26 June 2013 Blogs, Academic, Community College, Faculty, Librarian, Student/Researcher

Architects Just Want to Have Fun

ProQuest’s Art and Architecture Archive will make it easy for whimsical researchers to generate ideas

Thanks to imaginative architects, you could soon have the snootiest birds in your neighborhood, or end up living in a house made from mushrooms!

What happens when architects put their expertise to work in fun and unconventional ways? Well, they still build on (pun intended) the history of architecture and its basic principles, including this tenet immortalized by architect Louis Henry Sullivan: “Form ever follows function.”

[Photo:] What do you mean, there's not enough room?

Take, for instance, the cloudlike doghouse created by Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Kazuyo Sejima specifically for the bichon frise breed.  Sejima says “our goal was to create a shape that would be completed by the reclining bichon frise. Dog and architecture would become one.” Mission accomplished!

Or an ice fishing shanty that takes its function—and its name—seriously. Not only can you catch fish through the ice while protected inside its walls, but the walls themselves are made of ice! The shanty has a timber frame and chicken wire cladding that is filled up with lake water to create ice walls, according to Gartnerfuglen, the Norwegian firm that designed it.

Adhering to architectural roots doesn’t preclude creatively expanding those boundaries, as evidenced by a tree house in Oregon. Almost certainly unlike any tree house you’ve ever seen, its undulating curves and floating ceilings were designed to interpret, through architecture, the owner’s love of music.

Or consider the gas stations designed in the mid-1950s by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Arne Jacobsen. Solidly functional, they are nevertheless eye-popping and one of a kind.

And its size (12 feet by 7 feet) isn’t the only unusual thing about the Mushroom Tiny House under construction in New York. Its insulation and ceiling tiles are made from eco-friendly, affordable, and highly functional mushroom material. No drama queens allowed; we don’t want anyone “chewing up the scenery” here!

When architects want to have even more fun, they might head out for a few rounds of miniature golf just like anyone else. Except when they’re allowed to design the course, architects tend to think up holes that incorporate things like construction toys, holograms, and futuristic versions of major cities.

Sometimes, though, architects stick to tradition. German design firm Raumhochrosen offers birdhouses that are scaled replicas of great architectural homes. No wonder some birds are flying around with their noses (er…beaks) in the air!

But whether architects and researchers are more interested in tradition or in pushing the design envelope, knowing the history and progression of architecture provides a touchstone and a springboard for unbridled creativity.

ProQuest’s Art and Architecture Archive will make it easy for whimsical researchers to generate ideas!

This new collection features many of the most important art and architecture magazines of the 20th century and includes archival content that has never been available before in digital form.

The archive covers the spectrum from fine and applied arts to industrial and interior design and landscape gardening, and features:

    -- Architectural Review, Architects’ Journal, Canadian Architect, Country Life, and many others
    -- Every edition, from the first issue to the year 2005
    -- Cover-to-cover scans with high-resolution images of plans and drawings, full-color photographs, and searchable text, with article-level indexing

    Researchers can also cross-reference other to get a full picture of society and current events during the architectural period under review.

    So start planning those barns, dollhouses, travel trailers, houseboats, cars, outhouses, and yes, even houses and commercial buildings. You’ve got the knowledge at your fingertips to imagine something extraordinary!