Travel Diary: Álvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira by Fernando Guerra

About one month ago, three major figures in Portuguese architecture – Pritzker Laureate Álvaro Siza, architect Carlos Castanheira and one of today’s most prominent architectural photographers, Fernando Guerra -  began an uncommon adventure.

During 22 days the architects traveled through many Asian countries inaugurating buildings, visiting new projects and meeting other architects like Pritzker Laureate Whang Shu. At the end of their trip, the trio visited the “Shadow of light – a portrait of Álvaro Siza” exhibition opening and vernissage, in Macau, realized by Fernando Guerra.

We were able to follow this intimate journey through the images taken by Guerra and published every day in his Instagram – a careful, spontaneous and delicate photographic narrative that shows a little bit of what were these weeks with Siza and Castanheira were like. Back in Portugal, Fernando Guerra published an interesting report on those last weeks and generously shared with us both his writings and his beautiful pictures.

Read the text and enjoy Guerra’s photographs after the break.

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David Adjaye to Receive Du Bois Medal at Harvard

Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates

On September 30, Mohsen Mostafavi will present David Adjaye with the , Harvard University’s highest honor in the field of African and African American studies, at the Hutchins Center Honors. Since 2000, the Du Bois Medal has been awarded to individuals from across the globe in recognition of their contributions to African and African-American history and culture. Adjaye is one of nine luminaries receiving this year’s award, including Oprah Winfrey and the late Maya Angelou. More information about the ceremony can be found here.

AR Issues: The Secret Lives of Buildings Beyond the Lure of Awards

Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this post, we take a look at AR’s August 2014 issue, which examines the tension between the often idealised world of the architecture media and the messy complexity of real-world buildings. Here, AR Editor Catherine Slessor meditates on “the uneasy relationship between reductivist beauty contests and architecture’s nuanced narratives and complexities.”

The recent announcement of the RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist has stoked up the usual feverish debate about what constitutes ‘good’ architecture and what should or shouldn’t win. But an scheme that can pit the Shard against the Everyman Theatre, thus perilously straddling an engorged spectrum of style, scale, client, context, user and urban contribution, is a fundamentally impossible proposition when you get down to it. One former editor of The Architects’ Journal despairingly remarked that judging the Stirling was like trying to compare a cookery book with a slim volume of poetry. Apart from both being printed on paper, they have nothing else in common. So do you plump for cookery or poetry?

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“Tesseract” Explores Higher-Dimensional Geometry at Bordeaux’s Semaine Digitale

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As part of the Semaine Digitale, in October Bordaux will host 1024 Architecture‘s Tesseract, an installation inspired by the so called “four-dimensional cube.” Created from no more than ordinary scaffolding, a translucent fabric skin and a series of electronically controlled lights, the installation plays with complex geometrical compositions, as the light beams rapidly create and deconstruct shapes within the outer 10 metre cubic frame.

More on the installation, and 1024 Architecture, after the break

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Barcelona Wins Bloomberg 2014 Mayors Challenge

© Flickr CC User Andrew Zen

Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded its 2014 Mayors Challenge to Barcelona, selecting its plan to deal with the problems of an ageing population over the proposals of 20 other European cities shortlisted earlier this year. The award, developed to promote the most creative and transferable solutions to intractable social problems such as public health, unemployment and transportation, carries a €5 million prize for to put toward implementing the plan. In addition, four runners-up – Athens, , Stockholm and Warsaw - will also receive €1 million each for their own plans.

“To meet the biggest challenges of the 21st century, city leaders must think creatively and be unafraid to try new things – and the Mayors Challenge is designed to help them do that,” said Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Read on after the break to learn more about the proposals of Barcelona and the four runners-up

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Mecanoo Chosen to Redevelop Dutch Train Station

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Mecanoo, in collaboration with engineering consultancy Movares, has been chose to redevelop the Ede train station in . An important entry for the city and Veluwe National Park, the design hopes to transform the station into a “showpiece” and vibrant center for the Veluwse Poort.

“The vision of the design is defined by an unobtrusive appearance; the natural environment serves as a starting point for the characteristic materialization that connects the buildings and the station square, emphasizing the area’s built identity,” described Mecanoo.

