Teshima Art Museum by Ryue Nishizawa, an enigmatic structure which rests at the top of the hill to the adjacent rice terraces – nature, art and architecture coalesce to create an ethereal experience.
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Musée du Louvre. An Endless Struggle
13 August 2014
words: Natalie Donat-Cattin
photos: Jian Yong Khoo
Modern, provocative, rebellious. The new entrance of the Musée du Louvre is this and much more. Criticism has built its reputation, making it the most talked about pyramid in the world. Eternal in volume and modern in material, it represents the architecture of two millennia in a single structure: from the pyramids of Giza to new, innovative technologies. From the first, it inherits the proportions and the form. From the second, the lightness and the transparency.
With its 21.60 m of height, it shines like a diamond in the centre of the main court, filling the great void and giving it a purpose. The light bounces on the solid surface giving it depth and consistency but, at same time, it floods into the basement creating a lively space, rich of reflections and soft shadows.
Externally, the glass’ immateriality clashes with the thick French Renaissance style, enriching it and depriving it. Here, a fight between different architectures and ideologies is engaged, an endless struggle with no winners or losers: simplicity collides with detail and transparency with the solid mass. A small surface of water separates it from the main bodies of the building, making the pyramid more like a sculpture rather than part of the building. The new architecture becomes the main character on stage and attempts to wrestle the limelight from the old one. All eyes are pointed towards the pyramid.
The question seems to arise spontaneously: will the pyramid succeed?
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Progressing through the maze of columns, towards the centre of Bernini’s eclipse, we find ourselves in front of an imposing white wall, the Dover’s cliff of Rome: Saint Peter’s Basilica. Decorated to the last detail, it can only be compared to the English steep rock face for its whiteness and grandeur. In all other aspects, we can say that the craft of man has equaled if not surpassed the force of nature.
The Convent de la Tourette hovers weightlessly on a hill overlooking the nearby town, uncannily reminiscent of a temple atop the Athenian Acropolis. Visitors willing to make the pilgrimage are initially met with a visual field of low intrinsic interest – but the beauty of the architecture slowly reveals itself the more one looks.
Philosophers, scientists, artists, architects. These and many others are the prominent figures of the 18th century in France and Europe. Leading figures, whom with their thinking and charisma, are still remembered for their contribution to an epoch of political changes, renewed ideals and revolutionary discoveries, in a period of time stretching from the Age of Enlightenment to the French Revolution. During this epoch, the physical universe, no more alien and mysterious, finally begins to take shape and configuration, thanks to the excellence of Newton. This vibrant and evolving context creates the preconditions for the affirmation of man as an individual and as a thinker, aware of his abilities and means in a world of immense dimensions.
Water temple, designed by Tadao Ando, hides in the inland of Awaji Island. Despite its close proximity to the sea (only a 15 min walk) the building turns its back to the ocean to embrace the hillside. The road to reach it, is deserted and steep: a series of greenhouses and fields are the only panorama’s highlights.