Most of the time I write about my own projects, pictures and concepts on my blog, but every once in a while, I come across projects on the internet that inspire me so greatly, that I feel my experience of them grows personal. This time I came across this spectacular house project in China, that excellently integrates a house with local traditional building, while also designing a house that is in perfect harmony with its amazing natural surroundings. (Do note, all pictures and the project itself were found on Architizer). 

As far as I read on the website, this house is built just by the foot of a mountain and overlooks a vast plain on it's other side. The architect of the building (Li Xiaodong Altelier) has masterly used the water pools surrounding the structure to reflect its surroundings, celebrating the magnificent natural surroundings and the vast open sky.

As you can see on the above photo, the reflecting water surface truly creates an absolutely fantastic view and without going too deep into Asian clichés, also a perfect spot for meditation I can imagine! Definitely a place where the mind, body and soul can be in harmony with nature.

The traditional style, as seen above, seems to allow effective natural ventilation, with its open façade. Furthermore, I'm sure the water surrounding the house also allows for great natural cooling during the summer months out in the continental Chinese landscape. These were my comments on the project, I believe the details deserve to be read on Architizer and/or at the architect's website, both links being right below here.

Further reading:

- Andy Minchev


If you have been wondering why it's been such a while since I've posted about any school projects, it's because we're on to a big one right now. As a matter of fact, it's our semester project. Such projects do of course take time, and my case has been no different. But since it takes time, I would like to at least inform you of my work so far. The finished project is due to the 10th of June, and the presentations on the 14th and 15th, so the finished result will be posted sometime by the end of June. The bathing complex consists of a sauna house, a series of small beach cabins, a sun clock, a stairway to the coast and a bathing bridge that goes out to the deeper parts of the sea, where swimmers can dive in (the latter two, I have decided to make one long component).

So the theme of our current semester, is City and Countryside. The direct translation from Danish is, as I can see, a bit confusing, so let me explain. Basically, the theme is the difference between the natural and the man-made. So with this said, the two logical directions to take from the theme, were either to design something that works with nature, or something that stands as contrast to it. I decided to design my project to be a very sharp contrast between man-made and natural, but in a way that despite the contrast, the man-made structures do no harm to the natural environment. As you can see on the picture above, my sauna building in the woods is designed to be an extremely stereotypical version of a house, while also being rather minimal - A bit like a Monopoly house you could say. 

Furthermore, my connection to the coast and sea is a 200 meter long wooden stair/path, that moves through the forest like a man-made highway, once again to stand in contrast to nature. Now this rendering isn't too good to show the concept, since the actual stairs will pass trees as well, but have holes in the path where they are, thus leaving them unharmed. This gigantic wooden path will continue directly to the sea and down in the water.

Above here is a rendering of some of the cabins by the beach. I wanted to make them look as a continuation of the village in the background, but due to their size, this definitely won't be easy, and my arrangement of the cabins will most likely change drastically by the time I finish the project. My current concept is to make a little village of these cabins, with showers, sitting places, etc. The idea is to (unlike the sauna and the wooden path) make a traditional beach environment, rather than create a nature experience. Below is a rendering of the cabins that continue on the beach.

Finally, there is the mentioned sun clock. Now this element of the project is rather different from the rest, as you might have noticed, so I decided to make a special use of it. Since the island of Hven lacks a defined and clear centre, I decided that the sun clock should have a monumental function, thus defining a centre and also creating a space for local (and tourist) interaction. I have yet to design it, but I'm currently focusing on getting the other larger elements done, so it'll have to wait a little. With that said, this is what I have done so far. A lot of the concepts and symbolical elements of the project remain unexplained here, but they will be so when everything is completed.

- Andy Minchev


During the weekend of week 17, two friends and I went on a short trip to a vacation home, in Northern Zealand (the northern part of the island on which the Danish capital lies). Unfortunately, I was rather ill during this short trip, so we never managed to walk larger distances (the area has a wonderful woodland, with lots of wild nature and also some historic buildings in the woodland as well, so it was a great shame that my condition was as it was). But despite my illness, there was this abandoned amusement park close to where we stayed, which we simply had to experience.

