GIVEAWAY: Moleskine’s Inspiration and Process in Architecture / Studio MK 27

Moleskine®-Inspiration and Process in Architecture

Moleskine, the go-to brand of sketchbooks beloved by creatives around the world, recently released another title in its Inspiration and Process in Architecture series: Studio MK27, led by architect Marcio Kogan.

The series already features monographs dedicated to Studio Mumbai, Wiel AretsDominique Perrault, Zaha Hadid, and others. joins this prestigious list along with Kengo Kuma, Grafton Architects, Frits Palmboom and Michael Graves, whose monographs were also recently announced by Moleskine.

Read on to find out how you can win a copy of Inspiration and Process in Architecture – Marcio Kogan Studio MK27!

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Kumbh Mela: A Temporary (But Not Instant) City for 2 Million

Part of Acciavatti’s diagram “Triveni Sangam: Celestial-Terrestrial Microcosm, 2006“. Image ©

Among the many complex interactions between humans and water in the Ganges river basin, perhaps none is more awe-inspiring than the religious festival of Kumbh Mela, which every twelve years hosts the largest single-purpose gathering of people on the planet, with an estimated 2 million temporary residents and 100 million total visitors in 2013. In the following excerpt from his book “Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River,” Anthony Acciavatti recounts the history of this spectacular event, as well as the smaller annual Magh Mela – and explains why even though it is temporary, the huge tent settlement that supports these festivals is not the “instant city” it is often described as, but instead a microcosm of settlement patterns across the whole Ganges.

Dangling at the tip of the Ganga-Jamuna Doab, where the Lower Ganges Canal system terminates, the city of Allahabad overlooks the confluence of the Ganges and Jamuna rivers. While the Jamuna, to the south of the city, runs deep and narrow, the Ganges, to the north and east of the city, runs shallow and wide. Where these two rivers meet (and a third mythical river, the Saraswati), is known as the Triveni or Sangam, the most sacred site within Hinduism.

Every twelfth year, the sleepy university city of Allahabad is transformed into a colossal tent city populated by millions of pilgrims for the Kumbh Mela (literally Pitcher Celebration). And it all seems to happen so fast. After the deluge of the southwest monsoon (June-August), the waters of the Ganges and Jamuna slowly start to recede. A city grid is tattooed into the banks and shoals of the Ganges. Tents and temples pop up in October. Pontoon bridges stretch from one bank of the river to the other and pilgrims begin to arrive in January. Then come reporters and camera crews from all over the world, who come to document the life of what must at first appear to be the world’s largest Instant-Mega-City: a temporary tent city with the major infrastructure of a metropolis.

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Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River

Courtesy of

Few geographies in the world nurture such a rich and complex imaginary as the Ganges River Valley. The heart of Indian Culture, and home to over one quarter of India’s population, the Ganges is one of the most fertile and infrastructure-heavy river valleys in the planet. Its many physical, historical and spiritual natures defy a single interpretation: always in flux, source of life and destruction, and venerated as a Hindu Deity, the Ganges fully embodies the complexities and excesses of the Indian Civilization.

In “Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River,” Anthony Acciavatti orchestrates a magnificent portrait of the Ganges River Basin, and its continuous reinvention as a test-bed for infrastructural innovation. Through the hybrid genre of the Atlas-Almanac-Travelogue, the book unfolds the many nested spatial and temporal scales that characterize this highly contested territory. Those captivated with the planetary urbanization of will find in this book a timely and relevant volume of encyclopedic ambition and exquisite design.

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Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms

Elevation study of the southwest facade of Villa Savoye at Poissy, 1929, focussing upon the composition and proportioning of the openings and piloti, pencil and white pastel on trace, 75.5 x 126.2 cm (29 3/4 x 49 2⁄3 in). Image © Fondation , Paris

Marking the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s death, Phaidon recently released a second edition of William J R Curtis’ seminal book, “Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms.” Following in the footsteps of the first edition published in 1986, the book reveals Le Corbusier’s works through over 500 images and incisive analysis. The context within which the book will be received is of course very different compared to that of 1986; in the following text, the author explains how Le Corbusier’s legacy has changed in the intervening years, but also why the book is needed just as much now as it was back then.

