Art Galery of Ontario Frank Gehry's Redesign


It is fitting that the 70-year-old Frank Gehry ended up re-envisioning the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) for his native city of Toronto. As a boy, Gehry visited the AGO often, and the effect of those visits on him and his future career was important. Gehry has lived most of his life in the U.S., but the AGO remake allows Toronto to reap some of the benefits of his massive talent before it’s all too late.
One of Gehry’s early sources of career inspiration was the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), known as the father of Scandinavian modernism. The influence of Aalto’s love of gently curving light-color wood, and his clean and airy architectural lines, can be sensed at the newly refurbished AGO. Whether or not Gehry thought of Aalto when he designed the spiraling plywood-faced staircase for the main entry hall is irrelevant, but the feel of the space is decidedly Aalto-esque. To those of us who love the work of both architects, the newly transfigured AGO is simply fabulous.

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Oak Pass Guest by Walker Workshop. Beverly Hills, USA


This two-bedroom guesthouse sits along a ridge in a grove of over 120 coast live oak trees. The building utilizes a small footprint and height to maximize panoramic canyon views while strengthening its connection with the trees below. An existing barn was rehabbed extensively and functions as both a living room and a concert venue for up to 80 guests. The upper floor is clad in fire-resistant wood and has bedrooms at opposite corners of the floating volume.

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The Shed by Richard Peters. Sydney, Australia


Tucked away into an unassuming lane, it’s the type of building you’re accustomed to walking past without noticing. In most old-industrial inner-city suburbs you’ll find these old, rundown sheds that have gone through numerous incarnations but, often, have fallen into disuse.

This particular shed dates back to 1890, when two Irish brothers — Blacksmiths by trade — built the simple structure to house their growing coach building business. Since then, it’s been a motorcycle repair shop, second-hand washing machine warehouse, builder’s workshop and, more recently, an artists’ studio.

Located in the Sydney suburb of Randwick, close to The Spot and in walking distance to Coogee Beach — the location was right. It presented an exciting opportunity to develop a smaller, sustainable and more efficient way to live, while challenging the convention that ʻbigger is betterʼ. But it would take a lot of imagination and a leap of faith to transform this dilapidated shed into a home.

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18th Century Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat Goldhill. London, UK


London studio Liddicoat & Goldhill has remodelled a derelict barn in Kent, England, to create a home featuring mechanically operated doors and a staircase that wraps around a chimney. Named Ancient Party Barn, the house comprises a cluster of 18th-century buildings that once functioned as a threshing barn, dairy and stables for a farm in rural Folkestone.
Architects David Liddicoat and Sophie Goldhill were tasked with transforming the buildings into a home for a couple who are avid collectors of architectural artefacts, and who were looking for a retreat from the city. “Our task was to combine the quality of the surviving barn fragments with the texture and tone of their found materials,” he said.
The structures were in a fairly dilapidated condition, so their original green oak frames has to be dismantled and repaired offsite.
In one of the smaller blocks it was simply reinstalled, but in the main barn some elements had to be replaced with steel beams – although these are disguised behind structurally insulated panels, all fronted by wood.
One of the biggest interventions was the addition of numerous mechanically operated openings, allowing the building to be either securely closed off, or opened up to take advantage of countryside views. These include large shutters intended to evoke the original barn doors, which front an open space at the centre of the barn. One the other side of this space is another set of doors, concealing a large rotating window operated by an adapted chain lift. Elsewhere, the architects have added an “aircraft-hangar door” that concertinas upwards to create a canopy for a terrace.


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Park Avenue Residence by Olson Kundig Architects. New York City.

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From architect, When you take a building that is old and then change it, it can lead to awkward transitions, and we wanted to avoid those while keeping something of the memory of the past, its historical patina, alive. The result is a blending of old and new.The aspiration was to open up the house to the environment as much as possible. Of course in New York you can’t do this as you would in a rural site, but there are still opportunities. Diminishing the barrier between inside and outside is typical of the work we do. The skylight at the top of the stairs embraces the sky above, in all its personalities, and the pivoting family room window opens to the rear terrace. When both of these kinetic elements are open, the house is naturally ventilated. The movable interior living room wall enables the creation of two more intimate spaces or one very large space.

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Restoration in La Cerdenya Spain by Pablo Elorduy


This project takes place in a small village in La Cerdanya, on the north valley side, south oriented the village’s heart consist on 20 houses, surrounded by fields and pastures where farming and agriculture are the main activities. Breathtaking views of the Cadi mountains make of this setting a piece of nature paradise.
Most of the buildings in the village organized enclosing an outside space called the “era”. The village plan shows how the old constructions were built in order to create ensembles of living and working units arranged around exterior enclosed spaces.  Overall they form a grid-like pattern of barns and stables as well as houses.
One set of these buildings consisting on a haystack, a barn, a warehouse, a small dwelling and a “badiu” (traditional backyard), pertained to our client who wished this space to be re-designed and re-arranged to become his home and additional guest areas.

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Retreat Home by Lund Hagem. Norway.


There’s a house by the seaside in Norway – on the rocks. Nestled among the boulders of Sandefjord, on Norway’s south-east coast, Cabin Knapphullet by Lund Hagem was created as an annex to a summer home. But this gorgeous seaside retreat is a place you’ll never want to leave. Not quite 100 SF (30 meters), it has plenty of light and plenty of view and feels much, much larger. Surrounded by weather beaten boulders, the extreme privacy was part of the plan – despite it being a primarily glass house. And the stepped concrete roof? It leads to a viewing platform – concrete stairs to your private deck. Panoramic ocean views make it the perfect place for a sundown drink. Here’s to glorious sunsets on the Norwegian coast.

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