This article comes courtesy of Charlotte Neilson, the author of the fascinating design blog Casting Architecture. Her column, Through the Lens, will look at architecture and production design in TV and film.
The categorisation of period architecture generally remains firmly in the realm of the professional or amateur enthusiast – let’s face it, you can go through life without knowing the difference between a Corinthian and Ionic column without too much inconvenience. Oddly, however, most people are able to name a few of the main features of Art Deco architecture fairly easily – the curved corners, stylised forms, the use of bakelite and chrome, the transport motifs.
It’s interesting that this period is so much more familiar to us, considering it spanned quite a short timeframe compared to other architectural styles; the Arts and Crafts and Art Noveau movements, for example, which both occurred in a similar time frame to Art Deco, are much less known to the wider community.
It’s possible of course that Art Deco is just more omnipresent because of its universal appeal, or its uniqueness, but I think most of the credit should go to Monsieur Hercule Poirot.
Learn more about Agatha Christie’s contribution to Art Deco, after the break…
Skyhouse is a house in the sky, a residential penthouse located at the summit of one of the earliest surviving skyscrapers in New York City and situated within the incomparable vertical cityscape of Lower Manhattan. The project involved the construction of a set of unique living spaces inside a decorative penthouse structure which had never before been used as a residence… The spaces of this residence and the vistas channeled through it ascend and descend through all four levels of the penthouse structure and into the three-dimensional cityscape surrounding it in every direction.
Just a couple of years ago, if you wanted to make something look trendier, you put a bird on it. Birds were everywhere. I’m not sure if Twitter was what started all the flutter, but it got so bad that Portlandia performed a skit named, you guessed it, “Put a Bird on It.” (“What a sad little tote bag. I know! I’ll put a bird on it.” Etc.)
It turns out architects have been doing the same thing, just with trees. Want to make a skyscraper look trendy and sustainable? Put a tree on it. Or better yet, dozens. Many high-concept skyscraper proposals are festooned with trees. On the rooftop, on terraces, in nooks and crannies, on absurdly large balconies. Basically anywhere horizontal and high off the ground. Now, I should be saying architects are drawing dozens, because I have yet to see one of these “green” skyscrapers in real life. (There’s one notable exception—BioMilano, which isn’t quite done yet.) If—and it’s a big if—any of these buildings ever get built, odds are they’ll be stripped of their foliage quicker than a developer can say “return on investment.” It’s just not realistic. I get why architects draw them on their buildings. Really, I do. But can we please stop?
Find out why it’s not a good idea to put trees on skyscrapers, after the break…
The city of Yatsushiro is known in Japan as a home for exemplary architecture – the legacy at least in part of Artpolis, a plan by the government of the Kumamoto Prefecture to seek out a range of talented architects to design cultural buildings in the cities of the region. Though the Artpolis scheme has been running for the past 22 years, perhaps its most successful building was completed back in 1991, with the construction of Toyo Ito‘s Yatsushiro Municipal Museum.
At the close of the 19th century, the funding of architecture was enriched by a new paradigm: that of the wealthy patron and philanthropist, who financed buildings through a sense of moral and social duty. This resulted in a number of grand public buildings, spanning cultural, educational and political institutions: the Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Music Hall, a huge number of Carnegie Libraries and even the UN Headquarters would not have been possible without the generosity of these men.
Where are gifts like these today? Are there modern versions of people like Carnegie and Rockefeller? In the 21st century, an age of encroaching corporatism and “the one percent”, it might be easy to believe that this form of construction funding is dead. This interpretation, however, does not reflect the reality at all. In fact, the recent history of the ‘wealthy patron of architecture’ is more interesting than you might think, and is rooted in the lessons learned from the pioneers of the past century.
Discover more about the fate of the architecture patron after the break.
“The rapid expansion of airport-linked commercial facilities is making today’s air gateways anchors of 21st century metropolitan development where distant travelers and locals alike can conduct business, exchange knowledge, shop, eat, sleep, and be entertained without going more than 15 minutes from the airport. This functional and spatial evolution is transforming many city airports into airport cities.” - Dr. John Kasarda
Major international airports have developed over time into key nodes in global production and enterprise systems through speed, agility and connectivity. These transportation hubs are able to dramatically stimulate local economies by attracting a wide range of aviation-related businesses to their peripheries and resulting in what John Kasarda, a US academic who studies and advises governments on city planning issues, has dubbed the “Aerotropolis.” The Aerotropolis, like any other traditional city, consists of a central core with rings of development permeating outwards; unlike a traditional city, however, the city’s core is an airport and all neighboring development supports and is supported in turn by the airport industry. Several airports around the globe have organically evolved into these airport-dependent communities, generating huge economic profits and creating thousands of jobs, but what Kasarda is arguing for is a more organized and purposeful approach to the development of these Aerotropolises – what he believes to be the future model of a successful city.
