Designed by Danish architect Sigurd Larsen, the Blå Hus—also called the Blue House—is perched atop a hill in Roskilde, Denmark. From its lofty vantage point, the home peers out over the city’s namesake fjord and medieval center. The upper level of the structure was built on top of a preexisting brick house from the 1950s. A layer of corrugated steel covering the facades and roof works as a climate shield, while also creating the illusion of a towering blue monolith.
The 1,851-square-foot home’s bold color was chosen to blend into the Scandinavian sky, drawing from the moody hues that linger in the region’s thick fog and mist. Inside, the main living areas are spread across two levels.
The “mid” floor features an open kitchen and dining room that leads to a garden and southwest-facing terrace. Another airy, lofted living room sits on the upper level, with a large corner window that overlooks the fjord and cathedral and fills the space with light.
Both of the children’s bedrooms have distinct spatial layouts: One is oriented horizontally with a panoramic window that boasts impressive views, while the other features a vertical, lofted bed and a small window situated at the highest point in the home.
In the episode of “Behind the Scenes”, where the work of visionary artists is showcased and asked about their experiences beyond what is seen by the public, is Nicolás Castagnola: an illustrator, animator, and architect born in Buenos Aires and based in Berlin. Through his illustrations and animations, he brings different meanings to architecture by opening an imaginative field about the infinite possibilities that the built environment can provide.
Victor Delaqua (VD): How would you define your style?
Nicolás Castagnola (NC): Clear lines, slow pace, good times.
VD: What is your favorite building?
NC: The buildings and public spaces where I spent time and developed myself among others. You can actually miss them after some time not being there.
VD: What are the key elements for a great architectural illustration?
NC: I personally appreciate when Illustrations create atmospheres that give Architecture a reason to be there and host them.
VD: Who or what influenced you?
NC: Georges Remi, Edgar Jacobs, Gordon Cullen, Kazuhiko Kato. Comics like Blake & Mortimer, TinTin; and animated series like Lupin or the Pink Panther.
VD: Do you think being an architect helps you to illustrate better?
NC: It is great when it comes to technical and methodological skills. But I also believe in deconstructing some of these tools, so as not to narrow our practice to an only architects´ audience.
VD: How would you describe the work process with architects?
NC: I have worked with Architects for several years, so communication is easy and clear. We share a common language, and some traumas too.
VD: How do you manage through your animations to translate sensations? How do you achieve this expression?
NC: I like telling small stories in a language that everyone can relate to.
Someone looks out the window, a dog walks by, there are some noises in the background.
VD: What would architecture be without human presence?
NC: Animation enhances the importance of this presence: when humans are in motion, architecture loses protagonist but gains meaning.
Designed by Heatherwick Studio, together with landscape architecture firm MNLA, the Little Island project is New York’s newest major public space, showcasing a richly-planted piece of topography above the Hudson River. The design featuring a public park and performance venues reinvents the pier typology into an undulating artificial landscape. After surpassing many hurdles, the eight years in the making project is now open to the public, and the bold design is set to become an icon in New York.
The project reimagines the pier as an experience and designs a structure that would foster a vibrant art, education and community space, creating a distinct performance venue. The offshore structure connected to the shoreline through two doc-like pathways features three outdoor performance spaces: an acoustically-optimized 700-seat amphitheater, a 200-seat spoken word stage, and a flexible venue with a capacity for 3,500 at the center. The project creates a diverse landscape with numerous pathways, viewing platforms and destinations, fostering numerous activities.
The structural columns are a key identity element of the design, which comprises some 132 tulip-like concrete piles that double as planters. Describing the structure, Thomas Heatherwick says, “we were inspired by these piles and the civil engineering required to build structures that can withstand extreme river conditions. Could we make these the heroes of our project, rather than hiding them? The vision that’s been built is based on taking these piles and turning their tops into dramatic planters that fuse together to make a richly-planted undulating landscape.” The project’s engineering consultant Arup used parametric modelling and advanced prefabrication techniques to deliver the complex precast geometry of the “pots”, which were fabricated locally and delivered on-site.
The architecture studio worked with New York-based landscape architecture studio MNLA to design the park, which is home to nearly 400 species of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials. The landscape creates opportunities for different views and creates numerous paths within the park while also fostering biodiversity.
Built in 1947, the pristine three-bedroom home is nestled into a large lot with a backyard pool and guest cottage. A striking midcentury, the home sits tucked away on a gated, oversized lot in the tree-lined Chandler Estates neighborhood. Architect Leonardo Chalupawicz redesigned the home in 1997, and it recently underwent another transformation in 2020 by its current owners, Nicky Buerger, an interior designer and stylist, and Steve Clarke, a creative director at an advertising agency.
