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Architecture Monday

February 13, 2017

It’s not often that something super new and remarkable happens at the level of mid- to high-rise buildings, but Jean Nouvelle’s White Walls project in Cyprus certainly fits the bill.  A great mix of commercial and residential space, three things hit you immediately looking at the building:  it’s white, it’s full of holes in a delightful pattern, and there is a lot of stuff growing out of those holes.

Slightly wedge shaped in plan, this is a building all about screens and voids.  No side is monolithic, with generous balconies and glass on the two narrow ends, and the beautiful lattice effect of all those holes on the long ones.  Even the elevator makes its mark, carving its way upward through those white walls.  There’s something almost soft and inviting about the smooth white walls, with the organic pattern of cut outs adding enough texture that it reminds me of the White Cliffs of Dover.

As nifty as the outside is, as with all great architecture, the magic really happens inside.   There is a lot of great space inside, taking full advantage of those voids and screens to create aerial gardens, lofty rooms, and expansive vistas.  Light – nicely controlled in the intensely sunny Mediterranean climate – is everywhere, thrown high and deep into the rooms from those extensive cut outs that often go from floor to ceiling.

Overall, the building changes level by level, with different locations and sizes for atriums, window patterns, and the great greenery. The top level sports a nifty duplex apartment arranged around a vernacular courtyard, and capped with a roof deck open to the tower’s residents that includes a dramatically positioned pool.

From certain angles that top level is a bit jarring and doesn’t quite resolve itself to fit nicely into the smoothness of what is below.  Minor things, however, on a tower that otherwise is a wonderful addition to the town.  I would love to see more mid-rises designed this way, intriguing takes on the form that elevate both the sculptural nature of the built form, and even more so create wonderful and varied spaces inside that delight and are great places to live.

Plus all that greenery!

White Walls by Jean Nouvel.

 

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