Shan-Zhen: How a Small Irish Town Influenced the Mega-City Shenzhen

04:00 - 26 January, 2016
Aerial photograph of Shannon Airport (1959) set within its rural context. Image Courtesy of Shannon Group plc
Aerial photograph of Shannon Airport (1959) set within its rural context. Image Courtesy of Shannon Group plc

At the dawn of the age of transatlantic commercial aviation, Shannon, a small town on the west coast of Ireland, was thrust into the spotlight. By 1959 it had been developed as the world’s first Free Trade Zone and New Town, providing a new—and persistent—business model for US multinationals seeking cheaper ways to operate in Europe. On the other side of the world, China was beginning to develop its urbanisation policy and was interested in how Shannon had successfully decentralised its administration from Dublin. After many visits in the early 1980s by Chinese leaders to study this model, under the direction of Deng Xiaoping, the Shannon planning system was used as a template in the formation of Shenzhen and has since been rolled across China.

New Horizon_architecture from Ireland is the flagship exhibition programme for Irish architecture and the built environment as part of Irish Design 2015. Shan-Zhen was first presented at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in 2015.

It’s Elementary (Not): On the Architecture of Alejandro Aravena

09:30 - 25 January, 2016
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma

When reading about the work of Alejandro Aravena, it can sometimes seem like two distinct discussions: one about his widely praised social housing innovations, and another about his impressive (albeit more conventional in scope) buildings for universities and municipalities. In this post originally shared on his Facebook page Hashim Sarkis, the Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, connects the two apparently separate threads of Aravena's architecture, discovering the underlying beliefs that guide this year's Pritzker Prize winner.

Much of the work of Alejandro Aravena, whether designed alone or with the group ELEMENTAL, embodies a eureka moment, a moment where after a careful interrogation of the program with the client, the architect comes up with a counterintuitive but simple response to the charge. (For the computer center at the Catholic University, the labs have to be both dark and well-lit. For the social housing in Iquique, instead of a full good house that you cannot afford, you get a half good house that you can). In turn, these simple equations are embodied in buildings that usually acquire similarly simple forms. The clients and occupants repeat the “aha” with Aravena’s same tone and realization. “If I cannot convincingly convey the design idea over the phone, then I know it is a bad idea,” he says.

Las Cruces Lookout Point. Image © Iwan Baan Design for Casa OchoQuebradas. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh Quinta Monroy housing. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL +11

Immerse Yourself in 3D Models Online With Sketchfab's New Virtual Reality Feature

08:00 - 25 January, 2016

Sketchfab, the browser-based platform for sharing and viewing 3D models, has announced a new feature on their software that turns any of their models into a virtual reality experience when viewed on a smartphone and combined with a simple headset like Google Cardboard. Sketchfab allows users to upload a wide variety of 3D model file types that could then be shared and viewed in any web browser, or embedded on websites or social media, without the need for any additional software or plug-ins. As a result, over the past few years they've built up a huge database of over half a million 3D models, and this new VR feature allows viewers to experience those models in a whole new way.

AD Readers Debate: Alejandro Aravena's Pritzker Prize and More

11:00 - 24 January, 2016
UC Innovation Center, by Alejandro Aravena's firm ELEMENTAL. Image © Nina Vidic
UC Innovation Center, by Alejandro Aravena's firm ELEMENTAL. Image © Nina Vidic

The announcement of the Pritzker Prize is often the biggest news story of the year in architecture. This year it seems will be no different: the accolade went to Alejandro Aravena, with the jury paying particular attention to his social housing work, and with the Aravena-directed Venice Biennale right around the corner, it seems that this year we'll be talking a lot about the 48-year-old Chilean.

That discussion has already begun in our comments section, where readers debated the pros and cons of the decision by the Pritzker Jury. Read on to find out what our readers had to say about Aravena and the other big stories of recent weeks.

