The Indicator: Will We Stay Silent? The Human Cost of Qatar’s World Cup

Development of new skyscrapers in Doha, . Image © Sophie James / Shutterstock.com

Qatar says the World Cup projects are “on track,” but the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which has been investigating worker deaths in the Gulf Emirate for the last two years, vehemently disagrees. To date there have been 1200 worker deaths associated with the on-going World Cup projects. A scathing report, issued by the ITUC on March 16, claims that unless significant improvements are made to working conditions on World Cup-related sites at least 4000 more migrant construction workers could lose their lives. This would mean that those construction sites are “on track” to kill 600 workers per year, or at least 12 per week until the ribbons are cut and the fireworks are set off.

At a FIFA executive committee meeting held in Zurich on March 20, FIFA president Sepp Blatter stated, “We have some responsibility but we cannot interfere in the rights of workers.” Likewise, local FIFA organizing committee in Qatar says workers are not their responsibility. Zaha Hadid said the same.

However, given the increasing chorus of headlines along the lines of “The Qatar World Cup is a Total Disaster” they may have to say something stronger on the issue at some point — or have the image of their architecture tarnished. Of course we all know that what they mean is that legally it is not their responsibility. But does that mean they should be sitting back, not even attempting to influence change?

Get all the facts on the situation of the Qatar construction workers, after the break…

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The Pritzker Prize: Making Architects “Starchitects” Since 1979 (But at What Cost?)

Architecture’s Highest Honor. Top Left to Right: Rafael Moneo (1996) Image © Lee Salem; PeterZumthor (2009); Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron (2001) Image © Rex Stucky; (2000) Image © Zoog.

The coveted title “Pritzker Prize Laureate” is more or less synonymous today with the label “star-architect,” a term I loathe and that most of those described as such will probably find irritating and embarrassing. And for good reason. Stardom in the sense of celebrity does not help the cause of architecture. Wang Shu’s wife, Lu Wenyu, said as much when she asked not to be named as co-laureate with her husband. In an interview with El Pais, she remarked, “I’m happy to be able to do architecture that I believe helps our towns and cities to be better. I’m convinced that to talk about this awakens interest in others – not being famous.”

Of course the Pritzker Prize does not set out to create a school of architects famous for being famous, but to recognise, celebrate and support talent, persistence and perhaps a unique contribution to the cause of architecture. The prize winners each deserve that recognition whether we agree or not with the choice of an individual recipient.

The fame culture is generated not so much by altruistic cultural institutions, but largely by a star-struck media wanting to create a cast of famous characters to write about. There is, of course, pressure from editors to do so, too, fearing perhaps that anything else might lose readers hungry for celebrity culture. Of course, the critic gains a kind of minor celebrity status, too, through association with this “star” culture.

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Pritzker Juror Alejandro Aravena on Shigeru Ban: Virtuousity in Service of Our Most Urgent Challenges

The following is ’s response to the Shigeru Ban’s Pritzker winAravena is the executive director of the firm ELEMENTAL S.A and a member of the Pritzker Jury who selected Ban as this year’s Pritzker Laureate.

has expanded the field of architecture in unexpected ways. He has proved that the inspired artist and the skilled designer is not inevitably condemned to work for a privileged elite, but that innovation can take place while working for the majority, particularly those historically underserved, forgotten or neglected. In order to do that, he redefined the approach to deal with difficult, urgent and relevant challenges, replacing professional charity by professional quality. Ban has shown that no matter how tough the circumstances or scarce the means, good design far from being an extra cost carries the added value of sharp efficiency, power of synthesis and an uplifting feeling.

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15 Things You Didn’t Know About Shigeru Ban

Left, Image of © Flickr User VisiOkrOniK. Right, from top to bottom, Ban’s Temporary Paper Studio (© Didier Boy de la Tour), the Pavilion for the Hanover Exhibition 2000 (© Hiroyuki Hirai), and his design for “Architecture for Dogs” (© Hiroshi Yoda).

