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 Nikos Salingaros’ 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 , 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 London’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 ’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 ?

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: is going through some serious growing pains. And perhaps no one encapsulates ’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 , 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 ’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, 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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Venezuela Begins Relocation of Thousands Living in Torre de David, the World’s Tallest Slum

Inside the Tower of David. Image © Vía ‘The Atlantic’

Monday night began the relocation process of thousands of inhabitants living in ’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world’s tallest slum, according to reports by Venezuelan newspaper Últimas Noticias, BBC Mundo and tweets from journalists following the coverage. The relocation initiative is being carried out by the Interior and Justice Ministry, and comes just five days after the announcement that the Venezuelan government is in negotiations with Chinese banks interested in purchasing the building.

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Building Skin Developed That Could Cool Our Cities

© Harunori Noda

The urban heat island effect - the hot, overwhelming temperatures that a city’s concrete produces – has a huge impact on livability and comfort within the city. Now, an elegant cooling system has been designed that not only reduces energy usage, but – should it be installed on multiple buildings – could even lower the overall temperature of a city itself. Learn more, after the break.

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Álvaro Siza’s Archives May Soon Belong to Canada

Image © | FG+SG

The archives of Álvaro Siza, whose drawings, sketches, and models have been exhibited in the most renowned cultural institutions around the world, may soon be transferred to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Centre Canadien d’Architecture, ) in Montreal.

The architect confirmed on Wednesday to Portuguese paper PÚBLICO that he has been “in talks” with the CCA, as well as other un-named institutions from different countries, in order to “decide the future” of his archives.

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Critical Round-Up: The 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist

Though O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Building for the LSE is not the bookie’s favourite, many critics feel it is most deserving of the . Image © Dennis Gilbert

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has now announced the six projects that form this year’s Stirling Prize Shortlist, the award that is the ultimate prize for any British building. As the ’s most publicly prominent award, the Stirling Prize is often a prime demonstration of the tension between architecture that is widely appreciated by the general populace, and that which is lauded by architectural critics and practitioners.

This year is no exception, with perhaps the country’s highest-profile project in years – the Shard - just part of the controversy. What did the critics make of the RIBA’s selection? Find out after the break.

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MASS Design Group’s Latest “Beyond the Building” Video: Building Better Builders

In their fifth Beyond the Building video, “Building Better Builders,” MASS Design Group goes behind the scenes of their projects in Haiti to speak with local architects and metalworkers and show how incorporating local talent can engage the local community to develop innovative solutions.

“I am happy that Haitians are constructing it,” says a local engineer working with MASS. “The best way for a person to appreciate it is to participate in the making of it.” Watch the video above and share your thoughts on how architecture can go #beyondthebuilding in the comments below.

Photos of Álvaro Siza’s Fundação Iberê Camargo, by Fernando Guerra

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

 “A painter is a magician that immobilizes time.”  - Iberê Camargo

The Fundação Iberê Camargo, which received a Golden Lion at the 2002 Venice Biennale of Architecture, is Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza’s first project in Brazil. It serves as an architectural exemplar not only for the city of Porto Alegre, but also for the entire country of Brazil. Defined by Siza as “quasi-arquitecture” — with careful explorations of light, texture, movement and space–the building cultivates a direct relationship between the viewer and the artwork, and, in turn, allows visitors to richly come into contact with Iberê’s (one of the great names of twentieth-century Brazilian art) work.

“Architects don’t invent anything, they just transform reality.” - Álvaro Siza

The first in Brazil to use white concrete–seen around the entire exterior– the building does not use any bricks. The visitor is guided through a trajectory of descent throughout the building via ramps in the nine exhibition halls. The monolith is supported by massive slabs, pillars and beams. No detail escaped the hands of the architect; the furniture and signage were also designed by Siza.

Last week, the project was nominated as one of seven finalists in the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP). Now in its first edition, and with a distinguished jury (Francisco Liernur, , Wiel Arets, , e Kenneth Frampton), the MCHAP recognizes exceptional architecture built in the first 13 years of the 21st century.

With this news, we are presenting an extensive set of photos of this important project, realized and generously shared by one of the world’s most important architecture photographers: Fernando Guerra of FG+SG - Últimas reportagens.

