ETFE: The Rise of Architecture's Favorite Polymer

14:00 - 6 April, 2016
ETFE: The Rise of Architecture's Favorite Polymer, The Eden Project / Grimshaw. Image © flickr user timparkinson, Licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Eden Project / Grimshaw. Image © flickr user timparkinson, Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Until recently, the architecture world largely viewed plastic polymers as inferior building materials, handy for wipe-clean kitchen surfaces, but not practical in full-scale building applications. But with technological innovations driving material capabilities forward, polymers are now being taken seriously as a legitimate part of the architect’s pallet. One of the most widely-used of these materials is a fluorine-based plastic known as ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). Brought into the public consciousness thanks to its use on the facade of PTW ArchitectsWater Cube for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, architects are now realizing the film’s capabilities to express a new aesthetic and replace costlier transparent and translucent materials.

© flickr user manusascorner, Licensed under CC BY 2.0 SSE Hydro Arena / Foster + Partners. Image Courtesy of Figueras Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center / HOK. Image © John Linden Watercube National Swimming Centre / PTW Architects. Image © flickr user garrettziegler, Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 +8

A Virtual Look Into Julius Ralph Davidson's Case Study House #1

09:30 - 6 April, 2016
A Virtual Look Into Julius Ralph Davidson's Case Study House #1, Courtesy of Archilogic
Courtesy of Archilogic

This month's Archilogic model is a virtual tour of the very first Case Study House being featured in Arts and Architecture Magazine's program, designed by Julius Ralph Davidson. After World War II, American soldiers returned home from battlefields in Europe. They had to cope with traumatic experiences during the war and probably just wanted to rebuild their life and settle down.

It must have been hard to get back to normal. Certainly people wanted to live the American Dream: The pursuit of happiness, the intention of all Americans. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was first proclaimed in the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 and became a sort of “doctrine” for American citizens. This was an idea often reflected in the Hollywood film and television industry. The films that were produced in Hollywood after 1945 were stories that suggested that every hard-working person would succeed. Hollywood seemed to repeatedly produce stories of the American Dream.

The Project of a Collective Line

04:00 - 6 April, 2016
The Project of a Collective Line, The Project of a Collective Line: Santa Cruz in Bolivia is an agro-export region dominated by transnational corporations. Image Courtesy of USGS
The Project of a Collective Line: Santa Cruz in Bolivia is an agro-export region dominated by transnational corporations. Image Courtesy of USGS

The following article was first published by Volume Magazine in their 47th issue, The System*. You can read the Editorial of this issue, How Much Does Your System Weigh?, here.

In 2006 Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Argentinean President Néstor Kirchner proposed the construction of a gas pipeline connecting Venezuela to Brazil and Argentina, called the Gran Gasoduto del Sur. Although the project was never built, its path through the Amazon rainforest foregrounds the violent nature of resource extraction. At the same time, the project raised unique questions regarding the architecture of collective politics, particularly if understood in the context of the last fifteen years of political transformations throughout Latin America.

March's Project of the Month: Casa Meztitla

08:00 - 5 April, 2016
March's Project of the Month: Casa Meztitla, © Yoshihiro Koitani
© Yoshihiro Koitani

The search to connect with nature has been of great value to architecture, not only in terms of respecting and enhancing the natural conditions of a place, but also in creating a holistic relationship between the user and the space.

For the March Project of the Month, we recognize a residential project located in a unique landscape: the Tepozteco area in Mexico. In this project, the architecture connects with nature through a building that blends with the surroundings, while at the same time engaging with the setting in a unique way.

À La Izba and Faux Stone: Moscow's Age of Wooden Architecture

04:00 - 5 April, 2016
À La Izba and Faux Stone: Moscow's Age of Wooden Architecture, Pogodin’s Izba, Moscow. Image © Gleb Leonov
Pogodin’s Izba, Moscow. Image © Gleb Leonov

A total of 150 eighteenth and nineteenth century listed wooden buildings remain under protection in Moscow today. Modern city dwellers see only remnants of pre-revolution Moscow, which stayed almost entirely wooden until the early seventeenth century. This is one of the reasons why the Museum of Architecture and Kuchkovo Pole publishing house have joined forces to release a two volume set named Wooden Russia: A Glance Back From the 21st Century.

