Rory Stott

Patrik Schumacher Actually Makes a Good Point

Galaxy Soho. Image © Hufton + Crow

Last week Patrik Schumacher, director at Zaha Hadid Architects and the practice’s frontman in the field of architectural theory, took once again to Facebook to disseminate his ideas – this time arguing that “the denunciation of architectural icons and stars is superficial and ignorant.” In the post, Schumacher lamented the default position of the architectural media which he believes sees success and reputation as “a red cloth and occasion to knock down icons,” going on to outline his beliefs on why stars and icons are useful and even inevitable mechanisms of architectural culture.

Schumacher has made headlines via Facebook before, with a post last year in which he argued for an end to the “moralizing political correctness” that has led to the popularity of socially-conscious design – a post which attracted almost universal outrage from architects, critics and social media users of all stripes. However this latest post had a very different feel; many people, myself included, seemed to find themselves at least partially agreeing with Schumacher. After all, at the most basic level he was asking for designs to each be judged on their individual merits – what’s not to like?

Rem Koolhaas: “Soon, Your House Could Betray You”

Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

In the latest of a series of polemical arguments against smart citiesRem Koolhaas has penned perhaps his most complete analysis yet of the role that emerging technologies and the way they are implemented will affect our everyday lives, in an article over at Artforum. Taking on a wide range of issues, Koolhaas goes from criticizing developments in building technology as a “stealthy infiltration of architecture via its constituent elements” to questioning the commercial motivations of the (non-architects) who are creating these smart cities – even at one point implicating his other erstwhile recent interest, the countryside, where he says “a hyper-Cartesian order is being imposed.” Find out more about Koolhaas’ smart city thoughts at Artforum.

Spotlight: Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens portrait taken by Waldemar Titzenthaler c.1913. (Public domain)

If asked to name buildings by German architect and designer Peter Behrens (14 April 1868 – 27 February 1940), few people would be able to answer with anything other than his AEG Turbine Factory in Berlin. His style was not one that lends itself easily to canonization; indeed, even the Turbine Factory itself is difficult to appreciate without an understanding of its historical context. Despite this, Behrens’ achievements are not to be underestimated, and his importance to the development of architecture might best be understood by looking at three young architects who worked in his around 1910: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.

Patrik Schumacher: “The Denunciation of Architectural Icons and Stars is Superficial and Ignorant”

’ Heydar Aliyev Center. Image © Hufton + Crow

In the latest of his provocative posts on Facebook, Patrik Schumacher has come out in defense of iconic design and star architects, arguing that the current trend of criticism is “superficial and ignorant,” and “all-too-easy point-scoring which indeed usually misses the point.”

Schumacher says that critics “should perhaps slow down a bit in their (pre-)judgement and reflect on their role as mediators between the discourse of architecture and the interested public.” In the 1,400 word post, he goes on to elaborate that so-called icons and the star system are inevitable results of this mediation, adding that “explanation rather than dismissal and substitution should be seen as the critics’ task.”

Read on after the break for more highlights from Schumacher’s argument

Mexican Company Develops Wood Substitute from a Tequila Byproduct

A sample of the material. Image © Plastinova via phys.org

Searching for an alternative to costly and resource intensive materials, Mexican company Plastinova has developed a wood substitute from a byproduct of tequila and recycled plastic which it claims is not only renewable, but also stronger than the materials that it hopes to replace.

Spotlight: Kisho Kurokawa

Image via ritsumei.ac.jp

Kisho Kurokawa (April 8th 1934 – October 12th 2007) was one of Japan‘s leading architects of the 20th century, perhaps most well-known as one of the founders of the Metabolist movement of the 1960s. Throughout the course of his career Kurokawa advocated a philosophical approach to understanding architecture that was manifest in his completed projects throughout his life.

Mark Zuckerberg Praises Frank Gehry: “He’s Very Efficient”

Early building model inside the completed headquarters. Image Image via Mark Zuckerberg

After Facebook began its move into its new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters last week, founder Mark Zuckerberg has praised his architect for his work. In a post on his personal Facebook page yesterday, Zuckerberg shares the story of how Gehry he initially turned down Gehry’s request to design the project, saying that “even though we all loved his architecture… We figured he would be very expensive and that would send the wrong signal about our culture.”

But Frank Gehry persisted, saying that he would match any bids the company received. As a result, Zuckerberg has now praised Gehry – in a somewhat uncharacteristic description of the architect – for being “very efficient.”

Read Zuckerberg’s full statement, after the break.

