Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Aloof Modernist: Le Corbusier Architecture

Le Corbusier (born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) was one of the most influential designers and architects of the 20th century. Even 47 years after his death on August 27 1965, he is remembered for his contribution to modern architecture because of designs that portrayed a utopian sense of purpose.
Early in his career, Le Corbusier often traveled around Europe. In Paris, he learned about using concrete and reinforced steel in structures; in Berlin, he was taught about industrial processes and machine design. In the Balkans, he obsessed over Greek Parthenon. These experiences would later form an essential part of his designs.
With peers such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Walter Gropius and even Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier developed an idea of architecture that was more focused on function rather than form.
In his words, ' decoration always hides a mistake in construction." The construction of the Villa Savoy, on the outskirts of Paris sums up this belief by incorporating his famous 'Five points of Architecture' which deal with elevated housing, continuity of landscape, free floor plans, illumination and the simplicity of the facade. As he detailed in his book, Towards An Architecture, he believed that a house was " a machine for living"
After World War 1, Le Corbusier became involved in dealing with the rise of slums in post-war Europe by building low cost functional communes for large scale housing. The most famous of these is the united Habitation in Marseilles, also known as 'the Radiant City'. It features 237 apartments with facilities for recreation and leisure encased in block shaped and fortress-like facades dominated by strong vertical and horizontal lines (which subsequently gave rise to the form known as brutalism).
In the 1950s, Le Corbusier tested his ideas on an even grander scales when he was commissioned to plan the city of Chndigarh in India. The city is testament to Le Corbusier's belief in large, functional and spacious block structures with facades of buffeted concrete. The Legislative Assembly building (illustrated above) in particular, with its curved roof edge, has become the counter-piece of the city and representative of what Le Corbusier referred to as his "engineer's aesthetic".

Monday, August 13, 2012

Emerging Architectural Trends in Pakistan

Although most architects in Pakistan would concur that a distinct Pakistani design language is yet to emerge on our skylines, a number of trends over the last decade have resulted in the construction of some outstanding structures.
These include:
Global influence. Architecture in Pakistan has taken on a distinctively global flavor in terms of design and functionality. Consequently, an increasing number of commercial high rises and houses new display straight lines, simple facades and clean finishes, using "no-nonsense" materials such concrete, wood and glass.
Sometimes a combination of these materials is used to create facades with large windows or glass curtain walls.
Old world courtyards. There has been a resurgence of old world havelis, in contemporary homes and even commercial spaces, such as restaurants. Courtyards create private outdoor areas that are centrally located within the structure. They can be used as relaxing sanctuaries or recreational spaces. Special attention is paid to details such as flooring, finishes an landscaping; plants (such as bamboos) are used to create partitions within the courtyard, or a backdrop for water features. Wooden pergolas (usually made of mahogany or teak) are used as accents.
East meets west. While there is a movement towards contemporary architectural elements are deployed equally frequently. For example, sinus-detailed screens, known as jafri, can be seen in many commercial projects against modern backdrops of glass, wood or steel. Regional materials such as reddish terracotta tiles (which are earthy and reminiscent of colonial flooring) and traditional fabrics and textiles are equally visible and serve as edgy design details.
Going green. Green architecture is gaining traction; some solutions to ensure that a structure is environmentally friendly include the appropriation of open spaces for adequate wind flow to allow cross ventilation, roof insulation to keep the interiors cool, the addition of water bodies to create cool spaces and an emphasis on foliage to provide shade. Rainwater harvesting systems are being used in order to facilitate the collection, conservation, and recycling of water.