AR Issues: Who Needs Architecture Critics?

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ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this post, we take you back to AR’s June 2014 issue, which examines the state of architectural criticism in our age of online media and ever-present PR. Here, AR Editor Catherine Slessor argues that “more than ever, architecture is in need of provocative, engaging and entertaining critics.”

Ambrose Bierce, the great 19th-century satirist and author of the The Devil’s Dictionary, once defined a critic as ‘a person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him’. Critics occupy a curiously parasitical position in the modern cultural milieu, and an architecture critic perhaps especially so. But in an age when architects can easily find obliging PR minions to dispense their gospel and biddable publishers to churn out infinite, anodyne oeuvres complètes, who still needs critics and criticism?

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4 Visions Released for D.C.’s First Elevated Park

© OLIN /

OMA, Höweler + Yoon, NEXT Architects, and Cooper,  are amongst four interdisciplinary teams competing to design Washington D.C.’s first elevated public park. As part of a six month nationwide competition, the shortlisted teams have just released their preliminary design proposals for what will be known as the 11th Street Bridge Park.

Suspended over the Anacostia River, the multi-use park aims to re-connect two disparate city districts and re-engage residents with the riverfront by offering a 21st century civic “playscape.” Education and performance spaces, as well as a cafe and water sport areas will all be included in the masterplan.

A preview of the four shortlisted schemes, after the break…

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CTBUH Announces Five Finalists in its Student Competition

© Alex Balchin Courtesy of

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced five finalists in their 2014 Student Design Competition, which asked entrants to respond to the theme of ”sustainable verticle urbanism” in order to “shed new light on the meaning and value of tall buildings in modern society.”

“There has been a major transition in the sense of the value of the tall building and what it can contribute to the urban realm, and society in general,” said former Competition Jury Chair William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox. “This transition moves the tall building away from just an instrument of financial exploitation and toward a development highly concerned with its impact on the city, the environment, and the urban habitat.”

The winner of the competition will be announced at a special judging session as part of the CTBUH’s 2014 Shanghai Conference which begins on Tuesday. Read on after the break for all the finalists.

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VIDEO: Bjarke Ingels on “Promiscuous Hybrids” and “Worldcraft”

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Referring to his work as “promiscuous hybrids,” Bjarke Ingels details his vision of “worldcraft” where architecture harnesses the desires, knowledge and technology of its people to transform surreal dreams into reality.

How to Design Elevated Cycling Structures that Actually Work

’s proposed SkyCycle. Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners

There’s no doubt about it – cycling in cities is a deal these days. But, while cycle lanes and bike-sharing schemes are all well and good for our cities, the cycling revolution hasn’t yet brought us many examples of beautifully designed infrastructure to gawp at. This article, originally printed on The Dirt as “Do Elevated Cycletracks Solve Problems or Just Create More?” discusses two seemingly similar examples of high profile cycling infrastructure, examining why one is a success and the other a non-starter.

This year, two designs – one proposed and one built – for elevated cycletracks, which create bicycle highways above street level, have gained considerable media attention. They highlight questions at the heart of urban design: Should cities blend or separate transportation options? How can cities best mitigate the hazards created when cars, bikes, mass transit, and pedestrians mix? How can cities create low-cost transportation networks in increasingly dense urban cores?

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Five Proposals Unveiled for Presidio Parklands in San Francisco

The Observation Post / . Image © Courtesy of the Presidio Trust

Last week, the five teams competing for the Presidio Parkland project in San Francisco unveiled their proposals in a public meeting at the project site. The parkland, made possible by the replacement of an elevated highway by a new tunnel, will command stunning views of the San Francisco bay, including views of the Golden Gate bridge.

“This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to create and design new parklands,” Executive Director of the Presidio Trust Craig said. “We are extremely pleased with the caliber of the work of the five design teams and look forward to hearing the public’s feedback on these early concepts.”

Competing for the prestigious project are James Corner Field Operations, OLIN with Snøhetta with Hood Design StudioWest 8, and CMG Landscape Architecture. A winner will be announced in January.

