Porto Take 2 1/2

June 10, 2009
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I´m cheating a bit here. I actually flew back to Barcelona this morning and have spent all day catching up on the blog, but I had to fit these pictures in here.

After I got home from Santiago de Compostela last night I was really drained. On top of that I had to carry walk with all my stuff to a new hotel for the extra night. Not really a big deal, I was just drained from being in the car all day and not sleeping much the past few days.

When I got to the hotel it was still raining. It was really disappointing because, while we got to see a lot of Siza in Porto I didn´t get to see the city really, so despite the rain and my exhaustion I walked outside for one last Porto adventure.

It was a really nice night really. I got quite a few funny looks, but it really saved my trip. As much as I love architecture I´m fascinated with how cities work and what goes on between the buildings even more. Sometimes I also just like to see where the city takes me. Tonight it took me here, enjoy.


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Santiago de Compostela

June 9, 2009
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Decided to stay in this part of the country an extra day and get some more Siza in. Wanted to see two projects in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Both buildings are part of the university there and were pretty interesting and worthwhile.

We had to rent a car to get there, which I ended up driving. Good times. Probably wouldn´t have been so bad had it not been for the rain, but you can´t really plan these things I guess. The Portugese and Spanish countrysides were absolutely amazing and beautiful. Some of the most lush green hills and valleys that I´ve ever seen. On the other hand the roads, signs and drivers sucked.

I´m not going to comment much on the buildings. Siza´s awesome and nothing more really need be said. We spent a lot more time driving than we did actually getting to see and experience the architecture, but having got home alive I´d probably do it again given the choice. It was an adventure.

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Porto Take 2

June 8, 2009
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Today was all Siza, and it was good. This first bit is a public housing project he did and I have to say it spoke to me. Not really because the thing is groundbreaking or earthshattering, but because it makes the everyday not so ordinary. I´m sure this commission wasn´t hard to get, but that didn´t stop him from really making the most of it. Let Rem and Liebskind have all the art and music galleries, what we need is someone who will take on the everyday in the same way and with the same intensity.

We then quickly hit the beach. Siza designed a public pool there early in his career and we were looking forward to some drawing time on the beach. Unfortunately we were met by an jerk who wouldn´t let us in, so we snapped a few shots from the fence and moved on (for now) to Siza´s first project, the Teahouse.

Siza designed this house in his early twenties at the beginning of his career. Really unbelievable. The house is a restaurant now, but is the best beach house ever. Every corner was a new insight.

We tried again on the way back from the Teahouse to get into the pool, but the aforementioned grumpy old man wouldn´t have it, and then it rained, so we ran for cover in the closest building that would let us in, McDonalds? A few of us ended up having lunch there, during which we decided we had to try at least one more time to get into the pool.

When we got there the old man had left, but there were still 2 security guards on watch. They wouldn´t let us in at first, but the girls finally seduced them into letting us in and we all went crazy. I think the guards thought we just broke out of the funny house or something. We just ran around snapping shots everywhere for as long as they would let us. We came, we fought, we conquered.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at Siza´s Faculty of Archtecture building. I think this is the third or fourth really good school of architecture I´ve visited and every time I wonder how U of M ended up with such an ugly building. Nothing I can do about that, but we did have a great afternoon walking through the buildings and the courtyards. The trees were remarkable. It was a good day, but by the end I had nothing left, totally wasted.

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Porto Take 1

June 7, 2009
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Arrived safely in Porto, Portugal today and I have to say I´m pretty impressed. I´ve already told my wife we´ll be coming back here, because 3 days isn´t nearly enough. We spent the morning at the Casa da Musica by OMA. Probably the best music hall I´ve ever been to. Totally different from anything you would see around it, but works really well, just neet to step up the buildings around it and it´ll be perfect.

Finally made it over to Siza. I´m sure we´ll get a lot of him this trip, but I think our time here was a little short. We had a concert to get to, so we saw what we could and then left, but it was a really nice space inside and out. I enjoyed the way the structure and the landscape worked together so well.

We finished off the night at the aforementioned concert. I promised myself that I wouldn´t bring a camera so I could just enjoy the evening and experience the music and hall without trying to document anything. Part of me is sorry I followed through with that, but the night was amazing.

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Madrid Take 2

June 6, 2009
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We ended our stay in Madrid on a good note I think. First stop was a pretty interesting project by Hertzog & de Meuron called the Caxia Forum, which looked to be a rennovation of an older building that apparently floats. It´s a nice project, especially in comparrison to the Barcelona Forum. I have to say though that the big green wall next to it stole the show. The name of the landscape architect who designed it is escaping me, but the wall is composed of pockets where the plants grow and covers the entire wall. Really amazing.

