Welt Museum Reopening, Vienna

We spent a weekend in Vienna primarily for the Weltmuseum reopening event but also took the opportunity to take in the classical architecture (and cakes) Vienna has to offer. Along with the Welt Museum we also toured the Albertina, Naturhistorisches Museum, Schloss Belvedere, and the Leopold Museum.

A little bit about the Weltmuseum, it has one of the world’s most important ethnographic collections with origins dating back to the 16th century and the private collections of the rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The museum is situated in the Corps de Logis – part of the Neue Burg -a monumental extension of the Vienna Hofburg, which was built in 1881. In 2013 they appointed the team of Hoskins Architects and Ralph Appelbaum Associates to redevelop the exhibition and visitor facilities.

The challenge for the design was to implement the refurbishment of the content of the museum and at the same time to remain sensitive to the qualities of the listed building and its context. The team took a holistic approach of architecture and exhibition design with a common starting point demonstrating the cultural diversity of the collection in their current and historical relationship to the world and to Vienna.

Following changes within the Culture Ministry in 2014 the construction budget of the project was reduced by approximately 40% to €17 million. The design was adjusted to suit a smaller footprint and the design team worked to maintain  the original principles.

As well as the exhibition spaces itself, Hoskins Architects designed an event space with a media cube defining the front of the main entrance; it is used for film screenings, as a stage and also as a café-bar, bringing the museum out to the public and improving the civic quality of the Heldenplatz.

The materiality of the refurbishment was carefully considered, new elements in the public areas of the ground floor, such as the foyer, shop and café, on the other hand, use patinated brass surfaces to reflect materials from the existing building fabric itself.

Also part of the scheme visitor routes were adapted so that the impressive ‘Säulenhalle’ or Hall of Columns can now be entered for the first time without a ticket, creating an indoor civic space that is being widely enjoyed. An auditorium was developed with a barrier free connection to the Säulenhalle offering the museum new opportunities for cultural mediation and hosting of external events.

The reopening party on the 25th October was well attended by the public (a bit of star spotting towards the end of the evening, Tilda Swinton and Wes Anderson who were in town for the Viennale popped in for a look). There was a big outdoor show  being filmed for tv as part of the festivities. A fun evening all round, thanks to Hoskins Architects for the tour and the invitation to the reopening of the Welt Museum (and the project information).

Mies van der Rohe House Lemke, Berlin

It was a cool autumnal day when I toured the Mies van der Rohe House Lemke and its courtyard garden. On the banks of Obersee, about 10km north-east from the city centre, the brick house was completed in 1933, whilst Mies was director of the Bauhaus, for a couple, Karl and Martha Lemke and their small family. They lived there until 1945 when the Soviet army gained control of east Germany and they were forced to leave their home.

The house fell into disrepair over the years and then in 1977 it was put under state protection but it was not until 2000 that extensive renovations began in earnest, a lot of the brickwork around the windows and the corner facades had to be replaced.

The house is a simple L-shape single storey courtyard house with a very uncomplicated floorplan. It demonstrates the many design ideas we know to be typical of Mies’ buildings, unfussy fenestration and facade treatments and detailed to make the most of the materials.

The house wraps around a tree in the courtyard which opens out from the living spaces. The house provides views into the garden and a view down to the lake from the main bedroom. The simplicity in the materiality and detailing creates a serene residence sitting within a still and lush suburban garden.

At the time of my visit was an exhibition titled Dekor und Deformation showing the work of glass sculptor, Julius Weiland. The minimalism of the glass pieces was in harmony with the architecture of the house.

100 days of sketching urban scenes


I spent 100 days of those 6 months sketching the city, thanks to the lovely Katherine Geppert, who suggested a group of us try out the Instagram 100 Day Project. Armed with a notebook and pencil I sketched urban scenes from October through to January.


As well as being a good reason to explore the city, practising my sketching was another thing on my to-do list. What I’ve learned from the 100 days is definitely practise, practise, practise. I might compare some sketching in the summer to see how different the urban scenes would be.



Check out Miss Geppert’s wonderful watercolour instagrams @katiegeppert. Also many other wonderful 100 day projects to explore on Instagram.

