Are Computers Bad for Architecture?

In his articles for ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly often praises the value of computers and automation, a sometimes controversial viewpoint with plenty of supporters on either side. In particular, his previous post on ArchDaily, “5 Reasons Architects Should Learn to Code” provoked a significant discussion. But what is the value of this automation? In this post originally published on ArchSmarter, he expands on his view of what computers can be useful for – and more importantly, what they can’t.

I write a lot about digital and automation here on ArchSmarter, but deep down inside, I have a soft spot for all things analog. I still build physical models. I carry a Moleskine notebook with me everywhere. I also recently bought a Crosley record player.

I can listen to any kind of music I want through Spotify. The music world is literally at my finger tips. Playing records hasn’t changed what I listen to but it has changed how I listen to music. There’s more friction involved with records. I have to physically own the record and I have to manually put it on the turntable. It’s a deliberate act that requires a lot more effort than just selecting a playlist on Spotify. And it’s a lot more fun.

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Architecture, Economics and Aquariums: Can ICM Revive the Bilbao Effect in Asia?

Acquario Ceara, Fortaleza. Image Courtesy of ICM

The “Bilbao effect“ was once viewed as the savior of the other cities; a way for post-industrial cities in the 1990s and 2000s to not only replace their economic reliance on failing industry with tourism, but to reinvent themselves as capitals of High Culture, enriching both body and soul. This has long since ceased to be the case, and many now see it instead as an ironic monument to hubris. But while architecture in the west is attempting to find a viable successor, rapidly expanding economies in Asia and South East Asia seem poised to embark on a new wave of architectural and cultural flourishes designed to attract tourists and Thai Baht.

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Hand vs. Computer Drawing: A Student’s Opinion

by Chris Wilkinson (Wilkinson Eyre) for Article 25′s 10×10 charity auction. Image © Chris Wilkinson Courtesy of Article 25

In the debate about how architects – both present and future – represent our ideas, it is easy to find a lot of articles supporting both sides. One can read as many arguments as they want and find valid points supporting both hand-drawing and computer production. One could argue that there is nothing prettier than a well done hand-rendering of a project. Another could say that, although hand-drawing is something that catches the eye, it is not practical at all, takes longer than doing it on the computer and does not allow architects to easily modify it.

There is however another facet that does not come up as frequently as it maybe should: how does this discussion affect students? I believe we lie in a cross-fire, between the idea of what architects do and what they actually do.

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Light Matters: Learning From Vernacular Windows

Window in Osaka, . Image © VELUX Group

Before computer daylight simulations were used to optimize the atmosphere and energy in buildings, generations of builders developed simple principles to create the best windows for their site. Two lighting experts have studied these traditional openings in buildings to find inspiration for more sustainable designs today. Francesco Anselmo, a lighting designer at Arup, and John Mardaljevic, Professor of Building Daylight Modelling at the School of Civil & Building Engineering of Loughborough University, have analysed the sun and skylight variations from northern regions like Stockholm down to the equator in cities like Haiti or Abu Dhabi.

Read on to learn more about the variety of traditional windows.

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Why Budapest’s Contemporary Architects had to Go Underground to Find Success

Gellert Station / . Image © Tamás Bujnovszky

This article by ArchDaily’s former managing editor Vanessa Quirk first appeared on ArtsCultureBeat, the web magazine of Arts & Culture concentration at Columbia Journalism School’s MA program, titled “The Secret Life of Hungarian Contemporary Architecture.”

This time last year, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán stood at a podium in a pristine new subway station. Raw concrete beams criss-crossed above him; state-of-the art, driverless trains stood silently beside him. It was the opening ceremony for Line 4, a subway line that due to delays, corruption, and disputes had been 40 years in the making.

“The people of Budapest began to accept the thought that only their grandchildren would use Budapest’s new Metro line, or not even them.” Orbán told the crowd. He recounted an old joke that embodied the cynicism that once surrounded the project: Chuck Norris had been on Metro Line 4.

Orbán credited the line’s completion, which occurred only a few weeks before the 2014 parliamentary elections, to “the solidarity and unity that was established in 2010 [when Orbán’s government took power] and has since been maintained.” He didn’t mention how, under his first government (1998 to 2002), he had withheld funds from the project, contributing significantly to its delay. Nor did he mention that his party had fought against the idea that the line, an expensive infrastructural project, needed architecture at all.

Today, though, the line’s stunning architecture is its most noticeable feature. Line 4 is not just a watershed achievement in ’s history, but also a symbol of what it takes to make contemporary architecture in today. Both literally and figuratively, contemporary architecture had to go underground.

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Spotlight: Kisho Kurokawa

Image via ritsumei.ac.jp

Kisho Kurokawa (April 8th 1934 – October 12th 2007) was one of Japan‘s leading architects of the 20th century, perhaps most well-known as one of the founders of the Metabolist movement of the 1960s. Throughout the course of his career Kurokawa advocated a philosophical approach to understanding architecture that was manifest in his completed projects throughout his life.

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For and Against All-Nighter Culture: ArchDaily Readers Respond

Forrest Jessee’s Sleep Suit. Image © Forrest Jessee

Nearly three weeks ago, the editors at ArchDaily reached out to our readers to help us investigate one of the most difficult challenges of architecture education: what do students and teachers think of the 24-hour culture that has come to pervade the architecture profession? As we mentioned in our original post, the idea that all-nighters are simply an unavoidable part of an education in architecture has come under fire recently, with some schools attempting to combat them by closing their studios overnight. Is this the right approach to reducing the hours that students are (over)working? If not, what should be done instead? Perhaps there are some people that still think a 24-hour culture can be beneficial to young architects?

The response we got to our question was astonishing, with 141 comments on the article itself and over 100 more on our Facebook post. From this discussion, two overriding themes emerged: firstly, many commenters seemed to believe that architecture students have too much work in the first place; secondly, there was almost complete consensus that closing the studios achieves nothing but moving the problem of all-nighters from the studio to students’ homes. For the sake of brevity we’ve chosen not to include the many responses that mention these themes ideas in this post, but for anyone interested in seeing the evidence of these opinions, we encourage you to visit the original article.

As for the remainder of the comments, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting contributions. Find out what 15 commenters had to say about the 24-hour studio culture – taking in arguments for and against it as well as discussing its wider consequences and ways to avoid it – after the break.

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Virtual Reality: Coming to an Architecture Office Near You

With an entry cost of less than $20 (for anyone who owns a smartphone), could be the technology that gets people experimenting with . Image © Google via the Website

Virtual Reality. It’s an old term, even an old technology, but it carries new weight – and it’s coming to architecture, soon. Its prevalence will be a result of its near universal accessibility; the experience can now be powered by the modern cell phone. It’s probably on your desk, in your pocket – you may even be reading on a virtual reality engine right now. The price point to participate, thanks to Google Cardboard and a device you already own, is less than twenty dollars.

Google Cardboard might be considered a wearable, but don’t think Google Glass and shiver. As it stands, the technology is more inline with a smart-tv or peripheral, not something to be worn in public. Before we get into what it is, let’s talk about what it can do. We as designers have gotten very good at showing what a space might look like, but in many ways we have come no further in demonstrating what a space feels like.

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Mateusz Pospiech Proposes a Megastructure to Replace Iran’s Dried Up Zayanderud River

Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech

For generations, nature has been held up as something to respect, to take inspiration from, to place at the center of architecture. Few new designs today are complete without some visualized parkland or tree placed implausibly high up on the latest visionary high rise development. But what do you do when nature ups and leaves? How can architecture respond? That’s the question that Mateusz Pospiech’s master’s thesis, completed at the Silesian University of , attempts to answer by taking the severe example of the disappearance of Iran’s Zayanderud River and proposing the equally incredible solution: an enormous, six-kilometer-long ecologically sustainable megastructure along the dried riverbed, healing the scar both in the landscape and in the minds of Iranians.

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Easter Eggs Designed By Architects

Egg by Marc Fornes & Theveryman. Image Courtesy of Faberge’s Big Egg Hunt

In honor of Easter Sunday, we decided to follow-up on the news of Faberge’s Big Egg Hunt and round-up some of the Easter eggs designed by the likes of Zaha Hadid, David Ling, Two One Two, and more.

Enjoy them all in the gallery after the break!

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Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 9B

The Pruitt-Igoe Development in St. Louis. “Had people consistently applied the “mirror of the self” test, we would probably have avoided some of the inhuman environments built over the past several decades. One such typology is the extremely long apartment block, which houses thousands of people in a box of about eight stories”. Image © US Geological Survey via Flickr CC User Michael Allen

We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for and architects around the world. In the following chapter, Salingaros continues his discussion of Christopher Alexander‘s “Mirror of the Self” test introduced in Chapter 9A, and revealing how it can be used to provide all-important feedback to enable evidence-based design. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

Evidence-based design is now fast becoming a standard tool used in school design. (See Peter C. Lippman: “Evidence-Based Design of Elementary and Secondary Schools”, 2010). And yet its current application, while laudable, is missing the other key components necessary for adaptive design: Biophilia, Intelligence in the environment (two topics discussed in this book), and Pattern Language. All of these have to work together to give optimal design results.

Evidence-based design permits an architect to evaluate a design, and variations of that design, to see if they contribute to human wellbeing. This makes possible informed choices that push and guide a design towards a more adaptive final form. We know the result is going to be more adaptive since we check each intermediate stage of an evolving design.

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Playing with Balance and the Balance of Play: Hello Wood’s 2014 Camp

Cornwalk / Ákos Juhász + Dániel Eke. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky

A shortened version of this article by ArchDaily’s Managing Editor Rory Stott appears in HW 1-5, a book by the organizers of Hello Wood about the camp’s first five years.

Arriving at Budapest’s international airport on a warm Saturday in July, I confess to being unprepared for my week ahead at Hello Wood 2014. was the third country and Budapest the fourth city I had been in in 72 hours, and thanks to this (uncharacteristically) chaotic week, I hadn’t had the chance to research anything about the camp. All I knew was what could be learned from the photos of the 2013 camp which I had published almost a year earlier: that is, that the camp is held in an idyllic rural setting, presumably a significant distance from Budapest; and that the quality of work seems unusually high for a week-long architecture workshop, presumably indicating a serious, focused atmosphere at the camp.

The first of these assumptions was absolutely right. But the second could hardly be more wrong. In fact the atmosphere at the camp was so far from being serious that by Tuesday, Gábor Betegh – a friend of the organizers and coincidentally Cambridge University’s new Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy - told me how fascinating it was to compare the “centripetal madness” of the philosophers he knows to the “very centrifugal madness” of the architects at the camp. This remark was made in response to one of the team leaders screeching like a monkey from the top of his team’s half-completed tower.

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8 Influential Art Deco Skyscrapers by Ralph Thomas Walker

The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (now the Verizon Building) in New York. Image © Flickr user Wally Gobetz

No architect played a greater role in shaping the twentieth century Manhattan skyline than , winner of the 1957 AIA Centennial Gold Medal and a man once dubbed “Architect of the Century” by the New York Times. [1] But a late-career ethics scandal involving allegations of stolen contracts by a member of his firm precipitated his retreat from the architecture establishment and his descent into relative obscurity. Only recently has his prolific career been popularly reexamined, spurred by a new monograph and a high-profile exhibit of his work at the eponymous Walker Tower in New York in 2012.

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Review: ‘All Of This Belongs To You’ – Civic Urbanism At London’s Victoria & Albert Museum

A neon sign in the V&A’s grand entrance introduces the ‘All of This Belongs to You’ . Image © Peter Kelleher / Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), named after the Queen and Her Consort, has its foundations in the Great Exhibition of 1851 amidst the wealth, innovation and squalor of the Industrial Revolution. Britain was flooded by prosperity which allowed for the development of major new institutions to collect and exhibit objects of cultural significance or artistic value. The institute’s first director, Henry Cole, declared that it should be “a schoolroom for everyone,” and a democratic approach to its relationship with public life has remained the cornerstone of the V&A. Not only has it always been free of charge but it was also the first to open late hours (made possible by gas lighting), allowing a more comprehensive demographic of visitor.

Their latest exhibition, which opens today, seeks to realign the museum’s vast collection and palatial exhibition spaces in South Kensington with these founding concepts. The interventions of All of This Belongs to You attempt to push the V&A’s position as an extension of London’s civic and cultural built environment to the fore, testing the museum’s ability to act as a 21st century public institution. To do this in London, a city where the notion of public and private is increasingly blurred, has resulted in a sequence of compelling installations which are tied together through their relevance either in subject matter, technique, or topicality.

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6 Politically Motivated Cities Built From Scratch

Image of the planned new capital of Egypt, masterplanned by SOM. Image Courtesy of SOM

Threatening to end ’s 1,046 year dominance as the country’s capital, earlier this month the government of Egypt announced their intentions to create a new, yet-to-be-named capital city just east of New Cairo. The promise of the more than 270 square mile ‘new New Cairo’ has attracted headlines from around the world with its sheer scale; a $45 billion development of housing, shopping and landmarks designed to attract from day one, including a theme park larger than Disneyland. And of course, the plans include the promise of homes – for at least 5 million residents in fact, with the vast number of schools, hospitals and religious and community buildings that a modern city requires – making the new capital of Egypt the largest planned city in history.

The idea of building a new capital city has appealed to governments across history; a way to wipe the slate clean, stimulate the economy and lay out your vision of the world in stone, concrete and parkland. Even old Cairo was founded as a purpose built capital, although admittedly urban planning has changed a little since then. It continues to change today; see the full list of different ways to build a totally new city after the break.

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5 Reasons Architects Should Learn to Code

© scyther5 via Shutterstock

In his popular post on how architects can “work smarter, not harder,” Michael Kilkelly suggests that you should ”customize your tools to work the way you work” and “use macros to automate repetitive tasks.” Both sound very helpful of course, but wouldn’t those require you to to write some code? Yes – but according to Kilkelly this should be a tool available in every architect’s toolkit. Originally published on ArchSmarter, here he offers 5 reasons that architects should learn to code.

As architects, we need to know a lot of stuff. We need to know building codes, structures, mechanical systems, materials. We need to know how to read zoning codes, how to calculate building area, how to layout office floor. The list goes on and on. Do we really need to know how to write computer programs as well?

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“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, (click image to see the workshop report). Image Courtesy of ASF-

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 New York 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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