Award winning international architect Alison Brooks to lecture at PI – #BuildWR

Living in Waterloo Region does present gems… very soon, we will be introduced to one of the most important architects in the world. Alison Brooks is lecturing at the PI on July 30th from 7:30 – 10:00 for free – as a part of Building Waterloo Region.

Brooks finished her studies in architecture at the University of Waterloo in 1988 when she soon after moved to the UK to work with Ron Arad. She became a partner in Ron Arad Associates. Brooks established her own practice in London UK in 1996. Showing spectacular design and innovation, she has won several awards.

Being fond of architecture, but not the most educated about the names of the people who create spaces that matter, I had to look into her more. Among the several exquisitely designed spaces I found this:

Alison Brooks - Tribeca

Alison Brooks – Tribeca: from http://www.alisonbrooksarchitects.com/

There is such a challenge in taking on the old, and building around it. The older structures must be respected, and shown in all their beauty. Complicated window casings, interesting roofline, and even flourishing details that matched the aesthetic sensibilities of the time. Brooks takes on an incredible challenge in creating new buildings in a modern aesthetic.

There is the challenge of respecting a pre-existing space with all the voices and histories, but also adding a new voice. Much like any language, the visual language is tricky – relying deeply on metaphors, impressions and cues. It would be so easy to create buildings that ignore their surroundings. The countless cinder-block rectangles in every city speak to this laziness in design. This grouping in Tribeca, however, maybe be in an updated, even avant-garde language, but the voice of the new buildings speak in a common tongue. The older building in the centre is sharply accentuated by buildings of a similar feel. The flourish doesn’t exist in the modern buildings, but their roofline draw attention to the old, showcasing it. The older building is turned into the equivalent of a gemstone in a stunningly tasteful surround – where nothing is garish but all working in harmony.

Beyond building design, Brooks has designed density housing. Using design to focus on healthy lives in dense spaces, Brooks’s spaces receive accolades for being spaces in which grass-roots communities thrive. The neighbourhoods encourage pedestrian movement an interaction between neighbours. The streets are often used for street socials. These are safe, lived-in, and practical spaces designed around the needs of community.

Waterloo Region could use a dose of her design.

Photoblog – Downton Abbey to That Seventies Show: Fashion, architecture and design collide #BuildWR

Street Style

The Waterloo Region Museum (with partners Fashion History Museum) is currently exhibiting Street Style –  focusing on fashion and architecture in the Region of Waterloo. The exhibit is on of the many shows presented as a part of Building Waterloo Region – a festival focusing on architecture and design excellence.

The floor opens with a show film, morphing a dancing from decade to decade, changing the music, fashion and architecture behind them. The style of dance is also made to match the decade of design.

Following is a lineup of mannequins dressed in costume from La Belle Epoque to The Trench.

Compositionally, the exhibit is exquisite, featuring clothing design juxtaposed with architectural design. In spaces that would normally serve as negative space, the gallery wall images of Waterloo Region buildings echo the structure in the costumes themselves. The result is uncanny: a concert of geometries and flourishes orchestrated in symphonic harmony. Even if you are uninterested in women’s fashion or architecture throughout the decades, this exhibit presents some tantalizing eye-candy for the lover of design.

Fabric swatchesThe opposite wall of the exhibit has a timeline, contextualizing women’s fashion, architecture, art movements, world events – drawing parallels between radical changes and design itself. Someone the later leading the former. Also for the tactile types, there are mounted swatches of fabric for the express purpose of touching.

Now wait for it: There are also shoes.

The image below are presented in an order – first are general images of the costumes, second are images of juxtapositions that I found particularly interesting. Finally… there are shoes.

Details down to the complex undergarments

Details down to the complex undergarments

La Belle Epoque etais belle

La Belle Epoque etais belle

Regal coats and bustles

Regal coats and bustles

Trains and geometrics

Trains and geometrics

Glamorous gowns, and hats.  Elaborate design.

Glamorous gowns, and hats. Elaborate design.

Details down to gloves, umbrellas, hats and shoes.

Details down to gloves, umbrellas, hats and shoes.

A last breath of bombastic Edwardian matched with downtown fronts

A breath of bombastic Edwardian matched with downtown fronts

Downtown ladies. Laces, velvets, frills.

