Tom Wilkinson's stories
Kununurra Couthouse, Kununurra, Australia, by TAG Architects + Iredale Pederson Hook ArchitectsSubscription
An undulating grey roof shelters the courthouse, announcing the building’s presence without admonishment
The courtrooms occupy the upper storey up to the roofline, giving these spaces impressive volume
This extraordinary looming monolith on the Piazzale Roma provides offices and a grandly scaled public entrance for the Venetian law courts
The building takes the form of a blob erupting from a rectangular podium, and, with its somewhat 1970s orange and brown colour scheme, is wilfully ungainly
Typology: Law CourtSubscription
From Kafkaesque labyrinths of columns and arches to the abstraction of Modernist towers: the representation of justice in a world ruled by its absence is an intractable task
Peek inside the wardrobe: a new historySubscription
Far from being a mere storage device, the wardrobe has acted as personal bank, war funder, room divider and even a portal to a magical world
This jail is currently under construction outside Nuuk, in one of the world’s most dramatic locations for such a facility
Mas d’Enric Penitentiary in Tarragona, Spain, by AiB estudi d’arquitectes and Estudi PSP ArquitecturaSubscription
The undulating green roof echoes the canopy of the surrounding woodland bridging an otherwise insuperable divide between inside and out
The recurring prison cell extrusions connect the inmates to the surrounding landscape while isolating them from one another
To confine, secure, rehabilitate or punish: the prison has several, sometimes contradictory aims, but however humane its approach, penal architecture is essentially cruel
While there are some interesting contributions, the main exhibition’s incoherence proves that brilliant architects do not necessarily make good curators
The darkness of the nightclub is deployed to conceal bodies and acts that may not be acceptable in the sunlit street
Typology: Buildings for animalsSubscription
Designing buildings for animals has prompted an extraordinary range of responses, from palace to cat flap, which say more about humans than the residents
Constructed in the Jura hills of Switzerland, the timber beams traditionally used in local barns are employed here to create an unusually complex roof form
Thanks to human-caused climate change, many scientists argue that the world is entering the sixth mass extinction in its history. Bats are among the species under threat. Over a million have died in the USA, where they have succumbed to a fungal infection, and in the UK, bats are vanishing as they lose their habitats and food supply thanks to non-porous buildings, pollution and pesticides, despite being protected by law. One way to mitigate these problems is to provide roosts that compensate ...
Mikve Rajel, with subdued lighting and expanses of wood and marble lining the communal areas, gives the ritual bath a setting not unlike a modern spa
The folded wooden envelope provides a place for locals to meet, creating a transitional social zone between the intimate spaces of the interior and the urban space of the waterfront
Crossing Parallel(s) by Studio MRDO and Studio LaM, Korean Demilitarised Zone, Korea, unbuiltSubscription
Prodded by President Trump, the cold war between North and South Korea – which never formally declared a truce – threatens to return to boiling point, with potentially world-ending consequences. What solutions can architecture offer to the crisis? This is of course a ludicrous question; nevertheless, architectural research group Arch Out Loud recently held an open competition to design an underground bathhouse in the demilitarised zone, with the aim of emphasising the shared culture ...
Since time immemorial, and from continent to continent, saunas or bathhouses have played a community role, stripping their users of social distinctions and affording a rich seam for architects
The incorporation of a toilet into the memorial for a beloved public figure is a delicate matter, and one that fully justifies a revival of the otherwise tediously prudish British tradition of the subterranean lav. Here, however, the monument takes the form of a children’s playground inspired by Peter Pan, incorporating wigwams and a pirate ship, and the toilets are accordingly anything but po-faced. Rising from the landscaping (designed by Land Use Consultants), a grassy mound covers ...
Typology: Public toiletSubscription
From the pissoir to the sanisette, from the communal to the stand-alone pod, from male to female provision, a rich seam of history runs through toilets
Women’s Toilet in Thane, India by Rohan ChavanSubscription
The lack of toilet provision in developing countries is not limited to India, but it is here that it is most dire, and perhaps most detrimental to women. The scandalous sexual abuse suffered by Indian women, which has recently received much attention from Western media, frequently occurs while they are trying to relieve themselves in the open air. The government and NGOs have made many attempts to ameliorate the problem, with varying degrees of failure. In the large city of Thane, a ...
The symbolic or signifying functions of the public toilet are usually secondary, at the most speaking of civic generosity, or, more accidentally, of meanness and neglect. But why shouldn’t the smallest room commune with the cosmos, as in this public lavatory on the Japanese island of Ibukijima? Taking its cue from the sliced spaces of Daniel Libeskind, the structure – which appears similar to other local houses from the outside – is divided by imaginary lines stretching out beyond the ...
