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Material Focus: The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli

10:00 - 29 June, 2016
Material Focus: The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli ,  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch
The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch

This article is part of our new "Material Focus" series, which asks architects to elaborate on the thought process behind their material choices and sheds light on the steps required to get buildings actually built.

The Great Wall of WA, designed by the Australian firm Luigi Rosselli Architects, and selected as one of Archdaily’s Best Building of the Year 2016, provides a unique example of rammed earth construction. At 230 meters in length, the Great Wall of WA is the longest structure of its kind in Australia and possibly the South Hemisphere, according to its architects. Built in remote North Western Australia, the building is made from locally available materials whose thermal properties help it to endure a variable climate. We spoke with the architect Luigi Rosselli to learn more about his compelling choice of material and the determining role it played in his concept design.

 The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch +13

Inside Las Pozas, Edward James' Surrealist Garden in the Mexican Jungle

08:00 - 29 June, 2016
Inside Las Pozas, Edward James' Surrealist Garden in the Mexican Jungle  , © Victor Delaqua
© Victor Delaqua

Edward James, one of the most eccentric and interesting twentieth-century collectors of surrealist art, arrived in Xilitla, Mexico at the end of the 1940's. The British writer was captivated by the splendor of the landscape of "Las Pozas" (The Wells), where he created a fantastic home, which includes a unique sculptural space unlike any other in the world.

Surrealism, whose sources of creation are found in dreams and the subconscious, in theory, could never be used to build things in real life. Edward James - described by Salvador Dalí as "crazier than all the Surrealists together" - designed a sculpture garden that defies any architectural label and allows a glimpse of something new, moving between fantasy and reality.

Columns with capitals that look like giant flowers, gothic arches, dramatic gates, pavilions with undetermined levels and spiral staircases that end abruptly in mid-air, as if they were an invitation to the horizon. In short, Edward James made concrete flourish along the lush flora and fauna of Xilitla, making surrealist architecture possible.

Learn more below.

© Julia Faveri © Julia Faveri © Julia Faveri © Victor Delaqua +22

Between Generic Interventions and Architecture of Relations: A Journey Through Coastal Japan

04:00 - 28 June, 2016
Between Generic Interventions and Architecture of Relations: A Journey Through Coastal Japan, Tetra Pod / Omoe Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. Image © Max Creasy
Tetra Pod / Omoe Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. Image © Max Creasy

In this article, written by Christian Dimmer and illustrated with photographs by Max Creasy, the post-earthquake and tsunami coastal architectural landscape of the Japanese Prefectures of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi are presented and studied.

Few disasters were as complex and their implications as hard to grasp as the compound calamity of earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown that hit the North-East of Japan on March 11, 2011. While over 500 kilometers of coastline were devastated, the disaster unfolded in each of the hundreds of towns affected differently depending on local topographies, urban morphologies, existing landscape formations, collective memory of past disasters and preparedness, and the social ties within the communities.

Ritsumeikan University / Munemoto Lab + Shinsaku Munemoto Architects & Associates. Community and meeting space for adjacent temporary housing units, designed and built by Ritsumeikan University student volunteers and members of the local community. Image © Max Creasy N Village / Zai Shirakawa Architects. Otsuchicho Namiita Coast. Image © Max Creasy Interior: Ritsumeikan University Munemoto Lab  + Shinsaku Munemoto Architects & Associates. Image © Max Creasy Irony Stations, MotoYoshiChoo (Miyagi Prefecture) / Hirokazu Tohki, Shiga University. New, highly designed filling station that replaces a more simple facility. In addition, the building will function as a roadside market and community shop. Image © Max Creasy +19

ReframingBack/ImperativeConfrontations: Inside Egypt's Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

14:00 - 27 June, 2016
 ReframingBack/ImperativeConfrontations: Inside Egypt's Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, © Michela di Savino, Morgane Quere
© Michela di Savino, Morgane Quere

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

The Venice Biennale of Architecture is an integral part of architectural culture. However, this year’s cycle “Reporting from the Front” is more unique, highlighting the capacity and potential of architecture’s role inside communities; “architecture makes the difference”, as  2016 Venice Biennale director Alejandro Aravena puts it.

