Is Arcbazar “The Worst Thing to Happen To Architecture Since the Internet Started”?

is gaining popularity worldwide, such as in the Strelka Institute’s “What Moscow Wants” project, shown here. Image Courtesy of Strelka Institute

This article on the Orange County Register tackles the sensitive issue of the design crowdsourcing website, Arcbazar, a site described as “the worst thing to happen to architecture since the Internet started.” On the one hand, Arcbazar seems to be driving down the earnings of talented designers, and could produce some rather suspect designs. On the , it offers clients with low budgets access to an international group of designers, when they previously couldn’t afford one at all. So, is Arcbazar good or bad for architecture? Read the full article hereto make your own decision.

Rafael Viñoly’s Structural Experiment at Park Avenue Armory

Courtesy of Artvest Partners / Rafael Viñoly Architects

’s Park Avenue Armory, originally built in 1861 for the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard and restored by Herzog & de Meuron in 2007, is about to be temporarily taken over by Rafael Viñoly. On April 30th 2014 Artvest Partners will launch Spring Masters New York, “a fair for art produced between antiquity and the 20th century, which corresponds with Christie’s and Sotheby’s signature Impressionism and modern art auctions”. Viñoly’s hexagonal grid of exhibition rooms will fill the 55,000 square foot Drill Hall in an attempt to break with the monotony of the rectangular grid format.

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Happy Birthday Frank Gehry

Courtesy of latimesblog

Get out your titanium-clad forks and get ready to Deconstruct the cake – Frank Gehry is 85 years old today.

Born in 1929, the internationally acclaimed architect has been headlining architectural news platforms since he established his Los Angeles practice in 1962 and remodeled his home in Santa Monica. Notorious for his expressive use of architectonic form (and its inflationary effect on project budgets), Gehry is best known for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which fellow architect Philip Johnson once dubbed “the greatest building of our time.”

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The Winners of d3 Housing Tomorrow 2014

Courtesy of d3

d3 has just announced the winners of its annual Housing Tomorrow competition, a competition that urges its participants to “deploy innovative, socially- and environmentally-engaged approaches to residential urbanism, architecture, interiors, and designed objects” in order to determine “new architectonic strategies for living in the future.” As always, the results are fantastic, thought-provoking visions of a more sustainable world. See the winners, after the break.

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Sign the Petition: Award All US Federal Projects via Open Competition

The White House. Image © Karissa Rosenfield

A public petition that the design of new Federal building projects be awarded by open architectural competition has been submitted to the White House’s “We The People” website for consideration by the Administration. The appeal proposes to give young architects greater access to the building market and needs 100,000 votes by March 24th to qualify for a response from the Oval Office. Sign the petition here

How to Design Out Democracy from Your City (A Dictator’s Guide)

Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Image

In this tongue-in-cheek “Dictator’s Guide to Urban Planning“, the Atlantic explores the various ways that public spaces, and cities as a whole, have been used to suppress uprisings and bolster the control of authoritarian governments. Covering everything from Baron Haussmann‘s 19th Century Paris to the recent revolution in the Ukraine, the article reveals the fundamental relationship between and democracy. You can read the full article here.

A Vision for a Self-Reliant New York

Street view of Amsterdam Ave. in northern Manhattan featuring a mix of traditional and advanced agricultural growing techniques. Image Courtesy of Terreform

“In an era of incompetent nation states and predatory transnationals, we must ratchet up local self-reliance, and the most logical increment of organisation (and resistance) is the city.” This is how Michael Sorkin, writing in Aeon Magazine, explains his hypothetical plan to radically change the landscape of New York City, bringing a green landscape and urban farming into the former concrete jungle. The plan, called “New York City (Steady) State”, produced over six years by Sorkin’s Terreform, is not designed simply for aesthetic pleasure; it’s not even an attempt to make the city more sustainable (although sustainability is the key motivation behind the project). The project is in fact a “thought-experiment” to design a version of New York that is completely self reliant, creating its own food, energy and everything else within its own borders. Read on after the break to find out how New York could achieve self-reliance

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Richard Rogers’ Pre-Fab Y-Cube Takes on UK Housing Crisis

The Y-Cube Deployed. Image Courtesy of

The Y-Cube, a £30,000 factory-built 26 square meter flat which can be easily transported and craned into place, has been prototyped and successfully tested in the UK. The asked Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to create the Y-Cube, an affordable alternative for residents moving on from the non-profit’s hostels. And now, the YMCA wants more of these one-bedroom dwellings.

“The beauty is that the units can be moved off site as quickly as they are installed,” says Andy Redfearn of the YMCA, “as we operate on short-term leases – we expect people to stay [in the Y-Cube] for between three to five years, giving them time to skill up and save for a deposit.”

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Crowdfunding in Architecture: Game Changer or PR Game?

The design for the 17 John Cotel in Manhattan. Image Courtesy of Prodigy Network

Building off of the success of their crowdfunded BD Bacatá building in Colombia, the real estate group Prodigy Network has announced a plan to bring this same funding method to New York, with an apartment hotel in Manhattan named 17 John.

The project, a glassy rooftop extension to the existing art deco building at 17 John Street, has much in common with Prodigy Network’s past projects: the same funding method as their skyscraper in Bogotá as well as the same designer, Winka Dubbeldam, head of the New York practice Archi-Techtonics. Dubbeldam also previously helped them to crowdsource ideas for the future development of in the “My Ideal City” project.

