Video: Sheppard Robson Underlines Importance of Hand Sketching

Our friends at Crane.tv have brought you the personal insights of Dan Burr and Lee Bennett of Sheppard Robson on the innumerable merits of hand sketching in the design process. The architects describe the process of designing within a team and communicating ideas to clients through simple and powerful visuals. Explaining their current projects, the two discuss the various roles of computer generated drawings versus hand drawings, and the instrumental value a single drawing could have in shaping a client-designer relationship, or the entire trajectory of a project.

Lee Bennet muses, “When you’re working with a computer, there’s a machine in the way. When you’re drawing, its an instant connection between your brain and the paper, and there’s something kind of instant about it, and magical.”

The Critics Speak: 6 Reasons why Hadid Shouldn’t Have Sued the New York Review of Books

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For those that follow the ins and outs of architectural criticism, it will have been hard to miss the news this week that Zaha Hadid is suing the New York Review of Books, claiming that the critical broadside launched by Martin Fuller against Hadid in his review of Rowan Moore’s book Why We Build was not only defamatory but also unrepresentative of the content of the book. Hadid’s lawyers demanded a retraction of the review, which they claimed had caused Hadid “severe emotional and physical distress.”

Hadid’s lawsuit did manage to elicit an apology from Filler, but probably not the one she was hoping for: Filler posted a retraction admitting that his review confused the number of deaths involved in all construction in Qatar in 2012-13 (almost 1,000) with the number of deaths on Hadid’s own Al Wakrah stadium (exactly zero). However, much of Filler’s comments criticizing Hadid’s cold attitude to conditions for immigrant workers in Qatar remain unaddressed.

Throughout the week, a number of other critics took this opportunity to pile more criticism on Hadid, unanimously agreeing that the lawsuit was a bad idea. Read on after the break to see the six reasons they gave explaining why.

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Light Matters: Whiteness in Nordic Countries

Dybkær Church, Silkeborg, . Architecture: Regnbuen Arkitekter. Image © 2010

The Scandinavian countries have developed great buildings that resonate with both the scarce light in winter and the long summer days. Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has very carefully studied the various daylight phenomena in the Nordic countries, with extensive photo journeys and brilliant writing that combines an analytical perspective with a poetic touch. His view of daylight looks beyond the practical advantages of using reflective white spaces to facilitate bright rooms; the passionate photographer is much more interested in the light effects that play with the local beauty of nature and touch the human soul.

Read on for more about how Nordic light enters white spaces

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Design Revealed for Norway’s New National Arts Museum

© Kleihues + Schuwerk Gesellschaft von Architekten

The planning phase for the new National Arts Museum in Norway is coming to a close and the images of the winning design by architects Kleihues + Schuwerk Gesellschaft von Architekten have been released. With its modernization and expansion, the museum aims to enhance the fields of and design in and serve as a cultural hub for locals and tourists alike. Learn more about the project and see the proposed design after the break.

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BIG Designs Rejected Again for Kimball Art Center

Revised design for the Kimball Center. Image Courtesy of BIG

After producing major revisions on a previously rejected design, BIG have had their second design rejected for the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. City Hall rejected the design on the basis of appearance, arguing that it did not relate to the historic city centre “aesthetically, visually or historically.” The second design by BIG marked a complete departure from the original that was selected as the winner of an architectural contest hosted by the Kimball Art Center.

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Translating Smiljan Radić’s Serpentine Pavilion from Fantasy to Fabrication

The use of fiberglass allowed for the pavilion to be thin and brittle, but also had the strength to span a large face. The pigment made it fire retardant. Image Courtesy of Louis Webb Bird/

Settled neatly in the quiet hum of London‘s Kensington Gardens rests Smiljan Radić‘s 2014 Serpentine Pavilion, an ethereal mass of carefully moulded fiberglass punctuated by precisely cut openings. Radić desired a structure that appears thin and brittle, yet was strong enough to support itself, and his affection for the rudimental layered qualities of papier-mâché – his maquette medium of choice – inspired the use of fiberglass by AECOM, who engineered Radić’s wild ideas. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Paper-Thin Walls, an AECOM engineer explains their solution. Read on after the break to find out more. 

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Artist Mark Lascelles Thornton On His Completed Masterwork: “The Happiness Machine”

All 8 panels of The Happiness Machine. Image © Mark Lascelles Thornton

Over a year ago, we shared a work-in-progress drawing project that captured our imagination with its combination of huge size and meticulously small details. Now, “The Happiness Machine,Mark Lascelles Thornton‘s 8-foot by 5-foot, three year long drawing project is complete, after over 10,000 hours of painstaking work.

