Why China’s President Says “No More Weird Buildings”

The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for a end to the “weird buildings” being built in China, and particularly in the nation’s capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA’s CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.

With China’s construction boom being one of the most talked about features of today’s architecture scene – and many a Western practice relying on their extravagant projects to prop up their studios – the Chinese leader’s comments have the potential to affect the of architectural practice worldwide. But what is behind these sentiments? Read on after the break to find out.

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Call For Proposals: Hello Nature!

Competition Site. Image Courtesy of Combo Competitions

Combo Competitions’ latest ideas challenge, entitled Hello Nature!, centres on a site located in northern at the foot of a mountain (Omneberget), sat within an area called the High Coast (Höga Kusten) – which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This competition is looking for ”structures that celebrate nature”, which also involve elements of “both education and recreation, or – if you prefer – business and pleasure.” The wider question the competition poses is whether or not architecture can encourage involvement with nature. Previous Combo Competitions have included the London Cinema Challenge and Faith! A Place of Worship in London, both of which attracted a number of high quality proposals.

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Estonia Launches Competition for the Rail Baltic Pärnu Passenger Terminal

The Pärnu Municipal Government (in West-) announces an open architectural competition for the Rail Baltic Pärnu passenger terminal.

The aim of the architectural competition is to find the best comprehensive spatial solution for Pärnu’s Rail Baltic passenger terminal and its immediate surroundings. The hope is to commission the construction design project for the terminal and its immediate surroundings from the winner of the competition, and the intention is to also include the winner in drawing up the detailed master plan for the area.

All individuals or groups where one co-author and representative of the design team has a certificate of professional qualification as an authorized architect can participate in the idea competition.

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Rogers Partners and PWP’s Constitution Gardens Redesign Approved for National Mall

Events Plaza. Image © and PWP Architecture

Rogers Partners (formally known as Rogers Marvel Architects) and PWP Landscape Architecture’s redesign for the National Mall’s neglected Constitution Gardens has received unanimous approval from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The 50-acre project, which was originally won through a competition in 2012, will now move forward with its first phase.

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Studios Kabako Wins 2014 Curry Stone Design Prize

Public performance in Kisangani. Image © Studios Kabako

Studios Kabako, a Congolese performance and theater studio founded by Faustin Linyekula in 2001, has won the 2014 Curry Stone Design Prize, a $100,000 annual award that honors practitioners who use design to address critical social needs and strengthen communities. Studios Kabako was selected for establishing a series of cultural programs and urban interventions within the city of Kisangani as a way to help communities deal with the aftermath of civil war through dance and the arts. A video about Studios Kabako, after the break.

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Judith Edelman, A “Firebrand for Women in Architecture, Dies at 91

New Settlement Community Campus; NYC (2012) / Dattner Architects and Edelman Sultan Knox Wood

Judith Edelman, FAIA, an American architect and feminist who hoped to rid architecture of its “gentleman’s club” status, has passed away at 91. Starting her career in an era when hiring “girls” wasn’t the norm, Edelman’s work to elevate women in architecture has paved the way for many of today’s leading architects; She was the first woman ever elected to the executive committee of the AIA’s New York chapter and she helped co-found the Alliance of Women in Architecture in 1972. Edelman’s built work, also highly admired, ranged from affordable housing to schools and health clinics, mostly in the New York City area. You can read Edelman’s here.

12 Projects Win Regional Holcim Awards 2014 for Africa Middle East

GOLD: Eco-Techno Park: Green building showcase and enterprise hub. Image Courtesy of Holcim Foundation

Teams from Turkey and Lebanon have received top honors in the 2014 regional Holcim Awards for Africa Middle East, an award which recognizes the most innovative and advanced sustainable construction designs. Among the top three winners is an “Eco-Park” sustainable research and technology center embedded within the terraced, industrial of Ankara.

The 12 recognized projects will share over $300,000 in prize money, with the top three projects overall going on to be considered for the global Holcim , to be selected in 2015.

The full list of Africa Middle East winners, after the break…

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This Adaptive Micro-Apartment Concept Does it All in Half the Space

With the touch of a button on your smartphone, your furniture begins to reconfigure while new walls glide into place. In a matter of seconds, your bedroom can become the kitchen, dining room, or simply an empty room thanks to the ingenuity of architecture students at Delft University of Technology‘s Hyperbody design team. The Pop up Interactive Apartment occupies a mere 50 square metres of multi-use space optimized for specific real-time use, allowing the occupant to choose a configuration based on current needs.

Enter the hyper-efficient world of Pop up Interactive Apartment after the break.

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Spotlight: Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren (20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723) is one the most significant architects in England‘s history, and was a recognized astronomer, scholar, and physicist-mathematician. Wren was classically trained at University of Oxford in physics and engineering where he developed his interest in architecture. He is perhaps most famous for designing London‘s iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, however he is credited with the design of dozens of other churches, government buildings, and hospitals in . Wren was knighted in 1673.

