Audi Urban Future Award 2014: Team Berlin’s “Flywheel” Could Revolutionize Personal Mobility

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One of three runners-up in the 2014 Audi Urban Future Award, the Berlin Team of Max Schwitalla, Paul Friedli and Arndt Pechstein proposed a futuristic and innovative concept for an entirely new type of personal transport. Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as elevator technology and biomimicry, their designs offer a thought-provoking alternative to our existing transportation systems that could revolutionize the city as we know it.

Though their proposal ultimately lost out to Jose Castillo’s Team Mexico City, the work of the Berlin team correlates closely with the aims of Audi’s Urban Future Initiative, offering a compromise between the convenience and status of personal transport and the civic benefits of public transport. Read on to find out how this was achieved.

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Start the Year the Right Way With 18 Illustrations of Architecture Classics

© Xinran Ma

To celebrate the start of 2015, Xinran Ma, a New York-based architectural designer and illustrator, has created this brutalist-inspired greetings card. Based on his work illustrating over 50 of the classic projects of modernist and brutalist architecture, this card features pieces of these recognizable buildings, remixed and adapted to create a typeface.

Xinran says that the buildings he illustrates all have one unfortunate thing in common: “they are extremely attractive and inspiring to me,” he says, but ”ironically they have been somehow gradually forgotten.” As a result, the he produces are not just a hobby, but part of an obligation he feels “to defend, memorize and deliver the classics that I believe are immortal.” Xinran has shared 18 of these  with ArchDaily to spread the word about these buildings; check them out after the break, and click on the images to find out more about each one.

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Forbes Profiles David Rockwell, Celebrates 30 Years of Design

ockwell Group’s pop-up theater for TED. Image ©

In honor of Rockwell Group’s 30th year of design, Forbes has published a profile on its founder, American architect David Rockwell, detailing his life, work and thoughts on the power of theater. “My mother, Joanne, played a great role in forming my interest in design,” stated Rockwell. “She first introduced me to the excitement and spectacle of live theater, which has had a profound impact on my life and work. These productions really opened my eyes to the power of design to create emotional connections between people and their environment.” Read the complete article, here.

GSMM Takes Home Second with Twin Buildings Proposal for Liget Budapest

Ground View from Boulevard. Image © GSMM

The Liget Budapest Competition, a call for proposals for five new cultural buildings in Hungary’s capital, has recently announced a few of its winners. Design firm GSMM architetti Giorgio Santagostino- Monica Margarida was awarded second place for their proposal for a paired Photo Museum and Museum of Hungarian Architecture. Inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s New National Gallery in Berlin, these twin buildings aspire to create a cultural focal point in Budapest, and to revitalize for the City Park.

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Lincoln Memorial and Flatiron to Join LEGO® Architecture Series

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LEGO® has unveiled the latest buildings to join their architecture series: the Washington D.C. Lincoln Memorial and the City Flatiron Building. Both will be released in 2015.

The Lincoln Memorial, a national monument honoring the 16th President of the United States, was designed by Henry Bacon and features a sculpture of Lincoln by Daniel Chester French. The Flatiron Building, originally known as the Fuller Building, is a landmark Manhattan skyscraper designed by Daniel Burnham Frederick Dinkelberg.

The news was released following the grand opening of a new LEGO® Brand Store adjacent to the Flatiron.

More images of the new LEGO® sets, after the break. 

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The Three-Dimensional City: How Drones Will Impact the Future Urban Landscape

Hawkins\Brown’s ‘Romance of the Sky’ proposal for the site of Heathrow Airport features drones – but does the urban design of the proposal accommodate the role of drones in the urban sphere?. Image © Factory Fifteen

Many have come to associate drones with the looming unmanned aircraft deployed in the defense industry, but as technology continues to improve drones have gotten smaller and progressively less expensive. Consumers can now purchase their very own drone for as little as $600 or less and the technology is already proving to be useful for a wide variety of purposes, including possible uses for architects in everything from site analysis to construction.

However, this technology could have much broader consequences on not only the airspace above our streets, but also in how we design for increasing civilian and commercial drone traffic. Just as other technologies such as and security surveillance have shaped our urban infrastructure, so too will an emerging network of infrastructure for pilotless technology. Particularly as drones become ever more precise and nimble, opportunities arise for their increased use in urban areas. If these devices can be programmed to learn from repeated maneuvers with the use of cameras and sensors, it is not unrealistic to say that they could soon learn how to navigate through increasingly complex vertical cities. But if drones become fixtures of our urban environment, what impact will they have on exterior spaces? And could they become as ubiquitous in our city’s skies as cars on our streets?

