The Architecture of Star Wars: 7 Iconic Structures

09:30 - 4 May, 2016
The Architecture of Star Wars: 7 Iconic Structures

Perhaps the most enduring appeal of Star Wars for its fans is not simply its compelling storyline or its dramatic space battles - it is instead that this universe is, in fact, a universe, with all the complexity and depth that entails. One of the best ways to reveal that depth is through architecture, which offers the most visually striking combination of history, culture and technology available. As a result, the Star Wars universe is littered with a huge variety of fascinating architecture, from ancient temples to futuristic floating cities.

Today is the most holy day in the Star Wars fanatic’s calendar, and thanks to pages like Star Wars Architecture on Facebook and Wookieepedia, we’re celebrating the event with seven of the most interesting, astonishing and iconic architectural structures from the franchise. Enjoy, and May the 4th be with you.

The Architecture of Star Wars: 7 Iconic Structures The Architecture of Star Wars: 7 Iconic Structures The Architecture of Star Wars: 7 Iconic Structures The Architecture of Star Wars: 7 Iconic Structures +12

8 Architecture Books to Read This Spring

09:45 - 3 May, 2016
8 Architecture Books to Read This Spring

For the architecture-obsessed reader, it can sometimes be tough to keep up with the publishing world. With architecture-related interests spanning from photography to philosophy, new books are released at an alarming rate and it can be difficult to spot the good from the bad. Fortunately, the good folks at Metropolis Magazine are here to help. In this article, excerpted from their list of 50 Architecture and Design Books to Read This Spring, Metropolis editors select the top architecture titles to come out this year to give you a helping hand in rounding out your reading list.

Casa Brutale is Getting Built, and Here’s Why (Hint: The Internet)

09:30 - 2 May, 2016
Casa Brutale is Getting Built, and Here’s Why (Hint: The Internet), Courtesy of OPA
Courtesy of OPA

When ArchDaily published “Live on the Edge with OPA’s Casa Brutale” in July of last year, we expected it to be popular on our site, but few anticipated exactly how much attention the project would receive—enough to secure a position in the top 10 most read articles on the site in 2015. But what happened next was perhaps more astounding. By the end of the week, the project had been picked up by the gamut of non-architecture news outlets ranging from Slate to Yahoo to CNET to CNBC. For a few short days, it became difficult to traverse the wild expanses of the internet without a sighting of the project’s lead image, typically accompanied by a hyperbolic headline along the lines of “This Beautiful, Terrifying House is Literally Inside a Cliff.”

But despite the enormous traction, with seemingly impossible features like a clifftop, glass-bottomed swimming pool, the project still seemed to be destined for "paper architecture" status. Yet fast forward to today and the house has (incredibly) found a willing client, and is about to break ground on construction. How did this happen, and what takes architecture from viral sensation to real-life construction project?

Courtesy of OPA Courtesy of OPA Courtesy of OPA Courtesy of OPA +23

Why Aravena's Open Source Project is a Huge Step Toward Better, Cheaper Housing for Everyone

09:50 - 29 April, 2016
Why Aravena's Open Source Project is a Huge Step Toward Better, Cheaper Housing for Everyone

This article by Paperhouses founder Joana Pacheco was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Aravena's Small Step, Open Source's Big Leap."

When Alejandro Aravena was awarded the Pritzker Prize earlier this month, he made a remarkable and significant announcement: he had published the plans of four of his social housing projects on his website, for anyone and everyone to study and use.

Through the work of his firm Elemental, Aravena is known for his interest in incremental, participatory housing design: a common-sense way of working within financial restraints and a cornerstone of Elemental’s studio work. The motto—focus first on what is most difficult to achieve, what cannot be done individually, and what will guarantee the common good in the future—resulted in a “half a house.” First introduced over a decade ago, the model consists of an expandable 40 square-meter (431 square-feet) container with basic infrastructure (partitions, structural and firewalls, bathroom, kitchen, stairs, a roof) built-in and added to over time. It is not only an achievement from a conceptual and project management standpoint, but also an aesthetically open and diverse project. From this one idea stemmed 100 variations.

