Beyond Starchitects: An Architectural Revolution at the 2014 Venice Biennale

Bahrain’s analysis of Modernism in the Arabic nations is arguably contrary to the theme of ‘’. Image © Nico Saieh

“The Biennale reveals that modernism was never a style. It was a cultural, political, and social practice,” says Sarah Williams Goldhagen in her recent article for New Republic, The Great Architect Rebellion of 2014. This year, the Venice Biennale dissects the notion of modernism by providing a hefty cross-section of architectural history in the central pavilion. However contrary to Koolhaas‘ prescriptive brief, the 65 national pavilions show modernism was not just a movement, but a socially-driven, culturally attuned reaction to the “exigencies of life in a rapidly changing and developing world.” Unexpected moments define the 2014 Venice Biennale: from Niemeyer‘s desire to launch Brazil into the first world through architectural creation, to South Korea‘s unveiling of a deep modernist tradition with influence across the nation. This Biennale proved to be truly rebellious – read Goldhagen’s article from New Republic here to find out why.

Brutalism: Back in Vogue?

The Barbican in . Image © Flickr CC User Rene Passet

Are Brutalist buildings, once deemed cruel and ugly, making a comeback? Reyner Banham‘s witty play on the French term for raw concrete, beton brut, was popularized by a movement of hip, young architects counteracting what they perceived as the bourgeois and fanciful Modernism of the 1930s. Though the use of raw concrete in the hands of such artist-architects as Le Corbusier seems beautiful beneath the lush Mediterranean sun, under the overcast skies of northern Europe Brutalist architecture earned a much less flattering reputation. Since the 1990s, however, architects, designers, and artists have celebrated formerly denounced buildings, developing a fashionably artistic following around buildings like Erno Goldfinger‘s Trellick Tower, “even if long-term residents held far more ambivalent views of this forceful high-rise housing block.” To learn more about this controversial history and to read Jonathan Glancey‘s speculation for its future, read the full article on here.

Michael Graves 50 Year Retrospective to Open in October

Denver Library, South Elevation, 1994, pencil and colored pencil on yellow tracing paper, 14 x 26 inches. Image Courtesy of Michael Graves & Associates, photo: Ken Ek

An celebrating one of North America’s foremost postmodern architects will open this October, marking 50 years of Michael Graves‘ practice. Past as Prologue maps the evolution of Graves’ work in architecture and product design through an array of media including sculpture, painting, furniture, drawings and models. The comprehensive exhibition will begin with Graves’ work from 1964 and conclude with works currently in progress. The exhibition will be hosted by Grounds for Sculpture with a mission to provide insight into the five-decade progression of Graves’ unique design process. More on the exhibition after the break.

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Spotlight: Fumihiko Maki

at MIT Media Lab, 2010

Fumihiko Maki, the Pritzker Prize laureate and 67th AIA Gold Medalist, turns 86 today. Widely considered to be one of Japan’s most distinguished living architects, Maki practices a unique style of Modernism that reflects his Japanese origin. Toshiko Mori has praised Maki’s ability to create “ineffable atmospheres” using a simple palette of various types of metal, concrete, and glass. His consistent integration and adoption of new methods of construction as part of his design language contribute to his personal quest to create “unforgettable scenes.”

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“Mouthful of Meetings”: The Collision of North and South at the Venice Biennale

Courtesy of South of North

”Mouthful of meetings” is a moderated conversation taking place at the 2014 Venice Biennale with a focus on socioeconomic sustainability and current projects in developing countries around the world. The event is organized by South of North, a collaboration between Nordic architects working in the non-profit sector in developing environments. Contributors will include contemporary Nordic and African practices with an emphasis on recent works of socially committed architecture. Read on after the break for more details of the event.

