Brian MacKay-Lyons - almost here

It's just over a week until the international member of our Home of the Year jury, Canadian architect Brian MacKay-Lyons, arrives in New Zealand to give talks about his remarkable work in Auckland (on February 8) and Wellington (on February 9). Tickets are on sale at Ticketek at the link here.

Brian is a leading proponent of regionalist architecture (the project shown above is in Nova Scotia and was photographed by Greg Richardson), as well as being a sheep farmer and sea kayaker, so his talks promise to be fascinating. Architects get 10 CPD points for attending. Thanks to our Home of the Year partner Altherm Window Systems for making Brian's visit possible. We look forward to seeing you at these special events.

Travel: Ice Cube at The Eames house

While we're on the subject of the Eames house (as in our previous post), the Eames Foundation has a short web clip of the house, with commentary from Ice Cube. It's worth a look:

Travel: The Eames House, Los Angeles

One of LA's many modernist marvels, the Eames house is remarkable not only for its architectural pedigree (the original scheme for the house was designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, but significantly adapted before construction by Charles and Ray Eames), but because it is redolent of the rich, creative and generous lives of its occupants. The Eames's moved into the house in 1949; they lived there until their deaths (Charles in 1978, Ray exactly 10 years later). Their daughter, Lucia, set in motion the process of making the house a National Historic Landmark.

These days, reservations are required for a visit, but the process is relatively easy (you can opt for a self-guided exterior tour, or pay more for a guided tour of the interior). 

We were staying in Santa Monica, which meant we could walk to the house in about half an hour - a rare luxury in LA, especially as the walk was mostly along Santa Monica beach. The house is set in a grove of eucalyptus trees in Pacific Palisades, although rather than being located in the centre of the property, the Eames pushed it to the edge of the grove to maximise their enjoyment of the open space. There are views of the ocean from the edge of the property. This image shows the entrance to the house, with its Mondrian-inspired colour panels.

Although we had opted for the exterior tour, the glassiness of the house means it is still easy to see inside. At the moment, the contents of the Eames's living room have been temporarily relocated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of the LA-side Pacifc Standard Time exhibition. The living room of the house is now set up just as it was when the Eames moved in around Christmas 1949, with colourfully decorated tools suspended from the ceiling by string. An exhibition of photographs in the grove shows the development of the living room's eclectic decor. This photo shows a view back to the house from the lawn.

Outside the living room is a beautiful, Japanese-inspired courtyard.

Belowis another view of the entrance. These are my images, but you can find a greater variety of superior shots, as well as information on how to visit, at the Eames Foundation's site at the link here. It's well worth visiting if you're going to LA, and much easier to do so than you'd expect. While you're there, it's also worth checking out other parts of the Pacific Standard Time exhibition, which involves cultural institutions all over the city. We saw a terrific show downtown at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA which I'll write more about in a later post.  

Travel: Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, Japan

Over the break we enjoyed a fleeting visit to the Benesse art site on Naoshima Island in Japan. Having stayed in Takamatsu, we caught a 50 minute ferry to Naoshima, and on arrival rented bikes for getting around the island. Naoshima is home to a number of museums, galleries and outdoor artworks, though the Chichu art museum designed by architect Tadao Ando was a personal highlight. Constructed in 2004, the reinforced concrete museum permanently houses works by Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter de Maria. Submerged in the hillside, it does not compete with the natural landscape, lying flush with geometric sky-lights visible from an aerial view, as shown below.

Each gallery space is individually crafted around the experience of the art piece, and lit solely with natural light. Here is the gallery housing works by Claude Monet.

The image below shows a gallery featuring the work of Walter de Maria.

In Chichu, Ando has created a work of art in itself that honours the pieces within it. Accentuated by the absence of crowds and peaceful setting, our visit left us with a deep sense of calm.

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