The Evolving Symbiosis Between Architects & Developers in the UK

Victoria Library Housing and Office by Patrick Lynch for Land Securities. Image Courtesy of Design Curial

Although the design world has maintained a negative opinion of property developers for a very long time, the relationship between architect and developer has begun to evolve in the . In this article, first published in Blueprint issue #333 as “Why Architects Are Working for Property Developers,” the cultural shift is explained and explored through case studies.

Developers have not, traditionally, enjoyed a very good reputation within the architectural fraternity – or with the general public, for that matter. At worst they are seen as sharp-suited pirates of urban space, stripping out centuries-old residential or commercial buildings to replace them with shoddy, design-by-numbers structures, thrown up with no driving objective other than maximising their cash before they move on.

But times have changed. Whether it’s economic necessity – driven by the lack of buyers for bad housing or poor office space – or just good sense, there is a growing number of developers out there that appear to be cherry-picking some of the UK’s better practices to transform our urban wastelands and unloved spaces. This new breed appears to enjoy and understand the value of architecture and design. Some of them even consider architects their natural collaborators – the creative yang to their commercial yin.

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Seaweed, Salt, Potatoes, & More: Seven Unusual Materials with Architectural Applications

The “Saltygloo” project is an igloo made of printed translucent modular salt panels. Image Courtesy of Matthew Millman

The following article is presented by ArchDaily Materials. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine, Lara Kristin Herndon and Derrick Mead explore seven innovative architectural materials and the designers behind them. Some materials are byproducts, some will help buildings breathe and one is making the leap from 3D printing to .

When Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, he was speaking from the spectator’s point of view, not the magician’s. As our list of smart materials shows, technology solves difficult problems, but getting there requires more than just a wave of the magic wand. Each of the following projects looks past easy answers. Whether it’s a new way of looking at old problems, a new material that maximizes the efficiency of an old technique, or a new method to tap the potential of an abundant or underutilized resource, here are seven innovators who take technology out of the realm of science fiction.

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Pathé’s Video Archive Reveals Great Architectural Moments, 1910-1970

YouTube Preview Image

The following article originally appeared on Metropolis Magazine as “Five Architectural Highlights from the Pathé Newsreel Archive.” It has been slightly adapted to fit ArchDaily’s format. The video above, from 1930, shows the Empire State Building under .

Newsreel archives are a goldmine for design buffs—and when you have an archive of the size and scope of British Pathé’s, there’s hours of compulsive watching in store. The famous film and production company recently put up 85,000 of their videos on Youtube, in high definition, for free viewing.

The Parisian Pathé Brothers pretty much invented the newsreel format at the turn of the century, and established their London base in 1902. From 1910 to 1970 they produced thousands of films on events and trends around the world, including, of course, subjects of significance for architecture and design. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to see some great classics in their context—with people using them, reacting to them, commenting on them.

Some videos, like a round-up of skyscraper-inspired hats from the 1930s, might not stand the test of time, but others, like a tour of Le Corbusier’s Couvent de la Tourette, are priceless. The latter video seems even more precious because it is marked “unused material”—footage that Pathé shot, but never edited into one of their newsreels—meaning that very few people have had a chance to see it before you do now, on your screen.

More outstanding videos to get you started on your newsreel binge, after the break…

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Cantilevers on Sand, Ducks in a Bag & Other Adventures: A Conversation with FormlessFinder

Julian Rose (left) and Garrett RIcciardi (right) met at Princeton University and later started formlessfinder together . Image Courtesy of formlessfinder

Formlessfinder of City has a vision “to liberate architecture from the constraints of form.” Samuel Medina of Metropolis Magazine recently interviewed the Princeton duo on contemporary architectural practice – fittingly naming them “Formal Renegades.”

