Excavating the Sky: Syria’s Contemporary Landscape at Monditalia

Courtesy of Khaled Malas

From August 12-15, architects, filmmakers and activists from and the Arab World gathered in the Arsenale at the 2014 Venice Biennale for “excavating the sky,” a four-day event focusing on Syria and the production of its contemporary landscape from before WWI until today. The event took place in the context of the Monditalia exhibition and one of its key components was a “displaced pavilion” in Syria – a recently dug well providing water for a community of 15,000 people.

“As you know, Syria is currently undergoing a profound, and often violent, transformation, much of which is difficult to fully comprehend. It is my belief that architecture does play a role in this conflict, and that architects, with their disciplinary tools, must act more meaningfully and creatively in these struggles in/of space,” Khaled Malas, a Syrian architect and organizer of “excavating the sky,” told ArchDaily. “The ‘displaced pavilion’, in the form of a water-well, is an active embodiment of these struggles and our responsible participation as a discipline amongst those who have suffered years of neglect followed by war.”

To represent the “displaced pavilion” at Monditalia, a banner with a of the well was hung in the Aresenale.

Read on after the break to learn more about the other key components of the event and the significance behind its name…

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Zaha Hadid to Receive Honoray Degree from Goldsmiths College

© Simone Cecchetti

Zaha Hadid will be awarded an honorary degree and fellowship from Goldsmiths College, at the University of London, during the college’s graduation ceremony in September. Hadid was chosen because of her “inventive approach, and eagerness to challenge conventions which have pushed the boundaries of architecture and urban design,” Architects’ Journal (AJ) reported.

Among Hadid’s work in London is the  Aquatics centre for the 2012 London Olympics, which has been shortlisted for the 2014 Stirling Prize, which recognizes a building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year.  was also behind the design for London’s Roca Gallery and was selected to develop plans for a new airport in London.

Hadid is one of six other creative professionals receiving honorary degrees from Goldsmiths College.

Visiting Gunārs Birkerts’s Latvian “Castle of Light”

National Library of Latvia,

For an article featured in Blueprint Herbert Wright examines Riga’s new National Library of Latvia, completed by 89-year-old Gunārs Birkerts this month. Located in one of Latvia’s most historic urban settings, the library – locally known as the “Castle of Light” – challenges the city’s recent history of Soviet public architecture with a contemporary, if not as equally monumental, cultural edifice. Initially conceived in 1988 now, over twenty five years later, the structure stands as a €163million testament to Latvia’s rich academic and public cultural heritage. Earlier this year, “14,000 Latvians formed a 2km human chain to pass books from the old to new libraries.” Wright’s exploration of this seminal building on Birkert’s œuvre is complemented by Janis Dripe’s excellent photographic studies of what is certain to be one of the most important Eastern European buildings of this decade.

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Metropolis Magazine’s Last Minute Summer Reads

One of the selected , the Petropolis of Tomorrow, is an exhaustive look into the Brazilian offshore oil industry, and a radical design for a floating city to serve it. Image Courtesy of Actar

With summer quickly coming to a close, time is running out to squeeze in one last good book. If you’re open to suggestions, Metropolis Magazine recently rallied its staff members and a slew of notable architects, designers, and curators to round up an impressive list of summer reads. Amongst the architectural contributors are Mason White of Lateral Office, Donald Chong of Williamson Chong Architects, and Drew Seskunas of The Principals.

The list contains something for everyone — there are works of fiction, biographies, atlases, and collections of essays, projects, poems, and short stories. The majority of the books are contemporary, but some date back much further. One of Chong’s picks is Jun’ichiro Tanaka’s In Praise of Shadows, which was written in 1933 on the subject of traditional Japanese aesthetics. The book contains 16 essays in which the author timelessly implores his countrymen not to “lose touch with the honesty of well-made things and spaces… already been surrounding them.”

One of Seskunas’ picks, E.H. Gombrick’s A Little History of the World, also deals with the importance of context. For Seskunas, “knowing the history of our planet is a great way to begin thinking about its future. This book puts it all in perspective, moving from local to global scale and magically weaving seemingly disparate parts into a common history of the human race that is both horrifying and inspiring.” To check out the full list, click here to head to Metropolis Magazine.

Studio CTC Imagines Terraced Twin Skyscrapers in Hong Kong

© Studio CACHOUA TORRES CAMILLETTI

have developed a typical form language over the past century—many of them are large, rectangular, and sheathed in glass, but Studio CACHOUA TORRES CAMILLETTI is changing that. Working with the notion that even superstructures should be as varied as the cities they’re built in, the Mexican design firm has created a spectacular vision for a skyscraper in Hong Kong. With two curvilinear towers that support rice paddies on their terraces, the proposal includes cultural context in the very structure of the building.

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US ABI Hits Highest Level Since 2007

Courtesy of CalculatedRiskBlog.com

The US Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached 55.8 in July  – its highest level since 2007. The score reflects what has been a steadily increasing demand for design services over the past three months, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports. The ’s new projects inquiry and design contracts indexes were also strong at 66 and 54.9, respectively.

“Business conditions for the design and construction marketplace, and those industries associated with it, appear to be well-positioned for continued growth in the coming months,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The key to a more widespread boost in design activity continues to be the institutional sector which is starting to exhibit signs of life after languishing for the better part of the last five-plus years.”

