Comic Break: "Crazy Project Budgets"

08:00 - 18 March, 2016
Comic Break: "Crazy Project Budgets", Courtesy of Architexts
Courtesy of Architexts

We're happy to announce a new partnership with Architexts! In this first edition of their bi-monthly contributions, they let us know a little more about themselves. 

Architexts is a webcomic about a fictitious architectural firm called Franklin + Newbury Architects, Inc. Our comics are largely based on real-life experiences, giving a tongue-in-cheek chronicle of what it’s really like to be an architect. 

Virtual Reality for Architecture Predicts Patterns, Drives Business Decisions

16:00 - 17 March, 2016
Virtual Reality for Architecture Predicts Patterns, Drives Business Decisions

The 2016 edition of SXSW Interactive had no shortage of virtual reality demos, including virtual reality as it applies to architecture. On Tuesday, IA Interior Architects and InsiteVR held a panel on the impact that VR has had on the design process and communication with clients. 

Will Architecture's Future be Held Together with Glue?

14:00 - 17 March, 2016
Will Architecture's Future be Held Together with Glue?, © Henrik Kam, courtesy of SFMOMA
© Henrik Kam, courtesy of SFMOMA

The most revolutionary material in architecture may be one we’re already quite familiar with: glue. In a recent article for New Scientist’s New Urbanist column, futurist Geoff Manaugh of BLDG BLOG argues that the typical building’s structural system may soon see an overhaul. Instead of steel held together with bolts and welds, petroleum-based composite materials and carbon fiber panels fixed in place with glue could serve as both a building’s structure and skin.

From Ancient Rome to the Coachella Festival: A Brief History of Pop-Up Architecture

09:30 - 17 March, 2016
From Ancient Rome to the Coachella Festival: A Brief History of Pop-Up Architecture, Ball-Nogues' "Pulp Pavilion" at Coachella 2015. Image © Joshua White
Ball-Nogues' "Pulp Pavilion" at Coachella 2015. Image © Joshua White

Ask some people, and they'll tell you that pop-up architecture is a quintessentially 21st century form of architecture, but in fact the idea goes back over 2000 years. In this article originally published on Curbed as "The Rise and Rise of Pop-Up Architecture," Marni Epstein-Mervis traces the development of pop-up architecture right from its origins in ancient Rome, analyzing how the phenomenon has transformed into what we recognize today.

For five weeks in August and September 2015, street artist Banksy opened a dystopian theme park with Disney-esque castles and theme rides in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare in southwest England. Attractions included a police van mired in the muck and goo of a forgotten cityscape, and an overturned pumpkin coach and horses with Cinderella tossed half outside of it. These installations, one a commentary on our police state and the other a commentary on celebrity and the tragic death of Princess Diana, were just two of the many pieces at last summer’s temporary "bemusement" park, which Banksy called Dismaland. After its run, the timber and fixtures were sent to a refugee camp—home to over 3,000 people, mostly from Sudan, Eritrea, and Afghanistan—near Calais in France.

Pop-ups like Dismaland are everywhere. The impermanent, unexpected, and even slightly irreverent have become community staples. We can visit pop-up amusement parks, shop at pop-up stores, eat at pop-up restaurants, and stay at pop-up hotels. "Architecture has transitioned into an experience. An experience where, purposefully, it is difficult to tell the difference between the design and the art installation," says Melanie Ryan, Design Principal at the Los Angeles-based experiential and mobile design house Open For Humans.

How the MetLife Building Redefined Midtown Manhattan

09:30 - 16 March, 2016
How the MetLife Building Redefined Midtown Manhattan, © Wikimedia user Jnn13 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
© Wikimedia user Jnn13 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Recently the subject of a competition to reimagine its expansive facade, the MetLife building is one of Manhattan's most noticeable - and hated - buildings. In this article originally published on 6sqft as "Great Game Changers: How the MetLife Building Redefined Midtown Architecture," Carter B Horsley tells the tale of how the building came to be.

Perhaps the most detested midtown skyscraper by the public, this huge tower has, nevertheless, always been a popular building with tenants for its prime location over Grand Central Terminal and its many views up and down Park Avenue. It is also one of the world’s finest examples of the Brutalist architecture, commendable for its robust form and excellent public spaces, as well as its excellent integration into the elevated arterial roads around it.