“We like architecture,” says Garrett Ricciardi, with real sincerity. “We want to save architecture.” But from what? Ricciardi is one half of New York–based formlessfinder, the experimental—you might say radical—architecture firm he founded with Julian Rose in 2011,  just after the pair completed a joint thesis at Princeton University. Their project, which laid out the blueprint for Ricciardi and Rose’s subsequent collaborations, advanced a daring proposition: to liberate architecture from the constraints of form.

“The basic idea of the formless is about freeing up architecture to make it about what we want it to be about,” Rose says. “The idea is that form has sort of gotten in the way,” he adds, before checking off a laundry list of offenders: parametricism, digital fabrication, blobs, minimalism. Where form has “always served to limit and control,” the formless, as the architects have come to define it, is subversive by nature. It’s an operation rife with uncertainty, producing “messy, equivocal, and, most importantly, generative” results.

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9 Architects Reflect on the Homes That Most Inspired Them

The homes that inspire architects.

Where do you receive inspiration? Nalina Moses asked the question to nine contemporary residential architects, asking each to choose one residence that had left an impression on them. The following answers were first published on the AIA’s website in the article “Homing Instinct.”

When nine accomplished residential architects were asked to pick a house—any house—that has left the greatest impression on them as designers, most of their choices ran succinctly along the canon of American or European Modern architecture. Two—Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea and ’s La Maison de Verre—were even tapped twice.

If the houses these designers chose weren’t surprising, the reasons they chose them were. Rather than groundbreaking style or technologies, what they cited were the moments of comfort, excitement, and refinement they offered: the restful proportions of a bedroom, the feel of a crafted wood handrail, an ocean view unfolding beyond an outdoor stair.

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The Fifth Pillar: A Case for Hip-Hop Architecture

Robert Moses - the father of Hip-Hop?. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia User AaronSw

The following article by Sekou Cooke was originally published in The Harvard Journal of African American Planning Policy.

Not DJ Kool Herc. Not The Sugarhill Gang. Not Crazy Legs. Not even Cornbread. The true father of hip-hop is Moses. The tyrannical, mercilessly efficient head of several City public works organizations, Robert Moses, did more in his fifty-year tenure to shape the physical and cultural conditions required for hip-hop’s birth than any other force of man or nature. His grand vision for the city indifferently bulldozed its way through private estates, middle-class neighborhoods, and slums. His legacy: 658 playgrounds, 28,000 apartment units, 2,600,000 acres of public parks, Flushing Meadows, Jones Beach, Lincoln Center, all interconnected by 416 miles of parkways and 13 bridges. Ville Radieuse made manifest, not by Le Corbusier, the visionary architect, but by “the best bill drafter in Albany.”  

This new urbanism deepened the rifts within class and culture already present in post-war New York, elevated the rich to midtown penthouses and weekend escapes to the Hamptons or the Hudson Valley, and relegated the poor to crowded subways and public housing towers—a perfect incubator for a fledgling counterculture.  One need not know all the lyrics to Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” or Melle Mel’s “White Lines” to appreciate the incendiary structures built by Moses and his policies. As the Bronx began to burn, hip-hop began to rise.

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Light Matters: Richard Kelly, The Unsung Master Behind Modern Architecture’s Greatest Buildings

Seagram Building, New York.

Richard Kelly illuminated some of the twentieth century’s most iconic buildings: the Glass House, Seagram Building and Kimbell Art Museum, to name a few. His design strategy was surprisingly simple, but extremely successful.

for architecture has been and still often is dominated by an engineering viewpoint, resigned to determining sufficient illuminance levels for a safe and efficient working environment. With a background in stage , Kelly introduced a scenographic perspective for architectural . His point of view might look self-evident to today’s architectural community, but it was revolutionary for his time and has strongly influenced modern architecture.

Read more about Richard Kelly’s remarkable, and unsung, contribution to architecutre, after the break.

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What If MOMA Had Expanded Underground (And Saved The American Folk Art Museum)?

