Monday, June 10, 2013

Airports: They’re about making an entrance!

Madrid-Barajas Airport, Madrid, by Richard Rogers
Richard Rogers’ Madrid-Barajas airport.

Architectural critic Paul Goldberger reckons that airports today are like the great railway terminals of yesteryear: the gateway to the adventure and romance of a new city. In short, it’s all about arrival--something most airports do so poorly.

Where they exist at airports, he says, the more impressive spaces are usually located in the airports' departure halls. Those passengers are rushing to clear security and catch flights and don't have time to appreciate their space. The arrivals hall usually doesn't inspire much.
    "When you arrive, you're shunted to a lower level to baggage claim and go through what feels like a service (exit)," says Goldberger, who regularly flies through New York and New Jersey's bustling but not very beautiful airports.
    Although most airports don't meet his wish for a "grand welcome" -- even the ones he likes -- some architects are designing lovely airports that are worth admiring.
Here are some of the airport designs Goldberger has appreciated or is hankering to see for himself.

Architect Richard Rogers brought beautiful changing colors to Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain. The main terminal's departures area is shown here.
Richard Rogers’ Madrid-Barajas airport, departure area.

Light comes through large skylights into the circulation systems at Madrid-Barajas Airport's check-in and departures area.
Richard Rogers’ Madrid-Barajas airport, check-in and departure.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Coonley House, by Frank Lloyd Wright

Image GalleryBuilt in 1907, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Avery Coonley House went on sale a couple of years ago and sold for nearly US$3 million. More importantly, the sale allowed pictures of the masterpiece in its current state to leak out to the internet.

Image Gallery

It seems that apart from some previous owner having severed the link between the main house and the bedroom wing (which is a very big “apart from”!)  the remaining “main house” is looking in tip-top shape.

Almost as beautiful as the day it was born!

Image Gallery

Architect Garret Eain offers a short overview of the restoration.

This is your way in from the street…

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yes, you can buy Claude Megson’s house…


Now for sale by new owners, here's late architect Claude Megson's own house, perched above tree-clad Dingle Dell in Auckland's St Heliers, with views in the other direction out to Rangitoto and the harbour. A simple looking exterior concealing an awful lot of living within.


Megson took the small, boxy, brick house (right) designed by the architect of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Richard Toy, and transformed it into something magical, something giving the feel of having discovered a particularly poignant tree-filled glade somehow touched by the gods.

Writing about the transformation a few years ago, architectural critic John Dickson said of it, "It is impossible without the process of Megson's imagination to connect the cluster of small, confined rooms of the house as it was to the expansive, multi-levelled, vertical-fissured, spatial-phantasm that it has become."

A new structure was built over the original brick base, with balconies - described by [former Megson student] Andrew [Barrie] as "cages of mesh and steel tube" - projecting from the house out into the treetops… Andrew Barrie says Claude was a world-class architect. "His houses brought a sculptural quality but they were also incredibly tied to the way people live. Usually, it's one or the other and to do both was unusual ... there were few like him."

For Megson a house was a lot more than just a machine for living—the family house for example house should support and enhance family life, celebrating and artistically expressing all its many aspects. 

And English architectural critic Professor Geoffrey Broadbent, writing after a 1992 tour of Claude's Auckland houses had this to say:

"This," I said to myself, "is work of a very high international standard indeed." ...One is constantly struck by the surprise around the corner, the bright shaft of light penetrating from above into the softer glow of the main living spaces -- especially in Megson' own house -- that give his work such very special qualities...
There is an essential "rightness" about Megson's spaces, for pleasant occupation by ordinary, normal human beings. Such things, says Dickson, have gone out of fashion with today's students. Well, so much the worse for the students [and their clients!]. Perhaps it hasn't occurred to them that if they design real spaces for human comfort and pleasure, then even those anguished souls overwhelmed by post-Heideggerian "problematics" about the nature of their existence might, given spaces like Megson's to contemplate that nature of their "Being," come to more positive conclusions! Because that's the point about Megson's spaces; they are life-enhancing.
Broadbent, for once, is exactly right.


Claude built the house for his own family as a classic three-zoned family house: with parents’ realm and childrens’ realm’ linked together through the house’s public realm.  Agent’s photographs suggest the current owners (and vendors) have retained this spatial planning (well expressed in the exterior, as you can see below), but have restored the house and kitchen elements so they are “largely as they were.”


You may buy it through Barfoot & Thompson.


[Photos by Ted Baghurst and Barfoot & Thompson. More pictures here and here.]



Click to enlarge…




















Childrens Realm


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Claude Megson: McMurray Rd townhouse

At present you have three opportunities to buy a home designed by the late Claude Megson, whose homes sometimes didn’t look much from the outside, but at their best created a world for those within that almost seemed to encompass the whole universe.


As British architectural critic Geoffrey Broadbent said of Claude’s work some years ago,

This is work of a very high international standard indeed. ...One is constantly struck by the surprise around the corner, the bright shaft of light penetrating from above into the softer glow of the main living spaces -- especially in Megson' own house – that give his work such very special qualities...
There is an essential "rightness" about Megson's spaces, for pleasant occupation by ordinary, normal human beings.

Consistent with this, and something about which Claude was very proud, once settled in his clients very rarely moved out—as is the case with this home here, where the original owner has lived there for over thirty years!


This  house is a small and almost original 1970s Remuera townhouse, with a later conservatory addition, currently showing at Open Homes.


More photos at Trade Me.


PS: Here’s another one in the same block that was recently renovated:

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