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How Barcelona's "Superblocks" Pedestrian Plan Hopes to Return the Streets to the People

09:30 - 1 October, 2016

Cars have reshaped cities across the world, largely at the cost of everyone outside of a private vehicle. In recent years the "grid city" of Barcelona has been suffering from clogged roads and choked air quality, with urban traffic contributing to the 3500 premature deaths caused by air pollution each year. Beginning in the district of Eixample, proposals laid out in the 2014 Urban Mobility Plan aims to diffuse traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in the city. In a recent film Vox have picked up on one of a number of potential schemes: the Superblock concept (known as superilles in Catalan). According to Salvador Rueda, the Director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona who developed the plan, these are "grid[s] of nine blocks [in which] the main mobility happens on the roads around the outside, [...] and the roads within are for local transit only."

Studio Gang Creates 7 Strategies to Reimagine Civic Spaces As Vibrant Urban Hubs

09:30 - 27 September, 2016
© Studio Gang
© Studio Gang

The Nolli Map made history when it was created in 1748, largely because of its focus on public spaces. With it, Giambattista Nolli highlighted the fact that public places don’t exclusively exist in the forms of streets and parks, but also in enclosed spaces. Yet the importance of our communal areas is constantly being undermined. Our public areas exist to promote inclusion and equal opportunities, but despite that they are being forgotten and abandoned, debilitating their ability to bind communities together.

Given that the main goal of Studio Gang’s newly released, free, downloadable booklet, Reimagining The Civic Commons has been to “help communities everywhere activate their civic commons,” then, it is unsurprising that the booklet includes graphic maps reminiscent of Nolli’s visual aim. The booklet, which arose from work funded by the Kresge Foundation and Knight Foundation, focuses on the advancement of 7 types of “existing assets”: libraries, parks, recreation centers, police stations, schools, streets and transit. Since the start of Studio Gang's research, a larger, $40 million initiative has begun—funded by the JPB Foundation, The Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation along with a multitude of local donors—with plans taking shape in Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and Akron. The graphic guide is designed to offer adaptable, cost-effective and flexible approaches to these spaces, so that it can be implemented over time and in a variety of different communities. Read on for our summary of the report’s 7 strategies for improvement.

White Elephants: Over-Budget, Unsuccessful, and Embarrassing Architecture Projects From Around the World

09:50 - 26 September, 2016
White Elephants: Over-Budget, Unsuccessful, and Embarrassing Architecture Projects From Around the World

Not every piece of architecture can be an economic and social success. But there is one dreaded term reserved for only the mot wasteful of projects: "white elephants." The term comes from a story of the kings of Siam, now Thailand, who would reportedly gift sacred albino elephants to courtiers they didn't like. Refusing the gift from the king would have been unacceptable, but being sacred, these animals were forbidden from work, leading the courtier to financial ruin—a fact the kings knew all too well.

Of course, in architecture the term "white elephant" is used frequently to disparage certain projects, and whether a project is deserving of such infamy is usually a matter of perspective. Often eyesores or reminders of poorly spent funds, these projects refuse to be forgotten despite few wanting to remember them. Dotted around the world and across history, they all have the same thing in common: although they may (or may not) have once looked good on paper, they probably should have just stayed on paper.

Could We Soon Be Living in a Metamaterial World?

08:00 - 26 September, 2016

Simply put, metamaterials are materials that behave according to their structure, rather than their base material composition. By manipulating their internal microstructures, metamaterials can exhibit properties that would not otherwise be found in a naturally occurring material.

To date, the term has mostly been used to refer to materials which can manipulate electromagnetic waves with an unnatural refractive index. But recently, a different way of looking at metamaterials has been studied by a team at the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI), who suggest that “so far, metamaterials were understood as materials – we want to think of them as machines.” A series of objects created by HPI that perform mechanical functions through their metamaterial configuration demonstrate this concept of “metamaterial mechanisms.”

How 'Little Architect' is Connecting Children With the Future of Their Cities

06:00 - 26 September, 2016
How 'Little Architect' is Connecting Children With the Future of Their Cities, Courtesy of Little Architect
Courtesy of Little Architect

Little Architect is a program at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Created in 2013, the program is focused on teaching architecture to primary school age children, obtaining amazing results with more than 2,400 children from different backgrounds receiving architectural lessons. They are especially focused on running their program in low-income areas and state schools in London.

"Our responsibility as architects is not just to design but also to bring architecture to society and to create an awareness about urban issues and contemporary architecture within the people who inhabit it," says Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido, author and director of the program. 

