Saturday, 25 August 2012

Ten Books on Architecture Part 7

My starting point for the ten books in this series has been a book structure to which I have added elements of some aspect or essence of the architect's work and this is particularly relevant with the two book sculptures Le Courbusier and Libeskind.

Around 2002 I made a couple of vellum cube books which contained divisions like chapters inside.
I liked the way they closed down to a complete white cube.  This gave me the idea to use this sort of structure for Le Courbusier, as it reminded me of his white concrete box-like villas (often on stilts).

Le Courbusier was also interested in proportional theory in architecture and saw his Modulor system as a continuation of the tradition from Vitruvius, Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci.  He introduced the modernist open plan and split level floors and made housing more affordable by using simple low cost reinforced concrete and prefabricated construction methods. 

Using heavy 300 gsm Fabriano watercolour paper, I made a box but left the back and lid section free.  The internal construction of the book has been adapted from one of Le Courbusier's internal construction plans.  The pages are like two floors that overlap but create a split level, with one shorter in length than the other, like two mezzanine floors.

As the book closes, the shorter split level floor/page sits above the lower floor/page and then closes into a white cube.

Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin was built in 1989-99 and I think it is one of the most remarkable pieces of architecture.  It takes the shape of a zinc clad dislocated Star of David with a concealed entrance.  His deconstructivist work suggests fragmentation, alienation, disorientation, oppression and is intentionally disturbing. 

For this book I again made a box-like structure with angular slanted ends.  I thought it appropriate to use the skin of a once-living creature - in the first version I used calfskin vellum and this time I used goatskin parchment.  I cut pieces of aluminium shim to size, scored them with an embossing tool and attached them to the parchment.  I cut a jagged opening in the top, slit the aluminium and rounded it under the opening.

The page of text was placed into the bottom of the box and can only be read with great difficulty, either peering through the slash in the top or lifting the bookcover-like flap at the end and peering into the narrow opening of the box.

This brings me to the end of the Ten Books on Architecture.  If you have any questions about materials or techniques that I have used, please ask me.  You can contact me by adding a comment or sending me an email through the contact section of my website.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Ten Books on Architecture Part 6

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was an architect, designer and painter whose major work was influential around the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. His work is a paradox of reduction and enrichment combining the rational with the expressive, and he unified the crisply rectangular with delicate curves. His Glasgow School of Art is considered the first great monument of modern architecture and a fortuitous combination of industrial Glasgow with touches of contemporary Japan.  He utilised the new technologies of central heating and electric light, plate glass and machine-finished timber, yet the decorative elements give it the appearance of hand craftsmanshhip. 

The structure of my book however is based on the design of his cabinets which show his use of reduction and enrichment and the influence of Japan, and which are displayed with the top doors open and look like the shape of a Japanese kimono.

I started with a French door book and cut white PVC to size.

I made the central page of text with lines and grids on it's covers and cut out some of the squares.

I drew some Mackintosh roses (which he often used as stained glass)
and covered with lines with gilding mix

Added gold leaf to suggest the lead lines

The roses were painted the customary Mackintosh pink and the upper lift-out pages of the book were put into place on the PVC, after the folds had been reinforced with Ramieband tape.  They were attached to the book back.

The centre page was put into position over the top page assembly.

and the front covers were attached

The next post will include the last two books in the series, the two book sculptures Le Courbusier and Libeskind.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Ten Books on Architecture Part 5

Suger was not an architect, but the Abbot of St Denis in Paris who was responsible for transforming the old Carolingian Church into the first Gothic cathedral. The architect or designer of this 12th century work is unknown. Suger wrote in one of his books about his 'circular string of chapels, by virtue of which the whole church would shine with the wonderful and uninterrupted light of most luminous windows, pervading the interior beauty'.  I've always been fascinated by the use of stained glass by Suger to create a magical and mystical ambience.   I love to visit St Denis in Paris not only for the wonderful tombs of the Kings and Queens of France, but for the mystical experience of the light from the windows on a sunny day, which transforms the material into the immaterial.