For and Against All-Nighter Culture: ArchDaily Readers Respond

Forrest Jessee’s Sleep Suit. Image © Forrest Jessee

Nearly three weeks ago, the editors at ArchDaily reached out to our readers to help us investigate one of the most difficult challenges of architecture education: what do and teachers think of the 24-hour studio culture that has come to pervade the architecture profession? As we mentioned in our original post, the idea that all-nighters are simply an unavoidable part of an education in architecture has come under fire recently, with some schools attempting to combat them by closing their studios overnight. Is this the right approach to reducing the hours that are (over)working? If not, what should be done instead? Perhaps there are some people that still think a 24-hour culture can be beneficial to young architects?

The response we got to our question was astonishing, with 141 comments on the article itself and over 100 more on our Facebook post. From this discussion, two overriding themes emerged: firstly, many commenters seemed to believe that architecture students have too much work in the first place; secondly, there was almost complete consensus that closing the studios achieves nothing but moving the problem of all-nighters from the studio to students’ homes. For the sake of brevity we’ve chosen not to include the many responses that mention these themes ideas in this post, but for anyone interested in seeing the evidence of these opinions, we encourage you to visit the original article.

As for the remainder of the comments, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting contributions. Find out what 15 commenters had to say about the 24-hour studio culture – taking in arguments for and against it as well as discussing its wider consequences and ways to avoid it – after the break.

New Images Released of SHoP Architects’ 111 West 57th Street

© Property Markets Group via YIMBY

Uncovered by New York YIMBY, five new images have been revealed showing SHoP Architects‘ supertall and super-slender tower at 111 West 57th Street in Manhattan, just south of Central Park on what has become known as “Billionaire’s Row” (on account of the slew of new residential skyscrapers with some unit prices approaching $100 million).

David Chipperfield’s First Residential Project in New York to be Built at Bryant Park

David Chipperfield. Image Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects

Manhattan based real-estate company HFZ Capital Group has announced “The Bryant,” David Chipperfield Architects‘ first residential condominium project in New York City, located at 16 West 40th Street. The proposal for the 32-story building features a hotel on the lower levels, with 57 apartments ranging from one- to four-bedrooms, including two duplex penthouses, on floors 15 through 32 – offering residents “the rare opportunity to live in a new construction, residential development on the fully-restored Bryant Park,” according to the developers.

AIANY and the Center for Architecture Name David Burney as Interim Executive Director

David Burney. Image Image via Architect Magazine

After the unexpected departure of Rick Bell last week, the American Institute of Architects’ Chapter (AIANY) and the Center for Architecture have named David Burney as interim Executive Director until a long-term replacement can be found. Currently an Associate Professor of Planning and Placemaking at the Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture and Board Chair for the Center for Active Design, Burney worked as an architect at Davis Brody Bond until 1990, when he embarked on a 24-year career as one of New York‘s key civil servants: first as director of design at the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) until 2003, and then as Commissioner of the City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) from 2004 until 2014.

Playing with Balance and the Balance of Play: Hello Wood’s 2014 Camp

Cornwalk / Ákos Juhász + Dániel Eke. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky

A shortened version of this article by ArchDaily’s Managing Editor Rory Stott appears in HW 1-5, a book by the organizers of Hello Wood about the camp’s first five years.

Arriving at Budapest’s international airport on a warm Saturday in July, I confess to being unprepared for my week ahead at Hello Wood 2014. Hungary was the third country and the fourth city I had been in in 72 hours, and thanks to this (uncharacteristically) chaotic week, I hadn’t had the chance to research anything about the camp. All I knew was what could be learned from the photos of the 2013 camp which I had published almost a year earlier: that is, that the camp is held in an idyllic rural setting, presumably a significant distance from Budapest; and that the quality of work seems unusually high for a week-long architecture workshop, presumably indicating a serious, focused atmosphere at the camp.

The first of these assumptions was absolutely right. But the second could hardly be more wrong. In fact the atmosphere at the camp was so far from being serious that by Tuesday, Gábor Betegh – a friend of the organizers and coincidentally Cambridge University’s new Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy - told me how fascinating it was to compare the “centripetal madness” of the philosophers he knows to the “very centrifugal madness” of the architects at the camp. This remark was made in response to one of the team leaders screeching like a monkey from the top of his team’s half-completed tower.

Help Rebuild a.gor.a Architects’ Temporary Dormitories

Courtesy of

Last year on ArchDaily, we featured a.gor.a ArchitectsTemporary Dormitories in Mae Sot, a series of low-cost shelters that help this town on the Thai border accommodate the influx of Burmese refugees from neighboring Myanmar. But tragically, last month a fire from a nearby sugar cane plantation burned down all four dormitories, negating the generous funding from the Embassy of Luxembourg in Bangkok, preventing the plan to recoup money by recycling the dormitories when they were no longer needed, and of course destroying much-needed accommodation for refugees. To make the most of a bad situation, the architecture firm has turned to in an attempt to raise $5,500 and rebuild at least two of the dormitories. You can visit their Indiegogo page here to help.

