In Praise of the Glitch: WAA's Yinchuan Contemporary Art Museum

09:30 - 7 January, 2016
© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

In November, the Architectural Review concluded its search for this year's most promising young designers, awarding a total of 15 projects in its annual Emerging Architecture Awards. Selected by a jury comprising David Adjaye, Peter Cook and Odile Decq alongside AR Editor Christine Murray, these 15 projects included just one firm from China: WAA (We Architect Anonymous), whose Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) was commended by the judges. In this article, former associate member of Archigram Colin Fournier reviews the awarded building, showing an appreciation of WAA's work equal to - or perhaps even greater than - the award's jury.

This contemporary art museum is not what it seems. It appears, at first, to be a fairly familiar manifestation of the contemporary architectural discourse, and indeed the striking fluidity of its lines and its impressive mastery of parametrically-enabled tectonics as well as GRC technology put it on a par with recent buildings by Zaha Hadid or MAD, but this first impression is somewhat deceptive: the building is, in fact, refreshingly unique and a radical point of departure from the dominant design ideology of our times, a significant rupture from the orthodoxy. And a very promising one.

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan +12

7 Reasons Working Abroad May Be Bad For Your Architecture Career

09:30 - 6 January, 2016
London. Image © Route66 via
London. Image © Route66 via

Traditionally, the start of a new year is a time for making plans and optimism for the future. As a result, it's a time when many architects might start dreaming of moving their career to an unfamiliar and exciting country. But as Brandon Hubbard explains in this article, originally published on The Architect's Guide as "Is Working Abroad Bad For Your Architecture Career?" there are many reasons that you shouldn't be so hasty to cross borders and seas in an attempt to advance your career.

Architecture, perhaps more than any other profession, is filled with people who want to live and work abroad. 

Are you in Mumbai dreaming of New York City?

In Seattle thinking about a life in Rome?

Some architecture students get a taste for travel while in school. Study abroad programs in the US are quite common. Often when students finish their degree they are drawn to the idea of living abroad.

A doctor can easily find a person wandering nearby. An accountant can easily find an excel spreadsheet. Architects don't have the luxury of buildings coming to us (that would be cool though). We have to go to them. This has inspired generations of architects to pack their sketchbooks and travel.

Playing the Housing Game for Profit: the British Volume Housebuilding Project

04:00 - 6 January, 2016
Typical British suburban volume housing. Image © Jason Hawkes
Typical British suburban volume housing. Image © Jason Hawkes

In his essay "Figures, Doors and Passages", the architectural historian Robin Evans described how "it is difficult to see in the conventional layout of a contemporary house anything but the crystallization of cold reason. Because of this," he asserted, "we are easily led into thinking that a commodity so transparently unexceptional must have been wrought directly from the stuff of basic human needs." His words, which highlight the passive approach of designers, developers and dwellers when it comes to the vast majority of British housing being built today, were first published in 1978 – two years before the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher introduced the 1980 Housing Act.

Yasser Elsheshtawy Reveals Theme for UAE Pavilion at 2016 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 4 January, 2016
Entrance to a National (Sha’abi) House in the Salamat neighborhood in Al Ain. Photography by Yasser Elsheshtawy. Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE la Biennale di Venezia
Entrance to a National (Sha’abi) House in the Salamat neighborhood in Al Ain. Photography by Yasser Elsheshtawy. Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE la Biennale di Venezia

As announced in October 2015, UAEU professor Yasser Elsheshtawy has been selected to curate the United Arab Emirates pavilion for the 2016 Venice Biennale. Following the Biennale’s theme of Reporting from the Front, Elsheshtawy—who runs the blog Dubaization, a term he coined in 2004 to depict the influence of Dubai on the urban discourse—has chosen to highlight the country’s social housing program, known as Sha’abi housing, which began in the 1970s and continues on to today.

ArchDaily was given the opportunity to speak to Elsheshtawy about the history of the United Arab Emirates’ Sha’abi housing, and what role it might play in informing the urban future of a country that has become renowned for a very different type of architecture. Continue reading for our exclusive interview with Elsheshtawy on this year’s UAE pavilion.

