Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 7

Jyvaskyla University, designed by Alvar Aalto, is commonly cited as an example of “Critical Regionalism.” However, according to Salingaros’ , “Critical Regionalism” does not go far enough in removing architecture from the influence of Modernist principles. Image © Nico Saieh

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, written by Salingaros and Kenneth G. Masden II, delves deeper into the limitations of current architectural philosophies, including “Critical Regionalism,” and justifies the creation of Intelligence-Based Design. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

As the architects of tomorrow, today’s students must come to understand the role and responsibility of their profession as something intrinsically tied to human existence and the lived experience. A new suggested educational system provides a direct means to design adaptive environments, in response to growing needs of the marketplace (client demand). Nevertheless, most architectural institutions continue to propagate a curricular model that has sustained an image-based method and its peculiar ideology for decades. We can trace this support to early twentieth-century anti-traditional movements. Reform is impossible without addressing the system’s long-forgotten ideological roots.

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AD Interviews: Barkow Leibinger / Kinetic Wall at the Venice Biennale

The room dedicated to the Wall at the 2014 Venice Biennale’s “Elements of Architecture” exhibition traces the development and evolution of walls over time, starting with archaic walls and ending with Barkow Leibinger’s “Kinetic Wall.”

It was here that we caught up with the Kinetic Wall’s architects, Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger, to learn more about the vision and thought process that went into the design of this expanding and retracting elastic wall.“It’s very ephemeral, very light, but an idea of a kind of maybe not too far away future, that’s spatial. It changes the space that we’re standing in by moving back and forth. It has a kind of front, it has a back, it’s a little tongue-in-cheek,” Barkow explained.

A series of motorized points extend and retract the wall’s translucent synthetic material, creating peaks and valleys. Two layers of gridded fabric produce a moiré effect, “a second scale of movement, that is translucent/ephemeral,” according to a project description on Barkow Leibinger’s website.

If you enjoyed this video interview make sure you check out the rest of our 2014 Venice Biennale coverage, here.

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Los Angeles: The River City?

The industrial corridor of the River at the Seventh Street bridge in downtown L.A., as photographed by Lane Barden for his Linear City Portfolio. Image Courtesy of Lane Barden

Did you know a 51-mile river runs through the city of Los Angeles? It might not be immediately recognizable as a river, but it’s there. In a drastic attempt to prevent flooding in the early 1900s, the Army Corps of Engineers essentially turned the entire river into a giant drainage channel by encasing it in concrete. This article, originally posted on Metropolis Magazine, investigates landscape architect ’s vision to remedy the situation by transforming the desolate space into a public greenway, and a celebrated feature of Los Angeles.

From the offices of Los Angeles–based landscape architect Mia Lehrer, located near the western edge of Koreatown, you might not even know that Los Angeles has a river. It’s not visible from here — instead we can see other things L.A. is known for: the Hollywood sign, traffic, billboards, a dense urban grid that runs forever. In fact, unless you are right up against it, you may not see the river at all. In its current form, it sits as the abandoned, Brutalist evidence of the city’s past battles with seasonal flooding, an expedient way to move water quickly to the sea. To many, it’s more like an urban-design crime scene of missed opportunities and missteps, begging to be corrected. If Lehrer has her way, it will be corrected so that Los Angeles, the city with the huge drainage channel, becomes Los Angeles, river city.

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Robert A.M. Stern Remembers Charles Moore

Moore House, Orinda, California, 1962. Image Courtesy of Morley Baer

Robert A.M. Stern, founder of his eponymous firm and dean of the Yale School of Architecture, remembers his colleague and friend Charles Moore in this article originally published by Metropolis Magazine. Stern writes about the details most would never know — including what it was like to be a guest in Moore’s home and his eating habits. Read on to learn about and their relationship over the years and Stern’s admiration for Moore.

As an architecture student at Yale editing Perspecta 9/10, I first met by telephone and through correspondence. I had come across his amazing early projects in the Italian magazine Casabella, and was intrigued by what I read about him and his partners — especially in a provocative essay by Donlyn Lyndon. I got in touch with Charles and he volunteered that he was interested in writing about Disneyland for the journal, leading to the publication of his justifiably famous article, “You Have to Pay for the Public Life,” as well as a portfolio of projects by his firm Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull, Whitaker.