The amusement park, once a bustling attraction for the whole family, with vast lands for everything from gigantic playgrounds to gokart circuits and rollercoasters to petting zoos. But with the economic crisis of 2008, the amusement park was declared bankrupt, and has remained abandoned since. Of course, being abandoned, it has during this three year period been vandalized and plundered for all material remains. But more interesting from the architectural point of view, has for me been to study how the buildings slowly have become subject to decay, and how nature has slowly started taking over the abandoned area. Unfortunately for my study, nature's impact on the abandoned park, hadn't been as visual as I had expected, but still, I documented as much of it as possible from what we saw.

A good example was the gokart center, with a facade on which vegetation had started growing naturally. Despite somewhat stable asphalt on the circuit, minor weeds were also beginning to appear on the track. All wooden structures were furthermore weakened and clearly affected by the lack of maintenance, such as the wood not being polished. It was interesting to see how much damage the wooden structures in the amusement park had suffered due to this.

Besides the wooden structures, it was also interesting to see the impact on the playground areas such as the one above. Here, nature's impact on the park is more clear to see. During my childhood in Copenhagen, I remember once being in this park, and this playground area was really well maintained, with freshly cut grass, small artificial ponds and such. This I remember to have been a little pond you had to cross, now all dried up and vegetated to the point at which it is barely passable.

Close to this playground area, was a giant "Viking hall" building - Built in a style that imitates traditional Nordic architecture from the Viking era. This hall must have been some sort of a cafeteria or such, but as the photo shows, what seem to have been the kitchen quarters, are here completely destroyed, for the lack of a better word. The interesting thing about this structure, is that unlike the others, the wooden construction seemed surprisingly strong and well-maintained. I believe this could be due to the use of a stronger type of wood, or rather one that fits better with the local weather conditions (the wood was indeed different from the rest of the structures in the park).

And now to the more eiree part of our tour. There was an abandoned house with just about everything left in it, such as furniture, clothes, and all sorts of household items (it seemed that there had been more items, but these have no doubt been plundered). We wondered why all these items were still there, as if the owners (most likely the owner of the park lived there) had packed a few bags and escaped the place in a hurry. Either way, it was in here that the work of decay had perhaps been the most visual. The picture above is of the livingroom in the house - I believe it speaks for itself.

Close to this house, was a building next to the main entrance, which seemed to have been like a complex with a restaurant, some offices and a gift shop. As you can see, the entrance to the restaurant now looks like something from a horror flick. The pictures here may not present the more stereotypical kind of abandoned amusement park, but considering that such places are generally very very rare in Denmark, it was a great experience for me to witness the effects of decay, and the change of architecture after it. At our point of exit, we were questioned by two security guards (who were surprisingly friendly!), who also told us more about the place. As it was clearly visible, it had been during several occasions been vandalized by local hooligans, and it had also been plundered by groups og gypsies. Furthermore, the place was to be torn down the following week (which means it is torn down as I write!) - Which means that my two friends and I are very likely the last people to ever take photos of the place! 

- Andy Minchev


During the Easter holiday, a few friends and I spontaneously decided to take a roadtrip to Berlin. Now Berlin is no new city to me - Me brother used to study (architecture as well) in Dresden, so my parents and I have been in and past Berlin quite a few times in the last decade. But this time, it was my first visit to the city with my new architectural knowings and oppinions, so the experience was significantly different.

Berlin, like London (which I visited about two months ago), is yet another great European metropolis. Now I assume most of you readers are well familiar with the city of Berlin, and it's dramatic history as well, so I'll skip the long historic writings and focus more on my experience of the city. But before skipping the entire "lecture", I believe there are a few things that are worthy of mentioning about the architectural styles of the city. As you most likely know, the city was split up between parts during the Cold War era - Eastern and Western Berlin. The eastern part of the city was at the time under influence of the USSR and thus the architectural style was strongly influenced from the styles that were dominant in the Soviet Republic. The west on the other hand, was strongly influenced by Western European and American styles - Such as post-modernism and western modernism. The eastern side was on the otherhand characterized by the rationalistic style, which was dominant throughout the entire USSR due to its fitting image towards the communistic idealogy. The two styles on each side of the border are still quite visible today, which if you ask me, has created a bit of a stylistic chaos in the city. Fortunately the city is changing towards a more harmonious style, that connects the styles of the two borders, but it is a process that undoubtfully will take decades yet. Above is a photo of a USSR-era highrise building that has been redesigned into a hotel, with a more modern and pleasant facade.

