Nikos Salingaros is unafraid of a controversial statement. A professor of Mathematics and Urban theory, he has been using his scientific approach to study architecture and urban environments for years, and has come to a conclusion: Modernism is just about the worst thing that happened to architecture.
As Salingaros explains, not only is it impossible to have any “Green” architecture within a modernist framework, but, moreover, Modernism encourages us to deny our biologically-evolved senses and embrace an unnatural, inhuman built world – and why? Because there’s a whole lot of money and power behind those “modernist boxes.” As Salingaros puts it:
“Architectural Education ever since the Bauhaus, and continuing to the present day without interruption, teaches students to interpret built forms according to very peculiar abstract criteria, and not through their own biologically-evolved senses and cognitive intelligence. This is radical training in sensory denial: desensitizing people so that their interpretation of the world can be defined by others with an agenda.”
I interviewed Salingaros to get to the bottom of his theories and understand his anti-Modern crusade. Read it all, including Salingaros’ incendiary takes on Architecture education, sustainability, and urban planning, after the break…
Not long ago we sat down with Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano of LOT-EK—a New York City- and Naples-based architectural design studio. Known for their work with shipping containers, they discuss the learning curve they have endured by using objects that fall outside of the typical materials specified in manuals. LOT-EK also explains that they have been influenced by the freedom exercised in contemporary art. In their attempt to look at the world through “different eyes,” they find that networking is indispensable since it “makes what [they] do relevant” and opens them up to new opportunities.
Widely acclaimed for the work on projects such as PUMA City, Pier 57 and Sanlitun South, LOT-EK has been practicing since 1993. Tolla and Lignano also teach at Columbia University’s GSAPP in New York, and at the MIT’s Graduate Department of Architecture, in Cambridge, MA.
Hear what they have to say about running a practice, studying architecture and balancing their projects in an increasingly globalized system in our interview. And check out LOT-EK’s projects on ArchDaily:
Sam Jacob and his firm, FAT, challenge what we conceive as architecture. Using both history and contemporary theory, his practice channels ideas to networks of people with similar interests—seemingly infiltrating all corners of the architecture profession (and beyond). Taking pride in the expression of architecture outside its traditional means, Jacob says, “Lack of success in terms of square meters you build, as fast as possible, is no problem at all. We’ve had opportunities to think, opportunities to invent our own ways of making architecture.”
At last year’s Venice Biennale, we asked Sam Jacob about his Museum of Copying—an interesting subject since architecture is, in essence, an unending series of iterations (check out the interview here). As a writer/critic/architect, he teaches at the AA, blogs at Strange Harvest and Dezeen, tweets @_SamJacob, and oversees architecture, art and installation projects at FAT.
FAT was founded in London in the 1990s and is led by Sean Griffiths, Charles Holland and Sam Jacob, each of whom are committed to developing architectural culture both through practice and through design research at institutions including Yale and the Architectural Association.
Read the transcript of our interview with Sam Jacob after the break….
Highly regarded as both an academic and practitioner, Wolf Prix is an architect’s architect. He’s also a Guinness World Record holder. (The Busan Cinema Center boasts the world’s longest cantilever roof). We sat down with the Austrian architect and learned that not only does he welcome the unforeseeable results of rule-breaking, but he also borrows models of strategy and organization from soccer:
“Of course nowadays the architect as a single genius is over. I think we have to learn how to communicate and work in a team. Therefore, I just rearranged the organization of our office along the idea of the football team, FC Barcelona. Barcelona plays a beautiful game, very clever and very intelligent—they always play in a triangle system and then Messi or Xavi breaks the rules and plays street football with unforeseeable rules. This is the way we work in our office and this is the way that we design.”
He founded COOP HIMMELB(L)AU in 1968 (with Helmut Swiczinsky) and in 1980 the office published “Architecture Must Burn!” a manifesto which extolled the virtues of an architecture “that bleeds, exhausts, that turns and even breaks.” From its inception the office has pushed the boundaries of practice through its use of complex forms, communicated using a variety of media and materials. Their projects represent an embrace of imbalance, disquiet, distortion, fragmentation and chaos.
The title of one of his latest lectures (“In two days tomorrow will be yesterday”) aptly encapsulates Prix’s approach to time and space.
He gained international recognition when his firm’s work was featured in the 1988 MoMA show “Deconstructivist Architecture.” The show marked what curator Philip Johnson described as the “pleasures of unease” and highlighted the work of six other architects in addition to COOP HIMMELB(L)AU— Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenmann, Bernard Tschumi and Daniel Libeskind. The curators brought together this diverse group of architects to showcase the commonalities between projects that harnessed previously unexplored potentials of the modern movement.
