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Semi-Finalists for Buckminster Fuller Challenge Announced

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has announced 15 semi-finalists for its 2015 Fuller Challenge, which calls for “innovative solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems."

As the 8th cycle of the competition, this year’s Fuller Challenge drew the strongest application pool to date, receiving entries from 136 countries. Out of the many entries, one winner will receive a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of their design.

The proposals were evaluated by the Challenge Review Committee, which focused on how the works are “visionary, comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, and verifiable.”

The 2015 Buckminster Fuller Challenge semi-finalists are:

Designnobis’ “Tentative” Provides Compact, Individual Living Spaces for Disaster Victims

Addressing the displacement of people by natural disasters, Designnobis has created Tentative – a compact, all-in-one, deployable emergency shelter. Designed by Designnobis founder, Hakan Gürsu, Tentative was honored with a Silver Award in the Social Design category of the A' Design Award 2014-2015 and has been nominated for the 2015 Design Index and World Design Impact Prize 2015 by ICSID. Read more about this emergency shelter after the break.

Build a Life-Size LEGO Structure with these Modular Plastic Blocks

via Wired
via Wired

LEGO enthusiast Arnon Rosan has created a full-scale, interlocking "LEGO" block that allows users to quickly assemble life-size structures. The LEGO-like "EverBlock" is a modular system of polypropylene blocks with raised lugs that can be stacked to form furniture, installations or even emergency shelters. As Wired reports, the blocks come in 14 colors, three sizes - full (one-foot-long), half (six-inches), and quarter (three-inches) - and vary in weight from a quarter to two pounds.

"Each module is designed to connect easily with the parts above and below, using a pressure fit which creates a strong link between blocks. Because of its unique lug system, you can stagger EverBlocks in 3" increments, to create all types of patterns," says EverBlock.

US Pavilion Announces Architects for the Venice Biennale 2016

After a selection process involving over 250 submissions, the curatorial team for the US Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale has selected 12 teams of architects to produce the US exhibition: The Architectural Imagination. The Architectural Imagination will speculate possible architecture projects for four sites in Detroit with an eye for application internationally.

This fall, the teams will travel to Detroit for site visits and community meetings, as well as to meet with faculty and students at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon hope to have selected a team that produces creative and resourceful work to address the social and environmental issues of the 21st century.

See all of the selected teams after the break.

Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist' Explores Reykjavík's "Growing Success"

For this week's The UrbanistMonocle 24's "guide to making better cities," Andrew Tuck and David Plaisant broadcast a Reykjavík special with a series of reports from the Icelandic capital. They explore how this city marks its spot on the world map, looking at its high-quality new museums alongside its growing cultural and culinary scene. With around one million tourists visiting the city last year, th Reykjavík is experiencing a boom in popularity — which some describe as "maybe too much". With only around 300,000 inhabitants, Monocle 24 asks how the world's most northerly capital is coping with this growing success.

GIVEAWAY: Win Tickets for the RISING Conference September in Copenhagen

In less than four weeks, Copenhagen will turn into a big playground for everyone with an interest in architecture and urban design. As RISING Architecture Week unfolds around the theme Growing Cities, more than 50 events throughout the city will explore new ways of thinking about architecture and the future of cities. Movies, walks, bike-rides, runs, boat-trips, swimming, and talks with the themes "Why We Love Trees", "Temporary Urban Spaces, and "Architecture in a Circular Economy," are just a few of the many events.

Among the city-events, RISING will host a 2-day conference at PapirØen (Paper Island). At the RISING conference, you will meet with a big, international audience, develop and exchange ideas across borders, while connecting with future partners. Keynotes and discussants as well as a number of interactive showcases and activities will take you on an educational journey. Your involvement will complete the debates.

Instagram Breaks Away from the Square

A photo posted by ArchDaily 🏠 (@archdaily) on

The "perfectly proportioned" Instagram square has redefined the way people photograph their world. Starting today, Instagram users are no longer required to adhere to the square; landscape, portrait and even panoramas can all be uploaded onto Instagram - making it easier for architects to photograph their buildings. This means you no longer have to rely on finicky third-party apps to upload your uncropped images. Keep in mind, the images will appear as centered-cropped squares on your Instagram profile. However, in the live feed photos of all shapes and sizes will be shown in full. Read Instagram's official statement for more on the change. 

Obama to Cast Global Search for Chicago Presidential Center Architect

In May, the University of Chicago was selected to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum. Now referred to as the Barack Obama Presidential Center, the building's task force is expected to cast a global call in search of an architect. As the Chicago Tribune reports, officials sent a request for qualifications to a select group of architects yesterday, although others are welcome to submit. All those interested must send their credentials by September 16. 

"The foundation and its advisers wanted to present the president and first lady with a strong and broad list of options," a foundation spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune. "We are looking at architects who represent a broad range of approaches and styles, but who all have a position of eminence within the architecture profession and have achieved some degree of public recognition."

50 Things You Didn't Know About Le Corbusier

You know him for his round glasses, affinity for concrete and undying love for modernism, but do you really know Le Corbusier? Le Corbusier led his life not just as the 20th century's most influential architect, but also as an artist, socialite and theoretician. Taught by architects August Perret and Peter Behrens, criticized by the likes of Jane Jacobs and celebrated worldwide, Le Corbusier's legacy is undeniable. Dabbling often with controversy, Le Corbusier preferred the mantra “Architecture or Revolution,” designing structures that have been dubbed "anti-humanist." While some propose that his buildings collectively become a UNESCO World Heritage site, many call for their demolition. 

In 2015, 50 years after his death, the debate on the calibre of his controversial projects rages on. To mark a half-century since the death of architecture's concrete man, we've rounded up 50 little-known facts from his illustrious 78-year life. Dive into the details of Le Corbusier's wild affairs, adventures and architecture after the break.

