The Chinese Dream: Original Architecture Not Included

Western-styled developments are increasingly popular in , such as this suburb of Shanghai. Image © Flickr CC User Brian Yap

Looking for your dream home? Picket fence, driveway (sedan included), basketball net, and terracotta pots complete with flowers in bloom, available now in the quiet neighbourhood of Rancho Santa Fe in Shanghai, China. According to this article in The Guardian, ”The Chinese Dream” is currently sweeping the People’s Republic, with Western planning models replicated with identical ineffective results. The article offers an intimate insight into the role of American architectural fetishism in modern China, and how the government is now fighting to curb the trend. Read the complete article here.

Why Not Hand A Hermit Crab a Shelter?

©

How could hermit crabs teach us a lesson about world peace? In her project, titled, “Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?” Japanese media design artist Aki Inomata is inspired by hermit crabs’ peaceable exchange of their shells, a metaphor for the peaceful exchange of land between countries. Exploring the theme further, she designs new shelters in the shape of world cities, and provides new homes for the crabs which represent the abstract perception of changing nationalities and identities.

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Rome Invites Ideas For Reuse of Europe’s Biggest Landfill Site

A major competition for reuse has just been announced for the Malagrotta Landfill, one of the European Union’s biggest landfill sites. After Malagrotta was closed in August 2013 due to its controversial size and negative impact on the surrounding community, the Municipality of Rome began a process of redevelopment through community engagement. Multi-displinary teams are tasked with a creating a proposal to reinvent the sprawling 240-hectare property while considering its original purpose. The competition is designed to begin a conversation on the long-term vision for the property.

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Alvaro Siza’s Taifong Golf Club Opens in Changhua, Taiwan

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Today, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Álvaro Siza and architect Carlos Castanheira will inaugurate the Taifong Golf Club, in Changhua, Taiwan. 

The two Portuguese architects began the recently-completed project in 2009. The clubhouse includes spaces for recreational and cultural events and activities. The building demonstrates a rich relationship between the landscape and local culture.

Architects: Álvaro Siza and
Local Partner | Project Management and Construction Supervision: Ho+Hou Studio Architects and Studio Base Architects
Images of the project—kindly shared with us by architecture photographer Fernando Guerra | FG+SG—can be seen after the break.

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Island with a View: Dutch Kitchen Incorporates Elegant Aquarium

Courtesy of Rene van Dongen

Amsterdam-based design firm Kolenik Eco Chic Design have released designs of their unique Ocean Kitchen, a transformative new take on residential space. The contemporary minimalist kitchen offers a moment of serenity to the viewer through the inclusion of a vast aquarium beneath the island’s countertop. Positioned as the architectural centerpiece of the space, the island in Ocean Kitchen gracefully animates the surrounding kitchen.

Immerse yourself in photos of Ocean Kitchen after the break.

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Japanese Artist Hand-Crafts Intricate Three Dimensional Paperscapes

© Katsumi Hayakawa

Japanese artist Katsumi Hayakawa’s “Paperworks” exhibition explores the impression of architectural density through delicate three-dimensional installations. The intricate sculptures were all hand-crafted piece by piece out of paper and glue, creating an awe-inspiring assemblage of multi-layered urban conditions at different scales. For more information and images, keep reading after the break.

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NBBJ Creates High Tech Shading System for Buildings

Courtesy of

International architecture firm NBBJ has created Sunbreak, a new for user-controlled sunshades that will not only lower energy costs, but also give buildings a dynamic appearance throughout the day.

Technology currently exists for automatically regulating solar gains in buildings, but the downside to these systems is that they often lack manual controls, and one of the most common complaints heard from workers in modern office buildings is that they do not have enough control over their environment. Automatic sunshades go up or down based on the time of day but if it happens to be cloudy outside or if users want natural light in a room when the shades are down there may be nothing they can do.

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Thomas Phifer and Partners Wins Competition to Design Museum of Modern Art Warsaw

View inside the Forum. Image © Thomas Phifer and Partners

The in Warsaw has announced that Thomas Phifer and Partners will be designing their new gallery space, after winning a competition against eleven other selected practices. The new museum, the largest cultural project in recent Polish history, will also house the TR Warsawa Theatre. The proposal consists of two separate buildings housing the theater and museum, joined by a common forum that will serve both as entrance and public multi-use space.

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Self Build Association and Grand Designs Live Launches Open Ideas Competition

Courtesy of National Custom and Self Build Association

Is it possible to build low cost homes in the city that are both sustainable and easy on the eyes? Self Build on a Shoestring in the City, organized by the National Custom & Self Build Association and Grand Designs Live, is an ideas competition in its second year that seeks to answer this question by showcasing innovative designs for a group self build project in an urban location. More details after the break.

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Olafur Eliasson Creates an Indoor Riverbed at Danish Museum

Courtesy of Louisiana Museum of Modern

Blurring the boundaries between the Natural world and the Manmade in one wide, sweeping gesture, Danish-Icelandic Olafur Eliasson‘s first solo exhibit, aptly titled Riverbed, brings the Outdoors in.

Recreating an enormous, ruggedly enchanting landscape, complete with riverbed and rocky earth, the artist draws heavily from site-specific inspiration. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art‘s location on the Danish coast lends a raw, elemental and powerful character that extends into the building as a major intervention, transforming into a work of art.

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Prisoners Designing Prisons: Restorative Justice in Action

Courtesy of CLOG

The design of prisons is a controversial topic for architects, but Deanna VanBuren takes a novel approach to the subject. Designing for a judicial system that advocates “restorative justice,” VanBuren works with felons, victims, and other architects to create spaces where everyone can undergo a healing process following a crime. In a recent profile, the L.A. Times documents one of her design workshops with prisoners, demonstrating how this form of outreach can change the lives of those inside. Read the full story here. Also, be sure to check out our interview with Deanna VanBuren here!

Excavating the Sky: Syria’s Contemporary Landscape at Monditalia

Courtesy of Khaled Malas

From August 12-15, architects, filmmakers and activists from Syria 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  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 drawing 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 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. Zaha Hadid Architects 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 ,

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.