A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break…

Regional Averages:

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Homes You Cannot Live in: The New Cost of Architectural Antiques

The Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe, 1951. Plano, Illinois. Image Courtesy of

What is the true value of architecture in today’s society? According to this article by Anna Katz, rare pieces of architectural history have recently soared in value. Katz discusses the booming world of architecture at auction, featuring pieces by Mies Van Der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright among others. The article gracefully compares some of the most important architecture of our time against current real estate prices, exploring the catalyst of rising values in architecture of the recent past, while deliberating on the pitfalls of owning a delicate piece of architecture history. Read the story in full on Blouin Art Info.

Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition 2014

Courtesy of KRob Memorial Delineation Competition

The 40th Annual Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition, the longest running architectural drawing competition, is now accepting submissions. Entries can be conceptual or final elevations, sections, perspectives, or renderings and may be produced digitally or by hand – or a combination of both.

Frank Ching, the acclaimed author and illustrator responsible for teaching countless students about basic architectural elements, principles, and relationships, is one of the three jurors this year. The jury panel will be attending the awards presentation and lecture, which will take place on Thursday, November 20th in Dallas. This event will be hosted by the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, who have been organizing the competition since 1974.

The competition is open to both students and professionals and there are $11,000 in prizes to be won. Entries are due Monday, October 27, 2014 at 5pm CST. For more details, click here.

Spotlight: Eliel & Eero Saarinen

© Exothermic

Perhaps the most famous father-son duo in the architectural world, Eliel and Eero Saarinen share more than just a last name. The two designers both left profound influences upon the cities where they did their work, both were awarded AIA Gold Medals, and, rather uncannily, both share the very same date of birth. But, when it comes to their architectural stylings, that’s where the comparisons end. Find out more about both after the break.

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Early Gehry Building Reimagined as a Whole Foods Store

© Howard Hughes Corp via archpaper.com

One of Frank Gehry‘s earliest works, the former Rouse Company Headquarters, is currently undergoing a $25 million renovation that will see it converted into a Whole Foods market and community wellness center. The building, which Gehry dubbed an “elegant warehouse,” was designed in 1974 for developer James Rouse, who founded Columbia, Maryland in the 1960s. The developer behind the current renovation is The Howard Hughes Corp, a Dallas based company that now serves as the master developer of Columbia.

Read on for more about the renovation

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Scottish Architects To Launch “Architects For Yes” Campaign in Edinburgh

The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh. Image © Dave Morris Photography

In advance of the Scottish Independence vote next month, a group of Edinburgh-based architects led by Alasdair Stephen of will launch an “Architects for Yes” campaign in support of independence. The campaign, which currently has backing from over 50 architects, states these architects’ belief that independence could be a way to “design a new, better .” More about the campaign and the launch ceremony after the break.

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Search for the 2014 Young Architect of the Year Begins

Ferreries Cultural Centre by [ARQUITECTURIA

The search for the 2014 Young Architect of the Year Awards (YAYA), organised by BDOnline, has begun. Now in its 16th year, YAYA “recognises the most promising new architectural practice in the European Union.” Open to fully qualified architects who have been practising for twelve years or less, the winner of this year’s YAYA will be announced at the Architect of the Year Awards gala dinner on the 2nd December 2014 at The Brewery, .

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World Photo Day: Christian Richters by Francine Houben

Library of Birmingham / . Image © Christian Richters

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Francine Houben of Mecanoo writes on behalf of Christian Richters. 

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Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture Series Premieres with Spain’s “Guerrilla Architect”

Last night the first episode of Al Jazeera’s new series “Rebel Architecture” was launched, featuring Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda. Based in Seville, Cirugeda reclaims abandoned urban spaces for the public, despite the fact that self-building is illegal in Spain. His buildings are often fast-build, mobile structures made from recycled materials, but the key is that they all serve a social function. In this 25-minute episode, looks at his latest project: converting an abandoned cement factory into a vibrant cultural center. Will Cirugeda successfully complete his biggest challenge yet?

Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and to learn more about the series and upcoming episodes…

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Bjarke Ingels Lays Foundation Brick at LEGO House

BIG‘s LEGO House is now under construction, following a one of a kind foundation laying ceremony featuring – what else – supersized lego bricks. Bjarke Ingels himself was in attendance to lay one of the foundation bricks. Constructed in LEGO‘s hometown of Billund, Denmark, the LEGO House will be a 12,000 square metre “hands-on minds-on experience centre.”

More on the LEGO House, and the foundation laying ceremony, after the break

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World Photo Day: Patrick Bingham-Hall by Richard Hassell

School of the Arts / . Image © Patrick Bingham-Hall

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Richard Hassell of WOHA writes on behalf of Patrick Bingham-Hall. 

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World Photo Day: Thomas Mayer by Emre Arolat

Sancaklar Mosque / . Image ©

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Emre Arolat writes on behalf of Thomas Mayer

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World Photo Day: Javier Callejas by Alberto Campo Baeza

The MA: Andalucia’s Museum of Memory / . Image ©

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Alberto Campo Baeza writes on behalf of Javier Callejas

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