Beach House

Paraty beach house

Beach House in Paraty, Brazil, by Marcio Kogan

A spectacular beach house, designed by architect Marcio Kogan, is an apparent structural ingenuity. The house looks like something out of a James Bond movie, but underneath the shiny surface, everything is not so pretty…

There is alegend that says that the region of the colonial town ofParaty, situated on the Brazilian coast just south of Rio de Janeiro, has 365 islands, one for every day of the year.Two apparent concrete boxes lie embedded in the side of one of these islands. Their volumes protrude out of the mountain, almost on beach level,with a cantilever of up to 8 meters, forming a habitable space inthe middle of nature.






So much for the pretty exterior, but there is more: The house was constructed in a natural reserve, and Brazilian Justice ordered it’s demolition in 2010, just months after it’s conclusion, because of breaching ambiental laws. The owners, however, did not bow for Justice. The house is still standing. We might note that the owners are quite powerful:

The beachhouse in Paraty is owned by the Marinho family, the founders of Rede Globo. a television network that was launched in 1965, right after the military coup in Brazil. The company thrived under the military regime and until this day could be considered the fourth power in the nation; also one of the largest media companies in the world. Through its network, the broadcaster covers 98.6% of Brazil’s territory. For many people living in less densely populated areas, Globo is their only source of information. No democratic country has a media network with so much influence over it’s citizens. Globo influences elections and colors their news broadcasts from a rightwing, conservative perspective.

The Marinho family position themselves above the law, a bit like Brazilian royalty, which leads to irritation in less conservative circles. In Paraty, the Marinhos not only constructed the house and an adjacent heliport in a natural reserve, but also claim the beach in front of it as their own. One should know that By Brazilian law, all beaches are public; private beaches are not allowed. This weekend there were protests in front of the house by a group of activists that calls itself Midia Ninja. They “invaded” the beach in front of the house, thus claiming it as public territory:

Paraty Globo protests

Activists of Midia Ninja in front of the house.

Instead of apologizing for their collaboration in the coup of 64, Globo warned that they are already plotting another. But times have changed and we are no longer the same. We know that their empire was built during the military dictatorship with resources that belong to the Brazilian society. All that belongs to Globo is ours. We will invade your beach!” the activists stated.

They have a point:  But illegal as it may be, the house does possess certain architectural qualities. Demolishing it would be a pity. Considering that it was built in a public space (the beach) and payed for with (historically) public money, it should be public. Instead of demolishing the beachhouse, it might be turned it into a public pavillion, not unlike the French did to their royal properties back in 1789.
















The Source


Left: Hutong next to a modern apartment complex, tianjin, China. Middle, right: Hutong in Beijing. Photos; RM

Chinese urban planning has often been criticized for its ruthless demolishing of older areas in favor of new monotonous blocks. China is not respecting its own heritage, is often suggested. This phenomenon, however, to the contrary can be seen as the result of China’s persistence in maintaining its traditional way of thinking about planning, for too long. Continue reading

Engineering is Fun!

Tianjin Eye

Tianjin Eye over the (frozen over) Hai River. Photo:RM

Whoever said that engineering is boring? In Tianjin, China the Yongle Bridge over the Hai River was equipped with a Ferris wheel, consequently combining dull infrastructure with fairground fun! It’s height of 120 meters makes Tianjin Eye the fourth tallest Ferris wheel in the world.

260px-Ferris-wheelThe word Ferris wheel, by the way, is derived from the name of it’s inventor, George Ferris. He built the first one for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The 80 meter tall construction was inspired on a bicycle wheel, in which the iron spokes maintain the tension in the wheel.


Markthal Rotterdam

Markthal Rotterdam. Photo:RM

De toonaangevende reisgids Lonely Planet heeft Rotterdam verkozen tot nummer vijf in de top tien van ‘topsteden van de wereld’. Het is de enige Nederlandse stad in de lijst van Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016. De vorig jaar opgeleverde Markthal speelt hierin waarschijnlijk een rol. Een bijzonder gebouw met een wat misleidende naam, omdat het  op een aantal punten wezenlijk verschilt van wat normaal gesproken als markthal wordt beschouwd:  Continue reading

Traffic Jam Musings

crash barrier vangrail

L: Guide rail on the side of the roadside field, M: Crash barrier disappearing underground, R: Components of a standard guiderail (A-profile): S – guardrail, D – distance piece, P –post

Sometimes the traveler strays from his straight path and finds himself in need of guidance. For this reason the guiderail (or guardrail, or crash barrier) was invented. Besides its guiding function, it also has a safety aspect; it protects people and goods along the side of the road against the impact of incoming traffic. The guiderail is so common that the average motorist barely notices its presence anymore. Until he comes in contact with it, of course. Or if he finds himself stuck in traffic next to one. For a long time, without any other distractions. Then he rediscovers it and certain questions start to arise in his mind.  Continue reading

Imitation in Design; why does it irritate?

imitation in design

Left: Touch tone telephone with “classic” design. Right: Fake battlements in Spijkenisse, the Netherlands. Photo: RM

Imitation-bricked windows in a new apartment building and a “classic” touch-tone telephone. What do these have in common?  Among designers both can count on reactions ranging from scorn and contempt to irritation and anger. But why?  Continue reading

Less is Less, More is More

“Less is More”, a famous German architect once said. Nonsense, of course; Less is just less.

Dean Gardens Estate in Atlanta: More is definitely more.

Dean Gardens Estate in Atlanta: More is definitely more.

With an area of over 3500 m2, Dean Gardens Estate was, at the time of its completion in 1992, the largest residence in Atlanta. The owner, software tycoon Larry Dean, put it back on sale again just two years later. Finally, after17 years it sold for $ 7 million, a fraction of the original construction costs. Why? Continue reading