However, it is also immensely bulky and its height monstrous. As shown in the photograph ahead, the building completely dominates and overshadows the former New York Central Building immediately to the north, which had been designed by Warren & Wetmore as part of the “Terminal City” complex. The New York Central Building, now known as the Helmsley Building, straddled the avenue with remarkable grace and its distinguished pyramid. As one of the city’s very rare, “drive-through” buildings, it was the great centerpiece of Park Avenue. But by shrouding such a masterpiece in its shadows, quite literally, the Pan Am Building (today the MetLife building) desecrated a major icon of the city that will unfortunately will never recover from this contemptible slight on such a prominent site.

Cádiz Castle Restoration: Interesting Interpretation or Harmful to Heritage?

06:00 - 16 March, 2016
Cádiz Castle Restoration: Interesting Interpretation or Harmful to Heritage?, Before and After. Image via Leandro Cabello | Carquero Arquitectura
Before and After. Image via Leandro Cabello | Carquero Arquitectura

In 2011, after the partial collapse of the Matrera Castle in Cádiz, Spain (dating back to the 9th century) the city decided to restore the remaining tower, with the aim of preventing its collapse and protecting the few elements that were still standing. 

The challenge fell into the hands of Spanish architect Carlos Quevedo Rojas, whose design received the approval of the Regional Government of Andalucía, in compliance with the Historical Heritage law 13/2007, which prohibits mimetic reconstructions and requires the use of materials that are distinct from the originals. 

In the words of the architect: “This intervention sought to achieve three basic objectives: to structurally consolidate the elements that were at risk; to differentiate the additions from the original structure (avoiding the mimetic reconstructions that our law prohibits) and to recover the volume, texture and tonality that the tower originally had. The essence of the project is not intended to be, therefore, an image of the future, but rather a reflection of its own past, its own origin.”

The polemical restoration has provoked a broad international discussion about heritage restoration, and the Izquierda Unida group has said it will bring the case to the Andalusian Parliament’s Culture committee to see if the restoration was the result expected by the Ministry of Culture. On the other hand, while the building had previously received only sporadic visits, it has now become a new tourist attraction in the area

Why has a restoration based on the anastylosis technique – which exists around the world – caused so much controversy? It is it really a “heritage massacre” as the media has said? Do you think it could have been carried out in a better way?

Join the debate and leave your comments after the break. 

Why Equal Representation for Women in Architecture is Better for Everyone

10:00 - 15 March, 2016
Why Equal Representation for Women in Architecture is Better for Everyone

In the ongoing debate about women in the architecture profession, you rarely hear an argument for why equal representation is important; it's generally assumed to be an unquestionable moral imperative. However, in this article originally published on the Huffington Post as "Why Women's Leadership Is Essential for Architects," Lance Hosey argues that, regardless of your position on equality as a moral imperative, better representation of women in architecture could benefit everyone in the profession—in very tangible ways.

Last week, on International Women's Day (March 8), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) published "Diversity in the Profession of Architecture," its first diversity report in a decade. The release follows the creation in December of the AIA's "Equity in Architecture Commission," a panel of twenty architects, educators, and diversity experts to investigate diversity and inclusion in the profession. The new report documents a survey of over 7,300 professional architects and students, including men and women, 79% of them whites and 21% people of color.

Project of the Month: February

08:00 - 15 March, 2016
Project of the Month: February, © Eiichi Kano
© Eiichi Kano

From the use of animal skins to create the envelope of a tent, to building structures from bones, and using dried mud for masonry, humans have long turned to the earth for inspiration and to provide us with the materials to build.

For ArchDaily’s second Project of the Month we want to highlight the versatile ways that architects can embrace ancient traditions. Kengo Kuma’s China Academy of Arts’ Folk Art Museum combines traditional techniques with recycled materials to create a subtle yet powerful structure.

How a Soviet Governmental Residence, the K-2 Dacha, Became a "Manifestation of the Finnish Dream"

04:00 - 15 March, 2016
How a Soviet Governmental Residence, the K-2 Dacha, Became a "Manifestation of the Finnish Dream", The K-2 Dacha, St. Petersburg. Image © Egor Rogalev
The K-2 Dacha, St. Petersburg. Image © Egor Rogalev

In this article, which originally appeared in the Calvert JournalKsenia Litvinenko narrates the story of the K-2 Dacha – a governmental residence in St. Petersburg which sought to shrug off Russian Classicism and Soviet Modernism in favor of the principles of Finnish Modernism. Illustrated by photographs by Egor Rogalev and researched alongside Vladimir Frolov, this article examines a Modernist gem that you probably won't have heard of, or seen, before.

If you ever find yourself in St. Petersburg, take a taxi along the Pesochnaya embankment, far away from the polished attractions of the city centre. Sit back and watch the landscape changing on the other bank of the Malaya Nevka. Among the trees you will see the former dachas of Russian nobles, private residences of local officials and the buildings of the new elite, overlooking the river. This is the best and perhaps the only perspective from which to see the K-2 dacha.

© Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev +13

5 Steps to Creating High-Performance Communities

09:30 - 14 March, 2016
5 Steps to Creating High-Performance Communities, Perkins+Will's proposed plan for Mission Rock in San Francisco. Image © Rendering by Steelblue/Perkins+Will, San Francisco Giants
Perkins+Will's proposed plan for Mission Rock in San Francisco. Image © Rendering by Steelblue/Perkins+Will, San Francisco Giants

As we become a planet of city-dwellers, planners and urban designers have an imperative to design communities that perform better than ever before. But what exactly does “performance” mean? Communities should have energy and water-saving systems, but at a high level there also needs to be a more holistic approach to creating a sense of place and connection, while at the same time being accessible to different demographics and vibrant all throughout the day. Here are five essential ingredients for designing a high-performance community.

4 Ways Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Revolutionize the Way We Practice Architecture

10:45 - 12 March, 2016
4 Ways Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Revolutionize the Way We Practice Architecture

It’s time for the profession to prepare. New software and hardware platforms are emerging that allow immersive environment representation—aka virtual reality, or VR—along with gestural modeling, or the translation of hand movements captured via computer vision into design information. Taken together, these two tools allow designers to visualize and virtually inhabit three-dimensional spatial conditions at “full scale,” where we can do design work with intuitive hand and body motions. The implications for architectural practice are dramatic.

The Met Breuer: A Loving Restoration of a Mid-Century Icon

09:30 - 11 March, 2016
The Met Breuer: A Loving Restoration of a Mid-Century Icon, © Ed Lederman
© Ed Lederman

The New York art world let out a collective cry of grief when the Whitney Museum of American Art abandoned Marcel Breuer's iconic 1966 building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street. Whether New Yorkers loved, loved to hate, or hated to love the old Whitney, Breuer's building suddenly became the building that evoked more passion than any other.

Now, thanks to a restoration led by New York City firm Beyer Blinder Belle, the iconic building has been transformed into the Met Breuer—the bold new showcase for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's renewed embrace of modernist and contemporary art. It will open to the public on March 18, 2016, and as the crowds ready to descend, the curators and architects are no doubt anxious to see whether, by faithfully adhering to Breuer's original vision, the restored building will succeed in both delighting museum-goers and helping redefine the Met's public image.

© The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2016 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2016 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2016 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2016 +20

Block'hood: The Neighborhood Building Game That Will Test Your Urban and Architectural Prowess

09:30 - 10 March, 2016

It is said that the best design solutions are often found when a project comes with a very strict set of parameters. So it makes sense that architectural games, with their coded restrictions and rigid rulesets, tend to draw out a particular kind of creative problem solving. Recently, games like SimCity and Cities: Skylines have inspired designers to experiment with constructing virtual cities without the fear of causing real-life consequences. In turn, these creations have inspired new perspectives on real-world designs.

The newest entrant to the world of architectural gaming is Block’hood, a neighborhood-building simulator that challenges the user to create a functioning community out of 1x1x1 blocks of various program. The interface features bold, stirring graphics from an axonometric view and effects that cycle between day and night. Block’hood taps into the simple desire to play with blocks, and then ups the ante by making the blocks’ existence vulnerable to the environmental conditions you create.

Courtesy of Block'hood Courtesy of Block'hood Courtesy of Block'hood Courtesy of Block'hood +12

The Importance of Sketches as a Form of Representation

08:00 - 10 March, 2016
The Importance of Sketches as a Form of Representation, Drawing by Le Corbusier of the interior of Villa Besnus, from his room habitación.. Image © The villas of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret (1920-1930)
Drawing by Le Corbusier of the interior of Villa Besnus, from his room habitación.. Image © The villas of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret (1920-1930)

Sketches are analog tools of representation, where the drawings' imperfections come from the artist, skewed by their way of seeing the world. Academia, especially in architecture, often calls for quick drawings to demonstrate ideas that words can’t describe, and constant practice on everyday items like napkins, the backs of notebooks or loose sheets of paper preserves ideas and makes way for the use of journals. Journals can be used to remember design processes or journeys and for learning. I have included a selection of my drawings from trips at the end of this article, in order to encourage readers to practice this method.

Expressing an idea is something anyone can do, whether it's through drawings, words or creating figures. The hands are often used as a mediator between thought and reality: "... drawing is where thought has a direct relationship with action, with your hand, with the experience of your body."

