Residential design, that is. Look what a good architect can do even starting from a bad premise and how a bad architect can waste tremendous amount of money and spoil gorgeous space. One project could be summarized in a word “Grand” vs. another,”Glam Kitsch”.
First, good news.
Matti Rosenshine Architect in Jerusalem, Israel. Mahane Yehuda House, designers Matti Rosenshine and Maria Kondratieva.
The project demonstrates carefully thought-out design components that come into harmonious whole. Excellent spatial reconfiguration of what was originally a concoction of chicken-coops, dark and tiny. Witty space planning. Clever citation from historical and contemporary architectural vocabulary. Economic use of materials and furnishings, to better accentuate truly wonderful historic architectural details. Sparse use of color to reflect ages-old middle-eastern environmental context outside.
As a designer I can appreciate things that only look simple but in fact require a lot of dedicated work to achieve: painstaking details creating ease of movement in small spaces: look at that elegantly executed stair.
Or logical passage from area to area following natural lifestyle progression of inhabitants – that high-ceiling, almost ceremonial front room, with its ancient columns and arches connected to serene outdoor courtyard, to a modern sleek kitchen and to more intimate library, with Baroque trick of mirroring double arched exterior window onto interior dividing wall. Or wonderful use of daylighting: architects lowered windows to distribute light into cellar guestroom suite
Most importantly – and what shows the mastery – they did all these technical miracles while maintaining simultaneously a sense of comfort and mystery: every new turn, every vista has some sort of focal point, an element of surprise. Note proportions; note economic use of furniture – only carefully selected pieces that do not take too much attention away from architecture. Note also how tastefully designers balance textured (roughly honed Jerusalem stone), neutral bleached wood and smooth sparkling materials (glass).
I can expand on great design seen at every photograph at the link as if I’ve been there myself. Excellent, model work.
And now, for contrast, see example of what now passes for Russian Glamor interior design : an apartment in Malaga, Spain by nameless Russian “architect to nouveau riche” Karandash6000 (“Pencil”) that I came across @ LJ.
Technically complicated, conceptually cold and inhuman, all-for-show, not a thought of connecting to environment behind the windows, not a thought of convenience and comforts of life for his clients.
Worst of all – form does not follow function. Why the walls curve? Why the ceiling element stops where it does? Form for the sake of itself, it carries no function. What strategy is employed at lighting plan? Why the back glass wall lit from above – there are no objects to lit, no element of interest or function. Daylight comes from windows on both sides of the apartment – but the glass wall is not used to simultaneously separate spaces while allowing light into the core – it is just a decorative surface. The space planning is odd, to put mildly. Sofa is smack right in the middle, dividing circulation into two, for no reason: there is nothing to do behind it and too much space in front of it; it is forming a huge black blob in otherwise light finishes’ space – but what it brings attention to? To the fact that designer proposes guests (up to 10 people) to be seated as if in dentist’s waiting room, side-to-side, all facing the real focal point of the whole apartment: the TV screen! First-year students in American design schools learn that residential seating group should encourage conversation, interaction between people. But in this place all those 10 people are presumed to ignore each other; all 10 are made to use just one tiny narrow glass (again!) coffee table that is placed inconveniently to one side of the sofa. Why the wood element stops where it is? No reason, no sense.
Remember the use of glass in Jerusalem project? Frosted where privacy needed, clear where it should make a physical barrier but do not discount from view? Here it is mostly frosted, not for privacy – but “just because”; used for imitation of door casings, as doors and cabinetry (exposing hardware) and as curved wall panels – all misusing most attractive qualities of glass into something inappropriate, like a joke without a punchline.
If the author wanted to go “industrial” he shouldn’t use sleek polished stainless steel; if he wanted to create an impression of effortless comfort he shouldn’t have exposed all that hardware, hinges, circuits, switches, joints and glides.
His styling is wrong, his concept is muddled, and all his technical proficiency and craft of his contractors gone to waste. The result is soulless, awkward, dark – despite all that glass – and what a glitzy ostentatious kitsch of a bathroom!
Those German-assembled curved glass elements are appropriate for a retail china shop, not a residence. Polished stone floors are reminiscent of airport hallways or office lobbies; metal and glass ceiling hang low and create claustrophobia; wood and red accents read as an afterthought, hard finish materials everywhere promote echo…no contrast in texture means no life.
How comfortable, do you think, it will be to sit on that black blob of a sofa in the dead center of the room? Or take a shower in that “glamorous” blue lagune of a bathroom?
Overall impression is of being submerged in glass aquarium or a submarine, as an object on display in a museum of Very Expensive Oddities.
The text, however, that miserable illiterate architect accompanied his creation with is full of bragging, self congratulation and bad-mouthing of construction trade in Europe – in comparison to Russia!
I know, it leaves your eyes sore…Let me fix that for you. See other featured work of Matti Rosenshine Architects – here (don’t miss those two amazing stairs – one to terrace, one with feature wall) or here (perfect integration of modernity into centuries-old urban patchwork), or here (that monastic cell-like bedroom with vaulted ceiling, bathroom with mysterious overhead ray of light and stucco-textured walls)…Pure poetry.