Mountains of Construction Debris Accumulate Outside Chinese Cities

© Aly Song / Reuters

Chinese city-dwellers are waking to find eight stories of construction outside of their homes. Over two billion tons of waste, outside Beijing and other major cities, is a result of a booming construction industry. “There’s no systematic way to deal with [the garbage],” says Wilson W.S. Lu, architecture professor at the University of Hong Kong, “The illegal dumping is everywhere.” Recycling efforts have just begun, but local activists believe it will require a radical paradigm shift in the way Chinese residents reclaim material. Read the full Times article, “China’s Mountains of Construction Rubble.

Heatherwick Tapped to Design $75 Million Icon for NYC

Pavilion for Shanghai World Expo 2010 / Heatherwick Studio. Image © Daniele Mattioli

Related Companies founder Stephen Ross has commissioned London designer and architect Thomas Heatherwick to design what could be, according to the Wall Street Journal, “one of the most expensive works of public art in the world.” Planned to be the centerpiece of Related’s Hudson Yards project in Manhattan’s West Side, the estimated $75 million artwork and its surrounding 4-acre public space aims to become “new icon for the city.”

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RIBA Examines How Over 60s Might Impact Future Cities

Family Homes. Image Courtesy of Building Futures

According to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the number of people aged over 60 is expected to increase by 40% over the next twenty years, suggesting that “our post-retirement years will be longer and healthier.” There is no doubt, therefore, that people in this age group will have a greater economic, social and political power – but how will this affect our cities?

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The Case For Tall Wood Buildings

Courtesy of Michael Green Architecture

Michael Green is calling for a drastic paradigm shift in the way we build. Forget steel, straw, concrete and shipping containers; use wood to erect urban skyscrapers. In a 240 page report – complete with diagrams, plans, renders and even typical wooden curtain wall details – Green outlines a new way of designing and constructing tall buildings using mass timber, all the while addressing common misconceptions of , structure, , cost and climate concerns.

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Banksy Critiques One World Trade as “Shyscraper”

One World Trade Center as seen from the Hudson River. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

Banksy, the pseudonymous United Kingdom-based graffiti artist who is currently making his rounds in New York City, has proclaimed the One World Trade Center as the city’s “biggest eyesore.” In a brief op-ed piece, Banksy describes the SOM-designed tower as a “shy skyscraper,” one that declares New York’s “glory days” are gone.

“You really need to put up a better building in front of it right away,” stated Banksy. “… because you currently have under construction a one thousand foot tall sign that reads, New York – we lost our nerve.”

Criticism of the One World Trade isn’t new, as many leading critics have bashed its design for being “meh” - a watered-down version of Daniel Libeskind’s original proposal

Read ’s full op-ed, after the break.  

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Nakagin Capsule Tower: A Prototype for Today’s Micro Housing

© Arcspace

Seizing on the current trend for ‘micro-apartments‘ in cities such as New York, Fast Company has an interesting profile (including some great photos) of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, the 1972 Japanese building, one of the first (and still one of the most extreme) examples of small-plan living. The article explores both the successful and unsuccessful elements of the design, such as the difficult maintenance and non-openable windows, as well as the ongoing battle for preservation since the residents voted to replace the tower with a conventional building. You can read the full article here.

Zaha Hadid to Design Sleuk Rith Institute in Cambodia

Courtesy of Sleuk Rith Institute © Steve Double

The Documentation Center of ’s (DC-Cam) has commissioned Zaha Hadid to design the much-anticipated genocide studies institute in . The new campus, known as the Sleuk Rith Institute, will serve as an extension of DC-Cam’s work as the country’s go-to archive for Khmer Rouge history as well as a leading center for genocide studies in Asia. Within a modest campus, the institute will house a “cross-section of pursuits,” including a genocide studies center, a school, a museum for memorial and education purposes, and more.

“Youk Chhang’s vision is inspirational,” stated Zaha Hadid. “His brief for the Sleuk Rith Institute calls for beauty and an optimism for the future to heal and reconnect a country, with the Documentation Centre of Cambodia being key to that process.”

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RIBA Future Trends Survey Indicates Stability for UK Profession

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The latest Future Trends Survey, published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), indicates both stability and optimism. The Future Trends Workload Index increased to +26, a rise of four balance points from August 2013, “building upon the steadily increasing positive trend” seen since the start of this year. The survey also shows evidence that “the growing optimism about an upturn in overall workloads is now widespread” throughout the UK.

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Straight Lines or Curves, Which Do We Prefer?

