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French Architect Designs Schools That Are Works of Art

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At the start of a new school year, elementary school teachers make pilgrimages to art and school supply stores, searching for brightly colored posters and bulletin board decorations that will make their otherwise drab, standard-issue classrooms into a more engaging learning environment. Teachers at the Niki-de-Saint-Phalle school in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, however, won’t have to worry about that kind of thing; their entire learning environment has been professionally designed by architect Paul le Quernec into a multi-hued, modernist educational paradise.

The school in Saint-Denis is a dual-purpose space, used to teach both preschool and elementary-aged students. Le Quernec drew inspiration from the left and right hemispheres of the brain to design the two wings, reasoning that children of different ages learn in different ways. For the younger children, le Quernec designed rooms with soft curves in varying shades of orange, conveying a gentleness of approach while hoping to stimulate creative thought with the warm, bright hue. Older children, whose education requires more structure, sit down to desks in more angular spaces, painted green to foster concentration. The school’s external façade effectively melds the two color schemes, cleverly constructed from painted wood in such a way that the building appears to be orange from some angles and green from others, depending on where the viewer is standing.

Book lovers will especially appreciate le Quernec’s design for the children’s library, painted in soothing white with warm light and plenty of benches and igloo-shaped reading nooks. Rose-hued corridors lead children through the airy entrance hall to the school’s two playgrounds, and light comes from a combination of whimsically shaped floating lamps and the sunlight filtering in through large transparent doors and windows. Even the fire extinguisher has its own purpose-designed space: in a stark white hallway, a bright red nook shaped like a flame denotes where one can find the necessary fire safety equipment.

Despite the deliberate logic evident in every detail of the Niki-de-Saint-Phalle school, le Quernec admits that his reasoning is based less on hard science and more on an artistic sensibility: “My answer will be considered as very pretentious or very irresponsible, but the truth is that I draw these spaces with my intuition and my childhood memory.” It is a style that carries through to his other designs for school buildings, evident in the enormous open reading space of a nursery school library in Illkirch, the quirky cafeteria chairs in an elementary school in Briarres and the multicolor polka-dotted exterior of a school in Montpon.

Le Quernec’s conceptual architecture doesn’t stop there. A nursery in Sarreguemines, designed in collaboration with architect Michel Grasso, bears no small resemblance to a cell of the body. The nursery itself is the nucleus, enclosed by gardens representing the cytoplasm and a surrounding wall as the cell membrane. The red-and-white entrance is explicitly intended to be “vaginal,” with the building’s general curves and non-linearity meant to evoke a sense of uterine comfort in both young children and their parents. Though the design itself may be subtle, le Quernec’s nods to his inspiration are not. If walls could talk, le Quernec’s school buildings would have plenty to say.

[h/t Wired]

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One Photographer's Quest to Document Every Frank Lloyd Wright Structure in the World
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iStock

From California’s Marin County Civic Center to the Yokodo Guest House in Ashiya City, Japan, Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence spans countries and continents. Today, 532 of the architect’s original designs remain worldwide—and one photographer is racking up the miles in an attempt to photograph each and every one of them, according to Architectural Digest.

Andrew Pielage is the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s unofficial photographer. The Phoenix-based shutterbug got his gig after friends introduced him to officials at Taliesin West, the late designer’s onetime winter home and studio that today houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Higher-ups at Taliesin West allowed Pielage to photograph the property in 2011, and they liked his work so much that they commissioned him for other projects. Since then, Pielage has shot around 50 Wright buildings, ranging from Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, to the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles.

Pielage takes vertical panoramas to “get more of Wright in one image,” and he also prefers to work with natural light to emphasize the way the architect integrated his structures to correspond with nature’s rhythms. While Pielage still has over 400 more FLW projects to go until he's done capturing the icon’s breadth of work, you can check out some of his initial shots below.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

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Art
What the Homes of the Future Will Look Like, According to Kids
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Made.com

Ask a futurist what the house of tomorrow will feature and she might mention automatic appliances and robot assistants. Ask a kid the same question and you’ll get answers that are slightly more creative, but not altogether impractical. That’s what Made.com discovered when they launched Homes of the Future, a project that had kids draw illustrations of futuristic homes that served as the basis for professional 3D renderings.

According to Co.Design, the UK-based furniture retailer recruited children ages 4 to 12 to submit their architectural ideas. The doodles, sketched in pen, marker, and colored pencil, showcase the grade-schoolers' imaginations. Paired with each picture is concept art made with a 3D illustrator that shows what the homes might look like in the real world.

The designs range from colorful and whimsical to coldly realistic. In one blueprint, drawn by Ameen, age 10, a neighborhood of rainbow buildings and flowers float among the clouds. Another sketch by Ellis, age 7, shows a “home built to last” with titanium, bricks, a steel roof, and bulletproof windows. Some kids seemed less concerned with durability than they were with the tastiness of the infrastructure. Cherry-flavored bricks, candy windows, and a giant jelly slide were just some of the features built into the future homes. Sustainability was also a major theme, with solar panels appearing on two of the houses.

Check out the original artwork and the 3D versions of their ideas below.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Made.com.

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