First Look Inside OFFICEUS, the US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

© Nico Saieh

To kick off our coverage of the Venice Biennale, we’re bringing you photos of OfficeUS — the United States’ contribution to the national exhibitions organized under the theme of “.” The pavilion houses both a repository of information about the history of architectural firms in the US (with a focus on the US’s role in exporting ) and serves as the base of operations for a new architectural firm that was created solely for this year’s biennale. The research, collected into booklets, lines the walls of the space. While visitors mill around the pavilion, the members of OfficeUS work at specially designed tables. The output and deliverables of the office will be determined as the Biennale progresses. We also got the chance to speak to the organizers, so stayed tuned for video interviews with the curators and designers of the US Pavilion (coming soon!). For now, however, read on to the see the curator’s statement on the exhibit.

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ArchDaily at the 2014 Venice Biennale

Rem Koolhaas at the preview of the Elements exhibit © ArchDaily

ArchDaily is excited to announce that we are now in Venice to cover this year’s highly anticipated Biennale. Curated by the influential Rem Koolhaas, this edition of the biennale delves into the past to inform current architectural production.

For this year, Koolhaas proposed “Fundamentals” as the main theme for the Biennale. Rather than focusing on contemporary production (as the Biennale traditionally has), “Fundamentals” is divided into three large exhibits that look into the past, present and future of : Absorbing Modernity 1924-2014 (National Pavilions), Elements (Central Pavilion), and Monditalia (Arsenale). You can learn more about these exhibits in our previous coverage.

So far, we’ve seen a tremendous effort in the content of the exhibitions. In “Absorbing Modernity,” 65 countries from every continent (even Antartica) show how modernity was manifested in their respective national contexts, bringing to light comprehensive archives and demonstrations of modernism’s storied and complex past. This retrospective looks into one of the most powerful movements in history, a time when architects aligned with the needs of society and set the foundations for an ideal future. The consequences of modernism -whether good or bad- have shaped our cities and highly influenced how we live. And now, Koolhaas hopes to help us understand why it should be thought of as a fundamental part of .

Stay tuned for more reports from Venice in our dedicated Venice Biennale 2014 section. For updates in real time, check out our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

This complete coverage is brought to you thanks to our partners at CEMEX.

Coffey Architects Design New Research Center for London’s Science Museum

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Coffey Architects has won a competition to design a new research centre for the Science Museum in South Kensington, . Designed to enable a “new level of integration between exhibitions and research,” the new centre will act as a portal for over 500,000 items contained within the Wroughton Library.

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Renzo Piano Returns to Bay Area, Designs “Plaza District” for City Center

© RPBW

Renzo Piano has been commissioned to return to the Bay Area, this time to design a 350,000 square foot “Plaza District” for a mixed-used City Center development in San Ramon. Similar to his prized California Academy of Sciences building in ’s Golden Gate Park, the new multi-use district will feature expansive glass walls and a lush living roof.

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Morpholio’s Latest App Turns Photos Into Sketches, Mosaics, and More

The Morpholio Project’s latest iPhone application, Morpholio Frame, “is like having a DJ booth for your photos.” The application allows users to merge, crop, and filter photographs before posting them to social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Sounds typical, right? Not so fast.

The application gives users more control than most thanks to an interactive matrix approach. Users can select up to three filters and three related masks, creating an image with one of 64 million unique filter combinations. One of the most interesting filters for fans is “sketch” – as seen in the image after the break.

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Does London’s Planning System Lack Civic Representation?

London’s skyline is set to be dramatically altered by tall buildings in the near future. Image Courtesy of CPAT / Hayes Davidson / Jason Hawkes

A debate organized by New London Architecture (NLA) has revealed a strong need for civic societies in London which protect the interests of the public in planning decisions, offering New York as a potential model. The debate, which was one of the headline at the London Festival of Architecture, was organized in response to a study which showed over 200 tall buildings were currently in the pipeline for the UK’s capital, which sparked fears that the current planning system was not fit for the purpose of controlling development in the city.

More on the debate after the break

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The UK 2015 Top 10 Schools of Architecture

Cambridge University came in 1st in this year’s rankings. Image © Flickr CC User Mark Fosh

The Guardian has released its annual UK University rankings, including their list of the top schools of architecture in the country. This year Cambridge University has taken first place, knocking off UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture after three consecutive years in the top spot.

This year there are two new entries into the top 10, with Queen’s University Belfast and Northumbria University bagging 5th and 6th respectively, replacing Oxford Brookes and Kent, who drop to 12th and 14th. Elsewhere, the Glasgow School of Art had a disappointing result dropping to 43rd, and the University of Greenwich has reacted positively to their last-place position from last year by rising to 21st.

Read on for more analysis and the top 10 in full

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Venice Biennale 2014: KAAN Architecten to Present “PLANTA”

Site. Image © Armin Linke 2012

This year at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, KAAN Architecten will present a Collateral Event featuring PLANTA – a partially subterranean space that will be dedicated to multidisciplinary artistic production and built within the confines of the “La Plana del Corb” quarry in Balaguer (Lleida, Spain) by 2016. Designed for Grupo and Fundació Sorigué, PLANTA is not only a building, but a concept; a concept in which is the “culmination of the desire to give back, to return through a balanced tension between , institution, knowledge, ecology and manufacturing.”

