Perez Art Museum, Miami

I recently visited the Perez Art Museum in Miami. The museum, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, had a beautiful large entrance deck with wood paneling to provide shade, lounge chairs scattered nicely, and hanging plants lending a sense of scale and drama.. all these things together made the deck a great public space, just very striking  to visit and the design features made it comfortable all around.  But I really enjoyed the the parking garage in particular, perhaps because the experience of parking is generally not thought of as especially pleasant.

The open-air parking garage is on the ground level, with stairs leading up to the museum which sits above the surrounding bay. The smooth concrete combined with the naturally sunny landscape made it feel clean, open and comfortable. The openings of the garage were positioned to offer windows of the surrounding plant life. The natural textures of these plants, next to the smooth concrete, made it feel especially nice. I felt surrounded by the best of Miami sunlight and diverse plant life, even though I was in a parking garage.

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The openings brought in the outside plant life, and the light filling up the concrete space made it one of the nicest parking experiences I’ve ever had. Such a pleasant view with a hint of blue sky.

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Zen in Playground Design

In Kichichoji, a small city in Tokyo prefecture, there is a playground with an area of simply rocks and dirt. When I passed by, I saw more kids playing in that area than the swings or the jungle gym. And I can’t blame them- the way the kids were playing there, the rock space seemed filled with infinite possibilities to clamber over, climb on top of, run around, hide behind. The idea seems very zen, to integrate nature and rocks into playground design for kids. Not overly done or overly intentional, but simply a natural space for kids to play in.

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As an extension of nature, the kids were drawn to the rock space, provoking imagination as well as playfulness. The (real) rocks may have been deliberately designed to be flat and smooth for the kids’ safety, but beyond that were not overly designed nor haphazardly placed. Shizen, the idea of striking a balance between being “of nature” yet distinct from it, is exactly this idea of having the big rocks as part of the playground design. Good design seems effortless. After spending a few weeks in Japan and experiencing their fluid ideas of space and function, this playground design made a lot of sense to me. It was super refreshing compared to the complicated (and dangerous-looking) plastic structures that American playgrounds consist of.

Does this not look terrifying? Is it just me?

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Art for Play

Hakone, small town in the mountains, is home to one of the most beautiful and impressive open air museums I’ve experienced. Truly impactful to see such large whimsical sculptures in the mountain air. I cannot put into words how it felt to stand in the middle of that incredible collection of sculptures, while feeling the openness of the mountain landscape around me. Utter happiness and delight and wonder and awe.

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And there were so many places for children to play. The egg benches were possibly one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Anything egg-related makes me filled with happiness, and combined with the kids’ excitement, I stayed there for a long time, just soaking it all in. All the kids loved them so much and they kept singing, “Gudetama, Gudetama,” (the little Japanese egg guy that Sanrio created) while they were playing. So wonderful…

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I love that a museum like this would be such an incredible space to experience art at such a grand scale, but every part of the experience had a playfulness and lightness to it. It was such an experience to walk around surrounded by such beauty. Seeing many of the art objects at play, with such joy, just heightened the entire experience.

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Curved Space Diamond Structure, Peter Pearce

 

 

 

Seoul, South Korea

A dreamy place filled with egg shaped coats, spot-on interiors, and sweet potato lattes. One of the most comfortable cities I have ever been to: cheap and efficient transportation, music on the streets, wi-fi everywhere, next level delivery services, unbelievably clean public restrooms, and I could go on… just so many small things that make life a lot more pleasant and easy. Seoul, I am in amazement over your beautiful public spaces and how you offer all the veggies I could ever dream of.

More to come on the wonders of Seoul’s public areas. I was bowled over by the spaces and experiences that the city offered its residents.

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