David Basulto

Graduate Architect. Co Founder and Executive Editor of ArchDaily.com. Architecture geek.

ArchDaily at the Venice Biennale 2012

The Corderie at the Arsenale © La Biennale di Venezia
The Corderie at the Arsenale © La Biennale di Venezia

Dear readers,

I’m writing this post from Venezia, Italy, where ArchDaily has been for the past few days and will stay the whole week covering one of the most important architecture events: The 13th Biennale di Venezia.

This year the Architecture Biennale is directed by British architect David Chipperfield, who under the title Common Ground looks  at the meanings of the spaces made by buildings: the political, social, and public realms of which architecture is a part.

The title ‘Common Ground’ also has a strong connotation of the ground between buildings, the spaces of the city. I want projects in the Biennale to look seriously at the meanings of the spaces made by buildings: the political, social, and public realms of which architecture is a part. I do not want to lose the subject of architecture in a morass of sociological, psychological or artistic speculation, but to try to develop the understanding of the distinct contribution that architecture can make in defining the common ground of the city.

The list of participants in this version of the Biennale include world renowned architects like Peter Zumthor, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, OMA, , Alvaro Siza, Eduardo Soto de Moura, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and Norman Foster, among others on a  list of 200 offices.

CANCHA – Chilean Soilscapes, the Chile exhibit at the Arsenale. Co curated by Pilar Pinchart and Bernardo Valdes

During these days we’ve had the opportunity to visit and photograph several of the national pavilions and individual exhibits, and interview their curators. This coverage will start to be featured at ArchDaily in our dedicated page starting today. You can also follow us in real time in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@archdaily), where we have already uploaded part of our coverage.

Please forward any comments, requests for meetings or  information related to the Biennale to editor@archdaily.com or using our contact form.

More photos after the break.

Venice Biennale 2012: Sneak peek

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The 13th Venice Architecture Biennale is about to start, opening to the public on August 29th. ArchDaily is already in Venice preparing our intensive coverage during the press preview starting Sunday. On this video by the Biennale you can see a small part of the team’s efforts preparing this fascinating event.

More photos of the upcoming exhibits at the Giardini below:

The World’s Most Epic Material Library

Keeping the material library organized is a difficult task for many architects, let alone keeping it up-to-date with the latest, most innovative materials. Well, today we stumbled on this video, by The Economist, that highlights Andrew Dent, vice-president of Material ConneXion, and his thoughts on the evolution of material science. has created the world’s largest resource for advanced, innovative and sustainable materials and processes. Their online archive and material libraries, based in seven cities world-wide, feature over 6,500 of the world’s most cutting-edge materials that are all commercially available for use.

Andrew Dent believes Material ConneXion will help bridge the gap between science and design as we move from the “synthetic century” into a “biological century”, where intelligent, nature-inspired materials consume less resources and less energy.

Tehran Stock Exchange Competition, 1st Prize: Alejandro Aravena Architects & VAV Studio

Exterior South © Alejandro Aravena Architects

During the last few years the world has witnessed dramatic changes. Our world is no longer rural, economic models are struggling, and the centres of innovation and political power have shifted.

It is this context that explains why the recently held competition for the new Stock Exchange is relevant beyond the building. The Physical Development Research Center organized a competition between 29 top architecture firms, later narrowed down to eight after a RFQ process, who each worked with a local Iranian firm. In a country experiencing a very unique economic moment, the brief of the competition aimed to challenge the typology of the stock exchange in general, as well as factors that could alter this type to address cultural factors specific to its location. Thus, the firms were asked to look at how this program has developed throughout history while also undertaking a thorough analysis of the specifities of this project.

The jury was composed by local architects Mehdi Alizadeh, Farhad Ahmadi, Bahram Shirdel, Hossein Sheikh–Zeineddin and Nader Tehrani (MIT Head of Architecture, principal at NADAAA) as spokesperson.