How Driverless Cars Could, Should - and Shouldn't - Reshape Our Cities

10:00 - 22 January, 2016

In the race to bring driverless cars from a futuristic fantasy to a present-day reality, developers have touted a plethora of advantages, from reduced traffic congestion on roads to improved safety thanks to the elimination of human error. But the potential widespread implementation of driverless cars could also have profound impacts on the form of our urban environments, fundamentally reshaping infrastructure and land use. As recently as a year ago, this new technology was seen as decades away; however, recently Elon Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla, predicted that driverless cars will be capable of making cross-country treks within about two years, and a pilot program in the United Kingdom city of Milton Keynes plans to launch a fleet of driverless pod-taxis by 2018, matching Musk’s timeline.

The driverless car future could be just around the corner, and the normally slow-changing infrastructure of cities could be forced to apply quick fixes to adapt. At the same time, the full potential of driverless cars cannot be realized without implementing significant changes to the urban fabric. So how will driverless cars change how our cities work, and how will our cities adapt to accommodate them?

Frozen Architecture: From Glistening Snow Shows to Multi-Colored Ice Festivals

09:30 - 21 January, 2016
Oblong Voidspace - Jene Highstein & Steven Holl. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Kostamoinen
Oblong Voidspace - Jene Highstein & Steven Holl. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Kostamoinen

Winter is the perfect time to build structures with ice, a time and a technique that together offer the possibility of a pure white architecture. With a cloudy sky the condition culminates into an impressive whiteout: white architecture, the landscape and the sky dissolve into a diffuse unity without a visible horizon. If clear skies emerge a subtle contrast of warm and cool white appears with yellowish sunrays against the blue sky. However, the ice itself has striking effects as well: The surface appearance ranges from crystal clear glass to soft opaque impressions. And, for the long nights, illumination achieves an additional magical glow and extends the short daylight time.

Worldwide, snow shows, ice hotels and festivals have attracted numerous visitors with glistening snows and stunning lighting solutions. Futhermore, this frozen water strategy presents a sustainable solution par excellence, where the manufacturing and even disposal causes no harm to the environment. Read on to explore the coolest projects and events featuring architects and artists from Finland to China.

Art Suite 2016. Under the Arctic Skin by Rob Harding & Timsam Harding. Image © Icehotel, Asaf Kliger. www.icehotel.com Icehotel 25 by Anja Kilian, Sebastian Andreas Scheller, Wolfgang-A. Lüchow. Image © Icehotel, Paulina Holmgren. www.icehotel.com Oblong Voidspace - Jene Highstein & Steven Holl. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Menne Stenros Ice Time Tunnel - Tatsuo Miyajima & Tadao Ando. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Jeff DeBany +7

The Living's 3D Printed Airplane Partition is Designed to Mimic Bone Structure

12:00 - 20 January, 2016
© The Living
© The Living

You’ve probably never given much thought to the seemingly basic interior partitions of an airplane, but building codes are a walk in the park compared to the exacting standards of aviation design. Those thin panels that separate the seats from the plane's galley must also be capable of supporting the weight of flight attendant jumpseats and providing a removable section to accommodate emergency stretchers - not to mention the rigorous safety standards and crash testing that aviation components must satisfy. With all of these challenges in mind, The Living, an Autodesk Studio, in collaboration with Airbus and APWorks, have developed the Bionic Partition Project, which harnesses generative design and 3D printing to maximize the structural efficiency of the panel, reducing the weight of an aircraft, and saving fuel. And while this particular application is specific to a single aircraft type, the technological advances could have far-reaching implications.

© The Living © The Living © The Living © The Living +11

A Virtual Look Into Richard Neutra's Unbuilt Case Study House #6, The Omega House

09:30 - 20 January, 2016

This 3D model is as close as you can get to the real thing, as Omega House is one of the few Case Study Houses that was never built. Presented early in the case study program of Arts & Architecture magazine in 1945, it presents one of the most innovative design concepts in the series, one you can now explore in your browser.

