Krakow

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Back in January my friend Chloe and myself went on a last min long weekend to Krakow, Poland. The freezing day temps and snow/icey conditions didn’t hold us back. If anything it added to the magic of the city.

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Krakow is a the second largest city in Poland situated in the south of the country. The former capital’s old town and jewish quarter hold a rich history and showcases many medieval architectural features such as the remnants of the old city wall. The central Rynek Glówny, market square, holds the cloth hall a Renaissance era market and St Mary’s Basilica and an array of restaurants, shops and bars.

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Here is St Mary’s Basilica in daytime and night. The building stands alone against the blocks of smaller buildings which shine lights onto the church during the night. We didn’t get a chance to go inside the building but we passed it daily and noticed something different each time. We stayed in serviced apartments just off the main square and a less than 2 min walk from this church. The perfect location to walk or cycle anywhere in the city.

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Our first night was spent mainly here – the Pinball Museum. A tricky to find (we walked past it a few times) gem when we did walk in and down to the basement museum we found a bar with one beer tap and a guy to pay entry. We paid the equivalent of £5 each for endless entry all day. We planned on only being there for an hour or two but ended up being there for 5 hours… The place was huge 4/5 different rooms with mainly pin ball games but also shooting, Pac-Man, space invaders and other classic games. It was so much fun. The perfect start to the weekend and an easy activity after a long day traveling.

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We couldn’t go to that part of Poland without paying a visit and our respect to the remains of Auschwitz. We chose to do a combined tour of the Auschwitz camps and the salt mines a good choice if you don’t mind a long day.

Auschwitz was, as expected, haunting. The numbers of people that were forced there, held there and killed there are incomprehensible. When you’re doing the tour so much information is being fed to you it’s only on the way back that you start to sit down and think about the numbers. The main thing that I didn’t realise and couldn’t believe is that some of the victims actually bought tickets to go to this new and exciting way of living. They were so innocently naive about where they were going from the buying of tickets to the communal ‘showers’. How did they know it would be so terrible? Or were they already conditioned with fear to obey?..they would have seen the fear in others eyes and been scared of the authority in suits. I guess we can only think of something so terrible because we’ve seen the war and it has already happened.

The salt mine was a lighter tour. Still as amazing the depths they’ve mined to and they’ve even built a cathedral which holds weekly mass for the miners. Crazy stuff and worth a visit.

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Saturday morning we ventured out for brunch at Mr Pancake. It was AMAZING. Don’t eat before and don’t expect to move for a while after.

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For the rest of Saturday we rented bikes and took to the streets. It was such a good way to do the Jewish quarter and around the city walls. Glad we had gloves though it was mighty cold!

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Here are a couple of sights we saw. The random street art and the tightrope sculptural bridge.

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Photos of the cloth hall at night and Chloe walking into it.

On the Saturday night we decided to take on the Polish vodka with the the Krakow Bar Krawl. Highly recommend it. Not too expensive and you get to visit lots of bars, lots of drinks included and meet a lot of interesting people (shout out to Justin from NYC and Dale’s Stag do). The only thing I don’t recommend is doing it the night before you fly. What a hangover. We were not ok. Chloe’s dad had warned us about under the counter vodka and he was right. But still worth it.

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GO TO KRAKOW!

Beth Victoria

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Prague

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Recently I went on a little trip to Prague. Well actually it wasn’t that recently but I’ve finally got around to getting the photos off of my phone and onto my laptop. So here are some of the photographs that I took whilst away and a few recommendations of food, architecture and of course beer.

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 Getting the most obvious of Prague landmarks out the way first with a classic night time photograph of Charles Bridge. We found a nice little view point with a bar and blankets, set up camp just before sunset and then waited till I could get a typical shot. It was worth it!

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After waiting for the Charles Bridge photograph we were pretty hungry right next door was a very fancy restaurant we decided to go all out on the first meal with a tasting menu and matched wine. The restaurant was called Restaurant Mlýnec and the food was delicious with a little bit of dry ice theatre. If you can deffo worth a visit.

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An art deco cafe – worth a visit for the interiors but not the food.

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Frank Gehry’s dancing house, also known as Fred & Ginger, is not one of his most well known works – you’ve probably heard of the Guggenheim?But the building is interesting in shape and how it is a contrast with its surrounding more traditional designs. Go see and go in.

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Churches in Prague are sooo pretty. We went to a couple I don’t have a recommendation for the churches just wonder around and you’ll find some. Also if you look really closely at that last image the face is Michael Caine so that’s something.

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This is an interesting art piece that a lot of people just walk past not seeing. This is called Man Hanging Out… if you google the sculpture you can see it in detail. The guy is actually Sigmund Freud and the sculpture, by David Cerny, is depicted in this way to signify his fear of death. The sculpture apparently gives people a fright and calls into the emergency services aren’t rare!