Comic Break: "School vs. Work"

06:00 - 29 April, 2016
Comic Break: "School vs. Work", © Architexts
© Architexts

The classroom and the office are the two main settings where we learn about the practice of architecture, yet both expect the other to fill in more than a few gaps. Maybe schools shouldn’t emphasize the “technical details” and instead focus on teaching how to design; or maybe a little technical knowledge would be great preparation for that first job out of school (where you won’t get to design much more than a straight line). No matter which ideology you subscribe to, there will always be a disconnect between the classroom and the office.

6 Structures Designed to Save Humanity From Itself

10:50 - 26 April, 2016
6 Structures Designed to Save Humanity From Itself

On April 26th 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine suffered a catastrophic failure, resulting in a nuclear meltdown and a series of explosions which scattered radioactive material across large areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. More than 50,000 people were evacuated the following day, and over the next 14 years another 300,000 people were moved, leading to an exclusion zone today measuring 2,600 square kilometers that will likely remain in place for hundreds of years. To this day, the human cost of the disaster is still unknown, with estimates that in their lifetimes, anywhere between 4,000 and 200,000 people will be affected by cancers attributable to the incident. Along with the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of 2011, the Chernobyl Disaster is one of only two level 7 nuclear events in history.

Today, exactly 30 years later, the incident at Chernobyl remains one of the most poignant demonstrations of humanity’s mastery over its environment, and also one of the most powerful demonstrations of how easily, and how catastrophically, that mastery can go awry. But humans are if nothing else resilient, and throughout history have used every means at their disposal to put right the problems they have caused for themselves - including a number of structures constructed to mitigate the effects of man-made disasters, both from humanity’s past and its possible future.

Spotlight: Gert Wingårdh

06:00 - 26 April, 2016
Spotlight: Gert Wingårdh, Aula Medica. Image © Tord-Rikard Soderstrom
Aula Medica. Image © Tord-Rikard Soderstrom

One of Sweden’s most esteemed living architects, Gert Wingårdh (born 26 April 1951) brought Swedish architecture out of the tradition of the International Style and into contemporary times with his playful design spirit and love of eye-catching materials. With his use of bright colors and geometric motifs, his recent buildings have been described as Maximalist or Modern Baroque.

Expanding Dredge Geologics

04:00 - 26 April, 2016
Expanding Dredge Geologics, Masterplan and schedule of the expanded Geologics. Image © The Open Workshop
Masterplan and schedule of the expanded Geologics. Image © The Open Workshop

The following article was first published by Volume Magazine in their 47th issue, The System*. You can read the Editorial of this issue, How Much Does Your System Weigh?here.

The movement and management of sediment is arguably the largest continuous project of spatial manipulation on the planet. This ongoing battle between geology and industry is most apparent through the act of dredging. Dredging is the excavation, gathering, transport, and disposal of sediment from subaquatic areas, enacted to maintain depths of shipping channels, harbors, and ports as well as to reclaim land, create sea defences, and remove toxic chemicals.[1] The primary impetus for dredging is to sustain logistical routes for the shipping industry by countering the forces of erosion, movement, and settling of sediments. Like the logistics of the global shipping industry it serves, dredging is a continual process whose magnitude and significance have fostered their own series of ‘geologics’ – the engineering of material processes that operate in temporal and spatial scales that are geological in scope.[2] Currently in the United States alone, more than four hundred ports and over 25,000 miles of navigation channels are being dredged.[3]

Spotlight: Peter Zumthor

02:30 - 26 April, 2016
Spotlight: Peter Zumthor, The Therme Vals. Image © Flickr user rowenaoscura licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Therme Vals. Image © Flickr user rowenaoscura licensed under CC BY 2.0

Known for his sensuous materiality and attention to place, 2009 Pritzker Laureate Peter Zumthor (born April 26, 1943) is one the most revered architects of the 21st century. Shooting to fame on the back of The Therme Vals and Kunsthaus Bregenz, completed just a year apart in 1996 and 1997, his work privileges the experiential qualities of individual buildings over the technological, cultural and theoretical focus often favored by his contemporaries.

