Ask Arup: How to Build on a Site that is “Pretty Much a Pool”

Eco shelter rendering, Refugio Nasua.. Image © fabrica de ideas ( Elejalde and Julián Felipe Villa)

This article originally appeared on Arup Connect as “Ask Arup: Silty Sand Solutions.”

Architect Juan Esteban Correa Elejalde’s client tasked him with designing an off-the-grid getaway for a rural site near Medellín, Colombia. After completing the initial design concept, Correa Elejalde ordered a soil study of the client’s land.

Unfortunately, the results showed the site to be “pretty much a pool,” he said; the high water table and thick layers of loose soil would provide little capacity to support heavy objects above.

After seeing Arup Connect’s call for engineering-related questions on ArchDaily, he reached out to see if we could offer any insight.

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Defining a More Purposeful Architecture: A Guide to Current Architectural Trends

The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.

These new movements are not distinct stylistic trends, but modes of approaching concept design. They often combine with each other, or with stylistic movements, to create complete designs. Outlined within this essay are five movements, each with varying degrees of success creating purposeful buildings: Diagramism, Neo-, Revitism, Scriptism, and Subdivisionism.

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6 of Russia’s Best 21st Century Projects

© Ed Reeve, Adjaye Associates & AB Studios

Given the country’s rich architectural history spanning almost the entirety of the 20th century, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the fall of Russian Communism in the early 1990s might have sparked an exciting new era in design. That promise hasn’t exactly been fulfilled, but as The Calvert Journal reports, a few promising recent projects are hinting at a Russian Renaissance.

The last twenty years of architecture has added little but bog-standard steel-and-glass office blocks to the limited palate of the Russian cityscape — the usual glinting onion domes, pompous Stalinist neoclassicism and crumbling tower blocks. But lately some architects have dared to differ and turned bold blueprints into bricks and mortar. Read on after the break for our pick of the best Russian buildings of the last decade.

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‘An Installation In Four Acts’ – Exploring Structuralism At Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Instituut

Great movements in architecture are usually set in motion by a dull societal ache or as a response to a sudden, unforeseen reorientation of a community at large. The Dutch city of Rotterdam - vast swathes of which were cast into oblivion during the blitz of May 1940 – has been at the forefront of many shifts in approach to the built environment. It is therefore fitting that the latest exhibition at the Nieuwe Instituut (formerly the NAi), simply titled Structuralism, is being held in the city that was recently named Europe’s best.

Furthermore, Dutch Structuralism is a timely subject for Dirk van den Heuvel and the Jaap Bakema Study Centre (JBSC) in Delft to tackle. With major civic buildings like OMA’s extension to Rotterdam’s City Hall taking shape, it appears that a resurgence of Structuralist formal thought is appearing in the contemporary city. The exhibition seeks to shine a new light on the movement by uncovering drawings, models and texts which profoundly shaped 20th century architectural thinking.

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ArchDaily: What Happened In 2014, And Where We Are Heading In 2015

Dear Readers,

Now that the frenzied holiday season has passed, I’d like to take a moment to recap some of the things that happened at ArchDaily during 2014, and share what will happen in 2015.

Once again we had a great year in terms of traffic, reaching more than 350,000 daily readers, who generated more than 80,000,000 pageviews (projects, drawings, diagrams, etc) per month. This means that we are reaching more architects, all around the world, who are using ArchDaily as their source for inspiration, knowledge, and tools.

We’ve been busy working on our new publishing platform — it’s already working for our local sites Plataforma Arquitectura (soon to be ArchDaily en Español), ArchDaily Brasil and ArchDaily México – along with a new country-specific version for one of the biggest markets in the world (coming soon!). We expect to implement this new platform by Q2 at ArchDaily, which will be much faster, with a better responsive version for mobile devices and tablets. It will also include a faceted search (so that in three easy clicks you can find things as specific as “houses built in stone in Portugal”) and a revamped version of My ArchDaily with lots of new features, firm profiles, and more!

During this past year we also had many changes in our editorial and projects teams. Our editorial side, led by our Executive Editor Becky Quintal, has tackled today’s important stories with a global angle, and also detected issues that are crucial for the future of our profession. During the Venice Biennale we were on the ground covering what has surely been one of the most discussed versions of this important event. For this, we developed a specific sub site with all the news, pavilions, interviews, books, and more. On the other side, the projects team, led by Nico Saieh, implemented a series of new methodologies to track down projects and engage architects from all over the world. With a specific focus on what is happening in emerging countries and regions where innovation is happening in the less is more spirit, they are bringing bringing new ideas for a sustainable future in terms of design to inspire our readers. And once again, our readers will help us highlight and recognize the best buildings in our 2015 Building of the Year Award initiative that launches in the next few days.

ArchDaily Materials, our new materials catalog, was launched in the US to bring more technical content that can help you materialize your ideas, creating a place where architects and manufacturers can connect.

These three areas will see several improvements during the year, both in terms of content and in the technology that makes it a useful resource for you — the architect — in your day-to-day work.

We also gave a series of lectures in the US, China, , and Colombia (countries where architecture is experiencing exciting times), helping us maintain a broad and diverse point of view to share with you. Definitely one of the highlights was our lecture at the Center for Architecture in New York, where we had the chance to connect directly with our readers and discuss the issues that our cities will need to focus on. See you at the AIA Convention Atlanta 2015!

In our interview section, we’ve had the chance to discuss important issues with a diverse group of architects from all over the world. Our AV team is working hard to edit the interviews in a suitable format for the web and on-the-go.

As you can see we’ve been working hard, and we will continue to do so this year: from better content and a new platform, to e-learning, the new dimension of Oculus Rift, mobile apps, and more! Got feedback or ideas? Leave them in the comment section below so you can help us shape ArchDaily into the tool for the architect.

Best regards,

- David & the team at ArchDaily

How a Le Corbusier Design Helped Define the Architecture of Southern California

© Elizabeth Daniels

We all know that in architecture, few things are truly original. Architects take inspiration from all around them, often taking ideas from the designs of others to reinterpret them in their own work. However, it’s more rare that a single architectural element can be borrowed to define the style of an entire region. As uncovered in this article, originally published by Curbed as “Le Corbusier’s Forgotten Design: SoCal’s Iconic Butterfly Roof,” this is exactly what happened to Le Corbusier, who – despite only completing one building in the US - still had a significant impact on the appearance of the West Coast.

Atop thousands of homes in the warm western regions of the United States are roofs that turn the traditional housetop silhouette on its head. Two panels meet in the middle of the roofline and slope upward and outward, like butterfly wings in mid-flap. This similarity gave the “butterfly roof” its name, and it is a distinct feature of post-war American residential and commercial architecture. In Hawaii, Southern California, and other sun-drenched places, the butterfly roofs made way for high windows that let in natural light. Homes topped with butterfly roofs seemed larger and more inviting.

Credit for the butterfly roof design often goes to architect . He began building single-family homes with butterfly rooflines for the Alexander Construction Company, a father-son development team, in Palm Springs, California, in 1957. The Alexander Construction Company, mostly using Krisel’s designs, built over 2,500 tract homes in the desert. These homes, and their roofs, shaped the desert community, and soon other architects and developers began building them, too—the popularity of Krisel’s Palm Springs work led to commissions building over 30,000 homes in the Southland from San Diego to the San Fernando Valley.

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The 14 Best Articles of 2014

At ArchDaily, we take great pride in bringing our readers the best selection of architectural projects and news stories around, but another part of our editorial mission also involves giving architects access to the knowledge that will help them improve the lives of future urban dwellers. As the year draws to a close, each of the editors at ArchDaily has personally selected their favorite articles from the past year which complement this editorial mission. These articles may not be the ones that garnered the most attention or views, but we think they are vital nonetheless.

Our top 14 of 2014 includes coverage of crucial events, like the attention-grabbing competition that broke almost every record going, and an architectural model that redefined the idea of political protest; it features profiles of people who are redefining the profession, including both one of the world’s most famous architects who had one of his greatest years yet, and a woman who spends most of her time working with sewage; and it includes insightful histories, such as how communist architecture developed in the mid-twentieth century, and how that period is now defining architecture in a modern-day communist superpower. Read on to find out which articles made our list as the best of the past year.

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Top 20 Most Read Articles of 2014

From Frank Gehry giving the finger and claiming that today’s architecture is 98% “pure shit,” to the Guggenheim Helsinki competition receiving 1,715 entries and becoming the most popular architecture competition in history, 2014 has been an eventful year. The following 20 stories were the most read of the year, generating discussion among readers and provoking interesting comments. Ranging from lighthearted lists (25 Free Architecture Books You Can Read Online) to articles analyzing how future cities might look (Hamburg’s Plan to Eliminate Cars in 20 Years), here are the top 20 stories of 2014.

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Why Are There Still No Built Traces of New York’s Tech Industry?