The first volume contains stories of expeditions and research projects studying the early period of Russian architecture, reports from open-air museums and articles on religious and traditional architecture practices. The second book focuses on neo-Russian architectural style, club architecture, Soviet intelligentsia dachas, and modern park buildings. Shchusev State Museum of Architecture researchers Zoya Zolotnitskaya and Lyudmila Saigina—experts on eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century architecture—agreed to share the stories of ten wooden buildings which managed to survive in the centre of Moscow to this day.

© Gleb Leonov © Gleb Leonov © Gleb Leonov © Gleb Leonov +23

Buy Land for a Dollar! Converting Chicago’s 15,000 Vacant Lots Into Booming Public Space

08:00 - 4 April, 2016
Buy Land for a Dollar! Converting Chicago’s 15,000 Vacant Lots Into Booming Public Space, The Available City exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Courtesy David Schalliol
The Available City exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Courtesy David Schalliol

At the Chicago Architecture Biennale, David Brown’s project “The Available City” addressed the fact that Chicago currently owns 15,000 vacant lots, many of which have become “havens for illegal dumping, weeds, rodents and street crime.” In this article, originally published on Autodesk’s Line//Shape//Space publication, Jeff Link takes a look at Brown’s project, examining its unique approach to developing the empty lots and converting them into public space. 

David Brown’s Chicago Architecture Biennial project, The Available City, responds to a striking fact: Chicago, in an exodus story echoed across the rust belt, owns 15,000 vacant lots.

The parcels, many of them on the South and West Sides, don’t generate tax revenue, but the city is obliged to maintain them. Outside the watch of homeowners, many are havens for illegal dumping, weeds, rodents, and street crime.

Chicago hasn’t exactly turned a blind eye, says Brown, associate director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture and the author of Noise Orders: Jazz, Improvisation, and Architecture. Through the Large Lot Program—a pilot that began in Chicago’s Englewood, East Garfield Park, and Austin neighborhoods—individuals and nonprofits that live on the same block as a city-owned vacant residential lot can buy select pieces of land for a dollar.

It’s a compelling idea, and through it and the related Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program, about 1,000 lots have been purchased in the past five years. But Brown says the city can do more; he suggests thinking of architecture and urban planning like jazz: a formal compositional structure inside of which experimentation can take place.

10 Projects by Alvar Aalto Which Highlight the Breadth of His Built Work

09:30 - 3 April, 2016

Alvar Aalto was born in Alajärvi in central Finland and raised in Jyväskylä. Following the completion of his architectural studies at the Helsinki University of Technology he founded his own practice in 1923, based in Jyväskylä, and naming it Alvar Aalto, Architect and Monumental Artist. Although many of his early projects are characteristic examples of 'Nordic Classicism' the output of his practice would, following his marriage to fellow Architect Aino Marsio-Aalto (née Marsio), take on a Modernist aesthetic. From civic buildings to culture houses, university centers to churches, and one-off villas to student dormitories, the ten projects compiled here—spanning 1935 to 1978—celebrate the breadth of Aalto's œuvre.

Comic Break: "Annoying Revit Commands"

08:00 - 2 April, 2016
Comic Break: "Annoying Revit Commands", © Architexts
© Architexts

There is an ongoing battle between architects and our tools of the trade. Whether you use a 2D drafting program like AutoCAD, or a BIM program like Revit, you have experienced a full spectrum of frustration. Like many architectural firms, the office of Franklin + Newbury Architects, depicted in our webcomic Architexts, has been trying to transition to BIM for years, and that transition has translated into blood, sweat, tears, and expletives. Software woes and transitioning from 2D to BIM are just a couple of the many topics found in our body of comics.

Herman Miller's 12 Rules To Design By

09:30 - 1 April, 2016
Herman Miller's 12 Rules To Design By, Courtesy of Herman Miller
Courtesy of Herman Miller

In this post originally published on Metropolis, former ArchDaily Managing Editor Vanessa Quirk explores a client's expectations, and how Nicholas Grimshaw treated them--in both built and book form. 

It is not often a client states that their aim is “to build the indeterminate building.” But so Max De Pree, the son of Herman Miller founder D.J. De Pree, expressed his hope for his company’s new manufacturing facility in 1975. Following the ideas of designers such as Charles and Ray Eames and Alexander Girard, De Pree compiled a long list of philosophical guidelines for the project, which he summed up under the laconic heading, “A Statement of Expectations.”

The young architect Nicholas Grimshaw, who had been hand-picked by De Pree for the project, was immensely inspired by the Statement, particularly its emphasis on the longevity and flexibility of the facility, its integration into context (the city of Bath, England), and the necessity for the building to empower its workers. In Grimshaw’s response to the brief, he noted: “Many of the views expressed about the well-being of the users, flexibility, and non-monumentality agree very closely with the approach we have built up since the founding of our practice ten years ago. We feel particularly that any new building should not impose itself on the occupiers, but that it should be a tool in their hands.”

