Rory Stott

How Supercomputers are Shaping the Future of our Cities

© Arash Nemati Hayati, Department of Mechanical Engineering, the University of Utah via XSEDE

What possible use could architects have for a supercomputer? Well, of course it would be nice to produce that ultra-high-quality render in a matter of seconds rather than hours – but this post on the XSEDE blog recounts another use that is (arguably) much more important. XSEDE, an organization that helps researchers by providing them with access to supercomputers, has been working with a group from the University of Utah’s Mechanical Engineering Department to simulate wind flow in cities, with the ultimate aim of providing architects and engineers with the tools to reduce wind tunneling effects, improve energy efficiency and lower pollution. Find out more about the research project here.

Rick Bell Resigns as AIANY’s Executive Director

Courtesy of AIANY

As reported by the Architect’s Newspaper, AIANY and The Center for Architecture have released a joint statement announcing the resignation of Executive Director of the AIANY Rick Bell, effective immediately. Bell helped to lead the ’s Chapter to a period of success, with significant growth during his tenure. The statement explains:

“Rick Bell has offered, and the organization’s Board of Directors has accepted, his immediate resignation. An interim Executive Director will be named next week and a search to find a new Executive Director will also begin at that time.”

Spotlight: Mies van der Rohe

with smoke, 1957; photographed for Life magazine. Image Courtesy of Frank Scherschel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (27 March 1886 – 17 August 1969) is one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, known for his role in the development of the most enduring architectural style of the era: modernism. Born in Aachen, Germany, Mies’ career began in the influential studio of Peter Behrens, where Mies worked alongside other two other titans of modernism, Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. For almost a century, Mies’ minimalist style has proved very popular; his famous aphorism less is more” is still widely used, even by those who are unaware of its origins.

How Architecture Sans Frontières Improves the Built Environment With Everything But Buildings

Change by Design 2010 in Salvador, Brazil (click image to see the workshop report). Image Courtesy of -UK

In a development that shocked many in the architecture world, on the 19th of January Architecture for Humanity - arguably the world’s leading architectural charity – was reported to have gone bankrupt, closing their San Francisco headquarters. By itself, this news was attention-grabbing enough, but in the aftermath two interesting things happened: firstly, many started to wonder what would become of the organization’s many local chapters in the US and beyond; secondly, some writers began to uncover small but long-standing disagreements about how the central organization had courted publicity – managing director of Architecture for Humanity’s New York chapter Rachel Starobinsky, for example, was quoted by FastCo Design saying that “visibility always went to the disaster relief projects that headquarters was working on” and that “the chapters were not really highlighted or valued as much as they could have been.” All of a sudden many people – this writer included - were talking about the importance of both creating strong networks and of sharing information to the creation of a strong humanitarian design outfit.

None of these ideas, though, would have been new to the members of Architecture Sans Frontières. Though it was founded a full two decades earlier than Architecture for Humanity, beginning in France in 1979, ASF has never really shared the public profile of some of its contemporaries. There are reasons for this – a lack of desire to actively court attention chief among them – but none of them have anything to do with ASF’s ability to do good in the world.

Construction of Sagrada Família Accelerated by 3-D Printing Technology

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As reported by the BBC, construction of Antoni Gaudí‘s already 133-year-old Sagrada Família in Barcelona is now being accelerated by one of the most modern technologies around: 3-D printing. As a matter of fact, the construction process in Barcelona has been utilizing for 14 years, introducing the technology in 2001 as a way of speeding up the prototyping of the building’s many complex components.

The process uses powder-based stereolithographic 3-D printers, which build prototypes layer-by-layer, resulting in a material similar to plaster. This is important to the workshop at the Sagrada Família, because it allows craftsmen to easily alter the prototypes by hand, to meet the demanding specifications of the building.

Emerging Objects Creates “Bloom” Pavilion from 3D Printed Cement

© Matthew Millman Photography

Following on from other experiments in 3-D Printing including a proposal for a house printed from salt and an earthquake resistant column inspired by Incan masonry, the California-based Emerging Objects team has created Bloom, a pavilion constructed from 840 unique blocks 3-D printed from portland cement.

The 9-foot (2.7 meter) tall pavilion is cruciform in plan, morphing as it rises to become the same cruciform shape twisted by 45 degrees. On the facade of the pavilion, perforations are mapped onto the cement blocks to create a design inspired by traditional Thai flower patterns.

Never Built New York: Projects From Gaudí, Gehry and Wright that Didn’t Make it in Manhattan

Sketches by Gaudí on the left, with Joan Matamala’s drawing of the building on the right. Image Courtesy of 6sqft

Ever since its unprecedented skyward growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Manhattan has been an icon of construction all over the world, with recent estimates concluding that the island contains some 47,000 buildings. However, as with all construction, completed projects are just the tip of the architectural iceberg;  is also the home of many thousands of unloved, incomplete, and downright impossible proposals that never made it big in the Big Apple.

