Solo Houses: When Architects Are Given Carte Blanche

Casa Fujimoto / . Image © by-encore.com, via

French developer Christian Bourdais has enlisted eight architects to develop vacation homes on a 50-hectare nature reserve about two hours south of Barcelona. So far, so normal. However, each participant in the “Solo Houses” experiment was given what every architect dreams of (and hardly ever receives): carte blanche. The results, from the likes of Sou Fujimoto, Pezo von Ellrichshausen, and more, are stunning. See them all after the break…

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Praça das Artes wins Building of the Year at Icon Awards

© Nelson Kon

Praça das Artes, designed by Marcelo Ferraz and Francisco Fanucci (Brasil Arquitetura) and Marcos Cartum, has won Building of the Year at the Icon in London. The project competed with works by great names in international architecture: Herzog & de Meuron (with their Parrish Art Museum in Long Island, New York), Renzo Piano (The Shard in London), SANAA (the Louvre-Lens, in the north of France) and Hugh Broughton Architects (the Halley VI Research Station, the world’s first relocatable research facility, located in Antartica).

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A Bad Month for Frank Lloyd Wright Fans

The SC Johnson Administration building, featuring Wright’s (now controversial) desks. Image © Jeff Dean

December has been a month of disappointment for fans of Frank Lloyd Wright: first, a plan to build a house designed by Wright and adapted for the English countryside has been rejected by Wraxall Councillors (Bristol Post), who believe that Frank Lloyd Wright “can’t be that influential”. This was followed by the news that SC Johnson, the company for whom Wright designed the famous Johnson Administration Building, is trying to stop the high profile Sotheby’s auction (ArtInfo) of a desk and chair designed for their building – claiming that the items were in fact stolen from them way back in the 1950s. More on the rejection here and the Sotheby”s controversy here.

Detailed New Rendering of Southbank Released

© Miller Hare

Earlier this month, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios released new images of the Southbank Centre, the most detailed renderings yet of the highly controversial redevelopment. Among the most significant alterations are a change to the exterior of the crowning glass box, a slight reduction in the size of the “liner” building (to preserve views of the Houses of Parliament from the neighboring National Theatre), and adjustments to various columns to preserve routes through the site.

Read on to find out more about the changes to the design..

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Three Shortlisted for Contemporary Arts Center in Moscow

Heneghan Peng Architects’ NCCA proposal. Image Courtesy of NCCA

The Ministry of Culture of has unveiled three shortlisted proposals for Moscow’s National Centre of Contemporary Arts (NCCA). The competition, now in its second and final stage, has selected these finalists from a longlist of ten, leaving behind proposals from Steven Holl Architects and other well-respected practices.

Planned to become Russia’s main national institution for contemporary arts, the NCCA will host a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as lectures, professional conferences, concerts, performances, studios, art education facilities and more.

The three shortlisted finalists (and projects) are:

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Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, Inaugurated as 2014 AIA President

. Image © William Stewart

Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, executive director of the Virginia Center for Architecture, has been inaugurated as the 90th president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). She succeeds Mickey Jacob, FAIA, in representing nearly 83,000 AIA members.

“During my term as president, I want to look towards the future of our profession and society in general.  We need to stimulate research to benefit the design and construction industry, emphasize a culture in firms that nurtures emerging professionals and promotes diversity and inclusiveness for under-represented groups, and advance the profession in the eyes of the public,” said Dreiling. “Ultimately, our efforts will be focused on bringing a shift to our own professional culture – the way we think, act and behave to transform the way that our culture regards architects and architecture.”

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The Best (and Worst) Countries to Be a Female Architect

Denise Scott-Brown may be an icon for today’s – but is the USA hostile to female architects?. Image © Frank Hanswijk

As part of their annual survey of the world’s largest architecture practices, this year BD has also included a survey to help them quantify which countries are best suited for women with careers in architecture - particularly those who wish to work for large companies. In order to create these rankings, they found the ratio of male to female architects in various countries, and also sought out publicly available data on maternity and paternity leave requirements, and the average cost of childcare as a percentage of average wage. You can read more about their sometimes surprising results after the break.

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The Morpholio Project Launches Trace 2.0

Courtesy of The Project

The Morpholio Project, the team of architects and designers behind Morpholio (for building/sharing your portfolio) and Morpholio Trace (the app that lets you draw on top of images as if using tracing paper), have just launched Trace 2.0. The new version introduces three fantastic new tools that hope to “put [the design] process in hyper drive.”

As Co-Creator Anna Kenoff puts it: “The goal of the app was to embrace and enhance the fast paced and messy process of idea building, bringing back hand drawing to a culture no longer beholden to the desktop computer.”

Check out the three new features of Trace 2.0, after the break…

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Inside Japan’s “Crazy” Housing

House NA / Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Inspired by our wildly popular article “Why Japan Is Crazy About Housing,” CNN has interviewed Tokyo-based author and architect Alastair Townsend in order to dig a bit deeper into why radical design has become more common in Japan. The video features interviews with the residents of House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects, who share what it’s like to live in a multi-storied home with step ladders and no walls, as well as Sou Fujimoto, who takes us on a tour of his whimsical, tree-house inspired House NA. Watch the video after the break.