Alejandro Aravena (founder of Alejandro Aravena Architects, Executive Director of ELEMENTAL) together with local office VAV Studio were selected as the winners for their artful, considered, and minimal, project; of the various proposals, it was the only project which took into consideration functions and forces, geometry and geography, and an organization that distributed its program in a field condition, evenly spreading its function to best capture, light, views, cross ventilation, as well as shade. In turn, it produces a timeless (yet fast-paced) character of the stock exchange as an institution, a building that extends broader traditions while mirroring the current state of its country.

Aravena’s entry stood out from the rest as it was conceptually distinct, aligned with the brief of the competition. Other highlights of this entry are its geometry, structural base, sensitivity to climate, and relation to its mountainous landscape, which are explained further in the architect’s description below:

A monolithic figure at a first glance, the building achieves a particular transparency thanks to the hollow blocks used on its skin, turning into a lamp that is transparent to the public.

The decision of the jury, while unanimous, is only a recommendation to the client, so we will keep you informed as the project moves forward.

Read the complete architect’s description, with renders and drawings, after the break:

Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect

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: A Kind of Architect” (2008) filmed by Markus Heidingsfelder and Min Tesch, and produced by Arthouse Films, : A Kind of Architect offers a “thought-provoking portrait of the architect”.

Rooted in theory, Koolhaas, a creative genius, has produced work that completely takes the field of architecture to the next level. At his best, Koolhaas’ projects are so conceptually compelling that his approach, aesthetic and building performance are unmatched. By constantly questioning the norm, Koolhaas can critically analize the existing to create a theoretical model that can be manifested into the physical realm. Although architecture came later in his life, Koolhaas has an innate ability to utilize every componenet of architecture, from circulation to structure, to strengthen his vision.

The documentary, featuring interviews from other architects and friends about Koolhaas, provides a look into his process and his influence on the field.

You can watch the full documentary on the above embed.

Olympic Park and Village in Google Earth and Maps

Olympic Park and Village, Stratford, London, United Kingdom (click for larger size)

Google has updated its maps with hi res images of the Olympic Park and Village in Stratford (London, UK). The images were taken this past May, and let us see the whole picture of the master plan for London 2012. A big target of the investment for the games is to  reconvert this former industrial zone in East London.

Question: What would Archigram have done for the 2012 London Olympics?

Instant City

Share your creative responses in the comment section below:

Happy 78th Birthday Michael Graves!

(Watch our full interview with Michael Graves here)

Today we celebrate the 78th birthday of Michael Graves (born July 9, 1934).

Graves is one of America’s most influential figures in architecture and design. Part of the The New York Five, he played a key role in the transition between abstract modernism and post-modernism. His designs communicate a clear point of view reflecting a sense of playfulness with sophistication. The balance of traditional elements (typically through arches, columns, and pediments) and exploration with color convey the lessons of modern architecture while referring to historical details.

©

He started his own practice in Princeton, NJ in 1964, and has been a teacher at Princeton University for more than 40 years. Among his recognitions we can find the Felllow of the AIA (1979), the National Medal of Arts (1999), the AIA Gold Medal (2011), the AIA Topaz Medal (2010) and Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture (2012). His works can be found in North America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Michael Graves for Alessi

Michael Graves has also done a vast amount of work in the field of industrial design, including  furniture, artifacts, jewelry and dinnerware for companies such as Disney, Alessi, Steuben, Phillips Electronics, Black & Decker, and his own line with more than 100 products for Target.

We celebrate his 78th birthday with an ArchDaily logo inspired by the St Coletta School in Washington D.C.:

More from Michael Graves at AchDaily:

Happy Birthday Philip Johnson! (1906-2005)

From left: Andy Warhol, David Whitney, , Dr. John Dalton, and Robert A. M. Stern in the Glass House in 1964. Photography by David McCabe

Today, July 8th, is Philip Johnson‘s Birthday! (1906-2005)

The recipient of the very first Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1979 and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, Johnson has been labeled by Prtizker jurors as someone “whose work demonstrates a combination of the qualities of talent, vision and commitment that has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the environment. As a critic and historian, he championed the cause of modern architecture and then went on to design some of his greatest buildings.”