Change is as good as a holiday

After a three year hiatus from this blog it’s probably a good time to start this whole wandering architects endeavour again since Tim, Edie and I have moved to a new city. It’s now been 6 months living in Berlin, most of it feeling homesick for Glasgow where we’ve left some wonderful friends and a three-quarter renovated flat. We’ve also spent the time making this new city our new home; learning a new language and exploring the many wonders this energetic and complex city has to offer. It’s been exploring architecture, history, public transportation, play parks, city parks, cafe culture, bar culture (not so much these days), markets, museums, galleries, and so forth.

100 days montage


6 months and I’ve barely covered any great breadth of this city. I guess starting this blog up again would ensure I made a concerted effort to get my arse out of P-berg and see parts of Berlin I haven’t seen before.


We missed the first snow of the season this weekend, instead dodging sleet and hail on our first visit to Manchester.

We stayed with an old colleague of mine in the lovely village in a suburb of Chorley. We packed a fair bit in on Saturday, with a visit to the new architecture at Salford Docks as well as the highlights of the city centre, including the beautiful John Ryland library – a great secular temple.

The new stuff was generally pretty bland (though better than anything Scottish) as my preparatory reading of the relevant chapter of The New Ruins of Great Britain had made out.

On Sunday after an adventurous evening that ended up in an eclectic Cuban cafe we pottered around the lovely Whitworth Museum, whose luminous red brick was quite striking against the grey.

Monday we spent exploring the fantastic Northern Quarter in more detail, with great warehouses and fire escapes, along narrow streets combined with the requisite cafes and vintage shops creating our natural habitat 😉

brrr…winter campervanning in the northwest

brrr...northwest christmas 09

Another historic post,  for our Christmas – NW break last year – we tested Oswald to the maximum with a trip around the north west of Scotland (some of the most remote regions in Europe) in what turned out to be the coldest winter in 30 years.

He coped admirably – we only got stuck once although the deep snow did mean we stuck to main routes and didn’t get to explore off the beaten path much – mind you ‘main’ is probably a bit of a euphemism some of the single track roads were pretty hairy!.

Our flickr set tells the story in all the blinding white glory.

[flickr album=72157623037906591 num=30 size=Thumbnail]

cph weekend


We went to Copenhagen (almost a year ago) for a quick weekend visit to Howe before he left back to Vietnam – was a great weekend including lunch at Noma (above) for some ‘food as art’ foamy goodness – the second best restaurant in the world apparently!

paris & london with mum & dad

Mum & Dad came to visit through September. After a couple of weeks with my aunt & uncle in Lyon we met them in Paris, where gorgeous weather let us explore all the highlights, Eiffel Tower, Louvre (outside at least) Notre Dame, Monmartre and the Sacre Coure.

Catching the eurostar we moved on to London for a couple of days where some decidedly British weather kept us a little housebound (luckily we were staying in a spacious modernist gem of an apartment in Bloomsbury so all was not lost).

M&D provided an excuse to do all the tourist things we would never dream of in our usual east-end hipster type jaunts to the capital. Dad and Tim went up the London eye, we saw the crown jewels at the Tower of London and said g’day to Liz at Buckingham Palace. We also managed to catch up with Touch and meet Annalise her new super-cute baby and have a birthday dinner for me to catch up with all the Glasgow expatriates of the credit crunch!

Having squeezed all of that in we were suitably exhausted by the time we collapsed onto the East Coast mainline for the scenic ride back to Glasgow.

the lakes weekender

Ullswater from Side Famr
Ullswater from Side Farm

The annual mountain goats weekender headed south this year to Ullswater in the lakes district. The campsite was the incredibly located Side Farm with amazing views across the lake (Above).

Eschewing the energetic hill walks or mountain biking expeditions to nearby Helvellyn Chhay & I opted instead for a more lesiurely sail on the lake in true Swallows & Amazon’s style.

Sailing on Ullswater
Sailing on Ullswater

Miserable weather on the Sunday kept us to a short lakeside walk before a languid afternnon tea in nearby Pooley Bridge. Oswald proved very popular with the kids who claimed him as their castle during the days.