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Radical Cities, Radical Solutions: Justin McGuirk's Book Finds Opportunities In Unexpected Places

Justin McGuirk's book Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture is fast becoming a seminal text in the architecture world. Coming off the back of his Golden-Lion-winning entry to the 2012 Venice Biennale, created with Urban Think Tank and Iwan Baan, McGuirk's work has become a touchstone for the architecture world's recent interest in both low-cost housing solutions and in Latin America. This review of Radical Cities by Joshua K Leon was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Finding Radical Alternatives in Slums, Exurbs, and Enclaves."

Justin McGuirk’s Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture should be required reading for anyone looking for ways out of the bleak social inequality we’re stuck in. There were 40 million more slum dwellers worldwide in 2012 than there were in 2010, according to the UN. Private markets clearly can’t provide universal housing in any way approaching efficiency, and governments are often hostile to the poor. The only alternative is collective action at the grassroots level, and I’ve never read more vivid reporting on the subject.

Why Do Professors "Rip Apart" Projects In The Final Review?

In a recent article in which ArchDaily reached out to our readers for comments about all-nighter culture, one comment that seemed to strike a chord with many people was kopmis' assertion that, thanks to the tendency for professors to "rip apart" projects in a final review, "there is no field of study that offers so much humiliation as architecture." But what causes this tendency? In this article, originally published by Section Cut as "The Final Review: Negaters Gonna Negate," Mark Stanley - an Adjunct Professor at Woodbury University School of Architecture - discusses the challenges facing the reviewers themselves, offering an explanation of why they often lapse into such negative tactics - and how they can avoid them.

Spotlight: Rafael Moneo

As the only Spanish architect to receive the Pritzker Prize, Rafael Moneo (born 9 May 1937) is known for his highly contextual buildings which nonetheless remain committed to modernist stylings. His designs are regularly credited as achieving the elusive quality of "timelessness"; as critic Robert Campbell wrote in his essay about Moneo for the Pritzker Prize, "a Moneo building creates an awareness of time by remembering its antecedents. It then layers this memory against its mission in the contemporary world."

A Guided Tour Of The 2015 Milan Expo

© Hufton+Crow
© Hufton+Crow

With 145 countries participating in the 2015 Expo, alongside input from international organizations, corporate partners and an extensive program organized by the Expo itself, there's a lot going on in Milan right now. So much so, in fact, that it can be a little overwhelming to get a handle on all the sights that are worth your attention.

To help you out, we've put together a guided tour of the key pavilions that are turning heads, including the defining vistas of the expo grounds, the displays that are worth your time and the oddities that might entertain. From the Expo's defining icon, the 30-meter-tall Tree of Life, to the exhibition on architecture's favorite consumable (that's coffee), and all the national pavilions in between, the things you need to see are here. Whether you're planning to visit the Expo and want a quick and dirty way to ensure you've covered the highlights, or whether you're simply hoping to live vicariously through the internet, this tour is for you.

© Evan Rawn © Evan Rawn © Min Keun Park © Hufton+Crow

What’s Behind Europe’s Grandiose Rebuilding?

Is there a growing nostalgia pervading attitudes to civic architecture in Europe? From Berlin's new Royal Palace on the River Spree to Turkey's rekindled fascination with their Ottoman heritage, architecture is becoming the medium of choice for exploring a city's roots and a people's past. In this post originally published by TheLong+Short, Feargus O'Sullivan investigates how many governments and developers have decided that the way to future lies in looking backwards.

Reading about Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in the German press, you’d be forgiven for thinking the building was in Leipzig, not the Middle East. “The tallest building in the world is so German,” said Der Spiegel when the tower opened in 2010. “The Burj Khalifa is an Ossi!" shouted Bild, using the common nickname for East Germans. The headlines were partly right: when East Germany’s old parliament building, the Palace of the Republic in Berlin, was demolished in 2006, several thousand tonnes of steel girders were stripped from its carcass and shipped to the Gulf for use in the construction of Burj Khalifa. 

