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SOFTlab Wins Second Annual Flatiron Competition in New York

SOFTlab has been chosen as the second annual winner of the Flatiron Public Plaza design competition in New York. Their winning proposal, Nova will open to the public next month on Wednesday, November 18th. Its "crystalline" structure aims to intrigue the passer-by, welcoming them inside for framed views of the Flatiron Building and surrounding landmarks, including the Met Life Tower and Empire State Building

Serpentine Director Julia Peyton-Jones Steps Down After 25 Years

Julia Peyton-Jones has announced her plan to step down as the Serpentine Gallery director in the summer of 2016. During her 25-year lead, Peyton-Jones oversaw the start of the Serpentine Gallery Pavillon commissions and opening of Zaha Hadid Architects' Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

"There is never a good time to leave an institution but I wanted to leave the Serpentine at a time of strength and success," said Peyton-Jones, as reported by the Architects' Journal

Design Trust and Farming Concrete Release World’s First Public Urban Agriculture Database

The Design Trust for Public Space and Farming Concrete have released the Farming Concrete Data Collection Toolkit: the first public platform for gathering, tracking and understanding urban agriculture production and the benefits of community gardens, urban farms and school gardens. The result of a six-year initiative, Five Borough Farm, the Toolkit features a user-friendly manual with simple methods of generating and collecting data at each garden and farm, with accompanying instructional videos; Barn, an online portal for farmers and gardeners to input and track their production; and Mill, a public database providing access to numbers, reports for practitioners, researchers, policymakers, funders and anyone with interest in urban agriculture.

IAAC Researcher’s Pylos 3D-Prints with Soil

Sofoklis Giannakopoulos, a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), has designed Pylos, a 3D printer that utilizes a natural, biodegradable, cheap, recyclable and local material that everyone is familiar with: the earth.  

In an effort to make 3D printing a “large scale construction approach” even in years of economic and environmental turmoil, Pylos explores the structural potential of soil, a material that has been widely used in vernacular architecture around the world, and particularly in the Global South. 

Learn more about the printer after the break.

Monocle 24 Report from the CityLab Summit

For this edition of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team report from the two-day CityLab summit, which "gathered the world’s top mayors and urban leaders for a series of chats on how to to make our cities a better place." They explore the vision for London’s transport infrastructure, discover how Rio de Janeiro is gearing up its digital strategy ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, and find out how to create a smart city through data. On top of that, they chat to millennials in Washington and "sit down for a very honest chat with the mayor of Athens."

HQ's Blooming Flowers React to the Presence of Pedestrians

Shade isn't hard to find in Jerusalem's Vallero Square, thanks to these giant urban flowers designed by HQ Architects that bloom in the presence of pedestrians. "Warde," as the installation is called, is a set of four inflatable flowers at the entrance of the city's market square and adjacent tram station that "open up" whenever pedestrians walk by or the tram is approaching.

MAD's George Lucas Museum Wins Approval in Chicago

The Chicago City Council has voted to approve zoning for George Lucas' controversial, MAD-designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Planned for a lakefront site on Chicago's Museum Campus park, near the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum, the "mountainous" design faced opposition from environmentalists who claim the building is a "confiscation of public land." Despite this, and according to reports on NBC News, the Star Wars director won the Council's approval by promising more parking and tailgating space to Chicago Bears fans.

“The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be an incredible addition to Chicago’s Museum Campus,” said Mayor Emanuel in an official statement. “The Lucas Museum will join the 56 other museums in Chicago to provide new cultural and educational benefits for generations to come. And the new parkland will add more open greenspace that will be enjoyed by residents across the city.”   

A Short History of Yekaterinburg's Constructivist Architecture

Constructivist architecture is most often remembered in writing and on paper. The movement’s two most radical and recognized structures, Vladimir Tatlin’s “Monument to the Third International” and El Lissitzky’s “Lenin Tribune,”  were never built at scales larger than models. Taking hold in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Constructivism was the result of Cubo-Futurist artists marrying their kineticism and abstraction to the social concerns of the Bolsheviks, in the hopes of using art as a platform to motivate changes in society. Viewing the museum establishment as a “mauseoleum of art,” in 1918 the new broadsheet Art of the Commune affirmed: “The proletariat will create new houses, new streets, new objects of everyday life...Art of the proletariat is not a holy shrine where things are lazily regarded, but work, a factory which produces new artistic things.”[1]

In spite of the predominance of "paper architecture" in the history of Constructivism, there is one city that experienced the fruit of this movement to an unrivaled degree. Yekaterinburg is Russia’s fourth-largest city, home to nearly 1.5 million people. It is also the largest concentration of Constructivist architecture anywhere in the world, with approximately 140 structures. To celebrate the importance of Yekaterinburg in the history of architecture, photographer Denis Esakov has shared his images of the city's architecture with ArchDaily.

© Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov

Documentary On Torre David, Once The World's Tallest Slum, Released Online

In 1994, after the death of its main investor and a national banking crisis that left Venezuela's economy stagnated, the construction of Caracas' Centro Financiero Confinanzas - known popularly as the Tower of David - was paralyzed, leaving the building completely abandoned and on 70 percent complete.

