Followers of my blogging have long since realized that this platform is dedicated to my interest in buildings and how they work, or are reworked. As we have seen, to redo and reuse an older building is satisfactory and fun. But it’s hard and expensive. And, very frequently, there are things about that old building that nobody can do anything about.
Like right angles. Our ancestors were not especially interested in them, mostly. A genuinely ancient building tends not to be square. All the walls bend or curve or meet up at some weird angle, and none of the floors are quite flat. All these built-in problems are made worse by time. The first seasicky image here shows you what happens over time to a mosaic floor that was state of the art when Christ was a boy. Over the millennia as the building or foundation sags underneath, the floor sags too. Archaeologists have figured out how to peel up a Roman floor like this (it involves plaster of Paris) and transfer it to the safety of a museum, flattening it out in the process. So the ones you see in museums look quite walkable. This is what they’re really like, two thousand years after they were laid. Still pretty, but you do not want to walk on this.
So for actually living in, I am now a fan of modern. Brutalist architecture has my heart, especially if involves HVAC, ADA compliance, an infinity of hot water, and elevators. When you pour concrete, you pour it square and plumb. Bookcases fit in beautifully. And you can plan for many, many cool features that were unimaginable even twenty years ago.
This office skyscraper was designed with a veil of metal rods. They cloak the entire building, which must be more than 30 stories high, and are about ten or fifteen feet from the actual glass windows that are the skin of the structure. This is so that they can grow vines up the rods. Greenery grows rampant around here in season. There were none growing in March. Now, in May, the vines are about 4 or 5 stories up. I’ll try and post another shot in late summer or early fall. I anxiously wait to see if by then the vines can scale the entire building and start waving at airplanes from the roof!