For the remodel, the couple sought to “create a serene yet practical environment,” while retaining the original midcentury aesthetic. To optimize natural light, the couple fine-tuned the 2,300-square-foot home with an open, free-flowing layout. Upon arrival, a generous foyer leads to a sun-filled sitting area, and the kitchen and living room lie just around the corner.
Exposed beams span the merged living spaces, complementing the refinished hardwoods and wood-framed French doors that line the back wall in the dining area. Original redwood beams and vintage plywood were repurposed to make new furniture—including bookcases and a bench—to create a connection to the home’s past life.
The home’s three bedrooms are located away from the living areas. The primary bedroom suite offers pool views, a fireplace, dual walk-in closets, and a spa-style bath. The two-and-a-half additional baths are outfitted with designer finishes and original glass blocks that channel daylight.
In the backyard has a lush lawn along with a swimming pool and secluded guest cottage, which features a bedroom, bathroom, and well-equipped kitchenette. By infusing warm, soft textures throughout the property, the cottage has a tranquil, restful space that flows seamlessly from indoors to out.
This is the perfect time for a corss-country roadtrip. To fuel your wanderlust for a driving escape, here are a few funky gas stations you won’t want to miss along the way starting in my home town.
Hat and Boots started out as a gas station in Seattle, WA. The gas station is no longer but the Hat and Boots lives on at Oxbow Park in the Georgetown neighborhood in Seattle. Touted as the largest cowboy hat and boots in America, these pieces of massive rancher apparel made their debut in the 1950s in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood as part of a western-themed gas station called Hat ‘n’ Boots. The 44-foot-wide hat was designed to hold the gas station’s office while the 22-foot-tall boots served as the restrooms.
However, in the mid 1960s, Interstate 5 was built through the city and spurred traffic away from the station. By the ‘80s, the trail looked bleak. When the gas station finally closed in 1988, Hat ‘n’ Boots sank into a period of decay and vandalism. After skateboarders cracked the brim of the hat, it appeared that Hat ‘n’ Boots would finally be put out to pasture.
Georgetown residents, however, were unwilling to let the unique duds ride into the sunset without a fight. The iconic attraction was moved to Georgetown’s Oxbow Park in 2003. The boots were restored in 2005; the hat finally completed in 2010. Plans are currently in the works to turn the hat into an interpretive exhibit brimming with the history of Hat ‘n’ Boots and its importance to the local area.
2. The service station in Ukiah, California, is made from the trunks of giant redwoods. The Redwood Tree Service Station was made from a 1,500 year old tree selected from the coastal redwood forests west of Ukiah. The tree was 250 feet high and 81 feet in circumference at the base when it was chopped down in 1936. It was painstakingly quartered, transported, reassembled, and cabled back together. A roof and canopy were added, then covered with redwood shakes. Two smaller log sections behind the main log became restrooms.
Nicknamed “The Stump” by locals, novel building has always been a popular Redwood Highway tourist stop and shutterbug magnet (that’s the whole point of lugging a massive tree out of the forest to the town). When Richfield merged with another company in 1960 the Redwood Tree became the distributor for Rocket Gasoline: 100-Octane Ethyl! Times and demand changed again, and Jess Rawles bought out Bob Ford in 1962, and in 1972 the Redwood Tree began distributorship of Exxon products.
3. This gas station in Spring Hill, Florida, looks mightily prehistoric. This building will certainly get your attention. Harold’s Auto dinosaur was originally a Sinclair gas station in 1964, inspired by the Sinclair Oil mascot prominently featured in ads and on signs since 1930. Located at 5299 Commercial Way in Spring Hill near Weeki Wachee Springs, it shares a short stretch of Rt. 19 in Spring Hill, Florida with the Pink Dinosaur a few miles South. Dino, an “Apatosaurus”, stands 47 feet tall and is 110 feet long.
4. This gas station on Route 99 in Milwaukie, Oregon, photographed in 1980, was topped with a B-17G bomber named Lacey Lady, which is now being restored by the B-17 Alliance Foundation in Salem, Oregon. In 1947, Art Lacey purchased a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber plane that had been decommissioned when World War II ended. He flew it from Oklahoma to Oregon and then had it mounted on a building at his gas station. The 102-foot wingspan of the plane served as the canopy over the gas pumps.
