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Examining the Constructed World of the Blockbuster Movie "Ghost in the Shell"

04:00 - 3 August, 2017
Examining the Constructed World of the Blockbuster Movie "Ghost in the Shell", Still from "Ghost in the Shell" (2017) directed by Rupert Sanders. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine
Still from "Ghost in the Shell" (2017) directed by Rupert Sanders. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine

In this article, originally published by Strelka Magazine and translated into English by Alexandra Tumarkina, Anton Khitrov sits down with Julia Ardabyevskaya to analyse the urban environment and spectacular world that the blockbuster movie Ghost in the Shell creates.

Ghost in the Shell, a new sci-fi blockbuster starring Scarlett Johansson, is based on a 1992 manga comic and a more famous 1995 anime adaptation. In the film, humans are presented as obsessed with high-tech prosthetics, spending vast amounts of money on “self-improvement”. The story proceeds to show that the next step for humanity will be complete robotization; this new generation of human machines is represented by the movie's heroine – a female cyborg with an organic brain but a synthetic body. The action takes place in a futuristic city in which almost every surface is covered in holograms the size of a skyscraper, each and every one an advertisement.

Still from "Ghost in the Shell" (2017) directed by Rupert Sanders. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine Still from "Ghost in the Shell" (2017) directed by Rupert Sanders. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine Still from "Ghost in the Shell" (2017) directed by Rupert Sanders. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine Still from "Ghost in the Shell" (2017) directed by Rupert Sanders. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine +7

A Brief History of the Impoverished Culture of Architectural Research

09:30 - 2 August, 2017
A Brief History of the Impoverished Culture of Architectural Research, Courtesy of Common Edge
Courtesy of Common Edge

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "The Confused and Impoverished State of Architectural Research."

For a discipline that thinks of itself as learned, scholarly research eludes the architectural profession. This is a long standing problem. “Failure,” John Ruskin wrote in his 1848 introduction to The Seven Lamps of Architecture, “is less frequently attributable to either insufficiency of means or impatience of labor, than to a confused understanding of the thing actually to be done.”

Roughly 150 years later, Harry Nilsson—surely singing to architects—opined in his song, Joy that if you’re unable to find the answer to a question, you may not have a question worth asking (and probably don’t have a problem worth solving). In between Ruskin and rock and roll, is William Peña, the author of the architectural programming guide, Problem Seeking, who nearly a half-century ago wrote that “you can’t solve a problem unless you know what it is.”

The Origins of Half-Timbering: 2000 Years of Non-Stop Nostalgia

04:00 - 2 August, 2017
The Origins of Half-Timbering: 2000 Years of Non-Stop Nostalgia, Sam Jacob Studio's "Half Timbered" T-Shirt. Image © Sam Jacob Studio
Sam Jacob Studio's "Half Timbered" T-Shirt. Image © Sam Jacob Studio

Sam Jacob Studio harbours a long-held fascination with Half-Timbering. In this essay, Jacob examines the historical, cultural, and aesthetic roots of the style.

It’s fair to say that “Mock Tudor”—that black and white facade treatment—has a less than glowing reputation. Take these sneering lines from John Betjeman’s Slough, for instance:

It’s not their fault they often go / To Maidenhead / And talk of sports and makes of cars / In various bogus Tudor bars.

(Perhaps those very same bars that Martin Freeman’s character in The Office notes have “a sign in the toilet saying: Don’t get your Hampton Court”.) “Mock Tudor” is often accused of “bogus”-ness, of lacking authenticity, of fakeness, and many other types of architectural sin.

"Moe's Tavern" from "The Simpsons". Image via "The Simpsons" / Fandom Little Moreton Hall, England. © <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Moreton_Hall#/media/File:LittleMoretonHall.jpg">Wikimedia Commons user Christine-Ann Martin</a> licensed under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">CC BY 3.0</a>. Image Courtesy of Christine-Ann Martin Anne Hathaway's Cottage, England. © <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tudor_architecture#/media/File:Anne_Hathaways_Cottage_1_(5662418953).jpg">Wikimedia Commons user Tony Hisgett</a> licensed under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image Courtesy of Tony Hisgett Death of Harold (detail from the Bayeux Tapestry). © <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death.jpg">Wikimedia Commons user Myrabella</a> available in the Public Domain. Image Courtesy of Myrabella +6

The Unexpected First Jobs of Seven Famous Architects

09:30 - 31 July, 2017
The Unexpected First Jobs of Seven Famous Architects

Seniority is infamously important in the field of architecture. Despite occasionally being on the butt end of wage jokes, the field can actually pay relatively well—assuming that you’ve been working for a couple of decades. Even Bjarke Ingels, the tech-savvy, video-producing, Netflix-documentary-starring provocateur and founder of the ultra-contemporary BIG isn’t a millennial; at 42 the Dane is a full nine years older than Mark Zuckerberg.

