Studio CTC Imagines Terraced Twin Skyscrapers in Hong Kong

© Studio CACHOUA TORRES CAMILLETTI

have developed a typical form language over the past century—many of them are large, rectangular, and sheathed in glass, but Studio CACHOUA TORRES CAMILLETTI is changing that. Working with the notion that even superstructures should be as varied as the cities they’re built in, the Mexican design firm has created a spectacular vision for a skyscraper in Hong Kong. With two curvilinear towers that support rice paddies on their terraces, the proposal includes cultural context in the very structure of the building.

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Interview with Qi Xin of Qi Xin Architects and Engineers

Olympic Park Siheyuan / . Image © Pier Alessio Rizzardi

Architecture is not important. You can make a microclimate or situation, but you cannot have more influence about life or the urban situation, it’s just a very small operation you are working on, and you cannot control the situation of the city.. But even if you are just working on a single object here, you can always try to have more or less a positive influence on the city, you can always contribute in your way to the city, to the citizens. But in a larger view it’s not that important; it’s you or somebody else. The people are happy or not, their happiness is not relying on your architecture.” – Qi Xin, Beijing, 2013

Shedding light on topics from China‘s rapid urbanization to the issue of copycat architecture, this interview of Chinese architect Qi Xin conducted by Pier Alessio Rizzardi questions the role of architecture in Chinese society, and reveals the mindset of the modern Chinese architect. Qi Xin’s answers challenge many of the myths surrounding Chinese architecture, often through one-line gems such as “what is permanent for Chinese people is the spirit, not material,” and “the most important thing is that we don’t know where we are going… we are making the future cities.”

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A City Without Cars: New York’s Recovery from Automobile Dominance

© Flickr CC User Healey McFabulous

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Playing in Traffic“, this article by Jack Hockenberry delves into the relationship between man and vehicle, illustrating the complex dynamic created in New York – a city with over 2.1 Million registered vehicles. Contrary to the car-centric schemes of New York’s infamous former Master Planner Robert Moses, Hockenberry argues that the city is the “negative space” while vehicles are obscured by our unconscious. 

It is a curiosity of modern urban life that the more cars crowd into cities, the more they become invisible. It’s a great feature that comes standard on any model these days. Unfortunately we can’t control it from the driver’s seat—however much we would like to wave our hands and watch through our windshields as gridlocked cars disappear, liberating us from traffic imprisonment. The invisibility I am speaking about only works if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist. The number of motorized vehicles parked or driving at any given moment on the streets of New York City is astounding. An estimated 2.1 million are registered in the city, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Yet we never fully register them visually when we’re walking on the streets. The city is the negative space and that is how our eyes increasingly navigate urban landscapes. Everything around the cars and trucks gets knitted together by the eye and, even though the vehicles are present, we have gradually learned to ignore them unless we’re standing in the direct line of moving traffic.

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Bjarke Ingels Lays Foundation Brick at LEGO House

BIG‘s LEGO House is now under construction, following a one of a kind foundation laying ceremony featuring – what else – supersized  bricks. Bjarke Ingels himself was in attendance to lay one of the foundation bricks. Constructed in LEGO‘s hometown of Billund, Denmark, the LEGO House will be a 12,000 square metre “hands-on minds-on experience centre.”

More on the LEGO House, and the foundation laying ceremony, after the break

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A New Architectural Style for the Age of the Individual

MVRDV’s Silodam in Amsterdam. Image © Flickr CC User pnwbot

As modernist architects broke free from vernacular architecture and developed a homogenized international style, many created sterile spaces and places out of touch with the decorative warmth of historical forms of human inhabitation. Negative reactions to the brutality of Modernist spaces encouraged architectural movements such as post-modernism and deconstructivism, but these never managed to usurp the rational modernist box as a dominant architectural paradigm.

However, the intended machine-like precision of these buildings has often become unintentionally humanized over time, through the addition of curtains, coloring, or even through accidental breakage and imperfect repairs or alterations. I believe that building on the successes and failures of has spawned a new and previously unclassified architectural style: Pixelism. Find out what this new phenomenon is after the break.

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State of Exception: Spacelab’s Weekend Monditalia Special

Courtesy of Spacelab

From August 23-24, Italian architecture firm Spacelab’s State of Exception curatorial project will be featured at the Monditalia section of the 2014 Venice Biennale. State of Exception will involve 12 intellectuals, designers and bloggers in a two-day round table discussion on the themes of the project: conservation and the state of exception, looking both within and outside Italy. The innovative event also seeks to generate involvement and discussion beyond the walls of the Arsenale, and will feature an open call for images representing the event’s core themes via Instagram and Twitter.

As one of the countries with the most significant historic and natural heritage in the world, Italy implemented bodies and strict regulations for its over a century ago. “But conservation for conservation spawned two paradoxes: on the one hand the unruly entropic drift for anything that is not covered by the rules of . On the other hand, autistic immobility within the enclaves of conservation, which don’t allow the freshness and openness to the differences that have always marked the history of Italian architecture,” Spacelab writes in a project description. Through State of Exception, Spacelab seeks “to promote ‘ad absurdum’ arguments regarding Italy’s problematic relationship with its context and its historical legacy,” bringing attention to these issues both inside and outside Italy.

For more details on State of Exception and to find out how you can contribute images, read on after the break…

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25 Free Architecture Books You Can Read Online

If you don’t have access to an library (and even if you do), sifting through shelves can take hours. Buying books can be even more painful — for your wallet, at least. Instead, why not browse this list of 25 books that are all free and easily accessible online? Some are well-known classics of , but we hope you find a few surprises as well.

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34 Football Fields of Museums: Rem Koolhaas Talks at the Galeries Lafayette

“I feel a misfit in my own time,” says Rem Koolhaas, setting the tone. Seated in soon-to-be renovated Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Koolhaas bares all intellectually through the course of his lecture. As founder of Rotterdam-based OMA with a worldwide practice, candid conversations with Koolhaas are rare. The discussion provides a glimpse into the creative process of one of the world’s leading architects and current Curator of the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Koolhaas confides in the audience from the outset, admitting his discomfort with current architecture. “From the inside of my current condition, I feel profoundly out of step with the contemporary situation,” says Koolhaas, adding ”I’m very annoyed by the contemporary belief in comfort as the ultimate virtue.”

Read on after the break for more summary of the fascinating lecture

Koolhaas stands at the intersection of art and architecture, deliberating on the evolution of museum design. Using the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern by Herzog & de Meuron as an example, Koolhaas states: “In order to fill spaces like this, artists are forced into an apocalyptic mode as only very strong emotions register – this is not a space you can fill with delicacy.” Koolhaas’ solution to the apocalyptic problem can be found in his recent design for the renovation of Galeries Lafayette, a heritage protected building in with zero tolerance for structural modification. The design calls for movable floors installed in a steel-framed courtyard – the only intervention available in the listed building. “The beauty of preservation is that it begins with acknowledging that another architecture is worth keeping,” concludes Koolhaas.

China’s “City-Making Process”: Investors’ Power in the People’s Republic

Real estate in Shanghai. Image © Pier Alessio Rizzardi

The world is looking at the urban machine of Chinese cities, at the newly founded theme-cities and at the new urban economic investment areas around the cities. The buildings are repetitive, the areas are sometimes uninhabited, but the thing that leaves urban planners, architects and the public amazed is that these buildings are often completely sold out even before they are completed.

To buy these freshly constructed residences takes money, and over the last three decades the Chinese economic miracle served precisely to grow the per capita income. The reform of the economic system in 1978 was the driving force that triggered the mechanism of capital production. The reform led to millions of people migrating to the cities from the underdeveloped west of the country in search of higher salaries and a well-founded hope of revolutionizing their economic existence.

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Beyond Ruin Porn: What’s Behind Our Obsession with Decay?

Historic mill city in downtown Minneapolis. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC License / Joey Lax-Salinas

Lately, architects are sharing an increasing captivation with ruins. As our technologies for envisioning the buildings of the future become ever-more accurate – enabling us not only to walk through, hover over, and inhabit walls, but also to calculate exact quantities of materials, structural load capacities and costs – our fascination for ruin, a process that is governed by laws of nature and time in a manner that is spatially unpredictable and rarely uniform, has also seen a rise in popularity.

Blogs such as Ruin Porn, Abandoned America and Architecture of Doom draw from a recent sub-genre of photography, identified as ‘ruins photography’ or ‘ruin porn’. While buildings can go into decay for many reasons, these images tend to focus on urban decay, especially in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Berlin, which saw a surge of industrialization in the last century that has since dwindled.

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Video: The Elevated London That Almost Was

Inspired by an article written by in 1993, Chris Bevan Lee’s forty minute documentary explores the elevated post-war infrastructural redevelopment of the City of , fragments of which still stand across the square mile today. The Pedway: Elevating London examines London planners’ attempt to build an ambitious network of elevated walkways through the city that largely never saw completion. In a carefully produced film those ’pedways’ that remain are photographed and discussed as symbols of a utopia that almost was.

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This Public Toilet has a Periscope That Offers a Serene Sea View

Courtesy of Adam Wiercinski Architekt

The terms “public toilet” and “seaside periscope” don’t usually go hand in hand. However, Adam Wiercinski has drawn inspiration from the location of his project in Gdynia, Poland, on the coast of the Baltic Sea to create a concept for a building that both mimics and observes. Choosing to focus on extensive views over the sea front, Wiercinski aimed to imbue users with a sense of tranquility by designing a serene public facility embodying the powerful, elemental nature of the sea.

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First Job Hunt: Does Size Matter?

Courtesy of Wikipedia User Mdd

students are constantly beset by questions concerning where they want to work, and for what type of firm – and these two questions often boil down to a decision concerning the size of the firm they want to work for. This article, originally posted on Arch Shortcuts thankfully makes this difficult choice a little easier. In it, blog Co-Founder Udit Goel reviews the pros and cons of firms and small firms, including compensation, expected working hours, and responsibilities. Read the full article, after the break.

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Infographic: What Do European Architects Actually Do?

Courtesy of

Though the professional practice of  can be broadly defined, we often just focus on the design work in relation to the completed building, leaving behind other areas in which architects find more opportunities. In this infographic created by OMA in preparation for the Monditalia exhibition at the Venice Biennale, we see how the professional activities are distributed among these sub-areas such as planning, landscape design, interior design and feasibility studies–a relationship which can also allow us to extrapolate the outcomes and products that emerge from these countries.

Click the infographic to get a closer look and browse the projects we’ve published from the represented countries:

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Merging Bamboo & Concrete for the Emerging World

© Hannah Ahlblad

Developed by Hannah Ahlblad, a recent graduate of Wellesley College cross-registered at MIT’s School of + Planning, this article explores the potential of merging and concrete, harnessing the strengths of both materials to create a sustainable, durable and affordable material for use in developing countries. Hannah’s project was created in conclusion to the semester-long emergent materials elective taught by Professor John E. Fernández, Director of MIT’s Building Technology Program.

In the rapidly developing economies of East Asia and Latin America, urban architecture often seeks to combine the local heritage with the prestige of Western contemporary form and practices. The materials used in urban areas of these growing cities follow the steel, glass, and concrete technology used elsewhere. Usually, emerging materials research looks at the structural properties and applications of materials under scientific development. Less consideration has been given to ancient building materials and their interaction with today’s engineering.

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How a San Francisco Architect Reframes Design for the Blind

Downey uses thin wax sticks to create tactile sketches. Image © Patricia Chang

San Francisco architect Chris Downey is changing how design is employed for people with disabilities and redefining how architects can approach accessible design. In this article by Lamar Anderson on Curbed, we learn about how Downey has developed his own design methods and utilizes his rare skillset to draw attention to what architects often miss when designing for the public. 

Architect  is standing next to a pile of Sheetrock, balancing a white cane in the air like a tightrope walker’s pole. The week before, construction had begun on a new office for the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco, or ILRC, a nonprofit community center for people with disabilities. Downey holds the cane up to approximate for the center’s executive director, Jessie Lorenz, how the reception desk will jut out at an angle from a column. Lorenz takes a step, and a pile of pipes on the floor clatters. “I don’t know what’s over there,” says Downey. Lorenz giggles. “I hope I didn’t break anything,” she says. Lorenz regains her footing and touches the cane. “That makes sense,” she says. “It’s almost like we’re funneling people into this part.”

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Venice Biennale 2014: Rem Koolhaas in Conversation with Charles Brooking

During the frenzied press preview of the Venice Biennale, the ArchDaily team received an unexpected and delightfully odd request. , the subject of interviews with countless media outlets, was going to turn the tables. This time, he would be the one asking the questions. He wanted to show his appreciation for the work of Charles Brooking and The Brooking National Collection.

A collector from a young age, Charles Brooking was encouraged by a tutor to pursue his love of rescuing discarded building parents (elements of , if you will). He founded the collection in 1966 and, in the process, has “chart[ed] the evolution of Britain’s constructional elements over the last 500 years.” Though Brooking’s collection of approximately half a million items contains everything from fire grates to stairs and shoe-stoppers to postboxes, the OMA exhibition highlights the evolution of the window.

With the development of better-insulated alternatives, Brooking’s collection of windows continues to grow. In fact, it is precisely this dialogue between old and new that is emphasized in the Windows room in the exhibition: Brooking’s window collection graces a wall that surrounds current high-tech window-building machinery. As we (architects, clients, users) engage in a relentless pursuit of uniformed comfort, especially when it comes to architectural detailing, Koolhaas asked Brooking what he thought this meant for the “the very things we want to preserve.” He asks Brooking, “Are you willing to suffer for the principle of authenticity and preservation?”

Watch Brooking and Koolhaas in conversation in the above video, and be sure to check out our coverage of the Elements of Architecture exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale.

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Images Leaked of Major Development at Toronto’s Union Station

Looking Southeast toward the development. Image © for Hines; via UrbanToronto.ca

Details have been leaked of a major new development on the Southern edge of downtown Toronto, just East of Union Station. The scheme, uncovered by UrbanToronto and its inquisitive users, involves the connection of sites on both sides of the railway tracks, and will include three towers and a pedestrian bridge featuring a park and retail space. It is understood that Wilkinson Eyre are the architects, after BD confirmed last week that they have recently won a major competition in .

Read on for more details of the project

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