The Egyptian pavilion commissioned and curated by Architect Ahmad Hilal with a team composed of Eslam Salem, Gabriele Secchi, Luca Borlenghi and Mostafa Salem, seeks to reveal various successful stories of architecture narrating the difficulties and challenges inside the Egyptian built environment. The works inside the pavilion reveal how architecture is actively creating change in communities. Nowhere are these confrontations more evident than in the urban context, and nowhere more so than in Egyptian cities. 

© Michela di Savino, Morgane Quere © Michela di Savino, Morgane Quere The MAS urban design of ETH Zurich contribution to the Egyptian pavilion. Image © Michela di Savino, Morgane Quere PennDesign of University of Pennsylvania contribution to the Egyptian pavilion. Image © Michela di Savino, Morgane Quere +23

Critical Round-Up: Did Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale Achieve its Lofty Goals?

10:30 - 27 June, 2016
Critical Round-Up: Did Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale Achieve its Lofty Goals?, The "Reporting the Front" exhibition/ curated by Alejandro Aravena at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
The "Reporting the Front" exhibition/ curated by Alejandro Aravena at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

The XV International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale opened its doors last month. Under the directorship of Chilean Pritzker Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena, “Reporting the front” asked architects to go beyond “business as usual” and investigate concealed built environments – conflict zones and urban slums, as well as locations suffering from housing shortage, migrations and environmental disasters. Clearly, the aim of this Biennale is to open the profession to new fields of engagement and share knowledge on how to improve people’s quality of life.

This stance that has been highly criticized by Patrik Schumacher, director of Zaha Hadid Architectswho believes that architects “are not equipped to [address these issues]. It’s not the best value for our expertise.” But is this a view shared by the rest of the design world and its critics? What are the limits and benefits of this “humanitarian architecture”? Read on to find out critics’ comments.

The "Reporting the Front" exhibition/ curated by Alejandro Aravena at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gabinete de Arquitectura at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu NLÉ's Makoko Floating School at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu "OUR AMAZON FRONTLINE" / curated by Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse. Peruvian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu +6

Spotlight: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

12:00 - 25 June, 2016
Spotlight: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, © Frank Hanswijk
© Frank Hanswijk

Through their pioneering theory and provocative built work, husband and wife duo Robert Venturi (born June 25, 1925) and Denise Scott Brown (born October 3, 1931) were at the forefront of the postmodern movement, leading the charge in one of the most significant shifts in architecture of the 20th century by publishing seminal books such as Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (authored by Robert Venturi alone) and Learning from Las Vegas (co-authored by Venturi, Scott Brown and Steven Izenour).

How to Adopt BIM: 3 Ways to Approach Your Firm’s Pilot Project

09:30 - 25 June, 2016
How to Adopt BIM: 3 Ways to Approach Your Firm’s Pilot Project, Courtesy of Autodesk
Courtesy of Autodesk

These days, BIM is becoming standard practice. Most people involved in the construction sector—from the architects and engineers who use BIM to the governments that are implementing mandates for BIM in certain project types—are well and truly sold on the benefits it brings, including efficiency, collaboration, cost-savings, and improved communication. As a result, many practices these days that haven’t yet switched to BIM give the same reason: the dreaded transitional period.

Of course, these fears of transition are not entirely unfounded, as new software, staff training and teething problems are an inevitable part of upending your existing workflow. These initial costs create a barrier for many busy practices who simply can’t afford the time or money right now that would enable them to unlock BIM’s benefits down the line. The key to solving this conundrum of course is to minimize the initial costs—and one way of doing this that many experts recommend is to start your firm’s transition to BIM with a single pilot project, in which you will be able to establish a workflow and define standards that suit your practice, and transfer these lessons onto later projects.

But what is the best way to select this pilot project? Should you work on a large or small building? A complex work or a simple one? Here, three early adopters of BIM share what they learned from their own pilot projects, each with very different characteristics.

Critical Round-Up: Herzog & de Meuron's Tate Modern Switch House

11:20 - 24 June, 2016
Critical Round-Up: Herzog & de Meuron's Tate Modern Switch House,  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan
Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan

London's Tate Modern just got bigger. Last week, the well-known modern art museum opened its new extension to the public. The so-called “Switch House” was designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the same firm that designed the successful rehabilitation of the original Giles Gilbert Scott’s Bankside Power Station in 2000.

