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ALÓS practice for architecture and design produces buildings, environments, objects and stories.






•  253 West 76 Street, #7,  New York, NY 10023 
•  info@alos.nyc • +1 917 291 5916

Working with simple geometries and playful details we explore relations between material properties, sites and cultural narratives at various scales.
Chemistry and the built environment is an ongoing research focus.


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Mark

House in Achladies




Situated on a sloping triangular site facing the sea, the house is conceived as a series of parallel adjoining rooms. They are created by retaining walls, a common feature in the surrounding Mediterranean landscape.



Each room sits at a different elevation following the topography and contains a dedicated program. Access to the entry volume is located at the highest level of the site. A stair makes the slope flow into the house. This entry condition constitutes the first interior experience of the house, that of a viewing apparatus onto the sea.



The public spaces of the house are located in the center, master bedroom and guestrooms are on either side. Each space is focused on a large opening to the south, contemplating the sea. This is complemented by a smaller window to the north, looking towards the slope. These openings also provide efficient cross ventilation for each room.

The volumes are in shear, a condition that ensures that each outdoor terrace has privacy even if the volumes are adjoining; there are no views from each terrace to the next.



Sliding doors through the double walls mark the passage from one space to the next. The notion of a “cut” through the solid walls is emphasized by the grey marble of the thresholds. Walls are constructed from solid concrete and provide large thermal mass.



The east and west facades that face the road and the neighboring buildings have noopenings. They protect the interior from the heat of the sun. This creates a barely visible configuration of spaces conveying privacy in its interiors but with maximum views towards the sea.



The concept of “aggregate” was a generator of form and selection of materials.



Aggregation of volumes, aggregate in the raw concrete walls, in the terrazzo floor, roofs filled with gravel and plants.




In the interior at adjoining walls double up: built-in furniture and storage spaces; within them are desks, bathroom sink, plate dresser, artwork display. These built-in furniture are custom designed and are arranged along the centerline of the plan creating a dynamic sequence.



Materials were used that are very familiar in older Greek residential interiors such as terrazzo floors, which is present throughout the house inside and outside as well as marble and plaster render, but used in spaces, forms and combinations that are not so familiar.


Location:          Achladies, Skiathos Island, Greece
Completed:      2016
Architect:         ALOS, Lydia Xynogala
Photography:  Yiorgis Yerolymbos
Mark

Ennismore Gardens House





This listed Victorian house in Knightsbridge is facing a large communal enclosed garden across the street. The renovation aims to bring into focus the relationship with these gardens and bring light into the previously dark interiors. They were stripped from all previous artificial finishes. The main feature became the entry condition: the kitchen was previously buried under a heavy stair. A mezzanine level above was to be converted as a study and guest room.



The intervention employed one material that could achieve these multiple programmatic configurations: perforated steel plate, painted white. For the project is bent, creates volumes, architectural elements yet retains the character of a light screen over its surroundings.



To create a visual continuity with the gardens outside, a “phytothèque” or plant wall was conceived: a series of geometric volumes interlocked. They function as planters, display for art, shelves and seating, inspired by Wardian cases.


The Wardian case was an early type of sealed protective container for plants. It found great use in the 19th century in protecting foreign plants imported to Europe from overseas and was invented by Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward of London, in 1829.


A gradual transition from the garden (plants) to the domestic (objects) is achieved in this sequence. In the entrance the existing checkerboard floor was to be retained, so all new elements were painted white to offset the strong contrast of the floor with the plants breaking the two-tone interior. 



The perforated steel plate further continues as a stair element and allows light to flow into the small kitchen area, becoming almost invisible. As a new wall, in the mezzanine level above the kitchen, it is broken into operable shutters. When used as a guest room the closed shutters shield the interior from view of the entryway meanwhile bringing light in. When used as a study they open up to the entry and garden view outside.



Color in the living area is used to bring into focus historic details and create a dialogue with warmer tones on the furniture selection. The floor was stripped to reveal original flooring which was refinished. In the private areas, bedroom, dressing and bathroom, more subtle colors are employed again to create a play of texture and depth.



