Inspiration is a funny thing: when you need it is nowhere to be seen, and just when you’re not expecting it, it can blindside you in the least convenient of places. Here’s ten inspirational TED talks for architects (in no particular order) from people with broad and unique views on architecture. Some might enlighten, educate or even enrage you – at the very least they should get those creative juices flowing a little better.
Take-in these ten TED talks after the break…
Most parking is free – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a high cost. A recent podcast from Freakonomics Radio (which you can listen to at the end of this article) examined parking in US cities, investigating the “cost of parking not paid for by drivers” – a cost paid not just by the government, but by the environment – due to congestion and pollution caused by people searching for kerbside parking. For example, in a 15 block area of Los Angeles the distance traveled by drivers looking for parking is equivalent to one trip across the USA per day.
One potential solution which they discuss is a San Francisco project called SF Park, which makes use of sensor technology to measure the demand for parking in certain areas of the city and adjust price according to demand. In theory, this would create a small number of empty spaces on each block and dramatically reduce the time that many drivers spend cruising for parking spaces.
Though the idea is certainly an intelligent approach to the problem of kerbside parking, unsurprisingly all this talk of supply, demand and pricing sounds very much like an economist’s answer to a problem. But what can designers do to help the situation?
Perhaps, from the designer’s point of view, the real problem with kerbside parking and surface lots is that they are always seen as a provision “coupled with” a building or area of the city. There have been a number of attempts by architects – some successful and some tragically flawed – to make parking spaces less of a rupture in a city’s fabric and more of a destination in themselves. Could these point to another way?
Read about 3 examples of parking’s past, and one of its potential future, after the break…
Steve Mouzon, a principal of Studio Sky and Mouzon Design, is an architect, urbanist, author, and photographer from Miami. He founded the New Urban Guild, which hosts Project:SmartDwelling and helped foster the Katrina Cottages movement; its non-profit affiliate is the Guild Foundation, which hosts the Original Green initiative.
Architecture has changed irreparably in the past decade, but those who know how to adapt just might find themselves in a far better place in a few years. It has now been 8 years since construction peaked in 2005, nearly 6 years since the subprime meltdown, and close to 5 years since the big meltdown that really kicked off the Great Recession.
Today, it appears that construction is finally beginning to pick back up, but it’s too late for architecture as we knew it. Here are seven reasons why…
“If you Build It, Will They Come?” – The Architecture Foundation Discusses Cultural Centers’ Impact on Cities
The considerations regarding urban regeneration are far and wide. From the reuse of derelict infrastructure – like WORKac’s project in St. Petersburg’s New Holland Island - to the master-planning of cultural communities – like the design of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi - to the development of an entire districts – like Foster + Partner’s master plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong – the design of cultural centers that range in program, function and attraction have been a keystone in redeveloping the cultural impact of cities. The “Bilbao Effect” is still cited as proof that architecture has the capacity to revitalize cities centers and elevate their status in global design with these “architectural trophies“. If you Build it, Will They Come?: New Cultural Projects in Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and St Petersburg is a talk, organized by The Architectural Foundation that explores the relationship between grand urban cultural projects and the developmental strategies that are unique to each city. The discussion focuses on presentations from designers of the aforementioned projects in an effort to find both the specific relationships that exist between development and the site as well as the general understanding of how cultural centers thrive and revive the urban environment.
More on each project after the break..
You have to admit it, Hollywood really seems to have a thing for John Lautner; his designs are continuously cropping up in tv-shows, films, cartoons, music videos and even video games. The occasional despondent college professor aside, his exuberant mansions are usually typecast as the bachelor-pads of various flamboyant psycho-paths, pornographers or drug-smugglers. Curbed Los Angeles have compiled this excellent video of the various Lautner-featuring scenes, so we thought that we’d take a closer look at some of his buildings, which tend to pop up in all manner of unexpected places.
Read more about Hollywood’s love affair with Lautner after the break…
It is a building, a building in New York City, a building erected in the dust of 9/11, a building that upon completion signaled hope for larger reconstructions, a building that presents itself to the world through the intricate patina and pocking of white bronze. White bronze. This alone conjures something alchemic, ancient, timeless.
But buildings are not timeless. They have their time. As architects we memorialize each one that resonates with the thoughtfulness of capital “A” architecture—in part because we understand what it takes to realize them.
Despite this, the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien-designed American Folk Art Museum may ultimately be doomed to the brutal translations of administrative efficiency, cruel syllogisms, that as Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of MoMA’s architecture and design department notes, are “painful.”
While other architecture students spend their summers strolling the streets, seeing the sights, and contently sketching, you could be getting your hands dirty, turning your designs into reality, and making a difference in a community that needs you.
Every summer, Global Architecture Brigades (GAB) activates student volunteers to work with a community in Honduras, helping them alleviate needs in health and education. The program isn’t a lesson in a charity; it’s a hands-on experience of the community-entrenched work of a designer of the 21st century.
Read more about Global Architecture Brigade’s work in Honduras, and how you can get involved, after the break…
A glass house in the desert? Was it an architectural caprice, a folly, or was it a solution to the problems of desert living whose appropriateness is still not recognized? Having had the experience of living in The Dome for a full year, through all the seasons, I felt it incumbent upon myself to take a fresh look at this remarkable work of architecture.
Paolo Soleri, its designer, was born in 1920 in Turin, received a PhD in architecture from the Torino Politecnico, and in 1947 came to America to study with Frank Lloyd Wright, remaining with him for just over a year. Mark Mills, who assisted Soleri in the construction of The Dome, was born in 1921, received an architectural engineering degree from the University of Colorado, and studied with Wright for four years. It was at Taliesin that Soleri and Mills became friends. In 1948, when they and two other apprentices were working on an experimental structure at Taliesin West, which became what is known as the Sun Cottage, there was a misunderstanding with Wright that led to all four of them leaving. Soleri and Mills went to work with a developer, providing design work for some condominiums at the base of Camelback Mountain, below the north face in Paradise Valley. Soleri developed a scheme that involved a tower element supporting a hex form canopy and he and Mills built a mockup of Camelback out of concrete block and wood. It was shortly after this that “the Cli,” as she was fondly called, came along.
The complete article after the break…
As his website reveals, Hancock “panics that he may not be able to draw everything in the world… at least once.” Since Kindergarten, he’s been obsessed with drawing in meticulous detail (or, as he tells the Atlantic Cities, with a mix of “technicality and whimsy”), a characteristic this native Australian brought with him when he moved to Brooklyn, New York.
What began as a blog, All The Buildings In New York, to keep track of his many sketches of New York’s architecture (particularly the brownstones), is now a book (All The Buildings in New York: That I’ve Drawn So Far - which includes about 500 drawings). Organized by neighborhoods, it features New York architectural icons from the past and present, including the Chrysler Building, the Flatiron, Apple’s 5th Avenue store, as well as the everyday buildings that make up New York’s unique cityscape.
See more images from All the Buildings in New York, after the break…
You would think that of all film genres, Science Fiction would be the one least likely to feature real buildings. It stands to reason that production designers would want to avoid connections with things so grounded in reality. But in fact, there is somewhat of a tradition of using modern architecture as a foundation for the creation of fictional film worlds.
Science fiction relies on an audience believing in the world they are presented with. Clever camera work, perspective design, and temporary materials can only do so much. What often tips the balance in favour of using real, Modern buildings – rather than a temporary set – is the authenticity and atmosphere they provide the Science Fiction genre.
Read about Modern architecture in Sci-Fi films Blade Runner, Gattaca, Aeon Flux, and more, after the break…
Having been involved in the creative industries education for over decade now, one of the most common questions students ask in interviews (and parents ask on open days) is about ‘getting a job’ at the end of the course. As if a graduating student can simply go and trade in their degree certificate and swap it for a ‘good job’. If only employment was this easy.
‘Getting a job’ in the Arts has always been a difficult undertaking; with no boxes to tick it can be a complicated process finding an appropriate vacancy – and so ensues the hellish time of resume writing and job interviews.
A drastic [most revolutions are] but more appropriate approach to this situation is not to think of ‘getting a job’ as ‘getting’- the mere word suggests a degree of affordance, of being gifted employment – but rather as ‘creating a job’. ’Creating’ is about being pro-active and entrepreneurial; it involves going out, attending events, talking to people, doing internships and apprenticeships – essentially increasing your exposure. After all, how will employers know they need you in their firm if they only see your skills in a nice little list on a sheet of A4? You must make yourself indispensable, and for that you don’t need a resume. You need guts.
More after the break…
There’s been a lot of buzz going around about the Pritzker jury dissing Denise Scott Brown, wife and co-partner to Robert Venturi. Back in 1991 they awarded the prize to Mr. Venturi, singular…not plural to include his better half. Seems they, a different jury, also dissed Wang Shu’s wife and co-partner, Lu Wenyu way back in 2012 by granting the prestigious prize to Mr. Wang without acknowledging who holds up “the other half of the sky”, as they say in Mandarin.
Context in architecture has become a subject bloated with discussion and debate over the years. And, as a matter of fact, it has come to matter very little in its formal and typological sense. Take, for instance, the fluid forms that compose Zaha Hadid’s hundreds of projects around the world, or Frank Gehry’s exploding compositions seen from South America to the unmistakable Guggenheim in Bilbao. The form architecture takes in these cases, and countless others, is in itself a deliberate disregard towards context in its literal sense.
But is this disregard for context a mistake? Observers would often say so, though I would like to disagree. It has become frequent that projects like these, largely formal and not politely accommodating their historic surrounding, actually take greater interest in social urban issues that have a direct impact on the city dwellers. Quite simply, successful architecture today is one that serves society culturally and practically, addressing tangible problems of 21st century cities and dealing with context in a solution-oriented manner, going beyond aesthetics (whose value is only temporary) and into future-invested urbanism. Case-in-point? My hometown: Beirut, Lebanon.
Cases from Lebanon on this new approach to context after the break…
What do MIT’s Building 20, the Ancient Greek Agora, 18th Century British teahouses, and early 20th century Parisian cafés have in common?
They were some of the most creative spaces in the world.
People who gathered there would interact. People, such as Socrates or Chomsky or Edison, exchanged ideas, argued about morals, and discussed technologies. They participated in an informal discourse driven by passionate involvement.
And these places, although for different reasons, fostered interaction by bringing people together and giving them a place to talk. As Jonah Lehrer put it, “the most creative spaces are those which hurl us together. It is the human friction that makes the sparks.”
The question, then, is how can contemporary architecture foster the same kind of creativity?
To learn more about architecture and its role in creativity and learning, keep reading after the break.
Last week the UK’s Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced that he was commissioning a review of the country’s architecture policy, to be led by Sir Terry Farrell along with a number of high profile advisors, including Thomas Heatherwick, Alison Brooks and Alain de Botton. According to Vaizey, the review, expected to be complete by the end of the year, “will be a rallying point for the profession.”
In his article in The Guardian, Olly Wainwright rather hopefully questioned: “might this year-long study result in an innovative new piece of legislative guidance – perhaps along the lines of Denmark’s architecture policy, introduced in 2007?” While Wainwright somewhat flatly concludes, “somehow, that seems unlikely,” there’s no doubt that the UK could only stand to gain from learning from Denmark’s innovative policy.
So what lessons could the UK (and the world) learn from the Danes? Read on after the break…
Arguably the biggest buzzword in urbanism right now is the ‘Smart City’. The idea, although certainly inclusive of eco-friendly practices, has even replaced “sustainability” as the major intent of cities planning for positive future development. Smart City thinking has been used successfully in countries as diverse as Brazil, the US, the UAE, South Korea, and Scotland (Glasgow just won a £24million grant to pioneer new schemes throughout the city).
But what exactly are Smart Cities? What benefit do they bring us? And, more importantly, how can we best implement them to secure our future?
The answer, in my opinion, lies in the hands of architects.
More on the potential of Smart Cities after the break…
Sustainability leader Hunter Lovins once called the building industry “dynamically conservative — it works hard to stay in the same place.”
But old habits cannot fully address new challenges. According to 350.org, fossil fuel corporations currently have in their reserves five times the amount of carbon that, if burned too quickly, may raise atmospheric temperatures to a catastrophic level where Hurricane Sandy-scale storms could become the norm. Quicker, deeper progress is imperative.
Architecture is an essential arena for sustainable innovation. Buildings represent about half the annual energy and emissions in the U.S. and three-quarters of its electricity. With the built environment growing — the U.S. building stock increases by about 3 billion square feet every year — architects have a historic opportunity to transform its impact for the better.
Keep reading to find out the 6 Steps architects can take to transform the profession, after the break…
Architecture is quickly adopting the popular technology of robots. Although it is slightly hard to define what “robot” really means, for architecture, it tends to refer to anything from robot arms to CNC mills to 3D printers. Basically, they are programmable, mechanical, and automated instruments that assist in processes of digital fabrication.
So, what might robots mean for architecture? A more precise architecture which could contribute to a more sustainable building life cycle? More innovative design derived from algorithmic processes? A more efficient prefabrication process that could reduce the time and cost of construction?
Probably a mix of all three. But more importantly, what might robots mean for humans? Robotic replacement for the construction worker? Loss of local craftsmanship and construction knowledge? Maybe. But I might reformulate the question. Asking what robots mean for humans implies passivity.
What I ask, then, is what can robots do for humans?
The forthcoming Pacific Standard Time exhibition, A CONFEDERACY OF HERETICS: THE ARCHITECTURE GALLERY, VENICE, 1979, which runs from March 29 – July 7, 2013 at SCI-Arc, would like us to believe that there are “pivotal moments” in the architectural zeitgeist—that there are zeitgeists at all might even be worth questioning.
Pivotal moments are constructed after the fact. Zeitgeists are consumed by invested audiences and forced upon the non-cognoscenti as evidence. What we are talking about are discourses. Los Angeles, 1979 is one of architecture’s minor discourses, a pulse that warped the major discourse into something else, the anti-. By saying it is minor does not undermine its cultural significance.
This article comes courtesy of Charlotte Neilson, the author of the fascinating design blog Casting Architecture. Her column, Through the Lens, will look at architecture and production design in TV and film.
The categorisation of period architecture generally remains firmly in the realm of the professional or amateur enthusiast – let’s face it, you can go through life without knowing the difference between a Corinthian and Ionic column without too much inconvenience. Oddly, however, most people are able to name a few of the main features of Art Deco architecture fairly easily – the curved corners, stylised forms, the use of bakelite and chrome, the transport motifs.
It’s interesting that this period is so much more familiar to us, considering it spanned quite a short timeframe compared to other architectural styles; the Arts and Crafts and Art Noveau movements, for example, which both occurred in a similar time frame to Art Deco, are much less known to the wider community.
It’s possible of course that Art Deco is just more omnipresent because of its universal appeal, or its uniqueness, but I think most of the credit should go to Monsieur Hercule Poirot.
Learn more about Agatha Christie’s contribution to Art Deco, after the break…
A very wise man, Homer Simpson, once described alcohol as “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” While this may not necessarily be true for all problems, fifty years ago it seemed that beer was going to play a part in solving a housing shortage on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, thanks to a bizzare, yet socially conscious, piece of design.
Check it out after the break…