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.

(more…)

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 films provide invaluable insights into architects and architects throughout recent history.

Check out our favourite sources after the break.

(more…)

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

Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona . 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.

(more…)

Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller Easterling

Image courtesy of Verso Books.

The following is an excerpt from Keller Easterling’s latest publication, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space, which explores areas of infrastructure 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 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)

(more…)

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 video 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.”

(more…)

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

(more…)

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’.

(more…)

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 London 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).

(more…)

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.”

(more…)

Video: Gaetano Pesce on Architecture as Art

In this from Crane TV, Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce 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 modernism, 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.

(more…)

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

(more…)

Video: A Conversation with the Architects of the 9/11 Memorial Museum

“Typically, museums are icons that contain exhibits. This is the inverse: the exhibit is the icon.”

In this , architects Steven M. Davis, Mark Wagner, and Carl F. Krebs of Davis Brody Bond come together to discuss the design process and visitor experience of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Technical complexities and deeply emotional responses challenged the architects to craft an immersive experience of remembering. From the enormous scale of the site, to the celebration of the iconic surviving artifacts, the designers describe the overwhelming authenticity preserved by the memorial.

Wagner explains, “It pushed us architecturally, to not just look at the physical attributes, but to dive in emotionally… we need markers in our history, we need something to bring us back to that moment.” It is this authenticity and embedded emotive power that the architects aim to enhance. Watch the video above to listen in on the conversation.

Critical Round-Up: Renzo Piano’s Harvard Art Museums

© Nic Lehoux

With the opening of the Harvard Art Museums a week ago today, Renzo Piano was able to finally complete on a project which, in various guises, has been in progress for seventeen years. The relationship between Piano and Harvard began with a 1997 plan to build a new branch of the Fogg Museum on the Charles River and ended, after objections from locals and then the 2008 recession, in the decision to consolidate the university’s three museums (The Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M Sackler Museums) under one roof.

With its long history, restricted space, the listed facade of the original Fogg Museum and the ultimate difficult neighbor in Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the Harvard Art Museums project was inevitably going to cause a fuss on completion. So how did Piano do? Find out what the critics said after the break.

(more…)

Opinion: It Doesn’t Matter Who Owns Public Plazas

The dramatic entrance to the Richard Rogers-designed Leadenhall Building in London ostensibly invites pedestrians walking on the ground-level public plaza upwards. The building, however, is not so easily accessed. Image © Flickr CC User Matt Brown

When it comes to , many assume that while truly is always good, “privately owned ” is always bad. However, in this article originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “A Plaza is No Guarantee of Democracy,” NBBJ’s Carl Yost argues that the distinction is not so binary. As architects, it’s our job to smooth over the difference between the two, while we’re at work – but most importantly while we’re not.

The past few months have seen the opening of high-profile projects with contested public space. The Leadenhall Building, London’s “Cheesegrater,” rises above a public plaza that the Financial Times called “problematic,” with “an astonishing array of defensive measures to make it clear that while it may be open to the public, it is still ours” (that is, the landlord’s). In New York, the World Trade Center plaza has taken fire from critics, both domestic and international, who chafe at restrictions on visitors’ behavior.

It evokes the debate over “privately owned public space,” or POPS, that arose during Occupy Wall Street, when protesters camped out in Zuccotti Park, a Lower Manhattan plaza that is privately owned by Brookfield Office Properties yet must remain open to the public. Many rightly pointed out the restrictions that POPS pose to free speech and assembly, when owners can evict people they consider unwelcome.

(more…)

A+U Interviews Co-Founders of Google[x] Startup, Flux

A+u magazine was recently granted an exclusive interview with the co-founders of Flux, the [x] startup whose mission is to harness data to automate architectural and urban design. The discussion is one of 14 essays and interviews from leading urban technologists in the current November issue, Data-Driven Cities.

“We began our exploration with the premise that buildings and the sustainability of our modern lifestyle are deeply intertwined. In addition, buildings – more specifically, housing – is an issue of human dignity. We wanted to find ways to apply Google-scale thinking to tackle these important issues,” says co-founder Nicholas Chim in the interview.

Read on after the break for ’s full interview with Flux co-founders, Nicholas Chim and Michelle Kaufmann. And check out the November issue of , available in digital and print editions, which features new essays by Carlo Ratti (MIT), Dan Hill (City of Sound), Alastair Parvin (Wikihouse) and more.

(more…)

Audi Urban Future Award 2014: Transforming Urban Mobility Through “Data Donors”

© Audi Urban Future Iniative

Every two years Audi hosts the Audi Urban Future Award (AUFA), which challenges cities from different parts of the world to investigate future mobility trends and come up with innovative solutions. This year AUFA selected Mexico City, Boston, Berlin and Seoul to participate in the challenge and respond to the question: how will data shape mobility in the megacities of the future? These four groups were asked to create a vision for how their city could use data in a strategic way, taking into consideration innovative energy solutions, sustainability, feasibility and the potential for their ideas to be implemented in other cities.

Mexico City’s team took home first place with their “operative system for urban mobility,” which centered around a data platform that cities can use to structure their urban traffic planning. Their system was also based around the idea that citizens themselves can become “data donors” and use the system to make informed decisions on how they move about the city. The team was comprised of architect and urbanist José Castillo, researcher and the city government’s experimental lab “Laboratorio para la Ciudad.”

Learn more about the winning project after the break.

(more…)

Surface Mag Interviews Liz Diller on Architecture, Art, and Early “Aha” Moments

© Ungano + Agriodima

Below is an excerpt of the cover story of this month’s Surface magazine: an in-depth interview with Elizabeth Diller, published online for the first time here on ArchDaily.

The 35-year career of Elizabeth Diller, a founding partner of the New York–based architecture studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is a study of contrasts: conceptual and pragmatic, temporary and permanent, iconoclastic and institutional. After graduating from Cooper Union in 1979, Diller started her practice mounting temporary installations with her partner and future husband, Ricardo Scofidio, their interests leaning closer to art and theory than conventional buildings and construction. Today the duo—along with Charles Renfro, who became a partner in 2004—is responsible for some of the most important architectural projects in the country. DS+R counts Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (completed in 2006) and a makeover of New York’s Lincoln Center (finalized in 2012) among its highest-profile works. Especially influential, at least among architects and academics, has been the firm’s unbuilt Slow House (1991), a proposal for a residence on Long Island, , renowned for its examination of how we see in a media-saturated world.

One notices sharp contrasts not just in the firm’s work history but in its public reception as well. Widely lauded for repurposing a dilapidated elevated railway into New York City’s beloved High Line park (the third phase opened in September), DS+R received heavy criticism this year for its involvement in a major expansion proposal for the Museum of Modern Art. The museum’s plans included the demolition of its little-guy neighbor, the American Folk Art Museum; despite efforts to work the idiosyncratic building into the design scheme, Diller’s studio, hired to lead the expansion, ultimately acknowledged that the structure couldn’t be saved.

Surface recently met with Diller at her office in Manhattan to speak about the ensuing controversy, as well as early career experiences that have influenced her firm’s recent commissions for cultural institutions, including the current exhibition “Musings on a Glass Box” at the Cartier Foundation in Paris (through Feb. 25, 2015), a collaboration with composer David Lang and sound designer Jody Elff. Diller, 60, is pensive and surprisingly relaxed for someone whose aides are constantly interrupting her to remind her of meetings she has to attend. She speaks with an erudite inflection befitting her academic credentials and professional accolades (she is, after all, a professor at Princeton and a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient), though she smiles with the ease of an affable neighbor.

(more…)