“Superstructure”: 11 Projects That Defined Kiev’s Soviet Modernism

Pavilion “Transport”, from the of Achievements of the National Economy of USSR. Image Courtesy of Valentyn Shtolko

Around the globe, the post-war years were a period of optimism and extreme experimentation. On both sides of the cold war’s ideological divide, this optimism found its greatest expression, architecturally speaking, in modernism - but of course, the particular circumstances of each city offered a unique spin on the modernist project. According to the curators of “Superstructure,” an exhibition presented at Kiev’s Visual Culture Research Center from January 28th to February 28th, the utopian architectural works of Kiev represented ”an attempt to transform the city into the environment for materialization of artistic thinking – in contrast to the strict unification of city space by typical construction and residential blocks.” Architects such as Edward Bilsky and Florian Yuriyev, often working in collaboration with artists such as Ada Rybachuk and Volodymyr Melnychenko attempted to create projects that were a complete synthesis of architecture and art – an approach to design that often didn’t sit well with the Ukrainian authorities of the time.

Featuring research by Alex Bykov, Oleksandr Burlaka and Oleksiy Radynski, “Superstructure” examined the projects which were typical of this particular cultural moment in Kiev. After the break, we present this research, and a selection of images from the exhibition.

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How Architecture Sans Frontières Improves the Built Environment With Everything But Buildings

Change by Design 2010 in Salvador, Brazil (click image to see the workshop report). Image Courtesy of ASF-UK

In a development that shocked many in the architecture world, on the 19th of January Architecture for Humanity - arguably the world’s leading architectural charity – was reported to have gone bankrupt, closing their San Francisco headquarters. By itself, this news was attention-grabbing enough, but in the aftermath two interesting things happened: firstly, many started to wonder what would become of the organization’s many local chapters in the US and beyond; secondly, some writers began to uncover small but long-standing disagreements about how the central organization had courted publicity – managing director of Architecture for Humanity’s chapter Rachel Starobinsky, for example, was quoted by FastCo Design saying that “visibility always went to the disaster relief projects that headquarters was working on” and that “the chapters were not really highlighted or valued as much as they could have been.” All of a sudden many people – this writer included - were talking about the importance of both creating strong networks and of sharing information to the creation of a strong humanitarian design outfit.

None of these ideas, though, would have been new to the members of Architecture Sans Frontières. Though it was founded a full two decades earlier than Architecture for Humanity, beginning in France in 1979, ASF has never really shared the public profile of some of its contemporaries. There are reasons for this – a lack of desire to actively court attention chief among them – but none of them have anything to do with ASF’s ability to do good in the world.

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Never Built New York: Projects From Gaudí, Gehry and Wright that Didn’t Make it in Manhattan

Sketches by Gaudí on the left, with Joan Matamala’s drawing of the building on the right. Image Courtesy of 6sqft

Ever since its unprecedented skyward growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Manhattan has been an icon of construction all over the world, with recent estimates concluding that the island contains some 47,000 buildings. However, as with all construction, completed projects are just the tip of the architectural iceberg; Manhattan is also the home of many thousands of unloved, incomplete, and downright impossible proposals that never made it big in the Big Apple.

Of course, the challenges of New York are indiscriminate, and even world-renowned architects often have difficulties building in the city. After the break, we take a look at just three of these proposals, by Antoni Gaudí, Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry, courtesy of 6sqft.

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Why Students Need a Space of Their Own

Cambridge Public Library / William Rawn Associates and Ann Beha Architects. Image © Robert Benson

Public/Private, the Spring 2015 issue of ArchitectureBoston (out now) examines current trends in how we view public and private space and the effect these have on architecture. Tackling spaces as diverse as social space, the workplace, residential life, transportation, or civic territory, the issue examines what happens when notions of public an private space intersect. In the following article, originally published under the title “Quiet, please,” Laura Wernick FAIA explores the need for enclosed, private spaces within educational facilities.

I walk by William Rawn’s Cambridge Public Library extension twice a day on my way to and from work. I love the transparency of the south façade. It is sharp and crisp, and I can see right through to all of the exploring, socializing, reading, and working taking place within. When I go into the library for research or study, however, I tend to move quickly away from the openness of the new building into the old one. I find a semi-enclosed quiet spot away from the crowds, turn off social media, and get to work.