Read on for more on the Aerotropolis vision.
One of Toyo Ito’s most iconic building is undoubtedly the Sendai Mediatheque. The latest Pritzker laureate completed the building in 2001, a cultural media center allowing complete visibility and transparency to the surrounding community.
French director Richard Copans made this documentary on the Sendai Mediatheque that you can’t miss. You can watch part II and III after the break. And don’t forget to check our complete coverage on the 2013 Pritzker Prize winner.
The internationally – and often controversial - acclaimed artist Christo has unveiled the “largest indoor sculpture ever made”. Prepared to debut in a public exhibition starting March 16, the inflated “Big Air Package” has been designed to occupy a 117-meter-tall former gas tank known as Gasometer Oberhausen in Germany. The 90-meter-high, 50-meter-wide sculpture is made from 20,350 square meters of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters of rope, with a total weight of 5.3 tons and a volume of 177,000 cubic meters.
The seemingly endless, inflatable installation was conceived in 2010 and is Christo’s first major work after the passing of his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude in 2009.
More on Christo’s “Big Air Package” after the break…
Throughout history, people have spent a great deal of time pondering what the future holds. Scientific discovery and technological innovation – along with rebellious androids, zombies, flying cars, hover crafts, visiting aliens – have been consistently used as stereotypes that emerge in predictions for our imagined future. And while Hollywood was busy exploring dystopian scenarios of this near-future, architects were composing utopian images of an optimistic vision for cities.
Architects have built careers upon predicting what cities can potentially become – developing forms, functions, plans and visions of possibilities in the social, political, economic and cultural realms through architecture. In 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner of NYC predicted a culturally diverse, economically viable, global city for New York in 2012. In 1988, Los Angeles Times Magazine gave its 25-year forecast for Los Angeles in 2013, predicting what a life for a family would be like, filled with robots, electric cars, smart houses and an abundance of video-conferencing. Find out how their predictions fared after the break.
“Whoever reviews Ito’s works notices not only a variety of functional programs, but also a spectrum of architectural languages.” — From the 2013 Pritzker Jury’s Citation
Toyo Ito has just been announced the winner of the 2013 Pritzker Prize. To commemorate this master architect, we’ve reached out to Iwan Baan, architecture’s premier photographer, and assembled a retrospective of some of Ito’s greatest works (all photographed, of course, by Baan) – including the Za Koenji Public Theatre, Toyo Ito’s Museum of Architecture, Silver Hut – TIMA, Ken Iwata Mother and Child Museum, Yaoko Kawagoe Museum, Suites Avenue Hotel, Huge Wineglass Project, Mikimoto 2, Tama Art University Library & White O. See them all, after the break…
Until his third year of high school, Toyo Ito’s passion was not architecture, but baseball.
Fortunately for us all (and almost assuredly for the Pritzker laureate himself), he soon switched career paths.
Born in Seoul in 1941, Ito moved to Japan at the tender age of two. From the age of 12 (when his father died) to the time he went to University, Ito was part of the family business: making miso (bean paste). However, upon attending The University of Tokyo from 1965-1969, architecture became his life work.
Read more on the life and work of Toyo Ito, the 2013 Pritzker Laureate, after the break…
A few days ago, we had the opportunity to talk with Toyo-san, the 2013 Pritzker Prize laureate. A short, but intense talk where Ito shares with us, using precise words, insights about his design process and what he thinks about architecture, everything connected to the human aspects of the profession, understanding and connecting to the people.
For you, what is architecture?
(Laughs) Hard question! Architecture is the relation between one person and another, something that can make people gather.
How did you feel, as an architect, facing the disaster after the 2011 earthquake in Japan?
As a person facing such a disaster, I had the responsibility to do something for the people who had lost their homes in the area, and by talking to the people in the disaster area I saw a similarity to the previous question, what is architecture. I think it was a very good opportunity to rethink, to start from zero what architecture really is fundamentally.
Back in 2006, we saw that there was a very strong generation of young architects that weren’t part of the traditional circle of printed publications. So, we had this crazy idea that we could create a platform to give those architects the exposure they deserved, spreading the knowledge and innovations they were producing to the rest of the world. At a time where Web 2.0 shifted how media was produced and consumed, we saw an opportunity to embrace the web for to achieve this goal.
Very soon we realized that we were on the right track: that we were making available to the world a whole new corpus of architecture knowledge, having a positive impact on the speed of innovation in our field, and generating a new, virtuous circle.
Then in 2008, the world entered the urban era with more than 50% of its population living in cities, 3 billion people, a number that is expected to double by the year 2040. This growth is expected to happen particularly in parts of the world where architecture is required the most, and we understood that our global exchange of knowledge was part of that dynamic.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life of the next 3 billion people that will move into cities in the next 40 years, by providing inspiration, knowledge and tools to the architects who will have the challenge to design for them.