Courtesy of Little Architect Courtesy of Capco Capital and Counties Courtesy of Little Architect Courtesy of Little Architect +21

Step Inside Zaha Hadid Architects' Antwerp Port House With Thomas Mayer's Photos

11:00 - 25 September, 2016
Step Inside Zaha Hadid Architects' Antwerp Port House With Thomas Mayer's Photos, © Thomas Mayer
© Thomas Mayer

Opening to much fanfare earlier this week, Zaha Hadid Architects' Port House holds a commanding presence over the port of Antwerp. The design combines a listed and formerly derelict fire station, which was restored as part of the project, with an eye-catching glass extension which rises out of the older building's courtyard and thrusts itself towards the water in a dramatic cantilever. In the context of the port, where large infrastructure and colossal machines form the backdrop to everyday functions, the building boldly stakes its claim as the operational centerpiece, providing a space for the Port of Antwerp's 500 employees. Photographer Thomas Mayer visited the building, capturing its striking external presence and investigating how its structural gymnastics translate to the building's internal space.

© Thomas Mayer © Thomas Mayer © Thomas Mayer © Thomas Mayer +20

This Recreation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is Built with Shipping Containers

09:30 - 25 September, 2016
This Recreation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is Built with Shipping Containers, Globe by Michigan Station, Detroit. Image Courtesy of The Container Globe
Globe by Michigan Station, Detroit. Image Courtesy of The Container Globe

All the world’s a stage – quite literally so, in the case of the Container Globe, a proposal to reconstruct a version of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre with shipping containers. Staying true to the design of the original Globe Theatre in London, the Container Globe sees repurposed containers come together in a familiar form, but in steel rather than wood. Founder Angus Vail hopes this change in building component will give the Container Globe both a "punk rock" element and international mobility, making it as mobile as the shipping containers that make up its structure.

Globe by the Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Image Courtesy of The Container Globe View of Stage from the Yard. Image Courtesy of The Container Globe View from Upper Seating Gallery. Image Courtesy of The Container Globe Globe in Waitangi Park, Wellington NZ. Image Courtesy of The Container Globe +21

5 Initiatives That Show the Rise of Open Source Architecture

13:30 - 24 September, 2016
5 Initiatives That Show the Rise of Open Source Architecture

In architecture, perhaps the most remarkable change heralded by the 20th was the radical rethinking of housing provision which it brought, driven by a worldwide population explosion and the devastation of two world wars. Of course, Modernism’s reappraisal of the design and construction of housing was one part of this trajectory, but still Modernism was underpinned by a traditional process, needing clients, designers and contractors. Arguably more radical were a small number of fringe developments, such as mail-order houses in the US and Walter Segal’s DIY home designs in the UK. These initiatives sought to turn the traditional construction process on its head, empowering people to construct their own homes by providing materials and designs as cheaply as possible.

In the 21st century, the spirit of these fringe movements is alive and well, but the parameters have changed somewhat: with a rise in individualism, and new technologies sparking the “maker movement,” the focus has shifted away from providing people with the materials to construct a fixed design, and towards improving access to intellectual property, allowing more people to take advantage of cheap and effective designs. The past decade has seen a number of initiatives aimed at spreading open source architectural design--read on to find out about five of them.

Comic Break: "Overnight Renderings"

12:00 - 24 September, 2016
Comic Break: "Overnight Renderings", © Architexts
© Architexts

Murphy’s Law, right? The thing is, since technology moves so fast, chances are you’re using slow and/or outdated hardware to build and render your models. Of course, those software crashes always get you when a client needs to see your work. And yet, when you tell the bosses you need better hardware, or updated software, they often scoff and lecture you about the costs. Perhaps one day they’ll understand the struggle of the production staff, but it seems like for now, not so much. So, good luck at the office today, hopefully, everything will work.

Experience the "Brutal Faith" of Gottfried Böhm's Pilgrimage Church in Neviges

04:00 - 23 September, 2016
Experience the "Brutal Faith" of Gottfried Böhm's Pilgrimage Church in Neviges, Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

This exclusive photo essay by Laurian Ghinitoiu was originally commissioned for the fifth issue of LOBBY. Available later this month, the latest issue of the London-based magazine—published in cooperation with the Bartlett School of Architecture—examines the theme of Faith as "a fervent drive, a dangerous doctrine, a beautifully fragile yet enduring construct, an unapologetic excuse, a desperate call for attention and a timely consideration on architectural responsibility."

