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 buildings continues to grow, there still remains one obvious concern: combustibility. So how safe are 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, smart 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 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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Six Essential Materials & The Architects That Love Them

In case you missed it, we’re re-publishing this popular post for your material pleasure. Enjoy!

To celebrate the recent launch of our US product catalog, ArchDaily Materials, we’ve coupled six iconic architects with what we deem to be their favourite or most frequently used material. From Oscar Neimeyer’s sinuous use of to Kengo Kuma‘s innovative use of , which materials define some of the world’s best known architects?

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A Brief History of the Windowless House

The Vertical Glass House (2013), built at the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art, Shanghai. Image Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ

In this article, originally published by Metropolis as “Houses Without Windows: Meditative Respites or Architectural Straightjackets?“, Komal Sharma looks into the architectural oddity that is the completely enclosed house. While many would shudder at the idea, there is a rich history of houses which, in exceptional circumstances and with exceptional clients, make sense without windows.

The Vertical Glass House by Chinese architects Atelier FCJZ is disingenuous to say the least. Its name suggests a vertical derivative of Philip Johnson‘s canonical house, and in fact its architects describe it as a 90-degree rotation of the typical modernist glass house. Instead, what welcomes visitors at Shanghai‘s Xuhui waterfront is a four-story house without any windows. Where is all that promised glass, you might ask? 

The answer is inside. The house’s textured concrete walls give it the appearance of a bunker, but the interiors are actually light-filled. The architects accomplish this through an inverted sense of space. Where one expects walls of glass, yielding a platonic prism that brazenly exposes inhabitants to the outside world, the house instead delivers a surprising twist: the 7-cm-thick floor slabs are completely transparent, endowing users with a Superman-like sense of see-through vision. The experience of looking up through all of the house’s spaces, even the most private spaces like the bathroom, is breathtakingly novel.

Read on for more about the phenomenon of -less houses

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Why ‘Confluence’ Isn’t The Way Forward for Architecture Education in France

Courtesy of Studio Odile DECQ architectes urbanistes

On February 19th, 2014, Odile Decq, the world-renowned French architect, announced the launch of a new private university - the Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture – to be built in Lyon this year. Decq has promised that the school will break from France’s “strict institutional system of education ill-adapted to change” and thus offer an fit for the 21st century.

In France, however, public opinion on the new school has been far from unanimous. The Union of Architecture (Le Syndicat de l’Architecture) even went so far as to respond with an open letter to the Minister of Culture and Communication, expressing concern over the project’s “openly mercantile and elitist purpose.”

France possesses a free and public model that sets it apart from the rest of the world. Out of twenty-two schools of architecture, only one is private: l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris (where Decq was once Director). And, while certainly not perfect, the quality of architecture education is, across the board, of a particularly high standard — the Agency of the Evaluation of Research & Higher Education (AERES) has given a rating of ‘A’ to twenty of the schools and ‘B’ to the other two. This means that regardless of a student’s economic background, he or she has the opportunity to receive an excellent architectural education.

So, no matter how radical or forward-thinking Confluence may be, is it really a good idea for France to start emulating the model of expensive, private architecture schools we see across the rest of the world?

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Hadid’s Response to Worker Deaths: Tone-Deaf But True

Courtesy of ZHA

This article, by Martin Pedersen, originally appeared on Metropolis Magazine as “Governments, Not Architects, Should Shoulder Responsibility for Worker Deaths, Says Hadid.”

set off a mini-shitstorm [the other day] when she declared that architects have “nothing to do with the workers” who have died on construction sites in , site of the World Cup in 2022. The Guardian had reported that nearly 900 workers had died in the past two years building the infrastructure required for the massive event. One of the projects under construction is Hadid’s Al-Wakrah stadium (above), a swoopy, curvilinear 40,000 seat facility that some critics likened to a vagina when the scheme was unveiled to the public. “It’s not my duty as an architect to look at it,” Hadid said, on the worker deaths. “I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it. I think it’s a problem anywhere in the world. But, as I said, I think there are discrepancies all over the world.”

Her tone-deaf comments elicited a firestorm of predictable outrage, but I’d contend they had a near-truth about them. As I see it, Hadid had four possible courses of action, all of them limited in scope.

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Inside the Homes of Eight Famous Architects

Shigeru Ban’s Tokyo house. Image © Hiroyuki Hirai

Originally published in Metropolis Magazine as “Inside the Homes and Workspaces of 8 Great Architects“, this article shows the spaces occupied by some of the best-known architects in the world. Documented for an that will be featured at the Milan Design Week 2014, the images give a glimpse inside the private worlds of some of our favorite designers.

It’s a cliche that architects have messy workspaces. From chaos comes creation, so the phrase goes. But an upcoming exhibition at this year’s Salone del Mobile intends to dispel the myth. Where Architects Live will present glimpses into the personal spaces of eight significant architects: Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind and Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai.

Curator Francesca Molteni interviewed each of the designers in their private homes and came away with one finding: architects are actually quite tidy. The studios are all pristinely ordered; books are neatly stowed away, figurines and objets astutely displayed, and table tops swept clean. The photographs below are part of the exhibition materials, produced with the help of scenographer Davide Pizzigoni, which faithfully document the physical environments in images, video, and audio. These will be used to recreate the architects’ “rooms” at Salone del Mobile in April.

Where Architects Live is not limited to satisfying our curiosity about what these architects’ homes look like. Richard Rogers’ affirmation that “a room is the beginning of a city” resonates with the project’s aim in trying to articulate its subjects’ personal tastes and obsessions, and how those are reflected in their architectural work.

Read on to see more images of the inside of architects’ homes and studios

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Doctors in the Studio: The Right Medicine for Healthcare Architecture?

Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, designed by a joint venture between HDR + Corgan. HOK is responsible for the hospital’s furnishings and equipment, and has also been executing a study of the role of furnishings and artwork in inpatient care. Image Courtesy of HDR + Corgan

This article, written by Kim A. O’Connell, and first published on the AIA website as “Is there a Doctor in the Firm? (Or a Nurse in the Studio?)” discusses the growing overlap between architects and healthcare professionals, who collaborate or even learn both disciplines to design more effective – relying on research more rigorously than ever before.

Since it opened last fall, a cardiac hospital in Bulgaria is already operating at full capacity and is among the most technologically advanced of its kind in Europe. Project delivery for the City Clinic in Sofia was remarkably fast—only a year from the time Dallas-based HKS Architects was hired until doctors began seeing patients. A former car dealership was renovated to create the 38,000-square-foot, 55-bed facility, helping to expedite matters.

The other major contributing factor may have been that, from its earliest beginnings, a physician played a leading role—from landing the project to identifying specific medical needs and seeing the design through to completion. It’s a model that seems to be taking hold in architecture. More and more, architecture firms are bringing health professionals into their design studios to help them create the next generation of healthcare architecture.

Read on after the break to find out how this shift is producing better buildings for healthcare

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For Flood Prevention, We Need to Raise Our Game (And Flatten Our Roofs)

Courtesy of Arup

This article by Jonathan Ward, originally published on Arup Thoughts as “A Top-Down Approach to Flood Prevention” discusses a cheap, simple, but effective method of easing the load on drainage after a storm: temporary storage of water on flat roofs, which can not only help to prevent floods, but also provide unexpected benefits as well.

Gravity offers a simple and cheap way to attenuate stormwater flows – by storing water temporarily on a flat roof. All sorts of causes are being blamed for the current flooding in the UK; lack of dredging, poor management of catchment areas, construction on flood plains and paving over front gardens are all being mentioned in the press.

One thing is for sure – we will be paying a lot more attention to the topic given the current experience, and the fact that wetter winters are predicted in our changing climate, with a certainty of more extreme events.

Read on for an explanation of why this counter-intuitive measure actually makes perfect sense

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The Indicator: The Slum Exotic and the Persistence of Hong Kong’s Walled City

© Greg Girard and Ian Lambot

Whenever I see sensational exposes on the supposedly sublime spatial intensity of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City (demolished in 1994), they strike me as nothing more than colonial fantasies that have little to do with the reality of living in the midst of one of the world’s cruelest slums. You see the Walled City pop up constantly like it’s still a valid or even interesting subject. This informal settlement has been diagramed, photographed, and written about for decades from an aesthetic point of view, rendering its victimized and oppressed inhabitants all but invisible. Not to say that this wasn’t home to a lot of people and that no “fond memories” were formed there, but still, like all slums, it was a tough place to live, fraught with contradictions in the haze of hope for a better life.

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Five Fantastic Façades

In case you missed it, we’re re-publishing this popular post for your material pleasure. Enjoy!

To celebrate the recent launch of ArchDaily Materials we’ve brought together five projects with fantastic façades, from Viñoly’s Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building in San Francisco to Holzer Kobler’s PALÄON in Schöningen, Germany. A building’s envelope is often people’s first impression and, in recent years, have been one of the focuses of innovation in the design and construction industry. The projects we’ve collated show a glimpse at what’s possible with façades and wall finishings.

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INTERIORS: Her

Courtesy of

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

Spike Jonze’s fourth feature film, and his fourth feature film collaboration with production designer K.K. Barrett, creates a future world that is both intimate and immersive.

Her (2013), which was filmed in Los Angeles and Shanghai, uses the architecture of both to construct a world of its own. Jonze and Barrett, however, chose not to approach the film from a design or architectural perspective; rather, they were interested in reflecting the emotional qualities of their protagonist Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) through the production design. Barrett points out that although the future feels distant and foreign for us, “The future is also someone’s present, our character’s present.” Thus, science fiction elements are grounded in reality, and the future world of Her was designed with those ideas in mind.

In an exclusive interview with Interiors, K.K. Barrett discussed his approach as an artist to both the medium of cinema in general and Her in particular. Learn more after the break.

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Grade A Architecture: The World’s Most Spectacular University Buildings

Lecture halls at dizzying heights, libraries with glass-domed roofs or crooked seminar rooms with slanting walls – it is not just in the field of learning that universities have plenty to offer, but on an architectural level, too. From the historic Universiteitsbibliotheek KU Leuven of 1928 to the enormous glass sphere of the Philologische Bibliothek in Berlin to the brand-new, tent-like Campus Luigi Einaudi in Turin: Emporis, the international provider of building data, has compiled a selection of the most spectacular university buildings from around the world. 

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A Case for the Democratization of Architectural Media

In October Phineas Harper, assistant editor of The Architectural Review, published an article about the state of architectural publishing, in which he addressed the crisis facing traditional architectural publishers and heavily criticized online platforms, particularly ArchDaily, that have “little time for critique, turning instead to reworking press releases and biased descriptions from the architects.”

Allow me to introduce myself: I am a critic and creator of original content for ArchDaily, and I would like to refute these allegations.

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