Lascelles Thornton, a self-taught London-based artist who describes himself as “one of those kids that was drawing before I was talking,” created the artwork as a response to the global financial crisis, focusing on themes of socio-economics, consumerism, globalism, resource shortages, urbanism and architecture. We spoke to Lascelles Thornton about his artwork, discussing the themes of the piece and the commitment – or, as he describes it, “emotional ” – required for such a colossal undertaking.

For the full interview – and detailed images of the drawing – read on after the break

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OMA’s Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) Tops Out

Courtesy of ; Photography by Philippe Ruault

OMA‘s Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) has topped out in a ceremony including Taipei’s mayor Hau Lung-pin, and OMA’s Partners in charge of the project, Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten. Even in its current skeletal state, the rigidly geometric form is clearly expressed with it’s central cube supporting three protruding auditoriums, two cubic and one spherical. The design of the TPAC is in many ways experimental, incorporating a looped public path which shows off the building’s backstage areas, and flexible auditoriums which can even be combined, offering extraordinary stage spaces that allow performances which would be impossible in any other theater.

Ahead of the topping out ceremony we spoke to partner in charge David Gianotten, who explained the building’s design concepts and the challenges (or rather, surprising lack of challenges) in the construction, and told us “you will only understand it when you have seen it. It’s super exciting, we encourage everybody that loves architecture to come and see it because it’s spectacular.”

Read on after the break for the full interview

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Is Bigger Better? HOK’s Acquisition of 360 Architecture and How Mergers Have Changed the Business of Design

World Expo 2020 Master Plan. Image Courtesy of HOK

International design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK has recently announced its plan to acquire 360 Architecture, a firm specializing in sports facility design. With HOK’s global influence and ’s expertise, the acquisition could bring about significant advances in sports facility design and expand the market reach for each firm. When it comes to the business of architecture, acquisitions such as this often enable large corporate firms to take on a wider variety of projects, giving them a competitive edge against famous designer names in the industry. But what else can we learn from the growth of the world’s largest firms?

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Invisible Solar Harvesting Technology Becomes Reality

Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. Image © Yimu Zhao

Solar harvesting systems don’t need to be glaringly obvious. In fact, now they can even be invisible, thanks to researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) who have developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) that can be applied to windows or anything else with a clear surface.

LSC technology is nothing new, but the transparent aspect is. Previous attempts yielded inefficient results with brightly colored materials, and as researcher Richard Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical and science at MSU, puts it, “No one wants to sit behind colored glass.” To learn how Lunt and the rest of the research team achieved transparency, keep reading after the break.

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What Gentrification Really Is, and How We Can Avoid It

Photo of Noe Valley, a low-density, high-income neighborhood, by Allan Ferguson

is seen as a rising menace in many cities. The process whereby rich “gentrifiers” move into neighborhoods, driving up property prices and thus driving out those unable to afford those prices, has drawn criticism from activists and planners for years. However, this article by writer Annalee Newitz, first published by io9 as “This is What Gentrification Really Is“, tells us that the issue is not quite the struggle between good and evil that it first appears to be. Gentrification is a process dependent on economy, political climate, and the mercurial nature of urban development itself – and sometimes fighting against it only serves to exacerbate the problem. Find out what we can do in the face of gentrification after the break.

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Rem Koolhaas Sheds Light on Lagos

In this interview conducted by the Brigtje van der Haak maker of the documentary Lagos Wide & Close, Rem Koolhaas discusses his research on the urbanization of Nigeria‘s largest city, Lagos. While this research is as yet unpublished, Koolhaas discusses external influences on the city’s architecture, how his visits have affected his view of the profession, and Lagos’ future potential. The documentary by van der Haak, released on DVD in 2004, is an interactive exploration of Lagos from a multitude of scales. Now, it has been adapted for the web, and can be viewed in its entirety here!

Wicker Man: An Interview with Salvador Gilabert of EMBT

The Spanish Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo

As one of EMBT‘s Directors, Salvador Gilabert has helped guide the realization of some of the practice’s biggest projects in recent years – including as project director of Spain’s 2010 Shanghai Expo Pavilion and the recently completed Barajas Social Housing Block.

Last month, he took a week out of his schedule to lead a project at Hello Wood, where – with an energy and intensity that was almost out of place in the relaxing surroundings of the Hungarian countryside – he led a group of students to construct an ambitious, screw-free elevated platform that emerged from a cluster of trees and offered views of the setting sun. ArchDaily caught up with Salvador Gilabert during the week to find out more about his work.