Read on after the break to see all five proposals

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Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture: Episode 4, “Greening the City”

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“Green architecture helps people live harmoniously with nature and elevates human life by embracing the powers of the sun, wind and water into living space. If the current way of thinking does not change, sooner or later citizens will actually live in concrete jungles,” Vo Trong Nghia says in this week’s episode of ’s Rebel Architecture series. An award-winning Vietnamese architect, Nghia is known for his sustainable and green designs as well as his work with bamboo. In this 25-minute episode, we follow Nghia on his mission to transform Vietnam’s attitude towards architecture and green spaces through his “Vertical Farming City,” and catch a glimpse of his project to implement low-cost housing solutions for Vietnam’s poorest communities in Mekong Delta.

Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and a preview of upcoming episodes…

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How Did Filippo Brunelleschi Construct the World’s Largest Masonry Dome?

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More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. Leaving no plans or sketches behind, some of the secrets of its construction that Brunelleschi pioneered are still an enigma today. This short animation, presented by and created by Fernando Baptista and Matthew Twombly, gives an idea of how the dome of the might have been built. Demonstrating the complexity of the task, made harder due to poor construction prior to Brunelleschi’s commission, this film serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to create something timeless.

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ArchDaily’s Most Useful Articles of All Time

As summer draws to an end and we enter into the last quarter of 2014, we decided to round-up a selection of the most useful we’ve published over the past three years. Ranging from The 40 Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2014 to The 10 Most Overlooked Women in Architectural History, we’ve also brought together app guides, career tips, and city guides. Alongside links to open-source files and cut-out people, we’ve also featured book recommendations, study tips, and links to our complete coverage of some of the world’s major architectural events and prizes. Delve into our collection and discover what our readers have found most useful!

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Architect Lord Richard Rogers and the Making Of Scandicci City

Scandicci City began as a suburb of Florence and was often described as a commuter town with a lack of a clear urban center. Having reached out to Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to address this need, this short documentary created by scandiccibyrogers.com offers a look inside Rogers’ studio in London and the creation of a new urban master plan for Scandicci City.

In it, Rogers explains his belief that public places are crucial parts of cities, and discusses how urban areas can begin to develop from a dense core – an urban design strategy that responds to the rising popularity of city living in recent years, and utilizes public transportation rather than relying on cars.

Interview: Ma Yansong on “Silhouette Shanshui” at the Venice Biennale

MAD Architects‘ “Silhouette Shanshui” – which lies somewhere between an installation and a model – is currently on display at the 14th Venice Biennale. The inspiration for the project is the firm’s Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in China. According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.

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From Friends to Frasier: 13 Famous TV Shows Rendered in Plan

Floorplan of the apartments from “Friends”. Image © Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde

Have you ever wanted to see the apartments and houses of your favorite TV shows brought to life? To go on a virtual walk-through of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment? Or see the layout of the Simpson’s house in Springfield? Four years ago Spanish interior designer Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde had the same desire, and so he set out to create a floorplan for one of his favorite TV shows, Frasier.  Following interest from his friends for floorplans of their favorite shows, Aliste began to make renderings for them as well. Now, the designer has created floorplans for over 20 shows and movies, ranging from the apartments in Friends to the house in UP!. “Many people have told me that thanks to my drawings, they recall the good times spent with the series or movie…. Even people not used to technical layouts are able to understand my drawings and dive into them,” he said.

Enjoy the full interview with Iñaki as well as images of some of his favorite floorplans after the break…

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Video: JS Dorton Arena, the Fairground Pavilion That Was a Modernist Marvel

The JS Dorton , originally designed as a livestock judging pavilion for the North Carolina fairgrounds, was a deliberate political statement for the North Carolina State University about the courage of progress and value of taking risks. The architect, Matthew Nowicki, imagined a symphonic spatial experience where design, material and construction are choreographed in a highly challenging and sweeping, ambitious vision. Foregoing interior columns, the building combines intersecting parabolic arches of reinforced concrete with a grid of draped tension cables inspired by the tension system of the Golden Gate Bridge to support the entire span of the roof – the first of its kind.

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New Details Released of Norman Foster and Fernando Romero’s Designs for Mexico City’s New Airport

Image Captured from video via Foster + Partners

Yesterday, a consortium led by Foster + Partners and Fernando Romero of FR-EE were announced as the winners of the competition for the design of Mexico City‘s new international . Designed in conjunction with a masterplan developed by Arup, the airport will initially include three runways, but is designed to expand to up to six runways by 2062, all served by the single terminal building.

