AD Interviews: Winka Dubbeldam

At last week’s Mextrópoli conference we spoke with about the challenges of architecture education. We also asked her to elaborate on why she thinks architecture should embrace industrial design tools. Watch the short clip to hear Winka’s thoughts on making technology a more integral part of our built environment.

Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc. AIA, is the founder and principal of Archi-Tectonics, and is Professor and Chair of the Graduate Department of Architecture at PennDesign, Philadelphia. 

AD Classics: Kresge Auditorium / Eero Saarinen and Associates

Kresge Auditorium at MIT, , Massachusetts © Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock

Kresge Auditorium, designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen, was an experiment in architectural form and construction befitting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s focus on technology and innovation. This feat of sculptural engineering serves as a meeting house and is part of the cultural, social, and spiritual core of MIT’s campus. Kresge Auditorium is one of Saarinen’s numerous daring, egalitarian designs that captured the optimistic zeitgeist of Post-war America.

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AD Interviews: Brendan MacFarlane / Jakob + MacFarlane

Paris-based architect Brendan MacFarlane, of the firm Jakob + MacFarlane, spoke to us during our visit to the FRAC Centre in Orléans for the ArchiLab 2013 exhibition and conference. MacFarlane, who studied at Sci-Arc in the 80s and later received a degree from Harvard’s GSD, successfully combines theory and form, placing him among the few architects that have been able to harmonize this balance.

’s special and precise handling of the grids generates projects that, while outwardly complex, are actually deceivingly so. Based not on strong computational muscle but actually a more simple deformation of grids, their projects can appear nearly impossible or too complex to realize. Yet they are able to make these buildings a reality.

Along with his partner Dominique Jakob, the duo’s consistent methodology doesn’t rely on constant innovation. MacFarlane posits that “sometimes it’s about doing something simple that’s kind of obvious.“ This has yielded a stylistic variety that evades singular typecasting.

They are not afraid to combine existing structures with their proposals–in fact, they welcome it. What they do is strategic: a kind of rational deformation of otherwise uniform and uncomplicated geometry, with the computer acting as a tool (but not a generative one).

Be sure to check out the interview, as well as Jakob + MacFarlane‘s projects on ArchDaily.

The Battle for the Skies Over London

Courtesy of CPAT / Hayes Davidson / Jason Hawkes

In response to the recent study by New London Architecture, which found that there are currently over 230 tall buildings either planned or under construction in London, an argument is brewing over the UK capital’s sudden, seemingly uncontrolled, growth.

The most vocal reaction to all of this has come from Rowan Moore, architecture critic for The Observer, who has teamed up with the Architects’ Journal to launch a campaign calling for more rigorous planning and public consultation when it comes to tall buildings. The campaign has support from 80 signatories, a list that reads like a ‘who’s who’ of British architecture, including architects, planners, politicians, developers and artists as well as a range of civic societies.

Read on for more reaction to ’s tall building boom.

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First 3D Printed House to Be Built In Amsterdam

“The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there,” Hedwig Heinsman of Dus Architects tells The Guardian‘s Olly Wainwright, “With 3D-printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This could revolutionise how we make our cities.”

Working with another Dutch firm, UltimakerDus Architects have developed the KamerMaker (Room Maker), a 3D Printer big enough to print chunks of buildings, up to 2x2x3.5 meters high, out of hotmelt, a bio-plastic mix that’s about 75% plant oil. The chunks can then be stacked and connected together like LEGO bricks, forming multi-story homes whose designs can be adapted according to users’ needs/desires. For Dus’ first project, they’ve taken as inspiration the Dutch canal house, replacing hand-laid bricks with, in Wainwright’s words, “a faceted plastic facade, scripted by computer software.”

So far, only a 3m-high, 180-kg sample corner of the future canal house has been printed; moreover, the blocks will need to be back-filled with lightweight concrete, meaning it’s not yet as biodegradable as its creators would like. However, its game-changing potential is already provoking much interest in the public; over 2,000 people have come to visit the site, including Barack Obama. Learn more at The Guardian and in the video above.

AD Classics: Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute / Philip Johnson

© Ezra Stoller/Esto

The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is a Modern masterpiece and revolutionary precedent of American museum design.  Located in Utica, New York, it was the first of many influential cultural facilities designed by Philip Johnson.  Also known as the Museum of Art, the structure represents a stylistic turning point in Johnson’s career, marking the end of his loyalty to the International Style and the beginning of his experimentation with Neo-Classicism.

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The Latest Illustration from Federico Babina: ARCHIPORTRAIT

Toyo Ito. Image Courtesy of

Federico Babina, the illustrator behind the extremely popular ARCHIST and ARCHICINE, has just released his latest project: ARCHIPORTRAIT, “an artistic representation of 33 architects, in which the faces and the expressions are made of their architecture.” As Babina says, “The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the protagonist through his aesthetic.”

See all the portraits – from Corbu to Foster to Gehry and more – after the break.

