A few weeks ago the RIBA doled out the 18th Stirling Prize to London-based architects Witherford Watson Mann. The decision was a good one. It was good for WWM and good for the profession – a youngish practice being recognized for a small but beautiful piece of work.
The scheme’s application of brickwork and joinery removes the work from the expediencies of modern construction technology and building products, which almost exclusively characterize the contemporary built environment. It genuinely feels like a project made at a different point in history, the result of the quite particular interests of three minds, Stephen Witherford, Chris Watson and William Mann. It is direct and personal. It reminds me of Stirling’s work..
And not just for its powerful draftsmanship, plan and restricted palette of materials, but for its intimacy. An intimacy that is apparent in much of Stirling’s oeuvre. I do not refer to the production of intimate spaces per se but the formulation of an architecture that is authored not by a factory but a few minds.
The latest Stirling prompted me to look back, and reconsider the work of Stirling himself.
Keep an eye out, or you might miss the Museu Brasileiro de Escultura (a.k.a. MuBE, pronounced MOO-bee). Widely considered the masterpiece of Pritzker Prize-winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha, the building was in fact born out of the desire to have no building at all. When in the 1980s an empty lot in Sao Paulo’s mansion-laden Jardins district was slated to become a shopping mall, wealthy residents successfully lobbied to create a public square instead. To sweeten the deal and ensure the land stayed commercial-free, they hired Mendes de Rocha to create MuBE. Completed in 1995, the 7000-sq-meter museum hunkers down beneath ground level, thus preserving what in Sao Paulo is that rarest of luxuries: a public green space.
It begins with a fundamental premise: Buildings occupy only a fraction of land in cities. Just as important as physical structures, are the public spaces in between.
In many cities these spaces have long been disregarded. Today, however, we are witnessing bold experimentation and innovation coming forth from cities across the globe: cities re-using and re-imagining previously underused spaces in order to uplift communities and transform lives.
In mid autumn, when the nights get longer in the northern hemisphere, we encounter numerous light festivals. And indeed, within the last ten years, more and more light festivals have globally emerged. The reason for the success of light festivals is simple, as the German curator Bettina Pelz concludes: “It’s actually fairly easy, because whenever you do something with light in cities in the night, then people do come. If you do it good, they come twice.”
As Pelz points out, light is an apt medium for evening events, since it easily attracts people. Communities have discovered the potential of lighting for city marketing, and the closer they plan their date to Christmas, the more they merge their illumination with the festive blinking lights of commercial Christmas markets.
Join us on a tour through some of the leading light festivals in Europe. Read more about their different backgrounds, artistic concepts and future trends after the break…
Christine Outram’s rant “Why I Left the Architecture Profession” is an honest and seemingly spontaneous attempt at staking out a position against an “outdated” profession. It’s explosive in its assertion that “you,” meaning all you architects, are out of touch. “You” don’t listen to your clients. “You” are obsessed with form-making. “You” are a soulless machine, designing by code templates and cut and paste, with no regard for humanity. Her essay hits like a splatter bomb, throwing shrapnel in all directions. It’s a drone strike that has killed innocents. It’s clumsy and reckless.
It begs to be deconstructed. It demands a counterattack. And, judging from the lengthy comment thread, this is what it has reaped. Be that as it may, the issues are obvious. Telling architects they are “outdated” or that they don’t listen seems like a calculated attempt to get the attention of architects and to get them to somehow prove themselves, to make them mad in ways equal to her own anger.
Well, it’s got my attention. Here’s my rebuttal.
Writers, directors, producers, and actors in the Hollywood film industry play major roles in shaping how millions around the world perceive architects and the architectural profession. Television shows, too, create stereotypes of professions that are repeatedly drummed into the brain with each successive episode. Both make long-lasting impacts that may encourage or dissuade young people from pursuing architecture as a career.
This article, by Michael R. Allen, was originally published on Next City as “Prentice Hospital Could Become Modernism’s ‘Penn Station Moment’“
When the concrete cloverleaf of Prentice Hospital sprouted from the Chicago ground in 1975, its award-winning design met the praise of critics and the admiration of many Chicagoans. Architect Bertrand Goldberg drew from Brutalism, but with a symmetry and grace that distinguished Prentice from more angular works in that style.