One of the world’s largest airport terminals at 555,000 square meters, the building is enclosed by a single, continuous lightweight gridshell, the largest of this type of structure ever built with spans reaching up to 170 meters. By utilizing a single airport terminal, passengers will not need to travel on internal train services or underground tunnels, and the design of the building ensures shorter walking distances and few changes of level, all making for a more relaxing experience for users.

The building is designed to be the world’s most sustainable airport, with the single lightweight shell using far less material than a cluster of buildings, and cooling and ventilation strategies that require little to no mechanical assistance for most of the year.

More details of the design after the break

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ARTISTECT: Famous Paintings With An Architectural Twist

’s latest series: ARTISTECT

Our friend Federico Babina’s latest illustrations blur the lines of art and architecture in this series: ARTISTECT. These 25 images, he explains, represent “possible and impossible encounters between artists and architects,” emphasizing the “probable and improbable connections between forms of expression and aesthetic languages sometimes distant and sometimes very close.”

In this exercise of overlapping styles, it is perhaps easier at first glance to identify the artist. But careful inspection of these stunning drawings reveals the idiosyncratic and stylistic tendencies of some of our most beloved architects.

Babina writes, “The project’s main idea is to reinterpret famous paintings using a brush soaked in architectural tints…These images are a metaphor for an imagined and imaginary dialogue between creative minds: Le Corbusier talks with Picasso and Kandinsky discusses with Wright… The wires that connect and intertwine this relations can be thin and transparent or robust and full-bodied.”

Take a look at the entire ARTISTECT series after the break. And don’t miss Federico Babina‘s other (very popular) illustration sets: ARCHISET, ARCHIMACHINEARCHIPORTRAIT, ARCHIST, ARCHIBET and ARCHICINE.

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Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture: Episode 3, “The Architecture of Violence”

The third episode of ’s “Rebel Architecture” series takes us on a journey through the settlements and roads of the West Bank with London-based, Israeli architect, academic and writer, Eyal Weizman. In the 25-minute episode, Weizman shows the key role of architecture in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and talks about his latest project, Forensic Architecture, which uses damage to buildings as evidence for war crimes.

Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and a preview of upcoming episodes…

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Interview: Behind the Scenes of the University of Toronto’s Mental Health Report

Courtesy of GALDSU

In a TED Talk from 2009, writer Elizabeth Gilbert muses about how uncomfortable she is with the assumption that “creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked.” The majority of Gilbert’s thoughtful and humorous monologue is about finding sanity amidst both success and failure, or in other words, about finding a way to break this link. Earlier this year, the University of Toronto Graduate Architecture Landscape and Design Student Union’s (GALDSU) set out to do just that – break the link between creativity and suffering at their school – and start a productive dialogue about mental health. GALDSU began by gathering the facts through a mental health study of their peers, the results of which we discussed several months ago.

To learn more about what’s happened at their school (and beyond) since it was published, we sat down with Joel Leon, the man who spearheaded the effort and the newly elected president of the student union, as well as Elise Hunchuck, the vice-president of the student union.

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AD Interviews: European Architects on the Mies van der Rohe Award

The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award is one of the most important and prestigious prizes for architecture within Europe. First established in 1987, the prize is awarded every two years, and a look at the projects over the years offers unique insight into the development of architecture across Europe. To better understand the significance and uniqueness of the award we spoke with two previous award winners – Kjetil Trædal Thorsen and Craig Dykers from Snøhetta and Dominique Perrault from Dominique Perrault Architecture – as well as Peter Cachola Schmal, an architect, critic and the director of DAM, the German Architecture Musuem, and Josep Lluís Mateo of Mateo Arquitectura and a professor of Architecture and Projects at ETH-Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule/ Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

“This is the special thing about the Mies jury, that they do visit the top 5 projects, and see first-hand what this piece of architecture is about. And then they vote, which means the jury really knows what they’re voting about,” Peter Cachola Schmal noted.

“It’s a prize for a project, rather than a prize for an architect,” Kjetil Trædal Thorsen added.

Read on after the break for more on the and to see what the architects had to say about the importance of archives…

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