Architecture as Art and Sculpture

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Very prominant along the GTA skyline are the “Marilyn Monroe’ Towers. On our last trip to Ontario we decided it was time to stop and have a look at these towers and their very unusual, non-rectilinear massing.

arch as scupt 1 distanceTheir undulating shape is the design of young Beijing-based architect, Ma Yansong, and his firm, MAD Architects. Ma entered an international design competition hosted by the tower’s developers Fernbrook Homes and Cityzen, and was awarded the project in 2006.

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Within days of the announcement, the taller building had been nicknamed the “Marilyn Monroe” tower due to its curvaceous, hourglass figure likened to actress Marilyn Monroe. Burka Varacalli Architects, a Toronto firm, was hired as MAD’s local partner in April 2007.

arch as scultp 4The building represented constant challenges. In most towers, all but two of the floors are exactly the same, said engineer Yury Gelman. In this building, none of them were the same. The larger of the two towers twists 209 degrees from the base to the top. The towers are 176 metres and 158 metres tall respectively.

arch as scultpure 5It was worth the detour off the Toronto freeway to see these towers in person. They are absolutely magnificent and beautiful to look at. They are indeed works of Art.

 

What Makes a City Vibrant?

Vibrancy is People.

“A city is about having a center, or an intersection people tend to associate with culture, gatherings, and activities. A vibrant city has a core and a pulse that is always beating and when you visit that core place your spirit is lifted and you leave having experienced something new and different.” (from CEOs for Cities)

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Keeping our cities vibrant: Vancouver’s example:

Citizens of Strathcona rejected a freeway through Chinatown in 1967  “Immediately, protest came from every part of the city, and a crowd of 800 people gathered in City Hall to shout down the consultants’ proposals. The Chairman of the city’s planning commission resigned on the spot, and a year later, the plan was scrapped. Apparently, the spirited editorializing of the local papers in favor of cutting out civic blight with a concrete knife had influenced no one but a handful of architects.” read more

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Keeping our cities vibrant: Toronto’s Kensington Market’s example:

Having just spent a few wonderful days in the Annex and Kensington Market, I am so happy to see a neighbourhood pull together to voice their concerns over the negative impact of big box retail.

“People don’t walk to stores in a walkable city, they walk through neighbourhoods with stores,” said Vaughan (a Toronto City Councillor) while at the podium. “Big box is the antithesis of a walkable city.” read more.

Have a look at Toronto’s Annex and Kensington Market through the eyes’ of a traveler (me).

IMG_5567IMG_5436IMG_5469IMG_5437In the lanes of the Annex, graffiti artists show their work. Every garage was the canvas and the lanes became the gallery.  IMG_5571 IMG_5577 IMG_5572 IMG_6001 IMG_5608 IMG_5685 IMG_5700 IMG_5740 IMG_5798 IMG_5780 IMG_3829 IMG_3846 IMG_5690 IMG_5519  IMG_5449 IMG_3790 IMG_5339 IMG_5318 IMG_5344 IMG_6004 IMG_5477 IMG_5498 IMG_5587 IMG_5475 IMG_5443For some, their work is political.

People are at the center of vibrant, livable cities.

 

 

Before and After: My Garden

We have lived in our English Cottage style house for 15 years. Redoing our front garden was a longstanding dream that has only recently been realized. The garden design was a collaboration between Smith Architecture and DB Gardens. The stonework was done by Organic Matters Landscaping. The planting is still new but the transformation is dramatic and extremely gratifying.  We are so happy with the way it turned out.

Our recent purchase of the vintage metal table and chairs definitely influenced the direction of our garden design.

The masterful stroke of the design was that it harmonized disparate existing planting, fence and trees in a way that made them all work together as a cohesive, attractive and organic whole. In other words it feels like it was always meant to look the way it does now.

Before photos taken by Veit Hillebrand, of Organic Matters Landscaping. Lower right after picture is by Bruce Edward Statham, of Yellowcamera Photography.
Photo by Paisley Smith of  Paisley Yasmine Creative

For special events, nothing makes your garden sparkle more than tealights.  Go crazy!