2014 RIBA President’s Medals Winners Announced

Winner of the RIBA Silver Medal: Nick Elias of the Bartlett School of Architecture. Image Courtesy of RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have announced the President’s Medals Student Awards at a special event today in London. The awards, recognised as the world’s most prestigious set of awards in architectural education, were inaugurated in 1836 (making them the institutes oldest award, including the RIBA Gold Medal). Three medals in particular – the Bronze for a Part I student, the Silver for a Part II student, and the Dissertation Medal – are awarded to “promote excellence in the study of architecture [and] to reward talent and to encourage architectural debate worldwide.” In addition to these, the winners of the Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing and the SOM Foundation Fellowships are also announced.

317 schools of architecture from over 61 countries were invited to nominate design projects and dissertations by their students. This year saw the majority of winners come from London schools, including the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), Kingston University, the University of Westminster, London Metropolitan University (the CASS), the Royal College of Art, the , and the University of Greenwich. University College Dublin (Ireland) and the (UK) also saw their students commended, alongside the University of Sydney (two students) and the University of Hong Kong (one student).

See drawings from all the winning and commended students after the break.

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Material Masters: Glass is More with Mies van der Rohe

To celebrate the first anniversary of our US Materials Catalog, this week is presenting a three-part series on “Material Masters,” showing how certain materials have helped to inspire some of the world’s greatest architects.

Mies van der Rohe, famous for his saying “less is more,” was one of the preeminent modernist architects, well known for pioneering the extensive use of in buildings. His works introduced a new level of simplicity and transparency, and his buildings were often referred to as “skin-and-bones” architecture for their emphasis on steel structure and enclosure. In addition to Mies van der Rohe, was a major influence for many architects of the modernist movement and reshaped the way we think about and define space. Today, glass has become one of the most used building materials, but its early architectural expression is perhaps best exemplified in the works of Mies.

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AD Interviews: Kunlé Adeyemi / NLÉ

“The architects of the future will begin to be seen more as agents of change,” Kunlé Adeyemi told us outside the 2014 Pritzker Prize Award ceremony in Amsterdam. One of the five international jury members for the 2014 Venice Biennale, Adeyemi is the founder of NLÉ, an architecture and urbanism practice focused on developing cities and known for projects like the Makoko Floating School in Lagos, Nigeria.

“There are many lessons learned from the floating school project, starting from engagement with the community…,” Adeyemi said. “The innovation of Makoko Floating School came not only from us, but largely from the community itself. We were simply agents to compose those ideas into a new form or an improvement of what’s already existing.”

Adeyemi was born and raised in Nigeria where he studied architecture at the University of Lagos.  In 2002 he joined OMA where he worked closely with Rem Koolhaas for nearly a decade, playing an important role in OMA’s research on the urbanization of Lagos.

See what else Adeyemi had to say about the Makoko Floating School, what it’s like to lead an architecture firm and the role of architects in society in the full video above.

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Towering Folly: As Qatar’s Death Toll Rises, So Does This Monument

Courtesy of 1week1project

On one of Qatar‘s many World Cup construction sites, another Nepalese worker dies. The worker is not named; their death does not make the news, and work resumes on the site as soon as possible in order to make the 2022 construction deadline. But, in the desert outside Doha, a crane driver solemnly prepares to add one more concrete module to what has rapidly, and tragically, become one of Qatar’s tallest towers.

This is the vision presented by Axel de Stampa and Sylvain Macaux, of the Paris and Santiago-based practice 1week1project, with their “Qatar World Cup Memorial.” Designed as one of their week-long “spontaneous architecture” projects, the monument memorializes each deceased worker in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.

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Material Masters: Shigeru Ban’s Work With Wood

To celebrate the first anniversary of our US Materials Catalog, this week ArchDaily is presenting a three-part series on “Material Masters,” showing how certain materials have helped to inspire some of the world’s greatest architects.

Shigeru Ban’s portfolio is a strange dichotomy, split between shelters for natural disaster refugees and museums commissioned by wealthy patrons of the arts. Even stranger is the fact that, in both cases, Ban’s material palette frequently incorporates recycled cardboard, paper, and old beer crates. The Pritzker prize laureate is unique in this regard, and so great is his predilection for recycled paper tubes (originally formwork for concrete columns), that he has become known as the “Paper Architect.” His work receives media attention worldwide for the unorthodoxy of its construction materials. Yet Shigeru Ban is not concerned with unorthodoxy, but with economy. It is for this reason that, when paper tubes are deemed unsuitable, Shigeru Ban constructs his buildings in wood. Inspired by the architectural tradition of his native Japan, Ban is not only the “Paper Architect,” but also one of the most famous architects working in wood today.

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Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition: A Parametric Analysis

GH-6750399503. Image Courtesy of Malcolm Reading Consultants

The following analysis of the competition entries was contributed by Federico Reyneri, partner at LPzR associates architects, and his research team.

Architects have always pushed the limit, often experimenting with forms and technologies unavailable in their time. In the last 20 years, we experienced a small revolution in thinking about spaces and embracing complexity, as computers started to show their real power. Since Gehry’s Guggenheim came to life in the mid nineties, nothing has been the same: free forms emerge everywhere from the dreamland to reality (often becoming someone else’s nightmare). Before this computer technology, except for the realm of the mind and clay modeling, real control over complexity through technical drawings was too hard a game for us ordinary mortals but eventually, in the last 10 years or so more powerful and cheaper computers and even cheaper software, capable of astonishing parametric-generated design elements, came out. Since then, new generations of designers have started to set free mind-blowing ideas, showing the world amazing computer generated pictures. Some architects even started to build them.

But how widespread is parametric design technology? How does it influence architecture worldwide? We started to analyse the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, the largest architectural design competition in world history.

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6 Finalists Revealed in Guggenheim Helsinki Competition

Courtesy of Malcolm Reading Consultants

The Guggenheim has announced the finalists in the competition to design Guggenheim Helsinki, whittling down the entrants from a record-breaking 1,715 submissions to just six. Representing both emerging and established practices with offices in seven countries, the shortlisted entries show a variety of responses to the challenge of creating a world-class museum.

The six finalists are:

Read on after the break to see all six designs in detail, as well as the jury’s comments on each.

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The Top Places To Watch Architectural Lectures Online

Louis I. Kahn lecturing at the ETH Zurich (Switzerland). Image © Peter Wenger

As we enter December and the holidays draw nearer (and we might be looking forward to a little extra time on our hands), we’ve gathered together some of our favourite sources for watching architectural online. Ranging from Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel’s famous American Architecture Now interviews with Frank Gehry in 1980 and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown in 1984, to Sir Peter Cook speaking at Frankfurt’s Staedelschule in 2012, these open-source provide invaluable insights into architects and architects throughout recent history.

Check out our favourite sources after the break.

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The Latest 99% Invisible Podcast Will Have You on the “Edge of Your Seat”

’s Barcelona Chairs. Image © Flickr user James Davies

“A Chair is a difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier.” – Mies van der Rohe

In his latest 99% Invisible podcast, Roman Mars takes listeners to the edge of their seats (literally), as he tackles one of design’s unique challenges: the chair. From Van der Rohe to Gehry, Hadid, Libeskind and Corbusier, “if they’ve designed a big building, chances are they’ve designed a thing on which to sit,” begins Mars. Yet the complexity of chair design comes from the fact that a chair “disappears when in use…Chairs need to look fantastic when empty, and remain invisible (and comfortable) while in use,” states Mars. And with numerous recent studies showing the negative impacts of sitting too much, innovative chair design is now more important than ever.

Listen to the full podcast and check out some well-known chairs designed by architects after the break.

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Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller Easterling

Image courtesy of Verso Books.

The following is an excerpt from ’s latest publication, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space, which explores areas of with the greatest impact on our world. Easterling is a professor at Yale School of Architecture

The road between Nairobi and Mombasa is lined with, and virtually lit by, advertisements for the mobile phone companies that have entered the region—all promising new freedoms and economic opportunities. With their images of Masai tribesman in native dress phoning from a remote wilderness, the ads employ an essential trope of leap-frogging—the desire for a perfect collapse between technology and nature, tradition and modernity. The billboards express the enthusiasm of a world turned upside down in which not the developed but the developing world has their hands around a majority of the world’s cell phones.

Over the last 150 years, the ocean floor has been laid with thousands of miles of submarine cable of all types for telegraph, telephone, and fiber-optic infrastructure. In the nineteenth century, it took only thirty years for the British cable-laying companies to string the world with telegraph cable, and a little over a decade from the late 1980s to the late 1990s for most of the world to be connected to fiber-optic cable. Yet until recently, East Africa, one of the most populous areas of the world, had no fiber- optic submarine cable link and less than 1 percent of the world’s broadband capacity. A country like Kenya had to rely for its broadband on expensive satellite technology acquired in the 1970s that cost twenty to forty times its equivalent in the developed world. Before 2009, one Mbps (megabit per second) of bandwidth could cost as much as 7,500 US dollars per month against the world average of $200. The monthly cost of putting twenty-five agents on the phone was $17,000 a month instead of the $600–900 that it would cost in other developed countries.(1)

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Video: Olafur Eliasson Discusses the Authorship of Reality in “Riverbed” Exhibition

“There are no real things. This is it. We are living in models and that’s how it will always be and has always been… Who has authorship of reality? Who is then real?”

In this new  from Louisiana Channel, Olafur Eliasson meditates on the deeply philosophical questions posed by his provocative exhibition, RiverbedDiscussing themes such as the currency of trust, the authorship of reality through choice of perception, and the intricate relationships between museum, art, artist, and viewer, Eliasson sits within his own artificial landscape and recounts the deep inquiries that drive his work. Describing his views on the complexity of trust in the foundational value of the museum as an institution, Eliasson argues for the empowerment of the public. “If an audience feels trusted,” he states, “then they dare to get involved.”

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The 9 Most Controversial Buildings of All Time

It is now just over a year since the unveiling of Zaha Hadid’s Al-Wakrah Stadium in Doha, Qatar, and in the intervening twelve months, it seems like the building has never been out of the news. Most recently, remarks made by Hadid concerning the deaths of construction workers under Qatar’s questionable working conditions created a media firestorm of legal proportions. Hadid’s stadium has been widely mocked for its ‘biological’ appearance, not to mention the fact that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, for which the stadium will be built, has encountered a storm of controversy all of its own.

The criticism surrounding Al Wakrah has prompted us to look far and wide for the world’s most debated buildings. Could Al Wakrah be the most controversial building of all time? Check out ’s roundup of nine contenders after the break.

Find out which buildings top our controversial list after the break

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Ruin Porn: An Internet Trend That is Older than You Think

© Eric Holubow

The internet has been good to fans of “ruin porn,” providing them with a platform for sharing images and even coining the phrase, courtesy of a well-known Detroit blogger in 2009. However, the phenomenon isn’t actually as new as most people believe. In this article, originally published on 6sqft as “Before There was ‘Ruin Porn’ There was ‘Ruin Value’” Diane Pham expands on the idea of the connection between and architectural value (recently discussed on in an article by Shayari de Silva), delving into the concept’s surprising history.

In the hierarchy of “things the internet likes”, we’d argue that ruin porn sits wedged somewhere between Buzzfeed quizzes and cats. Images of decaying architecture conjure up unsettling feelings of tragedy and loss, but somehow manage to grip us with its intangible beauty. Whatever the cause for this may be, the thrill and enjoyment we get from looking ruin porn is palpable.

The term ‘ruin porn’ is said to have been coined by blogger James Griffioen during a 2009 interview with Vice magazine in which he criticized photographers who scouted down-trodden Detroit for provocative photos. While ruin porn is the trend at hand, decades before its arrival there was something called ‘ruin value’.