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BIG Unveils Design For “Zootopia” In Denmark

Courtesy of BIG

Danish architects BIG ( Group) have just released ambitious designs for a zoo in Givskud, . It’s a project that provides an intriguing opportunity for, as BIG explains, the creation of a space with “the best possible and freest possible environment for the animals’ lives and relationships with each other and visitors.” The firm has been working for the past two years to make Zootopia what the Danish press is calling “the world’s most advanced zoo.” According to Givskud Zoo‘s director Richard Østerballe, the park’s transformation will benefit greatly from BIG’s fresh approach to design–one that has been characterized by the integration of nature and natural elements into cutting-edge, innovative architecture.

The project will attempt to “integrate and hide buildings” within the landscape. Upon entering the zoo, visitors can either enter a large central square or climb the “building-landscape,” allowing them to get a general overview of the layout of the park. From this central element, visitors can access different areas of the zoo. A 4km hiking trail connects the different areas (which represent the continents of Africa, America and Asia).

 The first phase is expected to be completed in 2019 to coincide with the park’s 50th anniversary.

Read on for more images and BIG’s project statement. 

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Video: Artist Animates 5 Iconic Modern Homes

Five of history’s most iconic modern houses are re-created as illustrations in this two-minute video created by Matteo Muci. Set to the tune of cleverly timed, light-hearted music, the animation constructs the houses piece-by-piece on playful pastel backgrounds. The five homes featured in the short but sweet video are Le Courbusier’s Villa Savoye, Gerrit Rietveld’s Rietveld Schröder House, ’s Farnsworth House, Philip Johnson’s Glass House and ’s Fallingwater.

When Architects Try Their Hand at Industrial Design

Getting locals involved helped Workshop to engender a sense of community in Tacloban as well as solve their practical problems. Image © Nelson Petilla

From Frank Lloyd Wright to Mies van der Rohe, many architects have dabbled in designing smaller-scale items. While some argue that industrial design is not an architect’s place, many would beg to differ. The following article, originally published on Design Curial, describes various architects involved with industrial design today.

Architects who take a break from the built environment and turn their attention to designing smaller items are most often driven – initially at least – by what they see as necessity. They struggle to find the right , signage or lighting for their interiors, and convince their client that they are the perfect people to design them.

Those architects quickly get a taste for the smaller scale then hunt down opportunities to design other items, in the hope that some may go into mass production. This is further fueled by those ‘big names’ who are approached by manufacturers to use their signature to brand the product. While there is a logic to this sequence of events, it still begs the question: why would anyone who can get commissioned to design a building bother with anything smaller?

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AD Interviews: Pedro Alonso, Curator of the Chilean Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

We had the chance to sit down with Pedro Alonso, one of the curators of the Chilean pavilion “Monolith Controversies,” at the 2014 Venice Biennale, to learn more about the concept and inspiration behind the Silver Lion-winning pavilion. “We were interested in demonstrating that architects didn’t absorb modernity, but rather, they supplied it. The ones who absorbed it were the workers and the people,” Alonso told us, outside of a replica of a Chilean apartment – the entrance to the Pavilion. “The absorption of modernity has to do with the pieces we are exhibiting. For example, this apartment, the apartment of Mrs. Silvia Gutiérrez in Viña del Mar, which is an exact replica – object by object- of the 518 things that make up her living room.”

Enter Gutiérrez’s apartment and the rest of the Chilean pavilion in the full interview with Alonso. And don’t forget to check out additional pictures and text from the curators in our coverage of the pavilion here.

5 Pros of Working Abroad in China

© Florian Delale

Have you ever considered working abroad in ? The thought may be daunting, but there are plenty of reasons why you should take that thought and turn it into a reality. Originally published on Arch-Shortcuts, here are five reasons to take the leap — as written by Arch-Shortcuts founder Chen Tang, an architect currently working in Hong Kong.

1. Bigger Projects

© Florian Delale

Forget about doing houses and deck extensions! Projects in China consist mainly of large schemes and developments – a small/medium sized project in China would be considered a significant project in other countries. You will be more focused on the overall image and conceptual design as opposed to intricate details – due to the short timelines of a project, which leads to our next point.

