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Santiago Calatrava is the architect of the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain. The principal buildings are an opera house and performing arts centre, museum of science, an IMAX cinema, a covered garden named L'Umbracale, a performance space, an open air oceanographic park and other structures including two bridge.
These photographs were made in April 2017.
The Canadian-American architect, Frank Ghery, designed several Guggenheim Museums, this one is on the banks of the Nervion River in Bilbao, Spain. One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a signal moment in the architectural culture and, according to the 2010 World Architecture Survey, a building most frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980.
The museum was built as part of a revitalization effort for the city of Bilbao. Its economic impact on the city was dramatic. It was estimated that the money visitors spent on hotels, restaurants, shops and transport allowed the city to collect €100 million in taxes, which more than paid for the building.
Most of these images were made at the end of the day under threatening skies. The subtle effects of a weak sunset and nearby artificial lights has been emphasised during post processing. A split toning effect has been applied to some images.
The Basilica Sagrada Familia has a long history. Construction started in 1882. After a year the original architect resigned and Antoni Gaudi commenced his life's work of designing this unique World Heritage building. A mixture of Gothic and Art Nouveau, the style has been described as, "The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages." At the time of Gaudi's death in 1926 at age 73 progress had been slow. Less than a quarter of the project was complete. In part this was because the cost is met solely by personal donations. Work continued intermittently being interrupted by the Spanish Civil War and Word War II. The mid-point of construction was reached in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining. Perhaps the principal spire will be the greatest challenge. With a height of 170 metres it will make the Sagrada Família the tallest church building in the world.
Since 1996 Morocco has had a parliamentary system of government with two houses, the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. The Head of State is the King of Morocco.
Morocco's geographic location has resulted in it being influenced over many centuries by a variety of cultures. These include various African tribes from the south of the Sahara Desert, Islamic styles from the Arab neighbours to the east, and European colonisers, in particular France but also Spain and Portugal. All have left their mark and created a culture unlike any other. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the country’s unique architectural style.
The strongest influence on architecture is Islam. Principal structural elements in important buildings are columns and arches which often support domes or groups of domes to create large column free spaces. The general form of these draws on the tradition of both Greco-Roman architecture and the styles of Mesopotamia and Persia. In Morocco the specific decorative guidelines of Islam have been used to direct the construction and ornamentation of buildings for centuries.
Ornamentation is hard to miss. Perhaps the most fascinating is the muqarnas originally developed in Iran in the 10th century. These are the honeycomb or stalactite decorations on the underside of arches, in corner niches and sometimes on the entire underside of a dome. Complicated decorative elements include geometric tile patterns, carved floral motifs and calligraphy.
The words kasbah, citadel, medina and ksar are confusing because they have similar meanings and can probably only be distinguished by the locals, but here is an attempt to define them.
Kasbah is derived from an Arabic word meaning the central part of a town or citadel but it’s meaning is varied. Historically in Morocco the kasbah was home to regional rulers. Built in mud brick with high walls and few exterior windows kasbah's are often sited on hilltops to provide greater security. The clustering of buildings on multiple levels with thick walls and small windows provides thermal inertia which helps maintain a comfortable internal climate. This is particularly relevant in the southern desert areas bordering with Algeria and the Sahara Desert. Many contemporary buildings draw upon the form and motifs of the kasbah.
The citadel is the central fortified part of a town that provides security from attack, which suggest that it might also be a kasbah.
The name medina is Saudi Arabian in origin. It denotes the historical walled city or town, which was, and in many places still is, the centre of everyday life. Medinas offered a protected area with high walls and narrow winding streets within which people traded (in the souks - markets), lived (in riads or dars) with local hammams (Turkish baths) and bakeries for each district and they prayed in mosques.
A ksar is an Arabic term for castle, fort or more typically a fortified village which sounds a lot like a citadel which in turn sound like a kasbah.
As I said, it’s confusing. There seems to be no clear division.
Modern buildings in Ouarzazte with traditional motifs.
Kasbah of Taourirt in Ouarzazate restored with funds from UNESCO.
Palais Sebban Hotel, Marrakech. Originally built as a palace in 1400.
Palais Sebban Hotel, Marrakech. Originally built as a palace in 1400.
A cloistered courtyard with traditional Moroccan arches and mosaics.
Detail of the gates of the Royal Palace of Fes.
The mind numbing detail of geometric designs and floral motifs (Arabesque) are based on Islamic beliefs.
Detail of mosaics including three dimensional relief in the upper section.
Fine timber inlay work in this timber door.
Window detail in Marrakech.
Setting out at dawn on the western edge of the Sahara Desert.
Viewing the sunrise.
Desert dunes with distant dark mountains.
A dune catches the light of the rising sun.
This set received a Bronze Award in the Conceptual Art Photography Awards conducted by the Australian Photographic Society.
Modernism both in architecture and art are my influences. The first 70 years of the 20th century saw the development of functional, minimalist architecture while in the field of art, abstract painters like Mondrian created non-objective works that explored line, colour and composition in a minimalist way.
I have enjoyed photographing architecture in the manner of a portrait, creating a record of a building in favourable light from the best available camera position. But this approach can only be taken so far. Buildings are complex and there are many ways of experiencing them.
The modernist architect, Mies van der Rohe, reportedly said, “God is in the details”. I find in the details of modern architecture, not God, but a wealth of subject matter for abstract photographic art. While architecture has traditionally been rendered in a realistic way, when small details are explored, the building becomes anonymous and there is no need for realism in the rendering of the detail.
So I enjoy expressing the purity of form and colour which can be found in the details of contemporary architecture. The result is a minimalist, non-objective abstraction.
If the work shown here tells a story it is more about a way of seeing rather than a record or a progression of events. It is a way of representing a small segment of the real world in a hyperreal way.