The architect, Richard Neutra, was a celebrity in his own lifetime, and among the most esteemed of the high modernists. Neutra was born in Vienna and already over 30 when he arrived in America in 1923. He worked for Erich Mendelsohn, for Frank Lloyd Wright, and briefly with Rudolph Schindler. Many of his commissions were domestic houses, structures that he managed to make wonderfully photogenic. Neutra carried himself with some of the aristocratic manner of a Mies van der Rohe, but tempered by the lively west coast egalitarianism of Charles and Ray Eames (link to previous project). He made the cover of Time Magazine in the forties, and might be one of the only prominent architects ever to build a drive-in church. Perhaps most remarkably, Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay to The Fountainhead whilst living in a house designed by Neutra.

Spotlight: Thom Mayne

10:30 - 19 January, 2016
Emerson College Los Angeles. Image ©  Iwan Baan
Emerson College Los Angeles. Image © Iwan Baan

The principal architect of LA firm MorphosisThom Mayne was the recipient of the 2005 Pritzker Prize and the 2013 AIA Gold Medal, and is known for his experimental architectural forms, often applying them to significant institutional buildings such as the New York's Cooper Union building, the Emerson College in Los Angeles and the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters.

How I Developed Ergo Kiwi, an Ergonomic Craft Knife that Your Fingers Will Thank You For

09:30 - 19 January, 2016
© Christian Borger
© Christian Borger

If you've been through architecture school you're probably wary of craft knives, which can puncture the skin of an non-alert, caffeinated student at a fraction of a second's notice. Even if you manage to avoid the hospital, though, these scourges of the studio still know how to hurt you: their designs are the antithesis of ergonomics, making a marathon modeling session a mighty endurance battle against hand cramps and joint pain. Aiming for a more comfortable solution, architecture graduate Sean Riley developed the Ergo Kiwi, and today is launching a Kickstarter campaign to help bring the product to market.

In addition, Riley has also meticulously cataloged his design and production process. At ArchDaily, we thought it gave a fascinating insight into not only the design of Ergo Kiwi, the but the steps involved in developing and bringing to market a convincing product. As a result, we invited him to share his story.

Courtesy of Sean Riley © Christian Borger Courtesy of Sean Riley © Christian Borger +27

OMA/AMO's Latest Prada Runway is Inspired by 17th Century Auto-Da-Fé Trials

16:00 - 18 January, 2016
© OMA. Photographed by Agostino Osio
© OMA. Photographed by Agostino Osio

When it comes to the modern-day fashion show, the internet has fundamentally changed the way audiences interact with models and designers, say OMA/AMO, arguing: "The assemblage of recorded impressions and digital reactions inserts itself into the once autonomous narrative of the fashion show. The statement of the collective spreads. The mass of fragmented instant data is uploaded and critiqued by a multitude of voices."

With their latest fashion show design for Prada, which was used to showcase the designer's upcoming fall/winter menswear collection in Milan yesterday, the firm sought to enhance this sense of public judgement. "This consumption of images is like a public trial, a contemporary transposition of the Auto-da-fé," explains their press release, referring to the ceremonies of public penance which took place in the Portuguese and Spanish Inquisitions in the 15th-17th centuries.

© OMA. Photographed by Agostino Osio © OMA. Photographed by Alberto Moncada © OMA. Photographed by Agostino Osio © OMA. Photographed by Agostino Osio +7

Three Years in Villa Verde, ELEMENTAL’s Incremental Housing Project in Constitución, Chile

14:00 - 18 January, 2016

Where were you when it happened? On February 27, 2010 an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Chile, causing destruction across the country. Ask any Chilean what they were doing at the time, and they will have a story to tell.

Oriana Pinochet Villagra and her family were in Constitución when the ground started to shake. A town centered around the forestry industry, Constitución is surrounded by green mountains, and situated where the Maule river meets the Pacific Ocean.

It was one of the cities most affected by the earthquake in 2010. The ocean water flooded the river, wrecking everything that the earthquake hadn’t already destroyed. Those that lived along the riverbank were left in the street with mud burying their houses -- Oriana's family lost 30 years of memories.