The museum could not be more satisfied: “It’s a dream,” says Tate Modern’s new director Frances Morris, “We’ve never had such an open space before. The possibilities are endless.” While critics generally approved of the design, they expressed mixed feelings for the addition’s materiality and urban character. Read on to find out more about the views of Frieze Magazine’s Douglas Murphy, The Evening Standard’s Robert Bevan, The Guardian’s Rowan Moore, and The Financial Times’ Edwin Heathcote.

 Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan +8

Comic Break: "Plotting Close To A Deadline"

08:00 - 24 June, 2016
Comic Break: "Plotting Close To A Deadline", © Architexts
© Architexts

Ahh, the neverending struggle between architects and their plotters. We’ve all been there. And these problems always happen when there’s a looming deadline. Still, we’ll take it over going back to manual drafting, right?

A Virtual Look Into Beverley David Thorne's Case Study House #26

10:30 - 23 June, 2016
A Virtual Look Into Beverley David Thorne's Case Study House #26, © Kathi Elliott
© Kathi Elliott

The biggest surprise in this Archilogic model is the spectrum of color. Anyone who has visited the Case Study House 26 in San Rafael, California during the last 40 years would be familiar with the building’s classic all-white steel frame look, but the architect, Beverley David Thorne, had originally picked a very different color scheme: “Dull Gold”  for the steel, saffron and other more vivid colors for the interiors. “The choice of exterior colors,” wrote Thorne in Arts & Architecture magazine, “was dictated by the climate and the character of the surrounding landscape.” This Archilogic model recreates the original 1963 conditions, down to the bedroom wall and tile colors.

It’s All in a Cup of Coffee (or, Indeed, Tea): Does Café Culture Embody the Idea of Europe?

04:45 - 23 June, 2016
It’s All in a Cup of Coffee (or, Indeed, Tea): Does Café Culture Embody the Idea of Europe?, Da Florian in Venice (2013). © Gianni Berengo Gardin. Image Courtesy of Caffe Florian
Da Florian in Venice (2013). © Gianni Berengo Gardin. Image Courtesy of Caffe Florian

Update: On June 24, 2016, 52% of eligible voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. This article was published prior to the referendum announcement.

In 2003 George Steiner—a Paris-born, American, UK-based literary critic, philosopher and essayist—gave a lecture in Tilburg, a small Dutch city on the Belgian border. His talk, which he titled “The Idea of Europe,” made some waves in certain circles but, ultimately, wasn't widely discussed. Years later I found a copy of the transcript in Amsterdam’s Athenaeum[1], who had tucked it in the corner of a sunken room on a shelf devoted to "Brexit." I read it the following day while on a train to Brussels.

As I trundled across the Flemish hinterland Steiner’s words, delivered with judicious insight and a reassuring cautionary edge, served as a reminder of one irrevocable fact: that Europe is a continent “of linguistic, cultural, [and] social diversity;” a “mosaic”[2] of communities that have never been united with the same scale and ambition as that of the European Union. But before the contemporary Euro-project, came European café culture.

Spotlight: Alison and Peter Smithson

11:31 - 22 June, 2016
Spotlight: Alison and Peter Smithson, The Economist Building. Image © Flickr user seier licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Economist Building. Image © Flickr user seier licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wife and husband pair Alison (22 June 1928 – 16 August 1993) and Peter Smithson (18 September 1923 – 3 March 2003) formed a partnership that led British Brutalism through the latter half of the twentieth century. Beginning with a vocabulary of stripped down modernism, the pair were among the first to question and challenge modernist approaches to design and urban planning. Instead, they helped evolve the style into what became Brutalism, becoming proponents of the "streets in the sky" approach to housing.

Quadratura Circuli Aim to Revive Russian Religious Architecture with Cultural Center in Reykjavik

10:30 - 22 June, 2016
Quadratura Circuli Aim to Revive Russian Religious Architecture with Cultural Center in Reykjavik, Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli
Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli

Religious architecture in Russia, arguably, remains backward-looking. With the Soviet Union’s anti-religious stance in the 20th century, religious architecture found little opportunity to grow. Russian architect, Philip Yakubchuk argues that only recently has religious Russian architecture begun “learning to walk again” as it discovers its once-rich history. Quadratura Circuli, a trio of young Russian designers Daniil Makarov, Ivan Zemlyakov, and Yakubchuk, are eager to move beyond the image of St Basil’s Cathedral—seeking to revitalize and create a new image of Russian religious architecture for the 21st century.

