This year’s MoMA PS1′s Young Architects Program opens tomorrow (you can see the schedule of events here). Find out how the innovative winning design (a tower of fungal bricks), by The Living‘s David Benjamin, was tested and built with this article, originally posted on Arup Connect as “Engineering a mushroom tower“. Soft, spongy, and delicious on pizza, mushrooms have approximately as much to do with structural engineering as alligators or lawnmowers. Or so we thought, until architect David Benjamin of New York firm The Living walked into our offices with a brick grown from fungi. This brick was the key to his concept for an entry to MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program competition. Every year, the museum commissions a designer to build a centerpiece for its popular outdoor Warm Up concert series. If architectural design competitions are where brave, innovative ideas rise to the top, The Living’s mushroom tower (official name: Hy-Fi) checked all the right boxes. In addition to the novelty factor, mushroom bricks offer a host of sustainability benefits. The raw materials needed to produce them — mushrooms and corn stalks (waste material from farms) that the spores feed on — are as eco-friendly as they come. Bricks can be grown in just five days, and the process produces no waste or carbon emissions. When the structure is taken down at the end of the summer, they can be composted and turned into fertilizer. (more…)
The Middle East has historically been known for many things — sustainability not being one of them. The clash of Western values with the harshness of the local climate can often wedge sustainability between a lot of sand and a hard place. Though there is a broad critique of the unsustainable attributes of the region’s development path, for years there has been a shining exception: Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, seventeen kilometers east-south-east from the city of Abu Dhabi.
Masdar City exists as an urban development project run by the renewable energy company Masdar, who has committed $15 billion to making Masdar City the planet’s most sustainable new city. Unlike Abu Dhabi, a city which unthinkingly follows antiquated models and Western building principles, Masdar City has a wealth of potential to offer the world of green urban planning – something the world sorely needs.
But Masdar City is certainly not without its share of critics. On first approach, the concentrated development, located in the center of six square kilometers of empty space, does little to awe, especially in comparison to the sprawling wave that is Abu Dhabi. Thanks largely to the global financial recession, buildings currently comprise less than 10% of the area committed to the urban experiment. Even today there is a group of onlookers that suggest Masdar City may just be a mirage after all.
However, this broader view is not necessarily synonymous with the bigger picture.
“Architects make architecture; Phyllis Lambert made architects,” Rem Koolhaas said of his decision to award Phyllis Lambert with this year’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale. In an interview published on iconeye.com, the website for Icon Magazine, the 87-year-old founding director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) discusses her career, Mies van der Rohe, and the state of contemporary architecture with the editor of Icon, Christopher Turner. Read on to learn about her influential life in architecture.
Congratulations on your Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. How did you learn that you’d been awarded the honour?
Thank you very much. I got a phone call from the curator, Rem Koolhaas, telling me and I had to wait for weeks as it went before the board, unable to tell anybody – then I got an official letter. Isn’t it wonderful?
Learning doesn’t necessarily need to be formal – or expensive for that matter. Thanks to the Internet and some generous benefactors, you can further your education for free from the comfort of your own home. Top schools such as MIT and Harvard University are affiliated with free online learning resources, allowing people from all over the globe to connect and audit courses at their own pace. In some cases, these services even provide self-educators with proof for having completed courses. Keep reading after the break to check out our round-up of four free online learning resources.
In a posthumous 1990 essay “A Black Box: The Secret Profession of Architecture”, Reyner Banham warned of architecture’s corrosive trend toward insulating itself from discussions outside of the discipline. Decades later, architecture finds itself in an even more dire state of affairs. Despite a transformed global context, the same paternalistic model of studio culture that has existed since the Beaux Arts remains in place. “Studio culture”, as currently practiced, promotes an outdated and parochial understanding of how design knowledge is produced, valuing expertise over synthesis and image over process and practice.
It also affects the health and wellness of students. Over ten years ago, the AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) and NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) created a new requirement for accreditation, requiring all schools to address these precise concerns through a written policy on studio and learning culture. However, many schools of architecture across the country still do not educate students about this policy nor seem to follow it.
While there are certainly creative strengths and a generalized camaraderie fostered by traditional studio models, they do not adequately prepare students for navigating the global present. We believe there is an urgent need to reconfigure the institution of studio in order to address the pressing academic and professional issues of our time. We are putting forth what we feel are the guiding principles which must inform a progressive studio culture: agency, balance, flexibility, diversity, interactivity, interdisciplinarity, and sustainability. It is our hope these principles spur debate and much needed action for fundamentally transforming studio culture.
