Not so far in the future, smartphones and laptops will go the way of the beeper and fax machine, fading into obsolescence. Soon, according to MIT Media Lab’s Joseph Paradiso, we will interface with the physical world via wearable technologies that continually exchange information with sensors embedded all around us.
Paradiso has been at the forefront of these developments for decades, exploring new applications for sensor networks in everything from music (he will lead a presentation of the lab’s musical innovations later this month at Moogfest) to baseball. In recent years, his group’s research has focused increasingly on smart buildings. I spoke with him about the implications of his work for the future of architecture and the built environment.
You run the Responsive Environments group at the Media Lab. Can you describe some of your work in the building realm?
We caught up with Arthur Andersson of Andersson-Wise during last year’s AIA convention, where he received FAIA status. As the firm’s design director, Andersson shepherds their work through the various phases of the design process with a particular attention to the client’s role.
The work of Andersson-Wise can be defined as authentically local, with a strong emphasis on materials and details. The Texas-based architects use passive energy approaches in their large projects that appear as if they have been extrapolated from their detailed, smaller scale projects. The W Austin, the only mixed-use LEED Silver building in Texas, has design features that strategically reduce energy usage and heat gain. Sustainability in architecture is at the core of their approach–deeply rooted in the spirit and materiality of the buildings.
Their versatility is evident in their successful completion of projects of different scales. They place a premium on the practice of drawing by hand and, as a result, their projects achieve a certain level of sustainability that doesn’t detract from Andersson-Wise’s portfolio of timeless work.
Check out Andersson-Wise’s projects on ArchDaily:
If you don’t know Jeanne Gang, here’s the short and impressive bio: she received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois and then went on to Harvard’s GSD for her masters degree. After working at OMA (where she participated in projects such as the Maison à Bordeaux), Jeanne founded Studio Gang in 1997. She has since become a MacArthur Fellow and was 2011′s Fast Company Master of Design. So it was particularly exciting to sit down with Jeanne at the 2013 World Architecture Festival in Singapore.
The work of Studio Gang is very broad, from private residences to community facilities, from small pavilions to an 82-story tower. But all of them have follow a clear line: careful attention to the materials, and a constant research leading to innovations in terms of sustainability and fabrication.
Projects such as the recently honored WMS Boathouse add to Studio Gang’s consistent presence in Chicago’s new architecture, which also includes the stunning Aqua Tower and other projects that serve local communities (such as the new venue for the Writers’ Theater and Lincoln Zoo South Pond Pavilion). Yet she also displays a commitment to her city’s heritage, as can be seen in her proposal for Prentice Hospital.
Be sure to watch our interview with Jeanne Gang and check out Studio Gang’s projects on ArchDaily.
- Lincoln Zoo South Pond Pavilion
- Columbia College Chicago Media Production Center
- Brick-Weave House
- Aqua Tower
- Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theatre
- SOS Children’s Villages Lavezzorio Community Center
- WMS Boathouse at Clark Park
- Natural Resources Defence Council Office
- Solar Carve Tower
At last week’s Mextrópoli conference we spoke with Winka Dubbeldam about the challenges of architecture education. We also asked her to elaborate on why she thinks architecture should embrace industrial design tools. Watch the short clip to hear Winka’s thoughts on making technology a more integral part of our built environment.
Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc. AIA, is the founder and principal of Archi-Tectonics, and is Professor and Chair of the Graduate Department of Architecture at PennDesign, Philadelphia.
I look into myself, trying to express myself. I think sometimes maybe you have an idea from a dream. It sounds ridiculous but you draw something out of your dream. Where does this dream come from? It must somehow relate to some situation. So what I’m interested in is to keep discovering what is really inside of me. I’m not a genius that from the first moment I already know what I want. - Ma Yansong -
Beixinqiao district, in Beijing, is changing fast: the ancient urban tissue is being demolished as new high-rises are growing.Located in this environment, Ma Yansong’s office sits within an old and anonymous construction. In contrast to its exterior, the inside is characterized by wood, white walls and plants that transform the place into a sophisticated environment.International young architects are busy modeling new organic-shaped buildings on the other side of the world; meanwhile a golden fish swims in the eternal loop of the “fish tank” in the centre of the room.
In the following interview, Ma Yansong explains contemporary cities as environments that are out-of-scale with nature. He believes a new approach must be used, one that breaks the monotonous “chessboard” of contemporary Urban China and re-establishes the balance between human beings and the natural world.
Paris-based architect Brendan MacFarlane, of the firm Jakob + MacFarlane, spoke to us during our visit to the FRAC Centre in Orléans for the ArchiLab 2013 exhibition and conference. MacFarlane, who studied at Sci-Arc in the 80s and later received a degree from Harvard’s GSD, successfully combines theory and form, placing him among the few architects that have been able to harmonize this balance.
