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Vanessa Quirk

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Why Budapest's Contemporary Architects had to Go Underground to Find Success

This article by ArchDaily's former managing editor Vanessa Quirk first appeared on ArtsCultureBeat, the web magazine of Arts & Culture concentration at Columbia Journalism School’s MA program, titled "The Secret Life of Hungarian Contemporary Architecture."

This time last year, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán stood at a podium in a pristine new subway station. Raw concrete beams criss-crossed above him; state-of-the art, driverless trains stood silently beside him. It was the opening ceremony for Line 4, a subway line that due to delays, corruption, and disputes had been 40 years in the making.

“The people of Budapest began to accept the thought that only their grandchildren would use Budapest’s new Metro line, or not even them.” Orbán told the crowd. He recounted an old joke that embodied the cynicism that once surrounded the project: Chuck Norris had been on Metro Line 4.

Orbán credited the line’s completion, which occurred only a few weeks before the 2014 parliamentary elections, to “the solidarity and unity that was established in 2010 [when Orbán’s government took power] and has since been maintained.” He didn’t mention how, under his first government (1998 to 2002), he had withheld funds from the project, contributing significantly to its delay. Nor did he mention that his party had fought against the idea that the line, an expensive infrastructural project, needed architecture at all.

Today, though, the line’s stunning architecture is its most noticeable feature. Line 4 is not just a watershed achievement in Hungary’s history, but also a symbol of what it takes to make contemporary architecture in Hungary today. Both literally and figuratively, contemporary architecture had to go underground.

Fovam Station / sporaarchitects. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky Gellert Station / sporaarchitects. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky Kálvin tér Station / PALATIUM Studio. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky Bikás Park Station / PALATIUM Studio. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky

Spotlight: Zaha Hadid

Since winning the Pritzker Prize in 2004, the first woman and Muslim to do so, Hadid's career has been on an exponential trajectory. Before the prize, Hadid was better known for her extraordinary sketch-paintings of unbuilt works; particularly, her competition-winning entries for "The Peak" in 1982 and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in 1994. Zaha's "flying" forms were so revolutionary, that some questioned if they could even be made reality - hence why the Opera House was ultimately rejected, for supposed "uncertainties." Indeed, before 1994, the only built project she could boast was the complex, deconstructivist Vitra Fire Station.

Spotlight: Kenzo Tange

Kenzo Tange (4 September 1913-22 March 2005), the Pritzker-Prize Winning Japanese architect who helped define Japan’s post-WWII emergence into Modernism, would have turned 101 today. Inspired by Le CorbusierTange decided to study architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1935. He worked as an urban planner, helping to rebuild Hiroshima after World War II, and gained international attention in 1949, when his design for the Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park was selected. Tange continued to work in and theorize about Urban Planning throughout the 50s; his “Plan for Tokyo 1960″ re-thought urban structures and heavily influenced the Metabolist movement.

Spotlight: Eliel & Eero Saarinen

Perhaps the most famous father-son duo in the architectural world, Eliel and Eero Saarinen share more than just a last name. The two designers both left profound influences upon the cities where they did their work, both were awarded AIA Gold Medals, and, rather uncannily, both share the very same date of birth. But, when it comes to their architectural stylings, that’s where the comparisons end. Find out more about both after the break.

Spotlight: Jean Nouvel

“My interest has always been in an architecture which reflects the modernity of our epoch as opposed to the rethinking of historical references. My work deals with what is happening now—our techniques and materials, what we are capable of doing today.”

Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 8

We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. The following chapter outlines architecture’s connection to biology, and how biology influences our perception of form. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

The idea of a biological connection to architecture has been used in turn by traditional architects, modernists, postmodernists, deconstructivists, and naturally, the “organic form” architects. One might say that architecture’s proposed link to biology is used to support any architectural style whatsoever. When it is applied so generally, then the biological connection loses its value, or at least becomes so confused as to be meaningless. Is there a way to clear up the resulting contradiction and confusion?

Introducing "Potty-Girl," The Architect of the Future?

"I look for inspiration (or opportunities) from people and places rather than looking for people and places to host my ideas." -- Julia King  

Regardless of whether or not Shigeru Ban deserved to be awarded the profession's highest prize this year (there are vociferous opinions on both sides of the issue), there is one thing that is certain: architecture is going through some serious growing pains. And perhaps no one encapsulates architecture's shifting direction better than Julia King, AJ's Emerging Woman Architect of the Year

Pursuing a PhD-by-practice via the Architecture for Rapid Change and Scarce Resources (ARCSR) in the slums of India, Ms. King realized very quickly that the last thing these communities needed was architecture - or rather, what is traditionally considered "architecture." After all, community-members were already experts in constructing homes and buildings all on their own. Instead, she put her architectural know-how towards designing and implementing what was truly needed: sewage systems. And so - quite by accident, she assured me - the title "Potty-Girl" was born.

