9 Stunning Architect x Designer Collaboration Projects


We all know architects have a prominent role in planning, designing, and constructing a building. But in the designing phase, an architect can always collaborate with other people in the creative industry. While many architects are highly capable of designing the space they build the shell around, sometimes they would team up with interior designers to specifically design the interior. Interestingly, the term designer in itself has many facets. Painters, sculptors, even those in the fashion world are also called designers, and they are open to collaboration with architects. Here are 9 stunning collaboration projects between architects and designers—various kinds of designers.

HARPA Concert Hall and Conference Center

Image source: architecturaldigest.com
Image source: architizer.com

A captivating monument that isn’t meant only to be admired from afar, HARPA Concert Hall and Conference Center is a successful collaboration aimed to shape a public space by architecture firms Henning Larsen and Batteríið with Danish-Icelandic artist ‎Ólafur Elíasson. Located in Reykjavík, it is an asymmetrical steel-framed structure coated with LED-illuminated glass-and-steel “bricks”, giving a dazzling game of colours to Icelanders every evening. Inspired by the basalt topography of Iceland, it breathed new life into the capital’s once-languid harbor.

The Energy Foundation

Image source: bcciconst.com

Completed in 2008, The Energy Foundation office in San Francisco accommodates 65 workers within a single floor. Built in the historic former San Fransisco Federal Reserve building, the plan was to admit maximum daylight to the centre parts of the building. Private workspaces are placed at the perimetre and have large clerestories, allowing natural light to come in and facilitate daylighting and views.

Image source: bcciconst.com

Mixing the old and the new, this Scandinavian-style office complements the original exposed structure with new finishes. Exposed concrete, gypsum board, aluminium and glass windows, and maple veneer plywood with natural colour palettes are to be seen in most parts of the collaboration project between Tannerhecht Architects and interior designer Gail Gordon.

Tsai Residence and Guest House

Image source: architizer.com

The Tsai couple are two young art collectors. They wished to have a townhouse for their growing art collection. So they hired HHF Architects to collab with Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei to accomplish this. Located two hours by car in upstate NYC, the Tsai Residence was designed based on a simple abstract figure, resulting in four elegant boxes clad in galvanized iron. These four equally-sized boxes are connected by smaller glazed passageways, letting in natural light while preserving the artworks inside at the same time. Constructed as a typical American balloon frame, the structure is wood-framed with a vertically-corrugated metal sheet exterior that horizontally overlaps each other on the edges, giving a nod to the local agricultural vernacular.

Image source: architizer.com

Very much satisfied with the award-winning result, the couple once again commissioned the collaboration team to design a guest house on the estate. Started three years after the completion of the first structure, the Y-shaped guest house was designed to both harmonise and contrast with the main house. The team accomplished this with the use of corrugated corten steel for the exterior, allowing the building to merge unobtrusively with the landscape while it rusts over time. At the centre, the gallery space for the couple’s sculpture collection is adorned with a classic wooden surface.

Cavallo Point Lodge

Image source: cavallopoint.com
Image source: cavallopoint.com

Formerly a military fortification, Fort Baker is now a unique place for hospitality and sport created to enhance and preserve the historical base as a new National Park. Cavallo Point Lodge consists of 21 buildings rehabilitated and given a brand-new purpose by Architectural Resource Group in collaboration with BraytonHughes Design Studios, plus additional 14 new ones. Offering green opulence, onsite activities and events, spa services and access to the San Fransisco Bay Area, the luxury lodging provides conference and retreat center with meeting rooms, a restaurant, and 142 guestrooms and suites.

Norwegian National Opera and Ballet

Conceived as a work of public sculpture, the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet is a unique masterpiece presented by architectural firm Snøhetta in collaboration with various artists and designers. The main façade forms a sloped, public plaza which appears to crash around the largely glazed foyer, designed by sculptors Jorunn Sannes, Kalle Grude, Kristian Blystad. The plaza also serves as an extension of the marble roof, elongated to form a ramp that directly converges with the Oslo fjord on the waterfront of the city. In winter, snowdrifts frequently form along the ramp, altering the form of the building. The plaza is built from 33.000 individually shaped slabs of Carrara marble.

