A study in steps: Schürhof, Basel

12 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure

After I took a number of photos of the hanging plant columns of the Basel Museum of Culture (during our visit at Thanksgiving), I turned my attention to the courtyard around them — the Schürhof — the floor of which is largely a set of low, wide steps descending to the museum lobby and gift shop.

The entrance to the courtyard and museum on Munsterplatz.

The street entrance to the courtyard and thus to the museum is through a simple archway on the Münsterplatz.

Before the museum was renovated in 2011 by Herzog & de Meuron, the Schürhof* was not open to the public.  The museum shared a door with the Museum of Natural Sciences around the corner.

Looking at a “before” photo (here, fourth image), the old courtyard appears to have been used at least partly as a parking lot.

27 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure
Looking out on the courtyard from the lobby.

The renovation excavated it to open up a new museum entrance in the base of the existing 1917 neoclassical building.

The other buildings that enclose the Schürhof are medieval.

28 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure

Above and below are three views from upper windows inside the museum.

29 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure
The entrance to the courtyard is in the upper left corner.

30 Museum of Culture, Basel, 2015, enclos*ure
You can see a plan of the courtyard here (fifth image).

Continue reading “A study in steps: Schürhof, Basel”

The Sunday porch: paint and vines

Ste-Catherine, Brussels, Sept. 2015, enclos*ure

These are not really porches, of course, but two café doorways and a storefront.

They caught my eye while we were walking around the Sainte-Catherine or Sint Katelijne neighborhood of Brussels, which is just northwest of the Grand’Place and La Bourse.

Rue de Flandre, Brussels, Sept. 2015, enclos*ure

The one pictured above is on Rue de Flandre.

Rue de Flandre, Brussels, Sept. 2015, enclos*ure

I believe I snapped this blue café, above, on Quai au Bois à Brûler, facing the site of the old Saint-Catherine Bassin or canal port, covered over since the 1870s.

Ste-Catherine, Brussels, Sept. 2015, enclos*ure

I like the way the ivy is used as both a decorative windowbox planting and low privacy screen.

A vine-covered storefront, also along Rue de Flandre.
Above, a mass of vines shades a closed storefront, also along Rue de Flandre.

Detail of photo above.

Rue de Flandre is a good street on which to find an interesting restaurant.  We liked Viva M’Boma (old-fashioned Belgian food, emphasis on meat/offal) and Domaine de Lintillac (dishes from the southwest of France, emphasis on duck).

Click on any photo above to enlarge it.

From there to here, from here to there

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), took the art of Surrealism and the architecture of Antonio Gaudi, combined them with childhood memories of early cars and machinery in New England and then the flora of his adult home in southern California, and created the famous illustrations for his over sixty books.  (His Green Eggs and Ham is the fourth best-selling English-language children’s book of all time.)

His strange plants and landscapes — tops of mops, spikes, and feathers; elongated, twisty trunks; improbable angles, odd hills and rocks — form a visual vocabulary that we all understand and use routinely.  These are just a few of the many, many snapshots I found by typing in “Dr. Seuss” and searching Flickr.com.

Photo by Randy Robertson, labeled “Dr. Seuss Plant Silhouette.”  All three photos via Flickr.com, under CC license.
“Dr. Seuss Bush” by Shawn Henning.
“Dr. Seuss Trees” by Allan Ferguson.

A 2010 article from the News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, has a list of plants that also look Seuss-y, here.  Among others, they recommend weeping sequoia, Nootka cypress, and contorted hazelnut.

If you want to visit a Dr. Seuss-style landscape, the blog SPOTCOOLSTUFF has 10 “Places That Look Dr Seuss-ish” around the world, here.

ADDENDUM: Today is also the NEA’s Read Across America Day, here. And The Washington Post is calling for Seuss-inspired verse about current events, here.