Of course, the challenges of New York are indiscriminate, and even world-renowned architects often have difficulties building in the city. After the break, we take a look at just three of these proposals, by Antoni Gaudí, Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry, courtesy of 6sqft.

Serpentine Gallery Reveals SelgasCano’s Colorful Design for 2015 Pavilion

Serpentine Pavilion designed by SelgasCano 2015, day view. Image © Steven Kevin Howson / SelgasCano

The Serpentine Gallery has unveiled SelgasCano‘s designs for the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion in , revealing a brightly-colored “chrysalis” structure created from a double skin of ETFE membrane wrapped in webbing. The Madrid-based duo were announced as the project’s designers in December, joining the prestigious list of past pavilion designers which includes SANAA (2009)Jean Nouvel (2010)Peter Zumthor (2011)Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei (2012)Sou Fujimoto (2013), and last year’s designer Smiljan Radić, among many others.

More on the pavilion, and SelgasCano’s statement after the break.

Tim Franco Captures the Overscaled Urbanization of Chongqing

© Tim Franco

These days, many of China‘s largest urban areas are easily recognizable to people from all over the world, with the skylines of coastal mega-cities such as Shanghai and Beijing taking their place in the global consciousness. Far less known though is the inland city of Chongqing - another of China’s five top-tier “National Central Cities” – where in 2010 the Chinese government embarked on a plan to urbanize a further 10 million of the region’s rural population, with around 1,300 people now moving into the city every day.

Since his first visit to the city in 2009 photographer Tim Franco has been on a mission to document the rapid change in what he believes is “maybe the most widely unknown megacity in the world.” The result is Metamorpolis, a forthcoming photographic book by Franco with text by British journalist Richard Macauley, which documents the colossal scale of development juxtaposed against the people of – many of whom still live an incongruous rural lifestyle among the concrete sprawl. Read on after the break for more images from the book and an interview with Franco about the experience of documenting one of the world’s fastest-growing cities.

ThinkParametric Offers Free Online Classes

Among the courses offered by ThinkParametric is one in which users learn to create “challenging designs” such as MAD Architects’ Absolute Towers. Image © Iwan Baan

Launched in May of 2014, ThinkParametric is an online platform for learning the tools of the digital architecture trade. Gaining access to their video tutorials and the benefit of their online community would usually set you back $29 per month, or $269 for an entire year. However, to celebrate a successful first year, on March 12th they announced an “Open Class Season,” a full month for people to enjoy their courses for free.

The courses offered include:

Those who haven’t already signed up for a ThinkParametric account need to act fast, however – the deadline to be able to access the courses for free is this Thursday, the 26th March. Find out more information here.

How Heatherwick Studio Provides Small-Scale Encounters in a Large-Scale World

© Hufton + Crow

A casual observer might be forgiven for wondering how Thomas Heatherwick has developed such a reputation among architects. A scan of the works of Heatherwick Studio reveals relatively few completed buildings, and many of those that do make the list are small projects: kiosks, retail interiors, cafés. Indeed, to the average Londoner he is probably better known as the designer of the new homage to the iconic red Routemaster bus and as the creator of the wildly popular cauldron for the London 2012 Olympics - both unveiled in a year in which Heatherwick all but officially became the state-approved designer of 21st century Britain.

A look at the website of Heatherwick Studio sheds some light on this conundrum. With projects separated into “small,” “medium” and “large,” it is clear that a progression in scale is mirrored by a progression in time, with many of the smallest projects completed in the Studio’s early years, and most of those in the “large” category either recently completed or (more frequently) still on the drawing board. Their most recently completed project is also one of their largest, a “Learning Hub” for Nanyang Technical University in Singapore. How does a design studio that made its name in small projects adapt to such scale? ArchDaily spoke to about the Learning Hub and the increasing size of his projects to find out.

Is a 24-Hour Studio Culture a Good Thing in Universities?

Are inventions such as Forrest Jessee’s Sleep Suit symptomatic of a cultural problem in the ?. Image © Forrest Jessee

Architecture have the reputation – perhaps more than any other – of pulling all-nighters, sometimes disappearing for days at a time into what their non-architect friends come to view as a mysterious and often intimidating place: “The Studio.” However, recently this right to work at any and all hours has come into question, with surveys such as the one by the University of Toronto’s GALDSU highlighting the negative effects of long work hours on students’ physical and mental health. Many schools have now begun closing their buildings overnight to try to combat what is often seen as a negative and damaging culture.