837 Washington Street. ImageImage via YIMBY

For many architects, the chance to make an impression on the landscape of New York City is a sign of distinction, an indication that they have “made the time.” But it’s not just architects who have this desire: for decades, the city’s industrial players have also striven to leave their mark. However in this article, originally posted on New York YIMBY as “How New York City is Robbing Itself of the Tech Industry’s Built Legacy,” Stephen Smith examines where it’s all gone wrong for the city’s latest industry players.

Strolling through the streets of Manhattan’s business neighborhoods, you can pick out the strata of the city’s built commercial heritage, deposited over generations by industries long gone. From the Garment District’s heavy pyramidal avenue office towers and side street lofts, dropped by the garment industry in the 1920s, to the modernist towers like Lever House and the Seagram Building, erected on Park and Fifth Avenues during the post-war years by the country’s giant consumer goods companies, each epoch of industry left the city with a layer of commercial architecture, enduring long after the businesses were acquired and the booms turned to bust.

But 50 or 100 years into the future, when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren stroll through the neighborhoods of Midtown South that are today thick with technology and creative firms, they are not likely to find much left over from the likes of Facebook or Google. There will be no equivalent of Grand Central or Penn Station, Terminal City or the Hotel Pennsylvania, left over from the early 20th century railroad tycoons, or SoHo’s cast iron buildings, developed by speculators seeking to feed the growing textile and dry-goods trades of the late 19th century. Perhaps unique among New York’s large industries, the tech and creative tenants that have become the darlings of the current market cycle are leaving very little behind for future generations to admire.

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Three Lessons From Finnish Architecture

Kuokkala Church – OOPEAA . Image © Fernanda Castro

I recently had the opportunity to visit , representing on an architecture press tour organized by the Museum of Finnish Architecture. This was a chance for me to see firsthand some of the recent architecture projects built in the last several years by young architects.

I would like to share with you some of the lessons and best practices I learned from Finnish architecture that I believe we could apply to our work as architects (especially in Latin America, where I am from).

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Inclusivity as Architectural Program: A Reflection on Vancouver’s Woodward’s Redevelopment Five Years On

Officially opened in 2010, the Woodward’s Redevelopment project designed by Vancouver based Henriquez Partners Architects and situated in the city’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), was a contentious proposal from the time of its inception, and has continued to be so in the almost five years since its completion. Yet as the large-scale mixed-use complex, and its role in the community, nears the first of many milestone anniversaries, it offers us a chance for critical reflection and allows for perceptions and understandings to be gathered and assessed.

What has made Woodward’s an interesting case study, however, is the project’s attempt to act as a model for responsible development with respect to the regeneration of its surrounding urban and community context. Yet there has also been much criticism, with fears over rapid gentrification and claims that it has displaced some of the community’s most at-risk residents. For managing partner Gregory Henriquez, however, it was seen as an opportunity to introduce a place of inclusivity into the neighbourhood and as a chance to “share a portion of the wealth created in real estate development to support the greater good.”

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London Calling: On Fondness

After the local council announced their plans to demolish the iconic Preston Bus Station in favour of a new building elsewhere, it took a national backlash before the building was eventually saved, being listed in September 2013. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the UK, the commissioning of buildings is in crisis. The government and the industry as a whole is short-sighted, putting too much emphasis on function and too little thought into what makes for a long-lasting, and in that respect sustainable, building.

What is it that prompts a person to own a classic car or a family to continue to use old silver when both involve so much hard work? Why not buy a new car or use stainless steel cutlery? By convention these possessions have reached the end of their natural life, they require careful maintenance and in many cases they don’t function as well they might – they are obsolete. Their continued use requires a conscious commitment – time and money – on the part of their owner. But then, in time, this responsibility stops being a burden and instead becomes a cause for satisfaction and enjoyment.

It is a question that could be asked of those who commission and use buildings.

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The Mexican Moment: The Rise of Architecture’s Latest Design Capital

Museo Soumaya / FR-EE. Image © Rafael Gamo

On a recent trip abroad, architect and urban planner José Castillo was struck by a conversation with Mexico’s tourism attaché in Asia. Mexican tourism, the attaché remarked, has changed; it was the ancient pyramids and sandy beaches of the country that once drew visitors to it. Today however, architecture and design—and food—prevail.

The issue of food may be of little wonder. Mexican cuisine has indeed become more popular than ever in both the high and low ends of the culinary spectrum, and food in general is not only what one eats for dinner but also a hobby and an obsessive conversation topic. Yet for local design to come to the same level of acclaim and reputation is, at any rate, quite astonishing. It may be, though, that food and architecture are not so far apart. These are both highly creative and productive professions, as well as ones with a rich history, a theory, and many layers of tradition.

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INTERIORS: Home Alone

Courtesy of INTERIORS Journal

Interiors is an online film and architecture journal, published by Mehruss Jon Ahi and Armen KaraoghlanianInteriors runs an exclusive column for  that analyzes and diagrams films in terms of space. Their Official Store will carry exclusive prints from these posts.

In their first collaboration together as writer and director, John Hughes and Christopher Columbus produced Home Alone (1990). This quintessential Christmas film is a prime example of a “movie home” — a home that is made iconic and famous with its appearance in a popular film.

The film concerns itself with Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), a young boy whose family accidently leaves him home alone after leaving for a vacation. In this small suburban town, on Christmas, their home is targeted after a string of successful break-ins in the neighborhood. The McCallister Residence as a result becomes the central space where the majority of the action in the film occurs.

The production used an actual home for the setting of the film. The home’s location is 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois, north of Chicago. The majority of the interiors were filmed on location, including most of the first floor, while several rooms were recreated and filmed on a sound stage. Interiors visited the location in July 2014.

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2014: A Great Year for Landscape Architecture

East 70th Street Garden at The Frick Collection designed by Russell Page. Image © 2014 Navid Baraty, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation

By all accounts 2014 has been a great year for , and not just because of the completion of the final phase of the High Line by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations. Previously published by the Huffington Post as “2014′s Notable Developments in Landscape Architecture,” this roundup of the year by the President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation Charles A Birnbaum finds plenty of promising developments, marred only slightly by some more backward-looking descisions.

This year there was a cultural shift that saw landscape architecture and its practitioners achieve an unprecedented level of visibility and influence.

This year the single most notable development came courtesy of the  Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman who wrote: “Great public places and works of landscape architecture deserve to be treated like great buildings.”

Landscape architecture and architecture on equal footing. Let that sink in.

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Why New York Shouldn’t be a City for the One Percent

View above Central Park looking south towards “Billionaire’s Row” towers, with Midtown towers in background and various Financial District and Downtown Brooklyn Towers in far background. Image Courtesy of CityRealty

In recent years, it’s been difficult to miss the spate of supertall, super-thin towers on the rise in Manhattan. Everyone knows the individual projects: 432 Park Avenue, One57, the Nordstrom Tower, the MoMA Tower. But, when a real estate company released renders of the New York skyline in 2018, it forced New Yorkers to consider for the first time the combined effect of all this new real estate. In this opinion article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “On New York’s Skyscraper Boom and the Failure of Trickle-Down Urbanism,” Joshua K Leon argues that the case for a city of the one percent doesn’t stand up under scrutiny.

What would a city owned by the one-percent look like?

New renderings for CityRealty get us part way there, illustrating how Manhattan may appear in 2018. The defining feature will be a bumper crop of especially tall, slender piercing the skyline like postmodern boxes, odd stalagmites, and upside-down syringes. What they share in common is sheer unadulterated scale and a core clientele of uncompromising plutocrats.

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Rem Koolhaas Asks: Are Smart Cities Condemned to Be Stupid?

The concept is linked to highly “liveable” cities such as Vancouver superseding more recognizable cities in our collective consciousness. Image Courtesy of SFU

Originally published by the European Commission as part of their “Digital Minds for a New Europe” series, this article is an edited transcript of a talk given by Rem Koolhaas at the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, 24 September 2014.

I had a sinking feeling as I was listening to the talks by these prominent figures in the field of smart cities because the city used to be the domain of the architect, and now, frankly, they have made it their domain. This transfer of authority has been achieved in a clever way by calling their city smart – and by calling it smart, our city is condemned to being stupid. Here are some thoughts on the smart city, some of which are critical; but in the end, it is clear that those in the digital realm and architects will have to work together.

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10 Points of a Bicycling Architecture

© Steven Fleming and Charlotte Morton

A revolution is occurring in street design. New York, arguably the world’s bellwether city, has let everyday citizens cycle for transport. They have done that by designating one lane on most Avenues to bicyclists only, with barriers to protect them from traffic.

Now hundreds of cities are rejigging to be bicycle-friendly, while in New York there is a sense that more change is afoot. Many New Yorkers would prefer if their city were more like Copenhagen where 40% of all trips are by bike. But then Copenhagen wants more as well. Where does this stop?

If you consider that we are talking about a mode of transport that whips our hearts into shape, funnels many more people down streets than can be funneled in cars, has no pollution, and costs governments and individuals an absolute pittance, you wont ask where it stops, but how close to 100% the bike modal share can possibly go and what we must do to achieve that.

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