Scope:            Renovation, Interior Design, Custom Furniture
Status:            Completed
Year:                2016
Location:        London, England
Photography: Nicholas Worley

Edgware Road Lobby




A commision to design a ceiling mounted installation for a new residential development in London’s Edgware Road.



Our proposal is inspired by the history of this street, traditionally an Arabic neighborhood. The design is based on elements of calligraphy that are transformed into 3-dimensional ceramic objects suspended upon entry. They create a subtle play of color and a welcoming passage into the main concierge desk. Lighting is integrated into the delicate wire structure.


Program:    Residential
Scope:        Interior Design / Art Installation
Status:        In Progress
Year:            2018
Location:    London, England
In Collaboration with Candida Wigan, Tex-Tile




Three Guesthouses



Three existing and partially completed buildings were left in masonry units and concrete frame stage for years. Local building regulations did not allow for any alterations in their volume, therefore surface and texture became the architectural intervention. Programmatic requirements called for their conversion as guesthouses with a shared kitchen/breakfast room and wine cava. The design concept was to create a subtle/playful differentiation between the three buildings; this was achieved with the use of different materials and colors.
 

The façade of all ground floors is clad in local field stone similar to the dry stack stone walls in the surrounding landscape. The aim was to merge half of the building's volume with the site.

The façade of the upper parts has been insulated and painted. Each façade has a slightly different hue responding to its orientation. Warmer in the north, cooler in east and west. New window openings have been cut and framed in grey marble. New exterior stairs, eliminated the need for interior stairs and added more space in the rooms. By completely gutting the existing interiors in the the intervention made way for five new bedrooms, each with their own bathroom, a kitchen to entertain guests, outdoor and indoor dining areas, a gym and private balconies.



Wooden shutters shield the rooms from the sun. In closed state they form a geometric paintings on the walls. Different floor finishes differentiate the interiors. Low cost and durable finishes were selected to withstand heavy use, paired with custom details and furniture.



Scope:    Exterior Conversion, Interior Design, Landscape
Status:    Completed
Year:        2016
Location: Sporades, Greece
Photography: Yiorgis Yerolymbos


Mark

Recess Art Gallery





Recess is a non-profit Art Space. Their programs reimagine traditional studio, exhibition, and classroom platforms, offering artists, audiences, and program participants flexible frameworks in which to generate new works and ideas.



For their new headquarters in the Brooklyn Navy yards, we produced custom furniture designed space layouts for the public spaces and private offices. Low-budget, great flexibility and ease to replicate, were the design objectives. Common construction materials are the components for all the furniture. A steel element, the Recess Leg, adds a detail to an otherwise standardized material assembly. A square peg in a round hole. It is installed in different heights to create desks, benches, sofas. Standard lumber sheets become large desks for the offices, a long sofa for the public, benches, smaller meeting room tables. This array of furniture forming components allows Recess to compose various configurations for both work and public viewing.


The Bridge Space on the ground floor is conceived as an in-between space, prior to entering the artist’s studio and gallery. A long linear sofa for reading can be broken down into smaller units for a more intimate performance, book reading, screening. As Recess grows and expands, these furniture can be easily reproduced and rearranged to fit new needs.



Scope:        Interior Design, Custom Furniture
Status:        Completed
Year:           2018
Location:    Brooklyn, New York
Photography: Nick Johnson

Mark

Return of La Belle Jardinière
(Homage to Women)



Part landscape, part female body and part architecture, these objects are cast from sand, concrete, pigment, and metallic powders. They are an homage to Max Ernst’s The Return of La Belle Jardinière (1967).  



Inconspicuously situated between landscape and architecture is the jardinière or planter; it is an overlooked typology, yet it is a ubiquitous form throughout art and architecture imagery.


A crossover between landscape, interior furniture and small pavilion, in the 19th century la jardinière expresses the anxiety to “annihilate space” as the historian Siegfried Gideon points out. For Gideon jardinieres are a “gentle unreal play of dream elements that the eye delights to follow- as irrational as the sphinxes tails, curling into arabesques that sprout a thin stem balancing a vase.”