AD Readers Debate: Ancient Greek Revival in Rhodes, Gothic Revival in New York, and More

09:30 - 3 January, 2016

We may be emerging from the holiday season, but the weeks of quiet merriment haven’t slowed down our readers. Over the last few weeks, a small number of stories have kept the comments flowing in - among them a gothic-inspired skyscraper, a museum that is a little too baroque for some tastes, and a statue that most agreed was simply poor taste. Read on to find out what our readers had to say about some of the most noteworthy stories of recent weeks in the latest of our "ArchDaily Readers Debate" series.

Frank Gehry is “a Robert Moses With the Soul of a Jane Jacobs” in This Long-Read on the Los Angeles River

14:00 - 2 January, 2016
© flickr user smgerdes, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
© flickr user smgerdes, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A river is not usually the province of an architect. Cities grow around rivers, and buildings are built near rivers, but rarely is the river itself the subject of a design problem. Ever since news broke that Frank Gehry is leading a master plan effort for the Los Angeles River, there has been a marked increase in discussion of the river, though rarely with much historical background. Joseph Giovannini tries to correct this omission with his recent piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books, laying the groundwork from when the Army Corps of Engineers decided to line the river in concrete in the late 1930s to prevent flooding, and introducing all of the major players who have been working more recently to return the river to a more natural state.

The 2015 Religious Architecture Awards Celebrate Changing Trends in Worship

09:30 - 2 January, 2016

Religious buildings make up many of the highlights of architectural history, and the Religious Architecture Awards from Faith & Form magazine and the Interfaith Forum for Religion, Art, and Architecture celebrate the latest entries in this category. As trends in religious practices and the buildings that house them have changed, this year’s awards celebrate a wide variety of structures, including a growing number of renovation and restoration projects, as well as the first-ever award for a building in the “megachurch” category. From a total of 44 entries, 16 projects received awards in one of five categories: New Facilities, Renovation, Restoration, Adaptive Reuse/Repurpose, and Liturgical/Interior Design.

Read on to see all the winners of the Religious Architecture Awards.

Mission San Juan Capistrano/Ford, Powell & Carson Architects & Planners, Inc.. Image © Mark Menjivar The Memorial Church, Harvard University/Finegold Alexander Architects. Image © Blind Dog Immanuel Chapel/Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Image © Peter Aaron/OTTO St. Monica Catholic Church/Fisher Heck Architects. Image © DVDesign +41

Michael Kimmelman and The NYT Release Multimedia Presentation on Why "Sound Matters"

09:30 - 1 January, 2016
With their Moscow Metro proposal, Variant Studio attempted to design "the world's quietest metro platform". Image Courtesy of Variant Studio
With their Moscow Metro proposal, Variant Studio attempted to design "the world's quietest metro platform". Image Courtesy of Variant Studio

"During the Middle Ages, smell was the unspoken plague of cities," writes New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman. "Today it is sound." In his latest article, entitled "Dear Architects: Sound Matters," Kimmelman breaks down an often-overlooked element of architectural design, explaining how space shapes sound, and how sound shapes our experience of a space - and imploring architects to put more thought into the sonic environments created by their designs.

ArchDaily: What Happened in 2015, and Where We Are Heading in 2016

07:00 - 1 January, 2016

Dear readers,

This has been an intense year at ArchDaily, and I’d like to look back and share what we’ve done during 2015, and give you a glimpse of what will come during 2016.

Our focus on the emerging countries is something intimately tied to our mission. I’m very happy to see that as a society we understand the importance of cities for the future of mankind, and that we are actively improving them through the traditional way of making architecture, but also more and more in an expanded field and in a multidisciplinary collaborative way.

We started this project in 2008 in a very instinctive way, but always understanding that we should provide value to architects. Today, we are publishing in 4 languages (including the new ArchDaily China!), reaching more than 400,000 daily readers who are viewing 120 million pages every month - and bookmarking thousand of projects on My ArchDaily. This scale has made us understand what is adding value - and what is not - to architects in a very insightful, data-driven way. Our analysis for our end of the year posts has shown us how important it is for you to have access to technology and resources than can help you on your work.

