How We Can Code Democracy Into the Design Process

A scheme to paint a whole favela in Rio de Janeiro, successfully funded via Kickstarter in October. Image Courtesy of Favela Painting’s Kickstarter Page

In this interview with Grasp Magazine Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, explains his belief that in order to develop solutions to the complex problems found in , the only successful approach is from the bottom-up. In order to make this possible, he says, we need to democratize the process by encouraging and empowering more people to engage in , by operating with ‘codes’ rather than ‘blueprints’ which invite further contribution. Platforms like Kickstarter are one way that this process is already in motion. You can read the full article here.

Kickstarter: REM

REM Screen Shot from Casa De Musica Porto. Image © Tomas Koolhaas

UPDATE: REM’s campaign was successfully funded! 

There are only three days left for you to help fund the most highly-anticipated documentary film about the legendary Rem Koolhaas: REM. Directed by the architect’s son, Tomas Koolhaas, the film will explore an unprecedented perspective on what gives Koolhaas’ work function and purpose: how it is used by people. Learn more and donate to Koolhaas’ campaign here on Kickstarter.  

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Cast Your Vote for the Audi Urban Future Award 2014

Speed Pitch: Philip Parsons & Federico Parolotto (screen shot)

How will data shape mobility in future mega-cites? This is precisely what three innovation teams are striving to answer for the 2014 . Review each team’s revolutionary idea after the break and cast your vote on the most innovative solution here. The winner of the voting will be announced by Audi’s CEO, Rupert Stadler, at the International CES in Las Vegas on January 6, 2014, and will be one participant in next year’s Audi Urban Future Award.

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Call for Papers: STUDIO#06 – POWER

The relationship between Architecture and Power has been the main character in the urban transformation with no space-time boundaries. Architecture has historically demonstrated its Power in creating different urban landscapes capable of influencing spaces that are lived.

Power shows and has shown how Architecture is one of the most efficient tools to express ones vision about the world. STUDIO#06 – POWER wants to investigate how to examine this continuous and difficult relationship within society and in contemporary experiences. The constant relation between the communicative energy of architecture and human ambitions has determined a sometimes symbiotic practice of small and big architecture interventions. At the same time architecture’s formal power defines our perception of spaces, in each little transformation, in an ever-changing manner.

Which were and are in the historical and political scenario the dynamics, examples and the relations between Power and Architecture? In which way nowadays the pair Power-Architecture consciously or unconsciously transforms our cities and the spaces we inhabit?

Structurally organized in different ways of contribution – essays, insights, experiences, images – the issue is meant to be  investigated by a multi-disciplinary global perspective in order to define its complexity. The call for papers defines the field of interest of an issue and produces a context in which situate contributions.

For complete information on the submission guideline, requirements and timeline, please click here.

Young Projects to Design “Match-Maker” Heart for Times Square

Courtesy of

Trailing Situ Studio’s recycled lumber heartYoung Projects has been chosen to the annual Times Square Valentine’s Day installation for lovers in the Big Apple. Made in collaboration with fabricator Kammental, “Match-Maker” will debut early February. 

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Could Facebook Help Us Understand Urban Migration?

China plans to move 250 Million citizens into by 2025. Could help them in this endeavor?. Image © Flickr CC User Wenjie Zhang

According to this article on QuartzFacebook is now so widely-used (providing readily available information about the hometowns of millions – or even billions – of people) that it can help researchers analyze migration patterns and trends. Find out more here.

Raphael Sperry Speaks About His Quest for Humane Prison Design

Deanna Van Buren’s ‘Mediation Womb’ could form part of an alternative to inhumane prison design. Image Courtesy of FOURM Design Studio

In this interview in Metropolis Magazine, Raphael Sperry elaborates on the goal of his organization Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility to ban members of the AIA from designing execution chambers and certain forms of prisons. He explains why the AIA’s existing charter should make this ban a no-brainer as well as highlights the success and support the campaign has received, even in unexpected places. You can read the full article here.

Bloomberg Rushes to Approve Billion-Dollar Projects Before Leaving Office

Courtesy of VisualHouse

Mayor Bloomberg’s decade long administration may be ending this January, but not before he ensures the approval of $12 billion worth of privately developed projects throughout . Under Bloomberg, 40 percent of NYC has been rezoned, creating a hot-bed of new construction. From multi-million dollar research centers to multi-billion dollar neighborhoods — complete with luxury waterfront apartments, outlet malls and the western hemisphere’s largest Ferris Wheel — each one of these megaprojects will undoubtedly transform NYC in the coming decades. Check them out here.

Kickstarter Campaign: The Blindspot Initiative

The Blinspot Initiative: “Beyond competition, towards collaboration”. Image Courtesy of Blindspot Initiative

Like many in architecture, the Blindspot Initiative has grown tired of ”the exclusive, winner takes all mentality of .” Instead, they value collaboration and open access to design ideas, and so are renting a studio in East LA for an exhibition that will display the work of 10 fringe (blindspot) designers, “presenting work on a neutral ground to encourage conversations and practice which lives outside the conventions of typical design outputs and practices.” Visit their kickstarter project to learn more and contribute to their cause (and check out their video, after the break).

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Can a Law of Linguistics Predict How Cities Grow?