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It’s “Time For Strategic Architecture”

Bolling Municipal Center – Roxbury, Boston (MA). Image Courtesy of Mecanoo / Sasaki Associates

In an article for the New York Times, Alexandra Lange discusses a number of US projects which are “transforming, but not disrupting,” their respective communities. In this vein, she cites Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates’ new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury, Boston, as a prime example of a new kind of architecture which “comes from understanding of past civic hopes, redesigning them to meet the future.” Examining some of the key concepts that make for successfully integrated community buildings, such as the creation of spaces that actively forge personal connections, Lange concludes that perhaps it is now “time for strategic architecture.”

The idea that urban planning could build upon citizen action, rather than consisting of imposed boulevards or housing blocks (as with the urban renewal that originally gutted Roxbury) is gaining traction.

Read the article in full here.

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VIDEO: In Boston, Reclaiming the Craft of Brick

Frank Gehry’s Design for Ground Zero Arts Center Shelved

Original Proposal. Image Courtesy of Gehry Partners

Frank Gehry’s design for the performing arts center at ground zero in New York has been shelved and the planning board will instead select a design from three other finalist architects, the New York Times has reported. This follows on reports from February that Frank Gehry’s original design was being revised and his plans for an initial 1,000 seat center were being abandoned. “We’re in the process of selecting a new architect,” said John E. Zuccotti, the real estate developer who is the chairman of the arts center’s board. “Three architectural firms are being considered.” Gehry, however, has said that he’s heard “zero at ground zero” and hasn’t been informed of the board’s decision. To learn more about the plans for the performing arts center see the full article from the New York Times.

Spotlight: Daniel Burnham

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The impact Daniel H. Burnham had on and the American city is still felt today, many years after his death, on what would have been his 168th birthday. Over the course of his lucrative career, Burnham pioneered some of the world’s first skyscrapers, inspired the City Beautiful Movement with his vision for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and created urban plans for numerous cities before urban planning even existed as a profession. Burnham said of his unusual large scale thinking, “Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

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Spotlight: Kenzo Tange

Courtesy of Wikimedia Common

Kenzo Tange (4 September 1913-22 March 2005), the Pritzker-Prize Winning Japanese architect who helped define Japan’s post-WWII emergence into Modernism, would have turned 101 today. Inspired by Le CorbusierTange decided to study architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1935. He worked as an urban planner, helping to rebuild Hiroshima after World War II, and gained international attention in 1949, when his design for the Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park was selected. Tange continued to work in and theorize about Urban Planning throughout the 50s; his “Plan for Tokyo 1960″ re-thought urban structures and heavily influenced the Metabolist movement.

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Spotlight: Louis Sullivan

circa 1895

Louis Sullivan, Chicago‘s “Father of Skyscrapers” who foreshadowed modernism with his famous phrase “form follows function,” would have turned 158 today. Sullivan was an architectural prodigy even as a young man, graduating high school and beginning his studies at MIT when he was just 16. After just a year of study he dropped out of MIT, and by the time he was just 24 he had joined forces with Dankmar Adler as a full partner of Adler and Sullivan.

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Maarten Hajer Appointed as Chief Curator of 2016 Rotterdam Biennale

© Bob Bronshoff

The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) has announced Maarte Hajer as the Chief Curator of IABR-2016-. Hajer, a professor of Public Policy at the University of Amsterdam and Director General of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, was selected for his proposed theme, “The Next Economy.” More on Hajer’s appointment after the break.

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RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals Decrease in Workload & Staffing Levels

Courtesy of

The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBAFuture Trends Survey for July 2014 show that the Workload Index among  practices fell back to +28 (from +34 in June) with confidence levels among RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining “very strong in practices of all sizes across the whole of the .” Whereas last month’s survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, London showed the greatest strength in July with a balance figure of +38. Practices located in Wales and the West were the most cautious about prospects for future workloads, returning a balance figure of just +12. The survey shows that actual workloads have been growing for four consecutive quarters and the overall value of work in progress last month was 10% higher than this time last year.