MIT has developed a way to 3D print sheets of material that self-assemble when baked. With inspiration from Japanese origami, researchers have developed — among other objects — robots. Head researcher Daniela Rus is already looking for potential applications saying, ”I want a robot that will play with my cat.” Check out the full article at HNGN to learn more and watch a video of the assembly in action.
The following article is presented by Materials, ArchDaily’s new US product catalog.
How many times in the last year have you heard 3d printing mentioned? What about double-skinned curtain walls or “smart” buildings? High-tech materials almost always seem to dominate the conversation – at least in architectural circles. But using the latest invention in material technology usually does not make a building “innovative.” More often than not, it just makes it expensive and flashy.
Low-tech materials like lumber, stone and brick, on the other hand, are often overlooked, even though the use of local and locally produced materials offers the lowest possible carbon footprint. And while these common materials may seem boring, with a bit of imagination and technical skill, an architect can transform these materials into something fresh. With that in mind, check out three truly innovative projects which use low-tech materials in different and exciting ways.
The following article was originally published on Medium.
On a perfect autumn morning Rem Koolhaas parks his black 1998 BMW along an Amsterdam canal. It’s not really a sports car, but rather the racing model that a child would draw. Moments later, he is placed behind an impressive desk. This is to be a normal working day. Not in his Rotterdam offices though. Today he deals with his appointments in an Amsterdam hotel. Does that sometimes, more efficient. But this morning, a journalist has been in front of him for more than half an hour. And the guy is saying what?
‘Just about everyone responds the same when I mention your name: He’s a very unpleasant man, right?’
Halfway this remark Koolhaas leans back and moves away from the desktop.
He rocks back and forth.
And he nods.
Stuttering he says something like: ‘Yeah, that happens, yes. With people, yes.’
He seems embarrassed, even a little ashamed.
Outside assistants, clients, projects, calls about million dollar projects on different continents are waiting, but here, his head is so nude… those little ears that stick out to the sides… Can you describe a man of six feet tall as resembling a little injured bird?
Not much more comes out of him. The conversation is over.
With the first weekend of the Venice Biennale in the books, over the past few days reviews from critics have been flooding in. Each is eager to dispense their opinions on what has been one of the most highly anticipated Biennales in recent memory, and it seems that the event has not disappointed. From reviews of the festival as a whole to individual takes on the National Pavilions, read on after the break as we take a look at some of the most intriguing reviews so far.
Interiors is an online film and architecture journal, published by Mehruss Jon Ahi and Armen Karaoghlanian. Interiors runs an exclusive ArchDaily column analyzing and diagraming films in terms of space.
Stanley Kubrick has been called many things: pretentious, unpretentious, alienated, ambiguous, audacious, empty, disturbing, outrageous, devilish, soulless, patient, unflinching, impersonal, arrogant, calculated, paranoid, aloof, visionary, genius, tyrant, misogynist, cineaste, original, and in the immortal words of Kirk Douglas, a “talented shit.”
It’s interesting to note then, when asked about his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Stanley Kubrick himself said, “It’s not a message that I ever intend to convey in words.” The film itself is a “nonverbal experience.” There are no words – or dialogue – for more than two-thirds of the film. Stanley Kubrick is a visual storyteller; in his films, words are secondary.
“Who threw this tantrum?” This question sums up how Charles Moore’s peers reacted when they saw his Lovejoy Fountain project for the first time. Moore was always a bit unconventional by contemporary standards – he designed what others would not dare, creating a body of work that alludes to everything from Italian baroque forms to Mexican folk art colors to Japanese wood construction. Originally published as Why Charles Moore (Still) Matters on Metropolis Magazine, check out Alexandra Lange’s thoughtful piece on the influential architect after the break.
“Stop work. It looks like a prison.” That was the telegram from the developers in response to Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker’s (MLTW) first design for the Sea Ranch, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Architects Charles Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, William Turnbull, and Richard Whitaker, working with landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, had used sugar cubes to model the 24-foot module for each of the condominium’s original ten units. And that boxy choice, combined with the simplest of windows and vertical redwood siding, produced something more penitentiary than vacation (it’s sited on a choice stretch of Sonoma coast).
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 discusses our society’s phobia against natural, local forms – our “ecophobia” – and the need for the architecture discipline to counter this fear by adopting a more scientifically-rigorous, intellectual structure. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.
The 21st century has begun with a continuation, and perhaps intensification, of the worst prejudices seen in the twentieth. Those prejudices include a disdain of traditional cultures, and all that links a human being to his/her local history.