In 1986 the Pritzker Architecture Prize announced their first German laureate. In a speech at the ceremony in London’s Goldsmiths’ Hall, the Duke of Gloucester suggested that the prize “may not guarantee immorality,” inferring, perhaps, that not even the most prestigious award in architecture could compete with an œuvre so compact, focussed and enduring as that of Gottfried Böhm – a “son, grandson, husband, and father of architects.”

Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Courtesy LOBBY Magazine. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu +24

The Sociology of Coliving: How WeLive Creates a "Third Place"

09:30 - 22 September, 2016
The Sociology of Coliving: How WeLive Creates a "Third Place", Courtesy of WeLive
Courtesy of WeLive

This article was originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication (formerly known as Line//Shape//Space), under the title "Live, Work, Play: WeLive’s Live-Work Spaces Reveal a 'Third Place.'"

According to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, people need three types of places to live fulfilled, connected lives: Their “first place” (home) for private respite; their “second place” (work) for economic engagement; and their “third place,” a more amorphous arena used for reaffirming social bonds and community identities.

This third place can be a barbershop, neighborhood bar, community center, or even a public square. The desire for these three separate spheres drives how human environments are designed at a bedrock level, but increasing urbanism—as well as geographic and economic mobility—are collapsing these multiple spaces into one. The result is a new hybrid building type: a live-work multiunit dwelling that is home, office, and clubhouse.

Architecture After the Event Horizon – Volume #49: Hello World!

04:00 - 22 September, 2016
Architecture After the Event Horizon – Volume #49: Hello World!, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) at Universal theme parks in Florida. Image Courtesy of Volume Magazine
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) at Universal theme parks in Florida. Image Courtesy of Volume Magazine

The following essay by Kazys Varnelis was first published by Volume Magazine in their 49th issue, Hello World! You can read the Editorial of this issue, Going Livehere.

During the last decade, the idea of a technological singularity has passed from science fiction to a plausible prediction of the proximate future. In its simplest terms, a technological singularity will take place when an artificial general intelligence (AGI), capable of modifying its own code, advances so rapidly that subsequent technological progress (and as a result history itself) become as unpredictable and unfathomable as what happens within a black hole. In the most radical vision, the ‘hard takeoff’, within hours or even minutes of artificial intelligence developing the capacity for recursive self-improvement, the intelligence advances so greatly that it fundamentally transforms life on Earth.

Critical Round-Up: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

09:30 - 21 September, 2016
Critical Round-Up: The National Museum of African American History and Culture, © Darren Bradley
© Darren Bradley

A century since the founding of the National Memorial Association and the start of a campaign by African-American war veterans for a monument of African American culture, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will finally be opened on September 24th. The Museum took $540 million and four years to build, resulting in a striking, and refreshingly unorthodox, architectural construction on Washington DC’s National Mall. The Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup JJR team, led by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, defiantly broke the white-marble-Corinthian-column convention, opting instead for a bronze-coated aluminum façade bound to provoke a reaction from the critics.

© Paul Clemence © Paul Clemence © Darren Bradley © Darren Bradley +19

A Virtual Look Into Patrick Bateman's "American Psycho" Apartment

09:50 - 20 September, 2016
A Virtual Look Into Patrick Bateman's "American Psycho" Apartment, Courtesy of Archilogic
Courtesy of Archilogic

Patrick Bateman’s apartment from American Psycho is one of the most iconic locations in recent film history – his bone-white business card writ large. The sterile set design, by Gideon Ponte, is as impersonally creepy as Christian Bale’s performance (sure, put a telescope by the window, why don’t you; a serial killer without voyeurism just isn’t scary enough.) Archilogic’s interactive 3D model invites you to experience the apartment from the inside – without fear of an axe to the head.

11 Ways to Become a Better Architect (Without Doing Architecture)

07:00 - 19 September, 2016
11 Ways to Become a Better Architect (Without Doing Architecture), © Ariana Zilliacus
© Ariana Zilliacus

Architects are often noted for having bad work-life balance, a lot of stress and little free time. How can you take time off while still improving your skills as an architect? Can that time off even give you an extra edge? Compared to other fields, architecture stands out as a field in which you need to “know a little bit about everything." Thus, in order to live up to our name we must also do a little bit of everything, and as they say, a little goes a long way. So with that in mind, here are 11 activities which, while not obviously architectural, just might make you a better architect.