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Thom Mayne, Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu among the RIBA’s 2015 Fellowships

Amateur Architecture Studio ( + Lu Wenyu)’s Ningbo History Museum. Image © Lv Hengzhong, Courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced 13 Honorary Fellowships and 11 International Fellowships which it will award at an event on February 3rd, along with the recently announced RIBA Royal Gold Medal.

Among others, the Honorary Fellowships include Director of Architecture at the British Design Council Vicky Richardson and academic Dalibor Vesely; the International Fellowships include Pritzker Prize Winners Thom Mayne and Wang Shu and his Partner Lu Wenyu. The Honorary and International Fellowships entitle winners to use the initials ‘Hon FRIBA’ and ‘Int FRIBA,’ respectively after their names.

Read on after the break for the full Fellowship lists

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Ernö Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower to Open For Tours in October

© Flickr CC User Diamond Geezer

The UK‘s National Trust has announced the ‘pop-up’ opening of a property in Ernö Goldfinger‘s famous Balfron Tower in London, offering public access to Flat 130 of the brutalist icon from the 1st to the 12th of October. Completed in 1967, the Balfron Tower was the first of Goldfinger’s two distinctive housing blocks (the other being Trellick Tower), and in 1968 Goldfinger himself lived for two months in Flat 130, to demonstrate the desirability of high-rise living.

More on the tours after the break

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The Woman Architect Who Specialises In Mosques

Dome of the Sakirin Mosque, . Image © ZF Design

As part of ’s Leading Women series, Sheena McKenzie explores the work of Turkish architect Zeynep Fadillioglu - perhaps the first female architect to design a mosque, now on her third. In buildings where men and women are traditionally separated for worship, and women are often given a smaller space, Fadillioglu “purposely placed the women’s section in one of the most beautiful parts of the light-flooded dome” in Istanbul’s Sakirin Mosque. McKenzie concludes that although “Fadillioglu might have made a name for herself designing mosques, you don’t needn’t be religious to admire their beauty.”

A mosque isn’t for a certain type of person, or certain type of area. It’s supposed to be used by anyone and everyone.

Sakirin Mosque, Istanbul. Image © ZF Design
Place of worship, Sakirin Mosque, Istanbul. Image © ZF Design

Read the article in full here.

Groundlab + WOWHAUS Chosen to Redesign Moscow’s Largest Park

© Groundlab, and Urbanica, courtesy of Moscow Culture Department

Groundlab, WOWHAUS and Urbanica have been announced as winners of an international competition to redesign Sokolniki Park, Moscow’s largest park. Over the next 15 years, their 515 hectare masterplan, “Sokolniki. Nature’s embassy in Moscow,” will focus on preserving the 19th century park’s unique natural as an extension of the Losiny Ostrov nature park by dividing it into three zones: Forest, Forest Park and Regular Park.

Images of the winning design, after the break.

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Álvaro Siza Wins Fritz Höger’s Top Honors for Innovative Use of Brick

Winner Grand Prix: Álvaro Siza / Rudolf Finsterwalder, Stephanskirchen | Siza-Pavillon Insel Hombroich © Tomas Riehle

Álvaro Siza has won top honors in the “2014 Fritz Höger for Excellence in Brick Architecture.” The , now in their third edition, highlight projects that harness the creative potential of brick. Projects from New Delhi, Barcelona and Frankfurt have all been awarded gold and silver prizes. 

View all the winners, after the break.

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August ABI Remains Strong

August 2014. Image Courtesy of CalculatedRiskBlog.com

Demand for design services in the US continue to increase, as momentum from July’s highest recorded strength since 2007 continues. The American Institute of Architects reported the August Architecture Billings Index () at 53.0, down from July’s mark of 55.8, and the new projects inquiry at 62.6.

“One of the key triggers for accelerating growth at architecture firms is that long-stalled construction projects are starting to come back to life in many areas across the country,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Long awaited access to credit from lending institutions and an increasing comfort level in the overall economy has helped revitalize the commercial real estate sector in recent months. Additionally, though, a crucial component to a broader industry-wide recovery is the emerging demand for new projects such as education facilities, government buildings and, in some cases, hospitals.”

