The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for a end to the “weird buildings” being built in China, and particularly in the nation’s capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA’s CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.
With China’s construction boom being one of the most talked about features of today’s architecture scene – and many a Western practice relying on their extravagant projects to prop up their studios – the Chinese leader’s comments have the potential to affect the landscape of architectural practice worldwide. But what is behind these sentiments? Read on after the break to find out.
Perched behind the fog that conceals Bogotá’s mountains is William Oquendo’s house. It is a labyrinth of doors and windows, wherein a bedroom opens into the kitchen and a bathroom vents out into the living room.
Five thousand 5,000 kilometers away in Rio de Janeiro, Gilson Fumaça lives on the terrace level of a three-story house built by his grandfather, his father, and now himself. It’s sturdy; made out of brick and mortar on the ground floor, concrete on the second, and a haphazard combination of zinc roof tiles and loose bricks on the third. The last is Gilson’s contribution, which he will improve as his income level rises.
On the other side of the world in Bombay (Mumbai since 1995), houses encroach on the railway tracks, built and rebuilt after innumerable demolition efforts. “The physical landscape of the city is in perpetual motion,” Suketu Mehta observes in ‘Maximum City.’ Shacks are built out of bamboo sticks and plastic bags; families live on sidewalks and under flyovers in precarious homes constructed with their hands. And while Dharavi—reportedly the largest slum in Asia—has better quality housing, running water, electricity and secure land tenure, this is not the case for most of the new migrants into the city.
In the great tradition of the RIBA Stirling Prize, the announcement of Haworth Tompkins‘ Everyman Theatre as the winner of the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize took many by surprise. The Everyman surpassed the public’s favourite, Mecanoo‘s Library of Birmingham, and the bookies’ (and many critics’) favourite, O’Donnell + Tuomey‘s LSE Saw Swee Hock Student Centre - as well as two household names in Zaha Hadid‘s Aquatics Centre and Renzo Piano‘s Shard.
In what was seen by many as the strongest shortlist in years, the underdog Everyman has emerged victorious. But was it a worthy winner? Read on after the break to find out what the critics made of this unexpected result.
A little over a year ago, New York City-based graphic designer José Guizar started illustrating an obsession of his that had quickly grown since moving into the city: New York’s varied and eclectic windows. “A product of countless steps of journey through the city streets, this is a collection of windows that somehow have caught my restless eye out from the never-ending buzz of the city,” Guizar writes on his website. “This project is part an ode to architecture and part a self-challenge to never stop looking up.”
Others have since been inspired by Guizar’s colorful and captivating homage to the windows of NYC, and earlier this year São Paulo-based Nara Rosetto began her own weekly illustrations of windows in South America’s largest city.
Ranging from Victorian and porthole windows to windows with security bars, planting boxes and the occasional cat, the windows are as varied as the cities and buildings they occupy.
Read on after the break for a journey through the windows of New York and São Paulo.
Among the changes in material technology that are constantly altering the architectural landscape, one of the most popular – and most dramatic – is the idea of the timber skyscraper. And with vocal advocates like Benton Johnson of SOM and Michael Green leading the discussion with projects like the Timber Tower Research Project, the wooden highrise is on the verge of becoming a mainstream approach.
To further the conversation in the USA, the US Department of Agriculture, working in partnership with Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) and Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC), has recently launched the Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, an ideas competition with a $2 million prize. To find out more about tall wood buildings, we caught up with Oscar Faoro, Project Manager of the competition. Read on after the Break for our interview and more details on how to enter.
These images from artist Xavier Delory show Le Corbusier’s celebrated Villa Sovoye in a shocking state of disrepair. With stones and spray paint, vandals have tragically defaced its pristine walls and windows. Don’t panic: the images shown here are photoshopped. But what if they weren’t? In this article originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Modernism in Ruins: Artist “Vandalizes” a Le Corbusier Masterpiece,” AJ Artemel explores how our shock and dismay at such images exposes an underlying hypocrisy in our reverence for famous modernist works, and proposes that perhaps Modernism and vandalism are more closely related than we thought.