AD Round-Up: 9 Projects That Make Creative Use Of Cor-Ten Steel

One of the most interesting trends in architectural materials of recent years is the increase in use of weathering steel - more commonly referred to by its trademark name, Cor-Ten. Thought the material has been around for decades, first being used for architectural purposes in the Eero Saarinen-designed John Deere Headquarters in 1964, the material has seen a surge in popularity in the last decade or so, being used in everything from individual houses and tiny kiosks, to SHoP's design for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which used a staggering 12,000 weathering steel panels.

To celebrate this material we've rounded up nine of the most innovative and striking uses of weathering steel from recent years: Haworth Tompkins' tiny Dovecote StudioFeilden Clegg Bradley Studios' offices and student housing at Broadcasting Place; the perforated facade of IGC Tremp by Oikosvia Arquitectura; the rusted ribbons of Ron Arad's Design Museum Holon; vertical striations on The Corten House by DMOA ArchitectenTony Hobba Architects' Third Wave Kiosk and its corrugated Cor-Ten walls; striking patterned facades in Santiago's Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center by Cristian Fernandez Arquitectos, Lateral Arquitectura & Diseño; weathered facades and louvers in Guillermo Hevia's Ferreteria O´Higgins; and finally the folding garage-style doors of Origin Architect's Refurbishment of the Offset Printing Factory.

Broadcasting Place / Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Image © Sapa: Architectural Aluminium Solutions IGC Tremp / Oikosvia Arquitectura. Image Courtesy of Oikosvia Arquitectura Design Museum Holon / Ron Arad Architects. Image © Ron Arad Architects The Corten House / DMOA Architecten. Image © Luc Roymans Third Wave Kiosk / Tony Hobba Architects. Image © Rory Gardiner Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center / Cristian Fernandez Arquitectos, Lateral Arquitectura & Diseño. Image © Nico Saieh Ferreteria O´Higgins / GH+A | Guillermo Hevia. Image © Nico Saieh Refurbishment of the Offset Printing Factory / Origin Architect. Image © Xia Zhi

The Computer vs The Hand In Architectural Drawing: ArchDaily Readers Respond

In the architecture world, there are a handful of persistent debates that arise time and time again: the challenges of being a woman in the field of architecture is one of them, for example; the problems of a culture of long hours and hard work is another. But one of the most enduring arguments in architecture - especially in the academic sphere - is the battle between hand drawing and computer aided design. Both schools have their famous proponents: Michael Graves, for example, was known as a huge talent with a pencil and paper, and came to the defense of drawing in articles for the New York Times, among others. Patrik Schumacher, on the other hand, is famous for his commitment to the capabilities of the computer.

To advance this heated conversation, two weeks ago we reached out to our readers to provide their thoughts on this topic in an attempt to get a broad cross-section of opinions from architects from all walks of life. Read some of the best responses after the break.

Photo Essay: The Evolution of Atlanta’s Ponce City Market

For almost a century, one of the largest buildings in the Southeastern United States has maintained a dominating street presence in Atlanta, Georgia. Now the Ponce City Market, the building was originally designed by Nimmons, Carr and Wright Architects and built in 1925 as a Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution and retail center, operating until 1989. In 1991, the City of Atlanta purchased the building, renamed it City Hall East and  housed several public works departments, storing countless items among its 2.1 million square feet of space. As the city’s utilization of the building dwindled, Jamestown Properties stepped in and acquired the building in 2010.  Five years later, Ponce City Market is poised to become one of the greatest historic rehabilitation projects in the country.

© Blake Burton © Blake Burton © Blake Burton © Blake Burton

Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 11

We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. In Chapter 11, Salingaros introduces and explains a list of 15 properties theorized by Christopher Alexander which give rise to the phenomenon of “life” in architectural designs. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

Alexander’s Fifteen Fundamental Properties

We have come to the point in this course when we need to present the geometric properties responsible for the deep connectivity that I have discussed in previous chapters. Christopher Alexander has derived a set of 15 properties that all structures that we perceive to have “life” possess (Alexander, 2001).