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Haworth Tompkins: Who Are The 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize Winners?

Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. Image © Philip Vile

This year’s RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist was seen by many as the strongest in years. The practice who emerged victorious, beating off competition from internationally recognised practices including Zaha Hadid ArchitectsRenzo Piano Building WorkshopMecanooO’Donnell + Tuomey and Feilden Clegg Bradley, was Haworth Tompkins: but who exactly are they? Ellis Woodman pinned his hopes on the successful Everyman Theatre before the award was announced, uncovering the practice’s rich history in designing performance spaces through a discussion with founding partner, Steve Tompkins. For Woodman, their theatre work “has left a legacy of spaces that count among the most beautiful and provocative created in Britain over the past twenty years.”

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Competition Entry: NOA’s Proposal for Dalseong Citizen’s Gymnasium

Entrance. Image ©

Nomad Office Architects (NOA) has shared with us their proposal for the Dalseong Citizen’s Gymnasium open ideas competition, which was awarded honorable mention. As part of the district’s centennial anniversary, the competition aimed to replace an existing, outdated sports hall with a new gymnasium complex for the local residents of Hyeonpung-myeon neighborhood within the Daegu district of Dalseong-gun.

drozdov&partners was ultimately crowned as winners of the competition, however you can review NOA’s proposal after the break.

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Michael Graves Defends the Portland Building from Demolition Threats

The Building in 1982. Photo by Steve Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, attended a public conversation with Randy Gragg, director of The University of Oregon’s John Yeon Center to discuss the Portland Building, America’s first postmodern building. The discussion centered around the famed, 1980s building’s many problems – “dark, leaky and claustrophobic” interiors,” pedestrian-unfriendly parking garage, and more – asking Graves for his advice on whether the city should update it or tear it down. His response, “The whole idea of tearing the building down, it’s like killing a child… I don’t know how to react to that.” Read all of Graves’ responses to tenant complaints here on the Oregon Live.

K + S Selected to Design New “Skärvet” Neighborhood in Växjö

Park . Image © K + S

Stockholm-based Kjellander + Sjöberg Architects (K + S) has won first prize in a competition to design the “Skärvet” urban neighborhood in , Sweden. A starting point for Bäckaslöv, a long term vision for a sustainable community by developer Skanska, the new neighborhood will take shape along the railway line connecting to Norra Bergundasjon. 

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OSPA Wins Competition to Design Brazilian Sports Campus in Canoas

© OSPA Architecture and Urbanism

OSPA Architecture and Urbanism has won a national competition for the new UFCSPA (Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre) Campus Igara in , . The goal of the sports campus is to integrate itself within the community so it may serve as both a public institution and a public space. You can learn more about the winning scheme, after the break.

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Critical Round-Up: Haworth Tompkins’ 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize Win

© Philip Vile

In the great tradition of the RIBA Stirling Prize, the announcement of Haworth TompkinsEveryman Theatre as the winner of the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize took many by surprise. The Everyman surpassed the public’s favourite, Mecanoo‘s Library of Birmingham, and the bookies’ (and many critics’) favourite, O’Donnell + Tuomey‘s LSE Saw Swee Hock Student Centre - as well as two household names in Zaha Hadid‘s Aquatics Centre and Renzo Piano‘s Shard.

In what was seen by many as the strongest shortlist in years, the underdog Everyman has emerged victorious. But was it a worthy winner? Read on after the break to find out what the critics made of this unexpected result.

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Insects and Humans Harmonize in a Symphony of Architectural Sound in this Roman Installation

Courtesy of

Within the walls of OFL Architecture‘s open-air wooden pavilion, the term “built environment” truly earns its keep. In Wunderbugs, humans become spectators of the natural world as insects toil away in six spherical ecosystems, and sensors weave movements into a web of data. Upon entering the pavilion, visitors are transformed into components of an interactive soundtrack harvested from the sensors and broadcast in the space, uniting the insect and human experience. The project was conceived for the second annual Maker Faire Europe in Rome, where it was installed earlier this month.

Enter the interactive acoustic experience of Wonderbugs after the break.

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7N Architects Reveal Glasgow Masterplan

Courtesy of 7N Architects

Edinburgh-based 7N Architects has revealed their for Shawfield in Glasgow, a development containing 1.2 million square feet of “flexible business space” next to the River Clyde. Produced for the Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company, the scheme aims to capitalize on the growth and investment that was brought to by this summer’s Commonwealth Games by providing “a nationally significant business district which will play a strong role in contributing to growth in Scotland‘s economy.”

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OISTAT Theatre Architecture Competition 2015

River Spree in Berlin. Image © Flickr CC User caribb

The OISTAT Theatre Architecture Competition is an international ideas competition, aimed at students and emerging practitioners, which is organized every four years by the Architecture Commission of  (International Organization of Scenographers, Technicians and Theatre Architects). The theme of the 2015 competition will be the design of a floating theatre to be moored at a particular location on the river Spree in Berlin, Germany, but capable of being moved to other sites on the river.

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