TED Talk: My Architectural Philosophy? Bring the Community Into the Process / Alejandro Aravena

“If there is any power in design, that’s the power of synthesis.”

In this TED Talk Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, the founder of ELEMENTAL, speaks about some of the design challenges he has faced in Chile and his innovative approaches to solving them. Emphasizing the need for simplicity in design, Aravena talks about three of his projects: the Quinta Monroy social project, through which he developed the “half-finished home” typology for governments to provide quality homes at incredibly low-prices; his “inside-out” design for the Pontifical Catholic University’s Innovation Center UC – Anacelto Angelini, which reduced energy costs by two-thirds; and lastly his masterplan for rebuilding a resilient coastline in Constitución Chile after the city was hit by the 2010 earthquake.

Aravena also emphasized the importance of community participation in his projects, saying: “We won’t ever solve the problem unless we use people’s own capacity to build.” Watch Aravena’s full talk above and take a peek at some of his key projects below.

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Light Matters: 7 Ways Lighting Can Make Architecture More Sustainable

Sustainable lighting at HDI Gerling Headquarters. Architects: ingenhoven architects, www.ingenhovenarchitects.com. Lighting design: Tropp Lighting, www.tropp-lighting.com. Image © Hans Georg Esch, www.hgesch.de

Sustainable lighting design offers various well-being and environmental benefits in addition to economic advantages for clients and users. Although provides a free lighting source,  for most spaces the amount and time of is not sufficient and electrical lighting is necessary. A focus on sustainability becomes essential for minimizing energy consumption and improving the quality of life. Even though efficiency has significantly increased with technology, electrical lighting is still more widely used. Often the ambition for renovations or new applications goes along with a higher quantity of lighting instead of finding a better lighting quality with an adequate amount of energy.

Read on after the break for Light Matters’ 7 fundamental steps to achieve sustainable lighting.

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AR Issues: Beyond the historic panacea of the Garden City

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 post, we take a look at AR’s October 2014 issue which, inspired by URBED’s Wolfson Prize-winning design, features a look at Garden Cities. Here, AR Editor Catherine Slessor questions whether could be the solution for what is fast becoming one of Britain’s most potent political problems, asking “Could Howard’s Garden City and Rudlin’s winning proposal for the Wolfson Prize give crucial hints to come out of the housing crisis?

Every town-planning module for architecture students begins (and possibly ends) with the Garden City. Yet though Ebenezer Howard’s famous ‘Three Magnets’ diagram is now 116 years old, the notion of combining the better attributes of town and country in a socially reformed, neatly zoned, quasi Utopian city-on-the-hill still has a pervasive appeal. In Howard’s original vision there was room for all, even an insane asylum and ‘home for inebriates’ strategically corralled in a green belt between the city centre and an outer rim of allotments.

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Video: Bjarke Ingels on the Power of Architecture

This past month at WIRED by Design, Bjarke Ingels gave a rundown of his most ambitious projects, highlighting one underlining theme: BIG’s mission to “create social infrastructure for resilient cities.” From their Manhattan “BIG U” storm proofing plan, recently awarded $400 million in federal funds, to their “ski slope” waste-to-energy plant currently underway in Copenhagen, the Danish practice is undoubtedly fulfilling their mission in a BIG and infectious way.

Watch Ingels’ 20-minute talk above and see just how he hopes to realize the world of our dreams with the power of architecture.

Lahdelma & Mahlamäki’s Polish Museum Wins Inaugural Finlandia Prize

Museum Of The History Of Polish Jews / Lahdelma & Mahlamäki + Kuryłowicz & Associates. Image © Pawel Paniczko

A professor of economics, Sixten Korkman has chosen Lahdelma & Mahlamäki ArchitectsMuseum of the History of Polish Jews in as the winner of the inaugural Finlandia Prize for Architecture. The unconventional award, whose intent is to “increase public awareness of high quality Finnish architecture and highlights its benefits for our well-being,” enlisted a group of renowned architects to shortlist the finalists before “layman” Korkman selected the winner as an unbiased representative of the public who valued the building for the way it made him “feel.”

“The idea behind the prize undoubtedly resonates with me. In economics one talks about public goods and externalities, and the built environment is precisely these,” stated Korkman after announcing his decision.

“Whether the buildings are in private or public ownership is of no significance. We all see the architecture, experience the architecture, and architecture affects us all. Architecture undoubtedly affects our well-being and comfort: our built environment is our extended living room. In architecture there is also an egalitarian element. Fortunately the sun still shines for both poor and rich. Our built environment exists for us all.”

More about the winning building, after the break.

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MAD Architects Unveils Mountainous Design for Lucas Museum in Chicago

Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

The design for Chicago‘s Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts has been revealed, with MAD Architects unveiling their plans for a sculptural white “mountain,” rising from the site to be topped by a metallic crown. Designed as a landscape that can be approached from all sides, with the main entrance located on a ‘floating’ public plaza accessed via a network of ramps and steps, the building is organized around a central domed lobby and events space, with four stories of gallery spaces, a set of four theaters, and at the top of the building an observation deck and glass-encased restaurant. In a connected, smaller “mountain” are the building’s educational functions, with classrooms, lecture theaters and a library.

Speaking to ArchDaily from Chicago, director of Ma Yansong explained how he wanted the design “to be futuristic but at the same time to be natural,” connecting with the landscape of the waterfront site.

More about the design from after the break

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TED Talk: How to Reinvent the Apartment Building / Moshe Safdie

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Nearly 50 years after realizing Habitat ’67, when the need for high quality affordable housing is at an all time high, Moshe Safdie is expanding on his ideas first explored in the stacked Montreal utopia to discover just how natural light and the feeling openness can be achieved in today’s megalopolises. Watch as Safdie makes a case to do away with the high-rise in the short TED Talk above.

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Escalalatina: Rendering Your Designs with Diversity

Courtesy of Escalalatina

Tired of seeing Nordic families in representations of Colombian markets and New York hipsters drinking coffee in Mexican cultural centers, a group of self-described “young latinos” have created Escalalatina, a collection of high-resolution images of “people on the road to development” to be used for renderings.

Inspired by Teodor Javanaud Emdén’s SKALGUBBAR - a virtual library of people for renders - Escalatina aims to provide a way for Latin American architects to fill their renders with images of local people.

All of the images are available in .png format and users can also submit their own images for the site as well.

Check out some of the Escalalatina images after the break.

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Norman Foster’s Interview with The European: “Architecture is the Expression of Values”

Apple Campus 2 / Foster + Partners. Image © City of Cupertino

Berlin-based editor of The European Magazine has shared with us his interview with Norman Foster on the role of architecture in today’s society. 

The European: Lord Foster, architects design buildings that will characterize for decades or even centuries to come. How difficult is it to design buildings for an unknown future?

Foster: Flexibility is a key consideration. We design with an awareness that circumstances will change – that a building’s context will evolve; it may be used in different ways and will need to incorporate new technologies that we cannot yet predict.

The complete interview, after the break. 

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Towards a New Urbanism (Or Three)

Tokyo. Image © Flickr CC User Les Taylor

If you read a lot of articles about cities and urbanism, you’re probably familiar with the words “half of the world’s population now lives in cities.” For a number of years, these words have been frequently used in the opening sentences of articles, hoping to convince readers in just a few seconds of the importance of the subject at hand. In fact, according to the World Health Organization these words are no longer even true: in 2014 the urban portion of the world’s population has already reached 54%. In other words, every nine months the world adds enough new urbanites to fill a city the size of Tokyo, with an increase of nearly 300 million new urban dwellers since we reached the tipping-point in 2008.

The rise of cities has been so dramatic that UN Habitat has declared today, October 31st 2014, as the first annual World Cities Day.

Of course, all of this means that there has never been a better time to be an urbanist than right now. Or does it?

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World’s Tallest Twin Towers Planned for Dubai

© Emaar Properties and Holding; Courtesy of Gizmodo

Developers Emaar Properties and Dubai Holdings have unveiled a new mega development planned for Dubai, dubbed Dubai Creek Harbour. Though no official architects have been named, the 6 million-square-meter masterplan is designed to be three times larger than downtown Dubai and will include the world’s tallest twin towers.

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How Kunlé Adeyemi “Engages the Local and Specific To Have a Powerful Effect on a Global Level”

Makoko Floating School / NLÉ Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Kunlé Adeyemi, the 38 year-old former disciple of Rem Koolhaas, made headlines last year with his Makoko Floating School, which enabled better access to education a slum community in Lagos. In this profile of Adeyemi and his Practice NLÉ Architects, originally published by Metropolis Magazine, Avinash Rajagopal explores what drives the young architect, explaining why he was selected as one of 10 designers in Metropolis Magazine’s 2014 New Talent list.

When the Makoko Floating School was completed in March 2013, it received wildly enthusiastic critical acclaim from the international news media. The simple A-frame structure, buoyed by recycled plastic barrels in a lagoon in Lagos, Nigeria, was designed by NLÉ, a Lagos- and Amsterdam-based studio founded by the architect Kunlé Adeyemi. The project, intended as a model for how Lagos’s floating community could build simple, sustainable structures for themselves, subsequently faced a few challenges. One of the biggest was winning over local officials, who simply did not know what to make of such a building.

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Built Reminders of a Former Time: Europe’s Dissolved Border Crossings Photographed

Border: Austria / Czech Republic. Image © Ignacio Evangelista

Citizens of central , perhaps uniquely in the world, are used to a life of no borders and free movement between nations. Following two devastating wars fought primarily on European soil, the formation of the early European Union in the 1950s paved the way for a more liberal, less isolated continent. It was not until the signing of the Schengen Treaty in 1985 (which came into effect in 1995) that the majority of borders were truly dissolved and travelling between nations, cultures, and communities became as simple as walking down the road.

Ignacio Evangelista’s series of photographs entitled After Schengen examine the remnants of the old, abandoned crossing points that still exist across the Union. No longer necessary to maintain a country’s independent sovereignty, and almost twenty years since the revolutionary pact was ratified, these palimpsests of border control remain as striking today as when they when delineated the closed boundaries between nations.

See a selection of the collection after the break…

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Article 25 Auctions 100 Artworks By Leading Architects in 10×10 Fundraiser

By Derek Draper. Image Courtesy of Article 25

Architectural aid charity Article 25 has unveiled the drawings for its most important annual fundraising event, the 10×10 Drawing the City Auction. Featuring drawings donated by leading architects including Norman Foster, Ivan HarbourSheila O’Donnell, Terry Farrell and Ken Shuttleworth among many others, in previous years the 10×10 auction has raised over £90,000 for the charity, and this year it is hoped that it will top £100,000.

The 10×10 concept divides a section of the city up into a 10 by 10 square grid, with each participating architect assigned a section of the grid where they must find inspiration for an artwork. This year, the grid centred on the Shard, where this year’s auction will be held on November 27th. In the lead-up to the auction, bidding will also be available online from November 4th-25th, at the 10×10 website.

Read on after the break for another 20 of the pieces to be auctioned

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d3 Natural Systems 2014 Winners Announced

Special Mention for Performative Landscape: Hydrophytic Urban Topography / Dustin Piercy, Xiomara Martinez (USA). Image ©

d3 has announced the winners of its Natural Systems Competition for 2014, an annual competition that offers architects, designers, engineers and students the chance to investigate natural processes from the microscopic to macroscopic scale and propose innovative, nature-based solutions in architecture, , interiors and product design for sustainable living.

The jury, a panel of architects and designers engaged in sustainable practices and computational explorations, has this year selected a top three as well as eleven special mentions. Join us after the break for images from all 14 designs.

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Guardian Invites Readers to Submit the Best City Ideas for World Cities Day

© NLÉ architects

With the first ever World Cities Day taking place on Friday, the Guardian is partnering with UN Habitat for the Cities Day Challenge, a day-long competition where representatives of 36 around the world will present their best city ideas, with the winner being selected for an in-depth article in the Guardian. Judged by Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Toronto City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat; Anna Minton, Dan Hill, Usman Haque and Adam Greenfield, the Guardian will be live-tweeting the entire day.

They are also reaching out to readers to “share your photos, videos and stories of something brilliant that your city does better than any other,” some of which they will feature throughout the day. You can follow this link to contribute - or read on after the break as we take the opportunity to round up some of the biggest city ideas that have passed through the pages of ArchDaily.

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Invisible Cities and the Curtain Wall: The Last Remnant of Modernism

The National September 11 Memorial entry pavilion appears camouflaged against the backdrop of neighbouring glass curtain walls. Image © Joe Woolhead

Few of the architectural principles developed in the 20th century have been as widely accepted as the curtain wall, with the technology going from an implied feature of Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture to the go-to facade treatment of architects worldwide. In this article, originally published on Australian Design Review as “Invisible Cities – The Last Remnant of Modernism,” Annabel Koeck argues that the curtain wall, initially prized for its glassy transparency, is now making buildings and even entire cities invisible thanks to its sheer ubiquity – at the expense of architectural expression.

Norwegian architects Snøhetta, based between Oslo and New York, designed the glass structure for the The National September 11 Memorial entry pavilion, which appears camouflaged against the backdrop of neighbouring glass curtain walls that define the New York skyline. Admittedly, Snøhetta’s pavilion was conceived by a very different brief, one defined by timidity and subtlety; yet paradoxically it was the curtain wall that facilitated this. Looking over the South Pool towards an array of glazed elevations that dominate the skyline it is ironic that a Modernist technique – the curtain wall – could now spell the end for architectural diversity in cities.

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Twitter Reacts to 1,715 Guggenheim Designs

The news that every single one of the 1,715 designs for the future Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki have been released via a new competition website was understandably something of a media storm earlier this week. As the largest ever set of proposals to be simultaneously released to the public, how could anyone possibly come to terms with the sheer number and quality of the designs – let alone all the other issues which the proposals shed light on?

In this instance, the answer to that question is simple: get help. Guggenheim Helsinki will arguably go down in history as the prototypical competition for the social media age, not just for releasing the designs to the public but for their platform which enables people to select favorites, and compile and share shortlists. In the days since the website launched, Twitter users have risen to the challenge. See what some of them had to say after the break.

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