From the Preface to the Second Edition of Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms:

When the first edition of this book was written Le Corbusier had been dead only twenty years. His reputation was in temporary eclipse. Demonized by post-modernist foes and over-simplified by neo-modernist friends, he risked becoming a caricature. At the time it was necessary to rescue him from transient perceptions and to place him in a longer and broader historical perspective. While focusing upon individual works I attempted to reveal Le Corbusier’s recurrent themes, basic types and guiding principles. His architecture was placed in the context of his larger social and cultural projects and related to his general conceptions of society, history and nature. The first edition closed with the declaration: ‘Le Corbusier is himself part of tradition and has even altered the perspective on the distant past. As he slips further into history, his modernity matters less and less: it is the timeless levels in his art which have most to give to the future.’

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JA97: Curving Line & Surface

From the publisher. 97 is focused on the curving lines and surfaces in architecture. The issue explores the topic through works, an interview, and essays by 10 architects including SANAA, Jun Aoki, TNA, and Junya Ishigami.

The issue, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, also introduces works of architecture with curving lines and surfaces from the past such as Kenzo Tange’s National Gymnasiums for Tokyo Olympics from 1964 and Toyo Ito’s House in Kamiwada from 1977.

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Morphing: Mathematical Transformations In Architecture

Courtesy of Laurence King

Cylinders, spheres and cubes are a small handful of shapes that can be defined by a single word. However, most shapes cannot be found in a dictionary. They belong to an alternative plastic world defined by trigonometry: a mathematical world where all shapes can be described under one systematic language and where any shape can transform into another. As digital tools are becoming increasingly complex, this book seeks to use “as a means to demystify the inner computational workings of digital tools” by proposing a framework to convey mathematical transformations as tools.

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Charles Eames’ Advice for Students

Courtesy of Yale University Press

Few in the twentieth century straddled the demarcation between design and architecture as effortlessly – or as successfully – as Ray and Charles Eames. For the Eameses, the distinction was artificial and unhelpful; useful creative thought emerged from a process-based method of problem solving, design solutions addressed and resolved specific needs, and success could be effectively measured by an object’s ability to do its jobs. But while the Eameses were famously weary of design’s historical tendency toward “creative expression,” their work exhibited none of the abject sterility threatened by a devotion to extreme functionalism. They found that delight was itself utilitarian, and an object’s capacity to produce pleasure for its user allowed for the consideration of aesthetics as one metric of serviceability. From this belief in the unity of performance and perception emerged some of the century’s most iconic designs: Case Study House #8, the Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs, and the 670 & 671 Eames Lounge and Ottoman.

The forthcoming An Eames Anthology, edited by Daniel Ostroff and published by Yale University Press, chronicles the careers of Ray and in their pursuits as designers, architects, teachers, artists, filmmakers, and writers. As Ostroff attests, with over 130,000 documents archived in the Library of Congress, the Eameses were nothing if not prolific; this volume, accordingly, is not comprehensive so much as representative, curated to reflect the breadth of interests and accomplishments of the pair.

In preparation for a 1949 lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles on “Advice for Students,” Charles made the following notes on inspiration, methodology, and career strategy. They are excerpted here from An Eames Anthology:

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Las Vegas vs The Landscape: Photographer Michael Light Exposes the Terraforming of the American Dream

“Barcelona” Homes and the Edge of Lake Mead Recreation Area, Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, NV; 2011. Image © , Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain

“Nestled into the landscape that defines Nevada’s visage,
Ascaya feels as if it were shaped by the elements.
[...]
Where stone rises up to meet the sky, there is a place called Ascaya.”
- The Ascaya promotional website

Not quite, according to Michael Light’s soon-to-be released book, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain. Covering the advance of suburban Nevada into the desert, this two-part book looks at Lake Las Vegas, a then-abandoned victim of the 2008 real estate crash which has since emerged from the other side of bankruptcy, and nearby Ascaya, a high end housing estate that is still in the process of being carved into Black Mountain. Light’s photography doesn’t so much question the developers’ summary as it does, say, blast it, scar it, terrace it and then build a large housing development on the remains. Featuring beautifully composed aerial shots of the construction sites and golf courses covering the desert, the book is a clear condemnation of the destructive and unsustainable development in Nevada. Much more than that, though, Light is highlighting a wider philosophy behind developments like Ascaya and Lake Las Vegas that fundamentally fail to connect American society with the American landscape in a non-destructive way.