Beginning of the abtraction of an object in 3 steps. Image © Sebastián Bayona Jaramillo Interior of the Alworth de Marcel Breuer house. Chimney highlighted with textures. Image © Sebastián Bayona Jaramillo Basilica of Santa Maria Novella / Florence. Image © Sebastián Bayona Jaramillo Florence Cathedral (Duomo) / Florence. Image © Sebastián Bayona Jaramillo +15

Investigating the 'Scalelessness' of Contemporary Chinese Architecture and Urbanism

04:00 - 10 March, 2016
A traditional siheyuan in Pingyao (p. 389), now operating as a hostel. Image © Evan Chakroff
A traditional siheyuan in Pingyao (p. 389), now operating as a hostel. Image © Evan Chakroff

The Architectural Guide China is a travel book which covers cities primarily located on China’s eastern coast. These cities—such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong—have become centers for forward-thinking urban design and architecture. The guide offers maps, drawings, photographs, historical background, and essays describing Chinese architecture at all scales – ranging from small temples to the organization of major metropoli.

Based on the authors' experiences of directing study abroad trips throughout the country, Evan Chakroff, Addison Godel, and Jacqueline Gargus, have carefully curated a selection of contemporary architectural sites while also discussing significant historical structures. Each author has written an introductory essay, each of which contextualizes the historical and global socioeconomic influences, as well as the stylistic longevity of the chosen sites in this book. One such essay, by Chakroff, has been made available exclusively on ArchDaily.

CCTV New Headquarters (p.088) as iconic urban landmark. Image © Evan Chakroff Framed and layered spaces in a dense zone of Suzhou’s Lingering Garden (p. 244). Note rockery in the far distance.. Image © Evan Chakroff Ai Wei Wei’s Archaeological Archive (p. 283), from different vantage points. Image © Evan Chakroff Taihu stone on display in the Garden of the Humble Administrator (p. 218). Image © Evan Chakroff +17

A Look Back: 8 Years of Social and Urban Projects

15:00 - 9 March, 2016

In the past eight years the world has seen important changes – stemming from natural catastrophes, global warming, war, diseases, political and economic crisis among other things – all of which have a direct impact on the way we inhabit our planet and therefore how architects and planners are managing context-related designs for community living.

The importance of socially engaged architecture was highlighted by this year's Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena, whose work appeals to the idea of an active, committed architect who seeks for a democratic urban environment. This development also resonates strongly with ArchDaily's mission statement "to improve the quality of life of the next 3 billion people that will move into cities in the next 40 years, by providing inspiration, knowledge and tools to the architects who will have the challenge to design for them."

Therefore, in celebration of ArchDaily's 8th birthday, our Projects Team curated a selection of 24 exemplary projects divided into 3 categories. Each of these projects published over the past 8 years dedicate their design to find greater social, community, civil and humanitarian needs.

Why Architecture Isn't Art (And Shouldn't Be)

09:30 - 8 March, 2016
Why Architecture Isn't Art (And Shouldn't Be), Biomuseo in Panama by Frank Gehry. Image © Fernando Alda
Biomuseo in Panama by Frank Gehry. Image © Fernando Alda

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about what architecture's ultimate purpose might be - with answers ranging from the creation of form to the correction of societal ills. But according to Lance Hosey, perhaps the least useful definition currently in circulation is that architecture is "art." In this article, originally posted to his blog on the Huffington Post, Hosey argues that the concept of architecture as a form of art is not only misleading to the public, but also potentially damaging to society.

In July, I wrote that when architects use the bodies of specific women such as Marilyn Monroe or Beyoncé as "inspiration" for buildings, they objectify both women and architecture. Many readers didn't like this: "Anyone complaining about where an artist gets thier [sic] inspiration dosn't [sic] understand what an artist or art is," protested one. "What's wrong with using the female form for artistic inspiration?" asked another; "I can think of nothing more beautiful." And another: "Music, Structures, Paintings, anything artistic is not degrading. It's beauty."

The message: Architecture is art, and where artists get their inspiration isn't up for debate, since it's personal to the artist.

AD Readers Debate: Calatrava's WTC Hub, the AIA's Sustainability Role, and the Render as a Contract

12:00 - 6 March, 2016
AD Readers Debate: Calatrava's WTC Hub, the AIA's Sustainability Role, and the Render as a Contract, via WTC Progress
via WTC Progress

The past two weeks in architecture have provided plenty to talk about in thanks to some big news stories, such as the opening of Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and some hotly-debated articles, such as Lance Hosey’s critique of the AIA’s sustainability leadership. As a result, it’s been a busy couple of weeks in our comment section - read on to find out what ArchDaily readers had to say.