In the span of five years, we went from an idea to the most visited architecture web site in the world, with over 7 million monthly readers, and a staff of over 50 people working in 9 different countries. This is our story.
This article, which originally appeared on Bullett Media, is by writer Matthew Newton. Newton has written for The Atlantic, Esquire, Forbes, and Guernica, and is currently at work on No Place for Disgrace, a collection of nonfiction stories based on the faded promise of the American suburbs. You can follow him on Twitter @newtonmatthew.
In November of 1977, filmmaker George A. Romero arrived with cast and crew at Monroeville Mall, a sprawling indoor shopping center located in the suburbs east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The young director, who by that time had established himself as a pioneer in the horror genre, was set to start production on his latest film, Dawn of the Dead, a sequel to his 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead. Once again Romero’s slow-shuffling ghouls — starved as always for brains and entrails, meaty thigh bones and plump jugulars — would be unleashed on bumbling humans ill-prepared for a world gone rotten.
This time around, however, Romero, who in Night of the Living Dead touched on issues of race in the civil-rights era, had plans to skewer a new social dilemma: the rise of the American consumer. And to properly lampoon the nation’s burgeoning shop-till-you-drop culture, Romero needed the ideal backdrop.
Read more of Matthew Newton’s take on the immortality of the shopping mall, after the break…
After reviewing hundreds of projects submitted by New York City-based architects and firms, a jury of twelve eminent architects, landscape architects, educators, critics, and planners convened by the Center for Architecture in New York has selected 42 thoughtfully considered projects for the 2013 AIANY Chapter’s Design Awards. From small installations to large-scale projects, each awarded submission spanned a breadth of innovative ideas in a large variety of design solutions for projects throughout the world.
Winning submissions received either a “honor” or “merit” award in four different categories: architecture, interiors, projects and urban planning. All will be on view at a Center for Architecture exhibition designed by Kokoro & Moi, from April 18th through May 31st.
Join us after for the complete list of winning projects. Click on the project image for more information.
Marika Shioiri-Clark is an architect who uses design to empower global change and battle inequality. While attending Harvard for her Masters in Architecture, she co-founded the non-profit MASS Design Group and began working on what would become the the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. In this article, which originally appeared on GOOD as “Building a Rwandan Wall”, she explains the process by which the hospital was built and defends claims that the project, led by a group of Western architects, was somehow colonialist in nature.
As she puts it: “In a place like Rwanda, it’s not neo-colonialist to work on high-quality design projects as long as you’re deeply and authentically engaged with the community. In today’s world, it’s more neo-colonialist to assume that African people don’t want well-designed buildings and spaces.”
Read about Ms. Shiori-Clark’s experiences, and the delicate balance that must be struck between local knowledge and innovative techniques, after the break…
Organized in 2006 by eVolo Magazine the Skyscraper Competition recognizes outstanding ideas for vertical living. After reviewing more than 600 projects from 83 different countries, the winners for the eVolo 2013 Skyscraper Competition have just been announced.
First place was awarded to Derek Pirozzi from the United States, currently an intern at Olson Kundig Architects. Second place went to Darius Maïkoff and Elodie Godo, from France. And third place was awarded to Ting Xu and Yiming Chen from China. Check the images and more info on the winners after the break.
It’s official! Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG has been commissioned to collaborate with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) and COWI to design the first public LEGO® museum in the company’s hometown of Billund, Denmark. The “LEGO® Brand House” and “experience centre” is intended to compliment the non-public “LEGO® Idea House”, which is also located in Billund.
Bjarke Ingles, founder of BIG stated: “It’s going to be looking at LEGO® from all its different aspects—LEGO® as an art form, its cultural impact. When we were doing the research for it [the LEGO® house], we realized, if you would consider it just an art museum, you would be able to fill it with so much user content of such a high quality…it is one of our great dreams at BIG that we are now able to design a building for and with the LEGO® group. I owe a huge personal debt to the LEGO® brick, and I can see in my nephews that its role in developing the child as a creative, thinking, imaginative human being becomes ever stronger in a world in which creativity and innovation are key elements in virtually all aspects of society.”
More on LEGO®’s BIG commission after the break…
“While [...] everyone would like to be as sustainable as Copenhagen, creating true sustainability in a mega-city is a totally different story.”
In this article, which originally appeared in The Dirt, Jared Green explores how mega-cities - expanding and merging with other cities, fast becoming endless cities – must focus their growth in a productive, sustainable way. Expanding on the theories of Ricky Burdett, a Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics, he explores which mega-cities are doing growth right (Bogota, London) and which are only headed towards increased inefficiency and inequality.
Read more about our endless cities – and how limiting them is the key to sustainable development – after the break…