Venice

Enduring Scarpa

During a recent trip to Italy, I finally visited Carlo Scarpa’s Brion Tomb. The quality of off form concrete achieved in this monument in the small country town of Altivole reminds us why Italians were dubbed as the best concrete craftsmen of the modern era.

Hanoi

Historic Hanoi

As development progresses at a rapid rate in Hanoi, the city’s heritage buildings are fighting demolition. The juxtaposition between old and new is not always successful, but in this example, the glass box neighbour to the heritage facade is complimentary.

Taktsang

The happiest place on earth

Have you been wondering why the news page of our website has not been updated in a while? Well, our Instagram feed has been keeping me busy along with a recent trip to mystical Bhutan. Takstang is Bhutan’s most famous temple and simply breathtaking (physically and spiritually). To see more photos of my amazing trip, please follow KOANDCOARCHITECTURE on Instagram by clicking the logo at bottom of the page.

AucklandWaterfront

An ode to lighting

Illumination of buildings can transform spaces from uninviting to inspiring, as is evident in the industrial/entertainment area at Auckland Harbour. Like many of the world’s harbours, the ViaDuct has become a hub of commercial activity, entertainment, culture, fine dining and boutique residences, quite akin in many ways to our own Woolloomooloo.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Postcard from Brasilia

Brasilia’s poster child, Niemeyer’s Catedral Metropolitana¬†was as elegant as I had expected, but smaller than I anticipated. Nicknamed the “lamb rack roast” by my patient, non architect husband, the quality of light inside the cathedral was exquisite and the double glazing provides much needed respite from the heat of the Brasilia sun shine. Like many of Niemeyer’s public buildings, the main occupied space within the building is actually located underground, allowing the roof structure to become the landmark.

Itamaraty Palace 1

Stairway to heaven

The phrase “it can’t be done” were clearly never uttered to Oscar Niemeyer, or perhaps he chose to ignore those skeptics. Located in the main hall of Palacio Itamaraty, this staircase is one of the most spectacular pieces of engineering and craftsmanship I have ever seen. I am truly inspired to reach to the heavens.

Itamaraty Palace 2

Niemeyer gazing

On a recent trip to Brazil to Neymar gaze, I found myself Niemeyer gazing instead. Whilst the Brazilian football team has two talents players named “Oscar” and “Neymar”, it is the late Oscar Niemeyer who is one of Brazil’s true heroes. A exemplar of true modernism, Palacio Itamaraty is one of Niemeyer’s greatest achievements. The concrete structure appears delicate and lightweight and the integration of landscape and interiors is breathtaking.

CommonwealthPlace

Building as landscape

Our nation’s capital has some of the most elegant examples of public architecture in Australia. Commonwealth Place, designed by Durbach Block Jaggers in 2002 is a timeless example of building as landscape. Robust, beautifully detailed and timeless, the building grows from the banks of Lake Burley Griffin to frame Parliament House beyond.

CalatravaBuenosAires

Global context

I recently read an article which raised an interesting point that globalization can have a negative impact on cultural context. Many ‘starchitects’ (famous architects with rock star appeal) like Santiago Calatrava leave their mark on cities around the world, often without taking specific cultural cues from the city itself. This bridge, which is trademark Calatrava, is elegant, refined and structurally inspiring but where is it? (Hint: the city is famous for Eva Peron)

Sacsayhuaman

A stonemason’s dream

Most people would think of Machu Picchu when asked about ancient architecture in Peru, however Sacsayhuaman predates the Inca civilization. The complex an amazing example of engineering and stonemason skill. Located on the outskirts of Cuzco, the atmosphere is mesmerizing for its craftsmanship, its commanding location overlooking the ancient city and the Andes and the occasional visiting llama.