Throughout the history of art, garden imagery has alluded to the female gardener, the “jardinière”. She is often depicted as Madonna in the iconographical tradition of the Virgin as a fertile, enclosed garden and associated with certain flowers. Already records from the 15th century demonstrate the rise of  “Mary Gardens”. This idea of the jardinière is also objectified in a vessel carrying plants.


The jardinieres shown allude to architectures, landscapes and female body parts: knees, thighs, fortifications, breasts, grottos, caves, elbows, roofs, buttocks, mountains, glutes, domes, ruins...Just as a traditional jardiniere they can stand for themselves as objects and be utilized as vessels for plants.



They are planted with Mother of Thousands, a succulent that produces vegetatively in large numbers by creating small off springs on her leaves. The babies start growing roots and photosynthesizing before they reach the earth. Because of this she has the ability to behave as a weed (a subjective term we don’t endorse) dominating and crowding out other species that have less efficient means of propagation

Plant Life by Simone Frazier, an artist and horticulturalist, founder of Open Source Landscape



Storefront Souvenir:
Exploded Fortress of Solitude



“First Stop South Bronx. These buildings do bear an amazing resemblance to the buttes of Utah. And it is wonderful how things have sped up. When the condemned structures are dynamited, I can see in a few minutes the erosion that in nature would take countless eons. The sight is indeed awe-inspiring.”
    —Mike Kelley



Object exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture

Souvenirs: New York Icons Exhibition, Sept. 16-Dec. 9, 2017


Exhibition Text:
Approaching the long narrow strait of the south Bronx a solitary fortress emerges in the horizon.

Attracting visitors from Manhattan or coming from the nearby Randall’s island Art Fair, passing boats in the waters of Bronx Kills dock momentarily to admire the magnificent view. In Port Morris, the resident artist community enjoys this new dramatic scenery. There, it is, the large printing facility of New York Post where it once constructed stories, myths and other facts. Years of misinformation have formed thick layers over the surface of actual events.



12,000 tons of waste were routed to the South Bronx, at a rate of 2-3 trucks per minute to be dispersed in the numerous recycling facilities nearby. Construction debris, concrete, dirt, brick, rocks, asphalt. One day they started to slowly pile up on top of the Post. Soon, other local waste followed. Nearby oil refineries joined in and even the brewery. The press stopped printing. Fermentation and molding ensued. This fortress is now in a state of erosion. Crushed slabs, sand and stone and even demolished monuments.

Developer plans for the waterfront and renaming the area the Piano District are scrapped. The nearby film studio is shooting new Westerns. As floods increase the mount becomes a refuge. While everyone is lamenting the loss of the Village Voice, this new composite taking over the Post is sparking joy throughout the City.

Team: Lydia Xynogala, Clara Dykstra


À Rebours Bed



Bed headboard in contrasting plywood grains, custom sizes with ledge. 



Stationary Stationery




A collection of concrete objects for desks. They are too heavy for anything else thus, stationary stationery.


Majestic Cabinet





Custom cabinet/wall for the apartment entry of an Art Collector’s Apartment at the Majestic Building on Central Park West. The cabinet accommodates different everyday functions and houses a specific artwork.


Work In Progress


Mendeleev's Maps



Paper delivered at the History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Chicago, 2014. Panel: Science that Materially Changed the World



Founded in 1929, Magnitogorsk quickly became a powerful industrial center for steel production in the Soviet Union. Architecturally it is one of the most important cities of the 20th century. It inspired groundbreaking projects conceived by a number of architects such as Ivan Leonidov and the OSA team, Ernst May and Mart Stam.

A so-far neglected aspect in the history of Magnitogorsk are the investigations of the site by Dimitri Mendeleev the inventor of the Periodic Table, a geologist, engineer and economist.

In the summer of 1899 Mendeleev travelled to the Urals region to survey its industry and geology. Commissioned by the Ministry of Finance, his primary task was to investigate the natural resources of the region and conduct a geological survey. This included ascertaining the causes for the stagnation of the iron and coal industry.