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GUN Architects’ Latest Installation Brings Chilean Micro-Climate to the UK

© Valerie Bennett

Chilean-German architecture practice GUN Architects‘ latest installation, accompanied by an in the AA gallery, brings the micro-climate of Chile to the UK. Using tree-like structures and pyramidal fabric ‘stalactites,’ the architects create a unique ecology that is at once natural and material. The architects’ description of the installation, after the break…

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Zumtobel Group Awards 15 Projects for Sustainable Excellence

Port sudan: © Courtesy of Massimo Grimaldi and Emergency ngo

The Zumtobel Group Awards, now in its fourth year, has recognized 15 projects for their innovative contributions to and humanity in the built environment. Winy Maas of MVRDV and Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA were part of the seven person jury in which selected the winners within three categories: “Buildings,” “Urban Developments & Initiatives,” and the newly implemented “Applied Innovations.”

Ranging from Arup’s photo-bioreactor facade system to Lacaton & Vassal architectes’ “House of Transformation,” the awarded projects have been deemed sustainable exemplars for their contributions to the built environment.

See all the winners after the break…

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GIFs Turn Architecture Into Animated Art

has shared with us his awesome series of architecture gifs, Architecture Animée (Animated Architecture), which turn architecture from SANAA, Herzog and de Meuron, MAD Architects and more into amazing, zany gifs. See all nine after the break!

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OMA & BIG among 6 Winners in Rebuild By Design Competition

The proposed Waterfront. Image Courtesy of

Yesterday, US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced OMA, BIG and four other teams as the winner of “Rebuild by Design“, a competition aimed at rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Sandy focusing on resilience, sustainability and and livability.

In total, HUD have allocated $920 million to the six projects in New York, New Jersey and Long Island to enable the completion of this vision.

Read more about the winning schemes after the break

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2014 London Festival of Architecture Explores the Theme of “Capital”

The 2014 London Festival of Architecture opened this week, with over 200 running throughout the city in the month of June. This year’s theme is “Capital”, an intentionally ambiguous theme which allows an exploration of the culture, people, economy and built environment of London. Some of the key topics to be interrogated will be the housing crisis afflicting London and the recent boom in the construction of tall buildings.

Read on after the break for more on the festival and some of its headline events

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How Will Architecture Respond to a “Boom” in UK University Spending?

Courtesy of University of

With the recent news that Dutch practice Mecanoo, along with Penoyre & Prasad, have been selected for a £200 million new engineering campus at the University of ManchesterAmanda Baillieu of BDOnline argues that they ”need to set their ambitions a whole lot higher.” Alongside’s Manchester’s announcement, universities in Sheffield, and Oxford also recently announced a big investment in their campuses. The trick, Baillieu suggests, will be in ensuring the architecture is not “safe and office-like” (which fits universities’ “business-like” mindset). As we enter a “golden age” in university capital investment, educational architecture will be playing a central role. Read the article in full here.

Libeskind Breaks Ground on 60-Story “Century Spire” in Philippines

© Studio AMD

Last week, Daniel Libeskind joined Century Properties Group to celebrate the ground breaking of the “Century Spire.” Designed as a key building for Century City – a 3.4 hectare, mixed-use development in – the all-glass, 60-story office and residential tower sets itself apart with a “dramatic crown” that divides and expands the building’s top half as it rises.

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Revised Renovation Plan Released for New York Public Library

The Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

Details have been released on the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) plan to renovate its Mid-Manhattan branch, while creating more public space within its flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The news comes shortly after Foster + Partner’s redesign of the the Beaux-Arts landmark was scrapped due to concerns of a ballooning budget. The revised $300 million overhaul suggests a more affordable option of relocating Schwarzman’s main stacks beneath Bryant Park, while establishing a more campus-like connection with a fully renovated Mid-Manhattan branch. All the details, here.

Budapest Breaks Record with World’s Tallest LEGO Tower

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Official Danish LEGO constructors have teamed up with locals in , to build the world’s tallest LEGO tower. Rising 34.76 meters (114 feet) in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, the towering spire was officially registered with the Guinness book of World Records for breaking the US’ previous record of 34.43 meters on May 25th. The structure was made of 450,000 colorful bricks and appropriately topped with an oversized, Hungarian-built Rubik’s Cube. 

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GM Architects Cut Through Beirut’s Multicultural History at 2014 Venice Biennale

A view of the museum from the monolith. Image © GM Architects

Lebanese design firm GM Architects will be presenting its “Museum of Civilization” at the Time Space Existence exhibition of the 2014 Venice Biennale. The firm will be the only group representing Lebanon at this year’s exhibition. Their museum design addresses the Biennale’s theme of fundamentals by exploring the historical basis of architectural culture in the rich and varied context of their home country.

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