A Virtual Look Into Don Draper’s Mad Men Apartment

09:30 - 31 March, 2016
A Virtual Look Into Don Draper’s Mad Men Apartment, Courtesy of Archilogic
Courtesy of Archilogic

In the 5th season of Mad Men, it’s June 1966, and Draper moves into his love nest with his young wife, Megan. The set was designed by Claudette Didul and the Mad Men team, and it’s a psychogram of a man who is about to fall apart at the seams.

Everything about the space is designed to be perfectly of its time. It has a white carpeted conversation pit for a living room, and a modernist kitchen with clashing colours. The masculine elements include a leather armchair, and a drum-shaped ice bucket. The design is inspired by the 1965 book “Decoration USA,” by Jose Wilson and Arthur Leaman, and the bestselling books of Betty Pepis. This is pop design, no high modernist masterpiece, it’s about pretending you are happy, rather than about civilization. A small indicator of depravity: the living room is over twice the size of the dining room. Who cares about table manners when your wife is half your age?

Fritted Glass: Staple or Trend?

08:00 - 30 March, 2016
Fritted Glass: Staple or Trend?, © flickr user swisscan, Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
© flickr user swisscan, Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Discovered by archaeologists in civilizations as old as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, fritted glass is hardly a new technology. Yet thanks to its energy-saving abilities and the smooth, gradient aesthetic it produces, fritted glass has seen a rebirth in contemporary architecture.

Frit itself is a ceramic component that can be laid out into an assortment of patterns, most typically consisting of dots or lines. These patterns can then be silk-screened onto annealed glass using frit paint. Then, the glass is fired in a tempering furnace, which strengthens and improves the safety of the glass under thermal stress. The resulting product is glass of determined transparency that, when used in building facades, can reduce solar heat gain and even make buildings more visible and less deadly for birds.

How to Foster Civic Engagement in the Age of Twitter

09:30 - 29 March, 2016
How to Foster Civic Engagement in the Age of Twitter, For a project in Maine, the author lived in the neighborhood and held charettes, presentations, and workshops in his cottage. Illustration: Adapted by Stoltze Design from a drawing by Russell Preston. Image
For a project in Maine, the author lived in the neighborhood and held charettes, presentations, and workshops in his cottage. Illustration: Adapted by Stoltze Design from a drawing by Russell Preston. Image

Too often community engagement can be seen as an afterthought, carried out in a dull and unengaging way. But does it always have to be this way? In this article from ArchitectureBoston’s Spring 2016 Issue, originally titled “Bring on the joy: Civic engagement strategies in the age of Twitter,” Russell Preston makes a case for more dynamic public engagement, citing several examples where “engagement is actually the process” rather than just a “required step to a planning process.

In New England, changing zoning is more difficult than sending someone to the moon. In the spring of 2015, Dan Bacon, planning director for Scarborough, Maine, asked for help implementing a better zoning code for Higgins Beach, a picturesque community of largely seasonal residents. Outdated regulations were putting its historic character in jeopardy. Different tactics were needed to successfully change the zoning before the next season of construction.

The hard task was helping the residents understand that they controlled future development with their own regulations. Change like this takes trust, and my team did not have months to build that trust. The best tactic? Become locals. We decided to live in the neighborhood, and in June of 2015, we rented a cottage with a large living room to host a multiday planning charette. Every meeting, presentation, and workshop was held in that cottage.

7 Futuristic Fabrications Leading Us Towards a Newer Architecture

12:00 - 26 March, 2016
7 Futuristic Fabrications Leading Us Towards a Newer Architecture

Swept up in an age of digitization and computing, architecture has been deeply affected in the past decade by what some critics are calling “The Third Industrial Revolution.” With questions of craft and ethics being heavily present in the current architectural discourse, projects taking advantage of these new technologies are often criticized for their frivolous or indulgent nature. On the other hand, there has been an emergence of work that exemplifies the most optimistic of this “Third Industrial Revolution” – an architecture that appropriates new technology and computation for the collective good of our cities and people.

We’ve collected 7 of these projects, ranging from exemplars of engineering to craft and artistry; projects that 80 years after Le Corbusier’s modernist handbook hint at a further horizon – towards a newer architecture.

