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MVRDV's Reflective 'Wunderkammer' in Rotterdam is Given the Green Light

Rotterdam will soon have a new cabinet of curiosities to add to its collection of architectural icons. For many years the city's Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, originally established in 1849, has required a safer space to house its world-class collection of painting, sculpture and prints – a collection which is said to have a total value of €7billion ($7.5billion). Last week the Municipality of Rotterdam voted in favour of the building’s construction and, with zoning approved, "the world’s first fully accessible art storage facility" is now slated to open its doors in 2018.


Using Big Data to Determine the Extent of China's Ghost Cities

In recent decades, China has undergone the most dramatic urban migration in the history of the world, so you might be forgiven for thinking all that is required from urban planners is to "build it and they will come," so to speak. However, as the Western media often reports with much schadenfreude, China's unprecedented urban explosion has not come without a few missteps, and many new cities are widely claimed to be "ghost cities," empty of residents even as more gigantic apartment blocks are being built. Such stories are usually accompanied by anecdotes of empty public spaces and a rough count of the number of homes left in the dark at night, but little further empirical data. So exactly how underpopulated does a city have to be to be a "ghost city," and just how rife are such places in China?

As reported by MIT Technology Review, one Chinese web company has started looking for answers to just such questions. Baidu, effectively a Chinese version of Google, has used their "Big Data Lab" to investigate the commuting patterns of their 700 million users, establishing exactly which cities are dramatically underpopulated.

Leaking Water Becomes Latest Setback for the World Trade Center Hub

Adding to the controversy surrounding its construction, Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Hub - set to be the world’s most expensive transit hub with a now-estimated budget of $3.7 billion - has delayed its opening until the first half of 2016 due to leaking water, according to an article in The New York Times. The water, originating from the site of an office tower to-be at 3 World Trade Center has been traced back to workers constantly spraying water to handle dust while breaking up concrete, exposing the construction site of 3 World Trade Center to the elements. Though the centerpiece of the Hub, The Oculus, has nearly finished construction, several retail spaces of the Westfield World Trade Center luxury shopping centre have been affected by the leaking and the Westfield Corporation has decided to postpone the move-in of all stores until the problem has been fully addressed. Despite the problems, the Westfield Corporation remains optimistic of the final result that the Oculus will produce and are working aggressively to remedy the leaking.

A Parametric Devotion: Patrik Schumacher Discusses "Architecture and Freedom" at the Royal Academy

For its fall season of architecture events, the Royal Academy’s working theme is “Architecture and Freedom: a changing connection,” in a program conceived and organized by Architecture Programme Curator, Owen Hopkins. One of these events was a recent lecture by Patrik Schumacher, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, and ardent promoter of Parametricism. In his lecture, what starts out with a brief exercise in damage control over the barrage of criticism recently endured by the firm, emerges as an impassioned discussion of architectural politics, design philosophies, and social imperatives.

2015 LEAF Awards Announced

Overall Winner: Ribbon Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co. Ltd. Image Courtesy of LEAF International
Overall Winner: Ribbon Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co. Ltd. Image Courtesy of LEAF International

The winners of the 2015 LEAF Awards have been announced. Founded in 2001, the awards ceremony honors innovative architecture projects in 13 different categories dedicated to various aspects of building, including best façade design and engineering, best future building, and public building of the year.

Find out which projects won the awards, after the break.

The Best US Architecture Schools for 2016 are...

DesignIntelligence has released their 2016 rankings of the Best Architecture Schools in the US for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Nearly 1500 professional practice organizations were surveyed this year, as part of the survey's 16th edition, and were asked the following question: “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which of the following schools are best preparing students for success in the profession?”

This information, along with detailed accounts on the best programs that teach skills in design, communication, sustainability and technology, resulted in the 2016 rankings. The two top schools, Cornell for undergraduates and Harvard for graduates, held their positions as the best programs to attend, according to the study.

Without further ado, the top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs in the US are...