Next stop was the National Museum Center for Art. The museum is actually a historic structure, but most of the pictures below are of the extension by Jean Nouvel. A pretty amazing feat of engineering, but also seems to work really well experientially. When you get to the terrace above the horizon of the city is pretty amazing. The art was great too. It houses the famous Guernica by Picasso, but they don´t let you take pictures of that unfortunately.

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Madrid Take 1

June 5, 2009
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After thinking about our day for a bit, I´ve decided there´s no real way to synthesize all that we did and saw. So here it is. The above leaning towers were designed by Philip Johnson, again if you don´t know who he is I highly recommend looking him up. He´s one of the few really likable architects that I know. Passed away a few years ago, but has left us some unique, and yes wierd buildings, but I think that´s part of what I like so much about him.

I couldn´t help but include the project below. I don´t know who built it, but the aluminum detal is delish.

And who doesn´t like a suspended concrete whatchamacalit.

This is the IBM building. I love the window detail. Pretty interesting in terms of concrete fabrication and modular-type construction.

This is a school addition by an architect whose name is escaping me, but it is quite brilliant, particularly in terms of efficiency. For the time it was built it was radical in some ways. Up side down trusses weren´t really the thing then. The way that he was able to maximize space and get natural light into such a complex addition is really amazing. The lady who showed us around was also a sweetheart. Took us around on her lunch break.

This was my last stop with the class today, which I´ll explain in a minute. Another case of nice concrete fabrication. It was all caged up, but you can see a lot of the nice details. A really simple modular idea, but works really nicely.
I split from the group after the church because today would be my last chance to get to the Madrid Temple. I try and attend every new temple within a reasonable proximity to where I travel, and this one was right on the metro. Theres a missionary training center right across the street from this one. I bumped into a couple of missionaries on the way in and one of them offered me a great sandwich. Really lucky for me since I was starving and didn´t have time to pick something up. Made it in time for the last session of the day.
After I got home we headed to this place called 100 sandwiches. Basically they have 100 sandwiches and they all cost a euro. They´re small, but really good.
Ended the night with some desert at Plaza Meyor. It´s a great place to hang out with quite good food and shops.

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Toledo via Madrid

June 4, 2009
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I caught my bullet train to Madrid this morning and it was one of the best traveling experiences I´d ever had. Security was fast, left and arrived on time, zero turbulence. We then caught another train to spend the day in Toledo. It´s an old gothic town that was the capitol of the Spanish empire at one point. A relic of a city and it was fun to spend a few hours there. This was the place that El Greko lived and worked. We got to peruse some of his artwork just before we caught the train back to Madrid. A lot of traveling and only a little of anything else, but when you´re in Europe you´re going to have a few of those days. Tomorrow is Madrid!

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Arc de Triomf con Barcelona

June 3, 2009
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Today is our last day in Barcelona before we head on our big Madrid/Porto trip. We met in studio to nail down some logistics, then our professor gave an inspiring lecture on Alvaro Siza. Definitely look him up if you don´t know who he is. The rest of the day was more or less free, so I headed down to the Arc de Triomf of Barcelona. It is a pretty nice little area. I´ll have to look into the history of it compared to other triumphal arches that I´ve visited. But a nice little plaza where I´m sure fun things happen. The next post will be from Toledo. My first bullet train, I´m pretty stoked. Untill then . . .

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Gaudi Inside Out

June 2, 2009
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We went inside Casa Batllo today. Another one of those times that I can´t say much more than the pictures do. Suffice it to say it blew my mind. Enjoy.

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A Walk In The Park

June 1, 2009
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Took another trip down by the waterfront today to finish what we started a few days ago. The pictures of the park above and below are by the firm FOA. The tile design was based on the luggage carousel common in Europen airports. An interesting comparison I suppose.

We crossed the bridge into the marina. It was a holliday, so I expected more people, but there were a few people skating and perusing the area. You could tell there was still a lot of construction going on in the area, so things might pick up once that gets done.

The next park we went to was still in construction, but you could see some of the interesting fixtures already beginning to emerge. The alien looking things are actually lights. I´m curious to go back at night and see what happens. Pretty cool I´d imagine.

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I'm a young aspiring architect. This blog is a record of my journey in this great profession.