Story written by Joanna Helm for ArchDaily Brasil. Translated by Becky Quintal.

Scroll to see Guerra’s beautiful images of the Fundação Iberê Camargo:

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5 Reasons Why Architects Should Volunteer to Build Abroad

Rose Lee House / Auburn University Rural Studio. Image © Timothy Hursley

Patrick McLoughlin is one of the two founders of Build Abroad, a volunteer organization that offers architectural and construction services to developing nations. In this article, originally published on Archi-Ninja, McLoughlin shares five reasons why architects should get involved with organizations like his own. 

Many firms collaborate with non-government organisations to help in developing nations. A.gor.a Architects for example, are currently designing and building a new health clinic to provide free healthcare to Burmese refugees and migrants. Auburn University Rural Studio works with architects and students to build homes in rural communities while instigating community-action, collaboration, and .

A number of organisations also facilitate construction volunteering. Architecture for Humanity provides architecture, planning and project management services for disaster reconstruction. Architects without Borders is a global operation to provide ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate design assistance to communities in need.

Over the past decade, volunteering abroad has become an increasingly popular and important part of the architecture and construction industry. Volunteering abroad offers short to long term opportunities to experience a new culture while giving back to the community. Construction volunteering offers the potential for a lasting impact on the affected community. Patrick McLoughlin, co-counder of Build Abroad describes the following benefits and how you can help to make a difference:

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RIBA Announces 2014 Stirling Prize Shortlist

The RIBA has announced the six projects that will compete for the 2014 Stirling Prize, the award for the building that has made the greatest contribution to British in the past year. The six nominees will now be judged head to head for British ’s highest honour, based on “their design excellence and their significance in the evolution of and the built environment,” with a winner announced on October 16th. See the full shortlist after the break.

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This Floating Platform Could Filter the Plastic from our Polluted Oceans

Courtesy of

“Plastic is an extremely durable material, taking 500 years to biodegrade, yet it’s designed to be used for an average of 5 minutes, and so it’s thrown away. Few know where this mass of junk will end up … in the oceans, killing and silently destroying everything, even us.”

Cristian Ehrmantraut has developed a prototype for a floating platform that filters the ocean and absorbs plastic. Located 4 km from the coast of , close to the center of the mega-vortex of plastic located in the South Pacific, the tetrahedral platform performs a kind of dialysis, allowing the natural environment to be recovered as well as energy and food to be produced.

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Why 3D Printing Is Not As Sustainable As Its Defenders Say

Yacht designed by Zaha Hadid. Could 3D Printing “someday make Hadid-like forms so cheap to execute that they become mundane”?. Image © Unique Circle Yachts / for Bloom+Voss Shipyards

 is a column, penned by Christopher Brenny and presented by ArchDaily Materials, which investigates the innovative applications of  in architecture.

On a purely aesthetic level, 3D printing holds great potential for buildings – all the possibilities of sculpted concrete without the bulky and expensive formwork. Taken to an extreme, it could someday make Hadid-like forms so cheap to execute that they become mundane (even for a non-architect) – maybe even causing the profession to re-evaluate what qualifies as high design. 

However, the more important advantage of 3D printing, what could spur its acceptance as a viable means of construction, is its supposed sustainability. Among its oft-cited advantages are a use of “green” materials and a reduction in construction waste. However, is 3D Printing really as sustainable as its defenders contend?  

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This Temporary Treetop Hotel Lets You Sleep “With the Birds”

Chinese architecture firm Penda, known for their ecologically sensitive designs, has redesigned the tent in a bold new way for the AIM “Legend Of The Tent” Competition. Their proposal, ”One With The Birds,” is a flexible and structure that integrates sleeping pods into the forest canopy. Inspired by Native American Tipis, which are moveable and reusable, the structure, made from bamboo sticks latched together with rope, leaves no impact on the site nor causes any harm to the bamboo itself. 

A mock-up of the project will soon be installed as a temporary hotel. According to the architects, “after the temporary hotel is deconstructed, the can be reused as scaffolding on a construction site or reused as another temporary hotel on a different location.”

Learn more about this remarkable structure, after the break.

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