In the following interview, conducted via email, I chatted with Ms. King about her fascinating work, the new paradigm it represents for  architecture, the need to forego dividing the "urban and rural" (she prefers "connected and disconnected"), the serious limitations of architecture education, and the future of architecture itself. Read more, after the break.

Pinup2014's Competition Winners Showcase the Creativity of Emerging Talent Today

Jury Winner_Emerging talents_AE Superlab_Infinicities. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project
Jury Winner_Emerging talents_AE Superlab_Infinicities. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project

The Morpholio Project has just announced the winners of the Pinup 2014 competition. Drawing from an impressive shortlist of finalists, the Jury  -- which included participants from Fast CompanyMetropolis Magazine, Columbia GSAPP, and even our very own Editor-in-Chief, David Basulto -- has chosen nine outstanding examples of studio, 3D-printed or unbuilt works that exemplify the best of today's emerging talent.

Amy Azzarito, jurymember and Managing Editor at Design*Sponge "was impressed by the number of entrants who chose to devote their time and creative energy toward addressing social problems on a global scale, demonstrating an empathetic understanding that as the world grows increasingly smaller, the problems of our neighbors are problems for which we all bear responsibility."

Duann Scott, jurymember and Designer Evangelist at Shapeways added: "The breadth and quality of the entrants was truly inspiring, making it very difficult to pick the winners, or to put it better, not pick more to be winners," said .

Beyond the jury's picks, a public competition and The Morpholio Project chose five additional winners. See them all, after the break.

Jury Winner_Future Voices_DiJon_Dunmore_FIBERwave Pavilion. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project Jury Winner_Shapes Future Award_Yuan_Jiang_Ephemeral beauty. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project EyeTime Winner_Emerging talents_Anna_Pietrzak_Vignettes I. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project Morpholio Special Recognition_Emerging talents_Javier_Galindo_Motorino. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project

Capturing Hong Kong's Dizzying Vertical Density

© Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze
© Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze

Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is a French photographer who captures the dizzying heights and uncommon densities of Hong Kong. Inspired by "the geometry of the urban environment and the vivid lives it shelters," Jacquet-Lagrèze has not only captured the verticality of Hong Kong's built environment, but also compiled a new book, Vertical Horizon, "a photographic journey between the buildings of a relentlessly growing city." See more of Jacquet-Lagrèze's images, and read an excerpt from Vertical Horizonafter the break.

© Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze © Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze © Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze © Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze

Re-Thinking the Future 2014 Competition Awards BIG, UN Studio, HOK, and More

Honorable Mention, Public Building Built: Cineteca Nacional S. XXI / Rojkind Arquitectos. Image © Rojkind Arquitectos, photo by Paul Rivera
Honorable Mention, Public Building Built: Cineteca Nacional S. XXI / Rojkind Arquitectos. Image © Rojkind Arquitectos, photo by Paul Rivera

The winners of Re-Thinking the Future’s 2014 design competition - a competition that asked architects, designers, planners, and students from all over the world to submit “radical solutions for the present day problems” of climate change - have been announced. Requesting both built and conceptual works, the jury of 20 architects from firms such as SOM, AEDAS, and Perkins+Will evaluated the projects across a range of categories, from mixed-use and residential buildings to urban and landscape design. 

See all the winners, including proposals from BIG, UN Studio, and HOK, after the break.

Second Place, Mixed Used Concept: SANE Architecture’s Taichung City Cultural Centre. Image Courtesy of SANE architecture First Place, Public Building Built: Vancouver Convention Centre West / LMN + DA with MCM. Image Courtesy of LMN First Place, Interior Corporate Built: Yandex Saint Petersburg Office II / za bor architects. Image © Peter Zaytsev Honorable Mention, Commercial Building Built: PGE GiEk Concern Headquarters / FAAB Architektura Adam Białobrzeski | Adam Figurski. Image © Bartłomiej Senkowski

MOMA Announces Barry Bergdoll's Successor for Chief Curator of Architecture & Design

Martino Stierli, a Swiss architecture and art history professor interested in "how architecture is represented in the media and intersects with art," has been named Barry Bergdoll's successor as the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). 

