Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mudéjar and Modernism in Teruel

Teruel in Aragon region of Spain is not far north of Barcelona, but is isolated by mountains and easy transportation. It is next on my places to visit in Spain.
A Moorish stronghold, it was taken over in the 1100's but the style of architecture is reflected in the meaning of the name Mudéjar - "those who have been allowed to stay". Using mostly brick and plaster, the Muslim builders created calligraphic fantasies to house the needs of the Christian rulers.
The first photo shows the Plaza del Torico with a recent re-do using cool lights in the pavement to enhance the space. This is a continuation of the mash-up of styles and treatments in Teruel that are carefully combined to support the idea of a whole town as art, rather than just singular buildings.
The second photo is a new entrance to the Mudéjar- style Cathedral by Pablo Monquio in 1910 that matches the nervous embroidery of the original, but takes it into the Modernism of Casa Feran and La Madrileña by Monquio, shown in the last two photos. La Madrileña is the only building I have ever seen that looks as if it is crying.
There is probably a message about working harmoniously across time and religion, but perhaps it is too much to hope that life will imitate art.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Qilou in Chikan Town

The city cousin of the Diaolou towers in the countryside, these Qilou ("Riding Buildings") strech over the sidewalk and form a continuous arcade - 3 kilometers in Chikan.
These types of buildings were first created in places like Singapore (known as the ShopHouse) and Hong Kong by Europeans who used the shop level and lived on the second and third level. These became quickly popular for the locals as well and this type was brought back to Guangzhou and built in styles from Gothic, Baroque, Modermisme and traditional Chinese. There was also a 'form-based' code that dictated the heights of the floors and a limit to 4 stories that was in place by 1898.

A very interesting and adaptable building type for creating density while keeping good streetspace.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kaiping Diaolou

In looking for building types in China to emulate for new developments, one of the problems is finding something that is more than two stories. These rather astonishing buildings were begun in the late 19th century by returning Chinese from abroad. Diaolou means fortified watchtower and a form of these had been built from the 1600's but reached their flowering from 1900-1930. The tallest of these were nine stories and could be quite elaborate on the top, using elements of classical, Indian, Gothic and other influences of the wanderings of their owners.
At one time there were more than 3,000 of the diaolou. Today, 1800 remain.