5. This gas station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photographed in 1977, was inspired by the designs of pagodas. The Wadhams Oil Company gas stations were designed by Alexander Eschweiler. These small, red pagoda roofed stations were built in the Midwest between 1917 and 1930. At one time, there were more than 100 of them but there are only a handful of these buildings left.
One of the last pagoda-style Wadhams Oil and Grease Co. gas stations was moved from its original location at Federal Mfg. Co., 201 W. Walker St., which provided its fourth wall. The 60,000-pound pagoda, built in the 1930s, was jacked up onto a trailer for the move to its new home at 430 S. 2nd St., next to the Reed Street Station tavern.
Designed by Melbourne-based Conrad Architects, this new family home in Los Angeles typifies the practice’s approach to balancing a contemporary and minimal aesthetic with traditional influences. Exhibiting a sense of calm and retreat achieved through the timeless aesthetic and controlled design, the careful selection of materials is based upon their environmental and wellness qualities. This includes a preference for natural materials that showcase integrity and resilience, with colours reflective of natural timbers, stones, linens, plasters, renders and sands. The overall result is a rich and warm interior that portrays a restrained luxury.
One of things I miss the most right now is going to the movies. I’m one of those rare people who would much rather see a movie on the big screen than at home where, for some odd reason, I can never get comfortable enough to sit thorugh an entire movie. I especially miss The Crest Theater in Seattle where all movies are $4 bucks and you get to choose your own candies given they are sold (or used to be sold) by pound. You can pick a “little this and a little that” without spending a lot of money. Plus throw in the best cup of tea for $2 and it was the perfect – great indie film+little candy+tea all for under $10 bucks! Oh those were the days not so very long ago.
So I’m stuck with Netflix, Prime Video and all the other usual suspects. One nice thing about watching online though is being able to go back and watch movies from years past. I am especially fond of the Italian movies lately given I’ve had to cancel my trip Italy 3x in the past 12 months. But that’s another story.
Here are my favorites:
First and formost, I’ll start with my favorite Italian movie – Cinema Paradiso. Cinema Paradiso is a 1988 film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore and is one of my most favorite and cherished movies of all time. It’s a movie about movies and the impact they can have on people, more specifically on a small post-war Sicilian town and its two projectionists.
Cinema Paradiso is a love letter to cinema, a celebration of the movies and to those who cherish them, whether they are simply watchers or creators. The music in this movie is absolutely phenomenal. Scored by Ennio Morricone this film is pillowed in a painfully nostalgic theme song that can bring tears to the strongest souls, young or old.
No matter what age Toto is I can always relate to him and his feelings, I see my younger self. Whether he’s a little boy (or girl) who is enamoured by the cinema or as a lovelorn teenager who abandons his home to pursue his passion and even as an older man who returns to him home after 30 years, I understand and feel his emotions. Every time I’ve watched the film I’m a bit older than last time and understand things a bit better, like why Alfredo wanted Toto to leave his home and never return. Once upon a time I never fully understood why Alfredo would want his best friend to leave him, now I know it’s because he wants to see him thrive and turn his passion into a career, something Alfredo was never able to do.
So, if you are a lover of a film foreign or not, Cinema Paradiso should be your next watch. It’s a fantastic tale of the magic movies can bring to its audiences and how it gave a young boy his entire life. It didn’t drastically change my life, but it’s a constant reminder of how important movies are to those who truly love them.
La Dolce Vita
Directed by Federico Fellini in 1960, with the performance of Marcello Mastroianni, who is a reflection of the Dolce Vita in Rome during the economic boom of the sixties. The Dolce Vita tells, with figurative strength the world of filmmaking, of the scandal, of the sad laziness of the richest people and the religious fanaticism. Marcello Rubini (M. Mastroianni) is a roman tabloid journalist who will guide us during the movie divided into seven episodes because he travels through the Rome of the sixties. He is the main character of the movie who changes and redeems himself at the end of the story. Federico Fellini here represented the thoughts, the attitudes, the trends of Italian which still today are famous for tourists (it is unforgettable the scene between Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain).
8 e mezzo
Another achievement for the couple Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni is 8 e mezzo (1963) where Mastroianni is the alter ego of the director. Guido is a 43-year-old director who is tired of everything, of his work, of his life, of his friends. He wants to make a new film and he decided to build a big circus scaffolding. The film is a mixture of the real and the dreamlike, mirror of Guido’s fears, namely his old age, abandonment, and failure. The circus represents the creativity and relationships with Italian cinema workers, which are an essential part of the made in Italy cinema production.