Neglected for more than a decade, the 45-story, 190-meter-tall skyscraper became the makeshift home for a community of more than 800 families, becoming the world's tallest "vertically organized favela," with basic services to the 22nd floor and including even barber shops, kindergartens and dentists.

The documentary Torre David (now available to watch in full for a small fee of $3) was filmed by Urban-Think Tank, presenting the particular life of its residents before the tower was evacuated in 2014. The film is part of a larger research project that has led to new a book and numerous exhibitions, including the exhibition winner of the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Click here to watch the full documentary.

10 Compete to Revitalize Los Angeles’ Oldest Park

Ten practices from around the world have been shortlisted in a competition that aims to transform Los Angeles' Pershing Square one of Southern California's top destinations. Located on a five-acre plot in the city's downtown, Pershing Square is Los Angeles' oldest park. Each semi-finalist has been challenged to develop proposals based off of experiences. A small selection of finalists will be selected in December to move on to the competition's final phase.  

The 10 semifinalists are:

Field Operations to Design National Building Museum's Next Summer Installation

James Corner Field Operations has been chosen to design the National Building Museum's 2016 Summer Block Party installation. Just like its predecessors, including Snarkitecture's popular BEACH and BIG's massive Labyrinth, the installation will take over the Museum's Great Hall. With the design in its preliminary stages, little has been revealed. However, its mission is to "present innovative, interactive experiences that experiment with new ways of seeing and understanding the built environment."

“We are very excited about this opportunity to once again transform the Great Hall for summer spectacle and pleasure,” said James Corner, adding that “it will be a great challenge to surpass the genius of previous installations, but also an opportunity to explore something new and unexpected.” 

LCD's VULCAN Awarded Guinness World Record for Largest 3D Printed Structure

Guinness World Records has awarded the title of "largest 3D printed structure" to VULCAN, a temporary pavilion designed by the Beijing-based Laboratory for Creative Design (LCD). Made up of 1023 individually printed segments, the structure was 9.08 meters long and 2.88 meters tall, and took 30 days to print and a further 12 days to assemble. The pavilion was on display earlier this month at Beijing Design Week, located in Beijing's Parkview Green retail center.

Courtesy of Laboratory for Creative Design and Beijing Design Week Courtesy of Laboratory for Creative Design and Beijing Design Week Courtesy of Laboratory for Creative Design and Beijing Design Week Courtesy of Laboratory for Creative Design and Beijing Design Week

Installation at London's Southbank Centre Opens Archive to the Public

The Southbank Centre—a large complex of Grade One listed, Modernist cultural venues on the banks of the River Thames—are poised to refurbish three of their most loved spaces: the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery. As part of this transformation, London-based practice Jonathan Tuckey Design (JTD) have been commissioned to create a new 'Archive Studio' set within the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall, all part and parcel of the Southbank Centre’s desire to open up access to their collections and archives. JTD's free-standing, self-supporting structure is "an open framework which makes the scale the archival process apparent to visitors, held together by polished brass nuts and bolts and clad in perforated hardboard."

Studio Dror Designs Steel Sculpture for New Zealand Winery

Studio Dror has been commissioned by Brancott Estate in New Zealand to design a steel sculpture inspired by the winery's history. The result, "a flat matrix of CorTen steel" that "stretches open to become a nine-meter-tall volume of aggregated triangulations." Named "Under/standing," the installation was inspired by the winemaking process. It will be built in 2016. 

Renzo Piano Defends London's Skyscraper Boom

"Cities face a choice of building up or building out," says Renzo Piano, according to a recent article on the Daily Mail. Responding to backlash led by the Skyline Campaign, a campaign spearheaded by architect Barbara Weiss that "aims to stop the devastation of London by badly designed and poorly placed tall buildings," Piano is defending London's controversial skyscraper boom by saying it's giving the one thing the city needs most: "space on the ground."

EmTech TWISTs Plywood at the Timber Expo in Birmingham

Emergent Technologies and Design Programme (EmTech) at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London has recently exhibited their project, The TWIST at the Timber Expo in Birmingham. The project is an experimentation in the properties of milled plywood, developed throughout 1:1 tests. Through these experiments, The TWIST seeks to gain full control of the material properties, developing articulated surfaces with the variable orientation of its elements. Read more about the project after the break.

Fendi Fashion House Relocates to the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome

The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (also known as the 'Square Colosseum') is perhaps the most emblematic architectural project realised during Benito Mussolini's Fascist dictatorship, which governed Italy between 1922 and 1943. Now, sixty years later and having never been used, Italian fashion house Fendi and architect Marco Costanzi have—amid controversy—renovated the historically charged building into their headquarters, with office space to accommodate around 450 employees. Having reportedly signed a fifteen year lease with the municipality of Rome, the haute fashion house will be paying around €240,000 ($265,000) in annual rent.

SHoP Reveals Plan to Expand SITE Santa Fe

SHoP Architects have unveiled plans to expand SITE Santa Fe, a contemporary arts venue in the city of Santa Fe. With a mission to serve as a "dynamic cultural hub" within the heart of Santa Fe Railyard (one of America's six Great Public Spaces according to the American Planning Association), the new design "draws inspiration from traditional Navajo patternmaking" and will be anchored in the "distinctive material qualities" of its historic site.