As a result of this, it's common to lead a rich and complex life before finding architectural fame, and many of the world’s most successful architects started their careers off in an entirely different field. If you haven't landed your dream job yet, you may find the following list of famous architects' first gigs reassuring.

A Tour Through the Many Doorways of India

16:00 - 30 July, 2017
Pahara Village in Uttar Pradesh. Image © Priyanshi Singhal
Pahara Village in Uttar Pradesh. Image © Priyanshi Singhal

The door: despite being one of the most fundamental architectural elements, the immense significance these portals hold in architecture and culture can hardly be questioned. Historically, empires erected gigantic gateways to welcome visitors and religious shrines installed doors with ornate embellishments to ward off evil just as contemporary governments have built arches to commemorate important events.

In this photo-series, however, architect Priyanshi Singhal directs her focus to doors in a humbler vein—those of homes and hole-in-the-wall shops. Armed with her camera, she travels through narrow winding streets in age-old Indian towns and villages—characterized by their mixed land-use—as she studies and documents the inherent relationship between architectural tradition, culture, and a people. A door and its chaukhat (threshold) hold deep spiritual meaning in India’s traditional vastu shastra system of architecture. Furthermore, Singhal’s work provides us a brief glimpse of the imprint that the vagaries of time, community and economy have left on India’s historical urban fabric.

Kolkata. Image © Priyanshi Singhal Old Bhopal. Image © Priyanshi Singhal Pushkar. Image © Priyanshi Singhal Gokul, Mathura. Image © Priyanshi Singhal +35

Architecture, Fashion and Performance: Photos of the Week

12:00 - 30 July, 2017

The purpose of architectural photography is to show a design in the best possible way, with the artform often characterized by perspective correction and atmospheric lighting. However, few architectural photographers have experimented with other artistic disciplines. Miguel de Guzmán, Paul Vu and Jules Couartou are among those who have challenged the limits of this form of photography, generating an interesting crossover between architecture photography, fashion and performances. In their images, the relationship between space and the user is shown through a scene designed to register an effect on the viewer. The results are images which are full of creativity.

© Imagen Subliminal Courtesy of Gartnerfuglen & Mariana de Delás © Miguel de Guzmán © Koji Fuji - Nacasa & Partners Inc +18

8 Urban Elevators That Bring Connectivity and Continuity to Cities

16:00 - 29 July, 2017
8 Urban Elevators That Bring Connectivity and Continuity to Cities

When working in an urban area with a complex topography, one of the biggest challenges is urban integration. Worldwide, many socially deprived neighborhoods are situated in complicated geographical locations surrounded by steep slopes. Such areas complicate mobility for pedestrians, cyclists, and the elderly, with a lack of accessibility often excluding them from taking part in city life effectively.

In this context, urban elevators can be a novel solution which combine elements of both functional connectivity and sculpture. With some rising up to 30 meters in height, they become urban and touristic landmarks, creating new viewpoints and walkways. Additionally, in many cases, they can help to uphold the historic legacy of the city.

Below we have collected some interesting examples of urban elevators that have been key in the spatial planning of the urban environment.

Alvaro Siza’s Galician Center of Contemporary Art Through the Lens of Fernando Guerra

12:00 - 29 July, 2017

The following photo set by Fernando Guerra focuses on the Galician Center of Contemporary Art, a project by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira

Located in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, the Galician Center for Contemporary Art was developed in 1993. Its declared horizontality and respect for the surrounding buildings and the urban structure are configured in the most remarkable gestures of this project. The solid and austere volumes form the boundaries of the area to the streets, with subtractions that make it accessible. The center has several permanent and temporary exhibition rooms, auditorium, library, cafeteria and administrative rooms.

5 Online Resources That Explore The Intersection Between Landscape, Architecture and Culture

08:00 - 29 July, 2017
5 Online Resources That Explore The Intersection Between Landscape, Architecture and Culture

At times, Landscape design lacks proper consideration or its overlooked within architecture, as a result of current but preconceived notions within architectural practice and education that privilege building over site, or the constructed over the existing. While at face value, landscape is treated as an abject and constant entity of sorts, the reality is that it possesses a layered complexity of patterns and ecosystems, much of which is increasingly impacted by our own actions, more significantly than what meets the eye.