Jakob + MacFarlane’s special and precise handling of the grids generates projects that, while outwardly complex, are actually deceivingly so. Based not on strong computational muscle but actually a more simple deformation of grids, their projects can appear nearly impossible or too complex to realize. Yet they are able to make these buildings a reality.
Along with his partner Dominique Jakob, the duo’s consistent methodology doesn’t rely on constant innovation. MacFarlane posits that “sometimes it’s about doing something simple that’s kind of obvious.“ This has yielded a stylistic variety that evades singular typecasting.
They are not afraid to combine existing structures with their proposals–in fact, they welcome it. What they do is strategic: a kind of rational deformation of otherwise uniform and uncomplicated geometry, with the computer acting as a tool (but not a generative one).
Be sure to check out the interview, as well as Jakob + MacFarlane‘s projects on ArchDaily.
In this interview, originally published by Paperhouses as “Decisive Moment: Conversation With Fernando Guerra“, the Portuguese photographer details his career in architectural photography, and how he approaches the art of photographing buildings. As an advocate of free sharing and online publicity, and one of a new breed of photographers who – shock horror – likes to include people in his shots of buildings, Guerra is well placed to explain how the world of architectural photography has changed over the past decade.
I do not want to call it an interview—it was a fabulous discussion that Fernando Guerra led as a loose narrative with notes on work that he practices with hedonism and filled with life. They are all stories dedicated to the great beauty of doing what one loves and letting it grow.
Read on after the break for the interview
Last week we had the opportunity to interview this year’s Pritzker Prize winner, Shigeru Ban, within his Metal Shutters Houses in New York City. The Japanese architect, who was a member of the Pritzker jury from 2006-2009, gave us his thoughtful, humble response to receiving architecture’s most prestigious prize, saying the win is an “encouragement for me to continue working to make great architecture as well as working in disaster areas.”
When we asked him how he remains so committed to humanitarian efforts, balancing them with his other commissions, he explained: “I also like to make monuments because monuments can be wonderful treasures for the city, but also I knew many people were suffering after the natural disasters, and the government provided them very poor evacuation facilities and temporary housing. I believe I can make them better.”
Read the entire interview transcript, in which Ban discusses his innovative use of materials and gives us a few anecdotes about studying in the US, after the break.
At ArchDaily, we think that Bjarke Ingels is one of the most inspiring architects practicing today. Having found success at a relatively young age, Bjarke has never shied away from embracing his YES IS MORE philosophy. His conspicuous enthusiasm for the potential of architecture and design sets him apart from his peers. And it is precisely this go-to attitude that has allowed him to overcome some of the significant limits that face many young architects today. An impressive portfolio of both built and upcoming projects shows that his approach to design, though sometimes criticized, is profoundly impacting the social environment of architecture.
On running an office, Bjarke says that “you have the opportunity and the responsibility to create the work environment that you would like to work in.” He has modeled his firm as a type of organism that is able to adapt to growth and change. In the interview, Bjarke explains that not only does his own role constantly evolve, but that the success of BIG is contingent on the invaluable contributions of his partners. BIG is more than just Bjarke.
We also asked him to define architecture (“the art and science of making sure that our cities and buildings actually fit with the way we want to live our lives”), and to give students advice about pursuing a career in architecture. Be sure to read the full interview after the break.
During the Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, we had the opportunity to speak with David Gianotten, partner-in-charge of OMA’s Hong Kong office. Gianotten launched the Dutch firm’s Asian headquarters in 2009, where he supervises major projects such as the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the Taipei Performing Arts Centre.
Standing outside of the recently completed Stock Exchange headquarters, he answered our questions about urbanization, innovation and the intricacies of running an office in an environment with such rapid urban growth. Shenzhen has proven an experiment of economic openness and is a vivid example of China’s recent growth. The city’s skyline is practically a physical graph of an upward-trending economy, with buildings designed by nearly every internationally renowned architecture firm. But OMA’s Shenzhen Stock Exchange building stands apart from the rest not only because of its impeccable construction (a rarity in the fast-paced building booms of Chinese cities), but also because it houses the institution that lists China’s biggest companies.
The 254 meter tower is an elegant structure that combines pure volumes with an exoskeleton grid clad in translucent glass. It represents a characteristic OMA-approach to innovative architectural solutions, made possible by extensive programmatic and technical research.
Read the full interview (which includes Gianotten’s insights on the study of architecture, the role of architects, and the importance of simplicity when communicating complex innovation) after the break.