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An Homage to London Brutalism by Thomas Danthony & Michael Abrahamson

National Theatre by Thomas Danthony. Image Courtesy of Black Dragon Press

Black Dragon Press has shared a set of prints and a booklet on Brutalist architecture in with illustrations by Thomas Danthony, complemented by text from ”Fuck Yeah Brutalism” curator Michael Abrahamson. See Abrahamson’s intro to the booklet reprinted below. 

Brutalism is an unusually evocative word. Like the architecture for which it’s used as a descriptor, it can elicit a powerful, bodily discomfort or psychological repulsion. Standard dictionary definitions itemise the materials (exposed concrete, but also brick and block) and describe the physical character (forceful, unadorned, imposing) of this type of building, and would likely also mention the time frame during which it was the dominant tendency in architecture (from the late 1950s to the early 1970s).

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MoMA’s Pedro Gadanho on “Bringing Architectural Modernity Home”

“The celebrity of architects such as Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura has certainly contributed to Portuguese architecture’s increasing presence in the local press.” Image: Portuguese pavilion for Expo 98 – 1998 / Álvaro Siza. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

This article by Pedro Gadanho was originally published in Homeland: News From Portugal, the project created for Portugal’s national representation at the 2014 Venice Biennale.

Nobody doubts that, in large measures, 20th century modernity has been brought to one’s living room by the media. Sure, toasters and mass-produced carpets have offered a sense of domestic modernity fostered by ever-more accessible technologies. But newspapers, the radio, and TV sets have delivered the sense that one was immersed in the long revolution happening outside. Drawing from popular media, Martha Rosler’s “House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home” series (1967-1972) gave this idea a poignant visual expression. If newspapers carried home modernity’s many conflicts and tensions, life-style magazines completed the picture with alluring visions of how to make yourself and your environment become “modern.”

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Video: Gaetano Pesce on Architecture as Art

In this video from Crane TV, Italian architect and designer talks about his philosophy of art and architecture as an expression of reality. His philosophy raises the question of whether architecture itself should become symbolic of its time and place or express an idea in the way that art often can.  Beyond a symbolic nature, Pesce also suggests that architecture could be humorous or act as an extension of artistic expression. “Architecture is the king or queen of the arts,” he says, summarizing his beliefs.

Last week we brought you another video from Crane TV on Vito Acconci, which explored why the goal of architecture is not always a completed building.  As another architect who blurs the lines between buildings and art, Pesce’s unbuilt projects are an important tool through which he continually seeks new discoveries to prompt further design innovations.

AD Classics: Montreal Biosphere / Buckminster Fuller

© Flickr user abdallahh

Architects have never enjoyed a position of such supreme prominence as they did in the worldview of Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller. To him, architects alone were capable of understanding and navigating the complex interrelationships of society, technology, and environment as viewed through the comprehensive paradigm of systems theory. Architecture, in this model, was intended to exist in close contact with both mankind and nature, playing civilization’s most critical role in elevating the state of humanity and promoting its responsible stewardship of the environment. Emerging from the ethical positivity of postwar , this melioristic perspective marks perhaps the zenith of optimism’s ascent in mid-twentieth century thought, and gave Fuller a uniquely moral blueprint for his revolutionary designs.

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Salvaged Stadium: Harvard GSD Student Yaohua Wang’s Proposal for Post-Olympic Adaptation

© Yaohua Wang

Olympic host cities around the world are increasingly facing issues of post-event sustainability, with many stadiums and arenas falling into disuse and dilapidation mere months after the games. The soaring costs associated with constructing Olympic facilities have plagued organizers for decades, resulting in an all-time low number of bids from host cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to the International Olympic Committee. Yaohua Wang is a recent architecture graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a native of China - where facilities constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are slowly being converted to new post-Olympic uses, typified by the transformation of the Watercube into the city’s newest waterpark. Wang’s thesis project, Salvaged Stadium, delves into the afterlife of Olympic facilities, providing a solution for arena reuse with potential for application worldwide.

Find out how Wang re-evaluated the Olympic development problem after the break

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