Lamenting the Loss of Hotel Okura, One of Tokyo's Modernist Gems

The news last year that the Hotel Okura, often described as one of Tokyo´s "Modernist gems," was to be demolished was met with widespread disappointment across the board. Built in 1962 under the design direction of Yoshiro Taniguchi, Hideo Kosaka, Shiko Munakata, and Kenkichi Tomimoto, the hotel has long been considered a significant architectural landmark in the Japanese capital. With only a week to go until the hotel checks out its last guest, Monocle—having been granted exclusive access—have shared with us a film to capture "the gracious ways of this much-loved building."

Watershed Materials Hopes to Make Cement-Free Concrete Blocks a Reality

Concrete blocks. Ever since manufacturers developed techniques to make them cheaper than traditional clay-fired bricks, concrete blocks have been one of our most ubiquitous construction materials. However, this ubiquity comes at a price: worldwide, the production of concrete accounts for around 5% of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions, and concrete blocks (as opposed to in-situ concrete or concrete panels) contributes a significant portion of these emissions.

To curb these runaway carbon emissions, a California-based company called Watershed Materials is developing alternatives to the traditional concrete block which uses less cement, dramatically reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced; they even have a product in the works which they hope will offer a widely applicable concrete block alternative which uses no cement at all.

Sustainable private residence by Arkin Tilt Architects. Image © Ed Caldwell A design using Watershed Blocks by Atelier Hsu. Image © Mark Luthringer A design using Watershed Blocks by Atelier Hsu. Image © Mark Luthringer A sustainable residence by Arkin Tilt Architects using Watershed Blocks. Image © Ed Caldwell

World Trade Center River Wall May Be Leaking

Sounds of rushing water have been reported behind the walls of the lower concourses of the World Trade Center site. As DNAinfo reports, rumors say officials have found an underground leak within the newly built complex and fear that it may be coming from the 3,200-foot-long slurry wall that separates the site from the Hudson River. 

New York City Mayor Threatens to Remove Times Square

Frustrated with the congestion of panhandlers, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shocked New York City dwellers by threatening to remove their beloved Times Square. As New York Times' architecture critic Michael Kimmelman reports, this comes at a time when dwellers fear that quality of life is declining in the city: "Entertaining the demolition of the plazas, the mayor sends a message that New York can’t support the sort of great pedestrian hubs that thrive in competing cities around the globe." Blasio said he will look into the "pros and cons" of returning Times Square to traffic. Read Kimmelman's full report on Blasio's threats, here

Images Revealed of Frank Gehry's “Gateway to Sunset Strip”

Gehry Partners, alongside Townscape Partners, has unveiled plans to redefine the "gateway" to California's Sunset Strip. A cluster of five distinct, Gehry-esque structures, the mixed-use proposal is one of several design alternatives that have been proposed by Townscape for the site. If built, it would include two residential buildings, featuring a mix of rental and for-sale apartments, along with retail, entertainment programs, and public gathering spaces.

Zaha Hadid Architects Release Video Presentation and Report on New National Stadium in Tokyo

In mid-July, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe declared that ZHA's design for a New National stadium would not be completed and that plans for the Tokyo Olympics-Paralympics stadium would "start from zero." In response Zaha Hadid Architects has just issued a press release and a link to a 23-minute video presentation. The video, ZHA explains, "outline[s] in detail the unique design for the New National Stadium which has been developed over two years to be the most compact and efficient stadium for this very special location in Tokyo. Zaha Hadid Architects welcomes a new contractor bidding process for the New National Stadium to reduce costs and ensure value for money in terms of quality, durability and long-term sustainability."

Watch the video - or if you haven't got 23 minutes, read our synopsis - after the break.

© Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia

Network and Expand Your Knowledge at WAF 2015

In addition to hosting the world’s largest architectural awards program, the World Architecture Festival (WAF) also features three days of conferences, architect-led city tours, documentary screenings, live crit presentations and networking opportunities. To be held at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, WAF will take place from November 4-6.

A major component of WAF is the opportunity to learn and expand one’s knowledge of current issues facing architecture and urbanism. Inspired by Singapore’s upcoming 50th anniversary as an independent country, the theme of this year’s conference series is 50:50, looking back on how architecture and urbanism have changed during the last 50 years, as well as forward on what may change or stay the same in the next 50 years to come. The conference will center around three key topics: Designing for Tomorrow; Imagining the Future; and Cities and Urbanism, featuring talks by Michael Sorkin, Peter Cook and Manuelle Gautrand, among many others.

Rahul Mahrotra Discusses the "Flawed" Notion of 'Smart Cities'

In an interview with The Indian Express, Rahul Mehrotra—conservationist, architect and author of Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral MEGACITY—talks to Shiny Varghese about his belief that the current notion of a 'smart city' is about "blanket replication, [which] will result in gated communities and flattening of the city, driven by infrastructure and investment." He argues that this approach "will create a form of exclusion."

Foster Teams with Nissan to Envision Fuel Station of the Future

By 2020, almost one million electric vehicles are expected on the road. "It seems to be clear," says David Nelson, head of design at Foster + Partners, "that electric vehicles will be a major feature of the urban landscape." Thus, Foster + Partners has teamed up with Nissan to develop the Fuel Station of the Future.

Imagining how zero emissions technology will influence our cities, the innovative brands are centering their design on the understanding that "connected communities, autonomous drive and the Internet of things" are drastically changing our infrastructure models. Their concept is expected to showcase the benefits of a "smart electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem," harnessing the potential of battery storage and vehicle-to-grid systems.