Archiculture Interviews: Thom Mayne

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“It’s amazing how resilient our society is, and that resiliency includes architecture. It’s resilient in terms of the society, it’s resilient economically, and that’s a really good thing.”

In this installment of Arbuckle Industries’ Archiculture interviews, architect, educator, and Morphosis Architects founder Thom Mayne discusses the underpinnings of the architecture world. Starting from what he sees as architecture’s under-representation in the public consciousness, he touches on the cycle of planned obsolescence in the built environment and its consequential dynamics, provides his perspective on architects’ responsibilities, and explains where he believes the future of architecture is headed thanks to a new generation of politically engaged students. Mayne also argues that clarifying the role of cultural forces on architecture could broaden the public’s acceptance of designs: “look at the Lunar landing module, is that a beautiful thing or an ugly thing?” Mayne asks. “If you really admire what it did… you find it interesting, you find it beautiful because you understand it in context.”

A Country Of Converted Oil Rigs: Is This How To Save The Maldives?

A cutaway section of the proposed oil rig structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla

If you want to see the future of urban adaptation, head to the Maldives. That’s the message and warning behind Mayank Thammalla’s master’s thesis from the Unitec School of Architecture in Auckland, New Zealand. Under even the most conservative IPCC forecasts, the low-lying Republic of will become almost uninhabitable as sea levels rise, while any further rise could leave many of the 200 inhabited islands underwater. It’s an existential threat like no other – in as little as ten year’s time, the Maldivian government could be faced with the impossible situation of deciding how to deal with over 400,000 refugees leaving the area where their country used to be. Instead of attempting to rebuild elsewhere or mount a series of defences against the oncoming sea, Thammalla’s research project has the difficult goal of realistically preserving Maldivian life in the same geographical location as it is now. His solution? Semi-submersible oil rigs.

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MVRDV’s Winy Maas On Architecture Education And His Early Work In Africa

Balancing Barn / . Image © Edmund Sumner

Winy Maas is one of architecture’s most aggressive researchers. Through his office MVRDV and affiliations with universities in Europe and America, Maas produces a seemingly unstoppable stream of insights into the environments in which architects now operate. As an advisor to the educational program of the Strelka Institute in Moscow, the architect is currently contributing to the production of eleven radical visions of the future, based on extrapolating trends that shape contemporary life, in Russia and around the world. Maas recently sat with writer, curator, and Strelka faculty member Brendan McGetrick to discuss his unusual educational trajectory, learning from the conservationist Richard Leakey, facing death in Sudan, and the beauty of architects experimenting with algae.

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NCARB Discards “Intern” Title

© AstroStar via Shutterstock

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the governing body for much of the architectural profession in the US, is taking steps to take “intern” out of architectural vocabulary. In a press statement, NCARB president Dale McKinney, FAIA, NCARB, said that in the future, NCARB will only encourage regulatory language for post-licensure individuals

“Architects are those who have met all the requirements to become licensed in states and jurisdictions throughout the United States,” McKinney said. “Everyone else is not an architect. But their status also doesn’t need a regulatory title such as ‘intern’ or any similar reference. This has become a term that has been perceived as negative by many in the architecture community and a term that really does not fully value the work that aspiring architects bring to the profession.”

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Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business

Courtesy of Eric Reinholdt

The inherently dry subjects of  development, marketing, P+L reports, taxes, and insurance are less likely to feed the intellect of the architect than discussions of materiality, parallax, articulation and form. Yet the reality of what it means to practice architecture, by necessity, requires reconciling these two divided worlds. Nowhere is the need to unify them as great as with the startup design business.

Author, award-winning architect and founder of the firm 30X40 Design Workshop, Eric Reinholdt, explores these topics in “Architect + Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business.” Part narrative and part business book, Reinholdt advocates new approaches and tools that merge entrepreneurship with the practice of architecture and interior design. The book offers a framework for starting a design practice in the 21st century which leverages the lean methodology to create a minimum viable product and encourages successive small wins that support a broader vision enabling one to, “think big, start small, and learn fast.”

Read on after the break for an excerpt from Chapter 2 – Getting Started.

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See All 38 Winners of the 2015 RIBA London Awards

NEO Bankside / Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Image © Edmund Sumner

From a shortlist of 68 buildings, 38 London projects have been awarded the 2015 RIBA London Awards for architectural excellence, the city’s most prestigious design honor. The awards highlight projects that embody exceptional merit in their designs and positively impact the lives of their occupants. This year’s winners include three arts and leisure buildings, 11 educational and community facilities, 16 residential designs, and eight commercial buildings.

All of these designs will be further considered for the RIBA National Awards, to be announced in June.

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Video: The Bicycle Snake / Dissing+Weitling

The Louisiana Channel recently paid a visit to one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities to view what is dubbed “Copenhagen‘s new architectonic landmark,” Dissing+Weitling Architecture‘s “The Bicycle Snake.” “Strikingly slender” and boasting a simple orange track, the Bicycle Snake is a 230 meter dedicated entirely to bikes. The steel tries not to “be more that it actually is,” unlike many other landmarks, connecting bicyclists to two main parts of the city by elevating them up to seven meters above the sea.