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a+u 534: Caruso St John Architects

From the publisher. a+u March 2015 is a special issue on London and Zurich based Caruso St John Architects, led by Adam Caruso and Peter St John.

The issue features 19 works with a focus on their recent renovation works including the Tate Britain, Millbank Project in London, Chancel at St Gallen Cathedral in Switzerland, and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall with its first stage recently completed.
The latter half of the issue features their on-going projects in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and including Bremer Landesbank and Lycée Hotelier de Lille.

Opening essay, by former editor-in-chief of AMC magazine Dominique Boudet, surveys Caruso St John’s early to recent works. The essay by Jay Merrick, the architecture critic of The Independent, gives us the details of the Tate Britain’s renovation work. Third essay by Adam Caruso talks about his and Peter St John’s method of working with references.

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Havana Revisited: Postcards of the Cuban Capital Through the Years

Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company

Thanks to its privileged position as a gateway to North America and ’s unique political history, the architecture of the City of has a rich and layered quality rarely found. In a new book edited by Cathryn Griffith, “Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage,” this history is explored in detail through 12 essays by renowned architects, historians, scholars, preservationists, and urban planners in both Cuba and the United States and a selection of 350 color images comparing historic postcards with the city of today. The following text is the book’s introduction, written by Cuban architect, urban planner and critic Mario Coyula (1935-2014).

Havana’s modest beginnings came in the sixteenth century, as the springboard for Spain’s conquest of America. When the port became the obligatory last American stop for Spanish ships making their return voyages to Europe, its significance grew until Havana had become the most important city in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. From the beginning, it was a settlement oriented toward providing services, especially that of protection. Hence, Havana became home to the most formidable system of defensive fortifications in the colonial Americas.

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Behind the Lines by TYIN Tegnestue

Andreas Skeide’s Behind the Lines by TYIN Tegnestue details the lifelong journey of architects Yashar Hanstad and Andreas Gjertsen, following their story from their start as students to their transition into professional architecture. The book looks at the logic behind the formation of TYIN Architects and eleven of the resultant projects, highlighting both the successes and the failures along the way. The following is a series of excerpts from the book detailing pivotal moments in their careers.

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Solid Wood: The Rise of Mass Timber Architecture

Courtesy of Routledge

Largely overlooked in the development of Modernism, timber architecture is making a comeback in the 21st century with the success of designers such as last year’s Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban, and the push toward timber towers from large influential firms such as SOM. In the following extract, author Joseph Mayo introduces his new book,Solid Wood: Case Studies in Mass Timber Architecture, Technology and Design,” which examines the rise of mass timber design through historical analysis and contemporary case studies.

Few books have addressed the use of wood in large, non-residential buildings. While light frame construction and residential resources are common, little has been written about the use of in taller, urban, commercial and institutional buildings. Solid Wood presents a survey of new timber architecture around the world to reveal this construction type’s unique appeal and potential. Not surprisingly, enthusiasm for solid wood architecture (also known as mass timber architecture) and engineering is now growing rapidly among a new generation of architects and designers.

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Elements of Venice

Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers

The following is an excerpt from Giulia Foscari’s Elements of Venice, a book that applies the dissection strategy Rem Koolhaas explored in “” at this year’s Venice Biennale. The book aims to demystify the notion that Venice has remained unchanged throughout its history and addresses contemporary issues along with strictly historical considerations. Read on for a preview of Elements of Venice, including Rem Koolhaas’ introduction to the book. 

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a+u 532: Latin America, 25 Projects

a+u 532 issue introduces 25 recent works built in Latin America.

Featured architects include: Rafael Iglesia, Antón García-Abril and Ensamble Studio, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Brasil Arquitetura, Rojkind arquitectos, Una ArquitetosAlejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL.

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Light Matters: Le Corbusier and the Trinity of Light

View looking south to “upwardly springing” waves of light. Church of Saint-Pierre, Firminy, . Image © Henry Plummer 2011

For his three sacred buildings, Le Corbusier has played masterfully with orientation, openings and textures to create kinetic architecture with daylight. His pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp, the monastery of Sainte Marie de La Tourette, and the parish church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy reveal distinctive and individual approaches that each render contemplative spaces with light. In his book “Cosmos of Light: The Sacred Architecture of Le Corbusier,” Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has analysed these projects with outstanding photographs taken over 40 years and brilliant writing.

