Wednesday, December 22, 2010

VD Guide X

As a small Christmas gift to everyone out there; here comes the extensive VD Guide X, with 24 projects.

Transfiguration Church - A 22-dome wood church
Birth: 1714
Location: Kizhi Island, Russia
Architect: Unknown
VD says: An extravagance of craftmanship

The Church of the Transfiguration is not heated and is therefore called a summer church and does not hold winter services. Its altar was laid June 6, 1714, as inscribed on the cross located inside the church. This church was built on the site of the old one which was burnt by lightning. The builders names are unknown. A legend tells that the main builder used one axe for the whole construction, which he threw into the lake upon completion with the words "there was not and will be not another one to match it".
The church has 22 domes and with a height of 37 meters is one of the tallest wooden buildings of the Russian North. Its perimeter is 20×29 meters.
The church was built on a hill 4 meters above the Lake Onega level. Its major basic structural unit is a round log of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) about 30 cm in diameter and 3 to 5 meters long. Many thousands of logs were brought for construction from the mainland, a complex logistical task in that time.


Best shopping malls - Nine commercial buildings designed with very strong facade concepts
Birth: 1970-1980
Location: All around USA
Architect: SITE
VD says: Refreshingly unorthodox, especially for that time

Each of these architectural concepts treated the standard "big box" prototype as the subject matter for an art statement. By means of inversion, fragmentation, displacement, distortions of scale, and invasions of nature - these merchandising structures have been used as a means of commentary on the shopping center strip.
The most notably is a tongue-in-cheek structure in Houston, Texas with a severely distressed facade. This building purportedly “appeared in more books on 20th century architecture than photographs of any other modern structure."

See more on YouTube, a documentery split into four parts; 1, 2, 3, 4


Wave Rock - Hard compacted, former sand dunes
Birth: 190 million years ago
Location: Arizona, USA
Architect: Earth
VD says: Well done Earth

The Wave is made of Jurassic-age Navajo Sandstone that is approximately 190 million years old. Scientists who study The Wave say that the old sand dunes turned into hard compacted rock over the ages, calcifying in vertical and horizontal layers.[1] Erosion by wind and rain has created the spectacular landscape which appears now.

The soft sandstone of The Wave is fragile, one needs to walk carefully to not break the small ridges.
A good time for photographing The Wave is the few hours around midday when there are no shadows in the center, although early morning and late afternoon shadows can also make for dramatic photos. After a recent rain storm, numerous pools form which can contain hundreds of tadpoles and fairy shrimp. These pools can be present for several days.


Kowloon Walled City - Worlds most dense place in history
Birth: 11890 Death: 1993
Location: Hong Kong
Architect: Unknown
VD says: A fascinating density

Kowloon Walled City was a densely populated, largely ungoverned settlement in Kowloon, Hong Kong, at one time thought to be the most dense place on the planet. Originally a Chinese military fort, the Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories were leased to Britain in 1898. Its population increased dramatically following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II. From the 1950s to the 1970s, it was controlled by Triads and had high rates of prostitution, gambling, and drug use. In 1987, the Walled City contained 33,000 residents within its 6.5-acre (0.03 km2) borders.

In January 1987, the Hong Kong government announced plans to demolish the Walled City. After an arduous eviction process, demolition began in March 1993 and was completed in April 1994.


Villa Girasole - A house that can rotate on a track
Birth: 1935
Location: Outside Verona, Italy
Architect: Angelo Invernizzi
VD says: Very experimental for its time

Villa Girasole has an upper section that rests on a circular track and follows the sun, 1,500 tons powered by two motors with a total of three horsepower.
The two storied and L shaped house rests on a circular base, which is over 44 meters in diameter. In the middle there is a 42 meters tall turret, a sort of conning tower or lighthouse, which the rotating movement hinges on. A diesel engine pushes the house over three circular tracks where 15 trolleys can slide the 5,000 cubic meters building at a speed of 4 millimeters per second (it takes 9 hours and 20 minutes to rotate fully).
The engineer was thinking of the sun’s path, of a relation with landscape and the space of human’s life. He ventured to hope that the new construction breakthroughs would free mankind from the heaviness of traditional techniques and from the burden of history.
“Without risk there can be no possibility of success” said the architect.