AR Issues: On Destruction And New Beginnings

Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the May 2015 issue, The AR’s new editor Christine Murray discusses our various reactions to different forms of destruction and endings - a topic that is perhaps particularly poignant considering the new era that The AR is entering - and outlines her ambitions as editor of the magazine.

The experience of a space can be cathartic, like one night when I visited Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals for a midnight opening, floating in the dark baths. It was just weeks after the birth of my first child, and also my birthday. In the water, I felt the person that I had always been and the mother I had now become reconciled. In that moment, I forgave my tired self (or the building forgave me) for being so unworthy, so wholly undeserving of the perfect baby entrusted to me. I left feeling alive and new, and I know Zumthor had something to do with it.

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12 Excel Formulas Every Architect Should Know

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It may not be the most exciting piece of software an architect will ever use, but Microsoft‘s Excel is a powerful tool which can help architects with the less glamorous parts of their work – and if you learn how to use it correctly, it can help you get back to the tasks that you’d rather be doing much more quickly. In this post originally published by ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly gives his short rundown of formulas that every architect should know – and a brief explanation of how to use each one.

Excel is more than just digital graph paper. It’s a serious tool for analyzing and computing data. In order to access this power, however, you need to understand formulas.

If you’re like me, you started using Excel as a way to create nice looking tables of data – things like building programs or drawing lists. Lots of text and some numbers. Nothing too crazy. If I was feeling a little bold, I’d add a simple formula to add or subtract some cells. That’s about it.

I knew I was using only about 10% of the but I wasn’t sure what else it could do or how I could access the other functions. I’d heard about formulas but they seemed really confusing. Plus, I was an architect, not a bean counter.

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AD Classics: Viipuri Library / Alvar Aalto

© The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen

Despite being one of the seminal works of modern Scandinavian architecture, Alvar Aalto’s Viipuri Library languished in relative obscurity for three-quarters of a century until its media breakthrough in late 2014. Its receipt of the World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize for a recent renovation was covered by news outlets around the world, bringing the 1935 building previously unseen levels of attention and scrutiny.

This renaissance is nothing less than extraordinary. Abandoned for over a decade and allowed to fall into complete disrepair, the building was once so forgotten that many believed it had actually been demolished. [1] For decades, architects studied Aalto’s project only in drawings and prewar black-and-white photographs, not knowing whether the original was still standing, and if it was, how it was being used. Its transformation from modern icon to deserted relic to architectural classic is a tale of political intrigue, warfare, and the perseverance of a dedicated few who saved the building from ruin.

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Alejandro Aravena’s UC Innovation Center awarded “Design of the Year” by London’s Design Museum

London’s Design Museum has announced the category winners of the prestigious “Design of the Year” award. The winner of this year’s Architecture Category is the Anacleto Angelini UC Innovation Center designed by Alejandro Aravena.

The list of nominees included great buildings designed by Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Baorzzi Veiga, , among others (see the full list of nominees). The jury was chaired by Anish Kapoor, and it included Hilary Alexander, Alexis Georgacopoulos, Farshid Moussavi, and Richard Woolley.

The award “celebrates design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year.” In this aspect, juror Farshid Moussavi stated that ”The UC Innovation Center is an excellent example of how the design of an office building can engage with its context. Its large openings carved away from its facades not only act as air corridors, light channels and pockets of collective spaces, but they also provide a different perception of such a building in the city: one that is permeable, visually, socially and climatically with its environment.”

Alejandro Aravena commented ”We were already honored to be part of the finalists, we never thought we could win. Also, the news came in during the Pritzker Prize ceremony honoring Frei Otto, everyone from the architecture was there, and we were really flattered by the wide recognition.”

See all the details of the Anacleto Angelini UC Innovation Center Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL.

How The Atlantic Philanthropies Changed Lives Through Building

Courtesy of The Atlantic Philanthropies

In 1982, the billionaire duty-free shopping magnate made a decision that would dramatically alter the course of his career and change his legacy forever: he founded a philanthropic organization, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and made a $7 million donation to Cornell University. Two years later, Feeney transferred his entire $1.6 billion stake in his company to The Atlantic Philanthropies (a move that the world did not find out about until 1997), and the organization has since gone on to make $6.5 billion worth of grants, in large part to fund construction projects that changed lives. Now, the organization is winding down, with its planned closure scheduled for 2016. To celebrate almost three and a half decades of giving, the organization has released ”Laying Foundations for Change: Capital Investments of The Atlantic Philanthropies.” The following excerpt is taken from the book’s foreword by President and CEO Christopher G. Oechsli, originally titled “What This Book Is About.”

Imagine having the resources to build something that can dramatically alter the lives of people, communities, even nations. Conversely, imagine an unassuming man coming to you and asking what you could build to change many lives, of the people in your community or even your nation. Imagine the possibilities. That’s what this book is about. It’s about fields of dreams, and about the people who were asked to imagine what could be built upon those fields to improve the lives of people, and of the people who come and till those fields and are part of that change. It’s a visual and narrative story of Charles Francis “Chuck” Feeney and The Atlantic Philanthropies and what literally laying the foundations for change means for people and nations.

