February 3, 2012
In 1995, a fire ravaged Philip Johnson’s legendary Brasserie restaurant in the Seagram Building. It fell into the hands of Diller + Scofidio to redesign the interior, and the duo was faced with the daunting challenge of respecting Johnson’s design while creating something wholly original. Once ensconced in concrete, Brasserie was reborn with new skins of wood, terrazzo, tile, and glass. Though the materials were novel to the space, Diller + Scofidio preserved the fundamental purpose of material in the design as surfaces that are simultaneously structural, spatial and functional. The most defining feature: a madrone floor that lifts up to connect with the pearwood ceiling, creating a continuous wrapper around the dining space and a sultry environment that speaks to architecture’s many expressions.
A similar symbiosis can be found in the small town of Vennesla in Norway, where architects Helen & Hard have introduced a new library and cultural center to the delight of locals and wayfaring architecture fans. Coming across photos of the Vennesla Cultural Center on Domus, I imagined the interior of a whale, though in this case, rendered in gorgeous wood and brimming with books. Sinuous curves brought to mind the sensual structures of Eero Saarinen while the building’s skeletal ribs evoked the warped nave of a Gothic cathedral. More after the jump.