Thursday, June 17, 2010

Modern North and Modern Architecture

Modern North by Julie DeckerIt's been a bit since we've talked architecture but a few rather exciting things have happened relative to the subject.

You see here the newly published book, Modern North: Architecture on the Frozen Edge by Julie Decker which gives tours of 34 buildings in northern climates from Alaska to Canada to Finland and back to Alaska.

Why is this interesting? Besides being a gorgeous book on architecture it features three residences designed by Bruce Williams of Black + White Studio Architects who is a master of modern residential architecture and who brilliantly designed our 2009 remodel.

Buser-Chapoton ResidenceIn fact, our remodel is featured in the book on pages 202-205. Woo hoo! I have to say that, to me, this is vastly more exciting than having the casting director of MTV's show Cribs calling to see if we'd be interested in having a film crew drop by (and don't worry, once they realized they were dealing with a house that had a mere two-car garage with aging vehicles and a family that didn't even get cable they were suddenly less interested and never called again).

St. Henry's Ecumenical Art ChapelWhat makes this so exciting is the excellent company we are alongside--you see above the Buser-Chapoton Residence in Big Lake, Alaska designed by Mayer Sattler-Smith where the exterior material is charred wood. Yes, you read that right, charred wood. You'd think that would be odd but not only does it reflect its environment it gives the home a unique and strangely beautiful look--rather like the effect of a sun setting through clouds--and it goes to show what new and bizarre (yet exciting) things are being done in modern architecture.

The kids love flipping through the book and while we were out and about last week Lillian happened to see the BP Energy Center (featured on pages 120-125) and though she was a hundred yards away and it was largely blocked by the trees she saw it and got very excited to recognize the building from "our book."

By far my favorite building featured (besides our own house of course) is St. Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel in Turku, Finland designed by Sanaksenaho Architects. We've stared so many times at the picture you see above that the book tends to naturally open at that page.

The warmth of the wood, the upward sweep of the walls, the graceful curve of the lines, the beauty of the light and absence of distractions all make it a place where one would truly be ready to worship. Now I'm not saying I'd like to sit for two hours on one of those benches, but I bet I'd find a harder time falling asleep in church with a view like that.

St. Henry's Ecumenical Art ChapelFrom the outside it looks like the hull of a ship rising from the ocean (perhaps a metaphorical ark?) and it just goes to show what beauty can be achieved when creative people combine with brave souls not afraid to build a structure that doesn't look like the box next door.

So if you have $32 to burn I suggest checking the book out (and they didn't even pay me to say that), especially if you live somewhere cold and are interested in modern residential architecture.

And if you'd like to see more of the genius of our own Anchorage architects you ought to the Black + White Studio Architects site which my dear husband Andrew recently redesigned as it features completed projects (such as our house) but some others that are in progress such as a house that is being built in Hawaii on a black and desolate lava field.

And if you delve deeply into the site you'll find their mission statement which is presented as a video clip in a rather unique way. Do those lips look familiar? I'll give you a wild guess as to who provided that mouth.

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Robin said...

That is SO cool! Well done to Black + White and to you for having the vision to let them do it.

And yes, that chapel is absolutely ouststanding in its simplicity.

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Kim said...

Very cool! Those are some great pics—the buildings must be amazing. I think that I will write a book called "Sloppy North and Rundown Architecture" and feature my house.

Daisy said...

Cribs wanted you? Wow. The only cable show that's ever contact me was W ife Swap. Yes, I hit delete right away - after laughing out loud.

Teresa Hirst said...

I'm so jealous. We've never made a book, but your remodel really deserves it. On another note, I've been to Turku with my 1/2 Finnish architect husband, but we haven't been to that chapel. But we saw many beautiful places there. Finniah design is in our blood and it inspires us as well.

designHER Momma said...

as an interior designer, I can only hope/pray/beg that my crib be featured in anything. some day, maybe someday...

Traveler said...

Gorgeous photos! Wonderful chapel!