Teotihuacan - A huge pre-Columbian settlement with a strict plan and great pyramids
Birth: 200 BC
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Architect: The Aztec Empire
VD says: Immense place with an impressive layout

Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramidal structures, Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals.
Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. At this time it may have had more than 200,000 inhabitants, placing it among the largest cities of the world in this period.
The city's broad central avenue, called "Avenue of the Dead" is flanked by impressive ceremonial architecture, including the immense Pyramid of the Sun (second largest in the New World after the Great Pyramid of Cholula) and the Pyramid of the Moon. Along the Avenue of the Dead are many smaller talud-tablero platforms. The Aztecs believed they were tombs, inspiring the name of the avenue. Now scholars have established these were ceremonial platforms that were topped with temples.


Dubai Islands - Artificial islands in the shape of palm trees and a world map
Birth: 2001-2015
Location: Dubai
Architect: Nakheel properties
VD says: A land alteration that has never been seen before

The Dubai Islands (The palm trees and The world) are artificial peninsulas constructed of sand dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf. The sand is sprayed by the dredging ships, which are guided by DGPS, onto the required area in a process known as rainbowing because of the arcs in the air when the sand is sprayed.
There are three artificial landmasses looking like palm trees, there are also an archipelago of islands that are created to mimic the earth from above.


Tower of Peace - An unusual monument for peace, made with a special concrete method
Birth: 1970
Location: Tondabayashi, Japan
Architect: Unknown
VD says: Ambitious and Gaudiesque

The PL Peace Tower is 180 meters high and thanks to a low center of gravity (only 12 meters above ground), it can tilt up to 45 degrees and swing back to its original position. This makes it extremely resistant to earthquakes. Its strange but fascinating shape was achieved through the use of shotcrete, spaying concrete onto wire netting.

The tower stands as monument to all the perished souls of war throughout all time. Within the tower is a shrine in which all known names of the lives claimed in human conflict have been recorded on microfilm and stored in a golden container.

Once a year, the Church of Perfect Liberty headquarters is the site of one of the world's largest fireworks show. Every July 6th, the members celebrate the passing of their first founder with what they call the "PL Art of Fireworks". Unlike most fireworks shows which fire around 5,000 shells, the PL show consists of around 25,000 shells fired. During the finale about 7,000 shells are shot off in unison, nearly lighting the entire sky.


Train Churches - Conversion of railroad cars to churches
Birth: Early 20th century
Location: Around Russia
Architect: Russia with the help of railroads
VD says: The idea of shipping out religion is nothing else but brilliant

Russia has a number of churches housed in railway cars. Railway car churches have been around for quite a while, when they were used to reach out to growing settlements and towns via train, instead of investing in building a church. These “Cathedral Cars” slowly moved out, but apparently, they stayed in Russia and are doing well in their own way.
The rail tracks may have moved, and these churches are stationary now.


Walden 7 - Modular social housing that are placed to prevent uniformity and repetition
Birth: 1974
Location: Sant Just Desvern, Barcelona, Spain
Architect: Ricardo Bofill
VD says: A highly complex project that shows on high dedication from the architect

From Mr Bofill's own homepage:
The project of the city in space was eventually able to take shape on a suburban plot formerly occupied by a cement factory. Working to a budget appreciably lower than the norm for subsidized housing at the time, with unusual funding, Walden-7 rose up as a monument and point of reference in this area to the west of Barcelona. The building is composed of 18 towers which are displaced from their base, forming a curve and coming into contact with the neighbouring towers. The result is a vertical labyrinth with seven interconnecting interior courtyards, as far removed as possible from the model of the uniform, repetitive housing block. The considerable area originally devoted to communal uses was reduced to allow an increased number of apartments. These apartments are formed on the basis of one or more 30 m2 (35.8 sq. yards) square modules creating, on different levels, dwellings that range from a studio consisting of a single module to a large, four-module apartment.