Image source: snohetta.com
Image source: snohetta.com

Inside, the Opera itself has three theatres and multiple rehearsal rooms. The horseshoe-shaped Main Hall is designed as a remembrance of classical theatres of the past. The main chandelier is made out of hand-cast glass bars, while the customised curtain that looks like a wrinkled aluminum foil designed by visual artist Pae White adds an edgy texture to the old-styled hall. Upon the hall, the fly tower is embellished with metal cladding, specifically designed by textile artists Astrid Løvaas and Kirsten Wagle.

Image source: snohetta.com

Through and through, the 38,500 sqm structure is as much landscape as architecture, inviting the general public who are not even opera, ballet nor orchestra fans.

Canyon Residence

Collaboration projects between architects and interior designers are frequently heard of, but how about an architect and visual artist collaboration? This Canyon Residence of the Kaplan couple’s is the proof of this rare teamwork. It took over 12 years to complete the process, but the result is remarkable.

Image source: architizer.com

Sculptor Charlie Kaplan and his landscape-artist wife, Jo Ann, were intimately involved in the design and construction process of their house along with architect Michael Lehrer. The initial idea was to expand one room, but then it evolved radically, involving tearing down the whole house and starting from scratch instead. The final outcome is a white stucco-finished contemporary home that sits as if it is a sculpture in the verdurous scenery. Steel-framed walls seem to hover above the ground, asserting the sculptural trait.

Image source: architizer.com

As pleasing as it is to see the exterior, the interiors make the dweller feel good. One of the owner’s favoured spaces within the house is the living room that features sliding glass doors on two walls that can extend seamlessly into the adjacent garden, which is, as he stated, the epitome of indoor-outdoor living.

Ark Nova

In 2013, a humongous aubergine egg landed in Matsushima, Japan. Apparently, it was an inflatable structure designed by distinguished Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and British artist Anish Kapoor. Titled the “Ark Nova”, the project was to make a portable concert hall for the nationwide tour of the Lucerne Festival. It is a whole new level of Kapoor’s craft who was previously known for producing big size abstract installations.

Image source: grandtourofswitzerland.jp

Skinned with a lightweight PVC-coated polyester, the 500-capacity Ark can be easily disassembled and moved to new locations, even the afflicted areas. When it’s inflated, the translucent membrane diffuses natural light, displaying a soft, purple glow within the space. The interior was furnished with removable timber flooring and seating, sourced from the cedar trees toppled by the devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred two years before.

Image source: aasarchitecture.com

The Hagerty House

Back in 1937, architect Walter Gropius was approached by his student from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to build a summer home for his mother. Of course, as it would then be his first architectural commission in the US, the pioneering founder of Germany’s Bauhaus was eager to accept. He then teamed up with designer Marcel Breuer, a former Bauhaus colleague and Harvard professor. The next thing they knew, the design turned into a full-time residence sitting on the north shore of Cohasset, Massachusetts, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Image source: dwell.com
Image source: dwell.com

When the Hagerty House was finally completed in 1938, the old-fangled Yankee neighbours were all taken aback. The minimalist structure wasn’t exactly fitting to the local’s conservative shingle, Federalist, and Greek Revival architecture. Naturally, it became a historic house as it paved the way for the then-upcoming modern century.

Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts

Image source: dwell.com

A winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Frank Gehry is one of the greatest modern architects of our time. His recognisable designs are often dubbed as being among the most significant works of contemporary architecture.

Image source: theatreprojects.com

For his Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts project, he collaborated with acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota and a team of theater consultants. A performance hall situated in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, the 10,000 sqm centre houses two theatres and four rehearsal studios. The front façade forms what can be interpreted as a theatrical mask for the raw face of the performance space. Its abstract shapes, as he once stated, prepare visitors to be open to experiencing the performances within.

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