“We always wanted to get through with our radical ideas. No compromising on one hand; on the other hand, if you build large projects you have to think in real terms as well.”
Prix’s architecture has employed advances in technology to create public spaces that challenge tradition and convention. COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s more recent projects include The Busan Cinema Center, Musée des Confluences, BMW Welt, and Dalian International Conference Center. He has taught at the Universität für angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Art) in Vienna, Harvard University, the Architectural Association, Columbia University and other prominent schools of architecture.
Since we’re in Denver for the AIA National Convention, we seized upon the opportunity to interview Mickey Jacob, FAIA, managing principal at Urban Studio Architects and the President of the AIA for 2013. We sat down with Jacob to get his opinion on some important issues facing the architecture profession today.
On this year’s conference theme (Building Leaders), Jacobs explained, “I want to create better opportunities for architects to take on leadership roles, and once we do, we elevate the public awareness of the importance of architecture.” He also gives his advice for students and emerging professionals, encouraging young architects to, “share your creativity, share your energy, share your leadership ability.”
Since ArchDaily started, we have interviewed close to two hundred architects to understand the diversity of our profession, and to give you insights from the most successful practices in the world.
Here is a round up with excerpts from some of these interviews, focusing on advice for the young architects.
In this interview by Hugo Oliveira, Álvaro Siza presents his ideas on the link between obsolescence and quality in architecture, and the role that a design’s flexibility plays in this relationship. He argues that the convent is perhaps the best example of a typology which is both fit for purpose and very flexible, allowing myriad other uses when its lifespan as a convent has ended. He also laments the current tendency to design a building for a very short period of time – intended to last only as long as it is needed for its original function. He links this tendency back to the Futurists of the early 20th century, where the idea was that “each generation makes its own environment which is later destroyed”, an idea he dismisses since “it also allows you to build badly because it only needs to last twenty years”.
You can see how Siza creates this flexibility in his own work by looking at his past projects featured on ArchDaily:
DS+R (Diller Scofidio + Renfro) is one of the most acclaimed architecture practices of these days. The firm was started by Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio back in 1979, and they were later joined by Charles Renfro as a partner in 2004.
In the past years the firm has been involved in several cultural projects, including the Blur Building at the Swiss Expo 2002, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Julliard School, the Alice Tully Hall and the Hypar Pavilion at Lincoln Center in New York and the Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University. They are also currently working on the Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Image & Audio in Rio de Janeiro, the Columbia Medical Building and Business School in New York… and the list just keeps growing.
But for sure one of their most important projects has been The Highline, together with James Corner / Field Operations. This urban regeneration project has not only changed Manhattan, but also inspired cities around the world to understand their hidden value. This project is currently on its third stage, which includes a multi-use venue designed by DS+R, the Culture Shed.
In all these projects, there is a common denominator between private/public space relationships, as discussed with Charles Renfro in this interview. In this conversation you will also learn about a very important aspect of the firm’s work, one that is very hard to transmit in traditional architecture media or even on the web: the experience. The art and performance projects that the firm has been doing since its beginning has added a particular layer to their built work. After you see their installations (and the effect they create in people), and then go back to their built projects, you start to see them as a series of situations where users are not static, but part of this performance.
Take for example the sunken auditorium at the Highline, a place that is meant to be seen by the cars driving below, who get a glimpse of the active urban life above. Or the hanging media center at the ICA, that uses the sea as a facade. Or The Art of Scent exhibit at the MAD Museum, where they exhibit the intangible. Or at the Blur Building, where you enter into a cloud.
DS+R’s work is very clear and bold at first glance, but with many underlaying moments and situations that reflect the careful design of each project.
Thanks to UNIACC Architecture School for making this interview possible. Projects by DS+R at ArchDaily:
Jarmund / Vigsnæs Architects was the first Nordic practice we featured on ArchDaily after seeing their impressive Svalvard Center, a sharp copper-cladded volume that slowly ages and blends into the landscape.
Since then we have seen many more strong projects of different scales from the Norwegian firm. The firm was established in 1996 by Einar Jarmund and Håkon Vigsnæs, with Alessandra Kosberg who joined as a partner in 2004.
JVA’s projects range from small cabins in the woods and interiors, to large scale hospitality projects and urban plans. The firm has developed expertise in designing for the Nordic weather as well as creating connections between the buildings and the distinctive Nordic landscape. With the above as their focus, the practice constantly explores how to innovate through the use and experimentation of materials.
