The Ex-Majlis Building in Tehran by Heydar Gholi Khan Ghiaï-Chamlou in 1955. The project depends heavily on principles of Islamic geometry and combines them with varied textures, materials, and dimensions. Long, exaggerated lines are used on the exterior façades, echoing the Futurist Manifesto. The brise-soleil recalls traditional Middle Eastern screens that filter light and delineate ornate patterns cast in shadows upon three dimensional surfaces. The dome of the building was inspired by the architect’s family crest. It was one of the first major modernist projects in Tehran and was considered the greatest advance in Iranian architecture at the time. Rather than borrowing from the west, it evolved the traditional forms already found in the vernacular architectural vocabulary of the region.  


Jean Prouve, Maisons Coques, (1950-1952)

During the assembly work for the Mame Printing Works. Prouve made an observation that he later described as follows: “One beautiful day around lunchtime, I saw thirty workers taking a break. They were sitting and eating among the stored shed-roof elements – and they all told me the same thing: “We don’’t know why, but we feel at ease here.” This was the birth of the shell houses, or maisons coques, who’s prototype Prouve presented in Paris at the 1951 exhibition Arts Menagers. Basically, this construction principle entailed no more than creating a series of “shells” made of bent shed roof elements, which rest on facades or interior walls. Not much later, numerous variations on such “shell houses” were completed.


Alvar Aalto, Three Exterior Views of theHelsinki House of Culture”, (1958)

 The House of Culture in Helsinki is Aalto in his ‘red brick period’. He achieves the free-form curves of the concert hall walls using wedge-shaped bricks, arranged variously with their shorter edge facing inside or outside the wall. The impact of the solid brick walls must be seen in the context of what had gone before. In Finland, the National-Romantics had used wood and granite to show closeness to Finnish nature, while the modern movement (as elsewhere) used more abstract white plaster surfaces (which did not wear well particularly in the Finnish climate). Aalto’s red brick was therefore a bigger statement than it now seems: a man-made material that keeps its individuality and local personality.


Doin’ The Lambeth Walk: Lambeth Towers, London by George Finch-

Lambeth Towers was designed in the 1960s, by British architect George Finch, who was also designed the Brixton Recreation Centre. The building was originally designed as a mix of private and social housing and the complex also had medical facilities and a restaurant. It was completed in 1968, has 12 floors and  is situated on Kennington Road in South London. The concrete building has several different levels of varying height, this and the protruding white bay windows make it very eye catching.

© 2013 Alex James Bruce