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2 Amazing Art Studios: Nautilus by Calico Studio and José Parlá by Snohetta

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on August 06, 2015 at 02:12 PM

Is there any specification for a space where art has to breed? Are there any recipes which list the ingredients that go into the making of creative spaces? Do artists’ works bloom in a certain atmosphere or do they wither away into dysfunction under certain circumstances? Is any place inspirational or any aura off-putting for an artist? What exactly does an artist require in order to be able to produce his or her creations? These queries would surely find their place in a list of considerations drawn up by any designer called upon to create such a space, i.e. an artist’s studio. The most awkward spaces are often adapted to work in by an artist, if required. At the same time, they are also the most sensitive to their surroundings and whimsical in the way their work responds to it. We have picked up the studios of two artists, who were fortunate to have the luxury of having their work spaces designed by sensitive, competent designers in absolute harmony with the requirements of their art.

© Courtesy of Internet Resources - José Parlá

Nautilus Studio, Washington by Calico Studio - Pics 2 - 9

Created for a female American textile designer in a woody suburb of Washngton by the all girl architectural design team of Calico Studio, Nautilus Studio displays all the feminine (pardon the sexist tone) attributes of grace, sensitivity, flexibility and multi tasking. Called upon by this textile designer to create an inspirational workspace located in a grove of Cedars at close proximity to her home, which would allow her to move easily between her creative work and home making responsibilities, team Calico created Nautilus by drawing inspiration from the spiral shelled mollusc known by that name.

The spiral form of the ‘nautilus’ is reflected in the wedge-shaped plan, evolved from the functional rectangle to let in maximum amount of light into the workspace, and in the section through the curving roof with an unusually long overhang, devised from light diagram calculations to provide adequate weather shading and privacy. The simple plan has two large work spaces with a kitchenette, bath and mechanical room wedged in between, all opening out to a terrace at the back and a porch in front, topped by a loft above the mid space accessed by a wheeled custom made stepladder. A pulley arrangement has been provided for transporting heavy items to the loft store. The larger workspace is a dry area for textiles and the smaller one is a wet painting space. The considerable interior height affords sufficient storage along the walls, which are positioned in large blocks to provide privacy where required, leaving out large voids for the glass windows letting in ample sunlight and also a comprehensive view of the garden and play spaces outside. The customised furniture made from the wood of a cedar tree on site, is light weight and mounted on wheels to allow for instantaneous arrangements according to need and mood.

Calico studio has made a sensitive choice of materials for the Nautilus Studio, balancing aesthetic, ecological, structural and functional requirements. While AAC (aerated autoclave concrete, available in Asia as Siporex) blocks were chosen for the main structure for their insulating advantage and strong aesthetic, the roofing is of structurally strong, woody looking OSB sheets made from timber waste, supported on Glulam beams of similar attributes. 

Jose Parla’s Studio, New York by Snohetta - Pica: 1, 10-16

José Parlá, a Cuban-American of considerable repute is famous for his large collages and murals sometimes covering entire facades, like in the one he has done for a Library building in North Carolina designed by Snohetta. In fact, his studio in New York’s Brooklyn, designed by re adapting a warehouse in Gowanus, is part of a series of his collaborations with this Norway based firm.

Upon going through the large foldable entrance doors, one enters a small gallery of Parlá’s displayed works coupled with a kitchen by the side. Beyond this, the main studio opens out in two parts, the Arena and the Nest. The large area of the lower floor is left unfettered except for pivot suspended, movable walls which offer large surfaces required for the large sized murals Parla creates. This expansive work space, named the Arena, informs the main part of the studio, which is in turn overlooked by the lounge and living spaces created in the upper level loft, named the Nest. This Nest has a more intimate scale and appointed well with comforts and furniture to help the artist break away from his work occasionally, to rest and refresh and view his work from a removed perspective.

Whenever a formal event is to be organised, the movable walls are repositioned according to requirements of sizes of the works on display and their arrangement, and the floors are repainted in tune with the scheme converting the studio into an exquisite art gallery. The industrial roofing and floors of the warehouse having been retained to create an efficient workspace, the space has been painted in neutral grey shades to enhance the impact of Parla’s colourful murals. Huge skylights in the roof light up the workspace.

The sensitive, open minded, simple and unpretentious approach to design observed here is signature Snohetta. The interactions between people and the spaces used by them dictate their designs. This is only a reflection of their non hierarchical horizontal organisational structure and the consequent equal interactions within a firm which began as a collaborative between architecture and landscape, and remains true to its trans-disciplinary thought process to date.

Both studio designs explored above have at their heart the intertwined inter relationship between the living and work spaces of the artists they serve. Surely, artists don’t commute daily for a 9 to 5 job so their working and living spheres cannot be compartmentalised. From their life comes the inspiration for their work, and they live their art. The more fluid this transition between the two spheres, the more successful would the studio design be. 

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