JVA projects at ArchDaily:
Pedro Gadanho is a Portuguese architect, curator, teacher and writer, appointed as the Curator for Contemporary Architecture at the MoMA in January last year.
Pedro is a prolific writer, who uses a blog as a laboratory for his ideas about architecture and urbanism (sharing his views on the current states of cities and how architecture can transform them), and will surely have an impact on what the Department of Architecture of the Museum focuses on in the future.
During this past year Pedro has been involved in the YAP (Young Architects Program), a platform to discover young architects and foster new ideas through installations at the MoMA PS1 (Queens, NY), the MAXXXI Museum (Rome, Italy), the Istanbul Modern Museum (Istanbul, Turkey) and with CONSTRUCTO (Santiago, Chile).
He also curated the exhibit “9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design” (open until Jun 9th, 2013; Architecture and Design Galleries, third floor), where his views of city and architecture come together in the form of a selection of fresh ideas and examples of architects who actively shaped our cities. The opening of the exhibit included the architectural performance “IKEA Disobedients” by Andres Jaque.
Pedro was also a jury for the 2013 Mies van der Rohe award.
In today’s world, where we have access to everything at the the tip of our fingers, the role of the curator becomes more and more relevant for us to understand our new context.
You can follow Pedro on Twitter @pedrogadanho.
“What do we mean by education?” “What is design?” “Can design be taught?”
These were some of the questions a small group of innovative pioneers – huddled in the attic of Le Corbusier’s Sanskar Kendra museum – asked themselves when they set about creating what would become the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India’s first design school. The year was 1962, and not only were there no designers in the country, the profession of design, for Indians, simply did not exist.
One of these pioneers – who would head the industrial design department, help formulate the school’s curriculum, and train its faculty members – was Kumar Vyas. Born in 1929, Vyas remained at NID for three decades, and continues to work from his office on the campus he helped create. His numerous articles and books were essential to establishing India’s current design-rich environment; two years ago, he received the prestigious Sir Misha Black Medal for Excellence in Design Education.
Vyas’ experience designing a design education is not only a fascinating journey, but also a source of inspiration – if architecture education took Vyas’ lessons to heart, and re-examined itself from square one, how would it be different? Read Victoria Lautman’s interview with Vyas after the break, and tell us what you think in the comments below.
Architects and students worldwide are highly anticipating the Monday premiere of Archiculture - a documentary that offers a unique glimpse into the world of studio-based, design education through the eyes of five architecture students finishing their final design projects at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. The film, directed and produced by two architect-turned-filmmakers Ian Harris and David Krantz of Arbuckle Industries, features exclusive interviews with leading professionals, historians and educators to help create a crucial dialog around the key issues faced by this unique teaching methodology.
Eager to learn more, we sat down with director Ian Harris for an exclusive interview. Read the interview and share your thoughts after the break.
Peter Williams is the founder and executive director of an organization whose goal is to improve global health, using design to create healthier environments as preventative measures for tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria. Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments, or ARCHIVE for short, has projects in countries all over the world, including Haiti, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. ARCHIVE identifies and addresses the causes of poor health in disadvantages communities and uses strategies related to housing design improvements to create environments that promote better health.
Yesterday, Iñaki Abalos was announced as the new Chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard GSD; he will begin on July 1st, 2013.
Abalos is a renowned Spanish architect, with much experience in both the academy and the professional field. He started his career together with Juan Herreros at the highly acclaimed firm Abalos + Herreros (1984-2006), and has been working since 2006 with Renata Sentkiewicz at Abalos+Sentkiewicz.
His work always tries to find a balance between technical precision and the integration with the environment and landscape. This has evolved into the concept of “Thermodynamic Beauty”, a concept embodied in his buildings and constantly evolving throughout his academic efforts, which have included the authorship of several books and professorships at the ESTA Madrid, Harvard, Columbia, EPF Laussane, Princeton, Cornell and the BIArch Barcelona. At the GSD he was acting as Professor in Residence, leading studios, lectures, and seminars related to his focus on technology and history, the thermal properties of architecture and the integration of natural elements.
Abalos will soon lead one of the most influential architecture schools in the world, a tremendous responsibility given the challenges of architecture education, which we discuss in this interview. He also talks about how architects lost their authority after post-modernism, and suggests that we could get it back by cultivating a problem solving expertise on the world’s greatest challenges: climate change, the high density of the cities, and more.
The construction of the city is something that goes beyond architects and planners. It involves the government, the citizens and the private sector. For the ArchDaily Interview series we have interviewed many architects with very different backgrounds, and we have started to include people outside the field that have played an important role either for our profession or the city.