However, when applied to the USA, this funding paradigm – which is so promising in – becomes twisted beyond recognition. Upon close inspection, 17 John more resembles the standard developer’s model than anything else – and the claims of ethical superiority begin to melt away.

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BIG, SHoP, Snøhetta Among Shortlist for Melbourne Office Complex

Pre-existing structures permitted for ‘part demolition and refurbishment’. Image Courtesy of Future Melbourn (Planning) Committee

Australian developer CBUS Property has invited four pairs of Australian and internationally-renowned architectural practices to compete to design an office complex at a 6,000 square meter site in downtown MelbourneAustralia where the National Mutual Plaza currently stands.

See the full shortlist after the break.

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Zaha Hadid on Worker Deaths in Qatar: “It’s Not My Duty As an Architect”

Courtesy of ZHA

When The Guardian recently asked Zaha Hadid about the 500 Indians and 382 Nepalese migrant workers who have reportedly died in preparations for the 2022 World Cup in , the architect behind the al-Wakrah stadium responded:

“I have nothing to do with the workers. I think that’s an issue the government – if there’s a problem – should pick up. Hopefully, these things will be resolved.”

Asked whether she was concerned, she then added:

“Yes, but I’m more concerned about the deaths in Iraq as well, so what do I do about that? I’m not taking it lightly but I think it’s for the government to look to take care of. It’s not my duty as an architect to look at it. I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it. I think it’s a problem anywhere in the world. But, as I said, I think there are discrepancies all over the world.”

Do you think it’s an architect’s duty to concern him/herself with the rights of the construction workers building their designs? Let us know in the comments below.

VIDEO: A Mobile Phone That Maps Your World

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Johnny Lee, a project leader in the Advanced Technology and Projects group at Google, wants our phones to experience the world more like we do: “we are physical beings that live in a 3D world, yet mobile devices today assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen”, he says – which is why his team has been working on Project Tango, a mobile phone which uses movement and depth sensors to build a 3D model of the space around it.

Project Tango brings a whole new dimension (the third one) to what we could potentially do with our phones: imagine creating a 30 second model to take away from a site visit, for example, or using augmented reality to show a design or an installation in situ, navigable in real time. Currently, is in the process of distributing 200 prototypes to app developers, who will hopefully help it realize this tremendous potential.

Free Online Course: Creative Coding

Programming used to be for computer specialists and software developers. Not anymore. Learning to program can now be a valuable skill for architects and designers. Have you ever wanted to learn the basics of programming? Monash University just announced a series of free online courses, including “Creative Coding”.

The course starts June 2 and it lasts for 6 weeks. You’ll learn to develop practical programming skills and concepts by exploring creative ideas and challenges. No prior knowledge of programming is necessary but basic computer skills are needed. You may join this course and check some online free courses right here.

San Francisco Apple Store Passes “Avian Risk” Analysis

Courtesy of

Apple’s signature glass design has come with its fair share of mishaps – from errant snowblowers to, of course, dying birds. To determine the risk posed by Apple’s latest approved store to ’s protected bird population, Apple hired avian collision risk consultants (really) who determined that the risk is “acceptable” (for non-avian species at least). Read the full bird analysis here.

ArchiPlan Wins Competition to Design Kim Tschang-Yeul Art Museum

© ArchiPlan

ArchiPlan has won first prize in an international for a contemporary art museum designed solely for the work of Korean painter Kim Tschang-Yeul. Slated for completion in 2015 on the volcanic Jeju Island, a province in , the single-story museum is designed to be the physical manifestation of Kim’s philosophy regarding the water drop.

“We spent a long time understanding [Kim] – understanding his life, intention and his philosophy,” described the architects. “It is necessary to transform his philosophy into a constructed architectural space.”

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Take the ‘Equity in Architecture Survey 2014′

Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

The Missing 32% Project has a mission: to understand why in the US women represent about 50% of students enrolled in architecture programs, but fewer than 18% of licensed architects (and fewer in leadership roles). If you too are curious about this unusual discrepancy, you can help find an answer by participating in the Equity in Architecture Survey. The Missing 32% Project (along with AIA ) will use the results to determine best practices for attracting, promoting, and retaining talent in architecture.For more information about the project and to take the survey, go to http://themissing32percent.com/.

Image of pie chart via shutterstock.com

“Invisible Cities” App Turns the Data of City Life Into an Extraordinary Landscape

The social life of cities is complex. Where once the networks which operated within cities could be understood – to an extent – through their physical infrastructure, in the internet age much of the network that supports city life is hidden, existing only through intangible data.

Invisible Cities is an app which makes this network tangible, using geocoded data from Twitter and Instagram to morph the landscape, displaying where the most activity is occurring. These hills of activity can then be linked by lines representing keywords, showing underlying affinities between different geographical areas.

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Six of Britain’s Best Shortlisted for Crystal Palace Project

Aerial view of site for rebuild. Image Courtesy of ZhongRong Group

After an open competition that sought to attract “the very best British architecture can offer,” six architects – including Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers – have been selected as the potential architects of the project to rebuild the Crystal Palace in south London. See the full shortlist after the break.

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