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Obviously there is a lot of ‘To dos’ I’ve missed out of this blog post. But I would deffo recommend a visit to Prague to see all the wonders for yourself. I’ve finished the post with two view point photographs- because the best part of seeing a city is seeing all it’s beauty from afar. The second and last image is my favourite after walking up Petrin Hill there was a break in the trees and this was the view. So Gorgeous.

So go to Prague!

Beth Victoria

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Minimal motivational design inspiration

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These minimalist posters by Ryan McArthur are beautifully simplistic ways of getting inspirational messages from the masters of life and design into the world. The simple ‘less is more’ designs cleverly convey each message in the illustrations. Here are a selection of the posters that relate specifically to the design world. Enjoy!

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Lisbon, Portugal

Here is the second instalment of our recent trip to Portugal. We only spent one day in Lisbon but we packed a lot in! So here are some of our highlights!

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If you want to view the whole of Lisbon, look out over the Tagus River and see a little bit of history visit the São Jorge Castle. The castle offers various views of the whole of Lisbon and even boasts a camera obscura. One of the turrets has been adapted to hold a camera obscura that allows you to experience the views of Lisbon in a magical and interesting way. Another way to view the Lisbon landscape is the Santa Justa Lift, although I wouldn’t bother paying to go up the lift, if you head to the ruins (bellow) you can walk across a bridge and get to the viewing platform for free!

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Carmo convent and ruins. Struck by the 1755 earthquake this building has partly been rebuilt and restored but a beautiful open roof has been left, allowing the blue sky to flood light into the grounds. It is a great place to sketch and view some architecture from the 14th century. It also boasts a little museum and gift shop with some interesting books of Lisbon.

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Expo’98 Portugese National Pavilion by Alvaro Siza. We visited this in the morning before the sun decided to make an appearance, it was pretty soggy… This piece of architecture is sort of mind boggling, it doesn’t seem possible that the thin piece of concrete can drape so easily between the two porticoes. It also has some beautiful coloured tiles on the inside and outside.

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And for some great food head to Timeout’s Mercado da Ribeira a fun and interesting food hall that offers a range of food types and drinks! Also the Bairro Alto district offers a lot small bars and pubs that allow you to grab a drink and walk around or to the next pub. We’d recommend checking out the Park Bar located on the top floor of a car park with great vibes and views of Lisbon.

Bethvictoria.com

 

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Porto, Portugal

We’ve just come back from a whistle-stop visit to Porto and Lisbon. Here are our highlights from the Porto visit. Some top places to visit, some great architecture and the best places to chill out.

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This church was the first thing we saw when we emerged from the metro station in Porto and we were excited to explore more…

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Porto is known for its range of Azulejo tiles. Colourful ceramic tiles that line the streets and cover the facades of many of the buildings. This style of tile was influenced by the Moors and are typically Mediterranean colours.

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São Bento Train station built in 1916 is one of the most beautifully decorated train stations. Covered from floor to ceiling with over 20 thousand tiles that portray the history of Portugal. These magnificent scenes were painted by Jorge Colaço.

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As well as the more traditional artwork of the tiles Porto is full of modern art in the form of graffiti. From large scale portraits to little quotes of inspiration you can find bright new art surrounded by old and crumbling architecture. Showing Porto’s seamless link with keeping the old and embracing the new.

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Left – Alvaro Siza’s faculty of architecture, Porto. Right – Alvaro Siza’s Leça swimming pool, Leça de Palmeira. The architecture of the swimming pool fits perfectly with the landscape of the sea front in Leça de Palmeira. The building leading you to the open pools offer some great lines and perspectives. The pools slot within the rocks and make it seem as though you could swim all the way out to sea and the pools are tidal – so really do embrace the space around them.

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  Casa Da Musica, Rem Koolhaas, 2005. This music hall is an iconic building in Porto. With its main architectural focus on the sound proofing of the main music hall it is acoustically excellent. It also boasts a range of side rooms that allow you to view the main hall, but also hold classes and practices.

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The angles of the exterior of the building are mimicked within the building and its furnishings. It offers colour themed rooms with different uses and even a roof top terrace with a vast view of Porto.

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We managed to have a tour of the building whilst the Portuguese symphony orchestra were practicing and went back the next day to see them play. A definite must see when in Porto!

Of course there were a lot more things we did whilst there. Visiting the old town of Guimaraes was another highlight, the perfect place to sit in the sun in a square with a glass of wine.