On what would be his 106th birthday, ArchDaily celebrates with a special Glass House logo:

Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997, The Glass House is still considered a modern marvel. Inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, the Glass House by Johnson, with its perfect proportions and its simplicity, is one of the first most brilliant works of modern architecture. Johnson built the 47-acre estate for himself in New Canaan, Connecticut.

 

© Creative Commons – Photo Credit: Melody Kramer

The house was the first of fourteen structures that the architect built on the property over a span of fifty years.

© Wikimedia Commons / Quique Huertas

Another iconic building designed by Philip Johnson, together with John Burgee, is the Puerta de Europa in Madrid, two leaning towers that have become an icon of the Spanish capital.

Quote: Tadao Ando

Langen Foundation building by Tadao Ando, Germany – Photo by reiser+reiser via Flickr

“We borrow from nature the space upon which we build.”

-Tadao Ando

World Architecture Festival: Last chance to submit your projects

Now in its fifth year, the World Architecture Festival moves from Spain to Singapore (October 3rd-5th). And for this year, we are happy to announce ArchDaily as a media partner, and as part of the jury!

The architecturally intense event includes the awards and a festival gallery, with more than 700 entries from around the world in 30 categories, accompanied by live presentations from the finalists, a seminar and keynotes with renowned international architects. In these, and other activities (full summary), you will be able to exchange ideas with over 2,000 architects representing more than 65 countries, broaden your horizons and your contacts book.

Last day to submit your entries is June 30th, 2012.

Any projects completed between 1 January 2011 – 30 June 2012 can be entered or if you don’t have a completed project you can enter any future projects you have on the drawing board.

Learn more about the conference rates, and details on how to submit your projects.

We have a special discount for our readers, more information after the break:

Architecture according to Seth Godin

I just found this interesting reflection about architects on Seth Godin‘s blog, “A lesson from a great architect”:

Architecture is a combination of sculpture and art and engineering and user interface. It is high tech and low tech at the same time, utilitarian and beautiful and virtually always budget constrained.

But do you know what great architects understand?

If you don’t get it built, the work doesn’t matter.

Great architects are able to be great because they know how to sell their ideas to their clients. (Or, they know how to find clients who will build their ideas. Same thing.)

If you’re brilliant and undiscovered and underappreciated (in whatever field you choose), then you’re being too generous about your definition of brilliant.

AD Interviews: Kevin Alter, Alter Studio Architects

Here is our interview with , founder of Austin-based firm Alter Studio architects. Not only is the Harvard graduate an internationally recognized architect, but he has also been a visiting critic, reviewer, lecturer and visiting professor for a number of institutions worldwide.

In addition to running his award winning practice, Alter is the Academic Director of Architecture Programs, Associate Dean for Graduated Programs, Sid. W. Richardson Centennial Professor of Architecture, Director of the Summer Academy in Architecture, and Associate Director of the Center for American Architecture and Design at The University of Texas in Austin, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in design, construction and theory.

Projects from at ArchDaily:

Capilla del Retiro by Undurraga + Devés, winner of the Premio Internazionale di Architettura Sacra Frate Sole

© Sergio Pirrone

The Capilla del Retiro (Retirement Chapel) by Chilean office Undurraga + Devés has been announced as the winner of the prestigious Premio Internazionale di Architettura Sacra Frate Sole, now in its 5th edition.

The award, given by the Frate Sole Foundation every four years, has been conferred in the past to architects such as Tadao Ando (Church of the Light, Church in the Water, Church in Rokko, 1996), Alvaro Siza (Santa María Church, 2000), Richard Meier (Jubilee Church, 2004) and John Pawson (Novy Dvru Monastery, 2008).

With this recognition the small concrete chapel formed by 4 concrete beams floating over a rustic excavation in Auco, Chile, joins a group of iconic contemporary religious buildings, where the delicate balance of light and matter are the common denominator.

The chapel rises as a confirmation of the extraordinary geography that surrounds it, while respecting the axes established by the series of preexisting buildings. Concrete is the main material of the building’s structure. Its volume, strictly economical, rises up from a crosspiece of 4 beams in the shape of a cross that is supported with the least possible structural elements so that its relationship with the ground is slight but sufficient. Shape and structure here are an indissoluble synthesis.