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Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 9A

Casa Milà / . “The perception of “life” in objects comes instead from a deep connection established between the observer or user, and the object”. Image © Samuel Ludwig

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 expands on the phenomenon of “life” in buildings introduced in Chapter 3, and also introduces a simple test which can be used to determine the degree of “life” in a structure. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

Approaching architecture from the entirely new perspective of organized coherence — what Christopher Alexander calls “wholeness” — unifies many phenomena. The traditional distinctions between ornament and function, between buildings and ecology, and between beauty and utilitarian structure are blurred. We can look for the “life” in artifacts and structures, which explains our experience of them.

Later in this course we are going to count features, and measure parameters that contribute to our impression of “life” in an object. These measures will show that the phenomenon of life is not idiosyncratic, but is, to a very large degree, shared among all people.

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How Heatherwick Studio Provides Small-Scale Encounters in a Large-Scale World

© Hufton + Crow

A casual observer might be forgiven for wondering how Thomas Heatherwick has developed such a reputation among architects. A scan of the works of Heatherwick Studio reveals relatively few completed buildings, and many of those that do make the list are small projects: kiosks, retail interiors, cafés. Indeed, to the average Londoner he is probably better known as the designer of the new homage to the iconic red Routemaster bus and as the creator of the wildly popular cauldron for the London 2012 Olympics - both unveiled in a year in which Heatherwick all but officially became the state-approved designer of 21st century Britain.

A look at the website of Heatherwick Studio sheds some light on this conundrum. With projects separated into “small,” “medium” and “large,” it is clear that a progression in scale is mirrored by a progression in time, with many of the smallest projects completed in the Studio’s early years, and most of those in the “large” category either recently completed or (more frequently) still on the drawing board. Their most recently completed project is also one of their largest, a “Learning Hub” for Nanyang Technical University in Singapore. How does a design studio that made its name in small projects adapt to such scale? ArchDaily spoke to about the Learning Hub and the increasing size of his projects to find out.

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Frei Otto and the Importance of Experimentation in Architecture

Image via Pinterest / User u2toyou 浅田

In their notes on the selection of Frei Otto as the 2015 Pritzker Prize Laureate, the jury described him as an architect that took his work beyond the boundaries of the discipline, as an architect who was also a “researcher, inventor, form-finder, engineer, builder, teacher, collaborator, environmentalist, [and] humanist.”

To learn more about Otto’s multidisciplinary approach to architecture as well as his emphasis on experimentation, we turned to an interview he did with Juan María Songel in 2004, published in the book A Conversation with Frei Otto. In the interview, Otto discusses numerous topics of interest and relevance to architecture in the 21st century, and in particular the importance of experimentation and research, declaring: “Productive research must be brave!”

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Moscow’s High Rise Bohemia: The International Business District With No Business

Moskva City. Image © Kirill Vinokurov

The Moscow International Business Center (Also known as Moskva-City) was meant to be Russia’s ticket into the Western world. First conceived in 1992, the district at the edge of Moscow’s city center is intended to contain up to 300,000 inhabitants, employees and visitors at any given moment and, when completed, will house over 4 million square meters of prime retail, hotel and office space to create what the Russian government desired most from this project: an enormous financial district that could dwarf London’s Canary Wharf and challenge Manhattan. Twenty three years later though, Moscow-based real estate company Blackwood estimates that as much as 45% of this new space is entirely vacant and rents have plummeted far below the average for the rest of Moscow. The only press Moskva-City is attracting is for tenants like the High Level Hostel, a hostel catering to backpackers and other asset-poor tourists on the 43rd floor of the , with prices starting at $25.50 for a bed in a six-person room. This is not the glittering world of western high finance that was envisioned back in the post-Soviet 90s; but what has it become instead?

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Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 7, Sustainable Architecture

Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architectureurbanism, social architecture, landscape architecture and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Today, in the last post of the series, we present the female architects who put an emphasis on .

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Your Home by Mail: The Rise and Fall of Catalogue Housing

Gordon-Van tine’s ready-cut homes (1918). Image Courtesy of Openlibrary.org

is one of the most persistent challenges faced by the construction industry, and over the course of decades certain trends rise and fall, as entrepreneurial providers carve out new niches to provide for expanding populations and changing demographics. Originally published by BuzzBuzzHome as “The Rise and Fall of The Mail-Order House,” this article explores the craze of so-called “catalogue homes” – flat-packed houses that were delivered by mail – which became popular in North America in the first decades of the 20th century.

The testimonials make it sound effortless: building your own house is no sweat.

In the front pages of a 1921 Sears Roebuck catalogue for mail-order homes, a resident of Traverse City, Michigan identified only by the pseudonym “I Did Not Hire Any Help” wrote to the company: “I am very well pleased with my Already Cut House bought off you. All the material went together nicely. In fact, I wish I had another house to put up this summer. I really enjoyed working on such a building, and I do not follow the carpenter trade either.” It’s estimated that more than 100,000 mail-order homes were built in the United States between 1908 and 1940. It was the IKEA of housing, but instead of spending an afternoon putting together a bookshelf, buyers would take on the formidable task of building a house. Or, more commonly, get a contractor to do it. Homebuyers would pick a design of their choice out of a mail-order catalogue and the materials – from the lumber frame boards to the paint to the nails and screws – would be shipped out to the closest railway station for pickup and construction.

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Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 6, Landscape Architecture

Courtesy of

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and . They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture, social architecture,  and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Yesterday we brought you The Urbanists, and today we present women leaders in landscape architecture.

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Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 5, Social Architecture

Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, urbanism, social architecture, landscape architecture and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Yesterday we brought you the urbanists, and today we present women leaders in social architecture.

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Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 4, Urbanism

Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, urbanism, , social architecture,  and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Yesterday we brought you The Architects, and today we present women leaders in  the field of urbanism.

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21 Ways Architects Can Work Smarter, Not Harder

Courtesy of Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

In their day-to-day work, architects face a lot of distractions and challenges: managing clients, collaborators and contractors; keeping up to date with the latest software and technologies; drafting planning applications and paperwork; and if you’re lucky, even getting to design some things in between. Originally published by ArchSmarter, this post offers 21 tips on how to maximize your productivity and minimize unnecessary work.

Project schedules are getting shorter and shorter. Building types are getting more complex. We already work hard but there are only so many hours in the day. As architects, we need to work smarter, not harder. How can we maximize our effectiveness and our efficiency? How can we manage the increasing flow of information? How can we design better, faster?

Here are 21 ways you can work smarter, not harder:

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Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 3, Architecture

Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, , social architecture, urbanism and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Today we present women architects who stand out for the quality of their work.

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Twitter Critics React to Frei Otto’s Posthumous Pritzker

Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, 1980, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image © Atelier Warmbronn

The sudden and unexpected announcement of the Pritzker Prize yesterday evening sent shockwaves through the architecture world. With the sad death of the Prize’s latest laureate Frei Otto on Monday, the Pritzker made the unprecedented decision to announce the winner two weeks early, ensuring that Otto’s final, crowning achievement would make its way into the obituaries of this great man.

Of course, despite the sudden nature of the announcement, the many critics on Twitter were on hand to lend their initial thoughts in what was an interesting mix of congratulations, sadness and nostalgia. Read on after the break for all the reactions.

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Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women Architects: Part 2, In the Shadows

Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, landscape architecture, social architecture, urbanism and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Yesterday we brought you The Pioneers, and today we present the women architects that have lived in “the shadows” of the some of the great names in the architecture world.

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How MoMA PS1 Yap Winner Andrés Jaque Plans to Politicize Water

Courtesy of Office for Political Innovation

In the grand tradition of PS1′s Young Architects Program winners, Andrés Jaque’s plan for “COSMO” addresses an ecological need through installation architecture. While 2014′s “Hy-Fi” by the living explored organic bricks and 2012′s “Wendy” by HWKN addressed airborne pollution, Jaque has set his targets on something that is apparently much more political: water. This article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “The Politics of Water: Andrés Jaque on His 2015 MoMA PS1 YAP Winning Design,” examines how Jaque hopes to turn his installation into a political talking point.

At first glance, Bill Gates’s robotic Janicki Omniprocessor and Andrés Jaque’s winning proposal for the 2015 Young Architects Program (YAP) share a similar goal—they each tackle the problem of global water scarcity, which has become exacerbated by climate change, political strife, and a host of other factors. But while the Omniprocessor looks like a cement factory in miniature, Jaque’s project melds its profoundly social objective—to change the way we understand contemporary water infrastructure—to an almost psychedelic aesthetic.

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