This week, as Goldberg’s famous work is pulled apart by wreckers, nothing about its loss seems symmetrical or graceful. Within 40 years, the building transitioned from a proud symbol of civic renewal and design innovation to the victim of old-fashioned Chicago politics. The controversy surrounding the demolition of Prentice, however, injected the preservation movement into an urban design discussion with a presence not seen in a long time.
This interview was originally posted on Arup Connect and titled “Global perspectives on the future of healthcare design“.
In the last few decades, rapid advances in both medical and consumer technologies have created revolutionary possibilities for every aspect of healthcare, from prevention to diagnosis to treatment and beyond. From DNA-based preventative care to digital appointments with doctors thousands of miles away, the future holds enormous potential for improving longevity and quality of life for people around the world.
These dynamics present significant challenges for designers working to shape a built environment that will meet healthcare needs both today and in the future. We spoke with Arup experts from around the globe — Phil Nedin, who heads the firm’s global healthcare business from London; Bill Scrantom, the Los Angeles-based healthcare leader for North and South America; and Katie Wood, who recently relocated from Australia to Toronto to build the Canadian practice — to learn more.
In the following article, which originally appeared on Medium as “What Starbucks Gets that Architects Don’t,” Christine Outram, bemoans that architects today just don’t listen to people’s actual needs.
You’re outdated. I know this because I once was one of you. But now I’ve moved on. I moved on because despite your love of a great curve, and your experimentation with form, you don’t understand people.
I correct myself. You don’t listen to people.
We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. Part one of Chapter Two outlined the scientific approach to architectural theory; the following, part two of Chapter Two, explains why Salingaros considers this approach to be superior to that taken by deconstructivists. If you missed them, make sure to catch up on the introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2A.
Some traditions are anachronistic and misguided, but as reservoirs of traditional solutions against which to check new proposals they are of immense importance. A new solution may at some point replace a traditional solution, but it must succeed in reestablishing the connections to the rest of knowledge. In the context of social patterns, architecture, and urbanism, new solutions are useful if they connect to traditional social, architectural, and urban patterns (i.e., all those before the 1920s). If there is an obvious gap where nothing in a discipline refers to anything outside, then there could be a serious problem.
Recently, Edward Wilson has introduced the notion of “consilience” as “the interlocking of causal explanations across disciplines” (Wilson, 1998a). Consilience claims that all explanations in nature are connected; there are no totally isolated phenomena. Wilson focuses on incomplete pieces of knowledge: the wide region separating the sciences from the humanities. He is happy to see it being slowly filled in by evolutionary biologists, cognitive neuroscientists, and researchers in artificial intelligence. At the same time, he is alarmed by people in the humanities who are erasing parts of the existing body of knowledge. These include deconstructive philosophers. Wilson characterizes their efforts as based on ignorance.
On October 23rd, the Walt Disney concert hall, the project that almost never was, will celebrate its ten-year anniversary. Throughout these ten years it has had all manner of transformative power attributed to it. But has it really transformed LA? What would the city have been like if it had never been built? Would it be fundamentally different?
The answer? No.The city wouldn’t even be that different in the immediate vicinity of Grand Avenue.
Since the dawn of the modern era, there has been a strong relationship between architecture and the car, especially in the works of Le Corbusier.
Le Corbusier was fascinated by his car (the Voisin C7 Lumineuse); the aesthetics of this functional, mass produced machine deeply influenced his designs. Its focus on function translated into his concept that houses should be “machines for living” and inspired a series of experiments of mass produced, pre-fab houses (such as the Maison Citrohan). Most of these concepts were later materialized in the iconic Villa Savoye, whose floorplan was even designed to accommodate the car’s turning radius.
Despite what you may think, Thom Mayne isn’t the “bad boy” of architecture – at least, not according to Thom Mayne. He sees himself more as a skilled negotiator than a starchitect (a phrase he hates) – after all, he reasons, how else would he have completed so many buildings? In this interview, originally published on Metropolis Magazine‘s Point of View blog as “Q&A: Thom Mayne,” Andrew Caruso and Mayne discuss Morphosis, SCI-ARC, the early days of his career, and his architectural ethos.