11 Tips You Need To Know Before Building A Shipping Container Home

One of the more niche trends in sustainable design of the past few years has been the re-use of shipping containers in order to create the structure of a building. Due to their convenient size, shipping containers are well-suited for use in houses and their appeal lies in their apparent simplicity: you get a room delivered in one piece, and you can stack them together to make multiple rooms or join them up to make larger rooms.

But of course, things are never so simple, and using shipping containers to make a house is still fraught with challenges - particularly as the idea is still relatively new, so there are few people with the expertise required to build one without a hitch. That's why the folks over at Container Home Plans reached out to 23 experts from around the world - designers and owners who have overcome the challenges to build their own container houses - to ask them what they wish they'd known before taking on this challenge. Check out their 11 top tips after the break.

Shipping Container House / Studio H:T. Image © Braden Gunem Manifesto House / James & Mau, for Infiniski. Image © Antonio Corcuera Containers of Hope / Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture. Image © Andres Garcia Lachner Incubo House / María José Trejos. Image © Sergio Pucci

Where the Real Skyscrapers Are (Hint: North Dakota)

The Burj Khalifa might get all the headlines today, but for nearly half a century before it was built, some of the tallest structures in the world were actually in North Dakota, in the form of TV masts. In this post originally published by re:form on MediumCasey Tolan investigates the threatened industry that once gave the world some of its most heroic structures.

Name the tallest structures in the world. Maybe flashy skyscrapers in China or the Gulf States come to mind. Or maybe you’re thinking of U.S. icons like One World Trade Center in New York or the Willis Tower in Chicago.

You’re almost certainly not thinking of TV towers. But dozens of nearly anonymous towers around the United States, most in small rural communities, dwarf all but the tallest man-made structures in the world.

© Flickr user Raymond Cunningham The KVLY-TV Tower in North Dakota. Image © Flickr user Raymond Cunningham The locations of all 16 2000-foot-plus TV towers in the USA. Image Courtesy of Medium.com The KVLY-TV Tower in North Dakota. Image © Flickr user Raymond Cunningham

Why 2015's Most Important Design In Architecture Isn't A Building, But A New York Times Article

Looking towards the uppermost floors of the new Whitney Museum of American Art, thick clouds roll diagonally across the sky behind. Reflected in the ample window of the museum’s main gallery they dash in a different direction, while the building’s white facade flashes light and dark in response to the changing light conditions. Superimposed over this scene, bold all-caps lettering pronounces the title of an article: the simple but dramatic “A New Whitney.”

This is the sight that greeted readers of Michael Kimmelman’s review of the Whitney in The New York Times last Sunday. Scroll down just a little, and the first thing you encounter is a list of credits: Jeremy Ashkenas and Alicia Desantis produced the article; graphics were contributed by Mika Gröndahl, Yuliya Parshina-Kottas and Graham Roberts; and videos by Damon Winter (the editor behind the entire endeavor, Mary Suh, is not mentioned).

Before even reading the article’s opening words, one thing is clear: this is not your average building review. As a matter of fact, it might even be the most important article in recent architectural memory.

Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 10

We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. In this chapter, Salingaros moves his discussion towards our physiological and psychological reactions to the built environment, and the science of healing spaces. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

Biophilia: Our Evolved Kinship To Biological Forms

The organized complexity in artifacts and buildings, as I have described it, leads to a positive response from users. This is the perception of “life” which we sense in certain structures and places in the built environment. The physical structure of the world has a massive effect on human beings. A crucial task of architectural theory is to explain and predict the impact that living structure — or its absence — has on us.