Elisa Strozyk Turns Wood Into Fabric

06:00 - 19 September, 2016
Elisa Strozyk Turns Wood Into Fabric, © STUDIO BEEN
© STUDIO BEEN

When you think of original designs, you know that you're talking about something unique and special. An innovative design that can change our perception and visual culture: that is exactly what the German designer Elisa Strozyk does with Wooden Textiles, a product line that mixes wood with fabric. 

The designer shows us that innovation remains a fundamental part of design. She imbues wood with living properties and turns it to a flexible fabric with unpredictable movements, changing its color and texture. It’s an astonishing use of this traditional material to create new forms and experiences. 

© STUDIO BEEN © STUDIO BEEN © STUDIO BEEN © STUDIO BEEN +58

Basildon's "Failed" New Town: What Happened When We Built Utopia?

09:30 - 17 September, 2016

We are all familiar with the "utopian" towns of the 20th Century. Basildon, Essex, was one of the largest of those New Towns. It was founded in 1949, when Lewis Silkin, the Minister of town and country planning at the time, ambitiously predicted that "Basildon will become a city which people from all over the world will want to visit. It will be a place where all classes of community can meet freely together on equal terms and enjoy common cultural recreational facilities."[1] Nearly seventy years later, Basildon is left with a struggling local economy, splintered communities, and a fraction of the art and culture than what was originally hoped for. "New Town Utopia" is a documentary film that confronts this concrete reality with a question: “What happened when we built Utopia?”

Basildon Fire Station. Image © <a href='http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/261329'>Geograph user GaryReggae</a> licensed under <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> BasildonTown Square. Image © <a href='http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2575026'>Geograph user Stephen McKay</a> licensed under <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> Freedom House, Basildon. Image © <a href='http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/261326'>Geograph user GaryReggae</a> licensed under <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> Bell Tower, St. Martin's Church, Basildon. Image © <a href='http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/335962'>Geograph user Julieanne Savage</a> licensed under <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> +6

When Droplets Create Space: A Look at Liquid Architecture

09:30 - 15 September, 2016
When Droplets Create Space: A Look at Liquid Architecture, Light in Water, 2015. Paris. Architects: DGT Architects. Photographer: <a href='http://www.takuji-shimmura.com/'>Takuji Shimmura</a>. Image © DGT Architects
Light in Water, 2015. Paris. Architects: DGT Architects. Photographer: Takuji Shimmura. Image © DGT Architects

Throughout the past century, architecture's relationship with water has developed along a variety of different paths. With his “Fallingwater” house, for example, the American master Frank Lloyd Wright confronted the dramatic flow of water with strong horizontal lines to heighten the experience of nature. Since then, architecture's use of water has become more varied and complex. A space made almost purely of water emerged with Isamu Noguchi's design at the Osaka World Expo: glistening water appeared to fall from nowhere and glowed in the dark. Later with digitalization and fluid forms as design parameters, the focus shifted towards liquid architecture made of water and light. The interpretations have ranged from architectural forms modeled after literal drops of water, like Bernhard Franken´s visionary “Bubble” for BMW, to spectacular walk-in installations made of lines of water, transformed into pixels by light.

Icelandic Pavilion. Hannover, Expo 2000. Image © Thomas Schielke Blur Building. Exposition Pavilion: Swiss Expo, Yverdon-Les-Bains, 2002. Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro Olafur Eliasson: The reflective corridor, Draft to stop the free fall, 2002. (Der reflektierende Korridor, Entwurf zum Stoppen des freien Falls, 2002). Photographer: Werner J. Hannappel. Courtesy of Centre for International Light Art Unna, Germany. Image © 2002 Olafur Eliasson Luce Tempo Luogo, 2011. Milano. Architects: DGT Architects. Photographer: Daici Ano. Image © DGT Architects +20

Going Live – Volume #49: Hello World!

04:00 - 15 September, 2016
Going Live – Volume #49: Hello World!, A year and a half ago, Uber set up an Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh. This month (September 2016) these cars are on the road. Image © Uber
A year and a half ago, Uber set up an Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh. This month (September 2016) these cars are on the road. Image © Uber

The following essay by Nick Axel (Volume's Managing Editor) first published by the magazine in their 49th issue, Hello World!

With the rise of computational networks and power, cognitive models developed and debated over in the postwar decades have finally been able to be put to work. Back then, there was a philosophical debate raging alongside the burgeoning field of computer science theory on the nature of consciousness, in which machines of artificial intelligence served as a thought experiment to question humanity. Yet with the proliferation of data and the centralization of its archives, theoretical practice moved from conceptual experiments to empirical tests.