8 Creative Ways to Integrate Parking into Residential Design

16:00 - 25 March, 2016
8 Creative Ways to Integrate Parking into Residential Design, House NA / Sou Fujimoto Architects © Iwan Baan
House NA / Sou Fujimoto Architects © Iwan Baan

Most residential projects must include parking spaces, but only few cases are notably innovative. Your vehicle's resting place can be more than just a required space; it may even become the backbone of the design itself. 

The integration of parking, interior spaces and facades can deliver extremely intriguing and unique results.

Here we present 8 cases in which the humble parking space has assumed a main role in the design, while integrating new functions such as exhibition spaces, or structural features and versatile technology.

Will Your Building Withstand the Onslaught of the Technium?

09:30 - 25 March, 2016
Will Your Building Withstand the Onslaught of the Technium?, Spain and Portugal seen from space. Image © Flickr user NASA Goddard Space Flight Center licensed under CC BY 2.0
Spain and Portugal seen from space. Image © Flickr user NASA Goddard Space Flight Center licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Technium is the sphere of visible technology and intangible organizations that form what we think of as modern culture.
—Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants

The Technium is ubiquitous; like air it could be invisible. Fortunately, raging torrents that affect every person on earth are hard to ignore. Let’s look into one of the hearts of the Technium, that organ we call architecture.

You Are in the Technium Now

An ecosystem is a system of inter-dependent organisms and conditions. Ecosystems evolve. The current system can only exist because of past systems, each a stepping stone for new levels of action, each creating new sets of conditions, niches for life in its many forms.

But of course that’s what architecture does: it creates new conditions for life and culture, as does science, education, art and technology. Our culture and technology is evolving, enabled and built upon current and past developments. Kevin Kelly uses the word Technium to describe this complex stratum of evolving interdependencies and capacities. The Technium is evolving and growing fast. Our buildings must also evolve if they are to nurture our current and future cultures.

Introducing Volume #47: The System*

04:00 - 24 March, 2016
Introducing Volume #47: The System*, Volume #47: The System*. Image © Volume
Volume #47: The System*. Image © Volume

Volume is an "agenda-setting" quarterly magazine, published by the Archis Foundation (The Netherlands). Founded in 2005 as a research mechanism by Ole Bouman (Archis), Rem Koolhaas (OMA*AMO), and Mark Wigley (Columbia University Laboratory for Architecture/C-Lab), the project "reaches out for global views on designing environments, advocates broader attitudes to social structures, and reclaims the cultural and political significance of architecture."

Over the next six weeks Volume will share a curated selection of essays from The System* on ArchDaily. This represents the start of a new partnership between two platforms with global agendas: in the case of ArchDaily to provide inspiration, knowledge and tools to architects across the world and, in the case of Volume, "to voice architecture any way, anywhere, anytime [by] represent[ing] the expansion of architectural territories and the new mandate for design."

SPARC Wins 2016 Curry Stone Design Prize

12:00 - 23 March, 2016

The Curry Stone Foundation has announced The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) as the winner of the 2016 Curry Stone Design Prize Vision Award. For over 30 years, SPARC has supported, represented and implemented improvements for Indian citizens living in slum communities throughout the country. Through its alliance with the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan (Women Together), SPARC is now active in over 70 cities throughout India, lobbying for physical, social and legal advancement, as well as facilitating the construction of housing for more than 8,500 families and community toilets for over 500,000 seats in slums with no existing facilities.

“SPARC with the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan are driving change by using the knowledge and capacity of the urban poor,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Director of the Curry Stone Design Prize. “With their work they designed the social framework that enables underrepresented populations to have a voice in the decision processes that determine their quality of life.”

Why a Career in UX Design is Perfect for Dissatisfied Architects

09:30 - 23 March, 2016
Why a Career in UX Design is Perfect for Dissatisfied Architects, © Sentavio via Shutterstock
© Sentavio via Shutterstock

This article by Gavin Johns was originally published on Medium as "Architects, stop everything and pursue a career in UX."

As an architect turned user experience (UX) designer I have many strong opinions about both my former and my current profession. But in short, I am now enjoying greener pastures, getting the fulfillment I expected while studying architecture but the profession didn’t provide.

Many like-minded architects ask me when and why I decided to transition into software. This puts me in the unusual position of praising the initial skill-set achieved by studying architecture, while promoting departure from it. That said, I have a very abstract definition of architecture, and believe if you have the interest to pursue any other design discipline, you’ll be successful. This guide is intended for those driven and curious architects who are looking for a change.