Workplaces of the Future to Abandon the Open Plan and Feed Employees with Sky Gardens

Interior showing sky gardens. Organic Grid + / Sean Cassidy & Joe Wilson. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Magazine

The winners of Metropolis Magazine’s Workplace of the Future 2.0 Design Competition have been announced. This year’s competition challenged participants to redefine the idea of the office, illustrating their interpretation of the evolution of workplaces within the next 15 years.

Although their approaches are different, each of the winning designs, selected from 153 entries, shows innovation in how they develop new office prototypes by employing technological ingenuity, maintaining much of the same construction while providing different experiences to suit the employees’ unique needs. The winning entry (Organic Grid +) and the runner-up (the Hybrid Office) both reflect architecture which is highly receptive to its inhabitants.

Learn more about the winners after the break.

(more…)

Dear Martha: An Open Letter to the Pritzker Prize Committee

Courtesy of Conrad Newel

As the Pritzker Jury begins its deliberations for the 2015 Pritzker Prize, this is a critical time of year for shaping the landscape of architectural debate for the coming year and beyond. The following is an open letter to Martha Thorne, the Executive Director of the , from Conrad Newel, author of the popular blog Notes on Becoming a Famous Architect.

Dear Martha,

I have to hand it to you and all the people on the Pritzker committee, you guys are a very crafty bunch. Just when I thought I had you all figured out, you have now – even though only slightly – succeeded in confounding me.

From my 2011 analysis of the Pritzker, I figured that your potential pool of laureates was always a very predictable bunch. In fact anyone could look at my data and predict with reasonable certainty that the next laureate would most likely be an Asian or Caucasian male starchitect from Europe, The USA, or Japan. I further pointed out that none of your laureates have done much in the way of humanitarianism, despite the fact that the mission statement of the Pritzker also asks that the recipient should be making significant contributions to humanity. I maintained that this part of the mandate has been consistently overlooked.

(more…)

Code of Context: The Uneasy Excitement of Global Practice

. Marina Bay Sands. Singapore

Global, the Winter 2014 issue of ArchitectureBoston magazine, out now, is an examination of the challenges and opportunities facing architects working abroad, from the Middle East to Africa to Asia. The topics explored in this issue include how to value resource-constrained approaches, honor local vernacular, and learn from the urbanization precedents set in other parts of the world. In this article, Jay Wickersham FAIA examines how in a globalized market, architecture firms can take steps to ensure that their designs act in the best interests of the foreign communities they affect.

The signs of architecture’s globalization are all around us. Foreign students flock to Boston to study architecture, prominent buildings are designed by foreign architects, American firms build practices around international projects. Globalization has allowed architects to work outside their own regions and cultures, at a scale and with a freedom of design they might never enjoy at home. But beneath the excitement and glamour of international practice, I sense an unease. Are we creating vital and original new architectures, or are we homogenizing cities and landscapes and obliterating regional differences? Are architects helping to strengthen and develop the economies of host communities, or are they acting as unwitting tools of inequality and repression?

(more…)

City ID and Billings Jackson’s Maps Hope to Make Moscow More Legible

© Ivan Anisimov

Any system is only as good as its weakest link. A public transport system can have all manner of souped up trains, glamorous transport hubs and turbo-buses, but this can all be for nothing if one station has a confusing layout that unintentionally directs passengers onto the wrong route. For something as interconnected as a transport network, continuous and steady passenger flow is absolutely crucial. With this is mind, the Moscow Department of Transport and Road Infrastructure Development, commissioned City ID - a firm known for their wayfinding solutions in cities such as Bristol and New York - and their frequent collaborator Billings Jackson Design to develop a new system of smart signage for the city.

(more…)

Inequality and Informality in New York: SITU Studio’s Proposal for MoMA’s Uneven Growth Exhibition

©

When it comes to discussing informal housing, it’s usually cities in developing nations that take the spotlight – however, as revealed by SITU Studio’s contribution to ’s Uneven Growth exhibition, issues of informal housing are indeed present in cities across the spectrum of development. In this interview, originally posted on Arup Connect as “Inequality and informality in New York,” Sarah Wesseler speaks to SITU Studio principle Bradley Samuels about their unconventional proposal to address an issue that is frequently overlooked in New York city policy.

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, a newly opened exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, focuses on the complex relationship between urbanization and inequality. Over the 14-month period leading up to the launch, six interdisciplinary teams explored how these issues are playing out in different parts of the world, each developing an architectural response for a specific city.

Architecture firm SITU Studio (together with Cohabitation Strategies [CohStra]) was tasked with studying its home city, New York. (Arup transport planner Michael Amabile also consulted with the team.) We spoke with SITU principal Bradley Samuels about the project.

(more…)

Archiculture Interviews: David Byrne

YouTube Preview Image

“Architecture affects how we see ourselves fitting into a city, and how we relate to one another.” In this latest video from Arbuckle Industries following its release of Archiculture, David Byrne, known for his music, writing, and art, provides his perspective on some of the issues facing architecture today. In the interview, he addresses the need to rethink design practice as an all-encompassing approach, and advocates the tailoring of designs for their specific purposes. Byrne also discusses the problem of the “starchitect” phenomenon, the relationship of people with the built environment, and the resulting atmospheric effects that spatial and acoustic qualities can impart.

Light Matters: UN Celebrates The International Year of Light 2015

Armani Fifth Avenue, . Architect: Fuksas Architects. Lighting design: Speirs + Major. Photo: Allan Toft. Image © Speirs + Major

Light is all around us, and it increasingly affects our daily lives. For example, we have started to carry personal light sources around with our smartphones, and in our homes many electrical machines now utilize light to display information and simply to appear more attractive. In a larger context, architecture and cities have also developed a new dimension with the advent of electrical lighting for work and entertainment.

Inspired by the central role of light for our culture and technology, the United Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies” (IYL2015). With IYL2015 the UN wants to raise the awareness of the importance of light and optical technologies in our lives, our future and the development of society.

Read on after the break for more enlightenment around IYL2015.

(more…)

Why Putin Likes Columns: 21st Century Russia Through the Lens of Architecture

Rendering of the proposed Lakhta Center in St Petersburg. Image Courtesy of www.proektvlahte.ru

In August 1932, Stalin, holidaying in Sochi, sent a memo containing his thoughts on the entries for the competition to design the Palace of the Soviets, the never-to-be-built monument to Lenin and center of government. In this memo he selected his preferred design, the colossal wedding cake of a tower topped with a 260-foot (79-meter) high statue of Lenin, designed by Boris Iofan. Just over 80 years later, Sochi again hosted the architectural whims of a powerful Russian leader for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. An oversimplification? Probably. But it’s got nice symmetry to it.

(more…)

Through the Lens: The Social Implications of Green Roofs in Film

“Hobbiton,” the home of the virtuous Hobbits. Image © www.bonvoyadventuretravel.com

Film often makes a mockery of architectural features. Glass facades are obliterated by gunfire, grisly murders are set against a white modernist palette, deconstructed stairs are the cause of nasty accidents or ludicrous slapstick, and you just know a tensile fabric roof will be shredded by the time 007 is finished with it.

There is one architectural feature however that has benefited from very complimentary treatment by the film industry, and surprisingly it is a sustainable one. Green roofs and other “architectural” green spaces have been popping up regularly in mainstream movies over the past decade: blockbusters including The Vow (2012) and Source Code (2011) utilized the greenscape outside Gehry‘s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park; last year the Vancouver Convention Centre was featured in both Godzilla and Robocop; and Kaspar Schroder’s 2009 uber cool documentary My Playground, about the sport of parkour (the art of bouncing off buildings made famous by the opening scenes of Casino Royale), features BIG’s Mountain Dwellings in Copenhagen. And we cannot forget two of the biggest film franchises in history: both of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises feature green roofs in their portrayal of Hobbiton – home of the virtuous and incorruptible Hobbits.

(more…)

ARCHISHAPE: “Architecture Shapes in Minimalist Clothing”

Courtesy of

Working in reverse, Italian architect Federico Babina’s latest set of deconstructs the stylistic forms of 25 famous architects into a series of abstract compositions that embody the essence of each architect’s style. This “process,” as Babina says, aims to reveal the “ideal connection between architecture itself as a form of representation and the representation used in its design.”

“The architecture is a set of shapes that draw volumes and voids which sequence generates functions and meanings. These illustrations are one of the possible ways to watch, observe and describe architecture… In these pictures you can read architectural references or simply let your mind get lost between the lines and colors for more imaginative interpretations.”

View all 25 illustrations, after the break.

(more…)

Architecture Doesn’t Need Rebuilding, It Needs More Thoughtful Critics

In the last few weeks, a number of reactionary architectural commentators have come out of the woodwork to denounce what they see as the currently negative direction of contemporary architecture. They claim that architecture needs to be “rebuilt” or that it is “imploding.” From their indications, architecture is on life-support, taking its last breath. The critique they offer is that contemporary architecture has become (or always was?) insensitive to users, to site conditions, to history—hardly a novel view. Every few years, this kind of frontal assault on the value of contemporary architecture is launched, but the criticisms this time seem especially shallow and misplaced. Surveying the contemporary global architecture scene, I actually feel that we’re in a surprisingly healthy place, if you look beyond the obvious showpieces. We’ve escaped from the overt dogmas of the past, we’ve renewed our focus on issues of the environment and social agency, we’re more concerned than ever with tectonics and how to build with quality. But the perennial critics of contemporary architecture appear not to have examined that deeply, nor that thoughtfully either. And unfortunately the various rebuttals to their critiques, ostensibly in support of modern and experimental architecture, have been ham-handed and poorly argued.

(more…)

AR Issues: The Problem With Memorials and Memory

Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this editorial from AR’s December 2014 issue, AR Editor Catherine Slessor ruminates on the contemporary approach to memorials, arguing that “as architecture can rarely truly grasp the notion of absence, memorial culture lapses into comforting banality.

Always uneasy bedfellows, this year the relationship between building and memory has had a particularly charged resonance. The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War has been framed by the familiar narratives of slaughter and sacrifice, while the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the moment when Communism in Europe finally faltered and collapsed. No doubt that these are profound, epoch-defining events, but how they are memorialised in built form is frequently problematic.

(more…)

Videos: Bjarke Ingels on His Europa City Project for Paris

In 2013, Bjarke Ingels Group came first in Paris‘ Europa City competition, an 800,000 square meter cultural and recreational facility on the far North-Eastern outskirts of the city. In an attempt to explain the design of this huge project, filmmakers Squint/Opera have enlisted the help of Bjarke Ingels and a green screen to describe the project - Minority Report style – with a combination of live action and futuristic video effects. In a second video, a detailed walkthrough of the building enlists both 2D and 3D graphics “to capture the excitement and energy of this unique centre.” Read on after the break for both videos.

(more…)

Bjarke Ingels’ Advice for the Young: “It’s Important to Care”

The latest in a series of from Louisiana Channel sees Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG dispensing wisdom for a new generation of architects. Speaking with characteristic zeal, Ingels advises young architects “to care, because if you don’t care, it doesn’t matter.” “We’re not here to build for other architects,” Ingels says, describing architecture as “fundamentally the art and science of accommodating life.”

Urging architects to understand the “dreams and desires and priorities” of the people for whom they are designing, Ingels discusses everything from Nietzsche’s hammer to the notion of the anthropocene, citing his time working for Rem Koolhaas and OMA as an “eye-opening” experience leading him to recognize that “architecture [isn't] like an autonomous art form happening just within its own terms, but [is] actually in direct dialogue with things going on in society.” Reflecting a playfulness idiosyncratic to Ingels and the work of , the architect encourages “professional serial monogamy,” recommending that students “fall in love with the work of an architect and dive really deep into that.”

Defining a More Purposeful Architecture: A Guide to Current Architectural Trends

The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.

These new movements are not distinct stylistic trends, but modes of approaching concept design. They often combine with each other, or with stylistic movements, to create complete designs. Outlined within this essay are five movements, each with varying degrees of success creating purposeful buildings: Diagramism, Neo-, Revitism, Scriptism, and Subdivisionism.

(more…)

Making Complex Systems Visible: “Between Geometry and Geography” Carefully Uncovers the Layers of Mexico City

Courtesy of Felipe Correa and

I always book a window seat when flying into Mexico City. It guarantees exposing the traveler to the exhilarating immensity of the city and the valley that barely contains it: a blunt encounter of geometry and geography indeed. Braving traffic I arrive to my hotel in the historic center and the first morning, over breakfast and with those aerial images still fresh in my mind, I invariably marvel at the fact that I have just had a hot shower and that I am enjoying, as usual, excellent huevos rancheros. “How did these eggs get here?” I wonder. The thoughts quickly dissipate as one is engulfed by the many renowned attractions of .

Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro have chosen not to be distracted. Their book, “Between Geometry and Geography: Mexico City”, is an ambitious portrait of Mexico City that avoids reading the city through the singularities of its monuments. They have produced instead a stunning graphic biography of the metropolis, focusing on the infrastructures that have shaped the city and make it function today and speculating on opportunities for future multifunctional infrastructures.

(more…)

AD Interviews: Moshe Safdie / Safdie Architects

During this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF) held in Singapore, we had the chance to talk with keynote speaker Moshe Safdie. Standing inside the Marina Bay Sands, a massive mixed-use project by Safdie Architects and an example of the firm’s ongoing research on density, Safdie talked to us about ’s urban environment and the challenges of working there. As the world’s growth is happening in dense areas, this subject is utterly important, and Safdie has proven that these kind of mega-urbanism projects can be functionally integrated into the city. “Working in at the intensity and scale that we do has been a paradigm shift for our practice because much of our work in the United States and Israel and elsewhere in recent years has been focused on institutions – on libraries, museums, airports – here we are involved with urban place, mixed-use mostly, extremely dense, working for the private sector, and having to reconcile the market forces with the architectural environmental demands, which is no mean task,” he said.

(more…)

AD Classics: United States Embassy in Havana / Harrison & Abramovitz

The United States’ diplomatic presence in Cuba is housed in a severe, early-1950s office building perched on the shoreline over Havana Bay. Walled off from the city and pulled back from the street, the building has the uneasy presence of a haunted castle – shunned and maligned by its neighbors, but subjected to the unending scrutiny of suspicious eyes and intrigued gossip of the locals. With its regimented orthogonalities and the unmistakably foreign imprint of modernist efficiencies, both the embassy’s architecture and the optimistic political spirit it embodies seem to belong to another era, a cooperative past no longer conceivable in the wake of a half century of underhanded diplomacy, calumnious propaganda, and failed attempts to restore relations between the embattled countries.

(more…)