You probably know by now that Shigeru Ban has won this year’s Pritzker Prize, but did you know he almost went to university to play rugby? Or that he constructed his home without pulling down a single tree? These and many more fun facts on the 38th Pritzker laureate, after the break.

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A Theory of Architecture Part 1: Pattern Language vs. Form Language

Galleria di Diana in Venaria Royal Palace, an example of Classical architecture. The Classical Language is an example of an “extremely successful form language”. Image Courtesy of shutterstock.com

As you may have seen, ArchDaily has been publishing UNIFIED ARCHITECTURAL THEORY, by the urbanist and controversial theorist Nikos A. Salingaros, in serial form. However, in order to explain certain concepts in greater detail, we have decided to pause this serialization and publish three excerpts from another of Salingaros’  : A THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE. The following excerpt, the first, explains the terms “Pattern Language” (as well as“antipatterns”) and “Form Language.”

Design in architecture and urbanism is guided by two distinct complementary languages: a pattern language, and a form language.

The pattern language contains rules for how human beings interact with built forms — a pattern language codifies practical solutions developed over millennia, which are appropriate to local customs, society, and climate.

A form language, on the other hand, consists of geometrical rules for putting matter together. It is visual and tectonic, traditionally arising from available materials and their human uses rather than from images. Different form languages correspond to different architectural traditions, or styles. The problem is that not all form languages are adaptive to human sensibilities. Those that are not adaptive can never connect to a pattern language. Every adaptive design method combines a pattern language with a viable form language, otherwise it inevitably creates alien environments.

Architectural design is a highly complex undertaking. Heretofore, the processes at its base have not been made clear. There have been many attempts to clarify the design process, yet we still don’t have a design method that can be used by students and novices to achieve practical, meaningful, nourishing, human results.

In the absence of a design method and accompanying criteria for judging a design, things have become very subjective, and therefore what is built today appears to be influenced largely by fashion, forced tastes, and an individual’s desire to garner attention through novel and sometimes shocking expressions.

This Chapter puts forward a theory of architecture and urbanism based on two distinct languages: the pattern language, and the form language.

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Non-Stick PAMM

Perez Art Museum Miami / . Image © Paul Clemence

Rio de Janeiro-based writer Robert Landon has shared with us his experience exploring Herzog and de Meuron’s Perez Art Museum Miami.

I am standing with Christine Binswanger, senior partner of Herzog & de Meuron, a few hours before the Perez Art Museum Miami opens it doors to the public for the first time. All around us, construction workers are making last minute adjustments, while troublesome clusters of VIPs take their first peak into the museum’s airy, austere galleries. The excitement is palpable.

And yet I can’t unpeel my eyes from the huge, hurricane-proof window before us. They offer enormous views of resplendent Biscayne Bay and the six-lane, 5.6km Macarthur Causeway that crosses it. Throbbing with traffic, the causeway is the kind of thing that, I imagine, people come to museums to forget. So I ask Binswanger, the museum’s project architect, how her team approached this design problem.

“Problem? What problem?” says Binswanger. “That is what Miami is about. Anyway, I find it beautiful. Don’t you?”

Suddenly I do. Or at least I find beautiful the building’s wide-open embrace of Miami, causeways and all. And I suspect that this visual (and programmatic) permeability to the city’s realities—natural and manmade—will define PAMM’s institutional success.

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25 Instagram Feeds to Follow Now (Part II)

Last June, we published our first list of must-see Instagram feeds to follow, but we knew it was only the tip of the iceberg. Once again we’ve scoured the web (and followed your excellent suggestions) to track down the 25 Instagrammers who will be sure to inspire – including dare-devil adventurer raskalov, up-and-coming architecture photographer nicanorgarciaand our very own editor-in-chief.

See the 25 awesome architecture instagrammers, after the break…

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The Indicator: Could Architecture Offices Abolish Hierarchy?

Zappos is one of the biggest companies to function as a ‘holocracy’ (without a fixed staff hierarchy). Their Las Vegas headquarters utilizes communal furniture to increase team-based collaboration (according to Business Insider, ‘desks are linked but can be easily disconnected or moved, the walls are movable as well. So if a team needs to work a different way, or a new product team is formed, the space can be changed, and changed again until it works’). Image Courtesy of Zappos, via OfficeSnapshots.com

What can architecture learn from Zappos? Yes, we’ve all heard about vegan cafés, yoga rooms, playing commando games indoors, and wearing Crocs in the office, but – more importantly – Zappos is transforming office culture in a meaningful, far-reaching way: it’s put an end to staff hierarchy.

According to The Washington Post, Zappos is the largest company to have adopted the Holocracy principle, the brainchild of software entrepreneur-turned-management-guru Brian Roberston. Guru would be the right word because, at first glance, and maybe second or third glance, Holocracy does come off as somewhat of a cult, albeit a business management cult. It creeps me out just a little bit, but having pushed through their website, I feel a little better now, not in the least like I’ve been L. Ron Hubbarded.

In a Holocracy, authority and responsibility are distributed across an organization in a way that is more goal-centered. As they say, “Everyone becomes a leader of their roles and a follower of others.” Still not making any sense? Old hierarchies that rely on “leaders” at the top, “followers” at the bottom, and “managers” in the middle are done away with completely. So, no more “bosses.” No more “staff.” No more “junior designer” or “senior designer.”

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Rem Koolhaas’ Current Fascinations: On Identity, Asia, the Biennale, & More

Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

In this interview, originally published in The Architectural Review, Andrew Mackenzie sits down with OMA founder Rem Koolhaas to discuss the Venice Biennale, the extinction of national identities, his fascination with Asia, the link between De Rotterdam and Delirious New York, and the future of the profession.

Your proposition for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale asks whether national identity has been, as you say, ‘sacrificed to modernity’. Some might view this as a project of reclamation, not unlike Frampton’s regionalism. How would you differentiate your proposition from Frampton’s?

Well, Kenneth Frampton is a smart guy, but the problem is that he looked at regionalism as an antidote to cosmopolitan development. In so doing he perverted the cause of regionalism, because suddenly regionalism was mobilised as a private cause that it couldn’t sustain. However, the question of national identity is an open one. For instance, at first sight the Netherlands is a very internationalist country, but looking closely you can see an enormous return of, not vernacular, but quasi-vernacular architecture and quasi-old fortresses that are newly built with a national flavour. Look at Zaandam, and that huge assemblage of so-called vernacular buildings.

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Unpublished / CLOG

Courtesy of

Each edition of CLOG poses a particular challenge to the reader: by showcasing such a variety of distinct view points, teasing out the central, connective themes is far from an easy task. It requires analysis, thought, and most of all time – which is, of course, entirely the point. CLOG seeks to “slow things down” so that the greater issues of architectural discourse are mulled over and explored.

The latest CLOG, however, Unpublished, has two central points that quickly, easily emerge. Pick up CLOG: Unpublished if you want to learn two things: (1) about how and why certain publications choose the architecture they publish (ArchDaily included); or (2) about works that have, for their geographical location or problematic nature, been forgotten from the “idealized narratives” of architecture

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Learning from Cairo: What Informal Settlements Can (and Should) Teach Us

Courtesy of Learning from

The following essay, written by Magda Mostafa, is an excerpt from the book “Learning from Cairo: Global Perspectives and Future Visions,” a collection of reflections from a three-day symposium of the same name. Here, Mostafa focuses on the need to accept informal communities as a reality, not an exception, and argues that conventional architecture practice and education must begin equipping architects to “address the potentials and problems of such parallel modes of existence in our built environment.”

It would be a disservice if the debate spurred at the “Learning from Cairo” symposium were to remain confined to the hypothetical. It is our responsibility to extend it to both the professional realm as well as the academic. The purpose of this discussion is just that.

How can architectural academia respond to this shifting climate? A climate where the majority of the built environment is conceived and implemented outside of the construct of conventional practice? Where the majority of the architectural product in our city exists without architects? How can we further propagate a singular top-down mode of practice in our teaching when it’s malfunctioning at best and corrupt or absent at its worst? When this conventional mode is only viable in neatly packaged projects with clear financing, educated clients and formal frameworks? How can we continue to teach our students, the architects of the future generation, to only be equipped to operate within a small portion of the built environment- ignoring the massive built environment and user groups often represented on maps as solid black “informal areas”.

This phenomena can no longer be blacked-out, and it is time for academia to begin educating its architects-to-be at least to be minimally aware, if not proficiently trained, to address the potentials and problems of such parallel modes of existence in our built environment.

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Why The Blueprint of the 21st Century Should Be Open Source

Frank Gehyr’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Rendered/Modeled in Rhino by Neguin. Image Courtesy of rhino3d.com

It used to be that when an architect needed a physical facsimile of his/her project, a draftsman would individually draw the schematics by hand. Blueprints were revolutionary in that they streamlined reproduction through technology, yet they were based on a publishing model that was repetitive  — not iterative. Computer Aided Design software, or CAD, streamlined the process even further; however, unlike blueprints, CAD was not based on publishing models, but rather on “technological science.” As such it evolved in a very different way. CAD technology that was initially developed in the 1960s as a proprietary tool for heavy industries—aerospace, automotive and super-computer processing centers— became consumer-oriented in the 1980s when it met the UNIX open platform. The key in its rapid development, dissemination and democratization was exactly this: open technology.

Today, we have 3D modeling software that can pack an exponential cache of information, render designs visible with incredible fidelity, and make those designs easier to adapt. BIM technology (building information modeling) has entered the workplace, too, improving coordination and productivity of all trades involved in project construction, effectively revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. This is technology that, like CAD, has undeniably been pushed forward via the open development and integration of components.

And yet, architects continue to depend on closed distribution models in the face of so much technology that makes design shareable and easy to manipulate. 3D modeling software has evolved and created a competitive market with ever more accessible, cross-border, cross-disciplinary design software. While the blueprint, a “published” medium, came with requisite copyright issues that appealed to the architect-as-artist, today, as a “technological” layer, blueprints cannot afford to stay locked in.

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The Indicator: Where the Migrant Workers Are

Architects’ design for al-Wakrah stadium, the main stadium for the 2022 World Cup. Image Courtesy of ZHA

Zaha Hadid’s unfortunate comments in response to worker deaths on construction sites for the 2022 World Cup has made Qatar the eye of a storm that has been raging globally for decades. But it’s not just about Qatar. This has been an issue for as long as there have been construction sites and for as long as poor people have swarmed to them for a chance at a better life.

Construction booms and migrant construction workers have always been two sides of the same equation, both dependent on the other, and, by the twisted logic of the global economy, both are the reason for the other’s existence. No migrant labor pool = no global city = no fantastic architecture, or something to this effect.

The migrant workers are the silent collaborators in global architecture, the invisible, faceless, “untouchables” who make the cost-effective construction of these buildings possible.

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Tall Tinder: Are Wooden Skyscrapers Really Fire Safe?

IZM - Illwerke Zentrum Montafon / Architekten Hermann Kaufmann ZT GmbH. Image © Norman A. Müller

While interest in tall timber buildings continues to grow, there still remains one obvious concern: combustibility. So how safe are timber structures really? Arup Connect spoke with Robert Gerard, a fire engineer in Arup’s San Francisco office, to find out how high-rise wood buildings take into account.

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Who Will Design Our Smart Cities? (Hint: Not Architects)

The New City of Songdo in South Korea. Image Courtesy of Cisco

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Big Data, Big Questions“, this article by Alex Marshall examines what is arguably the most important aspect of smart city design: not how they will be created, but who will create them. He finds that, though an apparently new phenomenon, are just like their forebears in that they are built primarily by political will, not microprocessors.

Not long ago, I bought a beetle-shaped piece of silicone and metal that slips into my pocket and keeps track of how much I walk. Called a Fitbit One, it’s essentially a glorified pedometer. The device’s shell is jammed with hard- and software that lets it talk to my computer and iPhone. It sends me attaboys! on its tiny screen and, most importantly, the gadget talks with my spouse’s Fitbit, which allows us to compete with each other.

The Fitbit is not on anyone’s list of smart-city phenomena, but I would argue for including it, because it’s changing my relationship with the streets I walk in New York City. It also illustrates the pervasiveness of smart technology, and its limitations. For all its coolness—and it is cool—my device is doing something digitally that had already been done well mechanically, and at a lower price. A lot of the smart-cities technology is like this—it’s changing how we do things, but often not what we do.

Read on for more about the changes brought about – or not brought about – by smart cities after the break

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AD Editorial Round Up: Women in Architecture

There are few topics that stir up more controversy on ArchDaily than that of . From those of you who vociferously advocate for women in the field to those who steadfastly purport that gender has no place in architecture at all, you, our readers, represent a wide spectrum of viewpoints and opinions on the subject.

And so, in honor of International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of our past comment-stirring articles (even more after the break):

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Reviewing ‘Urban Hopes’: A Look at Steven Holl’s Latest in China

A view of the Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu. Image © Shu He

In this article originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Urban Hopes, Urban Dreams“, Samuel Medina reviews a new book on the work of in China. Focusing on five major projects, the book places Holl’s work in the wider context of his urbanistic influences – including ideas from his own early paper architecture that are just now resurfacing.

Steven Holl is the rare architect whose concepts are equally known as his buildings. Chalk that up to Holl’s prolific output, in both buildings and monographs, and his knack for branding his ideas. Urban Hopes: Made in China (Lars Müller, 2014), a condensed reader on Holl’s latest work in China, is the latest in a stream of small that have continually repackaged the architect’s growing body of work. 

Anchoring and Intertwining appeared in 1996 and expounded on architectural themes and spatial notions only partially evinced by his work up until that time. In both, the buildings were few and far between, scattered between pages imprinted with “paper architecture,” the primary outlet for Holl’s creative energies in the prior decades since his move to New York in 1976. These and more titles were followed up by Parallax in 2000, a blend of philosophical, scientific, and poetic references that invest the architecture with the aura of the Gesamtkunstwerk. Holl’s idea of “porosity” made its debut here, if prematurely, where it was applied rather literally to Simmons Hall at MIT and its sponge-like facade. It wasn’t until a few years later, when the architect first got his feet wet in China, that the concept would be baptised as a core tenet of 21st-century urban design. 2009’s Urbanisms advances as much, while further recapitulating the big ideas of the previous book installments.

Read on after the break for the review of Urban Hopes

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Against Sprawl, Mall, & Tall: Soulful Architecture in A Soulless Age

Doonamoe, County Mayo Ireland. Town of Belmullet. The Thin Places are Irish places where time past, present, and future converge. This project envelops a 100 ft deep blowhole by the Atlantic Ocean. The waves are thrusting up over a 100 ft into the air and the thin place walk is aligned to the equinox. Image

Originally published by The Huffington Post as “The Problem With Architecture Today (and the Solution)“, Monica Gray documents the work of Travis Price, an architect and professor who works with his students to produce singular works all over the world which fight against the soulless architecture of our age.

According to Travis Price, an award-winning architect and philosopher whose work is rooted in ecology and mythology, most architecture today is just plain soulless. “You go into malls and they float all kinds of Roman columns and fake images. It’s Disney. It’s superficial. It’s mass produced. It’s empty.” 

Price, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, focuses on restoring the “spirit of place” to modern design by providing an alternative to the “sprawl, mall and tall” trend of generic suburban architecture today, or, as he puts it, “a slow moving Pompeii blanketing us with the pursuit of loneliness and homogeneity.”

Read on after the break to find out how Price is in his own way combating this problem

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