6 Community Architecture Projects in the Peruvian Jungle

09:30 - 24 April, 2016
Sondoveni Community Center. Image Courtesy of ConstruyeIdentidad
Sondoveni Community Center. Image Courtesy of ConstruyeIdentidad

Plan Selva (Jungle Plan) -- a project to build modular schools in Amazonian villages -- was selected as the focal point of the Peruvian pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. In light of this, we take a look at the work of two other organizations that have been carrying out major projects in the country's largest natural region: ConstruyeIdentidad, which creates innovative projects using traditional materials and techniques and an exchange of ideas between students, professionals and the community; and Semillas, an organization that designs educational spaces used as areas of communication between indigenous communities, promoting the development of these relationships and exchanges through participatory processes. 

School- Atsipatari Sondoveni. Image Courtesy of ConstruyeIdentidad School in Chuquibambilla. Image © Paulo Afonso / Marta Maccaglia © Paulo Afonso / Marta Maccaglia Courtesy of ConstruyeIdentidad +63

These Unique, Beautiful Sundials Are Designed Using Location-Specific Solar Data

09:30 - 23 April, 2016
These Unique, Beautiful Sundials Are Designed Using Location-Specific Solar Data, Courtesy of Prescription
Courtesy of Prescription

Design group prescription., in conjunction with Arup, have developed a sophisticated sundial based off of solar path data that takes the form of a flowering fan. The geometry is optimized using the specific solar data from any world location, giving the sundial a completely unique form based on where it is constructed, and is materialized in a strong, flexible plastic through a 3D printing process.

AD Readers Debate: Preserving Breuer's Brutalist Library in Atlanta, Problems with Coliving and More

10:30 - 22 April, 2016
AD Readers Debate: Preserving Breuer's Brutalist Library in Atlanta, Problems with Coliving and More, Marcel Breuer's Central Library in Atlanta. Image via Docomomo
Marcel Breuer's Central Library in Atlanta. Image via Docomomo

The past two weeks have seen an interesting mixture of comments on ArchDaily. Topics of conversation have ranged from Brutalist preservation to the future of living, and from neoliberal planning systems to restrictive copyright laws, raising insightful questions, interesting ideas and impressive arguments. Read on to find out what has been occupying our readers’ minds these past two weeks.

Take a Look Through London's History with this Interactive Map

11:30 - 21 April, 2016
Take a Look Through London's History with this Interactive Map, via Locating London's History
via Locating London's History

It's no secret that architects are often fascinated by maps, and in the age of Google - where access to accurate maps of almost anywhere in the world has become universal - maps have become one of the most powerful ways to understand our cities. Interestingly, Google has in a way enabled a new way to interrogate maps from the past, as historic maps can be more easily overlaid with the Google interface to make comparisons to the present day. That's just what the website Locating London's Past has done, creating a tool to compare three maps: the current version of Google Maps, the first Ordnance Survey map from 1863-80, and John Rocque's 1746 Survey of London, allowing web users to see the growth of the UK capital over the past 270 years.

How to Convince Your Firm to Pay for Training

09:30 - 20 April, 2016
How to Convince Your Firm to Pay for Training, © Matej Kastelic via Shutterstock
© Matej Kastelic via Shutterstock

Young designers, fresh out of school, often have incredible potential to contribute to their new firm: with fresh skills and capabilities that may have passed by the company's older members, they are in an excellent position to make their mark. But maximizing this potential may require expensive training courses, and asking your firm for that opportunity can be daunting. In this article originally published on ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly recounts a tale from his own early years as an architect to demonstrate that getting your firm to pay for training may be simpler than most young architects imagine.

When I was a young architect, only a few years out of school, I became interested in 3D rendering. This was back in the mid-nineties so the technology was primitive compared to today. 3D Studio Max had just come out and my firm had a copy.