Program complex of 446 dwellings, public spaces, meeting rooms, games rooms, bars and shops on the ground floor, and two swimming pools on the flat roof.


State Capitol Bank aka The Bank of the Future - An array of steel poles to attract lightning
Birth: 1964
Location: Oklahoma City, USA
Architect: Bozalis, Bailey, and Roloff
VD says: Optimistic and fun

Originally the flying saucers appeared to hover above the building as seen below. All the glass that made that effect possible also made heating and cooling an expensive proposition. Security concerns also mandated replacement of those windows with solid materials and small square portholes.
It is equipped with a floating air lobby from the main floor to the lower floor, and a cashier to customer TV drive-in banking window.


Nagshe Rostam - Carved out king tombs
Birth: 1000 BC
Location: Outside Persepolis, Iran
Architect: Persian Empire
VD says: Great endeavour!

Four tombs belonging to Achaemenid kings are carved out of the rock face. They are all at a considerable height above the ground.

The tombs are known locally as the 'Persian crosses', after the shape of the facades of the tombs. The site is known as salīb in Arabic, perhaps a corruption of the Persian word chalīpā, "cross". The entrance to each tomb is at the center of each cross, which opens onto to a small chamber, where the king lay in a sarcophagus. The horizontal beam of each of the tomb's facades is believed to be a replica of the entrance of the palace at Persepolis.

One of the tombs is explicitly identified by an accompanying inscription to be the tomb of Darius I (r. 522-486 BC). The other three tombs are believed to be those of Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BC), Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BC), and Darius II (r. 423-404 BC) respectively. A fifth unfinished one might be that of Artaxerxes III, who reigned at the longest two years, but is more likely that of Darius III (r. 336-330 BC), last of the Achaemenid dynasts.

The tombs were looted following the conquest of the Achaemenid empire by Alexander the Great.


Nazi Forest - Different tree species planted in a pattern to reveal itself at autumn
Birth: 1930s
Location: Germany
Architect: Nazis
VD says: Great concept if you can think beyond that they are bad guys

The forest swastika was a patch of larch trees covering 3,600 m2 (4,300 sq yd) area of pine forest near Zernikow, Uckermark district, Brandenburg, in northeastern Germany, carefully arranged to look like a swastika. It was probably planted near the height of Hitler's power, in the 1930s.

is unclear how the trees came to be planted and arranged thus. It has been suggested that it was laid out in 1937 by locals to prove their loyalty after a businessman in the area was denounced and sent to a concentration camp by the Nazi Party for listening to the BBC. Another theory is that a zealous forester convinced local Hitler Youth members to plant the trees in commemoration of Adolf Hitler's birthday.One source maintains it was planted by a warden, either out of support for the Hitler regime, or due to an order from state officials.

For a few weeks every year in the autumn and in the spring, the colour of the larch leaves would change, contrasting with the deep green of the pine forest.The short duration of the effect combined with the fact that the image could only be discerned from the air and the relative scarcity of privately owned aeroplanes in the area meant that the swastika went largely unnoticed after the fall of the Nazi Party. During the subsequent Communist period, Communist authorities reportedly knew of its existence but made no effort to remove it.However, in 1992, the reunified German government ordered aerial surveys of all state-owned land. The photographs were examined by forestry students, who immediately noticed the design.


Nakagin Capsule Hotel - Modular hotel with extremely compact hotel rooms
Birth: 1972
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Architect: Kisho Kurokawa
VD says: Great typology of compact living

The Nakagin Capsule Tower is a mixed-use residential and office tower designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa and located in Shimbashi, Tokyo, Japan.