At the same time, the definition of landscape is constantly evolving to encompass a greater number of influences and factors. We have cultural, built and ecological landscapes, which influence one another and come about as a result of the intersection between the architecture and the environment that we are presented with. As a result, it is important to view terrain in a more holistic light, acknowledging its ecological underpinnings and well as the anthropological effects it is subject to, both physically and theoretically. Here is a list of five online resources, which investigate the interdisciplinary nature of landscape design and its relation to architecture and culture.

2017 Stirling Prize Shortlist Leaves Critics Divided and Underwhelmed

07:00 - 28 July, 2017
2017 Stirling Prize Shortlist Leaves Critics Divided and Underwhelmed

The 2017 winner of the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the Stirling Prize, will be announced on October 31. Leading up to the main event, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released its list of the six shortlisted buildings, a collection that has left many critics scratching their heads. What the list left out seems to be as noteworthy as what was included, and while critics’ opinions on individual buildings differ, they seem mostly united in finding the overall list uninspiring and underwhelming. Read on to find out what they had to say.

In Defense of the Emoji Building and Architecture Being Fun, Sometimes

09:30 - 27 July, 2017
In Defense of the Emoji Building and Architecture Being Fun, Sometimes, © Bart van Hoek
© Bart van Hoek

It’s always fascinating when architecture breaks the bounds of the profession and becomes a topic of debate in the wider profession. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, there is no shortage of such occasions: whether it’s the click-seeking cluster of articles that found a client for an improbable cliff-hanging design or the forums that suddenly decided that most modern architecture looks “evil,” the viral trend treadmill ensures that there are plenty of opportunities for the layperson to offer their two cents on the output of our profession.

The flavor of the summer of 2017 is Attika Architekten’s Emoticon Facade. This thoroughly sensible and polite building has caught the public’s attention thanks to its inclusion of emoji-shaped decorative additions. While most of the internet has responded with heart-eyes, there’s no shortage of people for whom these carved emojis are a clear indication that architecture, and by extension society, and by extension all of life as we know it, is doomed, never to recover. Such an opinion is legitimized by articles like this one in Wired by Sam Lubell, who in reporting on the building found two experts willing to take a big old smiley poop on Attika Architekten’s work. Given the role that these experts play in directing the conversation among the public, their arguments bear analysis.

10 Projects That Feature Striking Steel Trusses

06:00 - 27 July, 2017
10 Projects That Feature Striking Steel Trusses

Understanding the structural aspects of architecture is an inherent task of the architect; sufficient structural knowledge allows designers to propose ideas such as large structural elements which offer an interesting response to a project's needs.

Steel trusses are an example of such a response, which demonstrate an ability to define spaces and structures that are truly complex and interesting.

Below is a list of 10 inspirational projects that use metal trusses as an essential element of design.

A Success Story of Architecture and Art in One of Mexico's Most Violent Cities

09:30 - 26 July, 2017
A Success Story of Architecture and Art in One of Mexico's Most Violent Cities, Cortesía de Jardín Botánico de Culiacán
Cortesía de Jardín Botánico de Culiacán

What becomes of public space once violence is normalized in a city? Though it is naive to believe that architecture by itself can present absolute solutions to complex social and political issues, it is also important to explore and understand its possibilities as an agent of social change, however small.

The Beauty of Everyday Life: Ward Robert's Courts

06:00 - 26 July, 2017
The Beauty of Everyday Life: Ward Robert's Courts, Courts 01. Image © Ward Roberts
Courts 01. Image © Ward Roberts

Courts 02. Image © Ward Roberts Courts 01. Image © Ward Roberts Courts 01. Image © Ward Roberts Courts 02. Image © Ward Roberts +63

Showing nobility in everyday places requires a sense that goes far beyond first impressions. New York-based photographer Ward Roberts offers a fresh and engaging perspective in his photographs - documenting sports courts of all kinds around Hong Kong, Bermuda, Hawaii, and New York (to name a few). Roberts' work beautifully captures the innate tension between the familiar and the foreign that sports courts evoke: bringing a sense of place, in any place.  