In the following interview, which originally appeared in Zawia#01:Utopia (published December 2013), Sir Peter Cook, one of the brilliant minds behind Archigram, sits down with the editors of Zawia to discuss his thoughts on utopia – including why he felt the work of Archigram wasn’t particularly utopian (or even revolutionary) at all.
ZAWIA: It is perhaps difficult to discuss our next volume’s theme – “utopia” – without first starting with archigram and the visions that came out of that period. How do you view the utopian visions of archigram during that specific moment of history in relation to the current realities of our cities and the recent political and social waves of change ?
PETER COOK: Actually… at the time I was probably naive enough to not regard it as Utopian.
In the following article, originally published in Polish in theDecember 2013 issue of A&B, Ewa Szymczyk interviews Vicente Guallart, the Chief Architect of Barcelona since 2011 as well as the founder of Guallart Architects and IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture in Catalunya). Szymczyk questions Guallart about his experience in urban design, asking: how can you measure a city’s success?
Ewa Szymczyk: When measuring the contemporary city’s success we typically use economic measures. In this sense Barcelona ranks very high, being a top tourist destination and managing its budget in times of global crisis. But there are many other ways to measure its success. What in your opinion makes a city a good city? Isn’t it much more than economic prosperity?
Vincente Guallart: A good city is a place where the citizens live well. So the best measure for a good city is how the citizens live. The truth is that the city is a physical representation of a social agreement. If you think for instance about Phoenix in Arizona, maybe people live there the way they want and the way they like to live. Obviously there are also questions related to cost. I mean, questions related to environmental and economic costs. Therefore the cost of a city like Phoenix is very different from the cost of a city like Hong Kong, which is the densest city and probably the most efficient urban structure in the world. So the question is the economic efficiency and also the quality of life of the citizens. And the best way to know is to ask citizens how happy they are to live in a place like this. The truth is that if you are a citizen of Barcelona you are quite happy. We have been evaluating this over the past few years and the average rating is seven out of ten. So that is in general very good! The people are proud to live in a place like this.
Last month we had the chance to attend to the III Moscow Urban Forum, an instance where urbanists, architects, city mayors, the real estate industry and the citizens of Moscow had an open dialogue related to the future of the city under the theme “Megacities: Success Beyond the Centre”. The forum was organized by the Government of Moscow, who invited global urban planning gurus with experience in developing suburbs, to discuss how to resolve the problems of deprived outskirts, how to transform “dead” zones in towns into socially beneficial areas for work and leisure, how make a city environmentally sound and comfortable for living at a low cost, and how to create a transport system that is convenient for its citizens.
During the forum we had the opportunity to talk and interview with some of these city makers, which will be published in the next days.
To better understand where is Moscow going and why its new periphery is an important object of study, we talked with Yuri Grigoryan and Alexei Komissarov.
Yuri is the cofounder of the renowned Russian firm Project Meganom and the Director of Education at Strelka, who guided the team that prepared the research project “Archeology of the Periphery”, a central part of the forum.
Alexei Komissarov is the Moscow Government Minister and Head of the Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship of Moscow, a department that oversees the conversion of old industrial zones into creative and technological cluster.
The firm was founded in 1984 after Francine and a group of fellow students at the Delft University of Technology won a competition for a social housing complex. Since then the firm has developed a unique language with a special focus on the expression of materials, a strong relation with context, technical expertise, and the precise resolution of details, as can be seen in the TU Delft Library, the La Llotja Theatre and Congress Centre, the Montevideo Building, and the recently opened Birmingham Library, currently the largest library in Europe.
The firm’s logo, a falling diver ”represents a free spirit and unlimited creativity” according to @Mecanoo__.
In this interview Francine explains the challenges of designing a library, a program currently undergoing quick and constant evolution, and shares her experience running the practice.
Currently, the firm is directed by Francine and technical director Aart Fransen, joined by partners Francesco Veenstra (watch Mies.UK interview), Ellen van der Wal, Paul Ketelaars and Dick van Gameren. Mecanoo has projects under construction all around the world, including the Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts in Kaohsiung (Taiwan, see watch construction video), the Dudley Municipal Center in Boston (USA) and the Shenzhen Cultural Center (China).
Projects by Mecanoo at ArchDaily:
Francesco Veenstra, one of six partners at the Dutch practice Mecanoo and Lead Architect on a number of major projects in the United Kingdom, recently spoke to Mies. UK about the practice’s approach to design and their unique take on sustainability. Having recently completed a major public building in Birmingham (which was put to the vote and won the AJ’s 2013 Building of the Year), and with more in the pipeline, the practice’s international outlook is growing. How has the practice’s design methodology and core ideas influenced this success? Read more after the break.