The group’s Latin name translates to “Squaring the Circle” which is a metaphor used to describe a task that is believed to be impossible—a striking name for a group dedicated entirely to “designing temples for the people of today.” However, with their proposal for a Russian Orthodox Cultural Center in Reykjavik, Iceland, Cuadratura Circuli demonstrates that it is not impossible to link the art of the past and the culture of the present.

Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli +10

Spotlight: Alejandro Aravena

06:00 - 22 June, 2016
Spotlight: Alejandro Aravena, Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh
Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh

As founder of the “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena (born on June 22, 1967) is perhaps the most socially engaged architect to receive the Pritzker Prize. Far from the usual aesthetic-driven approach, Aravena explains that “We don’t think of ourselves as artists. Architects like to build things that are unique. But if something is unique it can’t be repeated, so in terms of it serving many people in many places, the value is close to zero.” [1] For Aravena, the architect’s primary goal is to improve people's way of life by assessing both social needs and human desires, as well as political, economic and environmental issues.

A Soviet Utopia: Constructivism in Yekaterinburg

04:00 - 22 June, 2016
A Soviet Utopia: Constructivism in Yekaterinburg, Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov
Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov

Developed early on in the Soviet era, and fully subordinate to Soviet ideology, the Constructivist movement was intended to form the foundations of a brave new world. The introduction of the Five-Year Plans coincided with the time when Constructivism was adopted as the official architectural style in the USSR. These circumstances allowed many architects to implement daring projects across the entire Soviet Union, and the Urals became one of the biggest magnets.

In this article—written by Sasha Zagryazhsky, translated by Philipp Kachalin and with photographs by Fyodor Telkov—you can take a virtual tour of fourteen of Yekaterinburg's most significant Soviet Constructivist buildings.

Soyuzkhleb (1928-1929). Image © Fyodor Telkov General Post Office (1929-1934). Image © Fyodor Telkov Uraloblsovnarkhoz Dormitory (1930-1933). Image © Fyodor Telkov Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov +17

Video: Reiulf Ramstad Explains "The Nordic Way of Building"

10:00 - 21 June, 2016

“We believe that architecture makes sense when it’s anchored in the locales where it’s built, and the people who are going to use it. That’s why I’m not so occupied with the zeitgeist of architecture.”

In this interview from Louisiana Channel, Oslo-based architect Reiulf Ramstad discusses how the Scandinavian landscape is at the core of his design concepts. In a context of globalization, increased mobility, and communication medias, Ramstad believes “the depth of the locale becomes shallow.” His architecture contrasts this mainstream approach by offering designs specifically tailored to Norwegian cultural heritage and the landscape of its remote areas.

Spotlight: Smiljan Radić

08:00 - 21 June, 2016
Spotlight: Smiljan Radić, Serpentine Pavilion/ Smiljan Radic. Image ©  Danica O. Kus
Serpentine Pavilion/ Smiljan Radic. Image © Danica O. Kus

Mainly known outside of his home country for his design of the 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, architect Smiljan Radić (born June 21, 1965) is one of today’s most prominent figures in Chilean architecture. With a distinctive approach to form, materials, and natural settings, Radić builds small- to medium-sized projects that flirt with the notion of fragility.

Ulterior Motives: OMA/AMO's Reinier de Graaf on "Research," Europe and the 2014 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 21 June, 2016
Ulterior Motives: OMA/AMO's Reinier de Graaf on "Research," Europe and the 2014 Venice Biennale, Installation in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini at the 2014 Venice Biennale, directed by OMA/AMO. Image Courtesy of OMA
Installation in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini at the 2014 Venice Biennale, directed by OMA/AMO. Image Courtesy of OMA

The following interview with Reinier De Graaf was first published by Volume Magazine in their 48th issue, The Research Turn. You can read the Editorial of this issue, Research Horizonshere.

Architectural practice requires a degree of intimacy and insight into complex sets of forces. While building is architecture’s bread and butter, it’s not always the best format to make a statement. It’s sometimes not even the most appropriate language to respond to a brief. Volume spoke with Reinier de Graaf of OMA/AMO about how research and media can become a vessel for political agendas.