Yoga Poses For Architects

08:00 - 25 July, 2017
Courtesy of The Leewardists
Courtesy of The Leewardists

Learning to adapt and be flexible; it’s something that comes in handy both in an architecture firm and yoga studio. The everyday motions you go through as an architect can sometimes feel like a strenuous physical routine. Whether it be performing tasks for work or sneaking ways to get some precious shut-eye, architects need to learn how to be nimble to get through the long days and nights (coffee doesn’t hurt either). Take some deep inhalations and exhalations as you check out, in four easy to follow steps, some common positions architects find themselves in. 

Courtesy of The Leewardists
Courtesy of The Leewardists

Spotlight: Glenn Murcutt

04:00 - 25 July, 2017
Spotlight: Glenn Murcutt, Simpson-Lee House, Mount Wilson (1994). Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/unrosarinoenvietnam/3783824891/'>Flickr user unrosarinoenvietnam</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</a>
Simpson-Lee House, Mount Wilson (1994). Image © Flickr user unrosarinoenvietnam licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As an architect, critic and winner of the 2002 Pritzker PrizeGlenn Murcutt, (born 25 July 1936) has designed some of Australia's most innovative and environmentally sensitive buildings over a long career—and yet he still remains a one man office. Despite working on his own, primarily on private residences and exclusively in Australia, his buildings have had a huge influence across the world and his motto of "touch the earth lightly" is internationally recognized as a way to foster harmonious, adaptable structures that work with the surrounding landscape instead of competing with it.

Are Your Revit Skills Up to Scratch? Find Out With This Handy Guide

09:30 - 24 July, 2017
Are Your Revit Skills Up to Scratch? Find Out With This Handy Guide

When applying for architecture jobs, it's often necessary to self-evaluate your skill at various tasks. However, with many of these tasks--especially software--it can be difficult to give an accurate assessment since you often don't know what you don't know about the skill. This article, originally published by ArchSmarter as "Where Are You on the Path to Revit Mastery?" will help you come to an objective assessment of your skill level with one of the most complex and powerful pieces of software available.

BAM! I shook my head and peeled my sore body off the mat. “Good,” the instructor said, “Now try it again but with a little more force.” My partner grabbed my arm, twisted his hips and threw me to the mat again. BAM! Fortunately, I remembered to tuck in my chin so my head didn’t slam against the mat.

“Alright, a little better that time”, the instructor commented. “Do it another ten times then take a break. You both need to master this throw for your upcoming belt test.” Just as I started to groan, thinking about how sore I was going to be tomorrow, my partner grabbed my wrist again and tossed me over his hip. BAM!

10 Incredible Exposed Structures: Photos of the Week

14:00 - 23 July, 2017

Putting aside finishes, coatings, and cladding to work with exposed structural elements is not an easy task. Faced with this challenge, architects have demonstrated an eagerness to surpass ourselves and to design increasingly creative structures. In portraying this type of project, there are often opportunities for photographers to create incredible and innovative compositions: from geometric patterns, to the use of symmetry and rhythm, to the possibility of focusing on the textures and details of the materials. Here, we present a selection of photographs of impressive structures by renowned photographers such as Iwan Baan, Julien Lanoo and Yao Li, among others.

© ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart © Boegly + Grazia © Courtesy of CCDI © Eric Dinardi +12

Why Is Car Parking So Ubiquitous in the US? This Video Explains Everything

11:00 - 23 July, 2017

The next time you're cursing the price of a city parking meter, think instead about the high cost of free, off-street parking in terms of the urban environment. Urbanists these days agree that cities are at their best when they are walkable—designed for people instead of cars—but the reasons for the car-centric design of cities in the US are complex. In this video, Will Chilton and Paul Mackie of Mobility Lab describe all the problems inherent with parking in US cities and how it got to be this way: namely, off-street parking requirements, or mandatory parking minimums.

Most people know that US cities are dominated by parking, with roughly 8 parking spots per car throughout the country, but this video will give you all the information you need to win any debate about the impacts of mandatory off-street parking. Describe with confidence why cities love mandatory minimums for developers, extoll the virtues of correctly-priced parking meters, and impress your friends and colleagues with your knowledge of the other ways you pay every day for "free" parking.

When Architecture and Tourism Meet: La Grande Motte's Pyramids by the Seaside

09:30 - 21 July, 2017
When Architecture and Tourism Meet: La Grande Motte's Pyramids by the Seaside, © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ville-architecturale-de-la-Grande-Motte.JPG'>Wikimedia user Jjoulie</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>
© Wikimedia user Jjoulie licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Given a chance to realize the architect’s dream of creating his own utopian city from a blank slate, French architect Jean Balladur was inspired by lost civilizations of the past. His designs recall the architecture of grand Mayan ruins with some added flair from the 1960s, all in the form of a seaside resort village in southern France, La Grande Motte. Balladur devoted nearly 30 years to his life’s work, which today welcomes over 2 million tourists annually.