So away we go from the history lesson and back to the more subjective and personal material. I've always found it a good thing that the center of Berlin is placed in a fairly close area, thus being a city with a clearly defined downtown area. The area I speak of is the one where the Reichstag and the Brandenburgertür are located and on to the Potsdamerplatz with the Jewish monument on the way. And then in towards east by Checkpoint Charlie and on to the museum island. All these landmarks are within a few minutes of walking distance, which I believe is a vital feat when defining a city center. One place did unfortunately is a while away, is the infamous shopping street, Kurfürstendamm Strasse. As my friends and I experienced during our stay in Berlin, it was no doubt the busiest street in the city (pedestrian wise). I find it a shame that it isn't closer to the downtown monuments and landmarks, but to be fair, you naturally can't just move a street closer to some place (imagine the possibilities if you could though!). Above is a picture of an element of one of the taller buildings on the Ku'damm Strasse (as the locals call it). 

Despite the slightly chaotic structuring of the city (as one can expect for a city of it's size and history), human interaction and life seemed to be plentiful throughout the streets. Germany as a nation is well known for their automotive cultural, and when walking the streets, you quickly notice that Germans seem to be rather proud of their engineering skills and automotive creations. The urban infrastructure highly prioritizes space for vehicles, rather than pedestrians, perhaps due to this cultural tendency amongst the Germans. But yet again, the Berlin infrastructure seems inviting to pedestrians, due to a great abundance of trees at just about every street! One thing I admire about Berlin, is the new Potsdamer Platz area. The architectural value of this area is a thing of taste, but the area functions perfectly in a social and interactive manner. The photo above is a picture of the tent that covers the Sony Center space, which is filled with restaurants and cafés, all filled with people. Never have I seen a modern complex in Europe that attracts as many visitors as Berlin's Sony Center! Now before I get too enthusiastic about the great social qualities of the Sony Center, I might want to explain what it is first... Or, I'll just choose to be a lazy bugger and make you check out this link instead. Read it yet? So how about it, huh?

A five minute walk away from the Potsdamer Platz, we find the now somewhat famous Jewish Monument (as seen on the photo above). Now unlike the Sony Center area, I'm really disappointed with this monumental square. Now don't get me wrong, I feel bad, really bad, for all the millions of Jewish people whose lives were lost during the war, but this is no monument for such a tragic and dark part of the German history. Making a huge square with concrete blocks in different heights isn't going to make anyone sad or remember the poor people who went missing during the war - It is the perfect recipe for a parkour runners dream, or a huge playground for children running around, jumping on blocks, and playing hide and seek amongst them. The possibilities for interaction at this "monument" are fantastic. Who would've thought a bunch of simple concrete blocks could create such a fun space? And yet, one isn't allowed to interact with the square "due to its symbolic value". Peter Eisenman, the designer of the monument, really didn't think this one through if you ask me. It be interesting to make a replica of this monument in some city, without its tragic symbolism, and see how people interact with it - I think it could turn up to be quite a busy playground for people of all ages!

Ah yes. Finally of course, we have the remains of the Berlin Wall. Once a tragic structure that seperated one from the other, today a display of some of the finest Cold War graffiti. I have only attached this one picture above, for there are too many to fit in here on this humble post. But a simple google of the words "Berlin Wall Art" will get you there! Now I believe I've come to the point of this post, in which I've mentioned just the most of the stuff on my mind (it least the stuff there's room for!). I can highly recommend a trip to Berlin at any time, it sure is a city with plenty of life, and lots to do. Oh and did I mention the nightlife is great? The nightlife is great! 

(Do note that my friends and I were on a rather short visit, so a lot of the city remains unexplored from my point of the story)

Further reading:

- Andy Minchev