Andrew Caruso: Your professional career began in the discipline of planning. What led to the shift toward architecture and your eventual partnership with Jim Stafford?
Thom Mayne: I started working at the Pasadena redevelopment agency doing low cost housing, and that’s where I met Jim [Stafford]. Coming out of USC, I had no background about Mies, Khan or Corbusier, for example. USC was very strong in being anti-historical, looking forward instead of backward. I was essentially naive.
Jim was a year ahead of me at USC and had part of the older regime at the school. When I met him at the planning agency, he started introducing me to history. I got fascinated by [Paul] Rudolph; and then it just took off. Jim guided me through this thought process, reestablishing me in the tradition of architecture.
In 2013 alone some 1 million people have poured out of Syria to escape a civil conflict that has been raging for over two years. The total number of Syrian refugees is well over 2 million, an unprecedented number and a disturbing reality that has put the host countries under immense infrastructural strain.
Host countries at least have a protocol they can follow, however. UN Handbooks are consulted and used to inform an appropriate approach to camp planning issues. Land is negotiated for and a grid layout is set. The method, while general, is meticulous – adequate for an issue with an expiration date.
Or at least it would be if the issue were, in fact, temporary.
This article, originally posted in Metropolis Magazine as “Derek Parker’s Third Act,” tells the story of Aditazz, a Silicon Valley design startup founded by Deepak Aatresh, an entrepreneur with a background in silicon chip manufacturing. Now in collaboration with Derek Parker, a renowned veteran with six decades of experience in healthcare design, the pair could be set to revolutionize the way that hospitals are designed and built.
In June 2011, Derek Parker boarded a plane at San Francisco International Airport. The veteran health-care architect was headed to San Diego to deliver the most improbable presentation of his illustrious, six-decade-long career. For six months, he had worked as a consultant with a Silicon Valley design start-up called Aditazz. Shortly after Parker signed on, the new company had entered Small Hospital, Big Idea—a design competition launched by Kaiser Permanente. The first round, in which the firms remained anonymous, drew more than 400 entries. Eight of the nine shortlisted firms invited to San Diego were industry heavyweights. The ninth, to everyone’s surprise, was the unknown Aditazz.
Since 2005 more than 150 projects advancing sustainability of the built environment haven been celebrated in the Holcim Awards as outstanding, innovative and inspiring examples of sustainable construction. Winning a prize in this international competition has sign-posted professional success for the project teams; highlighted sustainability on the public agenda; accelerated tangible change for urban poor; and secured funding for environmental recovery and research. Beyond holding a trophy aloft, the momentum of sustainable construction has continued for the architects behind projects in locations as diverse as Burkina Faso, Spain, India, and Canada.
More after the break.
I may be in the minority among my peers, but I want Kanye West to keep talking. Despite the many who despise, disparage or dismiss him—unwilling or unable to properly digest what he’s saying, consuming bite-sized quotes and late-night parodies instead of engaging him in intellectual discourse—I want him to keep talking.
As a black man and an architect (one of about 2,000 in this country who can claim membership to both those groups), I am particularly cognizant of the Truman Show wall that exists between architects and recognition, and between black architects and acceptance. West’s recent interview with Zane Lowe administered reflections on design, architecture and the creative process in a dosage too high for most to swallow. I am tripping over myself with fear and excitement at the prospect of having such a powerful mouthpiece for a generation of black architects and designers who share his frustration and connect with his message.
Why? Because when Kanye West talks, people listen.
We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. The following chapter, part one of Chapter Two, outlines the scientific approach to architectural theory. If you missed them, make sure to read the introduction and Chapter One first.
In order to discuss any supposed contributions to architectural theory, it is necessary to define what architectural theory is. A theory in any discipline is a general framework that:
(1) explains observed phenomena;
(2) predicts effects that appear under specific circumstances; and
(3) enables one to create new situations that perform in a way predicted by the theory.
In architecture, a theoretical framework ought to explain why buildings affect human beings in certain ways, and why some buildings are more successful than others, both in practical as well as in psychological and aesthetic terms.