Rory Stott

AD Round Up: Classics in Brick

Colònia Güell / Antoni Gaudí. Image © Samuel Ludwig

As one of the most ubiquitous forms of construction, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the humble brick. However, this prosaic building method can also be one of the most versatile materials available to architects, thanks to the experimentation of countless architects who, for centuries, have worked to create new forms of expression with the simple material. In this round up, we celebrate architects who, with their architectural classics, have expanded the possibilities of craft: Antoni Gaudí‘s fantastical vaulting at Colònia Güell and Alvar Aalto‘s experimental brick patterning at his house in Muuratsalo; the powerful brick piers of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo‘s Knights of Columbus Building and the Catalan vaults of Porro, Garatti and Gattardi’s National Arts School of Cuba; and finally, what brick round up would be complete without the brick-whisperer himself - Louis Kahn and his all-brick fortress for the Indian Institute of Management.

Who Are Architecture’s Best Young “Disrupters”?

Water Pore Partnership’s Holcim-Award-winning project imagines a much-needed piece of water infrastructure for Las Vegas that doubles as a public space. Image © Water Pore Partnership Courtesy of the Holcim Foundation

In their fifth annual “Game Changers” survey, sought to uncover the visionaries who have the potential to make waves in design and architecture. Profiling six of design’s ”foremost forward-looking talents,” the list includes Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, the filmmaking duo whose “Living Architectures” series takes a sideways glance at some of the world’s most celebrated buildings; Amy Mielke and Caitlin Gucker-Kanter Taylor, whose work as Water Pore Partnership topped BIG and The Living for Holcim’s North America Award; and finally Aggregate, a collaborative of architecture historians who are rethinking the way we do architecture theory. For the full list and profiles of all those featured on it, head on over to Metropolis Magazine.

The Critics Speak: 6 Reasons why Hadid Shouldn’t Have Sued the New York Review of Books

Courtesy of ZHA

Update: Last week, Hadid and the Review of Books agreed to a settlement agreement, with Hadid accepting the apology of the Review of Books and, in conjunction with the settlement, donating an undisclosed sum of money to a labor rights charity. You can read the full joint statement at the end of this article.

For those that follow the ins and outs of architectural criticism, it will have been hard to miss the news this week that Zaha Hadid is suing the New York Review of Books, claiming that the critical broadside launched by Martin Fuller against Hadid in his review of Rowan Moore’s book Why We Build was not only defamatory but also unrepresentative of the content of the book. Hadid’s lawyers demanded a retraction of the review, which they claimed had caused Hadid “severe emotional and physical distress.”

Hadid’s lawsuit did manage to elicit an apology from Filler, but probably not the one she was hoping for: Filler posted a retraction admitting that his review confused the number of deaths involved in all in Qatar in 2012-13 (almost 1,000) with the number of deaths on Hadid’s own Al Wakrah stadium (exactly zero). However, much of Filler’s comments criticizing Hadid’s cold attitude to conditions for immigrant workers in Qatar remain unaddressed.

Throughout the week, a number of other critics took this opportunity to pile more criticism on Hadid, unanimously agreeing that the lawsuit was a bad idea. Read on after the break to see the six reasons they gave explaining why.

Chinese Company Constructs the World’s Tallest 3D Printed Building

Image via australiandesignreview.com

Once again, Chinese company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co has expanded the capabilities of 3D printing. After constructing ten houses in under twenty-four hours last year, now they are back with both the world’s tallest 3D printed building – a five-story apartment block – and a 1,100 square meter mansion with internal and external decoration to boot.

On display in Suzhou Industrial Park in Jiangsu province, the two buildings represent new frontiers for 3D printed , finally demonstrating its potential for creating more traditional building typologies and therefore its suitability for use by mainstream developers.

Design Like You Give a Damn: The Legacy of Architecture for Humanity

Collège Mixte Le Bon Berger. Image Courtesy of

In the introduction to Architecture for Humanity’s 2006 book Design Like You Give a Damn, founder Cameron Sinclair recounts a story from the early days of the organization. Half-joking yet deadly serious, he describes the day when, while still running Architecture for Humanity from a single cell phone around his day job at Gensler, he was contacted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees who told him that Architecture for Humanity was on a list of organizations that might be able to help a potential refugee crisis in Afghanistan should the US retaliate in the wake of September 11.

