During the pandemic, we rounded up art that could transport us to another world. We were tired of being trapped inside four walls, so we looked for avenues of imaginative escape. Happily, we found inspiration in video games or TikTok creations. We even cherished hopes of swaying public opinion on that most underrated of the arts, decorative pillow making.
We’ll get around to advancing its noble cause someday, but in this round-up, we’re focused on architecture. It seems like a good time to take a fresh look at buildings, now that we’re back outside them. We still have a taste for the otherworldly, but we are also moved by architecture that awakens us to the wonder of this world, whether by imitating it, reflecting it back to us, or incorporating natural materials.
We think you’ll recognize the building from our cover photo. (It is, after all, the Tower Bridge of London!) So, we have highlighted eight other amazing structures that are futuristic, naturalistic, or difficult to place in just one category.
Finally, our love for video games is being combined with our crippling gambling addiction. Only (half) joking, of course… As the originators of Pong, Atari is a legendary company in the video game industry. They have been responsible for countless school nights in front of the CRT television trying to beat just one more level before succumbing to Mom’s demands to go to sleep.
Now, Atari is bringing that nostalgia to life in the form of a Las Vegas hotel. Partnering with Gensler, a world leading architecture firm, Atari expects this hotel to include “stylized rooms inspired by great science fiction stories … Retro gaming and esports venues, immersive entertainment, mixed reality programming and digital studios.” We can’t wait to check in – although, perhaps not into the Blood: Fresh Supply room…
This one’s for the anti-social members of our readership. We know you’re out there – and for you, dear isolated reader, we recommend what could be your new favorite hideaway. A dramatic, angular dwelling jutting out of a thick Indian forest, Cabin A24 is a one-bedroom exercise in solitude. It was created by DDAA (Dev Desai Architects and Associates), an India-based architectural studio that has designed a series of “tiny homes.” DDAA thinks these prefabricated homes could be the future of human dwellings – and if our future homes will look this good, we hope that DDAA is right.
James Turrell is a renowned American artist known for his surreal experiments with spaces and lighting. All over the world, his works have been recognized for their scale and complexity – but the bulk of his creative career has been devoted to the completion of Roden Crater, a natural crater located outside of Flagstaff, Arizona that Turrell has slowly been transforming into one massive exhibit.
Scrolling through the online gallery, one notices that Crater is architecture at its most experimental. Tight hallways open into massive spaces with ovular holes in the ceiling, allowing viewers to gaze at the sky through a pre-determined window. Colored lighting hidden in the seams of the rooms determines a mood and tone, settling the viewer in to what must feel like the set of a 2001 reboot. Crater is, unfortunately, not yet open to the public. When it is, there will surely be flocks of Turrell fans spilling into the Arizona desert.
Perhaps Glencoe, Illinois is not the first place people think of when discussing architecture destinations. Yet the Writers Theater – a gorgeous, modern visual delight – calls Glencoe home. Built in 2016, the 36,000 square foot theater is constructed out of transparent glass and crisscrossing timber trusses. It was designed to be an open-concept, multipurpose creative space – and the artful design reflects that purpose. According to designer Studio Gang, “[a]t night, the theater glows from within, drawing interest and activity to this important civic and cultural anchor.” Glencoe is just north of Chicago – so if you find yourself in the Windy City, consider a daytrip to see a show.
If we were standing in front of this library, we might almost forget to go inside. The beautiful, modern exterior combines a long rectangular section and rounded elements resembling an open clamshell. The resemblance is intensified because part of the building juts out over a lake. Once we finished gawking in admiration, we would only be more eager to search for the pearl – the book collection.
Reflective outside walls can make it difficult to spot this cabin unless an open door lets you peek inside. Then, you are almost carried away by the impression of looking into a portal to another dimension, one that is simultaneously modern and cozy. Walking inside and closing the door, the house disappears back to its own reality. Meanwhile, those inside will enjoy a view of the surrounding forest, as you can see on architect Tatiana Bilbao’s website.
True to type, we love this orange retro workspace, designed in a way that “encourages innovation and creativity that is especially useful to the creative industries.” It’s on the campus of Arts University Bournemouth, making us wonder if we should apply or plan a trip to Britain. Designed by Sir Peter Cook, the building was completed just this year. We can’t wait to see the art that it will help to inspire while keeping creatives warm and dry.
To cope with seasonal flooding, the Khasi people of northern India build amazing bridges from the living roots of Ficus trees. Although they sound like a fantasy from Lord of the Rings, the bridges are both real and durable, lasting hundreds of years. We learned about them from architect Julia Watson, who gave a TED Talk entitled “How to Build a Resilient Future Using Ancient Wisdom.” When you check it out, you’ll also learn about floating villages, water-purifying fishponds, and more architectural marvels.
And that’s our round-up of awe-inspiring architecture. We hope you enjoyed it – and we intend to keep on providing more recommendations in the coming weeks to keep you motivated as we all recover from some difficult years.
We’ll explore a new category of inspiring works each time out. We are sure to get around to those decorative pillows soon…
Until next time, find some creativity wherever you can, stay safe, and be well. #StandCreative