ArchDaily wants to open up this discussion to its readers, who we hope can enlighten us with the nuanced experiences of teachers, professionals, and of course students both past and present. Are long hours and hard work good or bad for aspiring architects? Is closing the studio overnight a positive step to address a damaging culture? Or is it a patronizing restriction placed upon young adults who should be allowed to make their own decisions? Perhaps just as importantly, how does this culture forged at university affect the rest of an architect’s career?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. The best answers will be featured in a future article highlighting the pros and cons of 24-hour studio culture.

A New, Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Blade Runner Model Shop

Image via Imgur

It’s a well-known fact that architects, almost without exception, love the 1982 film Blade Runner. Architects also love scale models. So what could possibly be more exciting than seeing photos of the model shop of the film? Enter this Imgur album of 142 photos from behind the scenes, posted earlier this week by user minicity. After the break, check out our selection of images of the Tyrell Corporation’s imposing pyramidal fortress, among other things, under construction.

6 Takeaways From NYMag’s Article On Calatrava’s $4 Billion WTC Station

© Bedel Saget/The New York Times

Ask any person involved in the construction of Santiago Calatrava‘s World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and they will probably admit that the world’s most expensive train station has not been a PR success. In fact things have gotten so bad that a recent article by Andrew Rice for New York Magazine describes the gradual opening of the building later this year as coming “at long last and great cost, to both the government and his reputation,” adding that “a decade ago, Calatrava would have made any short list of the world’s most esteemed architects. Today, many within the profession are aghast at what they see as his irresponsibility.”

But, unlike much of the press coverage that has greeted Calatrava in recent years, the New York Magazine article is much more forgiving, taking the time to investigate the twists and turns of the project’s controversial 12-year history and offering the architect the opportunity to give his side of the story. Read on after the break for a breakdown of six takeaways from the article.

Synthesis Design + Architecture Utilizes Gradient 3-D Printing in “Durotaxis Chair”

© IMSTEPF Films

Los Angeles-based practice Synthesis Design + Architecture has created a 3-D printed chair which uses the latest gradient 3-D printing to apply different material properties to different parts of the chair. Originally asked by leading 3-D printing company Stratasys to design a piece that would not be possible without utilizing 3-D printing, chose to go one better, designing a chair that would not be possible without the Stratasys Objet 500 Connex3, which is capable of combining a range of material properties into a single print run.

4 Teams Shortlisted In Nine Elms Bridge Competition

Courtesy of Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership

Four teams including Hopkins Architects, Amanda Levete‘s practice AL_A and two separate teams from Ove Arup & Partners have been shortlisted in the competition to design a new in London spanning the Thames from Nine Elms to Westminster. The competition for the £40 million bridge, part of the dramatic new developments at Nine Elms and Battersea, made headlines last month when all 74 entrants were released to the public.

Read on after the break to see the entries from all four teams

“A Joy of Things”: The Architecture World Remembers Michael Graves

The Portland Building. Image © Flickr user camknows

This past Thursday Michael Graves, the famed member of the New York Five and one of the Postmodern movement’s great icons, passed away at age 80. With a legacy spanning more than 350 buildings and 2,000 product designs for companies like Alessi, Target and J.C. Penney, Graves will be remembered as a prolific designer, but for many within the profession his 50-year career will be memorable for so much more. Since news of Graves’ death broke on Thursday, tributes have been posted all around the internet, starting with his company’s official statement which said:

“Since founding the firm in 1964, Michael transformed the role of architects and designers, and even the place of design in our everyday lives. For those of us who had the opportunity to work closely with Michael, we knew him as an extraordinary designer, teacher, mentor and friend. For the countless that he taught for more than 40 years, Michael was an inspiring professor who encouraged everyone to find their unique design voice.”

Read on after the break for more reactions and tributes to Michael Graves.

Material Minds: Digital Ceramic Printing in MVRDV’s Glass Farm

© Persbureau van Eijndhoven

If you search the web for information on MVRDV’s Glass Farm, you’ll find plenty of people writing about the project’s 33-year history, and about its context in the small town of Schijndel. You’ll even find plenty of people theorizing on the nature of those walls, and the relationships between image and authenticity and between modern technology and modest tradition. But strangely, you’ll find almost no information on how the project made use of Digital Ceramic Printing, a relatively new process which was able to handle the many colors, variable transparency and fine tolerances required to display an entire farmhouse facade across a thousand panels.

In this new installment of our Material Minds series, presented by ArchDaily Materials, we spoke to MVRDV‘s project leader on the Glass Farm Gijs Rikken, and to Niv Raz, an Architect at Dip-Tech – the company who produces the printers, ink, software and support required for the process.