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Happy New Year from ArchDaily!

Happy New Year to ArchDaily’s readers all around the world: from the first people to celebrate in Kiribati, Samoa and New Zealand, to those in Hawaii and American Samoa – who at the time of publishing are still waiting to celebrate the new year - we wish you all the best in 2015. The past 12 months has been a fantastic year here at ArchDaily, and we can’t wait to see what the next one will bring. In the meantime, make sure you’ve read all of our round-ups of 2014, after the break.

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Quinlan Terry Among Four to Recieve “New Year Honours” for Services in UK Architecture

30 St Mary Axe “The Gherkin” / Foster + Partners . Image © Flickr CC User Maciek Lulko

John Quinlan Terry, one of Prince Charles’ preferred architects, is being recognized on the UK’s 2015 list and awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services in classical architecture. The Queen’s annual awards will also be honoring architect Cecil Balmond, former deputy chairman of UK Arup, with the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Former City Planning Officer and professor Peter Wynne Rees, who oversaw the realization of the Gherkin and highly disputed Walkie Talkie, will also receive a CBE for his services. , professor of Architecture University of Westminster, has been selected to receive a Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to architecture and higher education.

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Eight Proposals Offer Scaled Down Solutions for Redeveloping St. Petersburg’s Pier

© Destination St. Pete Pier / St. Pete Design Group

After public outcry rejected Michael Maltzan Architecture’s winning entry “The Lens,” which sought to replace Pier with an ambitious sail-like concrete canopy and aquatic habitat, the fate of the structurally inapt inverted pyramid remained in limbo. Now, two years after the culmination of the original competition, the City of St. Petersburg, , alongside the preservations of the Concerned Citizens of St. Pete, has selected eight scaled back proposals in hopes that one will provide a sensible solution that will both maximize the pier’s potential and satisfy the locals. 

Shortlisted competitors, including FR-EE / Fernando Romero EnterprisE, Alfonso Architects, and Rogers Partners, received a $30,000 stipend to submit these preliminary design concepts, complete with reports, renderings and cost estimates. Take a look at all eight proposals, after the break. 

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Frank Gehry Presents Design for Venezuelan Music Center

Frank Gehry presents the National Center for Social Action Through Music project

With Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in attendance, Frank Gehry presented the model for the future National Center for Social Action Through Music building in Lara state. The project is Gehry’s second in Latin America, following the recently inaugurated Biomuseo in Panamá.

To be located in Barquisimeto, ’s fourth most populated city, the National Center for Social Action Through Music forms part of the National Network of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of , more commonly known as “El Sistema.” Founded in 1975 by orchestra director José Antonio Abreu, El Sistema is now funded by the government and provides musical training and education for children from impoverished backgrounds. The Adjkm-designed Simon Bolivar Complex for Social Action is also part of El Sistema.

Learn more about the project after the break.

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How Simple Earth Blocks Could Revolutionize Construction for the African Island of Pemba

Local block maker Ali Cedric making blocks for sale in Pujini, Pemba Island. Image © Craig Norris

Pemba, a small Tanzanian island off of Africa‘s Eastern coast, is undergoing something of a construction boom. With half of the population aged under 30 and a culture in which a man must build a house before he can get married, a wave of new informal housing is sweeping the island. Historically, construction methods used by the islanders have been problematic: traditional wattle & daub construction typically survives for just 5-7 years; its replacement, bricks made of coral, not only require large amounts of energy to extract but have a devastating effect on the environment; and modern cement bricks most be imported at high costs.

Sensing an opportunity to help the islanders at a critical time in their development, Canadian NGO Community Forests International is promoting a solution that combines the economy and sustainability of wattle & daub with the durability of masonry: Interlocking Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks (ISCEBs). Find out how this simple can help the island community after the break.

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Bingler and Pederson’s Critique of Architecture for the New York Times Sparks Controversy

Somewhat ironically, ’ own building is designed by none other than “celebrity architect” Renzo Piano. Image © Ritu Manoj Jethani via Shutterstock

Earlier this month the New York Times published an editorial written by Steven Bingler and Martin Pederson in which the two discuss how and why architects need to reevaluate the profession. The article centers on how today’s architecture can adequately meet the needs of its intended users without acknowledging their input and asks “at what point does architecture’s potential to improve human life become lost because of its inability to connect with actual humans?”