“I hope it’s a long list,” says Sinclair. “No,” comes the answer.

“We’d like to think it was because we had already become a voice for humanitarian design – an unexpected touchstone in the movement for socially conscious architecture,” writes Sinclair of the incident. “The sad truth is that until 1999, when our fledgling organization got started along with a handful of others, there was no easily identifiable design resource for shelter after disaster.”

Now, after their sudden and rather unceremonious demise, Architecture for Humanity has left architecture a very different world from the one it entered almost sixteen years ago.

Microsoft Reveals Holographic Features for Windows 10

YouTube Preview Image

At their Windows 10 Event today in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft unveiled features for its forthcoming operating system that it feels could revolutionize computing, particularly for people who want to design, make or fix something in the real world: holographics. The company revealed both the Windows Holographic features that will be built into Windows 10 and HoloLens, an in-house designed headset that will be capable of placing holographic elements into the world around you – think of it as a combination of the flat augmented reality overlay in  , and the immersive yet virtual-only presentation of Oculus Rift.

The video trailer above shows the far-reaching implications for a variety of designers, both professional and amateur (including a nod to the architecture profession at the 50-second mark), with TechCrunch explaining how the technology “offers a way for architects to survey and present their designs alongside clients even when separated by great distances.”

IaaC Students Develop a Passive Cooling System from Hydrogel and Ceramic

Courtesy of IAAC

Students at the Digital Matter Intelligent Constructions studio at Barcelona‘s Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia have created a composite facade material of clay and hydrogel, which is capable of cooling building interiors by up to 6 degrees centigrade. Entitled Hydroceramic, the material utilizes the ability of hydrogel to absorb up to 500 times its own weight in water to create a building system that “becomes a living thing as part of nature and not outside of it.”

Read on after the break for more on how Hydroceramic works.

Avery Associates Reveals Design for 270-Metre Tower Next to London’s Cheesegrater

Courtesy of

London practice Avery Associates Architects has unveiled their designs for No.1 Undershaft, a 270-metre tall office tower directly adjacent to Rogers Stirk Harbour + PartnersCheesegrater in the City of London’s central skyscraper cluster. The building is currently planned to be the tallest in this cluster and the second-tallest in London (after the Shard) – notwithstanding an as-yet-unrevealed plan for the site of the scrapped Pinnacle project which could potentially supersede it.

Work on 432 Park Avenue Ceases Briefly Due to Falling Construction Debris

© dbox for CIM Group and Macklowe Properties

As uncovered by Curbed, construction workers at Rafael Viñoly‘s 1,396 foot (426 meter) tall 432 Park Avenue were served with a full stop work order last week by the New York City Department of Buildings, after an 8 foot (2.4 meter) long section of steel pipework was dropped from a construction hoist on the building’s 81st floor.

Architecture For Humanity Closes San Francisco Headquarters

As reported by SFGate, on January 1st Architecture for Humanity laid off all staff and closed its Head Office in San Francisco. Although there has been no official statement from the organization, the news has been widely circulated, with founders Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr issuing a statement saying that they are ”deeply saddened” by the news, and urging the organization’s other chapters around the world “to continue their much needed work.”

Spotlight: Thom Mayne

Courtesy of Princeton University Lecture Series

The principal architect of LA firm MorphosisThom Mayne was the recipient of the 2005 Pritzker Prize and the 2013 AIA Gold Medal, and is known for his experimental architectural forms, often applying them to significant institutional buildings such as the New York’s Cooper Union building, the Emerson College in Los Angeles and the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters.

Arhitektuuribüroo PLUSS Wins Competition for Railway Station in Pärnu

Courtesy of Arhitektuuribüroo PLUSS

Estonian practice Arhitektuuribüroo PLUSS has been selected as the winner of a competition to design a new train station for Pärnu. Organized by the Union of Estonian Architects (UEA), the competition was inspired by the Rail Baltic project, a joint effort by the governments of , Latvia and Lithuania to connect the three Baltic countries with a single railway line. By selecting PLUSS as winners, the UEA hopes to not only secure the commission for the firm, but also engage them in the masterplan for the surrounding area.