Downtown ladies. Laces, velvets, frills.

The Late Edwardian lady - simplicity with stunning detail.

The Late Edwardian lady – simplicity with stunning detail.

Decades of transition. Late Edwardian, First World War to 20s Swinging.

Decades of transition. Late Edwardian, First World War to 20s Swinging. In a few decades, hemlines went up. Emphasis on gender goes down.

Simple 30s Depression to the Second World War working woman.

Simple 30s Depression to the Second World War working woman. I need to re-photograph this one… Apologies for the poor quality. It may be my favourite transition.

Wartime simplicity. Austerity and heavy geometries.

Wartime simplicity. Austerity and heavy geometries.

Forties and Fifties formalities and frivolities.

Forties and Fifties formalities and frivolities.

Clean lines, sharp design.

Clean lines, sharp design.

Lovely late Fifties and Sweet Sixties colours and lengths.

Lovely late Fifties and Sweet Sixties colours and lengths.

60s minidress polyester crimplene and heavy geometrics.

60s minidress polyester crimplene and heavy geometrics.

Patchwork peasant Seventies.

Patchwork peasant Seventies.

The Trench. And a slick silk.

The Trench. And a slick silk.

The following are photographed considering the negative space with the costumed mannequins. 

IMG_20140619_154515 IMG_20140619_154527 IMG_20140619_154609 IMG_20140619_154617 IMG_20140619_154631 IMG_20140619_154659 IMG_20140619_154719 IMG_20140619_154727 IMG_20140619_154743 IMG_20140619_154758 IMG_20140619_154808 IMG_20140619_154821 IMG_20140619_154834 IMG_20140619_154851 IMG_20140619_154933 IMG_20140619_154942

 

And finally… Shoes.

IMG_20140619_154207 IMG_20140619_154040 IMG_20140619_154220 IMG_20140619_154235 IMG_20140619_154307 IMG_20140619_154326 IMG_20140619_154335 IMG_20140619_154312 IMG_20140619_154244 IMG_20140619_154227 IMG_20140619_154156

 

Those of you who made it this far deserve a final treat. Detail from the Late Edwardian lace bodice and the back of the lace Edwardian coat. These is are exquisite pieces.

Late Edwardian Bodice -Lace Detail

Late Edwardian Bodice -Lace Detail

IMG_20140619_153720

Building excellence. Building Waterloo Region.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will notice that I have been raving lately about a new festival this year.

Waterloo Region has a demonstrated excellence in architecture. With several award-winning buildings, to a strong history of reuse and settlement, this Region tends to be more of a gem than how it’s generally perceived. Building Waterloo Region hopes to change this and cast a spotlight on architecture and design excellence through a series of events.

The calendar is ambitious. From walking tours, to a grand list of participating venues, you can engage in the festival for the entire summer. Certainly I have some highlights:

  • First builders is a walking tour that will wind us through the 10,000 years of settlement in Waterloo Region. It culminates with three sites that all have displays about different building styles in the Region focusing on the Longhouse, the traditional settler building, and modern eco-sustainable techniques.
  • Ex Industria is a particular tear at the heartstrings. If you go up to the top floor of Kitchener City Hall – into the cafe, you can see up to a dozen factories in the city centre. Ex Industria is an exhibit that focuses on the industrial development of Waterloo Region using maps, drawings, models and digital reconstructions. This one will be at Design at Riverside/Ideas Exchange.
  • No Small Plans: Award winning buildings in Waterloo Region 1982-2014 will take a look at award-winning buildings in Waterloo Region. The site says it best: “Waterloo Region is home to more major award-winning buildings than any other municipality in Canada save the three largest metropolitan centres: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. This concentration of design excellence is one of the hallmarks of the Region and is increasingly important in maintaining its position as an attractive community with an active culture, a lively urban environment and an excellent quality of life.”

The best things is that you can walk into just about every museum or cultural space in the Region and they will have some offering. The festival will also be bringing speakers and lectures including renown architect, Alison Brooks.

Their calendar features events throughout the summer, including ones for the kids. Even if you don’t try to make it to this festival, you are likely to stumble upon it somewhere. However, I do emphatically recommend getting to their Gaukel Street hub: A Christie Digital projection will feature a special exhibit on the virtual plane – and from what I hear, it will be exceptional.