As with any commentary on the very nature of contemporary architecture, criticism abounds and has prompted a scathing response by writer Aaron Betsky, who claims that the New York Times ought to be above such “know-nothing, cliché-ridden reviews of architecture” and ridicules certain excerpts of Bingler and Pederson’s text,  saying “I am not making this up.” Betsky takes the opportunity to argue instead that “Architecture… is either the dull affirmation of what we have, or it is an attempt to make our world better.”

Read on after the break for more on the New York Times article and the opposing views

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Drink Like an Architect: Pair your Cocktail with the Perfect Building

Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe / Manhattan Cocktail. Image Courtesy of Kosmos Architects

To paraphrase an old adage, “behind every great building is a great architect.” According to Swiss-based Kosmos Architects, a less familiar version of this might say “beside every great building is a perfectly mixed cocktail.” The firm has revealed a scientifically (un)proven link between alcohol and architecture: ramps, for instance, are often built at an inclination of five to seven degrees, a statistic that correlates to the alcoholic percentage of an average beer. Furthermore, a steep forty-degree roof incline designed to throw off snowfall matches the forty percent alcohol content of vodka used in Arctic climates to keep out the winter chill.

Kosmos Architects has published a series of twelve illustrated postcards, linking iconic buildings with their appropriate drink. A Manhattan for Mies, a Blue Blazer for Zumthor, and a Smoky Martini for Herzog & de Meuron all belong to the series ‘Good Drinks & Good Buildings,’ a booze-soaked comparison of architecture and alcohol, just in time to ring in 2015.

What’s inside SOM‘s martini? Find out after the break 

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NBBJ to Design $85 Million Livingston Ambulatory Center in Columbus

Livingston Ambulatory Center. Image © NBBJ

Nationwide Children’s Hospital has selected NBBJ to design their $85 million Livingston Ambulatory Center in Columbus, Ohio. The six-story, 200,000-square-foot center will serve more than 100,000 patients annually. It will feature modular and flexible units centered around shared employee workspaces. Construction will begin in February. 

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Nature Guides Kengo Kuma’s House of Hungarian Music Proposal for Liget Budepest

Museum Shop and Cafe Entrance. Image ©

The Liget Budapest Competition has recently announced its winners, and Kengo Kuma and Associates has taken home honorable mention for their House of Hungarian Music design. Conceived as a house in the woods, the proposal seeks to embed itself in the landscape, having a low impact on the natural environment while becoming a focal point of Budapest’s urban environment.

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Ricardo Porro, Architect of Cuba’s National Art Schools, Dies at 89

School of Ballet by Vittorio Garatti . Image © Adrián Guerra Rey via places.designobserver.com

Ricardo Porro, the leading architect behind Cuba’s National Art Schools - one of the largest architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution – has died of heart failure in Paris at the age of 89. After spending nearly a half a century in exile, Porro lived long enough to see his two arts schools reemerged on the world stage as “crown jewels of modern Cuban architecture.”

“When I received this commission, I thought there had not been a good expression of revolution in architecture,” Porro said in a 2011 interview with The Atlantic. “I wanted to create in that school the expression of revolution. What I felt at that moment was an emotional explosion.” Read the full New York Times , here.

hk+b Architecture Designs Winning Competition Entry for Tunisian Office Building

Courtesy of

With a site defined by its varied and abundant trees, hk+b Architecture made preserving the scenic landscape and greenery a conscious decision in designing the CPSCL Regional Agency in Tunisia. The choice to maintain as much of the context of the site as possible allows future employees in the building the opportunity to work in an environment seemingly embedded in the countryside. Another important choice in defining the building’s exterior form was the characteristic sloping roofs of the city of Béja.

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Oliver Wainwright’s 2015 Wish List for British Cities

The housing crisis facing London has now become the primary concern of the capital’s voters. Image © Flickr CC User mariusz kluzniak

In the UK, urban issues are starting to see something of a renaissance, with problems such as the nation’s housing shortage increasingly being subjected to scrutiny in ever more public arenas – in fact earlier this year housing overtook transport as the biggest concern among London voters. All of this means that 2015 will be “a golden opportunity to fix some of the worst city problems,” according to Cities, who have asked their architecture critic Oliver Wainwright to offer up a wishlist of positive changes that could benefit the nation’s urban centres. From councils building more council housing to a tax on empty homes, Wainwright’s four-point list offers straightforward policy advice that could truly transform the lives of British urbanites – and perhaps most promisingly, in three of these cases he explains how there are nascent movements already being made to bring his recommendations to fruition. You can read the full article here.