New Details Released of Norman Foster and Fernando Romero’s Designs for Mexico City’s New Airport

Image Captured from via Foster + Partners

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

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ARTISTECT: Famous Paintings With An Architectural Twist

Federico Babina’s latest series: ARTISTECT

Our friend Federico Babina’s latest illustrations blur the lines of 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, ARCHIMACHINEARCHIPORTRAIT, ARCHIST, ARCHIBET and ARCHICINE.

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Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture: Episode 3, “The Architecture of Violence”

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…

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Interview: Behind the Scenes of the University of Toronto’s Mental Health Report

Courtesy of

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.

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AD Interviews: European Architects on the Mies van der Rohe Award

The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award is one of the most important and prestigious prizes for architecture within . 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 and to see what the architects had to say about the importance of archives…

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Understanding St Louis: The Activism of Bob Hansman

Pruitt Igoe was just one step of the process that led to St Louis’ current state. Image by US Geological Survey via Flickr CC User Michael Allen

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.

It’s 10am, and Bob Hansman is on a bus addressing students, brandishing a St. Louis guidebook like a prosecutor at trial.

“Today isn’t this,” he growls. “Get ready.”

Discover more about the work of Hansman after the break.

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The Conflict Between the Global North and South at the 2014 Venice Biennale

A view from the floor of the Latvian pavilion. The sheets of paper carry images of Modernist buildings; the ceiling asks, “There is no in Latvia”, commenting on the lack of historical scholarship. Image Courtesy of NRJA

“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.

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Video: Sheppard Robson Underlines Importance of Hand Sketching

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.”

The Critics Speak: 6 Reasons why Hadid Shouldn’t Have Sued the New York Review of Books

© ZHA

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.

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Light Matters: Whiteness in Nordic Countries

Dybkær Church, Silkeborg, . Architecture: Regnbuen Arkitekter. Image © 2010

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

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Design Revealed for Norway’s New National Arts Museum

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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 and serve as a cultural hub for locals and tourists alike. Learn more about the project and see the proposed design after the break.

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BIG Designs Rejected Again for Kimball Art Center

Revised design for the Kimball Art Center. Image Courtesy of

After producing major revisions on a previously rejected design, BIG have had their second design rejected for the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. City Hall rejected the design on the basis of appearance, arguing that it did not relate to the historic city centre “aesthetically, visually or historically.” The second design by BIG marked a complete departure from the original that was selected as the winner of an architectural contest hosted by the Kimball Art Center.

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Translating Smiljan Radić’s Serpentine Pavilion from Fantasy to Fabrication

The use of fiberglass allowed for the pavilion to be thin and brittle, but also had the strength to span a large face. The pigment made it fire retardant. Image Courtesy of Louis Webb Bird/

Settled neatly in the quiet hum of London‘s Kensington Gardens rests Smiljan Radić‘s 2014 Serpentine Pavilion, an ethereal mass of carefully moulded fiberglass punctuated by precisely cut openings. Radić desired a structure that appears thin and brittle, yet was strong enough to support itself, and his affection for the rudimental layered qualities of papier-mâché – his maquette medium of choice – inspired the use of fiberglass by AECOM, who engineered Radić’s wild ideas. In this article, originally published by as “Paper-Thin Walls, an AECOM engineer explains their solution. Read on after the break to find out more. 

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Artist Mark Lascelles Thornton On His Completed Masterwork: “The Happiness Machine”

All 8 panels of The Happiness Machine. Image ©

Over a year ago, we shared a work-in-progress drawing project that captured our imagination with its combination of huge size and meticulously small details. Now, “The Happiness Machine,Mark Lascelles Thornton‘s 8-foot by 5-foot, three year long drawing project is complete, after over 10,000 hours of painstaking work.

Lascelles Thornton, a self-taught London-based artist who describes himself as “one of those kids that was drawing before I was talking,” created the artwork as a response to the global financial crisis, focusing on themes of socio-economics, consumerism, globalism, resource shortages, urbanism and architecture. We spoke to Lascelles Thornton about his artwork, discussing the themes of the piece and the commitment – or, as he describes it, “emotional engineering” – required for such a colossal undertaking.

For the full interview – and detailed images of the drawing – read on after the break

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OMA’s Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) Tops Out

Courtesy of ; Photography by Philippe Ruault

OMA‘s Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) has topped out in a ceremony including Taipei’s mayor Hau Lung-pin, and OMA’s Partners in charge of the project, Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten. Even in its current skeletal state, the rigidly geometric form is clearly expressed with it’s central cube supporting three protruding auditoriums, two cubic and one spherical. The design of the TPAC is in many ways experimental, incorporating a looped public path which shows off the building’s backstage areas, and flexible auditoriums which can even be combined, offering extraordinary stage spaces that allow performances which would be impossible in any other theater.

Ahead of the topping out ceremony we spoke to partner in charge David Gianotten, who explained the building’s design concepts and the challenges (or rather, surprising lack of challenges) in the construction, and told us “you will only understand it when you have seen it. It’s super exciting, we encourage everybody that loves architecture to come and see it because it’s spectacular.”

Read on after the break for the full interview

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Is Bigger Better? HOK’s Acquisition of 360 Architecture and How Mergers Have Changed the Business of Design

World Expo 2020 Master Plan. Image Courtesy of

International design, architecture, and planning firm HOK has recently announced its plan to acquire 360 Architecture, a firm specializing in sports facility design. With HOK’s global influence and 360 Architecture’s expertise, the acquisition could bring about significant advances in sports facility design and expand the market reach for each firm. When it comes to the business of architecture, acquisitions such as this often enable large corporate firms to take on a wider variety of projects, giving them a competitive edge against famous designer names in the industry. But what else can we learn from the growth of the world’s largest firms?

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Invisible Solar Harvesting Technology Becomes Reality

Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. Image © Yimu Zhao

Solar harvesting systems don’t need to be glaringly obvious. In fact, now they can even be invisible, thanks to researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) who have developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) that can be applied to windows or anything else with a clear surface.

LSC technology is nothing new, but the transparent aspect is. Previous attempts yielded inefficient results with brightly colored materials, and as researcher Richard Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and science at MSU, puts it, “No one wants to sit behind colored glass.” To learn how Lunt and the rest of the research team achieved transparency, keep reading after the break.

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What Gentrification Really Is, and How We Can Avoid It

Photo of Noe Valley, a low-density, high-income neighborhood, by Allan Ferguson

is seen as a rising menace in many cities. The process whereby rich “gentrifiers” move into neighborhoods, driving up property prices and thus driving out those unable to afford those prices, has drawn criticism from activists and planners for years. However, this article by writer Annalee Newitz, first published by io9 as “This is What Gentrification Really Is“, tells us that the issue is not quite the struggle between good and evil that it first appears to be. Gentrification is a process dependent on economy, political climate, and the mercurial nature of urban development itself – and sometimes fighting against it only serves to exacerbate the problem. Find out what we can do in the face of gentrification after the break.

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