“Green architecture helps people live harmoniously with nature and elevates human life by embracing the powers of the sun, wind and water into living space. If the current way of thinking does not change, sooner or later citizens will actually live in concrete jungles,” Vo Trong Nghia says in this week’s episode of Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture series. An award-winning Vietnamese architect, Nghia is known for his sustainable and green designs as well as his work with bamboo. In this 25-minute episode, we follow Nghia on his mission to transform Vietnam’s attitude towards architecture and green spaces through his “Vertical Farming City,” and catch a glimpse of his project to implement low-cost housing solutions for Vietnam’s poorest communities in Mekong Delta.
Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and a preview of upcoming episodes…
More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. Leaving no plans or sketches behind, some of the secrets of its construction that Brunelleschi pioneered are still an enigma today. This short animation, presented by National Geographic and created by Fernando Baptista and Matthew Twombly, gives an idea of how the dome of the Duomo might have been built. Demonstrating the complexity of the task, made harder due to poor construction prior to Brunelleschi’s commission, this film serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to create something timeless.
Scandicci City began as a suburb of Florence and was often described as a commuter town with a lack of a clear urban center. Having reached out to Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to address this need, this short documentary created by scandiccibyrogers.com offers a look inside Rogers’ studio in London and the creation of a new urban master plan for Scandicci City.
In it, Rogers explains his belief that public places are crucial parts of cities, and discusses how urban areas can begin to develop from a dense core – an urban design strategy that responds to the rising popularity of city living in recent years, and utilizes public transportation rather than relying on cars.
MAD Architects‘ “Silhouette Shanshui” – which lies somewhere between an installation and a model – is currently on display at the 14th Venice Biennale. The inspiration for the project is the firm’s Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in China. According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.
Have you ever wanted to see the apartments and houses of your favorite TV shows brought to life? To go on a virtual walk-through of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment? Or see the layout of the Simpson’s house in Springfield? Four years ago Spanish interior designer Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde had the same desire, and so he set out to create a floorplan for one of his favorite TV shows, Frasier. Following interest from his friends for floorplans of their favorite shows, Aliste began to make renderings for them as well. Now, the designer has created floorplans for over 20 shows and movies, ranging from the apartments in Friends to the house in UP!. “Many people have told me that thanks to my drawings, they recall the good times spent with the series or movie…. Even people not used to technical layouts are able to understand my drawings and dive into them,” he said.
Enjoy the full interview with Iñaki as well as images of some of his favorite floorplans after the break…
The JS Dorton Arena, originally designed as a livestock judging pavilion for the North Carolina fairgrounds, was a deliberate political statement for the North Carolina State University about the courage of progress and value of taking risks. The architect, Matthew Nowicki, imagined a symphonic spatial experience where design, material and construction are choreographed in a highly challenging and sweeping, ambitious vision. Foregoing interior columns, the building combines intersecting parabolic arches of reinforced concrete with a grid of draped tension cables inspired by the tension system of the Golden Gate Bridge to support the entire span of the roof – the first of its kind.
Yesterday, a consortium led by Foster + Partners and Fernando Romero of FR-EE were announced as the winners of the competition for the design of Mexico City‘s new international airport. Designed in conjunction with a masterplan developed by Arup, the airport will initially include three runways, but is designed to expand to up to six runways by 2062, all served by the single terminal building.
One of the world’s largest airport terminals at 555,000 square meters, the building is enclosed by a single, continuous lightweight gridshell, the largest of this type of structure ever built with spans reaching up to 170 meters. By utilizing a single airport terminal, passengers will not need to travel on internal train services or underground tunnels, and the design of the building ensures shorter walking distances and few changes of level, all making for a more relaxing experience for users.
The building is designed to be the world’s most sustainable airport, with the single lightweight shell using far less material than a cluster of buildings, and cooling and ventilation strategies that require little to no mechanical assistance for most of the year.
More details of the design after the break
Our friend Federico Babina’s latest illustrations blur the lines of art and architecture in this series: ARTISTECT. These 25 images, he explains, represent “possible and impossible encounters between artists and architects,” emphasizing the “probable and improbable connections between forms of expression and aesthetic languages sometimes distant and sometimes very close.”
In this exercise of overlapping styles, it is perhaps easier at first glance to identify the artist. But careful inspection of these stunning drawings reveals the idiosyncratic and stylistic tendencies of some of our most beloved architects.
Babina writes, “The project’s main idea is to reinterpret famous paintings using a brush soaked in architectural tints…These images are a metaphor for an imagined and imaginary dialogue between creative minds: Le Corbusier talks with Picasso and Kandinsky discusses with Wright… The wires that connect and intertwine this relations can be thin and transparent or robust and full-bodied.”
Take a look at the entire ARTISTECT series after the break. And don’t miss Federico Babina‘s other (very popular) illustration sets: ARCHISET, ARCHIMACHINE, ARCHIPORTRAIT, ARCHIST, ARCHIBET and ARCHICINE.
The third episode of Al Jazeera’s “Rebel Architecture” series takes us on a journey through the settlements and roads of the West Bank with London-based, Israeli architect, academic and writer, Eyal Weizman. In the 25-minute episode, Weizman shows the key role of architecture in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and talks about his latest project, Forensic Architecture, which uses damage to buildings as evidence for war crimes.
Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and a preview of upcoming episodes…
In a TED Talk from 2009, writer Elizabeth Gilbert muses about how uncomfortable she is with the assumption that “creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked.” The majority of Gilbert’s thoughtful and humorous monologue is about finding sanity amidst both success and failure, or in other words, about finding a way to break this link. Earlier this year, the University of Toronto Graduate Architecture Landscape and Design Student Union’s (GALDSU) set out to do just that – break the link between creativity and suffering at their school – and start a productive dialogue about mental health. GALDSU began by gathering the facts through a mental health study of their peers, the results of which we discussed several months ago.
To learn more about what’s happened at their school (and beyond) since it was published, we sat down with Joel Leon, the man who spearheaded the effort and the newly elected president of the student union, as well as Elise Hunchuck, the vice-president of the student union.
The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award is one of the most important and prestigious prizes for architecture within Europe. First established in 1987, the prize is awarded every two years, and a look at the projects over the years offers unique insight into the development of architecture across Europe. To better understand the significance and uniqueness of the award we spoke with two previous award winners – Kjetil Trædal Thorsen and Craig Dykers from Snøhetta and Dominique Perrault from Dominique Perrault Architecture – as well as Peter Cachola Schmal, an architect, critic and the director of DAM, the German Architecture Musuem, and Josep Lluís Mateo of Mateo Arquitectura and a professor of Architecture and Projects at ETH-Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule/ Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.
“This is the special thing about the Mies jury, that they do visit the top 5 projects, and see first-hand what this piece of architecture is about. And then they vote, which means the jury really knows what they’re voting about,” Peter Cachola Schmal noted.
“It’s a prize for a project, rather than a prize for an architect,” Kjetil Trædal Thorsen added.
Read on after the break for more on the Mies van der Rohe award and to see what the architects had to say about the importance of archives…
For the past few weeks, events in Ferguson, Missouri have prompted many debates over what can or should be done to ease tensions in this suburb of St Louis. But Bob Hansman, a professor at the Washington University in St Louis, is taking a different approach: understanding it first. This interview with Hansman, originally published on the Washington University in St Louis Newsroom, unearths a few of the issues that have made some areas of St Louis so severely dispossessed.
“Today isn’t this,” he growls. “Get ready.”
Discover more about the work of Hansman after the break.
“Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 is an invitation to the national pavilions to show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in architecture in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language and a single repertoire of typologies.” In this article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as “Whose Modernity?“, Avinash Rajagopal investigates the conflict this mandated theme at the 2014 Venice Biennale unintentionally created between the Northern and Southern pavilions - with Northern pavilions tending to declare sole ownership over Modernism and many Southern pavilions denying that their countries were passive recipients of the North’s globalization. For more on how the Southern pavilions challenged the typical conveyance of architectural history, continue reading after the break.
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.”
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.
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
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 art and design in Norway and serve as a cultural hub for locals and tourists alike. Learn more about the project and see the proposed design after the break.