Upon his return to St Petersburg he published his findings in the book “The Urals Iron Industry”. In it he stated that: “The Urals will provide Europe and Asia with huge quantities of iron and steel at a production cost which would be quiet inconceivable in Western Europe”. In his report he emphasizes a specific location in the southern tip of the Urals: the so called Magnetic Mountain with its rich iron ore. At that time called Magnitnaya, the area was just a small settlement. This mountain was constituted by a semicircular group of five low hills; they were a geological anomaly, consisting almost completely of iron.

This essay provides a close reading of the previously untranslated book and connects Mendeleev’s intellectual pursuits and how they affected the growth of the steel industry and the urbanization of Magnitogorsk during the later Soviet Era. By examining the Measures and Maps that Mendeleev produced for the book, I argue that the book and work of Mendeleev as scientific artifacts contributed to Stalin’s urban and industrial vision thirty years later.



Future Fossils



Publication / coming soon


Originally presented as a paper delivered at the Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, Detroit, 2012
Panel: Architectural Ecologies


This photo essay examines rocky landscapes of the Americas that engage with architectural typologies of environmental hazard. The writing takes a fictional tour on two rocky sites: The Yucca mountain, the controversial potential site for deep storage of all US nuclear waste and Carlsbad, New Mexico, known locally as WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) one of largest nuclear waste storage facilities with a license of 10,000 years.






Dark Ecology of Magnitogorsk





Mining and industrial production have degraded eleven percent of the earth’s soil. Dark Ecology explores an alternative landscape and architecture for the post-industrial wasteland, a territorial concept that typically conveys the unwanted, exhausted and useless. This project aims to rethink emerging ecologic strategies in remediation, the act of cleaning,and often the attempt (and anxiety) to erase the material traces of production. As a project it relies on the terrain of ambiguity; natural/manmade, clean/dirty, unwanted/desired are rejected polarities. This “messy whole” and its material, chemical and “natural” manifestations is embraced, revealing surprising architectural,urban and landscape potentials.



The testing ground is Magnitogorsk, City of Iron in the Russian Federation; The project engages the extremity of environmental degradation juxtaposed with the architectural promise of this city in the industrial age. Architecture and infrastructure are explored as time-based and chemically-induced operations. The design methodology recognizes potential and programmatic possibilities for cleaning but at the same time it engages with the material by-products as a new way of building.



For orders: info@alos.nyc
Also available at: McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers , 52 Prince St, New York, NY 10012
More information at the Princeton School of Architecture website
Published by: The Center for Architecture, Urbanism, Infrastructure, Princeton University, 2012.  Distributed by: Island Press. Series Editor: Mario Gandelsonas

On Sulfur:
Building, Material, Program



Paper presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum in Philadelphia, PA, October 6–8.



This paper explores case studies of buildings characterized by a direct material and formal response to the chemical processes that take place within them.


In 1911, the architect Hans Poelzig wrote an essay on industrial buildings in which he explained the significant connections between production process, architectural form and environment:

“Already now, we have the possibility to distribute electricity through far distances. This gives flexibility in the distribution and organization of processes and the architectural whole of the facilities becomes harmonious.”




Poelzig refers here to his recently completed factory where he devised a unique approach to the architecture and planning of the facility: On the larger planning scale he worked with site and programmatic components, strategically employing residential, road, water, infrastructure and energy networks. In the scale of the building wall thicknesses, spatial arrangements and material choices were based on the chemical properties of the product. The processes and network variants of Poelzig’s industrial architecture are unique for their time.




11 Versions of a Constructivist City



Published in Pidgin Magazine, Issue 12, Fall 2011

Magnitogorsk is a city that incorporates the mythology of a place, the geology of a landscape, the founding of an industry, the history of a regime, and the aspirations of an artistic movement. As individual moments in place and time, these aspects exist as individual cities, some of which are physically present in Magnitogorsk today, while others only remain in the imagination. Together they create a powerful canon of urbanistic ideas that shed light onto the accomplishments and failures of architectural thought in the Soviet era, and in general onto the city in the industrial age.



City of Myths
City of Steel
City of Erasures
City of Drawings
City of Ribbons
City of Socialism
City of Maschinemonument
City of Prouns
City of Faktura
City of Tektonika