Read on after the break for the full interview

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NBBJ Creates High Tech Shading System for Buildings

Courtesy of NBBJ

International architecture firm NBBJ has created Sunbreak, a new for user-controlled sunshades that will not only lower energy costs, but also give buildings a dynamic appearance throughout the day.

Technology currently exists for automatically regulating solar gains in buildings, but the downside to these systems is that they often lack manual controls, and one of the most common complaints heard from workers in modern office buildings is that they do not have enough control over their environment. Automatic sunshades go up or down based on the time of day but if it happens to be cloudy outside or if users want natural light in a room when the shades are down there may be nothing they can do.

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Excavating the Sky: Syria’s Contemporary Landscape at Monditalia

Courtesy of Khaled Malas

From August 12-15, architects, filmmakers and activists from Syria and the Arab World gathered in the Arsenale at the 2014 Venice Biennale for “excavating the sky,” a four-day event focusing on Syria and the production of its contemporary landscape from before WWI until today. The event took place in the context of the Monditalia exhibition and one of its key components was a “displaced pavilion” in Syria – a recently dug well providing water for a community of 15,000 people.

“As you know, Syria is currently undergoing a profound, and often violent, transformation, much of which is difficult to fully comprehend. It is my belief that architecture does play a role in this conflict, and that architects, with their disciplinary tools, must act more meaningfully and creatively in these struggles in/of space,” Khaled Malas, a Syrian architect and organizer of “excavating the sky,” told ArchDaily. “The ‘displaced pavilion’, in the form of a water-well, is an active embodiment of these struggles and our responsible participation as a discipline amongst those who have suffered years of neglect followed by war.”

To represent the “displaced pavilion” at , a banner with a drawing of the well was hung in the Aresenale.

Read on after the break to learn more about the other key components of the event and the significance behind its name…

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Studio CTC Imagines Terraced Twin Skyscrapers in Hong Kong

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Skyscrapers have developed a typical form language over the past century—many of them are large, rectangular, and sheathed in glass, but Studio CACHOUA TORRES CAMILLETTI is changing that. Working with the notion that even superstructures should be as varied as the cities they’re built in, the Mexican design firm has created a spectacular vision for a skyscraper in Hong Kong. With two curvilinear towers that support rice paddies on their terraces, the proposal includes cultural context in the very structure of the building.

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Interview with Qi Xin of Qi Xin Architects and Engineers

Olympic Park Siheyuan / . Image © Pier Alessio Rizzardi

Architecture is not important. You can make a microclimate or situation, but you cannot have more influence about life or the urban situation, it’s just a very small operation you are working on, and you cannot control the situation of the city.. But even if you are just working on a single object here, you can always try to have more or less a positive influence on the city, you can always contribute in your way to the city, to the citizens. But in a larger view it’s not that important; it’s you or somebody else. The people are happy or not, their happiness is not relying on your architecture.” – Qi Xin, Beijing, 2013

Shedding light on topics from China‘s rapid urbanization to the issue of copycat architecture, this interview of Chinese architect Qi Xin conducted by Pier Alessio Rizzardi questions the role of architecture in Chinese society, and reveals the mindset of the modern Chinese architect. Qi Xin’s answers challenge many of the myths surrounding Chinese architecture, often through one-line gems such as “what is permanent for Chinese people is the spirit, not material,” and “the most important thing is that we don’t know where we are going… we are making the future cities.”

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A City Without Cars: New York’s Recovery from Automobile Dominance

© Flickr CC User Healey McFabulous

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Playing in Traffic“, this article by Jack Hockenberry delves into the relationship between man and vehicle, illustrating the complex dynamic created in New York – a city with over 2.1 Million registered vehicles. Contrary to the car-centric schemes of New York’s infamous former Master Planner Robert Moses, Hockenberry argues that the city is the “negative space” while vehicles are obscured by our unconscious. 

It is a curiosity of modern urban life that the more cars crowd into cities, the more they become invisible. It’s a great feature that comes standard on any model these days. Unfortunately we can’t control it from the driver’s seat—however much we would like to wave our hands and watch through our windshields as gridlocked cars disappear, liberating us from traffic imprisonment. The invisibility I am speaking about only works if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist. The number of motorized vehicles parked or driving at any given moment on the streets of New York City is astounding. An estimated 2.1 million are registered in the city, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Yet we never fully register them visually when we’re walking on the streets. The city is the negative space and that is how our eyes increasingly navigate urban landscapes. Everything around the cars and trucks gets knitted together by the eye and, even though the vehicles are present, we have gradually learned to ignore them unless we’re standing in the direct line of moving traffic.

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