In China’s effort to modernize its cities, it has used architectural mimicry – essentially “copy-cat architecture” as journalist and author Bianca Bosker puts it – to rapidly and substantially “adapt to the market” for urban development. Watch this video as Bosker describes the atmosphere of imitation that China has adapted to bring western architectural styles to its housing market. Bianca Bosker is the author of “Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China”, in which she gives a tour of the various towns within major cities that have seen this rapid development. Cities like Hangzhou has its own imitation of Venice, which includes man-made canals, townhouses, and villas. Shanghai has its own version of Paris, Eiffel Tower included. And Beijing has an imitation of the London Bridge.
More after the break.
What has the internationally awarded Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to do with Friederich Nietzsche and Charles Darwin? Quite a lot, according to founder Bjarke Ingels, who has created a powerful mixture of Nietzsche and Darwin as the philosophical foundation of BIG’s architecture.
Read Anders Møller’s fascinating article on BIG’s unusual philosophy, after the break…
Despite the romantic notion about cities that develop organically have a rich diversity of form and function, we cannot overlook the deadly side effects of negligent city planning. As Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star points out, last month’s tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas is a grim reminder that planning has a time and place and its ultimate utility resides in the initiative to protect residents and make for healthier communities. The tangle of bureaucracy associated with planning, zoning and land use regulations can give any architect or developer a massive headache. In some cases, the laws are so restricting that diverging from bulk regulations becomes very limiting.
Beginning in 2014 The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (known more commonly as Cooper Union), the famed New York City college, will start charging tuition.
For more than 100 years, Cooper Union, which includes a prestigious architecture school, has been “free” (full-tuition support to all students). As such it has always stood apart, charting its own path and following its own independent mission. That Cooper Union is now dead.
For Cooper Union to have survived it would have had to remain simpleminded. And I mean this in the most flattering way.
This blog was written by Doug Wingall, the President of HDR Architecture, for the AIA Blog Off on the theme “What does architect as leader mean to you?” It was originally published on HDR Architecture‘s blog BLiNK.
Architects and designers are trained in school to be creative and critical thinkers. We are shaped and molded into being the purveyors of ideas that can have a positive influence not only on the built environment, but society in general. By the very skills and talents which architects and designers possess, we are inherent problem solvers.
In fact, one of our country’s greatest politicians, Thomas Jefferson, believed that architecture embodied the soul of his new country–a building was a metaphor for American ideology, the process of construction equal to the task of building a nation.
So why aren’t there more architects and designers working on the national and global stage to solve pressing social, environmental and economic challenges? Currently, lawyers comprise 37 percent of all U.S. senators and nearly 24 percent of all U.S. congressmen. Banking and business occupations account for 20 percent of the Senate and 22 percent of the House. According to the AIA, in the last 50 years, only one architect has served in a national capacity: U.S. Congressman Richard Swett, who represented New Hampshire from 1990 to 1994.
Why aren’t there more architects on a national or global leadership level influencing the policy that ensures positive change?
The Pritzker Prize had idealistic beginnings: recognising achievement within architecture, a profession that had long lost its status in public opinion. Pritzker ‘seamed’ this fragmentation, celebrated the architect and broadcast this stellar contribution to society, as a creative, a singular author whose uniqueness set him/her apart from a field of practitioners.
The Prize has since assumed a role of gatekeeper to the ‘starchitect’ it once helped define. While it is inspiring that architecture as a profession has reaffirmed its status and cultural significance, The Pritzker places itself on an archi-centric proscenium, running the risk of being consumed by a synthetic reality within the profession. If Pritzker and other similar models of recognition are to evolve, they must illuminate widespread transformations in practice and emphasise the changing of the guard within the profession.
Firstly, Denise Scott Brown should be recognised retrospectively. Opinion does not change facts.
Read more about the (d)evolution of the Pritzker Prize, after the break…
The City of Cupertino has released Apple’s revised campus plans, following the recent news criticizing Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish” that have resulted in a “ballooning budget.”
Abandoning Apple’s classic “white” detailing, architects Foster + Partners have opted to clad the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith in black – a stylistic remedy that seems to be in line with the overarching campus goal to “provide a serene environment reflecting Apple’s brand values of innovation, ease of use and beauty.”
More details after the break…
London is engrossed in a vigorous debate over recently unveiled plans for the South Bank Centre, the cluster of Brutalist concrete buildings on the River Thames including the Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH) and Hayward Gallery.
Today, the Centre has as its neighbour one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions – The London Eye – and this, with the addition of retail and other leisure-led developments in and around the South Bank, has refocused both commercial and cultural attention on the complex.
Last month, British architects Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) unveiled their vision for a “Festival Wing” on the site, focussing on the QEH and the Hayward Gallery. It isn’t the first time an architect has been asked to look at these buildings in recent decades. However, it is the most likely to come to fruition.
Read more about the Southbank Centre and its future development, after the break…
From innovative mud and bamboo schools to state of the art “green” high-rises, the Master Jury for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture has selected 20 deserving nominees to be in the running for the prestigious, US$1 million prize. Since the award was launched 36 years ago, over 100 projects have received the prize and more than 7,500 building projects have been documented for exhibiting architectural excellence and improving the overall quality of life in their regions.
Farrokh Derakhshani, the Director of the Award, remarked: “The Master Jury, which includes some of the most prominent architects of our time, made interesting choices this year. For example, they chose schools in Afghanistan and Syria, but they also chose a hospital in Sudan, a high rise in Bangkok and the reconstruction of a refugee camp in Lebanon. In many ways, the choices reflect a central preoccupation of the Award: the impact of buildings and public spaces on the quality of life. Now this seems fairly mainstream, but we must remember that the Aga Khan Award has been talking about ‘human scale’ and ‘sustainability’ since 1977”.
The 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Shortlist includes:
Pedro Gadanho is a Portuguese architect, curator, teacher and writer, appointed as the Curator for Contemporary Architecture at the MoMA in January last year.
Pedro is a prolific writer, who uses a blog as a laboratory for his ideas about architecture and urbanism (sharing his views on the current states of cities and how architecture can transform them), and will surely have an impact on what the Department of Architecture of the Museum focuses on in the future.
During this past year Pedro has been involved in the YAP (Young Architects Program), a platform to discover young architects and foster new ideas through installations at the MoMA PS1 (Queens, NY), the MAXXXI Museum (Rome, Italy), the Istanbul Modern Museum (Istanbul, Turkey) and with CONSTRUCTO (Santiago, Chile).
He also curated the exhibit “9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design” (open until Jun 9th, 2013; Architecture and Design Galleries, third floor), where his views of city and architecture come together in the form of a selection of fresh ideas and examples of architects who actively shaped our cities. The opening of the exhibit included the architectural performance “IKEA Disobedients” by Andres Jaque.
Pedro was also a jury for the 2013 Mies van der Rohe award.
In today’s world, where we have access to everything at the the tip of our fingers, the role of the curator becomes more and more relevant for us to understand our new context.
You can follow Pedro on Twitter @pedrogadanho.
After carefully considering six international architecture firms – Ammar Curiel; Frank Gehry; Herzog & de Meuron; Kimmel Eshkolot, Kolker Kolker Epstein and Renzo Piano – an esteemed selection committee has chosen Herzog & de Meuron to design the new National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. The result comes after a controversial first attempt that ended in the dismissal of the initial competition winner for alleged copyright infringement.
More information after the break… (more…)
Each year, the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley bestows the Berkeley Prize(s) in order to promote the investigation of architecture as a social art. This year’s theme was “The Architect and the Accessible City.” The following essay, “A day in the life of a wheelchair user: navigating Lincoln,” written by Sophia Bannert of the University of Lincoln, took first prize.
Architectural discourse has gradually become incoherent with the social and ethical needs of the contemporary city. With the relationship between theory and practice strained, lack of social relevance in design is ubiquitous. Practising architects frequently regard theory as esoteric and non-transferable, whilst many theorists do not manifest their ideas into reality and build. With the connection gripping the precipice by its fingers, this paper is conceived; written to persuade, motivate and encourage that there is real value in instigating ideas put forth in this paper. Concepts proposed are not only applicable to the city of Lincoln but are relevant and adaptable to all cities. Inspired by the architecture which has not yet manifested, it hopes to ignite the spirit needed to eradicate social inequities in urban design.
As Albert Einstein said: “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts”. In order to palpably grasp an understanding of what it is truly like to be physically disabled in Lincoln, I rented a wheelchair for one day to see for myself whether the facts fitted the theory.
Read more of Sophia Bannert’s prize-winning story, after the break…
Architects and students worldwide are highly anticipating the Monday premiere of Archiculture - a documentary that offers a unique glimpse into the world of studio-based, design education through the eyes of five architecture students finishing their final design projects at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. The film, directed and produced by two architect-turned-filmmakers Ian Harris and David Krantz of Arbuckle Industries, features exclusive interviews with leading professionals, historians and educators to help create a crucial dialog around the key issues faced by this unique teaching methodology.
Eager to learn more, we sat down with director Ian Harris for an exclusive interview. Read the interview and share your thoughts after the break.
With Stockhom, Hamburg and Copenhagen leading the way, urban metropolis’ worldwide are beginning to rethink their infrastructure and envision ways to transform their city into an efficient, sustainable model of the future in an effort to preserve a high quality of life and stay competitive in the global society. This shift is already being reflected in the education system, with the rapid growth of sustainability-focused academic programs and a sizable, projected increase in “green” jobs.
Get an understanding as to how sustainable cities will save the earth with an infographic after the break.
Yesterday, Iñaki Abalos was announced as the new Chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard GSD; he will begin on July 1st, 2013.
Abalos is a renowned Spanish architect, with much experience in both the academy and the professional field. He started his career together with Juan Herreros at the highly acclaimed firm Abalos + Herreros (1984-2006), and has been working since 2006 with Renata Sentkiewicz at Abalos+Sentkiewicz.
His work always tries to find a balance between technical precision and the integration with the environment and landscape. This has evolved into the concept of “Thermodynamic Beauty”, a concept embodied in his buildings and constantly evolving throughout his academic efforts, which have included the authorship of several books and professorships at the ESTA Madrid, Harvard, Columbia, EPF Laussane, Princeton, Cornell and the BIArch Barcelona. At the GSD he was acting as Professor in Residence, leading studios, lectures, and seminars related to his focus on technology and history, the thermal properties of architecture and the integration of natural elements.
Abalos will soon lead one of the most influential architecture schools in the world, a tremendous responsibility given the challenges of architecture education, which we discuss in this interview. He also talks about how architects lost their authority after post-modernism, and suggests that we could get it back by cultivating a problem solving expertise on the world’s greatest challenges: climate change, the high density of the cities, and more.
Inspiration is a funny thing: when you need it is nowhere to be seen, and just when you’re not expecting it, it can blindside you in the least convenient of places. Here’s ten inspirational TED talks for architects (in no particular order) from people with broad and unique views on architecture. Some might enlighten, educate or even enrage you – at the very least they should get those creative juices flowing a little better.
Take-in these ten TED talks after the break…
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.
The COTE Top Ten Green Projects program, now in its 17th year, is the profession’s best known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. The program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.
The 2013 COTE Top Ten Green Projects and Top Ten Plus after the break…
Most parking is free – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a high cost. A recent podcast from Freakonomics Radio (which you can listen to at the end of this article) examined parking in US cities, investigating the “cost of parking not paid for by drivers” – a cost paid not just by the government, but by the environment – due to congestion and pollution caused by people searching for kerbside parking. For example, in a 15 block area of Los Angeles the distance traveled by drivers looking for parking is equivalent to one trip across the USA per day.
One potential solution which they discuss is a San Francisco project called SF Park, which makes use of sensor technology to measure the demand for parking in certain areas of the city and adjust price according to demand. In theory, this would create a small number of empty spaces on each block and dramatically reduce the time that many drivers spend cruising for parking spaces.
Though the idea is certainly an intelligent approach to the problem of kerbside parking, unsurprisingly all this talk of supply, demand and pricing sounds very much like an economist’s answer to a problem. But what can designers do to help the situation?
Perhaps, from the designer’s point of view, the real problem with kerbside parking and surface lots is that they are always seen as a provision “coupled with” a building or area of the city. There have been a number of attempts by architects – some successful and some tragically flawed – to make parking spaces less of a rupture in a city’s fabric and more of a destination in themselves. Could these point to another way?
Read about 3 examples of parking’s past, and one of its potential future, after the break…
A decade before Kickstarter made “crowdfunding” a buzzword (particularly in architecture circles), a similar concept – going by a far more poetic name – was already alive and well in the streets of Buenos Aires.
Fideicomiso is a system of development which gained popularity in Argentina after the financial crisis of 2001; banks crashed, the public grew wary of developers, and a more democratic system of development gained prevalence. Under fideicomiso, the architect himself takes on the risk of development; residents collect their assets and provide them to the architect, who buys the land, funds the project and oversees the design/construction.
Now, Elias Redstone, a researcher who took part in Venice Takeaway (Britain’s Pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale) and spent time investigating this model in Argentina, has returned to his home country – and is anxious to see if this system could be applied in Recession-struck Britain.
Read more about this revolutionary model of development, after the break…
This was the first mandatory survey of its members conducted by the RIBA, and gives a glimpse, for the first time, into the workings of every chartered UK practice. The RIBA’s executive director of membership and profession Richard Brindley described the findings as a “tale of two professions operating in different universes”. The polarized profession is most damaging to the practices in the middle; those of 10-50 employees which are large enough to have costly overheads, but not large enough to absorb them.
Large practices, employing 50 people or more, include just 3% of practices, but, thanks to their size, include 40% of registered architects. At the other extreme are practices of 10 employees or less, who account for 53% of practices despite employing a meager 10% of architects. The survey found that the majority of practices employs fewer than six people.
Read on for more results and analysis of the survey
Steve Mouzon, a principal of Studio Sky and Mouzon Design, is an architect, urbanist, author, and photographer from Miami. He founded the New Urban Guild, which hosts Project:SmartDwelling and helped foster the Katrina Cottages movement; its non-profit affiliate is the Guild Foundation, which hosts the Original Green initiative.
Architecture has changed irreparably in the past decade, but those who know how to adapt just might find themselves in a far better place in a few years. It has now been 8 years since construction peaked in 2005, nearly 6 years since the subprime meltdown, and close to 5 years since the big meltdown that really kicked off the Great Recession.
Today, it appears that construction is finally beginning to pick back up, but it’s too late for architecture as we knew it. Here are seven reasons why…