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Bramberger Wins Competition to Design High Tech Campus in Austria

Communications Promenade. Image © Bramberger Architects

Austrian Bramberger Architects have won the international competition to design the new High Tech Center in Villach, . The winning scheme proposes four blocks of buildings and a corresponding area of dedicated open spaces, articulated longitudinally by a main axle. This axle, named “Communications Promenade” acts as a central route between the buildings and, in the future, it is proposed to connect the surrounding buildings, promoting the necessary infra- structures for the creation of an investigation campus.

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Design: A Long Term Preventative Medicine

New York City’s High Line. Image © Iwan Baan

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and MIT’s Center for Advanced has produced a new report examining urban in eight of the USA’s largest cities, which has been translated into a collection of meaningful findings for architects, designers, and urban planners. With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas – a statistic which is projected to grow to 70% by 2050 – the report hinges around the theory that “massive urbanization can negatively affect human and environmental in unique ways” and that, in many cases, these affects can be addressed by architects and designers by the way we create within and build upon our cities.

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Remembering Neimeyer: The Works of a Master

© Flickr User el_floz

Many architects enter the profession with hopes of creating something that outlives them, something that is bigger than themselves, that can advocate for a better world. Oscar Niemeyer was such an architect, one who fought for designs that would serve everyone. The master of Brazilian architecture passed away one year ago after complications from a previous kidney condition. In honor of what would have been his birthday today, we’ve rounded up a few of his masterpieces, from his elegant and curvy Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, his collaboration on the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the traditional spectacle space of his Sambadrome, the spiraling Niemeyer Center in Aviles, and the powerful parabolic expression in his Cathedral of Brasilia. Enjoy!

Arup to Collaborate with Henning Larsen on European Spallation Source

© Luxigon

Arup has been selected “to contribute expertise” in the design of the Research Centre (ESS) in Lund, Sweden. They will collaborate with Henning Larsen Architects, who was selected to design the state-of-the-art facility earlier this yearThe ESS will become the world’s largest and most advanced research facility for neutron-based research once it is fully operational in 2025. Alongside enabling scientists to see and understand atomic and molecular structures and movements, it will also be based on the world’s most powerful neutron source – a 600m long accelerator which fires neutrons at different types of material in order that they can be analyzed in enormous detail. Learn more about ESS and its design here

Kanye West, Jacque Herzog Talk Architecture, Bore Kanye Fans to Tears

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jacques Herzog, . Image © Seth Browarnik/startraksphoto.com, via Surface Magazine’s Facebook Page

In her article for BlouinArtInfo, Janelle Zara wittily recounts her experience at an architecture event in which 70% of the audience left before the night’s end. The event? A talk, held last week in Miami’s Design District, between Kanye West and Pritzker laureate . Despite the audience’s clear lack of interest, Zara insists the skippers missed quite the conversation: “Herzog’s half of the conversation lent it its gravitas; Kanye’s token Westisms provided the candy-coated sprinkles on top.” Read the full post here.

“Art Palace” Cultural Complex Competition Entry / TOTEMENT | PAPER

View (winning scheme). Image Courtesy of

TOTEMENT | PAPER‘s competition proposal to design an international multipurpose cultural and leisure exhibition complex, close to Moscow’s , centers around resolving the aesthetic disconnection, or “visual conflict”, between the image of a modern European city – defined by the Ismailovo hotel complex – and the historic context of the site. Their designs (two variations of each other of which one has won the competition) do not blend into the existing cultural monuments but rather offer a modern antidote to the issues of scale, perception and “grandiose historical stylization” that currently exists.

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C.F. Møller and DinnellJohansson’s Wooden Skyscraper Wins International Competition

Wooden Skyscraper from the park. Image Courtesy of C.F. Møller and

Scandinavian practice C.F. Møller Architects, in collaboration with DinellJohanssonhas been announced as winner of the HSB Stockholm architectural competition. The winning scheme includes three ”ultra-modern residential high-rises” planned for Stockholm’s city center. Only one of these proposals will actually be built, including the world’s tallest wooden skyscraperCompletion of the chosen tower is set for 2023, the 100th anniversary of the competition organizer and Sweden‘s largest housing association, HSB. View the three project proposals after the break. 

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Perkins+Will Selected to Design Prentice Replacement

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Northwestern University has selected Perkins+Will to design the new 600,000 square foot Biomedical Research Building for the Feinberg School of Medicine in . Planned for the site of Bertrand Goldberg’s recently demolished Prentice Woman’s Hospital, the new building will “anchor the University’s research facilities and be the hub of a world-class research and development enterprise that attracts innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to Receive 2014 AIA Architecture Firm Award

Rosa Keller Library / . Image © Timothy Hursley

Just two days after the passing of R. Allen Eskew, FAIA, the -based architect’s practice, Eskew + Dumez + Ripple (EDR), has been announced as the recipient of the 2014 AIA Architecture Firm Award. Presented by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the annual award is the highest honor bestowed by to a firm by the national institution. EDR is being recognized for “rigorously crafting Modernism to repair, restore, and enhance the exceptionally unique cultural and historic context of New Orleans.”

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