Architects And Coding: Why You Should Treat Your Software Like Your Smartphone

In 2014 renowned Dutch politician Neelie Kroes, then a commissioner for the European Union, stated that coding should be taught in elementary school in the Netherlands, arguing that “Coding is the reading and writing of the future” and that if the Dutch didn’t incorporate it into their education system it would fall behind school systems in other countries. The reactions to both Kroes’ statement and Michael Kilkelly's article "5 Reasons Architects Should Learn To Code" were quite similar. Those already capable of writing code agreed; many who have never even seen, let alone written any script responded negatively. Many reactions to Micheal Kilkelly's article covered the same ideas: “There's no time!” “Coding is not designing!” Or just plain, “No!”

FleaFolly's Grimm City: The Antidote to Disney

There are few mediums that the Grimm Brother's Fairy Tales haven't been adapted into. Bowdlerized stories and films for children have since given way to revisionist tales that embrace the gruesome coloring of the originals, but something about the Grimm Brothers' gothic folklore still holds sway over popular imagination around the world. No matter what kind of adaptation is created - musical, childlike or modernized - the essential Grimmness of the tales still glowers through. FleaFolly's Grimm City is just such a creation.

Model Image. Image © FleaFollyArchitects Model Image. Image © FleaFollyArchitects Model Image. Image © FleaFollyArchitects Model Image. Image © FleaFollyArchitects

Opinion: Transparency In Architecture Competitions Is A Bad Thing

What have these three projects got in common? They will never be published in a reputable architecture magazine. This news is no surprise: only a few projects in all the world deserve the right to be published. Editors set trends, put focus on hot topics, give visibility to emerging firms and confirm architectural stars.

A printed magazine has limited space and therefore has to engage in a very strict decision-making process; only the very few are shown. In this Darwinian selection some worthy and brilliant architects perish. On the other hand, an internet site has the possibility to widen the projects range. The web has virtually unlimited space - but still, this space is not to be wasted. Very few would benefit from a site that published every architecture project on earth.

Critical Round-Up: Renzo Piano's Whitney Museum

Depending on how you measure it, Renzo Piano's new building for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (designed in collaboration with New York practice Cooper Robertson) could be the most long-awaited museum of the 21st century. At just a fraction under seven years since the first designs of the building were released, the incubation period has been long enough on its own - but in fact the project has its roots in a scrapped 1981 design by Michael Graves, when the Whitney was instead planning an extension to their previous home in Marcel Breuer's 1966 masterpiece on Madison Avenue. With such a highly anticipated building, the Whitney could hardly have a better man for the job; Piano is one of the most prodigious museum builders of our time. Yet despite this, since construction began in 2011 the design has been beset by criticism for its ungainly external appearance.

Ahead of the Whitney's grand opening on May 1st, this past Sunday saw a slew of reviews from New York's many reputable art and architecture critics, who attempted to make sense of the institution's long-overdue move from their idiosyncratic but endearing former home. We've rounded up some of the best of them, after the break.

© Flickr CC user Payton Chung © Flickr CC user Steven Severinghaus © Flickr CC user Steven Severinghaus © Flickr CC user Bill Benzon

Lacaton & Vassal's Lesson in Building Modestly

The French duo of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal are known for their delicate interventions, repurposing neglected structures with apparent effortlessness. Originally published on the Harvard Gazette website entitled "They Build, But Modestly," this article recounts the lessons which they offered students in a recent lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Around 1980, two young architects finished their training in Bordeaux, France, and moved to Nigeria. In that African nation’s remote regions, they were inspired by the simple structures they saw amid the stark, stunning desert landscapes. The houses were open to the air, had utilitarian thatched roofs, and were made with bits of local wood. Modesty prevailed in structures that also invited beauty.

The lessons of building in Africa stayed with Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal in their Paris-based practice, Lacaton & Vassal: use what is there, stay simple, embrace open air, and honor light, freedom, and grace. They practice social architecture based on economy, modesty, and the found beauty of environments.

Palais de Tokyo Expansion / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © 11h45 Nantes School of Architecture / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © Philippe Ruault Palais de Tokyo Expansion / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © 11h45 23 Semi-collective Housing Units / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © Philippe Ruault