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 Architecture + Planning, this article explores the potential of merging and , 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. Rem Koolhaas, 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 architecture, 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 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 © Wilkinson Eyre Architects 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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Galvanizing a Legacy: FAT’s Final Built Work is Unveiled

© Dave King / Channel 4 Television

The scaffolding has come down, revealing the first glimpse of FAT‘s extraordinary A House For Essex. Designed in collaboration with British ceramic artist Grayson Perry and commissioned by Alain de Botton’s alternative holiday rental project Living Architecture, the house will be the final built work that FAT complete. The bejewelled two bedroom dwelling, topped with a shimmering golden copper alloy roof and clad in glinting green and white tiles, sits in the rolling landscape of Essex – Charles Holland (FAT) and Perry’s home county. Adorned with sculptures integrated into a wider narrative that spatially recounts the life of a fictional character called Julie, the barn-like shape, bold colours and decoration has not simply garnered widespread attention but has also captured people’s curiosity.

Find out more about the project in an interview with the architect after the break.

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Could Detroit’s Most Remarkable Ruin Finally Have a Future?

© Flickr user Vishal Patel via Huffington Post

Originally posted on the Huffington Post’s Home Section as “How a Historic Movie Palace Became America’s Most Unusual Parking Garage,” this article tells of both the history and the possible future of the Michigan Theater – once one of ’s most opulent nights out, but now a crumbling (albeit oddly magnificent) garage. Emblematic of the city’s rapid decline, it turns out the recently-purchased Michigan Theater may also be a symbol of the city’s regeneration.

An inventor’s workshop. A movie palace. A rock club. A car park. A skate park. The backdrop for Eminem videos. Now it’s one of America‘s strangest parking garages, but a peek inside the Michigan Theatre reveals why it’s remained a landmark — and has a unique story that explains a lot about the importance of preserving cities’ historic architecture.

The former theater is attached to the Michigan Building, a partially occupied office tower, and might look familiar to some who have sought out urban decay photos. There’s something radically visceral about cars parked in the garage under the crumbling but ornately decorated ceilings of the site that in its heyday hosted legends like the Marx Brothers, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Doris Day.

Read more on the theater’s unusual, inspiring story after the break

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Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 8

Heydar Aliyev Center / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Hélène Binet

We will be publishing ’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. The following chapter outlines architecture’s connection to biology, and how biology influences our perception of form. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

The idea of a biological connection to architecture has been used in turn by traditional architects, modernists, postmodernists, deconstructivists, and naturally, the “organic form” architects. One might say that architecture’s proposed link to biology is used to support any architectural style whatsoever. When it is applied so generally, then the biological connection loses its value, or at least becomes so confused as to be meaningless. Is there a way to clear up the resulting contradiction and confusion?

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Fourteen Tower Proposals Unveiled for Controversial Brooklyn Bridge Park Development

S9 Architecture’s proposal. Image Courtesy of Park Corporation via Architects Newspaper

New York City have released images of fourteen tower proposals as part of a controversial scheme to bring affordable housing to the 85 acre Brooklyn Bridge Park, originally designed by Michael van Valkenburgh and realised in 2004. The schemes, designed to be located on “two coveted development sites” on Pier 6, have been actively met with strong opposition from local community members. The park and surrounding area has seen a number of interesting recent regeneration proposals, from an 11,000ft² beach beneath the Brooklyn Bridge to a triangular pier proposed by BIG. Read on to see the proposals in detail, including those by AsymptotePelli Clarke Pelli, Davis Brody Bond, and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).

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Animal Printheads, Biomimicry and More: How Nature Will Shape the Built Environment of the Future

© John Becker

Biomimicry is quickly emerging as one of the next architectural frontiers. New manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, coupled with the drive to make buildings more environmentally sustainable, have led to a wave of projects that are derived from natural phenomena or even constructed with biological materials. A recent example of this trend is “Hy-Fi,” this summer’s MoMA PS1 design that is constructed of organic and compostable eco-bricks. Other projects such as MIT Media Lab’s Silk Pavilion have taken biological innovation a step further by actually using a biometric construction processes – around 6,500 silkworms wove the Silk Pavilion’s membrane. “Animal Printheads,” as Geoff Manaugh calls them in his article “Architecture-By-Bee and Other Animal Printheads,” have already proven to be a viable part of the manufacturing process in art, and perhaps in the future, the built environment as well. But what happens when humans engineer animals to 3D print other materials?

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AD Interviews: Rahul Mehrotra / RMA Architects

On his recent visit to Santiago, Chile we caught up with Rahul Mehrotra, founder of -based RMA Architects and a professor of Urban Design and Planning at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Mehrotra is known for his advocacy work in Mumbai and has carried out projects on a myriad of scales including interior design, architecture, urban design, conservation and planning. His projects include everything from a house on a tea plantation to a campus for NGO Magic Bus, the KMC Corporate Office in Hyderabad and housing for mahouts and their elephants. Mehrotra has also written and lectured extensively on architecture, conservation and urban planning in Mumbai and India.

“I think that the most important issue facing architects and architecture–generally, around the world–is the question of inequity,” Mehrotra told us. “I think architecture is a deadly instrument in hardening the boundaries between the communities in society. It hardens thresholds very easily; we don’t realize it.” In the full interview, Mehrotra speaks more on inequity, what architecture means to him and how his practice and teaching inform each other.

A Photographic Journey Through Zollverein: Post-Industrial Landscape Turned Machine-Age Playground

The “Skywheel” attraction. Image © Gili Merin

Derelict urban landscapes and abandoned spaces have always attracted adventurous explorers, searching for a peek into the world of a fallen industrial dystopia. That desire can be fulfilled by a visit to the Zollverein complex in Essen, Germany: once Europe’s largest coal mine, Zeche Zollverein was transformed over 25 years into an architectural paradise. Contributions by Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and SANAA are included in the 100-hectare park; overwhelming in its complexity, the estate includes rusty pipes, colossal coal ovens and tall chimneys, inviting over 500,000 people per day to gain an insight into the golden age of European heavy-industry.

Join us for a photographic journey through this machine-age playground, after the break…

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New Images Released of Krumbach, Austria’s Famous Bus Stops

© Hufton + Crow

What happens when seven internationally acclaimed architects are invited to design sculptural bus stops for a tiny Austrian village of 1000 inhabitants? Collaborating with local architects and utilizing local to design the pavilions, Alexander Brodsky, Rintala Eggertsson, Ensamble Studio, Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu, Smiljan Radic, Sou Fujimoto, and Wang Shu’s Amateur Architecture Studio worked with Austria’s Verein Kultur Krumbach to carry out the BUS:STOP project and usher in a unique new facet of culture to Krumbach. We brought you images of the design proposals earlier, and now we have photos of the incredible results: Hufton + Crow has just released a stunning new set of images showcasing the completed bus stops.

Hufton + Crow’s brilliant photography captures the inimitable originality and sensational quality of the uniquely crafted pavilions embedded within the Austrian landscape. Immerse yourself in Krumbach and check out the latest images after the break.

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Hello Wood 2014 Invites Student Teams to ‘Play With Balance’

© Tamás Bujnovszky

Set in the bucolic fields of Csórompuszta in the Hungarian countryside, the annual Hello Wood camp was recently back for its fifth year. Every year, students have one week to create wooden installations under the instruction of specially selected tutors, each of whom provide an outline idea of a project in response to a theme. This time around the challenge from the organizers was to “play with balance,” which generated ideas that investigated the balance between opposing concepts – but also generated a whole lot of play, too. See all 14 of the weird and wonderful results after the break.

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Renzo Piano Explains How To Design the Perfect Museum

The new Whitney Museum building, seen from the West Side Highway in July. Image © Paul Clemence

In the following article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as Q&A: Renzo Piano, Paul Clemence talks with the Italian master of museum design about the design process and philosophies that have brought him such tremendous success in the field – from sketching, to behaving with civility, to buildings that ‘fly’, Piano explains what makes the perfect museum.

There’s a reason why Renzo Piano is known as the master of museum design. The architect has designed 25 of them, 14 in the US alone. Few architects understand as well as Piano—along with his practice, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)—what board directors, curators, and even the visiting public needs and wants in a cultural institution like a museum. When I spoke with Donna de Salvo, chief curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, whose new downtown digs were authored by RPBW she remarked on the how the curators’ input was often incorporated into the final building design. “Our curators and the architects had an ongoing dialogue throughout the design of this building,” de Salvo says. “The physical needs of the art were a priority for Renzo and his team, down to the most seemingly minute detail. Our curatorial voice was central to the discussion and has given us a terrifically dynamic building, a uniquely responsive array of spaces for art.”

But what often goes unmentioned is how well Piano’s buildings, particularly his museums, connect to their surroundings. The buildings not only perform well, but they integrate themselves into the life of the city, as if they have always been there. From Beaubourg to The New York Times Building, they fully embrace the space and energy of their urban contexts. Now, as two of his newest and very high-profile museum projects near completion—the renovation and expansion of the Harvard Art Museums (due to open this Fall) and the Whitney Museum of Art (expected to be in use by Spring 2015)—I had a chance to meet with Piano at his Meatpacking District office to talk about the creative process, criticisms, contemporary architecture, and “flying” buildings.

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Top 300 US Architecture Firms

This project from top-ranked firm Gensler (in collaboration with the HGMY Consortium) will double the size of Korea’s Incheon Airport. The project broke ground in 2013. Image Courtesy of Gensler

Architectural Record has released its annual list of the “Top 300 Architecture Firms” in the United States, based on architectural revenue from 2013. Gensler was the number one firm earning $883 million, with recent projects including Terminal 2 of Korea’s Incheon International Airport and the Shanghai Tower, which is set to be the world’s second tallest skyscraper.  CH2M Hill and AECOM Technology Corp came in second and third, respectively, switching places from the previous year.

See the top 50 firms after the break…

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Shelf Life: 33 Book Recommendations From Architects & Designers

Three Love Problems from George Eliot’s Middlemarch, by Stephen Doyle. Photo: Stephen Doyle

Architects often don’t make time to read. Students and professionals alike will admit that the unread books on their shelves outnumber the ones they’ve read - which is unfortunate because literary contributions to the field of architecture, from Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, have shaped the way we build and use buildings for centuries. With this in mind, ArchitectureBoston polled their readers, asking them to share their favorite architecture and design titles, to compile a list of important architecture books you should set aside some time for. The list covers a wide range of subjects, from historical theory to the practicalities of starting a firm. See all thirty-three titles, after the break.

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Users Create the Color in this Super-Sized Kaleidoscope

Courtesy of Shirane-Miyazaki

2013 KOBE Biennale visitors had the opportunity to experience the magic of a kaleidoscope in a whole new way thanks to Saya Miyazaki and Masakazu Shiranes’ award-winning . The psychedelic polyhedral was designed for the Art Container Contest, which challenged participants to create interesting environments within the confines of a single . As visitors meandered through the , they became active participants – rather than passive observers – in the kaleidoscope’s constantly changing appearance. For more images and information, continue after the break.

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Case Study: The Unspoken Rules of Favela Construction

© Solène Veysseyre

“Building a house takes time and money,“ said Marcio, a local resident of Complexo do Alemão, one of Rio de Janeiro’s numerous , as he showed me around his house. This is why a house is often built over several generations: a floor may be laid, columns erected (rebar protruding), and a thin tin roof placed, but this is just to mark where the next builder should finish the job. “Constructing a roof with tiles is not a sign of wealth here — rather, it means that there’s not enough money to continue constructing the house,” explains Manoe Ruhe, a Dutch urban planner who has lived in the favela for the last six months.

An architect who has always been fascinated by the way people live, I had come to do a residency at Barraco # 55, a cultural center in Complexo do Alemão, in order to learn how its citizens went about building their communities. I had many questions: are there rules of construction? What are the common characteristics of each house? Do they follow the same typology? How are the interiors of the homes? What construction techniques and what are used?

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