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The influence of Andrea Palladio

Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) was a Venetian architect whose design philosophy summarised much of the worthy architecture that had gone on before his time, particularly Greek and Roman, and set the standard for most of the architecture that followed. His influence and his work can still be seen today in our historic buildings, and 21st century design solutions around the world.

Palladio shared his philosophy not only by his practice and prolific design and construction during his lifetime, but also by writing and publishing his seminal work called I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture). This body of work, first published in Italian in 1570, comprises guidelines, rules, design solutions, classical proportions, and everything else that design practitioners need to deliver the style that is has been known for 300 years or more as “Palladian”. It was over 100 years before the books were first translated into English.

In summary, Palladian architecture is characterised by symmetry and order. Copious use of mathematical proportions (after Vitruvius) porticos, colonnades, loggia, and of course the Venetian window.

An extract from one of Palladio’s “Four Books”.
An extract from one of Palladio’s “Four Books”.

Whilst it has unfortunately just finished, the RIBA ran an exhibition of Palladio’s work, and his subsequent influence, at its London headquarters called PALLADIAN DESIGN: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UNEXPECTED. This enlightening and very well yet simply curated display of drawings and models spanned from Palladio’s hand to today’s architects who still embrace Palladio’s philosophy. The work of numerous big hitters in architecture was displayed including Inigo Jones and Terry Quinlan. But two architectural giants who embraced Palladian design principals stood out – An 18th century Earl, and a president of the United States.

Boyle’s rendering of his design for Burlington House, Piccadilly.
Boyle’s rendering of his design for Burlington House, Piccadilly.

Richard Boyle (1694-1753) was the the 3rd Earl of Burlington and is recounted as the “the architect Earl”. To develop his craft, he toured Europe studying architecture and when he visited the Veneto region he carried with him a copy of Palladio’s “Four Books”.   As well as practicing as an architect, Boyle became a noted architectural historian and collector, owning several original Palladio drawings, which by Boyle’s time were already some 200 years old.

Burlington House today - home to The RA.
Burlington House today – home to The RA.

Boyle is of interest because he applied Palladian design principals to his own home on Piccadilly – Burlington House – which is today home to the Royal Academy and the Courtyard Societies. Boyle’s design solution for his home strictly aligned with Palladio’s rules and marked a shift in the architecture of London.

  Boyle went on to contribute several outstanding Palladian-style buildings to London including Chiswick House Villa and Westminster School.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) is well known as the third president of the United States, a Founding Father and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was a polymath, and amongst his myriad interests and talents outside of politics was architecture. Before his election as President, Jefferson (like Franklin and Adams) spent several years in Europe negotiating for the US on trade agreements. He was largely based in France and alongside many influences on his future interests, he discovered Palladio and his ‘Four Books”.

Jefferson’s original design for Monticello, VA.
Jefferson’s original design for Monticello, VA.     

Like Boyle, Jefferson first applied the Palladian principals to his own home, the fabulous Monticello in Virginia. The history of Monticello’s design and construction, which spanned most of Jefferson’s adult life is convoluted, but there can be no doubt that the finished article evidences Jefferson’s renaissance-level contribution to the architectural language of American buildings that still persists today.

Monticello today, a magnificent momument to Jefferson’s adopted Palladian principals.
Monticello today, a magnificent momument to Jefferson’s adopted Palladian principals.

  Jefferson went on to design numerous other very important buildings that still survive, most notably the Virginia State Capitol building and the Rotunda at the University of Virginia (having first founded the institution as part of the education reinvention that he led).

It is highly unlikely that when he wrote The Four Books of Architecture, Andrea Palladio realised the influence he and his work would have over centuries to come. Cynics might say that mathematical order, symmetry and form driven by function are inevitable directions of design development for an evolving, intelligent society. But that denies the fact that Palladio saw the need to restate the classical orders and design principals used 1,500 years before his own lifetime. His supporters would say that Palladio shifted the design paradigm and rescued Venice, Europe and subsequently the world from architectural mediocrity. Thank goodness he did.

Written by Paul S Smith, FRICS

Bethvictoria.com

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Architectural Inspiration: The Kunsthal

The Kunsthal is a museum that was designed by architect Rem Koolhaas and established in 1992. The museum in Rotterdam goes against the conventional modernist architecture that was otherwise being seen at the time of its design and making.

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The off the shelf materials used to make this building play with the idea of the industrial ready mades. The joins between materials are harsh and clash. Although the building was cheaply made and badly put together it is a architectural statement.

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The design of the building itself is also a sort of mix match. It is set on a slope with a road at one end and a woods at the other. Within the building the walkways are also a series of slopes. They lead you around the building and don’t allow you to rest, they change how you react to the building and manipulate your experience of it.