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Stirling Prize Winning Architects Build LEGO Cities for the London Festival of Architecture

Organised as part of the London Festival of Architecture. Image © Agnese Sanvito

As part of the 2014 London Festival of Architecture, teams of architects from the four of the most recent Stirling Prize winning British practices were challenged with creating the most imaginative piece of a city – out of LEGO. Each team began with a carefully laid out square on the floor of the largest gallery of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, at which point they were given just one hour and 45 minutes to create an urban masterpiece out of blocks. Each group of architects worked alongside students from the Royal Academy’s attRAct programme, which offers A-level art students the chance to engage with art and architecture. An esteemed panel of judges ultimately selected the team from Zaha Hadid Architects as victorious, who “considered London on a huge scale and used curving buildings of different typologies which echoed the shape of the Thames.”

Read more about the brief and the other participating entries after the break.

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(Re)Made in China: The Soviet-Era Planning Projects Shaping China’s Cities

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong. Image © Owen Lin under a CC licence

The following article, written by Jacob Dreyer and originally published in The Calvert Journal as “Maximum city: the vast projects of Soviet-era are being reborn in modern China,” analyzes a fascinating phenomenon: the exportation of Soviet urbanism — or rather Stalinist urbanism  shaping Chinese cities today. 

As I cycled to work on 20 May this year, the Yan’an Expressway — Shanghai’s crosstown artery, named after the utopian socialist city that was Mao Zedong’s 1940s stronghold — was eerily silent, cordoned off for a visit by President Vladimir Putin. We discovered the next day that the upshot of his visit was the signing a $400bn contract with China for the export of gas and petroleum. As President Barack Obama had once promised he would, Putin made a pivot to Asia, albeit on a slightly different axis. From Shanghai, the terms of the deal — which was immensely advantageous to China — made it seem as if Russia was voluntarily becoming a vassal-state of the People’s Republic, making a reality of both the predictions of Vladimir Sorokin’s dystopian fantasy novel Day of the Oprichnik and of Russian scare stories about Chinese immigrants flooding into Siberia.

The irony is that models of society imported from Russia during the Soviet period — as realised in popular culture, legal apparatuses and, of particular interest to the cyclist, in architecture and urban planning — are as influential as ever in China. If, as Chinese philosopher Wang Hui observed in his book The End of Revolution, Socialism was the door through which China passed on its voyage into modernity, then it was Russia that opened that door, by exporting models and expertise that laid the foundation for much of what constitutes modern China.

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Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 6

Bagsværd Church, by Jørn Utzon, is commonly cited as an example of “Critical Regionalism.” However, according to Salilngaros’ , “Critical Regionalism” does not go far enough in removing architecture from the influence of Modernist principles. Image © Flickr User seier + seier – http://www.flickr.com/photos/seier/

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 discusses the extent to which architecture can be considered successful, i.e. adaptive to its specific locality. Although recognizing the merits of “Critical Regionalism,” Salingaros here explains why that framework is not enough to analyze architecture in terms of its environmental, cultural and emotional impact. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

Suppose that we have successfully documented and catalogued all form languages, including those from vernacular traditions, past times, and contemporary practice. A scientific approach requires the next step, which comprises both analysis and classification. A catalogue is a useful store of information, but it is only the beginning of a systematic study.

What do some form languages have in common, and on what qualities do some of them differ? One measure is their degree of complexity, as documented by the length of description of the form language. Another is adaptation to locality. How far does a form language justify itself as being regional? Here, regional is the opposite of universal.

It is therefore useful to classify form languages by how much they adapt to a certain locality. If it does adapt, each language will, of course, adapt to its own specific locality: what we measure is how good that adaptation is. Success of adaptation is measured if buildings are energy efficient in the low-tech sense, so that the majority population can profit from them. By contrast, high-tech energy efficiency may be very useful, but it usually relies upon imported technology and materials, and is thus global, not regional.

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Video: Los Angeles from Above

This time-lapse video, entitled “Above LA,” is Chris Pritchard’s love letter to Los Angeles. Filmed over the course of two years, Pritchard sought out locations to showcase the city in a way people rarely get to see  from above. Some of the views were easy to seek out, while others involved some exploratory hiking and trespassing. He encourages “everyone – lifelong Angelenos, transplants, visitors – to hit the trails, drive the mountain roads, find a reason to get on top of a high-rise. From the basin to the valley, this city offers so many opportunities to rise above and look down. Never stop exploring.”