Similarly, most building and planning today follow unwritten rules that have no empirical foundation, being based strictly upon visual/ideological constructs from the early twentieth century. Contemporary design avoids any criterion of quality that draws upon evolved precedent and tradition from a prior era, and thinks that this refusal is a great virtue. In this way, architects and urbanists end up obeying simplistic criteria for design, rejecting any sense of beauty that links human beings with their land, tradition, and culture.
The term “ecophobia” refers to an unreasonable but deeply conditioned reaction against natural forms. It has also been used in clinical psychology to denote a phobia against one’s dwelling, but that specific use now appears to be antiquated. However, we believe that these two terms “ecophobia” and “oikophobia” may in many cases be used interchangeably. (Linguistically, the common Greek root for “house” can be written either as ecos or oikos).
In 1991, the American Institute of Architects called him, quite simply, “the greatest American architect of all time.” But he wasn’t just an architect – he was also an interior designer, writer, and educator. Today, the prodigious Frank Lloyd Wright would have turned 147 years old. Despite the years, he continues to inspire generations of architects.
Wright’s designs were driven by the desire to nurture the lives of their occupants. He referred to his architecture as ‘organic’ – in complete harmony with itself and its surroundings, as if it had developed as naturally as a tree. His later work is formally modernist, but hints at his beginnings in the late 19th century as a disciple of Louis Sullivan (‘form follows function’).
For many people, Wright is the quintessential vision of the architect: he presented himself as a lone genius, fastidious down to the smallest details of his design, and his personality was often rather brash. But there is no denying his vision – and the timelessness of his designs continues to reveal just how strong that vision was.
In total, Wright completed over 500 projects. Today, 55 years after his death, the relevancy of his immense body of work is not lost – in the past four months alone, preservation plans were announced for three of his projects, including the SC Johnson Research Tower. In celebration of his birthday, we invite you to look back on his prolific body of work.
If you could design the ideal house of the future, what would it look like? Given the opportunity to answer this question, interior and product designer Louise Campbell turned to an unlikely source – Alice in Wonderland. To learn how the fairytale influenced the design, check out the following article, originally published as Through the Looking Glass on Metropolis Magazine.
Every year, the imm Cologne furniture fair hosts Das Haus, a life-size model of an ideal future house. In the past, architects and product designers—such as Zaha Hadid and Naoto Fukasawa in 2007— have teamed up to design their dream house, without pesky constraints like clients or budget. This year, Louise Campbell wore both hats. An interior and product designer, Campbell created what looked like a machine for communal living (or maybe the dwelling of a well-heeled Scandinavian commune).
When you think about the future, how do you envision the built environment? According to this article, originally appearing on The Huffington Post as The Architecture of the Future is Far More Spectacular than You Could Imagine, the future is closer than we might think – current projects are already answering the imagined needs and desires of the next generation. From a tower with rotating floors to a park with the ability to cleanse raw sewage, check out fourteen projects believed to embody the architecture of tomorrow, after the break.
The Brussels-based design initiative MANIERA invites emerging architects to design series of limited edition furniture. This April, their first show opened with works by the Belgian architects OFFICE KERSTEN GEERS DAVID VAN SEVEREN and the Dutch artist and architect Anne Holptrop. The objects are on view in the loft-like living space of Kwinten Lavigne and Amaryllis Jacobs, the couple who founded MANIERA. Since both have a background in the art world, it’s not surprising that the design objects shown at MANIERA are more than just furniture, but rather a deliberate search for collisions between the realms of architecture, design and art.
The delicate mashrabiya has offered effective protection against intense sunlight in the Middle East for several centuries. However, nowadays this traditional Islamic window element with its characteristic latticework is used to cover entire buildings as an oriental ornament, providing local identity and a sun-shading device for cooling. In fact, designers have even transformed the vernacular wooden structure into high-tech responsive daylight systems.
Jean Nouvel is one of the leading architects who has strongly influenced the debate about modern mashrabiyas. His Institut du monde arabe in Paris was only the precedent to two buildings he designed for the harsh sun of the Middle East: The Doha Tower, which is completely wrapped with a re-interpretation of the mashrabiya, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum with its luminous dome.
More mashrabiyas, after the break…
Are you feeling short on inspiration today? For a jump-start, try watching one of these twenty TED Talks – a follow-up to last year’s post “The 10 Most Inspirational TED Talks for Architects.” Wherever your interests lie, the passionate people featured in these videos – from WikiHouse founder Alastair Parvin to famed photographer Iwan Baan and architectural great Moshe Safdie - will get your creative juices flowing. See them all, after the break.