A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break…

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“Shell Lace Structure”: Tonkin Liu’s Nature-Inspired Structural Technique

Courtesy of

Continuing recent research trends in the ways nature can inspire new architectural methods and typologies, London-based architecture practice Tonkin Liu in collaboration with engineers at Arup, have developed a single-surface structural technique called Shell Lace Structure. The innovative technique takes advantage of advanced digital design, engineering analysis, and manufacturing tools. Read on to learn about their upcoming book and exhibition that reveals the process behind this nature-inspired material.

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How 3D Printing is Saving a Frank Lloyd Wright Treasure

© Flickr CC User Josh Hallett

Among the vast coverage of  in the media, the technology is frequently cited as the ‘future’ of production, focusing on its ability to bring new things into existence quickly and cheaply. But does have to be all about the future? As this article originally printed by Metropolis Magazine as3D Printing Saves a Frank Lloyd Wright Treasure attests, 3D printing also has something to offer to the past; specifically, to a deteriorating building whose ‘textile block’ was simply too complex to restore through any other modern techniques. Read on after the break to find out how this high-tech rescue mission is being achieved.

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Callous Indifference or Fetishizing Poverty: What Exactly Can Architects Do About Slums?

The Torre David in Caracas, the subject of ’s research for the 2012 Venice Biennale. Image © Iwan Baan

In an excellent essay for the Architectural Review, Charlotte Skene Catling deftly ties together a number of recent debates in the field of morality in architecture, from the false accusations aimed at Zaha Hadid by critic Martin Fuller to recent debates over whether architects have any responsibility to tackle poverty, an ostensibly political issue. Taking aim at one article in particular - in which Dan Hancox argues that architects such as Urban Think Tank who engage in humanitarian work are often ‘fetishizing poverty’ – Catling dissects the work of many of those in the field to find that they in fact do vital work to connect the top-down and bottom-up approaches that would otherwise never meet in the middle. Or, as Urban Think Tank’s Alfredo Brillembourg says, in opposition to the horizontal city of the 19th century or the vertical city of the 20th, “the 21st century must be for the diagonal city, one that cuts across social divisions.” Click here to read the article in full.

An App That Draws Impressively Accurate Floor Plans In Minutes

Courtesy of Locometric

RoomScan is an app for iOS which draws floor plans in minutes – touching your device to a wall is the only input required. Using the iPhone’s internal sensors, recognises a sequence of flat vertical surfaces, measuring the distance in between and creating impressively accurate plans. When you come to a door, you just tap the phone to the door frame and continue. Claiming that measurements are accurate to the nearest 10cm (or 6 inches), this app – the basic features of which are available for free - is not only great fun to play with, but also considerably useful in every day situations.

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RIBA Awards 2015 Royal Gold Medal to O’Donnell + Tuomey

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has selected Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey as recipients of the 2015 Royal Gold Medal, one of the world’s most prestigious lifetime achievement for architecture. Approved personally by the Queen, the award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of architecture.

The praised the way O’Donnell + Tuomey came together in the early 1990s to combine ”Sheila’s quiet, studied ‘rationalism’ alongside John’s fluent, rhetorical ‘constructivism,’” commenting that “through their buildings, publications, exhibitions and teaching they have forged a confident new identity for Irish architecture.”

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Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture: Episode 6, “The Pedreiro and the Master Planner”

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The last episode of Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture series tells the story of Ricardo, an informal builder in Rocinha, ’s largest favela. “A foreign architect would not get into this hole and dig. He would hire someone or would hire machines. But here in the favela, we are hands on,” he says in the episode. Ricardo has built over one hundred houses in Rocinha despite not having any formal training. Yet as prepares for the World Cup and the Olympic Games, life in Rocinha is changing. This 25-minute episode follows Ricardo as well as Luis Carlos Toledo, the architect behind the government’s regeneration of Rocinha, as the two seek to incorporate their solutions into the future of the country’s favelas.

Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and a preview of upcoming episodes…

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