– Twice the size of LA. Via Flickr CC User. Image © Katy Silberger

An interesting article on io9 unveils a curious law that can apparently predict the size of cities - a law developed by a linguist. The original version of Zipf’s law states that in any language, the most common word was used twice as much as the second most common, three times as much as the third and so on. It seems though, that this law also applies to the populations of the in a given country. And the most interesting part? Nobody really knows why. You can read the full article here.

Bloomberg’s Next Move: Leading an ‘Urban SWAT Team’

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After a 12 year mayoral run, many have been wondering what Michael Bloomberg’s next move will be. The answer: be mayor of every city (kind of). Bloomberg, along with most of his Hall team (including transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan), has shifted his focus to Bloomberg Associates, a consultancy group that – like an ‘urban SWAT team’ – offers advice to that call for it. For free. To learn more about Bloomberg’s newest initiative, read the full article here on The New York Times. 

Foster + Partners’ Thames Hub On the Chopping Block

’ Proposal for Thames Hub. Image Courtesy of

The prognosis does not look good for Foster + Partners’ plan for an airport hub in the Thames Estuary. The Guardian reports that the Independent Airports Commission has released an interim report, revealing a shortlist of potential options for the – and the Thames Hub (with an estimated price tag of £112bn)  isn’t on it.  Yet hope (however slim) does remain for the proposal, as its persistent defender, London mayor Boris Johnson, has managed to convince the commission to revisit the idea in early 2014. Get the whole story at The Guardian.

A Bad Month for Frank Lloyd Wright Fans

The SC Johnson Administration building, featuring Wright’s (now controversial) desks. Image © Jeff Dean

December has been a month of disappointment for fans of Frank Lloyd Wright: first, a plan to build a house designed by Wright and adapted for the English countryside has been rejected by Wraxall Councillors (Bristol Post), who believe that Frank Lloyd Wright “can’t be that influential”. This was followed by the news that SC Johnson, the company for whom Wright designed the famous Johnson Administration Building, is trying to stop the high profile Sotheby’s auction (ArtInfo) of a desk and chair designed for their building – claiming that the items were in fact stolen from them way back in the 1950s. More on the rejection here and the Sotheby”s controversy here.

Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, Inaugurated as 2014 AIA President

. Image © William Stewart

Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, executive director of the Virginia Center for Architecture, has been inaugurated as the 90th president of the American Institute of Architects (). She succeeds Mickey Jacob, FAIA, in representing nearly 83,000 AIA members.

“During my term as president, I want to look towards the future of our profession and society in general.  We need to stimulate research to benefit the design and construction industry, emphasize a culture in firms that nurtures emerging professionals and promotes diversity and inclusiveness for under-represented groups, and advance the profession in the eyes of the public,” said Dreiling. “Ultimately, our efforts will be focused on bringing a shift to our own professional culture – the way we think, act and behave to transform the way that our culture regards architects and architecture.”

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Inside Japan’s “Crazy” Housing

House NA / Sou Fujimoto Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Inspired by our wildly popular article “Why Japan Is Crazy About Housing,” CNN has interviewed Tokyo-based author and architect Alastair Townsend in order to dig a bit deeper into why radical has become more common in Japan. The video features interviews with the residents of House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects, who share what it’s like to live in a multi-storied home with step ladders and no walls, as well as Sou Fujimoto, who takes us on a tour of his whimsical, tree-house inspired House NA. Watch the video after the break.

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Arup to Collaborate with Henning Larsen on European Spallation Source

© Luxigon

Arup has been selected “to contribute expertise” in the of the European Spallation Source Research Centre (ESS) in Lund, Sweden. They will collaborate with Henning Larsen Architects, who was selected to design the state-of-the-art facility earlier this yearThe will become the world’s largest and most advanced research facility for neutron-based research once it is fully operational in 2025. Alongside enabling scientists to see and understand atomic and molecular structures and movements, it will also be based on the world’s most powerful neutron source – a 600m long accelerator which fires neutrons at different types of material in order that they can be analyzed in enormous detail. Learn more about ESS and its design here

Kanye West, Jacque Herzog Talk Architecture, Bore Kanye Fans to Tears

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jacques Herzog, Kanye West. Image © Seth Browarnik/startraksphoto.com, via Surface Magazine’s Facebook Page

In her article for BlouinArtInfo, Janelle Zara wittily recounts her experience at an architecture event in which 70% of the audience left before the night’s end. The event? A talk, held last week in Miami’s District, between Kanye West and Pritzker laureate . Despite the audience’s clear lack of interest, Zara insists the skippers missed quite the conversation: “Herzog’s half of the conversation lent it its gravitas; Kanye’s token Westisms provided the candy-coated sprinkles on top.” Read the full post here.

Call for Submissions: Satellite Magazine

Satellite, an independent print magazine focused on cities, culture, and politics, is seeking submissions for its upcoming issue. Approximately a third of each issue focuses on a different city: to date, they have covered New Orleans, Montreal, and Toronto, and are now starting work on . They’re therefore particularly interested in submissions pertaining to that city, but are happy to consider other topics as well.

Most of their content relates to urbanism, architecture, politics, and/or art. They publish articles and essays (both long- and short-form), photography, and more, and welcome contributors from a broad variety of backgrounds. For a sense of what they have run in the past, see http://www.satellitemagazine.ca/issues/.

They’re distributed in bookstores throughout the United States and Canada. Please send pitches, completed work, or questions to submit@satellitemagazine.ca.