Want to Land a Job at One of the Top 50 Architecture Firms? Here Are the Skills You Need to Have...

This article was originally published on Black Spectacles.

Ever wonder what software skills and licensure/accreditation are required to get a job at the top 50 Architecture firms in the world? Our study has compiled it all...

We surveyed 928 job postings at the top 50 architecture firms, based on Architectural Record's July 2013 Top 300 Architecture Firms study, and compiled the software requirements and the licensure/accreditation requirements listed for each job.   We then sorted them by average, and then by the experience level required, from 0-3, 4-10 and 11-20+.

The results are in the infographic below:

ARCHIZOOM: Close-Ups of Architectural Favorites

Federico Babina is back with his latest illustration! This time, he explores 23 works of architecture through the lens of one interesting or intense detail that speaks to the character of the work as a whole. Seeing these illustrations as movie posters, which use visual imagery to suggest, insinuate, and convey "the essence" of the film, each illustration reflects the work and the architect's aesthetic overall. See all 23 after the break! 

Courtesy of Federico Babina Courtesy of Federico Babina Courtesy of Federico Babina Courtesy of Federico Babina

Kenneth Frampton: What is Architecture?

We caught up with Kenneth Frampton earlier this week at the event to announce the finalists of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) in Santiago, Chile. Beyond asking him about the MCHAP jury's selection process, we took a moment to ask our classic ArchDaily question: what is architecture? Listen to his answer in the video above, or read the transcript of his answer after the break. 

DIY Materials Concept Wins Troldtekt Award 2014

115 entries from 39 countries! This was the number of architectural and design students who entered this year’s international concept competition – the Troldtekt Award 2014. The EUR 5,000 prize was won by three students from Escuela Superior de Arquitectura in Guadalajara (Mexico) for their project Troldtekt Raw. The jury was so impressed with the overall quality of the entries that three special prizes were also awarded, while a further four projects received honourable mentions.

MCHAP Recognizes OMA, Holl, HdM as Finalists for Most Outstanding Projects in the Americas

The  (MCHAP) has just announced the seven finalists - drawn from a shortlist of 36 projects - at an event in Santiago, Chile.

To determine the finalists, the five jury members - Francisco Liernur, Sarah Whiting, Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, and Kenneth Frampton - spent the last twelve days visiting projects, speaking with the architects, users and owners of the spaces, and entering into intense debate among each other. 

As jury member Dominique Perrault noted, “There’s a lot of means by which to evaluate projects - models, drawings, images - but we took all opportunities to test the quality of the architecture. In the end, only by visiting can you sense the ‘touch of god’ - the presence of the building itself in the context.”

The resulting finalists show tremendous variety - in terms of scale, place, typology, program, materials, etc. - making the task of choosing a winner all the more challenging. See all seven finalists, as well as a video of Kenneth Frampton discussing the selection process, after the break.

Ricardo Bofill's Winning Proposal for the The Noble Qur'an Oasis Competition

Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura and Gerber Architekten have tied for first place in a competition to design a cultural and civic Islamic center in Saudi Arabia, beating several well known international competitors, including Zaha Hadid Architects and gmp Architekten. The ultimate winner will be announced at a later date.

Ricardo Bofill's proposal for the center, which is meant to foster the research, study and transmission of the Qur'an, takes geometric inspiration from traditional Islamic cities:

"The first Islamic city had a circular plan, with all spaces being enclosed in the circle representing the elemental symbol of unity and the ultimate source of diversity in creation. This traditional city, or rather the idea of this city, serves as the base and the essence for the creation of the Islamic modern city. Such a background has led us to choose a circular concept as the main representational shape of the project for The Noble Qur'an Oasis. This unique civic and cultural landmark, with its sleek, minimalist design, is a symbolic container where the Islamic science and culture will be displayed."

Read the architect's description of their design, after the break.  

Noble Qur'an Oasis in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Image Courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura Noble Qur'an Oasis in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Image Courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura Noble Qur'an Oasis in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Image Courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura Noble Qur'an Oasis in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Image Courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura

BIG Maze Opens at National Building Museum

Images and video of the BIG Labyrinth have begun to appear on social media since it opened on July 4th at the National Building Museum (NBM)  in Washington, DC. 

The 61×61 foot maze, housed in the building’s grand atrium, will be open to visitors until September 1st. See more images and video, after the break...

Courtesy of National Building Museum Courtesy of National Building Museum © Matthew Carbone, www.matthewcarbone.com © Matthew Carbone, www.matthewcarbone.com