Archive for the ‘Beautiful buildings’ Category

..the experience surpasses the expectation!  Gotta love that!


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A recent trip to Vienna included a visit to the Prunksaal, which was the former building of the Imperial Library, called the “Hofbibliothek” until 1918.  It is a stunning room; the frescoes, the dark wood, the beautiful globes, it was just a pleasure to walk into and spend time in.  If you are ever in Vienna I would highly recommend a look inside.



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A friend told me about a bookshop in Argentina that she’d heard about, it was in an old theatre.  It sounded interesting so I thought I’d look it up online.  OMG!  It’s amazing.  It’s called El Ateneo Grand Splendid and is located in Buenos Aires at Santa Fe Avenue, Bario Norte.  According to Wikipedia the building was designed by the architects Peró and Torres Armengol for the empresario Max Glucksman (1875-1946), and opened as a theatre named Teatro Gran Splendid in May 1919.  In the late twenties it was converted into a cinema and then in 2000 became a bookshop.  But rather than knock it down and build from scratch or keep the exterior of the building and turn the interior into a standard bookshop they retained all the original features.  So the stage is still there, along with the red velvet curtains, the boxes are still intact, the ceiling still has all its ornate carvings and you can sit, relax and read books in the cafe at the back of the stage.  It’s just stunning.

I love the fact that so much of the interior has been kept in its original condition and it goes to prove that bookshops don’t need to be dull, square, clinical spaces but rather this celebrates the flexibility of the bookshop and the book purchaser; books can be a connection with previous eras and atmospheres so I think this is the perfect use of the grand old theatre.  The perfect relaxed setting, full of character but not oppressive, in which to while away time perusing books.

It was also named as one of the world’s top 10 bookshops by the Guardian in 2008.

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I love this….

The Delft University of Technology recently opened a new architecture library which included the most appropriate and, I think, beautiful front desk.  It’s made of books!  I just love this idea, more libraries should do this, more desks should be made of books!  The desk has been receiving quite a lot of publicity and the University have commented on it.

I just think it’s brilliant.

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You may have noticed that I have a number of links down the right-hand side of this blog to other blogs and favourite websites.  I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight a new link I’ve just added.  I found it on another blog that I’m particularly fond of reading: Bookish NYC.  The website is called Bookshelf Porn!  You’ve got to love a website dedicated to satisfying the lust of bookshelf/library lovers everywhere!

And I know that if you looked at the site it just whetted your appetite for more; so here’s a little picture of Melbourne library to keep you sated for a while!


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Beautiful buildings

This week in my art appreciation class we got on to art nouveau, which I love.  So I thought I’d share a couple of images of work by one of my favourite designers, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in 1868.  He first started work with the Honeyman and Keppie architectural practice.  As part of his ongoing learning, Honeyman and Keppie expected him to attend classes at the Glasgow School of Art, where he met fellow artist Margaret MacDonald.  Members of the collaborative group known as “The Four”, the two married in 1902.  After several successful building designs, Mackintosh became a partner of Honeyman and Keppie in 1907. During his time with the firm, Mackintosh refined his architectural style. 

His concern was to build around the needs of people: people seen, not as masses, but as individuals who needed not a machine for living in but a work of art.  Mackintosh took his inspiration from his Scottish upbringing and blended them with the flourish of Art Nouveau and the simplicity of Japanese forms.  While working in architecture, Mackintosh developed his own style: a contrast between strong right angles and floral-inspired decorative motifs with subtle curves, e.g. the Mackintosh Rose motif, along with some references to traditional Scottish architecture. The project that helped make his international reputation was the Glasgow School of Art (1897–1909).

I’ve included a photo of the front entrance to the Glasgow School of Art.  Mackintosh incorporated practical design by using huge north facing windows which would give the students the best light for drawing, but he also reflected his love of the Scottish baronial style in the design of the main entrance with its sturdy brickwork and castle-like architecture. 

Internally his design continues throughout the school.  The library reflects again how his practical and art nouveau styles inter-mingle.  The long cables the lights hang from are purely practical, in that the students needed good light to work by, but the long lines also reflect the chair backs, wood beams and window frames.


Then there’s the image that everyone recognises as Charles Rennie Mackintosh; the rose.  It’s now used on all sorts of ‘Mackintosh inspired’ pieces such as jewellery and photo frames.  Mackintosh himself incorporated the design into his furniture and glasswork, as can be seen in these images.  I love the clean lines that seem light and refined and give a sense of direction and flow, when they could easily feel oppressive and restrictive.  Just love it!

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Beautiful buildings

Following on from last week’s post I thought I’d share some photos I took when I visited Freemantle Prison a few years ago.  It’s not a beautiful building in any sense but when they decided to close it they relaxed their policy on prisoners decorating their cells.  Some of the art work was amazing!  I particularly love the vibrancy of the paintings, there’s a sense of life. 

Check them out and let me know what you think.

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