© Volume
© Volume

REM: A Retroactive, Redacted Study of the World’s Greatest Living Architect

11:15 - 14 September, 2016
REM: A Retroactive, Redacted Study of the World’s Greatest Living Architect, Rem Koolhaas, the eponymous protagonist of "REM". Image © Tomas Koolhaas
Rem Koolhaas, the eponymous protagonist of "REM". Image © Tomas Koolhaas

In the canon of great Dutch architects sit a number of renowned practitioners, from Berlage to Van Berkel. Based on influence alone, Rem Koolhaas—the grandson of architect Dirk Roosenburg and son of author and thinker Anton Koolhaas—stands above all others and has, over the course of a career spanning four decades, sought to redefine the role of the architect from a regional autarch to a globally-active shaper of worlds – be they real or imagined. A new film conceived and produced by Tomas Koolhaas, the LA-based son of its eponymous protagonist, attempts to biographically represent the work of OMA by “expos[ing] the human experience of [its] architecture through dynamic film.” No tall order.

Mark – a homeless man, filmed in Seattle Public Library (USA). Image © Tomas Koolhaas CCTV (China). Image © Tomas Koolhaas De Rotterdam (The Netherlands). Image © Tomas Koolhaas Seattle Public Library (USA). Image © Tomas Koolhaas +17

People, Places and Abandoned Buildings in the Province of Buenos Aires, by Juan Viel

08:00 - 14 September, 2016
People, Places and Abandoned Buildings in the Province of Buenos Aires, by Juan Viel, Courtesy of Juan Viel
Courtesy of Juan Viel

Small stories and architectonic practices that existed in each character filled village and provinces in Buenos Aires are here rescued by Juan Viel when he captures their atmospheres and particularities through his camera.

The variety of images and their subjects invite us to reflect on the substance and architectural heritage in these small Argentinian towns, and to think about the places where we live.

Courtesy of Juan Viel Courtesy of Juan Viel Courtesy of Juan Viel Courtesy of Juan Viel +34

Introducing Volume #49: Hello World!

04:30 - 13 September, 2016
Introducing Volume #49: Hello World!, © Volume
© Volume

Machines have long been integral to architectural discourse. Vitruvius concluded his ten books with a meditation on war machines, and Le Corbusier published on his industrial muses just over 100 years ago. Yet something is different today. We have always learned from machines—our societies are fundamentally shaped by their processes—but now, machines learn. We live in paradoxical times. Machinic processes, computational algorithms and artificial intelligence have never been so proximate, direct, and intimate to daily life, yet we are many steps removed from their practical operations.

This issue of Volume, the third in our Learning series, seeks to take one small step in the direction towards understanding the contemporary relevance of machines for architecture, and one giant leap for mankind. Volume #49: Hello World! also includes In Loving Support, a 32-page insert produced with Het Nieuwe Instituut on living and working with algorithms.

The 5 Types of Professors You’ll Have in Architecture School (And Why They’re All Important)

09:30 - 12 September, 2016
The 5 Types of Professors You’ll Have in Architecture School (And Why They’re All Important), © Sharon Lam
© Sharon Lam

Tutors (or professors, depending on where you live). Everyone has horror stories about their tutors, just as everyone has stories about a teacherr they truly adored. Ultimately, your tutors are likely to be the single most important element of your architectural education; no matter how much effort you put into learning through other means, these people will probably become formative figures in not only your education, but your life in general.

It's easy to forget, though, that they are just that: people, with all the flaws and foibles that being a person entails. Some you will love to learn from, while others may be a little more difficult—but like Dickens' Christmas Carol ghosts, each type of tutor has their own lesson to impart. Here are the five different types of tutor you'll deal with in your architectural education, and what you should learn from each of them.

These Are the Best-Designed, Most Useful Architecture Firm Websites

07:00 - 12 September, 2016
These Are the Best-Designed, Most Useful Architecture Firm Websites

Our editors look at hundreds of websites per week. What do they admire and appreciate the most? Organization and simplicity. Sites that are not only clean, but fast. We actively search for projects to include on our platform, so it’s crucial that when we visit a website we not only know where to look, but how to access information. Filters and facets are our best friends. Typological differentiation is important, but perhaps not as important as distinguishing between built and un-built projects (“Is that a render?” is a question that comes up at least once a day).