During our last trip to Moscow, we had the opportunity to interview Alexander Mamut, businessman and investor who is involved in projects such as the Pioner Cinema, the Waterstone book chain, the blogging service LiveJournal and other projects related to culture, media and the city. He is also one of the founders of the Strelka Institute, a post graduate school located at the Chocolate Factory in the heart of Moscow and using the city as a laboratory, with an ambitious plan to raise the quality of architectural education in the country.
The founders of Strelka (who also include Sergey Adonyev, Dmitry Likin, Ilya Oskolkov-Tsentsiper and Oleg Shapiro) invited Rem Koolhass to design the curriculum for this new school, who under the AMO research arm prepared the educational programme for Strelka, with a research agenda based on design, energy, preservation, public spaces and thinning. The institute brings together professionals from different disciplines to have a comprehensive approach to city and architecture, from architects to urbanists, writers, designers, scientists, and journalists.
The city of Moscow is facing tremendous challenges, due to the growth and changes it has undergone in the past few years, which will only accelerate as the result of its vibrant economy. The city is expected to double its population in the coming years, and many competitions, including the masterplan for the city’s expansion, are being held with this objective in mind.
In this scenario, architecture education is key in order to form the new generation of professionals that wil face the critical issues of contemporary Russia. And this is why we wanted to include Alexander Mamut, whose passion for the city led him to invest in the city in a particular way, in our interview series. He is a good example of what can be done from the private sector to develop cities with a long-term vision.
During the interview, we discuss with Alexander Mamut the future of Moscow, how education can improve the quality of life of its habitants, the importance of the private sector in the development of cities, and more.
When we see another Eiffel Tower, idyllic English village, or, most recently, a Zaha Hadid shopping mall, copied in China, our first reaction is to scoff. Heartily. To suggest that it is – once again – evidence of China’s knock-off culture, its disregard for uniqueness, its staggering lack of innovation. Even I, reporting on the Chinese copy of the Austrian town of Halstatt, fell into the rhetorical trap: “The Chinese are well-known for their penchant for knock-offs, be it brand-name handbags or high-tech gadgets, but this time, they’ve taken it to a whole other level.”
Moreover, as Guy Horton has noted, we are keen to describe designers in the West as “emulating,” “imitating,” and “borrowing”; those in the East are almost always “pirating.” However, when we allow ourselves, even unconsciously, to settle into the role of superior scoffer, we do not just do the Chinese, but ourselves, a disservice: first, we fail to recognize the fascinating complexity that lies behind China’s built experimentation with Western ideals; and, what’s more, we fail to look in the mirror at ourselves, and trouble our own unquestioned values and supposed superiority. In the next few paragraphs, I’d like to do both. (more…)
It’s not everyday that Peter Goldberger, former New York Times architecture critic, says an architect’s work stands out for its “clarity, simplicity, and grace.”
And it’s even rarer that Goldberger would choose those words – not for a new museum, chapel, or university building – but for a small pre-fabricated house. However, the pre-fab homes of Rocio Romero are lightyears away from the Sears catalog homes of yore, and more than deserving of the high praise they’ve garnered.
Romero has been making headlines ever since she introduced the LV house, her line of affordable, modern pre-fabricated homes, over ten years ago. With pre-fab becoming everyday more mainstream, we decided to sit down with Romero to find out what inspired her to enter in the world of pre-fab, what sets her designs apart (and why they have garnered such a fervent following), and what she sees as the future of pre-fabricated design.
Read the interview with Rocio Romero, after the break…
During the 2012 World Architecture Festival, we had the opportunity to interview Chris Wilkinson and Jim Eyre, the directors of the UK firm Wilkinson Eyre Architects who received the World Building of the Year Award for their Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay.
Chris Wilkinson founded the firm in 1983, partnering with Jim Eyre in 1987. Since then, the practice has displayed their innovation through the informed use of technology and materials, applied to projects in areas as diverse as transportation, the arts, infrastructure, masterplanning, as well as commercial, industrial, retail, leisure, educational, cultural and residential buildings. The firm has also developed a tremendous expertise in bridge design, with more than 30 projects of this type.
A good example of their applied innovation is the Cooled Conservatories, where climate control for 20,000 sqm in a complex environment posed a tremendous challenge. The sustainable cooling strategy lead to the reduction of, with air conditioning, would have been an otherwise big carbon foot print.
For the 2012 Olympic Games, the firm designed the Basketball Arena, one of the biggest temporary venues erected for any Olympics, an iconic building that was the result of a tight budget and the requirement to recycle two thirds of the structure after the games.
More projects by Wilkinson Eyre Architects at ArchDaily: