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The Apple and the Leaf: On How in Architecture There Are No Indisputable Truths

For many centuries, the demands of gravity appeared to give architecture one requirement that was largely unquestionable: that structures must rise vertically. However, with the advent of steel it was revealed that this limit had not been provided by gravity but by our own limited technologies. In this text, originally published by Domus Magazine in Italian and shared with ArchDaily by the author, Alberto Campo Baeza reflects on the architectural freedom offered by steel structures and the arbitrariness they bring to architectural space.

Isaac Newton was resting under an apple-tree in his garden when an apple fell on his head. Being endowed with such a privileged head and thoughts faster than lightning, he rose forthwith from his afternoon nap and set about calculating the acceleration of gravity.

Had Sir Isaac Newton had a little more patience and had he taken his time in getting to his feet, he might have noticed how, following the apple, a few leaves also fell from that same apple-tree, and while they fell, they did so in quite a different manner to the apple.

"I am writing this text in honor of the architect Valerio Olgiati, after seeing his very beautiful house in Portugal". Image © Archive Olgiati Leutschenbach School / Christian Kerez. Image Courtesy of Christian Kerez Rufo House / Alberto Campo Baeza. "But I, who have always defended orthogonal structures, also argue that structures do not always necessarily have to be orthogonal". Image © Javier Callejas Apartment Building on Forsterstrasse / Christian Kerez. From the architect's description: "The concrete wall slices are placed one above the other, suspended under each other or cantilevered. They form the loadbearing structure... their structurally essential organization remains hidden behind the appearance of a free, open-ended design". Image © Walter Mair

MVRDV's Markthal PR Campaign; Or, How We Learned the Price of Chicken

Becoming "the Sistine Chapel of Food" required a lot of invisible hard work. As Rotterdam's Markthal turns one year old, MVRDV's Head of Public Relations and Business Development Jan Knikker reflects on how the PR and media hype around Markthal Rotterdam was organized. This article is also supplemented by an interview conducted by ArchDaily with Winy Maas and Jan Knikker, which connects the parallel lines of the building's design and its PR campaign.

If I say that this is a PR story will you believe a single word? Markthal Rotterdam is a PR story with astonishing results: since its opening by queen Maxima in October 2014, our office MVRDV has nearly doubled in size to 110 staff members and it’s still growing. We - and The Financial Times - call it the “Markthal Effect”. In the first year the building reached over 8 million visitors, more than the Eiffel Tower, Bilbao Guggenheim or Tate Modern. 800 articles were published worldwide. It was hailed as a Sistine Chapel for food, a symbol of urban renaissance, a cool place to go. With the roughly 4 million visitors that came from outside of Rotterdam, the city saw its tourism grow.

How did that happen? It would be an easy assumption to think that a great building naturally attracts this kind of attention. But it all started quietly. In 2004 developer Provast and MVRDV won the competition with a plan that resembles the current design, except with one big difference: the colorful art piece which brightens up the inside of Markthal was at that stage also all over the outside facade. In any other city that would have lead to an instant protest movement against the zeppelin hangar covered in a gigantic fruit wallpaper. But not in Rotterdam. Public awareness started only once the construction became noisy.

© Daria Scagliola+Stijn Brakkee © Daria Scagliola+Stijn Brakkee © Ossip van Duivenbode © Daria Scagliola+Stijn Brakkee

4 Experiments in Robot and Drone 3D Printing that Could Shape Architecture's Future

In manufacturing, the dramatic recent expansion in the capabilities of 3D printing has threatened to revolutionize the way that things are made. In architecture though, while 3D printing has been received with enthusiasm its translation to the increased scale of buildings has been challenging. Most solutions to this problem have focused on increasingly large printers and the incorporation of existing principles of prefabrication - however there is another way. In this article, originally published on Autodesk’s Line//Shape//Space publication as "4 Ways a Robot or Drone 3D Printer Will Change Architecture and Construction," Zach Mortice looks at four examples of cutting-edge research into 3D printing that utilize robots or drones to navigate architecture's challenging scale.

Buildings simply aren’t made like anything else—that goes for sunglasses, furniture, appliances, and fighter jets. No other production process brings massive amounts of material to one place, constructs one item, and then hauls away the garbage. The inefficiencies are monumental.

Modular construction has promised a great deal of potential to reduce waste. But what if one answer is to do more intricate construction on-site, not less? 3D printers attached to robots and drones are demonstrating that they might have the versatility to finally bring the unruly building process to heel.

What Happens When Light Starts to Create Brand Experiences?

Global companies often exploit architectural icons to transform physical form into their desired brand reputations. To help achieve this goal, after twilight, the natural qualities of buildings have often been supplemented by architectural lighting, as the facades call unmistakeably for attention with their colorful and dynamic illumination. Representation has become the leading motivation for upgrading the lighting at headquarters and retail outlets. But when the illumination evolves into spectacular gestures, the brand identity and architecture itself starts to fade. Hence, the struggle for individuality has revived the discussion about ornament – though ornament appears now as light.

Louis Vuitton Matsuya Ginza Facade Renewal / Jun Aoki & Associates. Image © Daici Ano © Diego Opazo Allianz Arena Munich by Herzog & de Meuron, Munich, Germany. Image © Allianz Arena/B. Ducke Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi by Asymptote, Abu Dhabi. Image © Viceroy Hotel Group

The Long(ish) Read: John Ruskin Considers 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture'

Welcome to the third installment of The Long(ish) Read: an AD feature which uncovers texts written by notable essayists that resonate with contemporary architecture, interior architecture, urbanism or landscape design. In this extract from The Seven Lamps of Architecture, published in 1849 and considered to be John Ruskin's first complete book on architecture, his studies are distilled into seven moral principles. These "Lamps" were intended to guide architectural practice of the time, advocating a profound respect for the original fabric of existing buildings. The opening chapter—The Lamp of Sacrifice—attempts to "distinguish carefully between Architecture and Building," set against the backdrop of Ruskin's (often criticised) world-view on the discipline at large.

How to Stand Out in an Architecture Job Interview: The STAR Portfolio

In his previous articles, Brandon Hubbard has discussed how to create the perfect short portfolio to get the attention of your future employer, and how to prepare for some of the most common interview questions. In this post, originally published on The Architect's Guide as "4 Reasons Why You Need a STAR Portfolio," Hubbard discusses the architect's key tool at an interview, and how to maximize its potential to impress.

Perhaps the most important component of any architecture job application is the portfolio. The key is to tailor the portfolio not only to the position to which you are applying but also to the correct stage in the application process.

As I covered in a previous article, The Two Page Architecture Portfolio, your first contact with an architecture firm should include a “sample portfolio” as a part of your application. This is usually two to five pages long and just like the resume it is a snapshot of your greatest work and experience. This is the approach I recommend at the outset, while at the other end of the application process - the interview - I advise a different approach.

This is where the STAR Portfolio comes in.

AR Issues: Why Ornament vs Icons is the Wrong Debate Entirely

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the September 2015 issue, Editor Christine Murray discusses the postmodern reappraisal of ornament that has recently returned to architectural consciousness, arguing "what is disappointing is that we are still stuck discussing how a building looks."

The return to ornament is an evolution of the "icon" building. The emphasis may be on craft rather than form, but these buildings still clamour for attention, shouting "I am here." They share with the icon its selfie-friendly facade. This is architecture destined to be photographed, perhaps even nicknamed, heralding its presence as a landmark through the use of decoration, from brick mosaics to gilded towers.

Where it differs from the icon is in the emphasis on ‘making’; the craftsmanship or process by which the decorative element was created. The ornamentation may also feature on only part of the building, whereas an icon always refers to the whole.

These Floating Farms Could Be Key to Feeding Future Populations

Tap a button on your phone and hop into the shower; walk downstairs 15 minutes later, and you have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you. That’s a ritual that is no longer just a fantasy for many people. The rise of the internet of things has allowed us to control remote appliances with just a tap of the touchscreen. Until now, the scale of these processes has largely been limited to personal devices: anything from brewing a pot of coffee to warming up your car on a frosty morning. But what if we could grow food for thousands of people, with that same tap of a button? That is the goal of Forward Thinking Architecture’s “Smart Floating Farms” project.

Courtesy of Forward Thinking Architecure Courtesy of Forward Thinking Architecure Courtesy of Forward Thinking Architecure Courtesy of Forward Thinking Architecure

MASS Design Group to Propose “Bauhaus of Africa” at UN Summit

In designing and building multiple successful public buildings in central Africa and around the world, MASS Design Group has employed and guided thousands of local craftsmen, curating the building process to inspire dignity. Now, they wish to help the African people obtain the skills necessary to guide the process themselves. At the United Nations Solutions Summit this Sunday Christian Benimana, a program director for the non-profit design studio, will present plans for what they are calling the “Bauhaus of Africa”: three “African Design Centers” to be built over the next 10 years in strategic locations throughout the continent. The design centers will house an education program tasked with training a new generation of African architects - a workforce certain to be indispensable as Africa enters a period of unprecedented urban growth.

What Does Germán Samper See When He Draws?

Hiding out from the gentle Bogotá rain, a cat with turquoise eyes and a black and white coat prowls along the ledge of an office hidden in the midst of lush vegetation. A large window with a wooden frame filters the light and illuminates the interior: a desk, hundreds of books, manila folders, and backlit pictures. Sitting comfortably in his chair, 91-year-old Colombian architect Germán Samper takes a pencil, presses it to the surface of a sheet of paper, and begins to explain everything he is saying by drawing for us in the most clear and simple manner possible.

Whether he's giving instructions on taking a taxi in Bogotá  or explaining the recent modifications to the historic Colsubisdio citadel, Samper -- a master of Colombian architecture -- can express ideas on paper with an ease that makes us think that drawing might be very simple, but it's really just a great trick.

Perseverance is key and Samper knows this from experience. "I don't understand why architects don't draw more if it is truly a pleasure," he ponders.

After the break, a conversation with Germán Samper and a series of unedited sketches by the Colombian architect.

Critical Round-Up: Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Broad Museum

After teasing the general public by offering the press and 3,000 lucky local citizens with a preview day six months ago, the Broad Museum has finally opened its doors. Designed by Highline architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, the museum took four years and $140 million to build, adding its presence to LA’s architectural Broadway, Grand Avenue. With its visually striking facade given the tough task of responding to its enigmatic neighbor, Frank Gehry’s perennially polarizing Walt Disney Concert Hall, the building was sure to attract the attention of the critics, and they rose to the challenge in their droves. Read on to find out what five critics thought of the building dubbed “the veil over the vault.”

© Jeff Duran - Warren Air © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan

Santiago Calatrava Discusses the WTC Transportation Hub

In this additional scene from our interview with Spanish architect/engineer Santiago Calatrava, the designer discusses the monumental timespan and demanding criteria of his transportation hub for the World Trade Center. Following Calatrava’s aesthetic calling card, the project’s ribbed vocabulary and “birdlike” form features a 355-foot-long operable Oculus - a "slice of the New York sky" - that casts a soft glow onto the pristine white surfaces of the interior. New areas of the building opened to the public this summer, with the project slated for a grand opening this December.

What Are the Weirdest Words That Only Architects Use?

It's no secret that the unique specificities of the architectural profession can lead to a lot of jargon. In fact for many non-experts, the opaque nature of architectural language can be one of the most significant barriers to taking part in a discussion about their local environment. But why this juxtaposition between regular and professional speech? If we wish to make the architecture profession less homogenous, shouldn't we conceptualize a new way of talking about architecture? That's why we want to hear from our readers: which words do architects use too much? And what are the wider effects of this language, both inside and outside of the architecture profession?

Alternative Realities: 7 Radical Buildings That Could-Have-Been

In It’s A Wonderful Life the film’s protagonist George Bailey, facing a crisis of faith, is visited by his guardian angel, and shown an alternate reality where he doesn’t exist. The experience gives meaning to George’s life, showing him his own importance to others. With the increasing scale of design competitions these days, architectural “could-have-beens” are piling up in record numbers, and just as George Bailey's sense of self was restored by seeing his alternate reality, hypothesizing about alternative outcomes in architecture is a chance to reflect on our current architectural moment.

Today marks the one-year-anniversary of the opening of Phase 3 of the High Line. While New Yorkers and urbanists the world over have lauded the success of this industrial-utility-turned-urban-oasis, the park and the slew of other urban improvements it has inspired almost happened very differently. Although we have come to know and love the High Line of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations, in the original ideas competition four finalists were chosen and the alternatives show stark contrasts in how things might have shaped up.

On this key date for one of the most crucial designs of this generation, we decided to look back at some of the most important competitions of the last century to see how things might have been different.

Joseph Marzella's second-place design for the Sydney Opera House. Image via The Daily Mail Designs for the Chicago Tribune Tower by Adolf Loos (left) and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz (right). Image via Design for the High Line by Zaha Hadid Architects with Balmori Associates, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and studio MDA. Image via University of Adelaide on Cargo Collective Moshe Safdie's design for the Centre Pompidou. Image Courtesy of Safdie Architects

AD Essentials: Rendering

This article is part of ArchDaily Essentials, a series of articles which give you an overview of architecture's most important topics by connecting together some of our best articles from the past. To find out more about ArchDaily Essentials, click here; or discover all of our articles in the series here.

How New Laws Are Allowing Architecture to Flourish in Cuba

For decades, Cuba's communist economic system has essentially outlawed all forms of private architectural work. In 2011 though, wide-ranging economic reforms brought a challenge to this status quo. In this article, originally published on Curbed as "In Cuba, Architecture and Design Blossom Under New Laws," Julia Cooke explores how these laws to bring about a more flexible economic system are allowing a different kind of architecture to emerge.

This May, visitors were allowed into Havana's long-defunct Tallapiedra electric plant for the first time since it was shuttered in the 1960s. They could climb the grated stairs to the plant's nave, see how the light glinted off unchipped white and green tiles set in place in 1915, how tiny, stalky trees had grown out of clumps of dirt where machinery once sat, how the high, church-like central space and the split-level, open workspaces on one side might be adapted to any number of uses. The opening—for locals and some of the thousands of tourists in Cuba for the Twelfth Havana Biennial—was the work of Claudia Castillo and Orlando Inclán, and their eight-year-old think tank, Habana Re-Generación.

A Virtual Look Into Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion

The Barcelona Pavilion was officially only used once, and that was on the 27th of May, 1929, when King Alfonso XIII of Spain participated in a ceremony for its opening. Its role, according to an official statement by President Paul von Hindenburg, was to “present the Spirit of the New Germany: simplicity and clarity of means and intentions—everything is open, nothing is concealed.” As the first official participation of Germany in an international event since the catastrophic end of the First World War, it was a day of enormous symbolic importance, attended by diplomats, aristocrats and dignitaries. Within a few years the peace would collapse, in Barcelona as much as in Berlin, but for a moment, in May, modernity was met with optimism.

The Barcelona Pavilion was intended to embody this moment. Free of external ornament, the building was made of the most luxurious materials. Walls were fashioned of thin plates of luminous semi-precious stone, from green polished marble to golden onyx. According to Philip Johnson’s influential account, they didn’t physically limit space, but rather suggested flowing movement, and didn’t divide so much as bind; bringing the inside to the outside by continuing beyond the roofline into the garden. While the columns provided a kind of cartesian grid of points tethering the roof, the walls were positioned freely. In the courtyard was a bronze nude, arms aloft in a gesture that might be dance, might be grief, reflected in a still pool. With the asymmetrical walls, the luxurious stone, the bright light, the podium on which it sat; the pavilion was at the same time both a hyper-modernist building, and a classical ruin.

What Is Sketching in the Digital Age?

Every good design should start with a sketch. The problem, as everyone knows, is that computers are killing sketching. Or are they?

To begin with, it’s questionable whether there really has been a decline in sketching, given the conviction with which so many architects defend the importance of hand drawing. Even for the most technologically savvy architects, many simply don’t see an alternative to the humble pen and paper.

However, this doesn’t mean that all is well when it comes to sketching. Often the hardest part of the design process is to maintain a great concept - usually discovered through a sketch - when translating a design into programs such as Revit which are necessary in modern architectural practice.