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 ’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.

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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‘ 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 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 + OLIN 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 reopened this year, welcoming back the regular organized protests that make it one of the most important public spaces in . 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 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. 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 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, 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

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 (), 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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Beyond “Things That Flicker”: The Next Step for Media Architecture

Reconciling ‘media’ and ‘architecture’ evokes clumsy associations with Times Square, screens, integrated LEDs, paparazzi, or more generally ‘things that flicker’. Image © Flickr CC User MK Feeney

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.

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View from the Top: Instagrammer Climbs NYC’s Tallest Building

Photo taken from 432 Park Ave, looking West. Image © Demid Lebedev

“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.

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Competition Entry: Atelier 8000 Designs Cuboidal Mountain Hut for Slovakia’s High Tatras

© Jan Cyrany, Courtesy of Atelier 8000

Atelier 8000 has design a sustainable mountain hut for ’s High Tatras as part of the Kežmarská Chata (Kežmarská Hut) international competition. Seated on one of its vertices, the simple cube “evokes an erratic block left behind by the retreating glacier,” while it’s “sharp edges” blend into the mountain backdrop.

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AD Classics: Yokohama International Passenger Terminal / Foreign Office Architects (FOA)

© Satoru Mishima / FOA

The triumphant critical reception of the International Passenger Terminal was the product of inventive architectural methodology and socially conscious thinking. Designed by Foreign Office Architects (FOA) in 1995, the futuristic terminal represented an emergent typology of transportation infrastructure. Its radical, hyper-technological design explored new frontiers of architectural form and simultaneously provoked a powerful discourse on the social responsibility of large-scale projects to enrich shared urban spaces.

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12 Projects Win Regional Holcim Awards 2014 for Latin America

GOLD: Articulated Site: Water reservoirs as public park (Medellin, Colombia) . Image Courtesy of the Holcim Foundation

Teams from Mexico and Colombia have received top honors in the 2014 regional Holcim Awards for Latin America, an award which recognizes the most innovative and advanced sustainable construction designs. Among the top three winner is a Colombian water reservoir turned public park and low-impact rainforest center in Costa Rica.

The 12 recognized projects share over $300,000 in prize money, with the top three projects overall going on to be considered for the global Holcim Awards awards, to be selected in 2015.

The full list of Latin American winners, after the break…

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The High Line’s Final Chapter is Complete; But Don’t Close the Book Just Yet

View looking west along one of the Rail Track Walks. Image © Iwan Baan, 2014 (Section 3)

With the opening of the final section of New York’s High Line last month, the city can finally take stock on an urban transformation that took a decade and a half from idea to reality - and which in the five years since the first section opened has become one of the great phenomena of 21st century , inspiring copycat proposals in cities around the globe. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “The High Line’s Last Section Plays Up Its Rugged Past,” Anthony Paletta reviews the new final piece to the puzzle, and examines what this landmark project has meant for Manhattan’s West Side.

The promise of any urban railroad, however dark or congested its start, is the eventual release onto the open frontier, the prospect that those buried tracks could, in time, take you anywhere. For those of us whose only timetable is our walking pace, this is the experience of the newly opened, final phase of the High Line. The park, after snaking in its two initial stages through some 20 dense blocks of Manhattan, widens into a broad promenade that terminates in an epic vista of the Hudson. It’s a grand coda and a satisfying finish to one of the most ambitious park designs in recent memory.

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