Wicker Man: An Interview with Salvador Gilabert of EMBT

The Spanish Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo

As one of EMBT‘s Directors, Salvador Gilabert has helped guide the realization of some of the practice’s biggest projects in recent years – including as project director of Spain’s 2010 Shanghai Expo Pavilion and the recently completed Barajas Social Housing Block.

Last month, he took a week out of his schedule to lead a project at Hello Wood, where – with an energy and intensity that was almost out of place in the relaxing surroundings of the Hungarian countryside – he led a group of students to construct an ambitious, screw-free elevated platform that emerged from a cluster of trees and offered views of the setting sun. ArchDaily caught up with Salvador Gilabert during the week to find out more about his work.

Read on after the break for the full

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Interview with Qi Xin of Qi Xin Architects and Engineers

Olympic Park Siheyuan / Qi Xin Architects and Engineers. Image © Pier Alessio Rizzardi

Architecture is not important. You can make a microclimate or situation, but you cannot have more influence about life or the urban situation, it’s just a very small operation you are working on, and you cannot control the situation of the city.. But even if you are just working on a single object here, you can always try to have more or less a positive influence on the city, you can always contribute in your way to the city, to the citizens. But in a larger view it’s not that important; it’s you or somebody else. The people are happy or not, their happiness is not relying on your architecture.” – Qi Xin, Beijing, 2013

Shedding light on topics from China‘s rapid urbanization to the issue of copycat architecture, this of Chinese architect Qi Xin conducted by Pier Alessio Rizzardi questions the role of architecture in Chinese society, and reveals the mindset of the modern Chinese architect. Qi Xin’s answers challenge many of the myths surrounding Chinese architecture, often through one-line gems such as “what is permanent for Chinese people is the spirit, not material,” and “the most important thing is that we don’t know where we are going… we are making the future cities.”

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AD Interviews: Eric Bunge / nArchitects

At the New Cities Summit – held last year in São Paulo – we caught up with Eric Bunge of New York-based practice nArchitects outside of Oscar Niemeyer’s Ibirapuera auditorium. The summit’s theme was centered on the future of cities and Bunge was presenting his firm’s My Micro NY project, which was the winning design of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s adAPT NYC competition. “We’re kind of influenced by New York itself as a microcosm. Our project looks a little bit like a microcosm of the skyline. We’re interested in this idea of re-inventing what micro is and how much of New York you can inhabit,” Bunge said regarding the project.

According to Bunge, housing is based on regulation and therefore one of the most constrained things to design. “I think we can reinvent housing,” he told us.

Watch the full interview to learn more about Bunge’s thoughts on reinventing housing, the inspiration behind his My Micro NY project and how he strives to address in his projects.

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AD Interviews: Rahul Mehrotra / RMA Architects

On his recent visit to Santiago, Chile we caught up with Rahul Mehrotra, founder of -based RMA Architects and a professor of Urban Design and Planning at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Mehrotra is known for his advocacy work in Mumbai and has carried out projects on a myriad of scales including interior design, architecture, urban design, conservation and planning. His projects include everything from a house on a tea plantation to a campus for NGO Magic Bus, the KMC Corporate Office in Hyderabad and housing for mahouts and their elephants. Mehrotra has also written and lectured extensively on architecture, conservation and urban planning in Mumbai and India.

“I think that the most important issue facing architects and architecture–generally, around the world–is the question of inequity,” Mehrotra told us. “I think architecture is a deadly instrument in hardening the boundaries between the communities in society. It hardens thresholds very easily; we don’t realize it.” In the full interview, Mehrotra speaks more on inequity, what architecture means to him and how his practice and teaching inform each other.

In Focus: The Architectural Applications of Zinc

The Roof Of - Custom Zinc Panels Fabricated By VMZINC. Image © Peter Cook

Many times, the most innovative minds in architecture aren’t the architects themselves. They can come in the form of students, researchers and in this case – providers. We recently asked VMZINC, a company that provides material solutions for architects, a few questions about the use of zinc in architecture, the Stonehenge Visitors Center and more. 

AD: How do you create intricate shapes with zinc, as seen in the roof at the Stonehenge Visitors Center?

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Renzo Piano Explains How To Design the Perfect Museum

The new Whitney Museum building, seen from the West Side Highway in July. Image © Paul Clemence

In the following article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as Q&A: Renzo Piano, Paul Clemence talks with the Italian master of museum design about the design process and philosophies that have brought him such tremendous success in the field – from sketching, to behaving with civility, to buildings that ‘fly’, Piano explains what makes the perfect museum.