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The Indicator: Thank You, Patrik Schumacher

“Architects are in charge of the FORM of the built environment, not its content. We need to grasp this and run with this despite all the (ultimately conservative) moralizing political correctness that is trying to paralyse us with bad conscience and arrest our explorations…” – . Above, the MAXXI Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

First off, I would like to thank Patrik Schumacher for taking to Facebook on March 17 at 9:45pm to let off steam — thus starting a meaningful discussion on the role of the architect in society and culture. We could deconstruct it line by line, but I don’t think that will yield much in the way of enlightenment. What I take from it is that architecture creates form and should be free to do so without being restricted by ethical or moral imperatives to be social or political. But, as Benjamin Bratton remarked in reply to Schumacher, “To set the political to one side and at the same time make grandiose claims for how architectural form can in fact ‘remake civilization’, is a self-defeating program.”

Perceptions on the role of architecture in society can easily fall along class, race, and national lines. Coming from a place of privilege, it is easy to assume an apolitical, form-making agenda for the profession. The argument that architecture has nothing to do with the social domain, or the “content” as Schumacher calls it, is an argument for political conservatism, a hands-off, sink or swim argument for social Darwinism, that limits the range and impact of high architecture. Why can’t the best and most challenging forms of architecture penetrate through all social strata? Why shouldn’t it serve the poor? And why shouldn’t this be one criteria among others for judging the value of architecture?

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eVolo Skyscraper Winner 2014 Transforms Korean ‘Hanok’ Into Impressive High-Rise

Visualisation. Image ©

Vernacular Versatility, recently awarded first place in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, seeks to adapt traditional Korean architecture into a contemporary mixed-use high-rise. The vernacular design of the Hanok, the “antonym of a western house” and epitome of the Korean style, has disappeared from every town. Extensive urban development in the 1970s led to a boom in modern apartment dwellings and, consequently, a loss of established Korean vernacular architecture. Yong Ju Lee’s proposal aims to reimagine the Hanok in one of the country’s busiest districts, drawing people’s attention to and stimulating their interest in traditional architecture with the intention that “it will eventually be absorbed into people’s everyday lives”

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Material Substance: When Material and Mechanism are One

The following is the first article of , a column, penned by Christopher Brenny and presented by AD Materials, which investigates the innovative applications of materials in architecture.

A material is nothing without a process. The characteristics of plastic, for example, vary dramatically depending on where and how the raw material is applied during the forming process. The same material can be used to create a bag, a solid container, or a woven textile. The difference between a disposable water bottle and carpeting is so distinct that one could not make the material connection without some foreknowledge of the manufacturing process of each.

The result of this material ecosystem is a scenario in which design and manufacturing must inform one another. This connection often moves so slowly in the building industry that it is difficult to perceive and very slow to adapt. Shape memory alloys such as nitinol (muscle wire), for example, are gradually moving into public nomenclature. While the novelty of such materials is ripe for exploration, application has proven difficult as the cost of such materials is quite prohibitive. Shape memory alloys, unless they are developed using more abundant metals such as aluminum, will likely remain a niche product developed for very specific applications.

Memory plastics, while less developed and responsive, have significant potential to become a familiar fixture in our daily lives. Combining this technology with the lightweight, structural capabilities of foamed materials, our preconceptions of the portable and flat packed may soon transform from disposable and insubstantial into something much more beautiful and valuable.

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Fernando Guerra On Photography In The Internet Age

Aires Mateus Arquitectos / House in Alcobaça, Portugal. Image ©

In this interview, originally published by Paperhouses as “Decisive Moment: Conversation With Fernando Guerra“, the Portuguese photographer details his career in architectural photography, and how he approaches the art of photographing buildings. As an advocate of free sharing and online publicity, and one of a new breed of photographers who – shock horror – likes to include people in his shots of buildings, Guerra is well placed to explain how the world of has changed over the past decade.

I do not want to call it an interview—it was a fabulous discussion that Fernando Guerra led as a loose narrative with notes on work that he practices with hedonism and filled with life. They are all stories dedicated to the great beauty of doing what one loves and letting it grow.

Read on after the break for the interview

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A Theory of Architecture Part 2: The Adaptive Design Method

Image of Torre David in Venezuela, an unfinished skyscraper that has become a (modified/adapted) slum settlement. “The human need to make a building adapt through form, surface, and ornament is innate. Everyday people who own and build their own homes definitely apply a pattern language (albeit unknowingly) because they want their dwellings to be as comfortable as possible. Here we have an adaptive design method, which, were it not for the miserable conditions of life represented by the overcrowded slums of the world, is an excellent example for architecture schools to study”. Image © Iwan Baan

As you may have seen, ArchDaily has been publishing UNIFIED ARCHITECTURAL THEORY, by the urbanist and controversial theorist Nikos A. Salingaros, in serial form. However, in order to explain certain concepts in greater detail, we have decided to pause this serialization and publish three excerpts from another of Salingaros’  books: A THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE. The previous excerpt explained the difference between “Pattern Language” and “Form Language.” The following excerpt will establish how these languages can combine to form the “Adaptive Design Method.”

Proposition: An adaptive design method arises out of a complementary pair consisting of a pattern language and a form language.