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An Architect’s Story: AIA Documentary Profiles Blind Architect Chris Downey

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As part of their #ILookUp campaign to raise awareness about the importance of the architecture profession, the has produced this short documentary about Chris Downey, an architect who lost his sight in 2008 and has gone on to become a pioneer in designing for the blind and visually impaired. Screened for the first time earlier today at the AIA convention in Atlanta, “An Architect’s Story” takes a look into the life and work of Downey and one of his students, Sana Jahani, as they explain what architects can offer the world – and what the #ILookUp campaign means for an architect who is “without sight, but not without vision.”

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Zaha Hadid Unveils Community-Oriented Housing Project In Monterrey

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects have unveiled their first project in Mexico, a residential development in Monterrey. The country’s third-largest city, is a rapidly growing and increasingly important manufacturing and technology center. The project, named “Esfera City Center,” is located to the southwest of in the Huajuco Canyon, where it will provide crucial homes in a rapidly expanding part of the city.

Consisting of 981 units from single-person lofts to four-bedroom apartments totaling 137,000 square meters, the design rejects the original brief from the client which called for 12 residential towers, instead opting for a series of long, low-rise blocks which surround a public park, bringing a community focus to the design.

More images and information about the Esfera City Center project after the break.

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Taking Daylight to the Next Level: How Daylighting Analysis is Changing Design

10 DESIGN’s Ashjar at Al Barari residential project. Image Courtesy of 10 DESIGN

Until recently, renderings were the architect’s primary tool for understanding daylight in their designs—renderings, and a healthy dose of intuition. But a new generation of daylighting analysis tools, which is emerging alongside a new generation of daylighting metrics, are enabling architects to look at daylight in new ways—with important implications for design.

as usual, when it comes to daylight, is to use rules of thumb to design, then use renderings to check the design and communicate the intent. Rendering has fast become an art form: the creation of exquisite, evocative, often atmospheric imagery that communicates the mood, the experience, the visceral feel of the design. This is no accident: daylighting is a magic ingredient in architecture, bringing dynamism to static structure, imbuing buildings with a sense of time, and renderings are a powerful way to capture and communicate these ideas—a necessary complement to the hard line plans and sections that comprise much of the architect’s lexicon. Renderings have expanded our ability to communicate designs. They have also expanded our ability to conceptualize designs—and especially to conceptualize the daylight in our designs.

But there’s something missing: there are important daylight-related questions that renderings simply can’t answer. Even if they can be made reasonably accurate, they’re still incomplete: depicting a moment in time, but not providing an indication of whether that moment is unique or typical.

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Vote for Your Favorite Atlanta Bridgescape Proposal

Finalist A: “Green City Spectator” at Midtown’s 10th Street . Image © Bridgescape Competition

Five finalists have emerged in the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition. The urban design challenge, which was launched earlier this year, sought creative ideas to enhance two existing freeway overpasses in the city’s Midtown and Downtown districts. Now in the competition’s final phase, the finalists have refined their ideas, taking in consideration a budget of up to $3 million for each project. The proposals are now undergoing public review and you are invited to vote for your favorite design as part of the People’s Choice Award. Read on to review each proposal and find out how to vote.

A winner will be announced this Friday, May 15 at the AIA’s 2015 National Convention.

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An Interview with Lu Wenyu, Amateur Architecture Studio

Xiangshan Campus Phase 2. Image © Evan Chakroff

“Every couple of years a new manifesto appears, but how long can it last? We need more people doing instead of talking. [At ] we spend an enormous amount of time experimenting, trying to resurrect the craftsmanship that is almost lost. We use a method that is passed on, hand-to-hand, to re-establish tradition instead of talking about abstract but empty concepts.”
- Lu Wenyu, Hangzhou, 2013

Pier Alessio Rizzardi: “A house instead of a building” is a really famous phrase of Amateur Architecture Studio. What is the meaning behind this concept?

Lu Wenyu: Once, Wang Shu said: “we only make houses, we don’t make architecture.” The house and architecture here have their own meanings. Making a house means making it for the people, making it more tranquil, or closer to nature, more humanized. Instead, architecture is an abstract concept, so many designs nowadays are actually architecture. So this sentence, from almost 20 years ago, “making houses, not architecture”, is about not making that abstract concept, but to make something really concrete and tangible, something that you can touch or that is made with your own hands… so when you see this house, you feel differently.

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AR Issues: Past Imperfect, Future Tense

Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the April 2015 issue, her final editorial at the magazine, Catherine Slessor reflects on the changes in her two-decade tenure as a member of the AR’s editorial staff – from the technological change that has irrevocably changed the nature of architectural publishing, to the worrying decline in the relevance of the architectural profession.

Cyberpunk king William Gibson once remarked: “The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed.” But we’re getting there. The AR’s digital adventure has just climaxed with the recent launch of the AR app. Our lavish and incomparable banquet of criticism, culture and campaigning can now be savoured at your leisure, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. It’s a leap that completes the journey from paper magazine to digital multiverse, offering more and different kinds of content on your platform of choice.

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