There’s a reason why Renzo Piano is known as the master of museum design. The architect has designed 25 of them, 14 in the US alone. Few architects understand as well as Piano—along with his practice, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)—what board directors, curators, and even the visiting public needs and wants in a cultural institution like a museum. When I spoke with Donna de Salvo, chief curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, whose new downtown digs were authored by RPBW she remarked on the how the curators’ input was often incorporated into the final building design. “Our curators and the architects had an ongoing dialogue throughout the design of this building,” de Salvo says. “The physical needs of the art were a priority for Renzo and his team, down to the most seemingly minute detail. Our curatorial voice was central to the discussion and has given us a terrifically dynamic building, a uniquely responsive array of spaces for art.”

But what often goes unmentioned is how well Piano’s buildings, particularly his museums, connect to their surroundings. The buildings not only perform well, but they integrate themselves into the life of the city, as if they have always been there. From Beaubourg to The New York Times Building, they fully embrace the space and energy of their urban contexts. Now, as two of his newest and very high-profile museum projects near completion—the renovation and expansion of the Harvard Art Museums (due to open this Fall) and the Whitney Museum of Art (expected to be in use by Spring 2015)—I had a chance to meet with Piano at his Meatpacking District office to talk about the creative process, criticisms, contemporary architecture, and “flying” buildings.

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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 Biennale coverage, here.

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AD Interviews: Diébédo Francis Kéré / Kéré Architecture

Award-winning African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré is renowned for his cross-cultural approach to architecture. Although his office, Kéré Architecture, is based in Berlin, many of his projects are carried out in his native West African country Burkina Faso, where he is known for incorporating local and talent into his designs.

“I am working between two continents or between two cultures. And what I’m doing is trying to bridge the gap,” Kére told us at the opening of the 2014 Venice Biennale. Kére has carried out projects such as School Library Gando, Centre for Earth Architecture and the National Park of Mali.

In this interview, Kéré explains his two-continent approach to architecture, what architecture means to him and what “absorbing modernity” means for Burkina Faso.

AD Interviews: Andrew Maynard / Andrew Maynard Architects

At the World Architecture Festival, we sat down with Andrew Maynard, co-director of Australian architecture firm Andrew Maynard Architects.

Maynard is known for his polemical projects, like CV08 robot, which wanders through the suburbs, consuming houses and replacing them with trees and other natural vegetation. “It’s got nothing to do with trying to achieve a built outcome, it’s about actually reacting against the economic machine,” Maynard said, regarding his polemical work.

He is also known for his interaction with media and discussion of critical issues such as Work/life/work balance, which became one of ArchDaily’s top 5 most read pieces ever. In this interview, Maynard tells us about his firm’s “intentionally small size,” how he approaches innovation, and the theory behind his polemical projects.

Andrew Maynard Architects are the brains behind projects such as Butler House, Vader House, Tattoo House and Hill House.

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 with Alonso. And don’t forget to check out additional pictures and text from the curators in our coverage of the pavilion here.

AD Interviews: Keith Griffiths, Chairman of Aedas, on Appoaching Densification in London

Keith Griffiths. Image Courtesy of Aedas

Following the recent announcement of Aedas’ demerger into two separate companies - one retaining the Aedas name and the other now known as AHR - we spoke to Keith Griffiths, Chairman of Aedas’ global board and a practicing architect for close to three decades. The company, which was recently ranked by the Architects’ Journal as the 5th largest and most influential practice in the world, have now moved their head office to London’s Chandos Place and are championing a new approach to urban regeneration in the UK’s capital. Alongside discussing how an international practice of Aedas’ scale successfully operates, Griffiths offered his insight into how the future looks for European cities based on a tried and tested Asian model of densification.

To find out how Aedas approach in flourishing Asian markets, as well as the significance of the ‘urban hub’ typology for London’s metropolitan future, read the interview in full after the break.

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Interview with Rocco Yim of Rocco Design

Guanzhou Museum. Image Courtesy of Rocco Design

In the ancient culture identity is a touch of spatiality. Our use of space is psychological, you line up sequences of courtyards and buildings in order of importance so it prepares your mood, they get a sense of anticipation. We could reuse this spatially in today’s different types of buildings to achieve different purposes, but it originates from the past — that makes it Chinese.” – Rocco S. K. Yim, , 2013

On the 38th floor of the AIA Tower, ’s office faces the bay, from which you see the quintessential view of the city: the Hong Kong skyline. is the founder of Rocco Design Architects Limited (founded in 1982) and responsible for the design of iconic buildings like the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong. In this conversation he talks about the importance of the density created and supported by the urban flow in China, and his unique point of view on iconic architecture in relation to ancient culture.

