancellor of the UC Davis Art Museum on the winning design by SO – IL said of the scheme “From its curved glass walls to its soaring canopy, it will draw people in, surprise them, and engage them. All who enter this museum will become students again.”

This is a refreshing thought and quite a challenge for the building to deliver on that message, the possibility that the fusion of structure, organisation of space, capture of light and soft landscape can influence the behaviour and thought processes of those who experience the spaces.

To achieve this, a building has to have meaning, to be understood or interpreted by many faceted links between human endeavour, aspiration and physiological existence – a building has to have presence.

Kantana Film and Animation Institute, Thailand
Design: Bangkok Project Studio + Boonserm Premthada
Kantana Film and Animation Institute Thailand
photo : Pirak Anurakyawachon

To be a student once again is to prepare the mind for further education, to feel animated in that quest and so the same fusion is used by Bangkok Project Studio to create their work at the Kantana Film and Animation Institute in Thailand. Brilliantly distinctive use of simple materials, you can almost feel the inspiration coming out of the photographs.

Solid heavy masses, but the possibilities of scents from soft landscape on air gently moving over the surfaces and through the apertures of the walls. This young project already attains a timeless quality, entirely comfortable in its surrounding and inspirational in its presence.

Badel Block, Zagreb, Croatia
Design: Arhimetrija Architects
Badel Block Zagreb
image from architect

Moving into the city I am going to give the Badel Block Competition in Zagreb won by Arhimetrija Architects a chance to attain potential ‘presence’ with the scheme promising a fusion of private and communal space in both ‘vertical architecture’ and soft landscape organised around old city footprints of past uses within the site. The scheme gives the impression that it has a long-term aim for the fabric of the neighbourhood, but the undoubtedly experimental articulation of the street facades put the building on a knife edge between a ‘joy ride’ or the capability to sustain acceptance.

Parkroyal On Pickering, Singapore
Design: WOHA
Parkroyal On Pickering Singapore
photo : Patrick Bingham-Hall

Keeping the city theme, but a different culture, the Parkroyal Hotel and Offices in Singapore by WOHA articulates the threshold between hard construction and soft landscape. This is achieved by ‘fossilising’ curvilinear forms, stratified to adorn structure and then define space at the heart of the building. The effect is mesmeric, bold and original – the spaces have a presence in this intensely urban context, as they can sub – consciously alter state of mind.

Caen Masterplan, France
Design: MVRDV
Caen Masterplan La Grande Mosaique
image : MVRDV

The winning Masterplan for the Presqu’ile de Caen Redevelopment designed by MVRDV features the rebirth of a former industrial river port area. The possibility for the modern cultural city to reclaim access to and use of a site which is an important bridging point and major focal point for the fabric of the city. The opportunity can be regarded as a new heart or lung for the city – a district of hope to have presence of mind in the fusion of the elements of reclamation.

World’s Highest Observation Decks
Worlds Highest Observation Decks - Architectural Levels
photo ©

Finally I guess skyscrapers would be sore at being left out on the subject of ‘presence’, so the world’s top ten by altitude viewing decks are listed this week

Architecture Dialogue article by UK architect Nigel Henbury

Nigel Henbury

Nigel Henbury author of Architectural Levels
Nigel Henbury

Nigel Henbury is a Diploma Graduate of Portsmouth School of Architecture, England. He is also a golf course architect and a Licentiate Member of the Landscape Institute, UK.

Comments on this Architectural Levels article are welcome.

Architecture articles by Nigel Henbury

Material World – 6 Nov 2012

Organic Architecture – 18 Sep 2012

Architectural Growth – 22 May 2012

Skyscraper Building Design – 24 Jan 2012

Cultural and Contextual Identity – 30 Aug 2011

Landscape Architecture

Landscape Architecture

Landscape Architecture Design

Architecture Articles – Selection

Resisting Boredom : article by Joyce Hwang. 25 Jan 2011

Sizing Identities : article by Sergio López-Piñeiro. 11 Jan 2011

Design Narrative : article by Lee Miles – 7 Sep 2010

Comments / photos for the Architectural LevelsArchitecture Article page welcome