I have indicated very briefly what a pattern language and a form language are we still need to understand what an adaptive design method refers to. Out of many contemporary approaches to design, there are very few that result in structures and environments that are adapted both to physical human use, as well as to human sensibilities. In the past, the opposite was true. Human use is straightforward to understand: the physical dimensions and geometry have to accommodate the human body and its movement.

By accommodating human sensibilities, I mean that environments should make human beings feel at ease; make them feel psychologically comfortable so that persons can carry out whatever functions they have to unselfconsciously, without being disturbed by the built environment in any way. This imposes a strong constraint on the design process to adapt to the many factors (both known and unknown) that will influence the user on many levels, including emotion. An adaptive design method should accommodate all these criteria, and this Chapter shows how this may be accomplished.

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TED Talk: How to Build with Clay… and Community / Diébédo Francis Kéré

In this TED Talk, Aga Khan Award-winning architect Diébédo Francis Kéré explains how to build a community with clay. With his firm Kéré Architecture, the Burkina Faso native has achieved international renown by using local building and techniques to engage and improve local expertise. Watch as explains how he applied his personal success to benefit the small African village he grew up in.

Happy Birthday Hans Hollein!

Mobiles Büro, aufblasbares Bürogebäude, 1969 . Image © Gino Molin-Pradl

Austrian artist, architect, designer, theoretician and Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein turns 80 today. Described by Richard Meier as an architect whose “groundbreaking ideas” have “had a major impact on the thinking of designers and architects,” Hollein has worked in all aspects of design, from architecture to furniture, jewelry, glasses, lamps — even door handles. Known in particular for his museum designs, from the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach to the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt to Vienna’s Haas House, Hollein’s work manifests a unique, fascinating take on 1950s Modernism.

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Light Matters: Sacred Spaces

Chapel in Villeaceron, Spain. Architect: Sancho-Madridejos Architecture Office. Image © Hisao Suzuki

The use of light can lead to very diverse feelings: a ray of sunlight calls attention; glare overpowers; the nocturnal sky fascinates, while a dense dark forest arouses fear. Religions have made use of these experiences to convey the mystic aspects of their respective deities — accordingly, so too do their erected buildings.

After the break, an exploration of the different approaches for using light as a vehicle of symbolic meaning and spiritual experience in religious spaces.

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Ban vs. Schumacher: Should Architects Assume Social Responsibility?

Guangzhou Opera House, Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Last week, Patrik Schumacher, Zaha Hadid’s right-hand man, attempted to mandate the boundaries of Architecture in a social media post worthy of a Millennial. The tone was prescriptive and characterized by a liberal application of caps lock. In an ideal world, it might have been collectively ignored, but the discussion sprawled across multiple Facebook threads and inspired a broad media response (not to mention this one). I offer you a very reductive abstract: Architecture’s contribution to society is form, not political correctness and not art, which lacks a function beyond itself. A fair bit of the ensuing banter on Schumacher’s Facebook wall draws, then erases, then rehashes the distinction between art and architecture. With more than a hint of indignation, he specifically denounces the winners of the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. He was not on the roster. Injured dignities aside, the commentary allowed a pervasive and omnipresent question within our discipline to resurface in the digital forum: What do architects offer that no one else can?

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The Indicator: Will We Stay Silent? The Human Cost of Qatar’s World Cup

Development of new in Doha, Qatar. Image © Sophie James / Shutterstock.com

Qatar says the World Cup projects are “on track,” but the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which has been investigating worker deaths in the Gulf Emirate for the last two years, vehemently disagrees. To date there have been 1200 worker deaths associated with the on-going World Cup projects. A scathing report, issued by the ITUC on March 16, claims that unless significant improvements are made to working conditions on World Cup-related sites at least 4000 more migrant construction workers could lose their lives. This would mean that those construction sites are “on track” to kill 600 workers per year, or at least 12 per week until the ribbons are cut and the fireworks are set off.

At a FIFA executive committee meeting held in Zurich on March 20, FIFA president Sepp Blatter stated, “We have some responsibility but we cannot interfere in the rights of workers.” Likewise, local FIFA organizing committee in Qatar says workers are not their responsibility. Zaha Hadid said the same.

However, given the increasing chorus of headlines along the lines of “The Qatar World Cup is a Total Disaster” they may have to say something stronger on the issue at some point — or have the image of their architecture tarnished. Of course we all know that what they mean is that legally it is not their responsibility. But does that mean they should be sitting back, not even attempting to influence change?

Get all the facts on the situation of the Qatar construction workers, after the break…

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The Architectural Review’s Latest Issue: Architecture and Our War-Torn Cities

Courtesy of

ArchDaily is happy to announce a new development in our partnership with The Architectural Review. Each month, AR’s editor, Catherine Slessor, will weigh in with a thematic introduction to the subjects addressed in their current issue. Up now: war and architecture. While our war-torn cities can be rebuilt, their fraught social linkages will never be the same.

At the height of the Cold War, the US developed the neutron bomb, an extreme and more ‘advanced’ type of nuclear weapon that could kill people but theoretically leave buildings intact. Described by both the Russians and Americans as the ‘capitalist bomb’, it was eventually sidelined but became emblematic of the crazed Dr Strangelove ingenuity that underscored the time.

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