In December of last year, we brought you news of Tomas Koolhaas‘ kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about his father, Rem Koolhaas. Well, not only was Koolhaas’ REM documentary fully funded, three generous backers offered up $500 each in return for one question to be answered directly by Rem Koolhaas himself. The video above is the result of those questions, in which Koolhaas responds to questions on urbanism in the developed country of the Netherlands compared to still-developing India, as well as a question about how his early work in film-making and scriptwriting influenced his architectural career.
Watch the video above and read on after the break for a synopsis of Koolhaas’ answers
The competition jury for Washington D.C.‘s 11th Street Bridge Park has unanimously selected OMA + OLIN‘s design to turn the ageing freeway structure over the Anacostia River into an elevated park and new civic space for the city. With their dynamic intersecting structure, OMA + OLIN saw off competition from three other teams composed of: Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), NEXT Architects and Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Höweler + Yoon Architecture; and Balmori Associates and Cooper, Robertson & Partners.
Read on after the break for more on the design and a complete set of images.
Following a three-year redesign, the Place de la République in Paris reopened this year, welcoming back the regular organized protests that make it one of the most important public spaces in Paris. For the designers of the space, TVK agency, it was important not to infringe on what many Parisians consider their inalienable right to protest – however a question remained over how the square could be more amenable to other uses at the same time. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Place for Protest,” Veronique Vienne explores how TVK agency allowed Parisians to have their cake and let them eat it too.
In Paris, rituals of political discontent are traditionally celebrated on Place de la République. It is a favorite kick-off point for the countless marches that define democracy in the French capital. But before taking to the street in a slow-moving procession, crowds block traffic all around the esplanade, creating a gridlock that can cripple the city from Sacré Coeur to the Opéra. Meanwhile, citizens get to unfurl banners and shout slogans. It’s legal, good, clean fun.
Well, no more.
The Espacios de Paz (Spaces for Peace) project in Venezuela is turning “zones of danger” into “zones of peace” through participatory design in violent areas of the country. Led by Venezuelan firm PICO Estudio, Espacios de Paz was a six-week long workshop that involved five groups of architects from both Venezuela as well as internationally. Each group focused on developing a project in a community with a high presence of violence. By transforming unused spaces such as empty plots and unregulated landfill areas, the projects sought to create “social dynamics that invite new ways of living in communities, transforming categories that rule the daily life: the use of time and space.” Community involvement in project development was also key to the Espacios de Paz initiative, which sought to create “a space built not only “for” the community but “by” the community.”
Read on after the break to see the projects that were implemented…
In his latest series, ARCHIWINDOW, Federico Babina draws some inspiration perhaps from the headline exhibition the Venice Biennale, investigating some of the most famous window designs architecture has to offer. Babina simply says it is ”a little reflection about architecture and the elements that compose it.”
The images reveal how expressive the element of the window can be, as many of the 25 signature designs will be instantly recognizable for die-hard architecture fans, while others may reveal a previously-unrecognized trend in the work of a particular architect.
“The windows are the eyes of architecture. Through the windows enters the light and shadow that creates spaces. The windows invite us to enter the landscape, and are the cracks through which to spy on architecture,” writes Babina. “I tried to transform a detail into the protagonist to emphasize its expressive capacity. A single window can open up a world of information. It allows you to lean out to find clues of the stylistic and linguistic aesthetics of architecture.”
Take a look at all 25 drawings in the ARCHIWINDOW series after the break. And don’t miss Federico Babina‘s other (very popular) illustration sets: ARTISTECT, ARCHISET, ARCHIMACHINE, ARCHIPORTRAIT, ARCHIST, ARCHIBET and ARCHICINE.
Nearly 9,000 kilometers separate Venice, Italy from Houston, Texas, and yet, both cities are bound by a simple connection: the coexistence of the urban fabric with the waterfront. This connection was brought to life this summer through The University of Houston’s exhibition at the Venice Architectural Biennale‘s Time Space Existence Event: RISKY HABIT[AT]: DYNAMIC LIVING ON THE BUFFALO BAYOU. Awarded the Global Art Affairs Foundation (GAAF) Award for Best Exhibition, the exhibition showcased the complexities and potential of the city’s relationship with its waterfront. To better understand Houston’s waterfront and the changing relationship between the city and its river we visited the site ourselves. Read after the break to see what it’s like to talk a walk along the Bayou, and to find out what the Houston river project can learn from similar undertakings in Chicago, Des Moines, and Newark.