Read on for more about how created his cosmos of light.

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CIAM 4 and the “Unanimous” Origins of Modernist Urban Planning

Courtesy of THOTH Publishers

Held in 1933 on a ship in the Mediterranian, the fourth CIAM congress and Le Corbusier’s subsequent Athens Charter (La Charte d’Athenes) are widely regarded as a defining period in Modernist , a moment when architects came to an agreement on what the future of our cities should look like. But how correct is this interpretation? Edited by Evelien van Es, Gregor Harbusch, Bruno Maurer, Muriel Perez, Kees Somer and Daniel Weiss, a significant new 480-page book, “Atlas of the Functional City - CIAM 4 and Comparative Urban Analysis” examines the congress in depth. In the following excerpt from the book’s introduction, Daniel Weiss, Gregor Harbusch and Bruno Maurer examine the commonly accepted history of the congress, finding that support for the underlying principles of was perhaps not so unanimous after all.

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Architecture as Instrument: The Role of Spielraum in the Work of Barkow Leibinger

Courtesy of Barkow Leibinger

Founded in 1993, Berlin-based practice Barkow Leibinger has become known for a research-based approach to design that fully explores the possibilities offered by tools, fabrication techniques and materials. In the following essay, adapted from his contribution to Barkow Leibinger’s monograph Barkow Leibinger: Spielraum, art critic Hal Foster examines the historic context of the practice’s work and the influences that have shaped their production.

One origin myth of modern architecture involves the voyaging of German designers like Walter Gropius to North American cities such as Buffalo, where they first saw in situ the industrial structures, such as grain elevators, that they had already proposed as models for functionalist buildings in Europe. The partnership of Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger is a new variation on this old theme of international encounter: in the late 1980s the American Barkow and the German Leibinger met at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD, where Gropius had once presided as chair). In the literature on the office, this encounter is taken as a primal scene: Frank Barkow, the rangy man from Montana, impressed by the huge infrastructural projects and the great land art of the American West (e.g., hydroelectric dams, in the first instance, Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson, in the second), meets Regine Leibinger, the sophisticated daughter of the innovative director of TRUMPF, the designer-manufacturer of laser-cut tools based near Stuttgart (which is also where a classic of European , the Weissenhof Siedlung, is located). After training at the GSD, under the chairmanship of Rafael Moneo, the two young architects set up a practice in Berlin, in 1993, at a time when the new Europe came to represent what the old America once did: an expanded horizon for ambitious building.

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From Formalism to Weak Form: The Architecture and Philosophy of Peter Eisenman

Courtesy of Stefano Corbo

Despite his significant impact on architecture through both built and theoretical works, most studies of Peter Eisenman‘s career focus on either one aspect or the other. In “From Formalism to Weak Form: The Architecture and Philosophy of ,” Stefano Corbo attempts to redress this balance, connecting themes in the and the theory of the influential architect across the many stages of his 50-year career. The following is an excerpt from the book’s introduction, giving a brief overview of the chronology of Eisenman’s career and the ideas that have influenced him over time.

All of the different moments characterizing Eisenman’s trajectory imply different phases, different projects, different programmatic manifestos and, above all, an evolving notion of form. To approach the complexity of his discourse means dealing with form in all its declinations: formalism, de-composition, deconstruction, and weak form. Each of them has constituted the mutant epidermis of Eisenman’s theoretical corpus, based on philosophical references and provocative statements.

Thanks to his ability to connect with the cultural tendencies of the time, Eisenman has explored different territories: first, structuralism and Chomsky’s linguistic theory; successively, Derrida and Delueze’s post-structuralism, passing through the influence of Colin Rowe’s formalism, and his recent interest in the return to autonomy as theorized by Pier Vittorio Aureli. At the same time Eisenman has always played a central role in influencing and manipulating the American architectural debate, due to his propagandistic activity, first with the IAUs (Institute for Architecture and Urban studies), and then with the magazine Oppositions.

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