OMA and Ole Scheeren's Interlace Named World Building of the Year 2015

OMA and Buro Ole Scheeren's vertical village in Singapore, The Interlace has been named the World Building of the Year 2015 at culmination of the World Architecture Festival (WAF). Celebrated for being "an example of bold, contemporary architectural thinking," as WAF Director Paul Finch described, the project is eighth building to ever win the illustrious award. It is considered to be a "radical new approach to contemporary living in a tropical environment."

Winners of the year's Future Project, Landscape, Small Project and Color Prize awards were also announced. Read on to see the who won with comments from the jury. 

Fernando Guerra Wins Arcaid Award for World's Best Building Image

Fernando Guerra's stunning image of Richter Dahl Rocha & Associés' EPFL Quartier Nord in Ecublens, Switzerland, has won the Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Award. Announced at the ongoing World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Singapore, the image was selected by a panel of judges for its ability to "translate the sophistication of architecture into a readable and understandable two dimensions."

"The architecture itself is the focus and the image regarded only as the medium. The Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Award aims to put the focus onto the skill and creativity of the photographer," said the Award's organizers.

Each shortlisted image was judged on the merits of the photography for composition, sense of place, atmosphere and use of scale; Guerra had the highest scoring image overall. 

"The high level of photography has made it a very difficult the task to choose the winners. The most important thing for us has been the concept and atmosphere of the images. How they have been perceived and expressed through the creativity and inspiration of the photographer," said architects and jury members Fabrizio Barozzi and Alberto Veiga.

The runners up included...

Granby Workshop: Assemble Launch an Eclectic Range of Socially Conscious Homeware

In the late nineteenth century the rise of the industrial revolution inspired a counter-movement to reignite the production of handmade goods across the world. Led by classically trained artisans from rural England, the Arts and Crafts movement briefly swept Europe and North America on principles of celebrating high calibre and unique goods resulting in an array of furniture, textiles, wallpaper and architecture, among others.

More than a century later, the Arts and Crafts movement is in the midst of a renaissance led by 2015 RIBA Turner Prize nominees Assemble Studio. Founded under the moniker Granby Workshop, the newly formed Liverpool-based artisan collective aims to eliminate widespread dereliction in one of the city's most blighted boroughs through the replacement of objects that have, over time, been stripped away. Sustained through a crowd funding model, Granby Workshop has launched a broad collection of locally sourced, designed and assembled homewares available for purchase online. 

Sutherland Hussey Architects' Wins Award for Best Building in Scotland

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has deemed Sutherland Hussey Architects' latest housing scheme the "Best Building" in Scotland by awarding it the 2015 Doolan prize. The "West Burn Lane" project was said to be the "clear winner" of the £25,000 award, as AJ reports, selected from a shortlist of 12 Scottish buildings.

The brick courtyard housing project was lauded by the jury for being "expertly woven" into the context of St. Andrews - one of Scotland's most historic areas.  

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum 'Bans' Cameras to Encourage Sketching

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, which was recently renovated and restored by Cruz y Ortiz, have launched The Big Draw campaign, encouraging visitors to ditch the camera and pick up a pad and pencil. Under the tagline 'You See More When You Draw', the Dutch national museum want to "help visitors discover and appreciate the beauty of art, architecture and history through drawing" as a counter to what they describe as an often "passive and superficial experience" when seen through the lens of a smartphone.

CEMEX Announces Winners of the XXIV Building Awards

CEMEX has announced both the international and national winners of its XXIV Building Awards during a ceremony held in Mexico City. A total of 637 projects competed in the National Edition across 13 categories, while 36 projects competing across five categories participated in the international awards.

This year’s Building Awards honor the best architecture and construction projects built during 2014 that use concrete technologies in creative and innovative ways with a focus on sustainability and social well-being.

In addition to honoring the best projects each year, CEMEX also recognizes an architect or engineer “whose contributions in the world of construction have been valuable and left great lessons to society” through the Lorenzo H. Zambrano Lifetime Achievement Award. This year Rafael Moneo was selected as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for “his invaluable architectural expressions and his contribution to education and construction both in Spain and abroad.”

View the 2015 Building Award Winners after the break. 