In the latest episode of his 99% Invisible podcast, Roman Mars digs into the work of lesser-known architect Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser. Often cited for his colorful and curvilinear forms, his name translates to “Multi-Talented Peace-Filled Rainy Day Dark-Colored Hundred Waters.” In everything from his name to his unusual ideas put forth in manifestos, it is immediately evident that Hundertwasser was no ordinary architect. Listen to the podcast and check out some of Hundertwasser’s works after the break.
Santiago-based architect Alejandro Aravena of Elemental discusses the sustainable reconstruction of Constitución in Chile following a devastating earthquake in 2010. Given just 100 days to design a resilient masterplan, capable of protecting the city against future natural disasters, Elemental implemented a natural solution: planting a forest that would protect the city from future floods. The design has since receive international recognition, most recently being awarded first prize in the Zumtobel Group Award’s Urban Development & Initiatives category.
Steven Holl Architects’ schematic design for the Taiwan ChinPaoSan Necropolis has been approved. The scheme, planned for an oceanfront property just 40 minutes from Taipei, will provide a new arrival hall to serve the complex’s 10,000 existing burial sites and an oceanic pavilion for an additional 150,000 ashbox sites.
More than 30 schemes were considered, however Holl’s watercolor explorations lead to the approved idea of intersecting spheres which, as the practice described, “yielded amazing overlapping perspectives that created an astonishing spatial energy.”
More about the 54,000 square meter Necropolis of ChinPaoSan, after the break.
Zaha Hadid Architects have unveiled their design for the Sleuk Rith Institute in Phnom Penh. The highly-anticipated project, commissioned by the Documentation Center of Cambodia’s (DC-Cam), will serve as Cambodia’s go-to archive for Khmer Rouge history and a leading center for genocide studies in Asia.
Five wooden towers, inspired by ancient Angkorian architecture, will house the institute’s “cross-section of pursuits,” including a genocide research center, graduate school, museum, document archives and research library. As the towers rise, the structures will interweave and link, connecting various departments above the ground level and uniting the institution as a singular whole.
A virtual tour through the institute, after the break.
From November 19-22 in Aarhus, the Media Architecture Biennale 2014 held in will feature the world premier of ”Mapping the Senseable City,” an exhibition of the now ten-year-old MIT Senseable Cities Lab’s collected works. The following essay was written by Matthew Claudel, a researcher at the Senseable Cities Lab, In response to this collection, exploring what the future holds for media architecture, and imploring it to explore ideas beyond “TV screens for living in.”
The Actuated Cathedral
Media architecture is emphatically ambiguous. The phrase has been pasted wholesale onto a dizzying array of projects and products. But beyond imprecision, media architecture is vexed by an inherent tension: media are networked, immediate, dynamic communication systems that reach people broadly, while architecture is sited, singular, and persistent in time. Reconciling the two evokes clumsy associations with Times Square, screens, integrated LEDs, paparazzi, or more generally things that flicker.
“The higher you get the lonelier the world seems.”
Seventeen-year-old Demid Lebedev, better known by his Instagram username Demidism, recently climbed to the top of 432 Park Avenue, capturing unprecedented views from what will be New York City’s tallest residential building. “I went to heaven and back,” writes Lebedev in one of the photo’s captions. Surrounded in fog, Lebedev captures views from distinct levels of the building, which is currently in its final stage of construction. 432 Park Avenue will top out at 1,398 feet, surpassing One57 and earning the crown as the city’s tallest residential building when it opens in 2015.
Yet following his climb, Lebedev was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and reckless endangerment, local press reported.
We caught up with Lebedev to learn what it’s like to climb to the top of the city’s tallest buildings and how the city changes as it extends upward. Read what Lebedev had to say and enjoy his stunning photos after the break.