Bamboom: Elora Hardy’s TED Talk on Bamboo’s Exploding Popularity

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Perhaps the most surprising thing about bamboo - besides being an entirely natural, sustainable material with the tensile strength of steel that can grow up to 900 millimeters (3 feet) in just 24 hours – is that it’s not more widely recognized as a fantastic construction material. Like many traditional building materials, bamboo no longer has the architectural currency that it once did across Asia and the pacific, but the efforts of Elora Hardy may help put it back into the vernacular. Heading up Ibuku, a design firm that uses bamboo almost exclusively, Hardy’s recent TED Talk is an excellent run through of bamboo’s graces and virtues in construction, showing off sinuous private homes and handbuilt school buildings.

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The Transnational Urbanism of Paris: An Interview With Assistant Mayor Jean-Louis Missika

The Halle Freyssinet, a 16,000 square meter railway depot that Paris is preparing to convert into the world’s largest business incubator, “will be as emblematic as the Eiffel Tower”. Image © City of Paris

In the past century, the rise of globalism, of relatively cheap international transport, and above all, of the “world city” has fundamentally changed the way we think about citizenship and the nation state. To accommodate that change, we have also had to invent a new kind of “Transnational Urbanism”: at the more esoteric end of this scale are ideas such as JG Ballard’s “city of the 21st century,” a geographically scattered “city” made up of the interconnected no-man’s-land of international airports, which was recently exemplified by Eduardo Cassina and Liva Dudareva’s hypothetical proposal for Moscow’s Central Business district. At the other end of the scale are pragmatic choices that must be made by cities such as New York, and Hong Kong that truly affect the lives of people not just living in the city, but around the world.

To probe this topic, MONU Magazine has dedicated their latest issue to the topic of Transnational Urbanism. In this extract from the magazine, MONU’s Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo interview French sociologist and Assistant Mayor of Paris Jean-Louis Missika to discover how the city is positioning itself as a 21st century global city, and how it is absorbing and adopting change in everything from the creative class to smart cities and 3D Printing.

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An Interview With Zhang Bin, Atelier Z+

Sino-French Centre of Tongji University. Image © Zhang Siye

“It’s really easy to build a building. From the very beginning to the realization; it’s very easy! You just give it an interesting form and you get approved. But the real issues are how to make it user-friendly and to enhance the quality of the life of the people trying to escape the influence of the “system”. That’s the challenge. In my experience […] I’ve learned that for architects, both Chinese and foreign, the use of form to create an object is easy but how to do the right thing is very challenging.”
- Zhang Bin, Shanghai, Sept 2013

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Lonely Houses: Sejkko’s Surreal Photos of Traditional Portuguese Homes

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The son of Portuguese immigrants in Venezuela, Manuel Pita, also known as “Sejkko,” is a scientist and photographer who expresses his creativity on Instagram. In his latest series, “Lonely Houses,” Sejkko’s surreal photos capture the traditional houses of , edited to “bring them as close as possible to the way my eyes see them,” he explains.

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Seeming Inevitability: Reconsidering Renzo Piano’s Addition To Louis Kahn’s Kimbell

South view. Image © Robert LaPrelle

When Renzo Piano’s addition to the Kimbell opened in late 2013, critical responses ranged from “both architects at the top of their games” (Witold Rybczynski) to “generous to a fault” (Mark Lamster) to “distant defacement” (Thomas de Monchaux). In this excerpt from a special issue of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, Ronnie Self gives a deeply considered assessment of the two buildings after a full turn of the seasons. The special issue also includes a review by Christopher Hawthorne of Johnston Marklee’s plans for the Menil Drawing Institute, a review by David Heymann of Steven Holl’s expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and an essay by Walter Hood and Carmen Taylor about Project Row Houses. Also featured are interviews of the directors of all four museums and their architects (Piano, Holl, Johnston Marklee, David Chipperfield, and Rice Building Workshop), making for a very comprehensive issue.

Piano’s main task was to respond appropriately to Kahn’s building which he achieved through alignments in plan and elevation and by dividing his project into two major bodies: a concrete walled, glass roofed pavilion facing Kahn and a separate, sod-roofed structure behind that should integrate a significant portion of the project with the landscape and thereby lessen its overall impact. Still, the loss of the open lawn that existed in front of the Kimbell where Piano’s building now stands is regrettable. Kahn’s Kimbell was conceived as a large house or a villa in a park, and unlike much of the abundant open and green space in the Fort Worth Cultural District, that park was actually used. Piano’s new outdoor space is more like a courtyard – more contained and more formal. It is more urban in its design, yet less public in its use.

Aside from lamenting the loss of the open lawn, how might we judge the addition?

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AD Classics: Austrian Cultural Forum / Raimund Abraham

© Photo by David Plakke, davidplakke.com; Courtesy of Austrian Cultural Forum

Before the impossibly “super-thin” tower became ubiquitous on the Midtown Manhattan skyline, Raimund Abraham’s Austrian Cultural Forum challenged the limits of what could be built on the slenderest of urban lots. Working with a footprint no bigger than a townhouse (indeed, one occupied the site before the present tower), Abraham erected a daring twenty-four story high-rise only twenty-five feet across. Instantly recognizable by its profile, a symmetrical, blade-like curtain wall cascading violently toward the sidewalk, ACFNY was heralded by Kenneth Frampton as “the most significant modern piece of architecture to be realized in Manhattan since the Seagram Building and the Guggenheim Museum of 1959.” [1]

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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 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 the 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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NCARB Discards “Intern” Title

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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 bridge dedicated entirely to bikes. The steel bridge 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

’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, MVRDV, 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 AIA 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 # campaign means for an architect who is “without sight, but not without vision.”

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