After work, I would play around with the software. I did a few renderings of the project I was working on as a way to learn the software. The project designer saw them and got excited.

20 Creative Business Cards for Architects

08:00 - 20 April, 2016

Establishing professional contacts in architecture – and well, in any field, really – has changed dramatically in the last decade, passing from the paper world to the virtual realm. However, small details can still make a big difference when it comes to captivating a potential new client or establishing a new partnership -- and these details aren’t unique to the virtual world.

Among these smaller, but powerful, details is the business card. Timeless and effective, the impact that a business card can have when meeting someone new cannot be overlooked. While simple, monochrome cards with muted prints are well liked among architects, exploring new forms, unusual materials and bold colors can result in a unique card that will leave a lasting impression on the person who receives it.

Below we’ve compiled some examples of cards that can serve as inspiration for architects, engineers, designers, landscapers and urbanists: 

How to Improve Architectural Education: Learning (and Unlearning) From the Beaux Arts Method

10:00 - 19 April, 2016
How to Improve Architectural Education: Learning (and Unlearning) From the Beaux Arts Method, © Steven Lin
© Steven Lin

Learning how to design is hard. It requires students to learn an entirely new way of thinking and seeing the world. It even requires a whole new vocabulary. So architecture school is rightly hard. However, architecture school is known for being hard for the wrong reasons; studio is considered a mystical place on college campuses full of sleep-deprived students who are designing simply because professors decree that they must—so much so that when a non-architecture student meets an architecture student on the Quad they immediately offer their condolences. This perception exists because studio culture has not yet evolved from its rigid hierarchy, originating in the Beaux Arts teaching method, that thrives on competition and intensity and creates a breeding ground for unhappy students.

Coup De Grâce

04:00 - 19 April, 2016
Coup De Grâce, City of London. Image © Jason Hawkes
City of London. Image © Jason Hawkes

The following article was first published by Volume Magazine in their 47th issue, The System*. You can read the Editorial of this issue, How Much Does Your System Weigh?here.

Neoliberal post-fordism poses a dramatic challenge to urbanism as we have come to know it since the early 20th century. The public planning process has become more and more an embarrassment and obstacle to urban and economic flourishing. It’s a relic of a bygone era. The high point of urban planning was the post-war era of socialist planning and re-construction of the built environment. With respect to this period we can speak about physical or perhaps ‘positive planning’, in the sense of governments formulating concrete plans and designs about what to build. This era has long gone as society evolved beyond the simple fordist society of mechanical mass production to our current post-fordist networked society. When a few basic standards were functionally separate, optimized and endlessly repeated, central planning could still cope with the pace of societal progress. The world we live in today is far too multi-faceted, complex and dynamic to be entrusted to a central planning agency. The old model broke apart as it could not handle the level of complexity we live with and our cities should accommodate. The decentralized information processing mechanism of the market was indeed capable of managing such levels of complexity and, for this reason, has effectively taken over all positive decision-making processes.

How To Eliminate Gender Disparity in Architecture, According to Our Readers

11:01 - 18 April, 2016
How To Eliminate Gender Disparity in Architecture, According to Our Readers, © Robert Venturi
© Robert Venturi

The movement towards gender equality in the architecture profession has been gaining attention for some time now, led in large part by surveys of the profession such as the AIA’s recent diversity study or of course the annual Women in Architecture survey by The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal. However, recently the debate around gender has taken on a different form; in a response to the AR's most recent survey published in RIBA Journal, for example, the curator of Turncoats and founder of the practices Interrobang and Studio Weave Maria Smith argues that it is time to move on to a more nuanced depiction of the problem. “I’d like to see a radical change in how this discussion is framed,” she says. “We must move away from generic indignation and start to properly interrogate why both men and women practice architecture the way they do.”

In light of this slow movement towards action in place of indignation, on International Women’s Day last month we asked our readers what exactly should be done to eliminate gender inequality in the field of architecture. The question provoked a broad and at times incredibly heated discussion - read on to find out what our readers had to say on the topic.