Franz Hessel’s 1920s guide to Berlin, translated into English for the first time, is a melancholy guidebook to a since vanished city
El Lissitzky (1890-1941)Subscription
El Lissitzsky’s utopian vision of revolution is a legacy that resonates today
Sacred lair of the commodity, its mysteries veiled by plate glass: who can resist the lure of the shop?
Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice by OMASubscription
Remodelling an ancient institution at the foot of the Rialto Bridge
The accommodation of retail space within former domestic space presents several problems. The facade is one, another is circulation. Here, in an old house in Ghent, local architects de Vylder Vinck Taillieu had to deal with the quandary of a narrow original staircase that was unfit according to local fire regulations, and yet was to be retained for aesthetic reasons. Their solution was to construct an entirely new staircase on the back of the building, an irregular zigzagging volume ...
Glass does not have a monopoly on transparency. Using the ancient and fiendishly complex Japanese joinery technique of jigoku-gumi, which literally means ‘interlocking hell’, Kengo Kuma enveloped this Tokyo bakery in a hectic cloud of wooden struts. The interior is not visible from the street, making display of the wares on sale impossible, but the building is instantly recognisable –from a distance, it is reminiscent of a wasp nest – making it a striking advertisement for the business. And ...
Crystal Houses in Amsterdam by MVRDVSubscription
‘Over an old Flemish house there stands the mystical inscription: “there is more within me”.’ So wrote Georg Simmel in 1904, referring to the way that fashion allows us to simultaneously express and mask our individuality. He incidentally makes a connection between fashion and the facade, one which, though suppressed in architectural discourse, always lies very close to the surface, as Mark Wigley has shown. The facade hides the interior, but also expresses something about the building. ...
The rediscovery of the countryside by China’s middle classes has led to a boom in rural tourism, which has helped redirect cash from the wealthy coast into the undeveloped interior. However, this has often resulted in insensitive building projects, and the ‘nong jia le’ (‘happy farmer home’) idyll frequently turns out to be a mass tourist hell. In response, an eco-tourism movement has developed, offering smaller scale, more deeply embedded experiences of life away from the city. For ...
Oasia Downtown, Singapore by WOHASubscription
The hotel-in-the-tower has sprouted ever taller since the Waldorf Astoria relocated to a 47-storey skyscraper in 1931; this was the tallest example of the type in the world until Stalin’s Hotel Ukrainia was completed in 1957. In recent years, hotels have become standard anchor tenants of skyscraper developments, hollowing out their tips as plunging atria. These have, however, been sealed volumes – until WOHA designed a hotel for Singapore, its upper reaches a huge cylindrical trellis ...
Punta Sirena Hotel, Chile by WMR ArquitectosSubscription
The beach hotel usually comports itself in serene and brilliant white curves, borrowing the sleekness of the ocean liner, but the surfing resort of Curanipe in central Chile is a place for less sedentary approaches to the water. In response, WMR Arquitectos have not opted to emulate the quaint traditional buildings of the town, either; their only nod to the vernacular is their use of wood, with eucalyptus and pine filling the black steel frame of their building. This takes the form ...
Sofitel Vienna, Austria by Jean NouvelSubscription
‘Jean Nouvel has created a ceiling for the city, in the form of gigantic artworks by Pipilotti Rist which cover the ceilings of the top floor restaurant and atrium of his Sofitel tower’
Anonymous rooms for anonymous and rootless lives, the hotel has long been a giant metaphor for modernity
The Europeanness of British ArchitectureSubscription
Architecture may seem helpless in the face of political crises, but this has not stopped people from trying – and under far worse circumstances than our own
A gigantic housing block in Amsterdam has been stripped back to bare essentials
The control of nature promised a world transformed for the benefit of humans, but have gigantic dams drowned such hopes?
The historic context of the site demanded a sophisticated architectural treatment
99 per cent of the Norway’s electricity derives from hydropower
Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa by Stanley ConsultantsSubscription
While big dams are environmentally destructive, smaller projects can bring great benefits to local areas
The development of laminated timber has facilitated the construction of unprecedentedly tall wooden buildings
The tallest building in the world when completed, at around one km
Hegau Tower in Singen, Germany by JAHNSubscription
The grid of the facade suggests an infinite extensibility, without extravagant height
Soaring expression of the individualistic spirit of capitalism, logical extrusion of land values or irrational, anti-urban monster?
A huge glass dome intends to knot the airport into the life of the city
Super-light engineering and modular concrete domes allow for future expansion
Once glamorous gateways to freedom, airports have become zones of consumerist tedium and state terror – but the emotional intensity of the departure gate endures