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When you enter the building (if you can find the entrance) you are brought straight into the lecture theatre. Seen above and bellow.

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This building is a montage of materials and spaces. It is a homage to modern architecture.

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Designer – Alvar Aalto

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Alvar Aalto was a Finnish sculptor, painter, designer and architect. At the start of his career in the 1920s his style was focused on ‘Nordic Classicism’. This changed to a more international modern style in the 1930s and continued towards a modernist style till the end of his career in the 1970s.

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Alvar Aalto stool, model E60, designed in 1933. Paimio lounge chair, beech plywood, birch, designed in 1932.

The design style of the furniture by Aalto was considered to be ‘Scandinavian Modern’. His designs were pieces that were simplistic, modern and functional.

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Aalto was concerned with making buildings that are a ‘total work of art’. He would not only design the building but the interiors, the light fixtures and the furniture. The buildings Aalto designed continued to have hints towards the Scandinavian style seen in his furniture and early work.

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“God created paper for the purpose of drawing architecture on it. Everything else is at least for me an abuse of paper.” Alvar Aalto, Sketches, 1978, P.104

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Architect: Oscar Niemeyer

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Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect whose works are considered key in the development of modern architecture. His explorations into the decorative potential of reinforced concrete was influential and innovative. Niemeyer was a key designer for the planned city Brasilia that became Brazil’s capital in 1960.

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The Cathedral, Brasilia. Stair case Brasilia

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As well as this work Niemeyer also worked on a range of other buildings that incorporate these clean lined, heavy and modern ideas. One of these is the International Cultural Centre in Aviles, Spain. A building that incorporates curves, lines and differing heights.

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International Cultural Centre in Aviles, Asturias, Spain, inaugurated 2011.

His buildings are beautifully modern and solid in structure. His style is distinctive and recognisable.

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Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Curitiba, Brazil. Mondadori palace by oscar niemeyer in Milan, Italy.

 

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National Museum in Brasilia by Oscar Niemeyer. Oscar Niemeyer Round building.

Not only did Niemeyer design these spectacular buildings, he also worked with pattern and design to create various colourful, and black and white, patterned tiles. He worked with many colours, mainly blue and used shapes and lines to create tiles that can be put together in various layouts to create varying patterns.

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These are but a few of his designs, he was pretty great at what he did. Truly inspirational.

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This mural was painted in his memory in Brazil in 2013 by Eduardo Kobra.

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Daniel Libeskind

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Architectural Drawings by Daniel Libeskind at Ermanno Tedeschi Gallery

Architect Daniel Libeskind started his architectural career by spending around 20 years teaching and developing his theories  and design rather than actually  design and creating any buildings.

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Royal Ontario Museum Napkin Sketch

 

With his design of The Jewish Museum, Berlin he showed that as an architect he could turn his ideas and teachings into buildings that are renowned and innovative.

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The Jewish Museum Berlin. Daniel Libeskind.

His designs are are bold and geometric with clean lines. His buildings incorporate glass, metal and other sturdy reflective materials. His style is distinctive and recognisable.

Contemporary Jewish Museum - Daniel Libeskind
Contemporary Jewish Museum – Daniel Libeskind

 

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Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück, Germany by Architects Studio Daniel Libeskind 

 His buildings:

Jewish Museum, Berlin, “Between the lines”, Berlin, Germany, 1989 -1999

Felix Nussbaum Haus, “Museum ohne Ausgang”, Osnabreck, Germany, 1995-1999

Danish Jewish Museum, “Mitzvah”, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1996-2003

Extension to the Victoria & Albert Museum, “The Spiral”, London, England. 1996-2006

Imperial War Museum North, “Earth time”, Manchester, England, 1997 -2002

Studio Weil, Private gallery for Barbara Weil, Port d’Andratx, Mallorca, Spain, 1998-2003

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2001 by Daniel Libeskind
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2001 by Daniel Libeskind

Jewish Museum San Fransisco, “L’Chai’m: To Life”, San Francisco, CA, 1998- 2005

Maurice Wohl Convention Centre, Bar-Ilan, “The book and the wall”, Bar- Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2000-2004

Extension to the Denver Art Museum, “The Eye and the Wing”, Denver, CO, 2000-2005

London Metropolitan University Post-Graduate Centre, “Orion”, London, England, 2001-2003

World Trade Centre Site Plan, “Memory Foundations”, New York, NY, 2002

One World Trade Center. NYC. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill/ Daniel Libeskind, David Childs. 2006-13. 1776 ft tall.
One World Trade Center. NYC. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill/ Daniel Libeskind, David Childs. 2006-13. 1776 ft tall
London Metropolitan University designed by Daniel Libeskind
London Metropolitan University designed by Daniel Libeskind

 

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