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 “ 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 Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

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 practice Archi-Techtonics. Dubbeldam also previously helped them to crowdsource ideas for the future development of Bogotá 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 Qatar, 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 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 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, Google 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 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 other 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

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ArchiPlan has won first prize in an international competition 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 San Francisco) 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 Crystal Palace 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 . See the full shortlist after the break.

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TERMES: A Robotic Swarm That Collectively Constructs Modular Structures

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Termite mounds offer a fascinating architectural quandary: how is it possible that these towering structures (which include complex systems of openings, passages, large volumetric spaces, and even active ventilation systems and humidity regulation) are constructed with no centralised control or planning? The spatial complexity that these thousands of insects can collectively achieve has inspired a Harvard team to create TERMES, a project focused on programming an artificial robotic swarm to build modular structures.

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Could a Lick of Super Strong Carbon Paint Fix Caltrava’s Palau de les Arts?

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

Will the peeling shell of Santiago Calatrava’s Palau de les Arts in  be saved by an innovative, new paint? Calatrava’s $455.6 million project, which surpassed its budget four times over, has sprouted many defects over the years, but none more damning than its peeling facade – a defect that spurred the city of to sue Calatrava’s office. However, Spanish paint manufacturer Graphenano has proposed an innovative solution: Graphenstone, a mixture of limestone powder and the allotrope graphene, which should just prevent further deterioration. Whether the solution could also relieve some courtroom tension, remains to be seen. Read more on Inhabitat and The Architect’s Newspaper.

Zoning Exception Will Not Be Made for Studio Gang’s Solar Carve

Courtesy of Solar Carve Architects

The developers behind ’s Solar Carve have withdrawn their request for a zoning variance that would have allowed for an increase in the tower’s rentable space. The Board of Standards and Appeals rejected the solicited exception, despite the developer’s claim that the expensive pilings necessary for the sandy, non-bedrock site adjacent to ’s High Line posed a “financial hardship.”

Studio Gang’s 213 foot tower was slated for completion in 2015. Although “the bid for additional floor has been dropped from the application,” said the project’s land use attorney, a hearing for special permitting that will allow for a modified setback is scheduled for March.

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Odile Decq to Launch A New Kind of Architecture Institute: ‘Confluence’

Courtesy of architectes urbanistes

Odile Decq has announced that she is launching a new kind of architecture school based upon the idea of “Confluence,” an educational framework that “erases the predefined limits of the traditional academic structures for the benefit of the collaboration of talents, thoughts and disciplines.”

The Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture, which will be located in in , France, will bring together “Architects, critics, artists, thinkers, philosophers, film-makers, scientists, engineers and manufacturers” in order to develop an architecture that develops ideas unconstrained by “stylistic prejudice or ideology.” More on this new initiative, after the break.

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AIA Awards Four with 2014 Institute Honors for Collaborative Achievement

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected the recipients of the 2014 . The award, to be presented at the 2014 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Chicago, recognizes and encourages distinguished achievements of allied professionals, clients, organizations, architect teams, knowledge communities, and others who have had a beneficial influence on or advanced the architectural profession. Among this year’s winners include the ACE Mentor Program, the National Building Museum, the AIA New York’s “Post-Sandy Initiative,” and computer-aided design pioneer Rick Smith. You can learn more about the awardees here.

Edouard François Designs Mixed-Use “Gardens of Anfa” for Casablanca

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Maison Edouard François has masterplanned a new mixed-use neighborhood for the Moroccan city : “The Gardens of Anfa.” Scheduled for completion in 2017, the plan calls for three mid-rise residential towers, a low-rise office tower, and a series of residential blocks connected by a central piazza and concealed within a lush multicolored landscape. Each “organically-shaped” tower will be enhanced by a trellised facade that fosters the growth of bougainvilleas and jasmine, further camouflaging the structure and “demarcating the limits of a garden.”

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