"La Grande Pyramide". Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grande_motte_02.jpg'>Wikimedia user Alain Caraco</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> "Le Temple du Soleil". Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Temple_du_soleil_Grande-Motte_059.jpg'>Wikimedia user Dinkley</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexbaranov/5231503058/'>Flickr user alexbaranov</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a> Public domain image <a href='https://pixabay.com/en/modern-architecture-france-beach-620035/'>via Pixabay user Jackmac34</a> +16

Serious Question: Do Architects Learn Enough About Construction and Materials?

08:00 - 20 July, 2017
Serious Question: Do Architects Learn Enough About Construction and Materials?, © Leewardists
© Leewardists

Have you ever visited a worksite and thought, "Wow, this contractor knows a lot more about construction than I do"? Have you had to change your original design because it was too difficult to construct or because it exceeded the budget? Do you think you're good at creating well-designed, efficient spaces but you're not so good when it comes to resolving the project's details?

Chances are you've found yourself in one or more of these situations, especially if you are a recent graduate. And depending on where and how you were educated, most students learn about construction and materials as it relates to the particular projects they are designing in school. Some people dedicate their career to the construction side of things--choosing classes, studios, and jobs that are focused on more technical, real-world training; others decide to focus their studies on urbanism, landscape architecture or the history of architecture. Finally, it also highly depends on the specific strength and concentration of the school you attend. 

In spite of the differences that make our profession one rich in diverse interests and allows us to create many different kinds of buildings, the educational deficit (as it relates to materials and construction), prevents us from perhaps exercising the most significant parts of our job: the architect's ability to bring designs to life. 

A Virtual Look Inside the Case Study House #3 by William W Wurster & Theodore Bernardi

09:30 - 19 July, 2017

The third Arts & Architecture Case Study House has a noticeably different sensibility to that of many of the other designs in the series. While equally engaged with the goal of maximizing enjoyment of the natural surroundings, in this design the architects show more concern for privacy and protection.

The approach from the street is somewhat forbidding; aluminum siding presents an impenetrable front. Besides the front and garage doors, the small, high kitchen windows are the only visible openings, though it is possible to peer over the fence of grape stakes into the children’s private garden.

Spotlight: John Hejduk

04:00 - 19 July, 2017
Wall House II, built 2001 in the Netherlands. Image © Liao Yusheng
Wall House II, built 2001 in the Netherlands. Image © Liao Yusheng

Artist, architect and architectural theorist John Hejduk (19 July 1929 - 3 July 2000) introduced new ways of thinking about space that are still highly influential in both modernist and post-modernist architecture today, especially among the large number of architects who were once his students. Inspired both by darker, gothic themes and modernist thinking on the human psyche, his relatively small collection of built work, and many of his unbuilt plans and drawings, have gone on to inspire other projects and architects around the world. In addition, his drawing, writing and teaching have gone on to shape the meeting of modernist and postmodern influences in contemporary architecture and helped bring psychological approaches to the forefront of design.

A Letter to the Parents of Prospective Architecture School Students

09:30 - 18 July, 2017
A Letter to the Parents of Prospective Architecture School Students, Courtesy of Common Edge
Courtesy of Common Edge

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "A Letter to Prospective Architecture School Parents."

Is your child suddenly wearing angular clothes and pretending to need glasses and talking about things like maylines (sorry, forgot we’re not in the 90s anymore) and 3d-printing and the power of the research lab to change the world studio? Has your child started rejecting your Frank Lloyd Wright photo books and started asking for that super sweet punched-out Chora L Works thing that makes no sense to you because there are literally holes in it? Has your child refused to go on anymore holiday house tours because, seriously mom, this is what I do all day at school?

Then congratulations! You now have an architecture school student child. And as much as we have—and need—the framework of, say, Adult Children of Alcoholics, just as deeply do we need a framework for Adult Parents of Architecture Students. You may be panicking right now. You may be wondering why Bessie is suddenly hating prints (unless she’s wearing all the prints at the same time); why Mark is rolling his eyes when you say there’s a nice-looking house for sale down the block. Rest assured, these are phases that will pass.

I would like to offer you the Phases of Architectural Education, so that you may feel calmer as you embark on this new journey: