Back in 2006, we saw that there was a very strong generation of young architects that weren’t part of the traditional circle of printed publications. So, we had this crazy idea that we could create a platform to give those architects the exposure they deserved, spreading the knowledge and innovations they were producing to the rest of the world. At a time where Web 2.0 shifted how media was produced and consumed, we saw an opportunity to embrace the web for to achieve this goal.
Very soon we realized that we were on the right track: that we were making available to the world a whole new corpus of architecture knowledge, having a positive impact on the speed of innovation in our field, and generating a new, virtuous circle.
Then in 2008, the world entered the urban era with more than 50% of its population living in cities, 3 billion people, a number that is expected to double by the year 2040. This growth is expected to happen particularly in parts of the world where architecture is required the most, and we understood that our global exchange of knowledge was part of that dynamic.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life of the next 3 billion people that will move into cities in the next 40 years, by providing inspiration, knowledge and tools to the architects who will have the challenge to design for them.
In the span of five years, we went from an idea to the most visited architecture web site in the world, with over 7 million monthly readers, and a staff of over 50 people working in 9 different countries. This is our story.
This article, which originally appeared on Bullett Media, is by writer Matthew Newton. Newton has written for The Atlantic, Esquire, Forbes, and Guernica, and is currently at work on No Place for Disgrace, a collection of nonfiction stories based on the faded promise of the American suburbs. You can follow him on Twitter @newtonmatthew.
In November of 1977, filmmaker George A. Romero arrived with cast and crew at Monroeville Mall, a sprawling indoor shopping center located in the suburbs east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The young director, who by that time had established himself as a pioneer in the horror genre, was set to start production on his latest film, Dawn of the Dead, a sequel to his 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead. Once again Romero’s slow-shuffling ghouls — starved as always for brains and entrails, meaty thigh bones and plump jugulars — would be unleashed on bumbling humans ill-prepared for a world gone rotten.
This time around, however, Romero, who in Night of the Living Dead touched on issues of race in the civil-rights era, had plans to skewer a new social dilemma: the rise of the American consumer. And to properly lampoon the nation’s burgeoning shop-till-you-drop culture, Romero needed the ideal backdrop.
Read more of Matthew Newton’s take on the immortality of the shopping mall, after the break…
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released an extensive new publication that serves as a guide for low-income, minority, tribal and overburdened communities to build smart, environmentally just, and equitable developments using strategies that are accessible and affordable. The guidelines build upon precedents of past successes within struggling communities, whether these struggles are in the face of discrimination, social or economic prejudices, or environmental injustice. The EPA identifies seven common elements that have been illustrated in in-depth case studies of communities that have struggled with those very issues. By targeting community groups, governmental agencies, private and non-profit partners, regional and local planners and residents of these communities, the EPA’s smart growth guide for “Creating Equitable, Healthy and Sustainable Communities: Strategies for Advancing Smart Growth, Environmental Justice, and Equitable Development” seeks to bring access to valuable information about the inherent possibilities to creating healthful, sustainable, and prosperous communities under a variety of circumstances.
Join us after the break for a breakdown of the EPA’s findings and how they address equitability in community development.
Marika Shioiri-Clark is an architect who uses design to empower global change and battle inequality. While attending Harvard for her Masters in Architecture, she co-founded the non-profit MASS Design Group and began working on what would become the the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. In this article, which originally appeared on GOOD as “Building a Rwandan Wall”, she explains the process by which the hospital was built and defends claims that the project, led by a group of Western architects, was somehow colonialist in nature.
As she puts it: “In a place like Rwanda, it’s not neo-colonialist to work on high-quality design projects as long as you’re deeply and authentically engaged with the community. In today’s world, it’s more neo-colonialist to assume that African people don’t want well-designed buildings and spaces.”
Read about Ms. Shiori-Clark’s experiences, and the delicate balance that must be struck between local knowledge and innovative techniques, after the break…
As Mr. Betsky asserts, “Robots, connected computers, miniaturization, and etherization are taking the work out of both the social and the physical sphere.” But isn’t this just a fantasy because this has not yet happened on a large enough scale to produce a true paradigm shift? Or, if the shift has happened, then where is everybody rushing off to on the Monday morning commute? And what are all those buildings jammed in-between the roads for? Most of them seem to be for work as opposed to play.
We may all float in and out of working networks as we move around, untethered to carpeted cubicles, telecommuting, flex-timing, logging in at all hours, but we are still and will primarily be working in places designed by architects—often without access to sunlight, fresh air, or nature of any sort.
“While [...] everyone would like to be as sustainable as Copenhagen, creating true sustainability in a mega-city is a totally different story.”
In this article, which originally appeared in The Dirt, Jared Green explores how mega-cities - expanding and merging with other cities, fast becoming endless cities – must focus their growth in a productive, sustainable way. Expanding on the theories of Ricky Burdett, a Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics, he explores which mega-cities are doing growth right (Bogota, London) and which are only headed towards increased inefficiency and inequality.
Read more about our endless cities – and how limiting them is the key to sustainable development – after the break…
The following article is by Simon Henley of Henley Halebrown Rorrison (HHbR). His column London Calling will look at London’s every-day reality, its architectural culture, and its role as a global architectural hub.
As a city, London is more than ever an architectural capital for propagating and consuming design culture. It has the highest concentration of architectural practices of any city in the world. Publications, exhibitions, events and a variety of pop-ups, pavilions and charrettes (not to mention the ever more popular pecha-kuchas) also attest to the fact. Schools like the Architectural Association (AA) in London’s Bedford Square have formed the minds of a number of world stage “star” architects.
Then there’s the skyline itself – stuffed with transplanted talent. Renzo Piano‘s Shard, the city’s new spire that stands high above the rest. Uruguayan Rafael Viñoly‘s controversial Walkie-Talkie, which swells by the day. Herzog & de Meuron‘s current work at The Tate Modern. John Nouvel’s shopping mall at St Paul’s, and the many 1980s American corporate buildings for commercial giants in The City of London by SOM, KPF and HOK.
Reflecting on this state of affairs of ‘high end architectural culture’ versus ‘high end commissioning culture’, one cannot help but see a curious chasm in London. In some ways, we are still today very much like the Victorians. Great inventors who leave it to the rest of the world to move our inventions forward.
Is London truly the world capital of architecture? Or a metropolitan trading post, an exporter of architectural ideas? Read more of Simon Henley’s take, after the break…
Today, ArchDaily turns 5 years old! We’ve already shared with you our special doodle of the day and the 20 Most Visited Projects of ArchDaily history - now, let’s look back at the 5 posts that most caught your attention these past five years. From the ever-pressing topic of work/life balance to an underground Data Center lair, these five posts offer us a snapshot of what’s important to architects today. Enjoy!
The 5 Most Read Posts in ArchDaily history, after the break….
As you might have heard, ArchDaily is celebrating our 5th birthday today! We decided it was time to get a bit nostalgic and look back at the projects of yesteryear, the ones that struck a chord with you, our ArchDaily readers, and helped us get to where we are today.
So, with no further ado, the 20 most visited projects in ArchDaily history! Beginning with….
See our 20 most popular projects of all time, after the break…
Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, we want to take a look at one of the most pressing issues facing architecture today: the lack of women architects. Articles abound about the what of gender inequality in architecture – in the UK, for example, only 21% of architects are women, and they earn 25% less than their male counterparts – but strikingly few discuss the how of lessening that gender gap.
Read the opinions of two prominent female architects, and provide your own, after the break…
Looking back on architectural history, you could be forgiven for thinking that women were an invention of the 1950’s, alongside spandex and power steering – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Big names like Le Corbusier, Mies, Wright and Kahn often had equally inspired female peers, but the rigid structure of society meant that their contributions tended to be overlooked. In honor of International Woman’s Day 2013, we take a look at the 10 greatest overlooked women in architectural history.
Read the full list after the break…
“There’s a price on everything in New York, and the air is no exception.” - Ross F. Moskowitz, Strock & Strock & Lavan
All of us are familiar with the practice of buying and selling property in the form of land, residential and commercial space, but the buying and selling of the air surrounding these spaces is a concept well-understood by few. With the recovery of the condominium market in New York City, residential development is at an all-time high, and this means taller and even more luxurious towers are fighting each other tooth and nail for the best possible views of the city. Because of this, the price of air above and around these potential developments is becoming more and more expensive, since a room with a view is worth a whole lot more than one without. Is it possible that these empty, vertical pockets are now worth more than the ground below them?
Read more about New York City’s air rights to find out. (more…)
The following article by Oliver “Olly” Wainwright (Architecture and design critic at The Guardian) was featured on Fulcrum #67 “The End of Critique”, which also included an article by ArchDaily’s co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, David Basulto.
Baubles on Pedestals
It has become increasingly fashionable to trumpet the death of criticism. Barely a week goes by that there isn’t a new blog declaring the end of architectural critique, the slipping of standards, the domination of our screens by an unmediated slew of images.
“Criticism is in crisis,” wail the critics, seeing their traditional role threatened by a torrential tide of websites that funnel an incontinent splurge of unadulterated visual stimulation. From Dezeen to ArchDaily, Designboom to Architizer, we are bombarded with a never-ending deluge of projects, freed from any sense of context or meaning. It is easy to believe the cries that architectural culture is being flattened into a homogenous soup of saturated colours and oblique geometries – a cascade of effortlessly digested eye-candy to be liked, retweeted, pinned and shared across the infinite social media network.
I remember February 27, 2013 because that was the day Aaron Betsky asked a good question on his Beyond Buildings blog at Architect Magazine. Not that he doesn’t ask good questions on other days…because he does…but this particular day presented architecture with the provocative title, “Architecture Beyond Work: Will Architecture and Work Disappear?”
One friend said, “It looks a bit austere.” At first glance, it probably is. But like so many great minimal environments, it asks for patience and generosity. You give, and in turn it gives back.
This is also what the artists Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and, more recently, Olafur Eliasson ask. Trust them with your time and you may be rewarded with a small measure of serenity—perhaps even with the connection between art and the divine that Dominique de Menil was so focused on.
Designed by Louis Kahn, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is an outdoor sanctuary at the southern tip of what is now called Roosevelt Island, created as a memorial to FDR. The park opened last fall. Kahn’s gift took 40 years to be realized, but it presents a path for human beings to treat each other to peace.
Continue reading after the break…
Last month, we reported on OMA’s latest competition winner: the Essence Financial Building, a building that OMA Partner David Gianotten described as “a new generation of office tower” for the city of Shenzhen, China. To talk us through the building’s cutting edge sustainable features, we spoke with Arpan Bakshi, an architect, engineer, and Sustainability Manager at YR&G, OMA’s sustainability consultants, who led the environmental design for the project.
Learn more about the Essence Financial Building, OMA’s collaborative approach, and Bakshi’s views on the future of sustainable design – for both China and the world – after the break…
In cities around the globe, change happens almost instantly. Buildings rise, buildings disappear, and skylines morph before one’s eyes. There is no better example of this, of course, than China. From Ordos to Shanghai, Chinese cities are in a constant state of flux, as the Chinese people willfully abandon signs of the past and embrace the new.
Of course, it’s one thing to know this fact; it’s quite another to witness it firsthand, to experience this urgent impetus to demolish and demolish in order to build, build, build, and build. In the face of such large-scale, exponential urban development, it’s easy to feel powerless to suggest another path.
However, in publishing Anatomy of a Chinese City, that is exactly what two young architects have done. By taking the time to observe the “urban artifacts” that make a Chinese city unique, compiling over 100 drawings of everything from buildings to bicycles, Thomas Batzenschlager and Clémence Pybaro have preserved a piece of Chinese history that is quickly going extinct.
In a world where, in the race for progress, quotidian realities are erased unthinkingly, Anatomy of a Chinese City is not just a resource, but a call-to-action, reminding us to slow down and observe the very human context that surrounds us.
Read more about Anatomy of a Chinese City, after the break…
This article, by Austin Williams, originally appeared in The Asian Age as “India, China: Talk of the Town.” Williams is the co-author of Lure of the City: From Slums to Suburbs and director of the Future Cities Project. He teaches architecture and urban studies at XJTL University in Suzhou, China. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
As an architect living in Suzhou, just outside Shanghai, I have become blasé about the skyline being transformed before my very eyes. The classic view of Shanghai’s towering waterfront may not represent great architecture, but it’s impressive all the same… and constantly improving. In most cities across China it is the same story: high-speed construction activity, modernisation, transformation and skyscrapers everywhere. There is a palpable sense of opportunity pending — what the émigrés to America must have felt when arriving in New York 100 years ago.
While many Western commentators point to the failures (the accidents, the pollution and the corruption) with an unremitting Schadenfreude, China marches on. Where else can you watch a modern city grow and change in real time? Where else, indeed?
Read more of Austin Williams’ account of the different kinds of urban development happening in China and India, after the break…
Author Richard Florida of the NY Daily News made an argument in his “Obama, build a lasting urban legacy” article that President Obama should create a new federal department at the cabinet level called the Department of Cities. Although the President has listed many issues that he would like to focus on in his second term, such as immigration, gun control and climate change, an initiative to create a more promising future for American cities could define the President’s term and leave a lasting impression on the country.
The President made efforts in his last term to rethink and revitalize America’s urban centers with the Office of Urban Affairs, created in 2009, but these efforts have gone largely unrewarded. Pair this with the existing Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is becoming increasingly out of date and irrelevant, and it’s clear that Mr. President needs to rethink his approach. But despite the challenges that the Obama Administration faces, creating a Department of Cities to finally tackle the issues plaguing our most vital urban nuclei could be one of the most important and far-reaching moves he makes.
Read more about the future of our cities! (more…)
Dessen Hillman is currently a graduate student at MIT, pursuing his SMArchS degree in Architecture and Urbanism. He is interested in investigating the role of architecture in various urban settings through the scope of architecture design.
Since the modernist movement in architecture (early 1900s), building design has been majorly focused on expressing itself as a unique entity, becoming more of an art than architecture. Buildings are now formally expressive more than ever. After pondering the differences between the two, I have, for now, come to a conclusion on one fundamental difference:
Art is a form of self-expression with absolutely no responsibility to anyone or anything. Architecture can be a piece of art, but it must be responsible to people and its context.
Read on to find out how changing the way we snap images coud change the way we evaluate architecture, after the break…