© Flickr user, Simon & Vicki

Do we prefer straight lines or curves? According to Eric Jaffe’s article on Fast Co.Design, it seems we subconsciously prefer the latter. Our brains, he claims, have evolved to perceive potential threat in sharp edges. “Square watches, pointy couches, and the like activate the amygdala. The part of the brain that processes fear.”  Thus, our feelings, buying habits and favorite buildings are subject to our affection of curves. Investigate for yourself and make sure to read the full article here, “Why Our Brains Love Curvy Architecture.

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Design Ice Rink for NYC

Courtesy of Architects / Dbox

After sitting derelict for years, the Kate Wollman Memorial Rink in ’s Prospect Park is poised for something of a rebirth. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s plans for a sports complex, known as Lakeside, is expected to restore the rink’s role as the park’s chief attraction. Michael Kimmelman recently stopped by the site to explore the project as it nears completion – click here to read his thoughts on what he calls one of the last “parting gifts of the Bloomberg era to the city.”

SADAR+VUGA Shares Second in Central Mosque of Pristina Competition

Mandatory 2. Image © SADAR + VUGA

The competition isn’t over yet as the jury for the Central Mosque of Pristina Competition has announced two second place prizes and no winner. Organized by the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the competition seeks to create a place “where understanding, humanity, tolerance, respect and sincere love shall be cultivated.” Slovenian firm SADAR+VUGA was one of the two teams awarded second prize with their project 21PR22. Follow us after the break to learn more.

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The Most Amazing (Unknown) Buildings In the World

Chand Baori. Via Flickr CC User. Image © S. Le Bozec

What makes a building world-famous? The answer is most likely some combination of magnificence, size, and historical importance. But it’s far from an exact science, and many of the world’s most impressive architectural landmarks are therefore not very well known outside of their own locations.

Thankfully, this post on Quora sheds some light on the lesser-known architectural landmarks on the planet. Read on to find out which marvels you may have missed…

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Danish National Maritime Museum / BIG by George Messaritakis

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Some days ago we featured BIG’s Danish National Maritime Museum, the 17,500 sqm below ground museum. We now have more photos taken by photographer George Messaritakis. You can check them all after the break.

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Venice Biennale 2014: Australia to Showcase 11 Unbuilt Projects

Tower Skin. Image ©

’s creative team for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennalefelix._Giles_Anderson+Goad, has announced 11 unrealized projects that will be showcased as part of the Augmented Australia 1914-2014 exhibition. Ranging from an inner-city cathedral to a treetop activist shelter, the country-wide selection of projects will be brought to life using three-dimensional augmented models, images, voice overs and animations.

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Iwan Baan on Light and the Louvre Lens

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Most architects are familiar with the work of Iwan Baan, the eminent photographer who has documented some of the most famous buildings of our time. But what you may not know is that Baan had not originally intended to photograph architecture. Had it not been for a chance meeting with Rem Koolhaas, things may have turned out quite differently. 

In the video above, Baan speaks with ERCO at the , a -designed offshoot of the Paris Louvre located in a small mining town in the north of France. As he traipses around the museum’s campus, he speaks about everything from his approach to photography (one that is less wrapped up in architecture than you might think) to the importance and transformative properties of light . 

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VIDEO: Norman Foster on Apple’s Cupertino Campus

© , ARUP, Kier + Wright, OLIN, Apple

It has been a long road for Foster + Partners‘s team since first taking on the design for Apple’s new campus in 2009. Four years later, despite the criticism and budget concerns, plans for Apple’s corporate headquarters have been approved by Cupertino’s planning commission. A recent video from the Cupertino City Council reveals some insight into the design decisions, including statements by Sir Norman Foster. As Foster states in the video, CEO Steve Jobs called him “out of the blue” in 2009 and said, “It’s Steve: Hi Norman, I need some help.”

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Zaha Hadid’s 2020 Olympic Stadium to Be “Scaled Down”

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UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that ’s minister of education, Hakubun Shimomura, has announced a plan to trim the budget proposed for the Olympic stadium (now expected to cost $3 billion) designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. While he did not reveal the details of the scale-down, he maintained that the “design concept will be kept.” 

Pritzker Prize laureate has rallied together a number of Japanese architects – including Sou Fujimoto, Toyo Ito and Kengo Kuma – to oppose the massive scale of Zaha Hadid’s competition-winning National Stadium. Planned to be Tokyo’s main venue for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, Hadid’s 290,000 square meter stadium is accused of being “too big and too artificial” for the surrounding context. 

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NBBJ’s Biodome for Amazon Approved by Seattle Design Board

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The City Design Review Board has approved NBBJ’s tri-sphere biodome planned for ’s downtown Seattle headquarters. Reaching up to 95 feet, the glass cluster of “Spheres” was designed to create an alternative work environment within the 3.3 million-square-foot office and retail campus that is currently under construction.

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