Zaha Hadid's Investcorp Building Honored with Oxford Preservation Trust Award

Since 1957, the Middle East Center at St. Antony's College has been the University of Oxford's facility for research and teaching on the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Over the years, the center's world-class archive has grown exponentially, leading to the commission of Zaha Hadid Architects to expand its facility; the recently completed Investcorp Building doubled the center's library and archive space, while delicately integrating a new 117-seat lecture theater into the college's restricted site. 

Honoring its success and "vital role" in the community, the Investcorp Building has been selected as a winner in the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards' New Building category - now in its 38th year. 

Jeanne Gang to Expand New York's American Museum of Natural History

A conceptual design by Studio Gang was unveiled today as the preferred expansion to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. The proposed building, named the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, aims to host an array of public exhibition space as well as become a premier "active scientific and educational institution" that enhances connections with the existing Museum and encourages exploration amongst its users. 

“We uncovered a way to vastly improve visitor circulation and Museum functionality, while tapping into the desire for exploration and discovery that are emblematic of science and also part of being human,” said Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang. “Upon entering the space, natural daylight from above and sightlines to various activities inside invite movement through the Central Exhibition Hall on a journey towards deeper understanding. The architectural design grew out of the Museum’s mission.”

WAF Day 2 Winners Announced

The second group of winners of the World Architecture Festival’s (WAF) 2015 category awards have been announced today with BIG’s future Vancouver House in Canada and People's Architecture Office’s The Courtyard House Plugin in China among the awarded projects.

The 14 winners from day two of the festival will go on to compete against the winners of day one to receive the title World Building of the Year. The projects will be presented in front of a Super Jury, which includes Manuelle Gautrand, Sou Fujimoto and Peter Cook.

Check out the Day 1 winners here and view the Day 2 winners after the break. 

Build Your Own Paper Models of Polish Modernist Buildings

© Zupagrafika
© Zupagrafika

After the successes of their London and Warsaw series, Zupagrafika has released another collection of paper cutouts called Blokowice based on the city of Katowice in Poland.

Inspired by the architecture of the Upper Silesian Industrial Region, Blokowice features modernist and brutalist buildings from the 1960-80s. The collection includes the Spodek and Superjednostka, two iconic buildings from the city center, Osiedle Gwiazdy, a characteristic star-shaped estate, Osiedle Odrodzenia, prefabricated panel blocks from the outskirts of the city, and the controversial Katowice railway station building that was demolished in 2011.

© Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika

RIBA Makes 90,000 Archival Images Available to View Online

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have made 90,000 unique images from their visual archive available online. (also known as RIBApix) hosts the world's largest collection of 16th century drawings by Palladio, as well as drawings by Sir Christopher Wren, Erno Goldfinger, Augustus Pugin, Denys Lasdun, and Edwin Lutyens. In addition, many original London Underground station designs sit alongside collections of some of the world’s leading photographers, including John Maltby, Edwin Smith, Henk Snoek, John Donat, Dell & Wainwright, Martin Charles and Tony Ray-Jones.

IaaC Student Develops 3D Printed "Living Screen" From Algae

"The debate linked to a more responsive architecture, connected to nature, has been growing since the 1960s," explains Irina Shaklova in her description of her IaaC research project Living Screen. "Notwithstanding this fact, to this day, architecture is somewhat conservative: following the same principles with the belief in rigidity, solidity, and longevity."

While Shaklova's argument does generally ring true, that's not to say that there haven't been important developments at the cutting edge of architecture that integrate building technologies and living systems, including The Living's mycelium-based installation for the 2014 MoMA Young Architect's Program and self-healing concrete made using bacteria. But while both of these remain at the level of research and small-scale experimentation, one of the most impressive exercises in living architecture recently was made with algae - specifically, the Solarleaf facade developed by Arup, Strategic Science Consult of Germany (SSC), and Colt International, which filters Carbon Dioxide from the air to grow algae which is later used as fuel in bioreactors.

With Living Screen, Shaklova presents a variation on this idea that is perhaps less intensively engineered than Solarleaf, offering an algae structure more in tune with her vision against that rigidity, solidity, and longevity.