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UIA World Congress Reveals Architecture’s Other Side

’s designs for an office building in Hyderabad exemplify the social agenda of architecture which dominated discussions at this year’s UIA World Congress. Image © Carlos Chen

With the International Union of Architects (UIA)’s World Congress taking place last month, the eyes of the architecture world were on South Africa where – according to Phineas Harper of the Architectural Review - the conference was full of architects of all backgrounds with “irrepressible energy,” sharing ideas on how architecture can be used for social good with an urgency that is somewhat unfamiliar in the Western world. ”Whoever said architecture was stale, male and pale should have been in ,” says Harper. You can read the full review of the event here.

Harper’s review also singles out the “electrifying” keynote speech of Rahul Mehrotra, who explained how he used his architecture to bridge social and cultural gaps while still serving his clients’ needs, in projects such as his Hyderabad offices. You can see him discuss these ideas in our interview with Mehrotra here:

AD Interviews: Rahul Mehrotra / RMA Architects

The Proliferation of “Cultural Genocide” in Areas of Conflict

Umayyad Mosque, Old City of Aleppo, Syria (2013).

In an article for the London Evening Standard, Robert Bevan examines one of the many often overlooked consequences of conflict: the destruction of monuments, culture, and . With heightened conflict in the Middle East over the past decade an enormous amount of “cultural genocide” has occurred – something which Bevan notes is “inextricably linked to human genocide and ethnic cleansing.” Arguing that “saving historic treasures and saving lives are not mutually exclusive activities,” case studies from across the world are employed to make the point that with the loss of cultural heritage, most commonly architectural, the long term ramifications will resonate throughout this century.

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MARK Magazine #51

Courtesy of MARK Magazine

Articles on ’s building boom often highlight the property bubble, megalomaniac planners, governmental corruption and private graft, substandard building practices and the destruction of the nation’s cultural .

In Mark #51, we interviewed four Chinese architects on four aspects of China’s building practices to reveal the mechanisms at the foundation of this unedifying image. Li Hu offers his thoughts on architecture, Liu Yuyang on urban planning, Li Xiaodong on aesthetics and Liu Jiakun on construction processes. What can we learn from their experience?

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“Seoul: Towards a Meta-City” Exhibition Opens in Berlin

Courtesy of ANCB

On Thursday, the Aedes Network Campus Berlin (ANCB) Metropolitan Laboratory hosted a symposium to mark the opening of the  ”Seoul: Towards a New City,” in collaboration with the City of Seoul. The city has identified three key objectives to help them strike a balance between restoration and change when moving forward with future development: revival of history, restoration of nature, and renewal of people’s lives. Seven projects that reflect these goals are on display at the exhibition. For more details, continue reading after the break.

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Apple Awarded Patent for Flagship Store Design

© Flickr CC User Mathieu Thouvenin

The US Patent and Trademark Office have awarded a patent to Apple for the design of their flagship store on Fifth Avenue in reports MacRumors. The patent, applied for by Apple in 2012, applies to the above-ground glass cube, which was originally designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and – after a renovation in 2011 – is made of just 15 glass panels with minimal steel fixings. More on the patent after the break.

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IE School of Architecture and Design’s SPACES FOR INNOVATION Prize

New models are emerging, redefining how we work, shop and learn in different environments that impact our everyday lives. IE SPACES FOR INNOVATION Prize is a challenge for young architects and designers worldwide that are able to foresee how work, retail and learning environments will evolve in the next decade.

If you’re interested in being a part of the challenge, there’s still time. The registration period is open until October 27, and proposals are to be presented in a digital story board (A1 horizontal format- PDF or JPG; < 10megas). Registrations should be made individually.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Admittance to Master in Design for Work, Retail and Learning Environments  from IE School of Architecture & Design, for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • 30% scholarship over the tuition fees
  • Full-time paid professional internships in top tier companies and design firms such as UNStudio, Arup or O+A Studio.

For more detailed information, visit the Competition website.

IE School of Architecture & Design focuses on training skills in design, innovation and management, expanding the boundaries of traditional architectural education. IE welcomes students who seek challenges and aspire to become leaders in the dynamic world of architecture and design. The IE is comprised of 47,000+ graduates that represent more than 90 countries worldwide.