Under the strict geometry of the concrete a patio was excavated, whose rustic stone wall rises hazardously up and around the chapel, compressing and expanding that space of light. As a counterpoint to the magnitude of the geographic surroundings, the interior was designed in the shape of a wooden box recycled from old railway lines. This box hangs from the concrete structure and lies 2 meters under the beams that support it, limiting the view of the emptiness outside.

 - Undurraga + Devés

Learn more about the Capilla del Retiro in our previous article at ArchDaily.

2012 Pritzker Prize Ceremony: Wang Shu

(Chinese readers can watch this video at Youku)

Last Friday we attended the 2012 Pritzker Prize ceremony in Beijing, where Chinese architect from Amateur Studio received the “Nobel of Architecture”.

Last year the ceremony was held in Washington DC with the presence of President Obama, and this year the event was also held in an important political context, at the People’s Hall of Beijing, with the presence of important Chinese government officials related to the urban process of China, including the Mayor of Beijing and the Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

In my opinion Wang Shu’s architecture presents a contemporary and progressive approach that acknowledges the rich tradition of Chinese architecture, considering not only projects in dense urban contexts but also in the rural areas of China. As the next generations of Chinese architects are influenced by his architecture, a generation that will be an active part of China’s growth, he will indirectly influence how millions will live in the next years.

I think that for the first time the became something beyond a mere recognition to the great work of a living architect, turning into a statement on how architecture should face the rapid growth of our cities in the Urban Age to improve the quality of life of the next 3 billion that will move into cities in the next 40 years.

Wang Shu

Wang Shu’s acceptance speech:

ArchDaily Interviews: The role of the Architect at the Audi Urban Future Initiative

Last week we went to Ingolstadt, Germany, to attend the launch of the Audi Urban Future Initiative. The program, now in its second version, invited a group of six architecture offices from different regions of the world, all with big urban populations, to think about the future of mobility. During this stage, the architects presented their initial research and diagnosis of their respective regions. In October, the architects will present their projects and an overall winner will be announced.

During the event, we had the chance to talk with the architects and ask them about the role of the Architect in our contemporary society.

The first edition of this program took place in 2010, and included Alison Brooks ArchitectsBIGCloud 9J. MAYER H. and standardarchitecture. You can see J. Mayer’s winning entry previously featured at ArchDaily. More info about the program after the break:

AD Interviews: Bijoy Jain, Studio Mumbai

During the launch of the META Project in Chile, we had the chance to interview Bijoy Jain, founder of Studio Mumbai.

Studio Mumbai is a “human infrastructure of skilled craftsmen and architects who design and build the work directly.” Together, the colleagues immerse themselves within an ever-changing environment formed by an “iterative process” where they experiment and explore their ideas through the production of large-scale mock-ups, models, materials studies, sketches and drawings.

carefully develops projects through a process that draws from traditional skills, local building techniques, materials and an ingenuity that arises from limited resources. The essence of their work lies in the relationship between land and architecture. describes themselves as being “inspired by real life conditions” as they understand complex relationships through the power of observation.

“The endeavor is to show the genuine possibility in creating buildings that emerge through a process of collective dialog, a face-to-face sharing of knowledge through imagination, intimacy, and modesty.”

Projects from Studio Mumbai in ArchDaily:

World Architecture Festival 2012

Now in its fifth year, the World Architecture Festival moves from Spain to Singapore (October 3rd-5th). And for this year, we are happy to announce ArchDaily as a media partner, and as part of the jury!

The architecturally intense event includes the awards and a festival gallery, with more than 700 entries from around the world in 30 categories, accompanied by live presentations from the finalists, a seminar and keynotes with renowned international architects. In these, and other activities (full summary), you will be able to exchange ideas with over 2000 architects representing more than 65 countries, broaden your horizons and your contacts book.

Learn more about the conference rates, and details on how to submit your projects.

More details about the WAF after the break.