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Interview with Jean-Louis Cohen, Curator of the French Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

On the morning that accepted a Special Mention for its exhibition “Modernity: Promise or Menace?” at the Biennale, Curator Jean-Louis Cohen spoke to us about the questions raised within, on, and around the walls of the French Pavilion. Standing in front of a model of the farcical Villa Arpel from Jacques Tati’s famous film “Mon Oncle,” Cohen explained that France didn’t just absorb modernity (as Rem Koolhaas proposed) but that France inspired modernity, providing different expectations, promises and, as the title suggests, menaces.

For more images and curatorial texts check out our coverage of the pavilion here.

AD Interviews: Helene Combs Dreiling, AIA President 2014

Right at the start of this year’s Convention, we had the chance to sit down with the current AIA president,  (FAIA).

Helene, who also serves as the Executive Director at The Virginia Museum of Architecture & Design, is the third female president in the history of the AIA. We discussed the challenges currently facing the organization, particularly the issue of diversity in the profession, and Dreiling’s ambitions to lead a cultural sea-change to improve the way the profession is perceived in the US.

Why Tall Wooden Buildings are On the Rise: An Interview with Perkins+Will’s Wood Expert

IZM Building / Architekten Hermann Kaufmann – Germany. Image © Norman A. Müller

Material Minds, presented by ArchDaily Materials, is our new series of short interviews with architects, designers, scientists, and others who use architectural materials in innovative ways. Enjoy!

Wood. The United States is the largest producer of the natural resource in the world. But yet we rarely see it in commercial, high-rise construction. So we asked a expert – Rebecca Holt at Perkins+Will, an analyst for reThink Wood‘s recent Tall Wood Survey  – to tell us about its potential benefits.

AD: Why is wood a material architects should use in taller buildings?

There are lots of reasons to consider wood – first it has a lower environmental impact than other traditional choices like concrete and steel.  Wood is the only major building material that is made the by sun and is completely renewable.

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Emerging Practices in India: Abin Design Studio

International Management Institute, Bhubaneswar: Library from the courtyard. Image Courtesy of

Indian Architect & Builder, through a two-part series titled ‘’ (Volumes I and II), delves deeper into contemporary Indian practices that have carved a unique identity and place for themselves in the country today. This article, part of the first volume of the series takes a closer look at ‘Abin Design Studio’, a Kolkata-based architectural firm.

In a city that, though culturally rich, has remained fairly neglectful of contemporary architectural developments, Abin Design Studio’s dynamic philosophy attempts to trigger a ‘think revolution’ by challenging the conventional and recreating the city-scape of Kolkata. Abin Design Studio was founded in October 2005 by Abin Chaudhuri, who partnered with Jui Mallick in 2006. What started off as a small three-person firm is now a frontline organisation rendering complete design solutions from conceptualisation to realisation of space, object and visual.

The projects have a strong spatial quality which fuse lessons from past traditions with aspirations of the present in a sparkling coup of energy. Their passion to transform and nerve to challenge is almost incomparable. Indian Architect & Builder’s with the founders, after the break…

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Arthur Andersson on Timeless Materials & Building “Ruins”

Tower House . Image © Art Gray

Material Minds, presented by ArchDaily Materials, is our new series of short interviews with architects, designers, scientists, and others who use architectural  in innovative ways. Enjoy!

of Andersson-Wise Architects wants to build ruins. He wants things to be timeless – to look good now and 2000 years from now. He wants buildings to fit within a place and time. To do that he has a various set of philosophies, processes and some great influences. Read our full in-depth interview with Mr. Andersson, another revolutionary ”Material Mind,” after the break.

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Sam Jacob & Wouter Vanstiphout on Curating “A Clockwork Jerusalem”

The Mound. Image © James Taylor-Foster

The British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale takes the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and explores the “mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious but also the moment that witnessed its collapse.” The exhibition tells the story of how British modernity emerged out of an unlikely combination of interests and how “these modern visions continue to create our physical and imaginative landscapes.” To those who know the UK‘s architectural heritage, this cultural and social history is delivered in a way which feels strangely familiar, whilst uncovering fascinating hidden histories of British modernity that continue to resonate in the 21st century.

We caught up with Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT Architecture (of which this exhibition is their final project), and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Rotterdam-based Crimson Architectural Historians, outside the British Pavilion to discuss the ideas behind, and significance of, A Clockwork Jerusalem.

© James Taylor-Foster

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