David M. Schwarz Named 2015 Driehaus Prize Laureate

Firewheel Town Center / David M Schwarz Architects. Image via news.nd.edu

Washington DC-based architect David M Schwarz has been selected as the recipient of the University of Notre Dame‘s 2015 Richard H. Driehaus Prize, which honors an architect whose work represents “the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society.” In a press release from the , Schwarz is credited for his ”belief in humanism that emphasizes pedestrian-friendly and socially active architecture,” and praised for his ”historically informed designs create lively public environments that meet the needs of diverse audiences.”

Pritzker Prize Appoints Richard Rogers As Newest Jury Member

© Andrew Zuckermann/RSHP

The Pritzker Prize has announced that Richard Rogers will join the ranks as the latest member of its prestigious jury. Rogers, a Pritzker Laureate himself in 2007, is known for his innovative High-Tech style, establishing his name in the 1970s and 80s with buildings such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris and Lloyds of London. Since then, he has also become known for his advocacy in a range of urban issues, being commissioned by the UK Government to produce a report on British cities entitled “Towards an Urban Renaissance,” and for his active role in politics as a member of the House of Lords.

“Why Are There Not Skyscrapers with a 100-Foot Curtain Wall of Art Glass?”

© Flickr CC user Aidan McRae Thomson

Most contemporary architects probably don’t spend too long thinking about stained in their everyday practice – and for the “art ” industry, that’s becoming a problem. In a fascinating article for the Wall Street Journal, Timothy W Martin carefully examines an industry that has been in decline for decades, ever since glass designer Kenneth von Roenn warned them in a 1970s conference speech that it was “time to jump ship” and diversify from their work in religious buildings.

Videos: Bjarke Ingels on His Europa City Project for Paris

In 2013, Bjarke Ingels Group came first in Paris‘ Europa City competition, an 800,000 square meter cultural and recreational facility on the far North-Eastern outskirts of the city. In an attempt to explain the design of this huge project, filmmakers Squint/Opera have enlisted the help of Bjarke Ingels and a green screen to describe the project - Minority Report style – with a combination of live action and futuristic video effects. In a second video, a detailed walkthrough of the building enlists both 2D and 3D graphics “to capture the excitement and energy of this unique centre.” Read on after the break for both videos.

New Research Proves that Iron Was an Important Medieval Building Material

At Beauvais Cathedral, iron ties that were thought to have been added centuries after were instead dated to the early 13th century. Image © Flickr CC user James Mitchell

The Gothic cathedrals of the middle ages have long been respected as sites of significant architectural and structural experimentation. Hoping to reach ever closer to God, the master masons of the period took increasingly daring structural risks, resulting in some remarkably durably buildings that are not only timeless spaces for worship but miraculous feats of engineering. However, according to new research by a team of French archaeologists and scientists, we still haven’t been giving these historic builders enough credit.

Though iron components feature in many Gothic buildings, often forming structural ties to stabilize tall stone buttresses, it was previously assumed that these were later additions to shore up precarious structures. However, thanks to a highly sophisticated carbon dating technique, the team consisting of the Laboratoire archéomatériaux et prévision de l’altération, the Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14 and “Histoire des pouvoirs, savoirs et sociétés” of Université Paris 8 have shown that iron fixtures were an integral part of cathedral construction techniques from as early as the late 12th Century – meaning that many buildings from the period were essentially hybrid structural systems.

Want a Virtual Reality Headset? Make One For Almost Nothing With Google Cardboard

© Google via the Google Cardboard Website

One of the most hyped stories in the world of is the development of powerful, affordable virtual reality headsets for the commercial market. For architects, the ability to immerse yourself in an imaginary world is an enticing prospect, for both professional and recreational uses – but at $200 and upwards for what is still a product under development, devices like Oculus Rift are not for the faint-hearted.

But now Google, ever the ambassador for the more fiscally-cautious tech junkie, has a solution that won’t break the bank. Their contribution to the emerging market is “Google Cardboard,” which creates a simple headset from an Android-powered smartphone and – you guessed it – some cardboard. Read on to find out how it works.