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.
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.
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.
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.
11 of the world’s most striking new buildings this year Architecture has always been an integral part of what gives a destination its unique charm and identity. From ultra-modern museums to preserved historical buildings, there is a wealth of rich and diverse experiences centred around the world of architecture and design. Lonely Planet has rounded up a selection of some of the most unique architecture design in teh world.
Jiunvfeng Study on Mount Tai in China This curved, white pavilion and visitor center perches above Dongximen Village in Shangdong, China, with stunning views of Mount Tai, a sacred place of worship for thousands of years. A coffee shop with tables sits at one end while a bookcase-lined study is at the other. The incredible curved glass wall creates a gigantic viewing platform for guests lucky enough to visit the site.
Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear, Spain The renovation and extension of the headquarters of the Helga de Alvear foundation in Cáceres, Spain was planned by Spanish practice Tuñón Arquitectos. The charming building now has a temporary exhibition hall, library and workshop spaces housed in the Casa Grande where visitors can amble about at their leisure and discover the bright and airy areas.
Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River in China Visitors to the these charming timber-framed boat lodges in Zhejiang province can sit out on the spacious decks and watch the lights play on the water. The design takes inspiration from local traditions, and the five boat rooms are nestled into a canopy of trees. Large windows in the roofs let light into the hotel rooms and guests can even spot birds flying overhead.
The Standard in England This colorful hotel has been built inside the former Camden Town Hall Annexe of King’s Cross, and has 266 rooms, three restaurants, a bar, and even a recording studio. The roof has views across the surrounding area, while some suites have their own terraces complete with outdoor baths. One of the most eye-catching features from the outside is the bright red elevator that makes its way up the side of the brutalist building.
Tanzhaus Zürich in Switzerland Tanzhaus Zürich has been designed as a new public space that invigorates the area along the river Limmat. Under the label Tanzhaus young, the institution hosts dance performances for young audiences and hosts courses for children and young adults. The building has unique triangular windows and modern spaces inside that are used for a number of different activities that serve the community.
Cycling Through Trees in Belgium This 700-meter-long cycle path in Bosland takes visitors in a ring road around a gigantic forest, with a path that is also open and accessible to walkers and joggers. The project is an eye-catching and exciting way to promote outdoor activities and immerse visitors in nature.
Buhais Geology Museum in United Arab Emirates The Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Center has been built on a former seabed in the desert 30-miles south-east of Sharjah, with buildings that resemble fossilized sea urchins. The pods have exhibition spaces, theatres, a café with impressive views of the mountains. As well as taking in the stunning architecture, visitors can see fossils from over 65 million years ago.
Microlibrary Warak Kayu in Indonesia As well as being beautiful on the outside, this small library and community centre in Semarang, Indonesia has a unique hammock style floor made out of netting and a large communal swing. Microlibrary Warak Kayu is a public reading room that has space for events and workshops. The building was created with fun in mind, and visitors can relax on the netted floor with a book.
Mountain House in Mist in China Designed as a revival project for the rural village of Jinhua, Mountain House in Mist is built on stilts and has open spaces for reading, study as well as areas for villagers to relax and drink tea. The creators hope that the building will attract more travelers and tourists as well as young people in the area. The frosted sides of the building let light in during the day and illuminate the surrounding area at dusk.
Saint Hotel in Greece A cluster of former homes and barns in the village of Odi, Santorini have been transformed into this sleek, minimalist hotel. Rooms in the Saint Hotel open up to private terraces and pools, while the property slopes down to a cliff edge. The crisp white walls look clean against the blue sky, and guests can even get some stunning views of the ocean.
Museum and Cultural Forum South Westphalia in Germany Designed by Bez + Kock Architekten, this museum and cultural center has a new bridge structure with a passage that leads to an impressive full-height panoramic window that grants views of the surrounding city. A footpath and walkway runs on the hill below the bridge to a terrace on the museum’s roof.
Born in 1900 in New York City to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler founded the eponymous Eichler Homes, which built more than 11,000 residences concentrated in Northern and Southern California. He worked with leading architects of the day—Anshen & Allen, Oakland & Associates, Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano—to design the distinctive dwellings that are now simply known as Eichlers and still coveted today.
Joseph Eichler not only defined the middle-class home of the mid-century period, but also worked to dismantle racist housing policies.
Joseph Eichler’s name is synonymous with the stylish, mid-century homes that his development company brought to the suburbs of California. His role in fighting for fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, however, is lesser known.
Eichler was not unfamiliar with housing discrimination; at the time, there were developers of suburban communities who refused to sell homes to the Jewish middle class. He believed, however, that if a buyer was qualified, there was no good reason not to sell them a home. “I really do think Joe may have been motivated by discrimination against Jews back in New York,” says Dave Weinstein, features editor at CA-Modern Magazine and the Eichler Network—and overall Eichler expert. “It was common not just in housing, but in society in general.”
Eichler’s son Ned, who worked alongside his father at Eichler Homes, was recorded as saying that the company began selling to Asian Americans as early as 1950 or ’51. The exact date is unclear as the Eichlers never kept statistics on the “racial characteristics of their clients.” However, in the early 1950s, selling to a Black family was a more controversial issue and could be potentially risky for a developer.
According to Ocean Howell, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon who wrote the paper The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949-1974, Eichler’s personal turning point was when he sold a home to Franklin “Frank” Williams. Williams was the lead counsel of the West Coast chapter of the NAACP, a personal acquaintance of Eichler—and also his first Black buyer. “Before that experience, Eichler held egalitarian ideals but was afraid of integrating a tract,” says Howell. “After this moment he began to put those ideals into practice. He began to risk his own position in the pursuit of those ideals.”
Eichler had been concerned about the effect this would have on his business, including financing from the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs. Selling a home to Williams invigorated the Eichlers and propelled them into greater activism in many different arenas. In addition to organizing California’s convention on housing issues and helping to write the state’s fair housing law, the Eichlers consulted with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency and HUD, volunteering to be used as case studies in promotional materials. They also testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Collectively, all of these activities demonstrate that they were doing whatever they possibly could to fight discrimination in housing, and to demonstrate by example that integration would not bring the private housing market crashing down.
Darren Bradley is an architectural photographer and the man behind the popular Instagram account @modarchitecture. He has researched the developer and photographed numerous Eichler homes over the years and recently posted about the following event: In 1955, when the developer sold a home to a Black family in San Rafael’s Terra Linda development, some of the neighbors protested. Eichler responded angrily to their reaction and “went door-to-door personally to confront them and even offered to buy back their homes.” However, no one took Eichler up on his offer, and after the new family moved in, no one sold their homes. “Initially, it wasn’t really a concerted effort or a conscious thing; he just didn’t believe that there should be any sort of restrictions,” says Bradley. “He just became more militant about it as time went on.”
Later, Eichler Homes codified its policy to sell to any qualified homebuyer regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. By 1964, the company had sold 30 to 40 houses to Black buyers, according to accounts from Eichler’s son Ned. This was an “open secret” in the industry; salespeople didn’t advertise the fact, but they didn’t hide it, either.
“I think they were happy to be activists in the policy arena, but they wanted to draw a sharp line between those activities and their development business,” says Howell. It was a delicate balance they were trying to strike. They believed passionately in promoting civil rights, but saw that the best way to do that was to speak in different registers for different audiences. They could speak about justice to the Commission on Civil Rights, but in [the] very conservative business environment [of upper-middle-class, single-family housing], the best way to promote an egalitarian outcome was to quietly demonstrate that integrated housing worked just fine as a business.
So why is it that for the most part, Eichler’s legacy of integration isn’t better known? Eichler homes are lauded for their indoor/outdoor atrium, expansive glazing, warm wood paneling, tongue-and-groove ceilings—an aesthetic that he popularized and brought to mid-century, suburban, middle-class housing. “Most books on Eichler don’t even really talk about it, which I always thought was shocking,” says Bradley. They always focus on the build and the designs, and they sort of touch on the history, but they don’t talk about what a pioneer he was.
Weinstein points out, however, that accounts of Eichler’s progressive policies don’t slip past many diehard Eichler fans: “Among people who live in Eichlers, Joe’s commitment to non-discrimination and his liberal views are very well known. You’d be surprised how often people told me they bought the homes because of that.”
Singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who died in 2003, made a lasting impact on the U.S., and now four artists are working to make sure her legacy lives on by saving her childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.
The home, a three-room, 660-square-foot clapboard pier and beam house, is where Simone—born Eunice Waymon—taught herself to play piano by ear at the age of three. It had been vacant for 20 years, until going on the market in December 2016. That is when artist Adam Pendleton received an email from Laura Hoptman, a curator of contemporary art at The Museum of Modern Art, letting him know that Simone’s childhood home was for sale. When Hoptman mentioned that she had also emailed artist Rashid Johnson, Pendleton had an epiphany. “I had an aha moment and said, ‘Wait a minute, we could purchase this house together. It could be a collective act, a collective gesture.’” With Johnson on board, they recruited artists Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu. “We both agreed that it would be a more meaningful gesture if other artists were involved,” he says. Together the artists purchased the home for $95,000 in March 2017.
An Activist and Musician from the Very Beginning
Nina Simone’s distinctive voice, sultry blend of classical, blues, and gospel music, and penchant for activism have ensured that the artist’s decades-long legacy still endures today. In her childhood home, she developed a love for her piano and experienced racial discrimination that would shape her world view and social activism later in life. Her mother was a devout Methodist preacher, and her father was entrepreneurial (he had worked as an entertainer early in his own life). Though the Great Depression undoubtedly affected the family’s beginnings, they still provided Simone with opportunities to strengthen her passion—and talent—for music.
As a young girl, Simone accompanied her mother’s sermons and the church choir on the piano during services. After hearing Simone, then age 6, accompany the community choir at the Tryon Theater, two women convinced her mother she needed formal piano lessons. One of the women, Mrs. Muriel Mazzanovich, was a local piano teacher. She taught Simone at her house in Tryon for the next four years and organized the Eunice Waymon Fund to raise money for Simone to continue her training after she left for high school.
To thank those who supported the fund, Simone performed her debut recital at the Tryon Library in 1943 at age 11. However, living in a Jim Crow-segregated South, Simone’s parents were forced to give up their seats for white audience members when they arrived at the library. Even then a fierce defender of what she believed to be right, Simone refused to play until her parents were returned to their rightful place in the front row.
Simone’s piano education continued with the aid of the Eunice Waymon Fund, while she attended an all-girls boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina. Following graduation, she moved to New York City in 1950 to attend a summer program at Julliard with plans to apply for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; however, she didn’t receive the scholarship or admittance to Curtis—allegedly due to her race. Simone instead worked odd jobs before returning to music as an accompanist and private teacher. Eventually, she began playing piano and singing at a bar in Atlantic City. There, Simone changed her name, and her career as the High Priestess of Soul took shape.
Much later in her career, Simone returned to Tryon after she had just spent several years living in France and touring Europe. By this point, the artist had built a career, as well as a reputation for expressing her views on civil rights and the racial injustice experienced by African Americans through original songs and covers such as Mississippi Goddam, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, and Four Women.
Simone maintained personal friendships with noted Civil Rights leaders and activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The turbulence of the 1960s, and tragic events such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, motivated her to express her ideas and emotions through explosive live performances and recordings.
Throughout her career, Simone exhibited musical genius that couldn’t be denied or ignored. She spoke and sang about topics like standards of beauty for black women, oppression, and righteous anger motivated by hundreds of years of slavery and systemic racism. She traveled the world and performed for over four decades, often following momentous historic events like the Selma to Montgomery March and Dr. King’s assassination. She was, in short, a motivating figure for audiences around the world.
A New Future for Nina Simone’s Past
Years later, when Simone’s childhood home had long been empty, it was in danger of demolition. Prior rehabilitation efforts were unsuccessful, and the house went up for sale again in 2017. The artists didn’t have an interest just in Simone’s art—they felt that buying, preserving, and restoring the home was itself a political act, particularly in the wake of prominent movements such as Black Lives Matter and the perpetuation of the racial divide in the United States.
Like Simone, each artist finds ways to connect their work to African American identity and history. Pendleton uses language to re-contextualize history through re-appropriated images. Johnson’s work combines “racial and cultural identity, African American history, and mysticism,” according to his biography on Artsy. Gallagher reinterprets advertisements for products targeted towards African Americans. Mehretu creates renderings of urban grids to reexamine cultural definitions of place. The artists plan to apply their collective artistic vision to reinterpret Simone’s home into something that reflects her dynamic, complex legacy, but they cannot do it alone.
With leadership and guidance from the four artists, the National Trust—along with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, and North Carolina African American Heritage Commission—is working to preserve Simone’s Tryon home. The National Trust will develop a rehabilitation plan that aligns with the home’s potential future use; identify future ownership and stewardship models for the site; and create additional protections to ensure that this symbol of Simone’s early life and legacy will endure for generations to come.