Architecture & Water: Exploring Radical Ideas To Unlock The Potential of Urban Waterways

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In the first part of their new micro documentary series on architecture and water, Ellis Woodman and a team at the Architectural Review (AR) have collaborated with architects, developers, urbanists and thinkers to examine the latent connections between water infrastructure and our built environment. Taking a journey by narrowboat through London, discussing a raft of radical ideas which may offer the keys to unlocking the potential of the river along the way, the films discuss how we might begin to shape the contemporary city’s relationship with its urban waterways. Can ”floating parks, amphibious houses, floodable public squares, new wetlands or brand new canals foster a more meaningful relationship between the citizen and the city’s waters?”

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Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road Win Inaugural MCHAP Award

The winners of the inaugural MCHAP Award, recognizing outstanding projects in the Americas: Álvaro Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road. Photographs © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG – últimas reportagens and © Hufton + Crow

Álvaro Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami, Florida have just been announced as the winners of the inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP).

MCHAP was established by the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago to recognize the best built works in the Americas. As Kenneth Frampton noted when the finalists were announced in Santiago, Chile, the MCHAP Awards are the first time that an architectural prize has been approached, not in a trans-atlantic, horizontal manner, but rather vertically across the Americas.

Although initially the jury intended to select one work to be honored for the 2000-2013 period, they felt that both projects represented “an uncommon expressive display of structure,” and divided the 13-year period into two parts. Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation was selected as the 2000-2008 winner, while Herzog & de Meuron’s mixed-use parking garage was selected for the 2009-2013 period. The two winning projects were selected from a total of seven finalists by jury members Jorge Francisco Liernur, Sarah Whiting, Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, and Kenneth Frampton.

Learn more about the winning projects after the break.

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Why China’s President Says “No More Weird Buildings”

Xi Jinping has criticized ’s CCTV Headquarters. Image © / Philippe Ruault

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 ’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.

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From Bogotá to Bombay: How the World’s ‘Village-Cities’ Facilitate Change

“Village-cities,” Usme – , Colombia. Image © Laura Amaya

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.

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Critical Round-Up: Haworth Tompkins’ 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize Win

© Philip Vile

In the great tradition of the RIBA Stirling Prize, the announcement of Haworth TompkinsEveryman 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.

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The Windows of New York and São Paulo

New York City-based graphic designer José Guizar’s captures the city’s eclectic array of windows through his weekly illustrations. Image Courtesy of José Guizar

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.

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US Department of Agriculture Launches $2 Million Tall Wood Building Prize Competition

Limnologen in Växjö, Sweden. Image Courtesy of Midroc Property Development

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 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.

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How ‘Vandalizing’ a Classic Exposes the Hypocrisy of Today’s Modernists

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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  and vandalism are more closely related than we thought.

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Video: Rem Koolhaas Answers Questions From Fans as Part of ‘REM’ Kickstarter

In December of last year, we brought you news of Tomas Koolhaas campaign to fund a documentary about his father, Rem Koolhaas. Well, not only was Koolhaas’ REM  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

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OMA + OLIN Selected to Design D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park

© OMA & Luxigon

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 + saw off competition from three other teams composed of: Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), NEXT Architects and Magnusson Klemencic AssociatesStoss 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.

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Preserving a Place for Protest in Paris

The “new” plaza now extends behind the historic statue that previously occupied its center. Image © Clement Guillaume

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.

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How Venezuela’s Espacios de Paz Project is Transforming Community Spaces

Petare, La Y 5 de Julio / Caracas [TXP Todo por La Praxis + PGRC + Pico Estudio
The Espacios de Paz (Spaces for Peace) project in 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…

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ARCHIWINDOW: A Glimpse Through “The Eyes of Architecture”

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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.

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A Walk Along the Bayou: An Award-Winning Proposal Aims to Reinvent Houston’s River

02 Mile Aerial Perspective – Downtown. Image Courtesy of UH College of Architecture

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.

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The Latest 99% Invisible: Hundertwasser and His Fight Against the Godless Line

Hot Springs Village, Bad Blumau, Styria, Austria. Image © Flickr CC User Enrico Carcasci

In the latest episode of his 99% Invisible podcast, 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.

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Video: Alejandro Aravena on PRES Constitución and Rebuilding After Disaster

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Santiago-based architect Alejandro Aravena of Elemental discusses the sustainable reconstruction of Constitución in 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 Granted Approval for Taiwan ChinPaoSan Necropolis

View of Oceanic Pavilion towards the Pacific Ocean. Image Courtesy of

Steven Holl Architects’ schematic design for the 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. 

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Zaha Hadid Designs Five Wooden Towers to House Cambodian Genocide Institute

Reflecting Pool. Image Courtesy of ZHA

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 ’s (DC-Cam), will serve as ’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.

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