Sculpture Garden, MOMA. Image © Andrew Moore, http://andrewlmoore.com/

In January of this year, the latest work by Smiljan Radic, the Chilean architect chosen to design the next Serpentine Pavilion, opened to public acclaim. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo de Arte Precolombino), located in Santiago de Chile, is a restoration project that managed to sensitively maintain an original colonial structure  – all while increasing the space by about 70%.

Two days before the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art opened, the Museum of Metropolitan Art (MOMA) in New York issued a statement that it would demolish the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, in order to accomplish its envisioned . Two weeks ago, preparations for demolition began.

Some background: MOMA had hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro a year earlier to design the expansion. The office asked for a period of six months to consider the possibilities of integrating the American Folk Art Museum into the design. After studying a vast array of options (unknown to the public) they were unable to accommodate MOMA’s shifting program needs with the AFAM building. They proposed a new circulation loop with additional gallery space and new program located where the AFAM is (was) located.

What appears here is not strictly a battle between an institution that wants to reflect the spirit of the time vs a building that is inherently specific to its place. It represents a lost design opportunity. What if the American Folk Art Museum had been considered an untouchable civic space in the city of New York, much like the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is for the city for Santiago? Then a whole new strategy for adaptive reuse would have emerged.

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The Story of Maggie’s Centres: How 17 Architects Came to Tackle Cancer Care

Dundee, Scotland, 2003 by Frank Gehry / Courtesy of Maggie’s Centres. ImageThe third center was designed by Frank Gehry, a close friend of Maggie’s. “Frank gave us so much publicity, and allowed us to raise the money,” Jencks says. Each center is self-financed through donations.

Maggie’s Centres are the legacy of Margaret Keswick Jencks, a terminally ill woman who had the notion that cancer treatment environments and their results could be drastically improved through good design. Her vision was realized and continues to be realized today by numerous architects, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta - just to name a few. Originally appearing in Metropolis Magazine as Living with Cancer,” this article by Samuel Medina features images of Maggie’s Centres around the world, taking a closer look at the organization’s roots and its continued success through the aid of architects.

It was May 1993, and writer and designer Margaret Keswick Jencks sat in a windowless corridor of a small Scottish hospital, dreading what would come next. The prognosis was bad—her cancer had returned—but the waiting, and the waiting room, were draining. Over the next two years until her death, she returned several times for chemo drips. In such neglected, thoughtless spaces, she wrote, patients like herself were left to “wilt” under the desiccating glare of fluorescent lights.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a private, light-filled space in which to await the results of the next bout of tests, or from which to contemplate, in silence, the findings? If architecture could demoralize patients—could “contribute to extreme and mental enervation,” as Keswick Jencks observed—could it not also prove restorative?

This is the central idea behind the experiment Keswick Jencks, or “Maggie,” started with her husband, architectural historian and theorist Charles Jencks, more than two decades ago. Their mission—to provide free, global care for cancer patients through great architecture—has since expanded to encompass 17 building projects (“Maggie’s Centres”), many of them by celebrated architects like Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas.

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“Lebbeus Woods – Architect” Returns to NYC

Unified Urban Field. Image Courtesy of Estate of Lebbeus Woods

This summer, the drawings, theories and works of architect Lebbeus Woods are headed to the city that Lebbeus considered home. After a five-month stay at SFMOMA, the exhibit “Lebbeus Woods – Architect” will be at the Drawing Center in , Manhattan until mid-June. The following story and overview of the exhibition, by Samuel Medina, originally appeared at Metropolis Magazine as “Coming Home”.

It’s all too biblical an irony that Lebbeus Woods—architect of war, catastrophe, and apocalyptic doom—died as strong winds, rain, and waves barreled down on Manhattan, his home for some 40-odd years. Woods passed the morning after Hurricane Sandy flooded Lower Manhattan, almost as if the prophet had succumbed to one of his turbulent visions. But this apocryphal reading is just one way to view Woods’s work, which, as often as it was concerned with annihilation, always dared to build in the bleakest of circumstances.

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Grimshaw Architects Merge Architecture and Industrial Design at Milan Furniture Fair

The lobby of the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows, New York. At this month’s , Grimshaw Architects collaborated on an with Poltrona Frau. The show included an augmented-reality app—first introduced on the cover of Metropolis in October 2012—that brings 2-D images to life. / © David Sundberg

Grimshaw Architects‘ dual focus on industrial and architectural design will be celebrated this month in a featured exhibit at Milan Furniture Fair. In this article, originally published by Metropolis under the title “Down to the Details,” author Ken Shulman presents the firm’s evolution in the context of the exhibit, touching on the projects being presented and more intriguingly — on how they are being presented.

Shortly after he joined Grimshaw Architects, Andrew Whalley was tasked with putting together an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London. Titled Product + Process, the 1988 show was decidedly counter-current—a parade of pragmatic, largely industrial structures Grimshaw realized in the UK in the face of surging postmodern fervor. Featured projects included the transparent building the then 15-person firm designed to house the Financial Times’ London printing facilities, and a flexible, easily reconfigurable factory Grimshaw built for Herman Miller in Bath. But it wasn’t the selection of projects that caught the public eye. “We asked our clients to take apart pieces of their buildings, and then rebuild them for the exhibition,” says Whalley, now deputy chairman of Grimshaw. “This wasn’t a typical show of architectural drawings and models.”

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Happy Birthday Peter Zumthor

at the Steilneset Memorial. Image © Andrew Meredith

Sharing a birthday with I.M. Pei, Peter Zumthor (April 26, 1943) turns 71 years old today. Known for his sensuous materiality and attention to place, the 2009 Pritzker Laureate is one the most revered architects of the 21st century.

Although Zumthor has completed far fewer projects than architects of comparable renown, his work has had a resounding impact on the world of architecture. His buildings are mysterious and enticing, but show no signs of style or formal preconceptions. His concern is with context, experience and materiality, not aesthetic. Perhaps this is his most significant contribution to architecture: a truly meaningful architecture of place and experience.

We suggest checking out Zumthor’s “Seven Personal Observations on Presence In Architecture” and this Photographer’s Journey Through Zumthor Valley. Also, make sure to explore all of Zumthor’s works on ArchDaily:

The Steel Age Is Over. Has The Next Age Begun?

As of now, has only been applied to small scale applications, such as the Textile Room by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S. Image © Monica Nouwens

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Aim for the highest.” He followed his own advice. The powerful 19th century steel magnate had the foresight to build a bridge spanning the Mississippi river, a total of 6442 feet. In 1874, the primary structural material was iron — steel was the new kid on the block. People were wary of steel, scared of it even. It was an unproven alloy.

Nevertheless, after the completion of Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Andrew Carnegie generated a publicity stunt to prove steel was in fact a viable building material. A popular superstition of the day stated that an elephant would not cross an unstable bridge. On opening day, a confident Carnegie, the people of St. Louis and a four-ton elephant proceeded to cross the bridge. The elephant was met on the other side with pompous fanfare. What ensued was the greatest vertical building boom in American history, with Chicago and pioneering the cause. That’s right people; you can thank an adrenaline-junkie elephant for changing American opinion on the safety of steel construction.

So if steel replaced iron – as iron replaced bronze and bronze, copper –  what will replace steel? Carbon Fiber.

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The Indicator: The Intern Issue, Revisited

One Workplace / Design Blitz. Image © Bruce Damonte

Last year, I wrote about doing away with the title “intern,” saying the word “should be banished from the profession.” The post, titled, No More Interns, caused quite a flurry of responses, some quite angry, in fact. Some respondents defended the title, saying a title is just a title; others launched attacks against it, saying it connotes someone unskilled or untrained.

For the record, I still think we should get rid of it — not simply because it is demeaning and diminishing to individuals who have gone through the rigorous educational stages of the profession, but because it makes the profession look antiquated. Think about where you find “intern” used today and what it generally implies: volunteer, unpaid/low-paid, student, temporary, trainee, to name a few. Imagine how clients from progressive business cultures view it. Also, from the standpoint of business, doesn’t it make sense that people would pay more for architecture not done by “”? I would pay more for “associates.”

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Mental Health in Architecture School: Can the Culture Change?

Courtesy of

The Graduate Architecture, Landscape, and Design Student Union (GALDSU) at the University of Toronto recently published the results of its first mental health survey, which asked students to reflect on their experience at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Many past and present students have met the findings, which paint a blatantly bleak picture of the architecture student experience, with little to no surprise. The report brings the issue of poor mental and physical health in architecture schools to the forefront of our consciousness; however, the cool response it has elicited undercuts the initiative and raises important questions. If we were already aware of the problem, why hasn’t change already been initiated? Will this always be the accepted, brutal reality of architecture education?

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What Makes a Copy-Cat a Copy-Cat? The Complex Case of Architectural Copyright

Courtesy of Mitch Tuchman

When an eminent jurist asks, “What does a of an architectural work truly protect?” you may be certain the question is not rhetorical. The U.S. Act does provide protection from infringement for architectural works, but it does so in terms so ambiguous that a judge might wonder, as did federal district court judge James Lawrence King in a case he decided earlier this year, whether broadly applicable standards for determining infringement even exist. Finding “the usual analysis … too vague and the language misleading,” King blazed a trail of his own in Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership v. Arquitectonica International Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19140, proposing detailed guideposts for future courts to follow.

Sieger Suarez involved two Miami architectural firms and a 43-story condominium tower nearing completion in suburban Sunny Isles. The Sieger Suarez firm was engaged in 2000 by the project’s first owner. When the project, now known as Regalia, changed hands, the new owners dropped Sieger Suarez and engaged Arquitectonica in 2006. This is a scenario made familiar in scores of disputes involving allegations of infringement of architectural works.

Befitting a beachfront property with floor-through units starting at $7 million,  both designs present dramatic, undulating exteriors. “When facing any of the buildings’ four sides,” King wrote in his opinion, “the façades create the impression of a wave rippling horizontally across the sides of the buildings.” Further, in cross-section, both buildings reveal what King described as a “flower shape,” “a stylized rectangle, with gently rounded corners and an outward bulge more-or-less in the center of each of the four sides.” Should this flower shape, combined with the wavelike exteriors, have been enough to sustain Sieger Suarez’s claim of infringement against its competitor and the property’s owners?

The results of this Court Case, and what they could mean for architectural copyright in general, after the break…

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Easter Eggs Designed By Architects

By Morphosis. Image Courtesy of The Big 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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Why Criticisms of Crowdsourcing Don’t Add Up

Competition: Office Design for Startup, Singapore. 1st Prize: Cristian Traistaru, Romania. Image Courtesy of Cristian Traistaru

Originally posted on ArchNewsNow as “Crowdsourcing Design: The End of Architecture, or a New Beginning?“, this article by Michael J Crosbie examines the furore around crowdsourcing websites such as Arcbazar, explaining why the criticisms against it just don’t stack up.

A few weeks ago, ArchNewsNow carried an article from the Orange County Register about the increasing popularity of “crowdsourcing” architectural design. You might already be familiar with the crowdsourcing concept: using the Internet to gather solutions to virtually any problem or task from people all over the world. The idea has been used to generate solutions to provide clean drinking water in third-world countries, to creating entire websites such as Wikipedia. Such activities are generally regarded as “disruptive,” in the parlance of the moment, in that they offer alternative ways of achieving a result that has traditionally been accomplished through other means. (ArchNewsNow is “disruptive” in the sense that it offers an alternative outlet for architectural news that impacts the traditional architectural publishing world of print media.)

Read on to find out why this “disruptive” new trend is nothing to fear

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