Once Upon a Time in America
The movie came to the cinema in 1984 with the direction of Sergio Leone. The colossal represents the final evolution of the far west current, which came up after a few years of reflection.The story tells, for forty years, from the 1920s to 1960s, the life of a gangster group in New York. A long, complex, “baroque” movie with detailed stage customs and scenographies. Once Upon a Time in America with Robert De Niro’s performance is a treasure of Made in Italy movie production not only for the direction of Sergio Leone but also for the soundtrack written by the Master Ennio Morricone.
Life is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful is a 1997 Italian comedy-drama film directed by and starring Roberto Benigni. The movie won three Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor for Benigni, the first for a male non-English performance in 1999. This movie will be in the heart of everyone for the sensitivity with which Benigni spoke of the tragedy of the Holocaust, the deportation, and the killing of Jewish during the Second World War.
The Great Beauty
The Great Beauty is a 2013 Italian art drama film co-written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. On the background of Rome, always beautiful but also indifferent, strut the politicians, the high society, actors and artists, the impoverished aristocrats inside a luxurious and sad labyrinth. From his position, the main character, Jep Gambardella ( starring Tony Servillo), watches all oh them; he is a 65 years-old writer, tired of that type of life and he started to reflect on his past, the present, and the future by taking us around Rome, crossing squares, streets, observing glimpse and wonder of an eternal Rome that seems almost surreal.
For French photographer Audrey Bellot, animals have always had a place in her heart. She’s loved dogs ever since she can remember, and she’s even turned her passion for pups into her career. She’s an expert in dog photography, and focuses on showcasing the beauty of the beloved pets by photographing them in stunning landscapes.
Bellot works all over the world, capturing all sorts of dogs in natural settings. Her ever-growing portfolio includes a portrait of Ohana, a Golden Retriever who posed in a field of lavender. There’s also a husky who sits in a moss-covered woodland and a Samoyed who barks into a snowy landscape. For Bellot, it’s important that her photos capture the unique personality of each dog and convey the authentic expressions of dogs in extraordinary natural settings.
As well as capturing the character of her fluffy subjects, Bellot hopes her images will evoke a sense of magic, and remind people how amazing dogs can be choosing combinations of places and dogs that perfectly match both the colors and the atmosphere.
Branimira Ivanova and Desislava Ivanova, the Bulgarian design duo behind Brani & Desi, have well established their signature aesthetic of using bold colors and geometric shapes on every surface. Their design explorations will make you think differently about interior design and might just have you wanting to escape your comfort zone by getting a little more adventurous with your own space. Their latest concept brings a new color palette and design to an apartment space that’s creatively planned out and executed. Pink Lake Breath balances shades of pink, red, blue, and green, with white letting the shapes and colors breathe while remaining dynamic and dramatic.
Pink Lake Breath takes inspiration by lakes that are pink in color with white sand surrounding them, evoking a sense of bliss. Brani & Desi aim to recreate that feeling in order to inspire the inhabitants to find a deep connection within themselves, as philosophers and zen masters often suggest that humans see the world through their inner self making the world a mirror. With color’s ability to enliven us, as well as create a calm mind, the space is bound to conjure up feelings of happiness and contentment.
Architect Michael Hsu designed a modern take on row house living. Clean, modern lines with touches of wood define the newest set of row homes. Hsu’s office focuses on creating livable, neighborhood-oriented urban spaces and has a reputation for their clean, contemporary design.
Once home to Austin’s Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, the redevelopment known as Mueller is a 700-acre mixed-use urban community nearly 15,000 Austin residents call home. With more than 6,200 total residences, the Tilley Row Homes invigorate the street and the quality of the neighborhood with covered porches wrapped in wood unique to each unit. Softened by vegetation, the porches engage passing neighbors while providing privacy and reprieve for the residents within. Each unit’s clean-gabled form is punctuated by prominent west-facing windows with perforated steel surrounds and shutters. In addition to providing visual interest and contrast to the wood, these shutters protect bedrooms from the harsh western sun.
Perforated screens intercept brick walls at exterior intervals and effectively blur the boundary between inside and out. Visible from the front door, a courtyard separates the main house from the garage and apartment above, thus creating a private garden and natural light to penetrate throughout. Each two-story unit provides an open, ground floor living space with large sliding glass doors that allow the lushly planted courtyard to become an extension of the living area.
Two bedrooms and a master suite await upstairs where obscured glazing allows natural light to fill the spaces. Ample windows in the master suite offer views down into the courtyard, while the southernmost unit captures sweeping views of the adjacent pond and golf course. Floor to ceiling windows in the great room and large corner windows in the master bedroom frame the vista of native grasses, birds, and the broad blue Texas sky.