Drones and Rendering: How Aerial Photogrammetry Adds Existing Topography into Visualizations

09:30 - 31 December, 2015

Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer by Pix4D on Sketchfab

As I have touched on in the past many times, context is what transforms an artistic rendering into a photorealistic visual that accurately portrays a building. Seemingly minute details such as the warmth of interior lighting in night renders can actually make a dramatic impact on how the image is received by a potential client or investor. With this in mind, and in a continual attempt to improve the accuracy of renderings while increasing the value they provide to architects, some rendering artists are now taking advantage of readily available Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms – more commonly referred to as drones – to gain a unique vantage point of land slated for development.

In the past capturing aerial photographs of an area could only be achieved from planes or helicopters, both of which come at a hefty price tag, even to rent. Drones equipped with the same capabilities can now be purchased for a fraction of the cost, making aerial photography more attainable. Aside from capturing standard video or images, drones have given rendering artists access to software that allows them to accurately map the topography of an area slated for development, adding a new level of context and accuracy to the rendering.

How RAAAF's Experiments in Spatial Dynamics Offer Challenges to the Near Future

09:30 - 29 December, 2015
© Jordi Huisman
© Jordi Huisman

Whether it's a bisected war bunker, an office space that forbids sitting down or a hulking yet ultimately purposeless machine of war, the chances are that if you've seen a project by RAAAF, it provoked some questions. But while their work may appear merely idiosyncratic, it is informed by a deep understanding and questioning of culture. Originally produced and published by Freunde von Freunden as "Experiments In Spatial Dynamics: RAAAF," Leonie Haenchen delves into the architecture and philosophy that drives the unconventional Dutch practice.

It’s pouring without mercy, but at Soesterberg Airbase this is highly appreciated. “We like this weather,” says Ronald Rietveld, co-founder of RAAAF, as he greets us at the entrance of what appears to be an enormous post-apocalyptic amusement park. “The rain suits this atmosphere much better.”

RAAAF stands for Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances, which doesn’t really prepare one for what’s revealed behind the doors of Shelter 610. A monstrous arthropod made out of steel with two spindly legs stares vacuously out of its white glassy eyes. Every attempt to name this mechanical being fails, it merely appears as a collision of past and future—science fiction in flesh and blood. “Everything we do should be an in-the-moment experience, something that people can feel physically. If this object was only presented on paper, it would simply not be as strong,” says Ronald and grins mischievously. “I am sure you will still remember this moment in five years.”

Bunker 599 (2010). Image Courtesy of RAAAF The End of Sitting (2014). Image © Jan Kempenaers Secret Operation 610 (2013). Image © Jordi Huisman RAAAF's exhibition at the 2010 Venice Biennale, "Vacant NL". Image © Rob 't Hart +8

The 20 Most Popular Projects of 2015

09:30 - 28 December, 2015

If there's one word that sums up our most popular projects of 2015, it's "diversity." The list features architects ranging from old favorites such as SANAA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and OMA down to newer names like Sculp[IT] and Tropical Space; it also includes everything from museums to multi-family housing and spa retreats to chapels - along with the usual smattering of private residences. Interestingly, this year's list also shows the symbiosis between great architecture and great photography, with no less than 4 projects also appearing in our most bookmarked images from this year's World Photo Day. But despite their diversity, there's one thing all of these 20 projects have in common: great architecture. So settle in, relax and read on - here's our 20 most popular projects of 2015.

Good Public Art in Bad Public Spaces: Art Critic Jerry Saltz Takes on the Built Environment

14:00 - 27 December, 2015
Deborah Kass' sculpture "OY/YO" under the Manhattan Bridge. Image © Flickr user DUMBOBID, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Deborah Kass' sculpture "OY/YO" under the Manhattan Bridge. Image © Flickr user DUMBOBID, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In his latest article for Vulture, art critic Jerry Saltz celebrates the latest crop of public art in New York City, such as Deborah Kass' OY/YO sculpture, sitting near the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, commenting on the success of such pieces even though (or perhaps because) many of them have been curated by art-world insiders rather than publicly accountable arts commissions or community engagement processes. But for Saltz, this new wave of high-quality public art has come at the expense of quality public space. Despite his admiration for the art installations, he expresses skepticism of the privately-funded public spaces that house them, such as the much-celebrated High Line, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and James Corner Field Operations, as well as future projects such as Pier 55 by Heatherwick Studio, and the "Culture Shed" at the Hudson Yards development also by DS+R. His critique even references a phrase from DS+R that belongs on our list of words only architects use. Read Saltz's full discussion of public art and public space here.

Critical Round-Up: The Most Important Buildings and Events of 2015

09:30 - 27 December, 2015

The past 12 months have given us plenty to talk about: 2015 saw the opening of several marquee new museums, and the field took an introspective turn with the “State of the Art of Architecture” at the Chicago Biennial. Now it’s December, and that means it’s time for many critics to look back at the triumphs and failures of the year past and make predictions for the year to come.

To add to our own list of the most inspiring leaders, projects and people from 2015, we found what some of our favorite critics had to say, including Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian, Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange for Curbed, the Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Hawthorne, and Julie V Iovine for The Wall Street Journal. Continue reading for a selection of just some of the buildings and topics which the critics highlighted as having the greatest impact on the architecture world this year.

21st Century New York: What Would Jane Jacobs Do?

16:00 - 26 December, 2015
What would Jane Jacobs have thought of the Barclays Center, designed by SHoP Architects, part of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. Image © Flickr user otto-yamamoto, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, via Commons
What would Jane Jacobs have thought of the Barclays Center, designed by SHoP Architects, part of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. Image © Flickr user otto-yamamoto, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, via Commons

It has been over fifty years since Jane Jacobs' book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, revolutionized discourse on urban planning, and her words still carry a huge influence today. But in the intervening decades New York City has changed in ways Jacobs could never have imagined when she was writing in the 1960s. In a recent article for City Journal, Judith Miller tries to imagine how Jane Jacobs would have responded to some of New York City's recent projects - taking as examples the imminent domain actions and tax breaks that made Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards (now also known as Pacific Park) possible, the cluster of skyscrapers and public venues planned for Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan, and the supertall luxury condo towers that are beginning to cast their long shadows over Central Park. Read Miller's article in full here.

150 Weird Words Defined: Your Guide to the Language of Architecture

09:30 - 26 December, 2015
© Smokedsalmon via Shutterstock
© Smokedsalmon via Shutterstock

Back in September, we asked our readers to help us make the definitive list of weird words used by architects, and we got an astonishing response. The resulting article, 150 Weird Words that Only Architects Use was one of our most popular of the year, ranking highly in our most read articles of 2015 and our editors' picks of the best articles of the year. But while it was well received, a number of people commented that something was missing in our list: definitions of all the words, to both aid readers' comprehension of the list and to debate over how different people had interpreted the same word. With that in mind - and considering that it is the time of year for generosity - we've revisited our list to bring you fun definitions for all 150.

If you're looking for an architectural reference dictionary, we assure you that this isn't it. But we hope you'll have fun all the same.

In Defense of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Petersen Automotive Museum

09:30 - 23 December, 2015
© Chang Kim for KPF
© Chang Kim for KPF

It’s a rare event when a public building is striking enough to grab the attention of most Angelenos. It’s even more curious when that building is almost unanimously panned by the critics. Barring the so-called “iconic” buildings that our city has collected over the last 15 years, Los Angeles seldom received exciting public architecture. Because of this, every new major addition gets placed under a cultural microscope. Now, with Kohn Pedersen Fox’s redesign of the Petersen Automotive Museum nearing completion, architecture critics have sharpened their knives: reviewers have called it “kind of hideous,” "the Edsel of architecture," and “the Guy Fieri of buildings.” But these gripes completely miss the point of what a car museum on the Miracle Mile should be.

© Chang Kim for KPF © Chang Kim for KPF © Chang Kim for KPF © Chang Kim for KPF +8

These Are the World’s 25 Tallest Buildings

08:00 - 23 December, 2015

Humanity has become obsessed with breaking its limits, creating new records only to break them again and again. In fact, our cities’ skylines have always been defined by those in power during every period in history. At one point churches left their mark, followed by public institutions and in the last few decades, it's commercial skyscrapers that continue to stretch taller and taller. 

But when it comes to defining which buildings are the tallest it can get complicated. Do antennas and other gadgets on top of the building count as extra meters? What happens if the last floor is uninhabitable? The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has developed their own system for classifying tall buildings, measuring from the “level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flag poles or other functional-technical equipment.” Using this system more than 3,400 buildings have been categorized as over 150 meters tall. 

We take a look at world’s 25 tallest buildings, according to the CTBUH, after the break.