Sufficiency – Inside the Malaysia Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

Sufficiency. The Malaysia Pavilion at the 2014 Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh

The Malaysia Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale focuses on the idea of sufficiency, and its role in creating sustainable and modest architecture.

In a statement, one of the Pavilion curators, Lim Teng Ngiom, writes that “while sufficiency suggests a modest but adequate scale of living, it can be reduced to only the necessity required for survival extended on a personal or collective autonomy. On the precept of sustainability it can be measured by one’s carbon footprint, or in construction it can suggest minimum building footprint or optimum structure.”

To represent the idea of sufficiency, the curators chose to display works on collapsible pet cages, which have “just enough space for existence.” Several of the pet cages are clamped together to form a suspended beam, creating a “fundamental component of architecture.” Additional works are displayed on pet cages that are sitting on the floor.

Enjoy photos from the Pavilion and a statement from the curators after the break…

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WAF Reveals Shortlist for Wood Excellence Award

The Tent/ a21studio. Image Courtesy of a21 studio

The World Architecture Festival () has announced the shortlist for its first Wood Excellence award, which will honor a project where wood is an integral part of the design. Out of over 40 projects considered, has selected eight for the shortlist, including a21studio’s “The Tent” and “Salvaged Ring,” as well as DSDHA’s “Alex Monroe Studio” and the University of Hong Kong’s “The Pinch.”

Salvaged Ring/a21studio. Image Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

Sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the Wood Excellence award aims to recognize a project that showcases the sustainable benefits and timeless beauty of wood. All projects submitted for a WAF award that feature wood were automatically considered for the Wood Excellence award. “This was a great way to appreciate how a ‘traditional’ material can be used to transform exteriors and interiors in new and unexpected ways,” Paul Finch, the WAF program director said in a press release.

On October 3 the architects selected will have the opportunity to present their projects to the prize judges.

The Pinch/Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong. Image Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

Shortlisted projects, WAF Wood Excellence Award:

  • The Tent/ a21studio (Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam)
  • Pittwater House/Andrew Burges Architects (Sydney, )
  • Earth Wind and Fire/Atelier Arcau (Vannes, France)
  • School’t Hofke/UArchitects (Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
  • Regional Terminal at Christchurch Airport/BVN Donovan Hill (Christchurch, New Zealand)
  • Salvaged Ring/a21studio (Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam)
  • Alex Monroe Studio/DSDHA (London, UK)
  • The Pinch/Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong (Zhaotong, China)

“Bungalow Germania” – Germany’s Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

. The German Pavilion at the 2014 Biennale.. Image © Nico Saieh

Germany’s contribution to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale scrutinizes the architecture of representation, its crisis, and potential cessation. Aside from the universal ambition of modernism to break with the past, Germany has undergone a number of decisive political and societal breaks during the last hundred years. Through the question of how the nation “(re)builds and represents itself through architecture, we are able to discuss the friction between national identity and architecture expression—however, architecture is not only a mirror to ideology, but a constituting reality and societal context.”

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Melbourne to Launch Its Own Serpentine Pavilion

2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion / Sou Fujimoto. Image © Danica O. Kus

Mirroring the Serpentine Galleries of London, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation has announced its own yearly pavilion commission for the city of Melbourne. Sited in the Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens, the premier “MPavilion” will be designed by Sean Godsell, opening October 6th of this year.  The pavilion will host a variety of community events, including art installations and performances, over a four month period.  It remains to be seen whether the MPavilion will have a lasting impact on the architectural culture of the city, as some critics have pointed out. To learn more about this now annual commission, visit this article from infolink.

Video: Los Angeles from Above

This time-lapse video, entitled “Above LA,” is Chris Pritchard’s love letter to Los Angeles. Filmed over the course of two years, Pritchard sought out locations to showcase the city in a way people rarely get to see  from above. Some of the views were easy to seek out, while others involved some exploratory hiking and trespassing. He encourages “everyone – lifelong Angelenos, transplants, visitors – to hit the trails, drive the mountain roads, find a reason to get on top of a high-rise. From the basin to the valley, this city offers so many opportunities to rise above and look down. Never stop exploring.”

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Awarded National Medal of Arts

Williams & Tsien made headlines in last year thanks to the demolition of their American Folk Art Museum. Image © Flickr CC User Wallyg

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have been awarded the National Medal for Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts. The duo, known for projects such as the Barnes Foundation and for the controversy surrounding the demolition of their 2001 American Folk Art Museum last year, will be rewarded for their “deliberate and inspired designs” as well as their services in teaching. The medals will be awarded to them by President Obama in a ceremony on July 28th. Also receiving a medal will be Johnpaul Jones of Seattle firm Jones & Jones, who will be the first Architect to receive the National Humanities Medal in the Award’s 17-year history. Find out more about the at World-Architects.

Winy Maas Selected as Curator for Strelka Institute’s Upcoming Academic Year

WoZoCo / MVRDV. Image Courtesy of Samuel Ludwig

Dutch architect Winy Maas has been selected as the curator for the Strelka Institute’s 2014-2015 academic year. One of the co-founders of Rotterdam-based firm MVRDV, Maas also lectures and teaches all over the world, most recently serving as a visiting professor of architectural design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a professor of architecture and urban design at Delft University of Technology.

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Stelka Institute Presents: Moscow’s “Urban Routines”

Courtesy of Strelka Institute

Over the course of nine months, graduate students at the Strelka Institute studied the urban landscape of and the daily routines of its inhabitants, focusing “on new, little-noticed, and as-yet unresolved contradictions.” The main goal of the projects was to come up with solutions that could be applied in practice.

The research projects, collectively entitled “Urban Routines,” were presented at the end of this past June at the graduate show. Program director David Erixon said that while the theme might seem naive, “when you start looking at seemingly trivial things in a new way they are not so trivial anymore.” For details about the individual research projects – covering Cars, Retail, Dwelling, Offices, and Links - keep reading after the break.

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RIBA Future Trends Survey Shows Workload Forecasts Are Firmly In Positive Territory

Courtesy of RIBA

The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBAFuture Trends Survey for June show that the Workload Index among UK practices increased slightly to +34 (from +33 in May) with confidence levels amongst RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining “very strong and widespread across the whole of the UK”. Whereas last month’s survey showed Wales and the West with the brightest outlook, this month’s survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, the and East Anglia tailing closely behind with a figure of +48. Workload forecasts from practices of all sizes are optimistically reporting positive balance figures.

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Spotlight: Eduardo Souto de Moura

, 2011 Pritzker laureate, in front of the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego. Photo by Francisco Nogueira.

Today is Eduardo Souto de Moura’s 62nd birthday. With over 60 buildings worldwide, Souto de Moura is known for his thoughtful use of colors and materials. Although often described as a “Miesian” architect, de Moura provides local and original interpretations of Mies van Der Rohe’s modernist style.

Born in , Souto de Moura enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in , studying sculpture and later transferring to architecture at the University of – a decision he credits to a meeting with the artist Donald Judd. While still a student, Souto de Moura interned in the studio of Álvaro Siza, where he worked for five years until starting his own practice in 1980, following Siza’s advice. Although his first major commission was the Cultural Center of Porto, his early career included mostly private homes. Later, de Moura was commissioned for larger public buildings, such as the the Braga Municipal Stadium (2004), the Burgo Tower (2007), and the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego (2008).

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Australian Institute of Architects Awards Best Overseas Projects by Australian Architects

Stonehenge Exhibition + Visitor Centre / Denton Corker Marshall. Image © James Davies

The Australian Institute of Architects‘ International Area Committee Jury has announced the recipients of its 2014 international awards, given to projects completed by Australian architects overseas. The biggest winners on the night were Denton Corker Marshall, who in addition to winning the Award for Public Architecture with their Stonehenge Visitor Centre also received commendations for public architecture and commercial architecture.

BVN Donovan Hill dominated in the field of interior architecture, scooping both the award and a commendation in the category. Kerry Hill Architects also achieved the same result in the residential category. Read on after the break for the full list of awards and commendations.

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Zaha Hadid on Russian Artist Kazimir Malevich

Zaha Hadid RA, The Peak Blue Slabs, 1982-83. Image © Zaha Hadid /

In an article for London’s Royal Academy of Arts Magazine entitled Plane Sailing, Zaha Hadid discusses the influence of Russian Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich on her own design work. In Hadid’s early work, such as The Peak Blue Slabs (1982/83), the visual connections to Malevich’s strict, regular shapes and lines are evident.

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Álvaro Siza Decides The Fate of His Archives

Portrait of Álvaro Siza. Image © Teresa Siza

Update: releases statement from Siza.

Earlier this week we announced that Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza was considering donating his archive to institutions outside of his home country of Portugal. Finally, after much discussion and speculation, Siza has arrived at a decision.

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Christchurch Launches Competition to Design Earthquake Memorial

Christchurch Cathedral, after being destroyed by the 2011 earthquake. Image © NZPA / David Wethey

After years of rebuilding from the devastating earthquake that hit the city in February 2011, the city of Christchurch in New Zealand has announced an open competition to a memorial to the 185 people that lost their lives in the tragedy. The $3.5 million memorial will be situated in the city center on the banks of the Ōtākaro-Avon River, and is expected to be “a thoughtfully designed space where small groups or individuals can pay respect to those who died,” but will also “comfortably fit a crowd of around 2,000 people” to host an annual memorial gathering, as well as other events.

More details after the break

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Tokyo’s Modernist Gem, Hotel Okura, To Be Demolished

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Talk about Modernist Japanese architecture, and you can hardly fail to bring up Tokyo‘s Hotel Okura. Built in 1962 under the direction of Yoshiro Taniguchi, Hideo Kosaka, Shiko Munakata, and Kenkichi Tomimoto, the hotel has long been a landmark not only for the city, but for Japan. Now, however, the hotel’s owners have decided that the main building for the hotel will be demolished in September of 2015, with a new hotel taking its place. To learn more – including how to sign the petition for preservation – keep reading after the break.

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Inside the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale – Innesti/Grafting

Innesti/Grafting. The Italian Pavilion at the 2014 Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh

The Italian Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale looks at the country’s architecture through the lens of  “grafting,” or the transferring of new ideas onto preexisting realities and structures.

Architect and Pavilion curator Cino Zucchi associates grafting with “the great capacity to interpret and incorporate preceding states through continuous metamorphoses.” He opens and closes the Italian Pavilion with two physical grafts: a large rusted steel arch and a bench sculpture. The first room of the exhibit begins with a study of modernization in Milan, followed by series of collages of contemporary projects in . A video of Italian urban environments concludes the exhibit.

See images of the Pavilion and read a description from the curator after the break.

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Sydney Plans Large-Scale Urban Renewal Program

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The government of New South Wales have announced plans for Sydney’s largest program of urban renewal since the 2000 Summer Olympics. The proposal seeks to utilise and regenerate a series of former docklands from the area of Blackwattle Bay, through the  Fish Market, Rozelle Bay and Rozelle Rail Yards, to White Bay Power Station (a protected building).

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Jane Duncan Elected as the next President of the RIBA

Courtesy of Jane Duncan

Jane Duncan, an Architect based in the English county of Buckinghamshire, has been elected as the 76th President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (). Taking over the reigns from current President Stephen Hodder in September 2015, Duncan will become only the third female President after beating fellow candidate Oliver Richards (by a majority of 52% of the vote) to the institute’s highest position. According to the Architects’ Journal, only 16.7% of RIBA members voted in the election.

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