Almost six years after the natural disaster, we visited Constitución where Oriana Pinochet showed us one of the major reconstruction projects in the city: Villa Verde Housing, a residential neighborhood for 484 of the affected families. With partial financing from housing subsidies and based on the idea of incremental housing, the project is designed by ELEMENTAL, the “Do Tank” of 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate, Alejandro Aravena

Video: The "Polis Station," Studio Gang's Ideal for a Post-Ferguson America

14:00 - 17 January, 2016

At this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial the directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda asked participating architects to demonstrate the “State of the Art of Architecture" by submitting projects that they felt told a story about architecture’s importance in society. As explained in this video by Politico Magazine, native Chicagoan Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects responded to this call by looking at an issue that has plagued American cities in startling ways in recent years: the troubled relationships between communities and their police forces. Often hidden behind fortress-like buildings, police stations in their current form tend to project an image closer to hostile than welcoming. But Gang believes it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Avant-Garde of Adaptive Reuse: How Design For Deconstruction is Reinventing Recycling

09:30 - 16 January, 2016
The NASA Sustainability Base, designed by William McDonough + Partners with AECOM was constructed based on Design for Deconstruction principles. Image © William McDonough + Partners
The NASA Sustainability Base, designed by William McDonough + Partners with AECOM was constructed based on Design for Deconstruction principles. Image © William McDonough + Partners

As an idea that was developed fairly early on in the movement for sustainability, and picked up significant traction a few years into the new millennium, "Design for Deconstruction" has been around for some years. Yet still, considered on the scale of building lifespans, the idea is still in its infancy, with few opportunities to test its principles. In this post originally published on Autodesk's Line//Shape//Space publication as "Recycled Buildings or Bridges? Designing for Deconstruction Beyond Adaptive Reuse," Timothy A Schuler looks at the advances that have been made, and the challenges that still face, the design for deconstruction movement.

This summer, the Oakland Museum of California announced a new public arts grant program. Except instead of money, selected artists would receive steel. Tons of it.

The Bay Bridge Steel Program emerged out of a desire to salvage and repurpose the metal that once made up the eastern span of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, originally constructed in 1933 (it was replaced in 2013). The steel in question, sourced from “spans referred to as ‘504s’ and ‘288s’ (in reference to their length in feet),” according to the application material, would be available for civic and public art projects within the state of California.

The program represents a unique opportunity to adaptively reuse infrastructure, upcycling what might have been waste. And yet any instance of adaptive reuse is inherently reactive because the design process is dictated by an existing condition.

San Francisco’s Bay Bridge being dismantled for use in the Bay Bridge Steel Program. Image © Sam Burbank San Francisco’s Bay Bridge being dismantled for use in the Bay Bridge Steel Program. Image © Sam Burbank San Francisco’s Bay Bridge being dismantled for use in the Bay Bridge Steel Program. Image © Sam Burbank San Francisco’s Bay Bridge being dismantled for use in the Bay Bridge Steel Program. Image © Sam Burbank +9

This Video Reimagines Paris as a City that is All Facade

09:30 - 15 January, 2016

Museums, restaurants, shops, theaters. These are the types of spaces the public interact with on a regular basis in a city. But these spaces alone do not make a city - in fact, the vast majority of buildings house spaces that 99 percent of the population will never see. Yet a true city experience cannot exist without these buildings. What is the true value of private buildings to the tourist or the passer-by on the street? Is it simply a matter of aesthetic and identity? Could the same result be achieved with a streetwall made up of only facades? These are the implicit questions embedded in “Apparences,” the new video from Claire and Max of Menilmonde. The duo uses video editing and CGI to alter iconic Paris views, making the city of romance appear to be little more than the world’s largest movie set.

A city with the history and imagery of Paris cannot be mistaken for a Potemkin Village - the city functions still as one of the preeminent economic centers in the world. Yet its status as one of the world’s most visited cities and tales of its beauty and luxury often plant false visions of grandeur in visitors’ minds.