Photo Helen Malone 2011

Photo Helen Malone 2011

For the Suger book, the structure I chose was a tunnel book.  I folded two lenths of Canson paper into concertina spines.

Arched openings were cut out of the pages

A stained glass window was painted on Fabriano water colour paper with gouache.

The book was constructed with the painting at the back and the pages were attached into each fold of the spine on one side, and then the opposite sides were glued.

The concertina on the open side was cut off and glued down and the opposite side left with two extra folds to be filled by two pages inserted at the front of the book

The front and back covers were made and attached to the back panel and the concertina at the front.

The next post will feature Book 5 Mackintosh.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Ten Books on Architecture Part 4

The two books in this post, Pei and Mies Van der Rohe are both made with perspex (plexiglass).

Pei's book was inspired by his pyramid complex which forms the main entrance to the Louvre in Paris.  Some people find this modern structure juxtaposed with the period architecture of the Louvre jarring, but I love it.  The glass and steel structure denies the essential characteristics of the pyramid which are solidity and immutability.

To make the pyramid I cut triangles from perspex.  To cut a sheet of perspex you need a plastic laminate cutter which you use to score the surface of the perspex

I snapped the scored line along the edge of the table

and then cut the triangular pieces

Any sharp edges were smoothed with a file

I used an etching needle to engrave the perspex with the structural pattern of the pyramid 

Holes were drilled into the perspex

The pieces were tied together with fishing line and the paper pages added to the front of the triangles

The structure folds in half to slip into its slipcase

For Mies Van der Rohe's book I used photographs of skyscrapers I took in Chicago in 2005.  The images I used show buildings with other buildings reflected on the surface. This was intended to show the spread of Mies van der Rohe's influence on the building of minimalist steel and glass skyscrapers, as both an architect and an educator at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.  Mies was a pioneer of the skyscraper - he designed one (which was never built) in 1921 for a competition and this foreshadowed his skyscraper designs of the late 40's and 50's.

Perspex pages were cut to size and holes were drilled to tie the sections together.  I used a jig to get the holes in the same place on each sheet, and an old telephone book is a great thing to drill into. 

The double-sided photographs were punched with tiny holes and sandwiched between two sheets of 2 mm thick perspex which would be tied together to form a concertina book.

The next post will feature Book 2 Suger.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Ten Books on Architecture Part 3

Two books based on the Turkish Map Fold, Brunelleschi and Queenslander

Queenslander is a pretty standard multi-paged Turkish Map Fold book.  I chose the structure because in this book I wanted to include floor plans, pictures of a timber old Queensland house being built, a drawing, and to tell how many of these houses were War Service Homes, built for men who had served in WWI. This book tells of one particular house that used to be called Clutha.

I like the way this book looks like a little house when it is closed and I used some wood veneer paper (papier bois) for the covers.

Brunelleschi refers to the dome of Florence Cathedral, which was an outstanding engineering achievement which combined Roman Construction techniques with Gothic rib vaulting principles.

Instead of folding the paper with the cross point in the centre, I folded it off centre


and ended up with a shape like this

which was then cut to the shape I wanted

White PVC ribs/covers were cut to size and the edges were sanded to make them smooth and rounded

and the folded pages were sandwiched and attached one by one between the ribs.

The cathedral and its interior are decorated with green and white marble and I wanted to reflect this in the piece.  I cut circles of green paper which were to be overlaid with circles of white paper containing the texts and cutouts of details from the cathedral and interior of the dome.  These pages were folded into a standard Turkish map fold and the green pages were fitted into place and attached to the book and then the white pages were fitted and attached.

The patterns used for the white cutout sections were things like the opening of the lantern looking upwards, the decorative pattern of arches, and the rectangular green and white marble pattern - shown in perspective, and fitting for  Brunelleschi as he was responsible for formulating the laws of linear perspective.

In the next post I will talk about two perspex books, Mies van der Rohe and Pei.