A Prize for Promise: GAGA’s Hunt for the New Hadid

Post-Graduate Runner-up, GAGA 2013. Rob Taylor – Golden Temple of Trash

A few years ago ’s Architectural Association held an exhibition called First Works: Emerging Architectural Experimentation in the 1960s & 1970s, which wonderfully gathered together early projects from a host of the most famous names in architecture. In both Zaha Hadid’s gorgeously animated plan/perspectives of the Taoiseach’s Residence and Daniel Libeskind’s intensely unstable drawings of Micromegas, you can already sense a lifetime of formal exploration ahead for the pair; and yet who would ever guess the unique tectonic language to come from the anonymously mundane drawings of the Sequoyah Educational Research Centre by Morphosis?

When I set up the Global Architecture Graduate Awards (GAGAs) at The Architectural Review in 2012, it was with the insight that, at its best, the work produced at the start of a career can be its most daring and projective. At that fertile threshold between the academy and practice, uncertain graduates can be years ahead of more assured and mature colleagues in the creative risks they are willing to take.

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Introducing “Potty-Girl,” The Architect of the Future?

“I look for inspiration (or opportunities) from people and places rather than looking for people and places to host my ideas.” — Julia King

Regardless of whether or not Shigeru Ban deserved to be awarded the profession’s highest prize this year (there are vociferous opinions on both sides of the issue), there is one thing that is certain: architecture is going through some serious growing pains. And perhaps no one encapsulates architecture’s shifting direction better than Julia King, AJ’s Emerging Woman Architect of the Year.

Pursuing a PhD-by-practice via the Architecture for Rapid Change and Scarce Resources (ARCSR) in the slums of India, Ms. King realized very quickly that the last thing these communities needed was architecture – or rather, what is traditionally considered “architecture.” After all, community-members were already experts in constructing homes and buildings all on their own. Instead, she put her architectural know-how towards designing and implementing what was truly needed: sewage systems. And so – quite by accident, she assured me - the title “Potty-Girl” was born.

In the following interview, conducted via email, I chatted with Ms. King about her fascinating work, the new paradigm it represents for  architecture, the need to forego dividing the “urban and rural” (she prefers ”connected and disconnected”), the serious limitations of architecture education, and the future of architecture itself. Read more, after the break.

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Tokyo’s Modernist Gem, Hotel Okura, To Be Demolished

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Talk about Modernist Japanese architecture, and you can hardly fail to bring up Tokyo‘s Hotel Okura. Built in 1962 under the design direction of Yoshiro Taniguchi, Hideo Kosaka, Shiko Munakata, and Kenkichi Tomimoto, the hotel has long been a landmark not only for the city, but for Japan. Now, however, the hotel’s owners have decided that the main building for the hotel will be demolished in September of 2015, with a new hotel taking its place. To learn more – including how to sign the petition for preservation – keep reading after the break.

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Urban Think Tank Responds to the Forced Eviction of Torre David Residents

. Image © Iwan Baan

Following yesterday’s news story about the forced eviction of the thousands of inhabitants living in Venezuela’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world’s tallest vertical slum, Urban-Think Tank has issued a statement. The group, which spent two years researching the remarkable urban space for their Golden Lion-winning Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2012, has spoken with residents and hopes to provoke the architectural/design communities by adding their voice to the debate. Read the full statement, after the break. 

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Techstyle Haus: An 800 Square Foot Fabric House That Uses 90% Less Energy

The planters filter rainwater, which is then reused to grow edible plants. Photovoltaic panels are arrayed along the curved roof. Image © Kristen Pelou

The Rhode Island School Of Design, Brown University and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany collaborated on a passive “fabric” house for the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe (which just wrapped up this month – see the winners here). In the following article, originally published on Metropolis MagazineMartin Pedersen reviews the remarkable house.

This summer’s 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe is well underway in France, where a solar-powered village of twenty sustainable homes designed and built by college students from all over the country, has emerged on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Brown University, and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany, have teamed up for Techstyle Haus, an 800-square-foot house that’s not only a model of energy efficiency but an elegant piece of design as well.

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