Completed in 1972, the building is a rare built example of Japanese Metabolism, a movement that became emblematic of Japan's postwar cultural resurgence.The building was the world's first example of capsule architecture built for actual use.
The building is actually composed of two interconnected concrete towers, respectively eleven and thirteen floors, which house 140 prefabricated modules (or "capsules") which are each self-contained units. Each capsule measures 2.3 m × 3.8 m × 2.1 m and functions as a small living or office space. Capsules can be connected and combined to create larger spaces. Each capsule is connected to one of the two main shafts only by four high-tension bolts and is designed to be replaceable. No units have been replaced since the original construction.


Waldspirale - Sculptural residential complex with green roofs
Birth: 1990-2000
Location: Darmstadt, Germany
Architect: Friedensreich Hundertwasser
VD says: Childish and exciting

The Waldspirale is a residential building complex in Darmstadt, Germany, built in the 1990s. The name translates into English as forest spiral, reflecting both the general plan of the building and the fact that it has a green roof. It was designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, planned and implemented by architect Heinz M. Springmann, and constructed by the Bauverein Darmstadt company. The building was completed in 2000.


Maunsell Sea Forts - Fortified towers in the river Thames
Birth: 1940
Location: Outside London, UK
Architect: Guy Maunsell
VD says: A cool typology

The Maunsell Sea Forts were small fortified towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to help defend the United Kingdom. They were named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. The forts were decommissioned in the late 1950s and later used for other activities.


MASP - Museum of Art with a brave structure
Birth: 1968
Location: Sao Paulo
Architect: Lina Bo Bardi
VD says: Great public foyer

The São Paulo Museum of Art (in Portuguese, Museu de Arte de São Paulo, or MASP) is an art museum located on Paulista Avenue in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.[2] It's well-known for its headquarters, a 1968 concrete and glass structure designed by Lina Bo Bardi, whose main body is supported by two lateral beams over a 74 meters freestanding space, considered an landmark of the city and a main symbol of modern Brazilian architecture.


Rapla Administrative Building - A compelling administrative building
Birth: 1977
Location: Rapla, Estonia
Architect: Toomas Rein
VD says: A strange but nice composition of house and landscape

It was difficult to find information on this strange piece of architecture. We found an estonian webpage which we tried to translate, but the result was peculiar.
Link to site:
However, we like the overall design.


Headington Shark - A shark that has crashed head first in the roof of a house
Birth: 1986
Location: Headington, Oxford, UK
Architect: John Buckley
VD says: Rebellious in a stiff environment

The enormous fibre glass shark, created by sculptor John Buckley, was erected on the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in August 1986, designed to express the anger, desperation and impotence of ordinary people in the face of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. It created a storm.

Oxford city council tried to get it taken down on the grounds that it was unsafe. Unfortunately for them, structural engineers gave it the all clear. They then tried to get rid of it on the grounds that it didn’t have planning consent but the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, came out in its favour as a work of art, albeit unconventional. And so it remained.


Santa Maria Presso San Satiro - One of the first Tromp l'oeil's
Birth: 1472
Location: Milano, Italy
Architect: Bramante
VD says: A sublime and fundamental project

The edifice has a nave and two aisles with barrel vault. The nave is surmounted by an emispherical dome at the crossing with the transept. The choir, which had to be truncated due to the presence of a main road, was replaced by Bramante with a painted perspective, realizing in this way one of first examples of trompe l'oeil in history of art.


Camp Topridge Boathouse - A boathouse Birth: 1923
Location: Upper St. Regis Lake, New York, USA
Architect: Ben Muncil
VD says: An interesting

Great camps refer to the grandiose family compounds of cabins that were built in the latter half of the nineteenth century on lakes in the Adirondacks such as Spitfire Lake and Rainbow Lake. The camps were summer homes for the wealthy, where they could relax, host or attend parties, and enjoy the wilderness. In time, however, this was accomplished without leaving the comforts of civilization behind; some great camps even contained a bowling alley or movie theatre.

Camp Topridge was built as the spectacular Adirondack retreat of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune. Constructed in 1923 by local builder, Ben Muncil, the exquisitely designed and massively proportioned main lodge elevated great camp architecture to magnificent new heights. Another masterpiece of Adirondack architecture, also built by Muncil, was the boathouse, which is noted for its extraordinary detailing of tree limbs and roots. From the boathouse, guests were transported up hill to the main lodge on a funicular, or small cable car, one of Topridge's most innovative and luxurious features.
The main boathouse at Topridge, with its curving cedar railings and twig work screens, is one of the major and last examples of the naturalistic rustic tradition.


Tent City - Temporary pilgrimage city
Birth: 1977
Location: Mina, Saudi Arabia
Architect: Walter De Maria
VD says: A stunning sight

Mina is a location situated some 5 kilometres to the east of the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It stands on the road from Mecca's city centre to the Hill of Arafat.

Mina is best known for the role it plays during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, when its tent cities provide temporary accommodation to millions of visiting pilgrims. In the valley of Mina is the Jamarat Bridge, the location of the Stoning of the Devil ritual, performed between sunrise and sunset on the last day of the Hajj. Mina is where Pilgrims would go to stone where the devil was as this is where it is said that Ibrahim stoned the devil that came between him and the command that Allah set him. Most pilgrims at Hajj walk around the Ka'aba 7 times, then visit the Well of Zamzam. Usually they spend their first night in the Valley of Mina. This ritual occurs on the eighth to twelfth day of hajj. At Mina men and women aren't allowed to sleep together.


Alberobello - A trulli village
Birth: 15th century
Location: Puglia, Italy
Architect: Italians
VD says: Overcoming building regulations is an old art

Alberobello is a small town and comune in the province of Bari, in Puglia, Italy. It has about 11,000 inhabitants and is famous for its unique trulli constructions. The Trulli of Alberobello are part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites list since 1996.

There are many theories behind the origin of the design. One of the more popular theories is that due to high taxation on property the people of Puglia created dry wall constructions so that they could be dismantled when inspectors were in the area.


Wawona Tree Tunnel - A huge tree you could drive through
Birth: 1881 Death: 1969
Location: Yosemite, USA
Architect: Earth and two cutters
VD says: Maybe the coolest tunnel ever made

The Wawona Tree, also known as the Wawona Tunnel Tree, was a famous giant sequoia that stood in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park. It had a height of 69 m and was 27 m in circumference.

A tunnel was cut through the tree in 1881, enlarging an existing fire scar. Two men were paid $75 for the job. The tree had a slight lean, which increased when the tunnel was completed. The tree eventually became a popular tourist attraction. Often travellers would come to have their picture taken either driving through it or standing underneath the tree. Throughout its history thousands of pictures were taken of it by tourists; it was photographed accommodating everything from horse-drawn carriages in the late nineteenth century to automobiles in the 1960s.

The Wawona Tree fell in 1969 under an estimated two-ton load of snow on its crown. The giant sequoia is estimated to have been 2,300 years old.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Visiondivision was specially invited by "Living Architecture" for the competition "A room for London".

The task was to design a temporary hotel room on top of the Queen Elisabeth Hall right next to the Themes River for the Olympic year of 2012. The guests (one or two persons) that book the hotel room should only be able to stay one night each during the Olympic year so we wanted to make that night unforgettable for the visitors. Instead of spending money on expensive hotel services as classy materials and expensive furniture we thought we might put our money on more celestial values. The room became a bed, a toilet and a shower, all in an outdoor scenography consisting of a magic cloud with tame falcons.

When visiting Heaven you receive a remote control, a key, a falconer glove, some meat and a towel. There is also an optional warm coat available for the winter guests.
The bed comes with insulated drapes and heating too.

The proposal was presented in an old fashioned vd manner as you see below.

Some excerpts from the comic;

Commercial poster in the newspaper for Heaven.

Receiving a key and remote control. with the cloud in the back of the picture .

Testing the remote control .

The bed on top of the cloud.

Getting familiar with the falcon.

Plan of the cloud from a falcon's perspective.

Cleaning up and preparing for the new guests.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nature's Choice

Visiondivision got the commission to build a vacation house for two families in the north of Sweden. The plot is situated within a beautiful coastal area that has been included on the world heritage list due to its outstanding land uplift geology which is the most progressive on earth.
The site itself has two levels; the upper one is a patch of beautiful untouched wood and the lower one is a rocky meadow with a rather steep cliff that connects the two plateaus.
Due to plot’s protective status, the family wanted a house that would blend in with the surroundings.
On the site lies also an old bunker which was constructed to prevent a potential invasion from the Russians. The bunker also had to be discreet when built, but used the underground to disguise itself.
We saw three potential alternatives for this site which we wanted to explore; either a wooden house set amidst the forest or a stone house that lies in close connection with the rock outcrops.
There is also a third alternative that is a little bit trickier to achieve; a house that should blend in with two different types of natures.
The three different variations are related to each other when it comes to the layout of the plans and the outer perimeter of custom made bearing pillars that imitates the surrounding nature.

The three variations, wood, stone and mixed, axonometric view

The forest house consists of two mirrored units with a separating wall in the middle that can easily be folded away when having family reunions.
One enters in to a small hallway and thereafter into a kitchen with a dining table and a living room further in to the room.
A fire place stands in the centre along the wall that separates the housing units.
When the wall is folded away, one gets a twice as big living room with a large central fire place.
The columns slant a little bit, becoming somewhat smaller at the top.
They also vary slightly in size to resemble tree trunks. Some of the columns are strictly structural while the bigger also functions as wardrobes and such, especially in the bedrooms.
The result becomes a light and welcoming house that merges with the forest and that is highly flexible with its folding wall.

Forest house, exterior

Forest house, interior

Forest house - axonometric view

Forest house, plans and facade

The boulder house has also two mirrored units with a separating wall in the middle that can be folded away.
Two piles of boulders on the forest plateau conceal two stairs that leads down to each living room. The roof is covered with grass to blend in with the nature.
Taking the stairs down, one faces a fire place as first impression.
When the separating wall is removed the families will get a quite impressing dining area with two fire places flanking the dinner table, a place worthy a medieval king.
The columns are much heavier set than the forest house to mimic the massive boulders on the site.
These pillars are mostly hollow, creating great storage space for the families.
Some of the pillars are also carved out becoming alcoves where one can sit.
The result of this variation is a rustic and homey feel.
The house is almost invisible from the forest and integrates well with the rocky meadow.

Boulder house, exterior

Boulder house, interior

Boulder house, axonometric view

Boulder house, plans and facade

The third house leaves a smaller footprint and has two floors.
The house is also based on our tailored pillar system, wide at its base and slender at its top that also fades from stone to wood.
The columns cause the two stories to become completely different even though they are based on the same plan. With different material treatments on the two levels, we enhance the differences even further.
The heavier set columns on the first floor create a cavernous and comfortable feeling with a lot of niches and a high contrast between dark and light. As with the boulder house, some of the columns are hollow and have various functions like wardrobes, furniture and storage. The flooring is made out of stone and continues out on a terrace overlooking the bay.
The upper floor with the more slender columns blends in with the surrounding tree trunks behind it and have large windows with great views of the scenic cove.
The result becomes an exciting house that has two completely different floors with two completely different perceptions.
One family can for example live on the boulder floor one year and the year after switch to the forest floor.

Mixed house, exterior

Mixed house, close up

Mixed house, axonometric view

Mixed house, plans and facade