Is Housing at the Root of Inequality?

The Metabolists developed some of the most radical solutions of the past century, aiming to make dwellings that were not only affordable, but on demand. Would similar ideas help to reduce inequality today?. Image © Arcspace

Ever since last year, in response to the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the hot topic in the field of economics has been inequality. Piketty’s book, which argues that if left unchecked wealth will be increasingly concentrated into the already wealthy end of society, many saw the book as evidence for progressive taxes on the wealthiest members of a society. However, according to The Economist a new critique of Piketty’s work is making waves among economists. A paper by MIT graduate student Matthew Rognlie argues that, since the 1970s, the only form of capital that has demonstrably increased the wealth of the wealthy is housing. With this in mind, The Economist suggests that, instead of focusing on taxation, ”policy-makers should deal with the planning regulations and NIMBYism that inhibit housebuilding.” Read more about Rognlie’s paper at The Economist, or (for the more adventurous) read the paper for yourself here.

Harvard’s Material Processes and Systems Group Investigates Structural Ceramics

© Martin Bechthold

With “Protoceramics,” the Material Processes and Systems Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (MaP+S) sought to investigate the architectural possibilities of a material that might often be overlooked: thin, large-format ceramic tiles designed to act as interior finishes or exterior cladding. Instead of accepting the tiles’ designation as a surface finish, the team investigated three ways to use them as a self-supporting structural component as part of their ongoing experiment to produce “novel material formations with a special interest in tectonic performance.” The three techniques employed focused on the acts of cutting, folding and bending.

Society for Atheistic Spirituality to Construct Etienne-Louis Boullée’s Cenotaph for Newton

Update: As many readers guessed, this story is of course a prank for ’ day. Thanks to everyone who played along, and a particular thanks to the seven readers (we won’t name any names!) who were convinced enough to email their expressions of interest. Your optimism and ambition are admirable, and we’re glad that you were able to take the joke in good humor. To anyone who dared to believe this story and had their heart broken: we’re sorry!

Last week, a little-known charity known as the Society for Atheistic Spirituality (SAS) announced a proposal which is sure to put them very much on the map: they plan to build Etienne-Louis Boullée’s design for a Cenotaph for Newton. The cenotaph, designed in the late 18th century as part of Boullée’s Architecture, essai sur l’art, is a sublime homage to the enlightenment thinking of Sir Isaac Newton, making it a perfect fit for the Society for Atheistic Spirituality’s mission to “endorse a rational understanding of our universe without abandoning the sense of wonder that makes life worth living.”

Though the plans are very much in their early stages – and in spite of the fact that the cenotaph was never really designed to be built in real life – the society is serious about their proposal, having earmarked a $500 million donation from a single donor, and are working to establish a “world class” team to realize the design. To find out more about their plan, ArchDaily spoke exclusively to the society’s director Zara Thustra, their construction projects leader Sidney Syfus, and their half-billion dollar donor, Dr Pang Luz. Read on after the break for the full interview.

Architects’ Reactions to Frei Otto’s Pritzker Prize Win

© Ingenhoven und Partner Architekten, Düsseldorf

After news of Frei Otto winning the 2015 Pritzker Prize broke, the internet was filled with comments on his influence on the profession over the past half a century of architecture. Of course, with the news of the Pritzker sadly packaged with news of his death, the impulse for many to offer some words in remembrance heightened the outpouring of opinion.

In addition, Otto was especially popular among some of architecture’s most established names; in a tweet, the New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman revealed that among the prominent advocates pushing for him to be awarded the prize were past laureates Renzo Piano and Shigeru Ban. With that in mind, we collected the thoughts and reactions of some of the leading architects today, revealing the respect held for Otto within the profession.

Facebook Moves into New Headquarters with the “Largest Open Floor Plan in the World”

Earlier today, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted an announcement onto his own Facebook page that the company had moved into its brand new, 430,000-square foot Frank Gehry-designed headquarters. In the post, Zuckerberg offers a photo of the building from above, showing off its 9 acre green roof, with a promise of interior images – of what is essentially the building’s giant, single room – “once we’re fully unpacked.”

That interior, big enough for 2,800 of Facebook employees plus room for growth, also played host to some of Instagram’s most popular photographers to preview the space – see a selection of their images after the break.