Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Malplaquet House

Tim Knox, director of Sir John Soane's Museum and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, a landscape architect, live in Malplaquet House in London's East End. Built in 1740 for a wealthy merchant, the 20 plus room mansion survived the Blitz and being chopped up into various shop spaces before being rescued by the Spitalfields Trust from demolition.

Tim and Todd acquired the mansion in 1998 and began an extensive stabilization preserving as much of the historical fabric as possible. They then began filling the rooms with their vast collection of religious artifacts, taxidermy animals and other curiosities acquired from the markets and auction houses of England.

A chimneypiece, constructed of plaster by set designer Christopher Hobbs, holds a commanding position in the Sarcophagus room. Allegorical figures representing Africa and North America, where Tim and Todd were raised, support the cornice. In the center are portraits of the owners and a human skull found by the sculptor in the rubble of an old YMCA.

Portraits of nuns line the walls and taxidermy animals peer from under heavy Victorian furniture.
A stained-glass window depicting the Crucifixion provides privacy in the bathroom.

Outside, Todd has filled the garden with ancient tree ferns and religious statuary.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thierry Despont - Through the Moon Door

Architect Thierry Despont’s current exhibition, Through the Mood Door, featuring these curious mechanical oddities, will be on display at the Marlborough Gallery Chelsea through November 18th.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Architectural Hero...Gaston Callum

Photograph by Gastom Callum via Oxford American

In the mid 1990’s, Gaston Callum began photographing the forgotten plantation houses, farm houses and vernacular buildings of his native South. Realizing that time was quickly running out for these neglected properties he founded Southland Historic Preservation with the goal to document and stabilize these historic buildings. After stabilization, the properties are sold with historic covenants to ensure that buyers do a sympathetic restoration. Successes include properties in Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Materials from buildings that cannot be saved are sold in lots that include photos of the original installations.

Available properties are listed on the SHP website, some with videos documenting their rescue. Gaston continues to photograph buildings and is currently working on a book of endangered North Carolina architecture.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Favorite Places ...The Garconieres - Houmas House Plantation

Two story hexagonal brick and stucco structures built as bachelor's quarters, presumably to keep the peace and quiet in the main house, consisting of a sitting room downstairs and an upstairs bedroom. 

Library of Congress, Richard Koch photographer
Measuring the east garconiere for the Historic American Buildings Survey, April 1936.