These Are the Best Architecture Images from the NYPL’s New Public Domain Collection

09:30 - 14 January, 2016
Woolworth Building construction. Image via The New York Public Library
Woolworth Building construction. Image via The New York Public Library

Last week the New York Public Library made over 180,000 images from their digital archives available in the public domain, and free for high-resolution download. Not only are the images available for download, but since they are in the public domain and free of any copyright restrictions, users have the freedom to get creative and alter, modify, and reuse the images in any manner they see fit. Featuring a wide variety of images including drawings, engravings, photographs, maps, postcards, and in some cases, digitized copies of entire books, the collection has been noted for fascinating historical artifacts such as a set of color drawings of Egyptian gods and goddesses, and a digitized book from the 18th century containing over 400 color plates depicting various current and historical fashion trends.

Of course, the archive also includes a significant assortment of captivating architectural images that range from everyday scenes to historic treasures. We've trawled the database to find some of the most unusual and insightful examples - read on to see a selection of the most interesting architectural images from NYPL’s digital archives.

Design Development of the Chrysler Building. Image via The New York Public Library The Bund, Shanghai in the early 1900s. Image via The New York Public Library World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Image via The New York Public Library via The New York Public Library +36

Leonardo DiCaprio, Eco-Tourism, and Blackadore Caye: Has Green Building Jumped the Shark?

09:30 - 12 January, 2016
Blackadore Caye, a luxury eco-tourism resort proposed for Leonardo DiCaprio's island off of the coast of Belize. Image © McLennan Design via The New York Times
Blackadore Caye, a luxury eco-tourism resort proposed for Leonardo DiCaprio's island off of the coast of Belize. Image © McLennan Design via The New York Times

In early April 2015, the New York Times reported on Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent purchase of Blackadore Caye, a small island off the coast of Belize that has faced significant environmental degradation and erosion. A patron of several environmental projects, DiCaprio is partnering with Paul Scialla, CEO of the Delos real estate and wellness platform, to create an eco-resort intended to serve as the latest model of cutting-edge, environmentally-responsible tourism development. The development plans include a row of floating guest suites built over the water, 48 private villas (ringing in at $5-15 million), human health and anti-aging wellness programs, and a conservation area. The project is advertised as meeting the ambitious green building standards of the Living Building Challenge and the WELL Building Standard®.

Many Times readers in the comments section sardonically noted that the private jets and the shipment of building materials and daily resources for island development come with large environmental and social price tags that far outweigh the conservation efforts associated with the resort. On the other hand, a few commentators pointed out that the development will employ local labor and save the island from complete degradation. The discussion surrounding the pros and cons of “eco-tourism” development is not a new one, and not one that is easily settled.

But beyond the (important) discussion of the impacts of eco-tourism, the development raises questions about the emergence of alternative green building market standards, which ostensibly aim to transform the building industry by setting measurable targets for the environmental and social effects of the places we live and work.

How Danish Architects Connect with Users to Provide Them With the Best Architecture Possible

08:00 - 11 January, 2016
Dokk1 / Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. Image © Adam Mørk
Dokk1 / Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. Image © Adam Mørk

The Architecture Project recently invited us to visit the city of Aarhus, Denmark as part of a press tour related to health and architecture (Better Health Press Tour 2015), with the aim of seeing the latest "healing" projects that are arising in the city.

Overshadowed for years by Copenhagen, Aarhus is a port city that seeks to reinvent itself and shine once again -- and it is succeeding. The pleasant surprise is that it is the architects who have driven this change. Architecture has invaded all of the city's spaces, from the forgotten industrial port to the downtown areas full of historical buildings.

This visit has taught us some important lessons: "healing architecture" isn't only about hospital projects, but rather about encouraging people, about creating friendly spaces to live and coexist, and about getting as connected as possible with users to give them what they really need. 

Check out some of the strategies used to achieve these goals after the break. 

Create with Aarhus, Schulbau Fair in Hamburg. Image Courtesy of The Architecture Project Create with Aarhus, Schulbau Fair in Hamburg. Image Courtesy of The Architecture Project Create with Aarhus, in Aarhus. Opening of the exposition in Dokk1. Image Courtesy of The Architecture Project Create with Aarhus, in Hamburg. Image Courtesy of The Architecture Project +40